2. Unsupervised Youth
Jesse knocked on the door of Sharon's apartment, shuffling uncomfortably in his leather jacket. It was unseasonably hot for a spring evening. He knocked again, but still no answer. He could hear music playing loudly from inside, but it was too early for any guests to have arrived yet. Most likely Sharon had a friend over, and they were pre-drinking. Shrugging, he pushed the door open and walked in.
"Jeeessssseeee, you're here!"
Jesse's eyebrows rose as he was engulfed in a hug that smelled strongly of whiskey. "I see you've started drinking already," he said, laughter in his voice.
Sharon pulled back from the hug and held his hands in hers. She looked up at him through her thick dark lashes, her hazel eyes slightly unfocused. "Hana and I had a few pre-party drinks. I'm NOT drunk though." She added, slurring slightly.
Jesse was inclined to think otherwise. Still, despite the heavy sway in her stance and the slightly smudged lipstick, Sharon was a vision. Her dark skin was glowing, and her green dress was loose but also slightly sheer, giving off a deliciously mixed vibe of innocence and sex appeal. Her deep brown hair was pinned up with a few wavy tendrils framing her face.
"Of course you're not drunk baby," Jesse said with a smile. He bent his head down and kissed her, tasting the liquor on her tongue.
"Oh, Jesse's here!"
Jesse pulled away from the kiss to see Sharon's friend Hana standing in the hallway, clearly just as 'not drunk' as Sharon. Hana's short hair was dyed purple today, matching the violet tasselled mini skirt she wore. "Hey Hana," Jesse said with a smile, as he put his arm around Sharon, "I hope you two left a little for me to drink."
Hana giggled mischievously, "Maybe a little bit," she replied, holding her thumb and forefinger close together to show him just how little.
Jesse rolled his eyes.
Sharon twisted out from Jesse's grasp and took his hand in hers. She twirled around, "Jesse come dance with us!"
Jesse smiled at his girlfriend, "You two go ahead, I think I'll go make myself a drink."
Sharon pouted, but let his hand go. She instead staggered over to Hana and linked her arm through her friend's, dragging her to the living room.
Jesse walked down the hall to the small kitchen, and reached for the opened bottle of whiskey on the kitchen table. He raised the bottle to eye level and examined its contents; Sharon and Hana hadn't had as much as he'd feared, there was still a fair bit left for him, plus another unopened bottle on the counter. An impish grin spread across his face as he tipped his head back and finished the bottle. He felt the familiar warm fuzziness spread through his body, and let out a short laugh. It was going to be a good night.
"That's two shots for Peter, and two for you Suzanne." Juliet said happily, as she laid her cards on the table. Suzanne had showed up a couple of hours ago to get ready for the party, and the two had convinced Peter to play a drinking game with them. The three sat on the floor in the living room around the coffee table, a plethora of shot glasses scattered on its surface as they played a game Jesse had taught her. Unfortunately for Peter and Suze, Juliet was extremely good at it.
"What!" Peter exclaimed, reaching a clumsy hand forward to check her cards.
Suze picked up her two shots and clinked them together, "Cheers!" she giggled, then downed them both.
Juliet laughed at the inebriated states of her friend and brother. It wasn't often she got to see Peter drunk; most of the time he was playing the role of 'Mr. Perfect' with a hint of pompousness and a lot of condescension. Not tonight though, tonight Juliet would be the composed one. She glanced at the clock on the wall, "Jesus, it's ten already. We've gotta get a move on!" She got to her feet, then extended her arm to help Suzanne up. She stifled a laugh as Peter tried to get up and fell onto the couch face first. Suze scampered into Juliet's room.
"Are you bringing a jacket?" Suze called to Juliet, rifling through her closet.
She entered her room to see Suze wearing Juliet's new suede jacket with the tassels on the sleeves and across the back. She rolled her eyes, "probably. You need to borrow one?"
Suzanne looked up at her, a sheepish smile on her face, "Yes. How's this one look?"
Juliet looked her friend up and down. Suze had indeed chosen to wear her new v-neck turquoise dress with her hair thrown back in a thick ponytail. The jacket suited the outfit perfectly. Juliet nodded in approval, then reached into her closet to find her cobalt blue blazer. Tonight Juliet was wearing tight black jeans, a silky red tank top that dipped in a V to her lower back, and Suzanne's new black heeled boots. The bright blazer combined with the bright red top gave the outfit a bit of an edge, and Juliet liked that. She shrugged it on, "How's this?"
Suzanne looked longingly at Juliet, "Perfect, as usual."
Juliet grinned, "Great. Now let's get Peter and go."
Peter, Juliet and Suzanne stumbled off the bus and up the street to Sharon's place. From a block away they could already hear the steady beat of music and the rumble of drunk laughter and conversation. Peter grinned, his head already enveloped in a heavy alcohol induced blur. He couldn't remember the last time he'd been to a party, and from the sound of it Sharon's was a big one. Juliet and Suze were a few paces ahead of him, their arms interlinked. They were half singing half shouting catchy songs that Peter vaguely recognized as their heels clicked unevenly on the pavement. Peter shuffled to catch up with them. Suze looked back at him, extending her arm out for him to grab onto.
"Ouch!" she exclaimed, as Peter accidentally stepped on one of her feet, "Are you always such a clumsy drunk?"
Juliet laughed loudly, "Poor boy can't hold his liquor," she teased.
Peter clutched Suzanne's arm tightly, trying to steady himself. Somehow the three of them managed to stagger down the block and up the stairs to Sharon's apartment.
The front door was wide open, and there were party guests littered about the balcony, smoking various things. The music was so loud; Peter could feel the deep bass vibrating in his chest, subtly shaking the building. Inside the music was even louder. The entire apartment smelled of sweat and cigarettes and weed. The living room lights had been replaced with an assortment of 90's strobes and black lights, and an area had been cleared for people to dance. Scantily clad, sweating bodies could be seen bumping against eachother, some moving to the couches that were pushed against the wall so they could make out. Peter felt Suzanne tug him into the kitchen. The lighting was better in there, and the music was a fraction quieter. A beer pong game was being played on the table, and Peter's brother Jesse appeared to be handing out pills to Sharon and a couple of her friends. Jules skipped over, remarkably agile in those heeled boots, despite the how slippery the floor was from spilled drinks.
"Hey Jess! Can I get a family discount for one of those?" She gestured towards the bag of pills in his hand. Peter assumed it was ecstasy. He wanted to tell her no, that she wasn't allowed, that drugs –even from her brother– were dangerous… But he felt different tonight. Maybe it was the alcohol, or the atmosphere, but tonight he didn't want to be the usual uptight Peter. He didn't want to care about things. He took an unsteady step towards Juliet and Jesse, dragging Suzanne with him in his drunkenness.
"Make that two. What about you Suze?" He interjected.
Jesse stared, eyebrows raised in amusement, "I think Peter's broken," he mumbled to Sharon, who laughed.
Suze grinned, "Yes please, I'll take one" she said sweetly.
Juliet smiled that crooked half smile that he'd become so accustomed to over the years, and handed Peter and Suzanne a pill each. Peter's was imprinted with a peace sign. He looked over at Jules, feeling vaguely uneasy. This wasn't him. He didn't take recreational drugs… He looked to his left; Suzanne placed hers on her tongue and swallowed it, chasing it with a beer someone had left on the counter. Well if little Suzy could do it, so could he. Peter tossed the pill down his throat, taking the beer from Suze to wash it down. His gaze met Juliet's again. Her eyes were glittering mischievously. That was never a good thing.
Juliet stood on the outskirts of the makeshift dancefloor in Sharon's living room, nursing a screwdriver and watching as Peter and Suze writhed in tune to the music. The effects of the drugs had kicked in over an hour ago, and Jules had spent that time dancing, drinking, and observing. It was always good to have some dirt on Peter; a person's ego can only get so big after all.
"Hey baby, how about a dance?"
Juliet looked to her side. A boy in a neon orange shirt with messy blond hair had stumbled over to her, and was leaning in too close. He smelled like sweat and energy drinks; but he had a nice smile. Juliet recognized him vaguely as one of Jesse's friends from highschool.
"Thanks, but I'm fine watching, for now."
"Ahh a voyeur. Well I think there are a few people here who would much rather watch you dance."
Juliet smiled politely, and sipped her drink. This messy haired boy had exhausted her patience. She turned her gaze back onto the dance floor, and watched as Sharon and one of her friends, a chubby blond girl in a pink halter top, stumbled down the hall to the bathroom.
"Mark, you're not by any chance hitting on my baby sister, are you? I know your girlfriend went home early, but really…"
Mark's nice smile was frozen on his face as he turned to face Juliet's brother. "Jesse, what a surprise! This is your sister? My, she sure has grown up nice hasn't she!"
"Oh fuck off Mark. Go harass another minor."
Mark gladly left, and Jesse took his place beside Jules. "I see you've caught the eye of a few boys tonight Jules."
Jules smiled her crooked smile, "Don't I always?"
Jesse smile back, shaking his head.
"Peter seems to be enjoying himself." Juliet commented. Suze was now kissing his neck and subtly pulling him in the direction of the bedroom. A night with her stuck up brother was the least she could do for Suze after getting her into trouble with her mom the night before. Plus it'd be good for Peter to get a little action; he hadn't dated anyone in years.
Jesse laughed, "Peter and little Suzy? Oh that's just perfect. Sharon'll be disappointed; she's been trying to set him up with Hana."
Juliet frowned, "Hana? Peter and Hana would never work."
"And Peter and Suze will?"
It was Juliet's turn to laugh, "They're not meant to work, they're meant to have a little fun. You know as well as I do that Peter won't date anyone until he finds that blond girl from the restaurant." Juliet rolled her eyes, "But poor Suze has had a crush on him for years. Well she's had a crush on you too but let's face it, your promiscuous days are over for now."
Jesse's eyebrows rose, "My promiscuous days are over? What's that supposed to mean?"
Juliet smiled smugly, "Only that since you've been with Sharon you've been a one woman man."
Jules grinned, "Well it's true!"
Jesse shrugged, then returned their conversation to current events. "So you got your poor older brother completely wasted and tricked him into taking drugs all so that he'd screw your friend? That's fucked up Jules"
Juliet crossed her arms, "I never tricked him into taking drugs!"
Jesse rolled his eyes, "No, you just got him so drunk that drugs seemed like a good idea."
Juliet looked at her brother incredulously, "I don't believe this, are you lecturing me about drugs right now? Jesus Christ Jesse, you're a goddamn drug dealer."
Jesse held up his hands, "I'm not lecturing you! I'm just… I'm surprised. You're not a little kid anymore. You play different kinds of games now."
Juliet tipped her head back, finishing the rest of her drink. "You'd have known that a while ago if you were ever home."
Jesse looked away. Jules immediately felt bad about her words; after all, it was unfair to be angry with her brother for getting out of their toxic home. Had the situation been reversed, she would've left in a heartbeat.
Jesse placed a hand on her shoulder and gave it a small squeeze, "I'm sorry, Jules. It's not fair of me to leave you on your own so often."
Juliet shrugged his hand off, "Whatever, it doesn't matter. I'm gonna go find Sharon."
She wriggled her way through the throng of adolescents, while Jesse stared sadly after her.
Suze had Peter up against the door to what she assumed was the bedroom. The world around her was moving in an uneven pulse of colours and sounds, but Peter was clear and solid. His lips were rougher than she had expected, and his tongue twisted around with hers with an almost desperate intensity. His arms were wrapped around her waist so tightly; she had a feeling that it was more to steady himself than out of passion. Suze tugged meaningfully on his belt with one hand, and tried to use her other hand to open the bedroom door that Peter was leaning against. This was proving difficult; the door knob felt as though it was a squishy hacky sack… she groaned impatiently into Peter's mouth. Fucking drugs.
"What. The. Fuck."
Peter stopped kissing her and turned his head to the speaker at the other end of the hall. Suze, upset with the momentary distraction, peered down the hall as well. The person was a green smudge of colour. Suze couldn't quite tell who it was, but the voice was definitely familiar…
"Get the fuck off of my boyfriend you bitch!" The greenish blur was coming closer.
Suze recoiled against Peter. She tried to say something, but no words came to her. Then she started laughing; Peter didn't have a girlfriend!
"Are… Are you laughing at me?" the blur was so close now, she should have been able to identify who it was… but the features of the face kept moving around. The voice was still familiar, but slightly off. It was sluggish and slurred… the person standing in front of her was drunk. Suze's eyes widened as the blur raised an arm, and she was wholly unprepared for the slap that landed square on her left cheek, sending her head reeling. She whimpered and clutched Peter's shirt for support.
"What… What…" Peter was clearly attempting to talk, but having little more success than Suze.
"Oh fuck off Jesse, don't even try to defend yourself. I can't believe you'd stoop so low as to hook up with one of your sister's friends in my house at my goddamn party."
"Go home. You can pick up your things tomorrow."
It was taking every ounce of control that Suze had left to stop from laughing again. She thought she was talking to Jesse. She stumbled forward, falling into the wall across from the door. Her hand found Peter's, and she slowly dragged him down the hall with her and back to the dance area. Her arm was now wrapped tightly around his waist, and she was using him for support. Suze shook her head to try to make her surroundings a little clearer. She intended to do just as Sharon was asking; get Peter back home. Back to his empty home… An anticipatory smile curled her lips.
"Suze! Are you leaving already?"
This was a voice Suze knew very well. She turned her head to acknowledge the red blur standing beside her. She nodded, her use of words finally returning. "Gotta go. Sharon kicked us out."
Juliet laughed, "She kicked you out? Why would she do that!"
"Thought I was Jesse. That he was cheating." Peter supplied.
Juliet laughed harder than ever. Suze smiled dazedly. Juliet had the prettiest laugh.
"Oh man, that's perfect. Just wait till Jesse hears." Jules said, before stepping over to Suze's side. She threw Suze's arm over her shoulder and started to help guide her brother and friend towards the front door. Suze smiled gratefully.
"I'll help you two get home, then I'll come back for Jesse." A grin unfurled on her lips, "man I hope I don't miss Sharon accusing Jesse of hooking up with you."
Peter smiled, "Call us when it happens. Put them on speakerphone."
The three laughed, continuing to stumble their way out of the apartment and down the street.
Jesse pushed his way through the crowd of teens in an effort to get back to the kitchen. The party had hit its maximum capacity, and the amount of guests was slowly stating to taper off. Jesse knew that it was far from over though; Sharon's parties rarely ended before sunrise.
"Hey, Hana!" Jesse called out, recognising Sharon's friend, "Have you seen Sharon anywhere?"
Hana blinked blearily at him, her eyes unfocused. There was what appeared to be vomit on her shirt; she didn't look so good. "I haven't seen her, no…" Hana shouted back, "I think she's in her room?"
Jesse nodded, "Thanks. Are you feeling alright?"
Hana waived away his concern, "I'm fine!" she slurred, "Go find your girlfriend!"
Jesse smiled half-heartedly, then began shoving his way back towards Sharon's room. It was unlike her to be hiding out during a party.
After a few minutes of hefty pushing (and a couple of hard pinches), he had made it to her room, only to find the door locked.
"Sharon!" he yelled over the noise, banging his fist on the door, "Let me in!"
There was no answer, but he could hear muffled sobs coming from inside.
"Come on Ronnie, what's wrong?"
"Go away!" She yelled back. Jesse could still hear her crying.
"Oh for fucks sake…" he mumbled to himself. It was time to put some of his special skills to use. Jesse put his hand on the door knob, letting a gentle pulse flood through him and into the lock. With a barely audible click the door popped open. Jesse eased the door open to see Sharon sitting on the edge of her bed with her head in her hands. Jesse closed the door behind him and walked over.
"Sharon, what's wrong?"
Sharon jumped slightly, her cries stopping abruptly. In her surprise she hadn't heard him enter the room. "I said, go away Jesse."
Jesse frowned, "I'm just trying to help," he said soothingly, as he took a seat next to her on the bed, "Just tell me what's wrong." He asked of her again, rubbing small circles on her back with his hand.
Sharon stiffened, then recoiled from his touch. She stood up quickly, stumbling and latching onto the dresser for support, "I can't even look at you right now. How could you do that to me? How could you?"
Jesse stared at her in confusion. He had no idea what she was talking about. "Ronnie, wha-"
"Don't pretend like you don't know what I'm talking about," Sharon interrupted him, her voice cold and hateful, "I saw you and Jules' little friend. You were practically fucking her in the hallway."
Jesse snorted, "What, Suzy? I would never fuck her. She's like a sister to me! Sharon what the fuck are you talking about?"
Sharon shook her head, tears beginning to pour again, "Just shut up Jesse, shut up and get the fuck out. I don't want to hear what you have to say."
Jesse started towards her, "Sharon, I didn-"
"Stay away from me! Just leave me ALONE!" Sharon's voice cracked as she screamed at him, the tears had returned in full force.
Jesse took a deep breath, "Fine. I'm gone." He exited her room, and returned to the kitchen to find Hana. She was drinking water directly from the tap of the kitchen sink.
Jesse turned the water off, causing Hana to pull her head out of the sink in confusion.
"Oh, it's you again," she said, upon seeing Jesse, "How's Sharon?"
Jesse ran his hand through his hair, "I dunno, fucked up. She thinks I cheated on her with Juliet's friend."
Hana's eyebrows rose, "Did you?"
Jesse glared at her, "No, of course I didn't. I wouldn't do that to her."
Hana rolled her eyes. She wiped away the water that was dripping down her chin, and said "Well I don't know what you would or wouldn't do. It's not like you love her."
Jesse inhaled sharply, "What did you say?"
Hana smiled coldly, "You heard me. And she knows it too, that you don't love her."
Jesse shook his head, backing away from Hana. "Whatever," he said dismissively, "Just go and talk some sense into her, will you?"
Hanna shrugged her shoulders, "Sure thing."
"And use a glass next time you need some water."
Hana blushed, before turning away from Jesse and heading down the hall towards Sharon's room.
Jesse walked down the empty street. One of the streetlights kept flickering, interrupting the otherwise steady orange glow that illuminated his chosen path home. He kicked an empty pop can, listening to the hollow metallic noise it made as it skittered to the side of the road. He couldn't believe the bullshit Sharon had pulled on him that evening… it wasn't like her to be so dramatic. That was one of the things he liked about her, she was always very level headed. Why would she accuse him of hooking up with Suze? She knew him better than that. Jesse stuck his hands into his pockets, his fingers toying with a packet of matches. A pang of sadness hit Jesse as he remembered Hana's words, about Sharon knowing that he didn't love her. Jesse rubbed his face, trying to forget the whole night. He was almost home. Once there, he planned to fall into bed and sleep for a few days. As his house came into view at the end of the street, a strange feeling came over him. He felt as though he was being pulled towards the forest. He shook his head, trying to get rid of the foolish notion, but the feeling persisted. Jesse stopped where he was, and turned his head to stare into the darkness behind the trees. As far as he could see, there wasn't anything there. But then again, he couldn't see very far. The feeling was increasing in its intensity; he needed to go in, to find something… someone? He gritted his teeth, and balled his fists. It was just a forest; there was no harm in taking a quick stroll through it…
Juliet, Peter and Suze had made it back, barely. Juliet somehow managed to get Peter to the couch before he passed out; his bed had been out of the question. Jules walked into the kitchen, filling a pitcher full of water for Suzanne, who had passed out in Juliet's bed. As the water flowed from the tap, a sudden chill came over her. Something wasn't right. It was as though there was some strange electricity in the air… the kind that always saturated the air before she did something impossible, like setting her mother's room on fire with her mind. Except that this time, it was magnified 100 fold. And she knew, without a doubt, that she wasn't the source.
"J-Jesse?" She called out uncertainly. "Are you home?"
There was no reply.
"Fuck," Juliet swore under her breath. Her vision was starting to double, everything around her was going fuzzy…
"At last! He's come back for me!"
Juliet shook her head, trying to clear it, and peered down the hall towards her mother's room. What was Diana going on about this time?
"Mom!" she called out, her voice sounding thick and syrupy. Juliet stumbled down the hall, using the wall heavily for support. The air felt like it was alive, swirling around her.
"Mom!" she called out again, as she pushed open the door to her mother's room.
Diana was standing, unsupported, for the first time in years. Her gaunt face was alight with a feverish happiness, and the manic grin on her mouth only highlighted the crazy in her eyes.
"He's coming Juliet, my love is coming."
Juliet tried to form a response, but the air was too thick, her balance was failing, the world around her was fading away, until nothing was there at all…
Juliet slumped back against the door, and slid to the ground in a dead faint. Five seconds later, her mother fell back into her bed with a dull thump, unconscious as well.
Jesse was deep in the forest now. The light from the moon couldn't even penetrate the thick tree branches that were intertwined above his head. He had used his power to create a small fire in his hand, and was using it to help keep him on the trail.
"Jesus Christ, what am I doing…" Jesse mumbled to himself, for about the thousandth time. He still couldn't explain the strange impulse that was reeling him in any more than he could ignore it and go back home. About ten minutes into his forest adventure the air had changed consistency slightly, becoming thicker with an odd almost electric feel. The more he walked, the more intense the feeling became. It was at a point where he had to lean against a tree every few steps to stop from falling over. He stumbled closer to another tree, falling against it gratefully. Then he heard shouting, screaming even, from nearby.
Jesse stiffened, trying to focus. It was coming from the direction he was being pulled towards. He tried to hold onto the tree, but his body wasn't listening to his brain anymore, it was following some unknown instinct that he couldn't override. His sloppy steps carried him closer still to the source of the commotion. The screaming was getting louder, and he could now see a glowing light in a small clearing ahead.
"Stop," he slurred, his head going fuzzy, "I don't want to go there."
But it was useless. He could see into the clearing now, there were people everywhere, dressed strangely. They were wearing cloaks, with intricate armour underneath, and swords and other weapons at their sides.
At the centre of all the commotion, there was a bright light. So bright, that it hurt Jesse's eyes to look directly at it.
"RUN! WE NEED TO GET OUT OF HERE NOW!"
Jesse turned his head towards the man shouting, just in time to see him and a few other people disappear into the trees. He looked back at the light, and felt complete terror overcome him. The people that remained, about twenty or so, were disintegrating as the light's intensity grew.
"No," Jesse whispered, as his legs finally began to obey him. He started to turn away, but his head was so fuzzy, and despite the bright light, the world around him went dark.