Tears stream down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
Tears stream down your face and I
I promise you I will learn from my mistakes
The late morning sun was hot on Maddie's skin, soaking into the thick fabric of her shirt even though she had rolled the sleeves up to her elbows. The young woman had not waited for Joshua to wake up before she went outside; though she had left through the back door since she thought that crooked, leaning chair under the front door knob was too important to move out of the way. Maddie had found this old, rusted machine in his garage, and it was clear that it had not been used in well over a year.
The grass smelled so crisp and lovely to me, and the deeper into the lawn she mowed the richer and more green it grew. Maddie stepped into the freshly cut grass, her boots pressing indentations into it which unfurled slowly as the normally out-grown, shorter blades met the sunlight. She pushed the mower roughly through the grass, feeling it catch on thicker bits here and there and choke on moss and twigs. It had taken an hour or two to get so far, and now she was in the front yard, cleaning up the mess that time and suffering had done to this once beautiful house.
Maddie had already been around the windows and cleared out the cobwebs, and had even trimmed some of the dead branches in that charming oak tree. In all honesty, she was well past due for a break, but that was not something she ever took until the work was done, and done well. It was relaxing to her anyway, a morning with purpose and duty.
It was boiling out under that blazing sun, though Maddie was quite honestly no stranger to working out in the heat. The only shade she received was when she ducked under the low hanging branches. She could feel her body sweating beneath the folds of fabric that clung to her, and yearned to have been watering plants instead so that she might take a drink or a quick rinse. Maddie reached down and undid most of the lower buttons of her blouse, pulling it untucked and tying it tight right below her breasts. The breeze on her heating skin was so satisfying, like a cool mist or an icy drink.
Maddie pushed the old lawn mower through the tall grass of the front lawn, hearing it growl and desperately chew on the blades, clearly exhausted after being left unused for so long. She paused a second more and looked back at the work she had already done, catching a glimpse of Joshua in the kitchen window as she did. It was hard to see in at first, the house being so dark and the sun catching and bouncing off the now clean glass, but she saw him.
It was Josh without a doubt, and he was just sitting there, resting his head on his hand and staring out at her, watching her. Maddie paused in pushing the mower to stand up straighter, leaning one arm on the bar grips as she wiped the sweat from her forehead. She raised her other hand, clothed with the work gloves she always took around in the truck for whenever she needed them, and waved a hearty good morning to him.
Though he blinked blindly at her for a few seconds, he seemed to wake up and see her actions through the glass. A small smile spread across his features as he noticed her, and he weakly raised his own hand, not bothering to shake it around. It was nice, to see Josh smile at her again.
Maddie continued to clear the lawn for him, stepping forward and using all of her strength to force the mower to move again. She felt the long blades of grass get all cut up under her hands and spray about, hitting her pant legs or blowing about in the gentle breeze around her feet. She watched it clump up in cut up corpses over the young and fresh half-bodies of the remaining blades, and it did seem a mite sickening. But it would dry, and the wind would take it away.
As she finished up with the mowing, Maddie had another look around the yard, knowing her work was far from done. She still had to climb up and clear out the gutters, finish pruning the trees and bushes, fix the fence that was falling apart, and scrub up the patio in the back. Still, she could feel her body weakening as she became dehydrated, her breaths heavy and dry.
Maddie went around the house again, carrying the mower back there with her, and found her way to the back door. It lead to a small hall just behind the kitchen, where she knocked the dirt off of her boots and removed her gloves one by one while she came inside. The air was much cooler in the house, and she reached up and brushed her bangs back to feel the air on her face. As she entered the kitchen, coming around between the counter and the pantry, she noticed that Josh was still in there, pouring something into a glass from a jug.
"Right on time," Josh said without looking back, as she finished pulling off her work gloves and held them in one hand.
"I am? For what?" Maddie asked as she walked up to him and tried to peek over her shoulder, but he turned around abruptly and held something out in front of her.
"It's lemonade," Josh said as Maddie's eyes trailed down his arm to find it extended to her, the bright, pale yellow colour looking more than refreshing to her parched lips, "I made it for you."
"Aw, Josh, you didn't have to do that," Maddie smiled as she gratefully accepted the glass, and could feel just how cool it was in her hands, the ice pressing against the edges and drawing forth condensation, "But thank you."
"Don't mention it," Josh shrugged as he took a second glass from beside the jug, clinking it with her before he began to swallow the translucent liquid.
Maddie was so eager to taste it, she brought it right up to her lips and took several huge gulps, swallowing the sour but sweet liquid and feeling it cool her stomach as it slid down her throat. A drop or two slipped over her lips, she drank so fast, but she didn't mind it one bit. What she did mind, however, was the odd after-taste it left on her tongue. She took the last sip and held it in her mouth for a moment before swallowing it, realizing then what was so funny about it.
"Hey, this is spiked," Maddie told him flatly, and he just smiled like it was no big deal.
"Well yeah, it's just boring old lemonade otherwise," Josh stepped forward, standing close in front of her as he reached up and wiped her still wet lips with the back of his hand. He snickered a bit, "Of course, watching you spill it everywhere was fun enough."
"Shut it," Maddie reached over with a chuckle and messed up his hair—which she had just now realized had actually been brushed for once—bringing an irritable pout to his face.
"So, tell me something," he asked, fixing his hair while Maddie poured herself another glass of that toxic lemonade, desiring the refreshing taste whether it knocked her for a loop or not, "Why exactly are you outside, mowing the lawn?"
"Josh, the atmosphere in this place is keepin' you down, living in a mess like this isn't helping your health," Maddie told him as she took another cool sip, licking her own lips.
"Whatever you say," Josh didn't seem to believe her, but that didn't keep him from asking, "Do you, do you need any help?"
"Nah," Maddie told him simply as she put the glass down, and walked past him while patting his shoulder lightly, "You just go ahead and rest, 'kay?"
"What if I don't want to?" He bickered as he took to following her to the back door, chasing her heels.
"Trust me honey, you aren't the type that likes yard work," Maddie reminded him with a light laugh as she made it to the door, though he took it as something of an insult.
"Hey! I'll have you know—" Josh stopped speaking and flinched as Maddie suddenly turned around and closed the screen door in front of him, holding it that way.
"Don't make me get a chair for this door, too," Maddie smiled as she noticed the irritable expression settle in deep.
"Well, then can you at least, like," he shuffled there in the doorway as Maddie released his hold, wondering what had him so uncomfortable to say, "Hurry up? I mean, maybe I want to spend time with you, you know, before you go back to your regular life and stuff."
"I promise, we'll have plenty of time together," Maddie vowed as she pressed her fist up against the screen, balling it up and leaning her knuckles onto it.
"Don't you lie to me, Mads," he warned as he balled up his own fist and pressed it against Maddie's, though she felt more of the screen than she did the warmth of his skin.
"Never," Maddie winked playfully and turned away, tucking her work gloves into her rear pocket as she went back over to the shed to see what Josh's father had in the way of tools.
Maddie decided it might be best not to climb up onto the roof after drinking that hard lemonade, so she left that chore for another day. Despite the hissing sun and the tedious workload, she was definitely not the kind of girl who quit so easily. Maddie was able to get around to pruning some more of the bushes around the yard, and pulled up handfuls of weeds from all over the lawn and house.
She found herself kneeling on the front steps cleaning out the moss from between the cracks a mere hour or two later, and by then she was more than glad to get back inside. Maddie swept up the debris and dirt from the walkway that she had scraped up and finished watering the plants - taking a quick wash under the hose - before she was able to pry her boots off.
She left the dirty things on the mat just inside the back door as she went inside, and even though she had worn her gloves nearly the whole time, dirt still found its way onto her fingers. Maddie was in the middle of washing them up when Josh found her again.
"I almost thought you were going to spend all day out there," Josh whined as he came up beside her and leaned back against the counter. He stuck his bottom lip out while Maddie splashed some water on her face, and she could almost feel his gaze trailing her and her still damp clothing from when she had turned the hose on herself for a spell, "I can't imagine how much time you've wasted at work on your farm."
"It's a lifestyle, for sure," Maddie said as she tried to scrub around her nails, but the water stopped running over her hands as Josh reached out and twisted the knob off.
"All work and no play, Madison," he smirked as he got near to me, and Maddie felt her already sun-heated face grow warmer, "That isn't good for your health, either."
"That's what I got you for, isn't it?" Maddie replied as she dried her hands on a paper towel, tipping her head back so my head wouldn't block the lights above her from catching on any wetness or dirt she missed, "To keep me young."
"Maddie, you are young," he reminded her flatly as he linked his arm with her, tugging her backwards and towing her into the living room, "I think it's time I reminded you of that."
"Oh?" The woman in question wondered as she raised one eyebrow, letting Josh lead her over to the couch and sit her down.
Josh went over by the television and knelt down, opening the little magnetic doors of the cabinet underneath. While he was busy, Maddie reached down and undid the bottom of her tied shirt, doing up the buttons the right way again and ignoring the new wrinkles. Even while her hands were busy, she found it somewhat difficult to avert her gaze as Josh leaned over; she really wanted to see what he was doing, but even more, she wanted to watch him do it.
It was a terrible thought, and Maddie thought it had something to do with that tricky lemonade he had gotten her to drink. Josh bent down further as he reached into the cabinet, and Maddie fiddled with her fingers as to not stare.
Josh sat back at last and pulled a couple objects out from under the television stand. Reaching up, he changed the input of the television and shifted through the settings a bit. Maddie heard some electronic opening noise and heard him popping open some case, removing a disk from it. Finally he shuffled back and got to his feet, scurrying over to her excitedly as the television responded to whatever he had given it.
"What're we-?" she started, but Josh dropped some old, dusty controller right into her lap and plopped down onto the couch beside her, "Oh good lord."
"That's right!" His grin grew until it was strung up from ear to ear, "You and me Madison Stallanos, one on one!"
"Can't we just play a co-operative game for once? You always get so darn angry when I whoop your sorry rear," Maddie reminded him with the beginnings of a smug smirk, remembering how these types of competitions usually played out.
"Who says you're going to win? If I remember correctly, we were pretty even in skill," he argued as he set it up into versus mode, and they both remembered the familiar noises and screens as they played out before them.
"I think all that vodka has warped your mind, honey," Maddie joked as she leaned against him, nudging him a bit.
"We shall see," his eyes narrowed at her as he selected a character from the list, and Maddie rolled her eyes with a laugh.
The two of them had played a lot of video games when they were younger. Josh used to have the console and a small television up in his room, and he absolutely loved fighting and racing games. Maddie liked them too of course, but Josh had been especially interested in them; he didn't have much else to do at home or over the summer when there were few sports teams to join. They would go swimming and hang out with their friends and stuff, but Josh always brought Maddie home after for a few rounds of his favourite fighting games. None of their other friends cared much for that kinda thing, so no one else ever came to hang out. It was for the best though, those years were when they became best friends.
They played three different fighting and racing games that lazy Sunday, and every time they would be rather evenly matched, until he started getting cocky or angry. Then, Maddie would take the lead. If she didn't win, Josh would stand up on the couch and cheer, hooting at her about it, or he'd take another drink. Either way, Maddie did her best to assure she won instead.
While he was grinding his teeth and sitting on the edge of his seat, Maddie was leaning back casually as she fought opposite him in a fighting game. She would glance over at him now and again, and found herself smiling. Josh was kind of cute when he was all frustrated and determined. A great big grin crossed his face and she shifted her eyes back to the screen, noticing the way it froze for a moment as he smashed the buttons for an ultimate move.
"Oh yeah, here we go, get ready to-!" Josh hollered loudly, but Maddie cut him off as she maneuvered her own fingers on the controller.
"I'm sorry, you were sayin'?" Maddie smirked as he grabbed his bottle to take a victory drink, but jerked when he saw her avoid the move and finish a final combo, winning the match in a matter of seconds.
"Damn it! Why did that miss? I totally had you!" He shook the bottle around as the screen displayed Maddie's character as victorious, which only served to spill it all over his lap as he shouted in irritation. He jumped up as the liquid seeped into his clothing, "Oh for the love of - ugh. Madison, I hate you."
"You get so worked up, you make it too easy," Maddie told him as he put the bottle down, and she reached over to grab the blanket she had folded up over the arm of the couch after sleeping last night, dabbing it over his lap, "Here, lemme help."
Josh went uncharacteristically red as Maddie began to rub the quilt over his lap, and Maddie could tell from his contorted and scrunched up expression that he was holding his tongue. She didn't really mind cleaning him up, as they were best friends, and she had been closer to him than this. Maddie dabbed and dabbed closer up his thigh, and could feel him shuffling around under the attention, but she found it too funny and adorable to stop. His eyes suddenly found hers, though she was busy scrubbing and trying to dry the fresh stains to return the gaze.
"Do you remember how mad my dad would get when we would stay up all night playing games?" Josh asked suddenly, and she smiled as she recalled those evenings, "He'd come and knock on my door like twenty times to tell us to be quiet."
"You never listened no matter how many times he knocked," Maddie reminded him coolly as she pressed hard on his lap, holding the fabrics together to keep their skin apart.
"I know," he laughed lightly as he moved against her, slinging his arms over the back of the couch as he willingly let her work on him, "He had to threaten me to make us go to bed. But even then, we were never quiet."
"You kept me up all night talkin' my ear off," Maddie chuckled, though she had enjoyed every conversation they ever posed and communicated through the darkness.
"Hey," he sounded kind of hurt, so Maddie looked up at him to gauge his expression, which was somewhat concerned or uncertain, "I loved those nights."
"I never said that I didn't," she smiled and agreed with him, pulling the now damp quilt off of his legs, looking at the damage, "This isn't dryn' up too well."
"Whatever, they're just pants," Josh stood up suddenly and began to pull his pants down, right there in front of her.
Maddie had seen him in his underwear plenty, but him getting undressed in front of her was still unnerving. She watched the clothes fall in folds on the floor around his bare feet, which he then stepped out of. She noticed he was wearing thin shorts and breathed a quiet sigh of relief. He sat down beside her again as she fumbled the quilt in her hands, putting it back over the arm of the couch even though it was dirty and damp now.
He didn't start a new game right away, like usual. Instead, he leaned forwards and took a drink from the still moist bottle, though it was small and more habitual than it was necessary. He stopped himself as he was in the middle of it, though, fighting the urges off as best he could. Maddie's eyes trailed down his body as she noticed the abnormality in his skin; the darker, pinker streak that trailed down his outer thigh. She had seen it before, but it hurt her to look at every time. He seemed to notice my stare and leaned over a bit, looking at it himself.
"Does it bother you?" Josh asked curiously, and there really was no place for Maddie to say anything, it was a scar of his and from something no one could have prevented.
"Uh, no, it just-" Maddie began, but couldn't lie to her, "A little."
"Yeah, me too," he smiled sadly as he reached down and ran a finger along it, lifting the hem of his thin shorts up to show Maddie the extent of it.
It was a long, thin run of wounded skin, which had healed up quite some time ago she imagined. Now all that remained was that scar, that scar that was shaped something like a lightning bolt that ran up his thigh. If he had received it under any other circumstance, perhaps he might have been proud of the mark. But all that this particular scar held for him was memories of jagged metal, broken glass, and death.
Maddie could see the way the skin changed smoothness, colour, and shape over the mark, and she wondered what it might feel like on her hand.
"It's funny, well, in a sad way, I guess," Josh started as his expression hardened on the spot, his finger running along the length from bottom to top, teasingly trailing so high, "It was a terrible accident, and yet here I am, and I came out of it with just a damn scratch. And the others..."
"I think you came out with a little more than a scratch, honey," Maddie told him, and she honestly believed that. He was much more broken up than he seemed to realize.
"All the doctors kept telling me how lucky I was...well I didn't feel so lucky after all," He leaned back into the couch and slung his arms around the back, looking up at the roof. "It all feels like a sick joke, really."
Maddie knew exactly what he was talking about, remembering his story about the crash from the other night. How crazy was it that all of yesterday morning's events seemed so distant compared to the afternoon events?
Maddie moved forward and embraced him suddenly, holding him firmly against herself as she pressed her face into the crook of his neck. At first, he didn't seem to know how to respond, but as Maddie held on longer Josh returned the hug. She felt him rub against her and she hummed lightly, enjoying the contact with her best friend. They pulled away simultaneously and their eyes met in the middle, crooked smiles mirroring each other just the same.
"I really missed hanging out with you, Mads," Josh confessed to her then, and it felt good to hear.
"I missed you too, you crazy-haired loon," Maddie told him as she tugged at a little tuft of golden-brown hair which had returned to its old, uncontrollable mess; while still being clean, "But you'll have to miss me awhile longer, I would just love a hot shower right about now."
"As long as you don't drag me in there with you," he joked as we headed upstairs once more, her to the bathroom and him to the bedroom. Maddie chuckled as she saw him turn back around, watching her leave.
Maddie hadn't bothered to lock the door; Josh knew she was in there so he wouldn't accidentally walk in or anything. Maddie closed her eyes as she dipped right underneath the stream of water, feeling it run over her skin and cleanse her of any dirt, labour, or impure thoughts. She rubbed my hands together, the feeling of her own fingers seeming dull or boring to her. The crashing, spraying water was loud against the white tub at her feet.
Maddie slipped her wet fingers through her hair, splicing it against her scalp and creating rivers between the crown of her head and her neck. She ran her hands down her body, feeling the warm water splitting between them and running in streams, dripping off her elbows and chin. Her skin was flushed due to the heat, she wassure, but it felt so very comfortable anyway.
Inch by inch her hands slipped down her body, and she scrunched up her face in wonder as she realized just how much she enjoyed it. Maddie felt a smile twitch onto her face under the slipping droplets of water, rerouting them around her cheeks and dimples as they formed. Her stomach quivered as her fingers almost tickled the sensitive muscles, and right before her closed eyes there was a face, and on her lips was a name.
Maddie jerked back to reality suddenly as she realized just what she was imagining, and knew there was something terribly wrong. Whether it was his sneaky lemonade, his partial nudity, his confiding in her or what, something had driven him into the confines of her mind that were better left alone. Curse him and his lack of boundaries and his darn charm. Maddie fumbled and grasped at the knobs for the water and frantically turned off the hot first, hissing and wincing as the cold ran over her once enticed form.
After letting the cool water run on for longer than she had planned, Maddie finally turned it off, standing there shivering in that shower, dripping wet from head to toe. The flushed woman breathed a hot huff of air to attempt to release the heat from inside of her, but doubted it had worked. She knocked her loose hair over her shoulder, squeezing it through once or twice absently as she tasted the clean water that still hung over her lips.
Maddie wiped the water off of most of her body before she went to grab the towel, which she had folded up and left right beside the shower, but her hand found only vacant air. Maddie blinked in surprise but searched again, still coming up empty. Now, she was no moron, she knew exactly where it had gone. She bunched up the shower curtain and wrapped it a bit around herself as she leaned out of the shower against the tiles on the wall. There he was, standing there with a sheepish grin on his face, clutching Maddie's towel to his chest.
"Joshua Berkeley!" She barked at him, and he nearly fell over in shock as her shout echoed in the small room, "What, exactly, are you doing?"
"Uh, standing guard?" He tried testing the waters, but Maddie was in no mood for his little games.
"Gimme my towel already, would you? This isn't as funny as you think it is," she tried to reach out and grab it, but he pulled it away and Maddie could not follow without losing her hold on the shower curtain gown she had adorned.
"On one condition," Josh started, and Maddie paused in her feeble attempts to snatch it from him to listen to his deal, "See, I went downstairs to get myself a drink."
"Lemme guess, it wasn't water you drank?" Maddie raised my eyebrow and picked at him, though he didn't seem to mind the snide swipe.
"Well, no, but that's not the point," he shrugged it off and stepped a little closer, teasing her with his nearness to her grasp. He played around with the towel and his words, coming up with a way to say it, "See, I realized that my, uh, drink, had been spilled all over your blanket, remember? So, I have an alternative proposition."
"And what might that be?" Maddie asked blankly as she stared at him, noticing the way he shifted about.
Josh held back his initial smile by biting his lip, but his eyes flickered up to Maddie's and his words were unusually soft and provocative, "Sleep with me."
"Now-what?!" This time Maddie was the one who nearly fell over, almost losing her grip and slipping on the tub at her feet as she heard such a request.
"Relax, I didn't mean anything more than innocent, scout's honour," he argued slyly as he extended his index and middle finger and waved it once, "It would just be nice to, you know, fall asleep next to somebody for once. We were talking about those night when you'd sleep over, and, I don't know, I miss that."
"I don't remember sleeping much those nights," Maddie murmured as she recalled something more like bickering.
"Oh, and I'm the perverted one?" Josh smirked, and Maddie blushed as she hurriedly tried to tell him that was not what she meant. He just laughed and brushed it off, "I'm kidding! Just, well, what do you say?"
Maddie chuckled a bit as her eyes found Josh's nervously wiggling bare toes, before she looked back up to his impatient, anxious expression. Maddie leaned a bit more on the curtain and swung out towards him, keeping her tone sultry and smooth, "If you give me my towel back, I'd kiss you."
"Well, that can be arrang—" he stepped forwards nice and close to her with this devious grin on his face, which was dashed as Maddie snatched the towel back, "Hey!"
"For an athlete you're rather slow on the reflexes, honey," Maddie told him as she tucked the towel under her arm before reaching back out, poking him on the nose and giving him a playful wink, "But thanks for the offer."
He grumbled something as she swung back behind the curtains, proceeding to dry herself off bit by bit. She huffed a few more laughs at his grumpiness as he left the bathroom. Maddie thought about his proposal all the while as she wrapped the towel around herself and pulled the curtains open, finding the tile floor cool on her pinkish feet.
The bathroom mirror was steamed up, and she wiped it once with her hand to get a view of her face. Of course, the hand print she smeared across was faulty, oblong and awkwardly shaped by her fingers, and steamed back up slowly as she brushed her hair back over my shoulder. Luckily for me, Josh had not thought to steal her clothes to use as a bargaining chip for something else mildly scandalous.
Not that she found his proposal unpleasant by any means, in fact she actually thought it would be nice. When all the lights are off, people talk about stuff they don't normally say when faces and expressions can be seen. That's what Maddie had found with Josh, anyway. Besides, it's not like it would actually mean anything to sleep beside each other now just because they were older, right? Like he said, it was completely innocent, they had slept side by side a hundred times before.
Maddie slipped her clothes back on over her slightly damp body, hating the way the fabric stuck to her skin and gave her trouble. She squeezed the towel around her hair numerous times until she was satisfied enough with the dryness to let it fall over her blouse. She adjusted the wrinkled collar a bit and finished doing up her belt before she went over to the bathroom door and opened it.
Maddie stepped one foot back as he tumbled backwards onto the floor at her feet, his shoulders landing over her front-most foot. She stared down at him dully as his wide eyes blinked a couple of times, his body laying half on the hallway hardwood and half on the bathroom tile. Clearly, he had been sitting outside the door waiting, and had fallen in as she removed his back support by opening the door. Maddie smirked a crooked smile and crossed one ankle behind the other, placing her hands on her hips as I peered down at him.
"Do I even wanna know?" she asked rhetorically, and she just forced a little laugh while her eyes found the vodka bottle next to the door frame which had likely accounted for his clumsiness, "I said it before, and I'm gunna say it again: you're crazy."
"You love me anyway," he flashed her a cheeky smile as he hoisted himself back up, wobbling a bit as he snatched up the bottle and twisted the lid on tighter.
"And why're you still carrying this around?" Maddie plucked it from his hands, but for once received no protest, "You don't need this stuff."
"I know, Maddie, it's complicated," he tried to explain as he went right towards his bedroom, hoping the conversation would drive Maddie after him, "Who's to say what we really need and don't need, right?"
"I suppose," Maddie murmured as she did as Josh wanted, escorting him and his toxic friend into the room.
"So, when are you leaving, anyway?" Josh asked as he nodded Maddie into his room before he closed the door behind her.
"Dawn, actually. What, y'want me gone already?" Maddie inquired jokingly, and he gave her an irritable or pouting look.
"That's not it, Maddie," he told her as he went back over to his bed, taking the bottle from her hand and placing it on his night stand before reaching over and flicking on the lamp, "I just know you have school and stuff, the weekend is almost over."
"You'd have school too if you didn't quit after high school," Maddie reminded him, after all, he would have had an easy time getting a scholarship in sports, if he had cared.
"Actually...well, I lost most of those scholarships after the...crash. I couldn't perform like I could before. Besides the crash happened like, right before you all started college. You had been trying the whole summer to convince me to go with you, and I almost caved. Until that all happened."
"I know, I'm not blamin' you or anything," Maddie told him as she went over to the bed, sitting on the side of it and leaning back to look at him.
"You should, for one thing or another," he cracked a smile, "First off, for all those times I would take you off campus during lunch time and keep you late, you'd get so worried that you would get caught or get in trouble."
"Yeah, you used to tell me, 'Maddie,'" she imitated his deeper, smoother voice and he found it rather amusing, "'You really need to loosen up!'"
"I totally said that!" he agreed with a loud laugh, which Maddie joined in on, "I was right, though."
"Yeah, maybe," she snorted as she leaned back onto her hands, watching him as their laughter subsided, and she recalled his wording, "Wait, you said first. Then, what's the second thing I should blame you for?"
"Well there's probably a much longer list than just two, Maddie, but since you asked," he grinned as he sat up, grabbing her forearms in his own and yanking Maddie over to him. She may have yelped or shouted as she was pulled up to him, but she was too focused on keeping herself from landing flat on him to pay much attention. Next thing she knew she was lying on top of him, holding herself just barely above him.
"What'd you do that for?!" Maddie asked loudly, and he actually full-on laughed at her. She shuffled her knees around his hips as she got a better hold of herself, keeping her irritable expression in check.
"Madison," he said her name much more calmly than she had expected, and her eyes clashed against his while she struggled for comfort, and Josh's playful expression stalled her, "You really do need to loosen up."
"Oh, don't you start, y'little tramp," Maddie told him off as she climbed off of him, instead laying on her side right up beside him and digging her elbow into the bed to keep her head upright.
"You flatter me," he turned his head to face her and met her eyes, smirking sarcastically.
"All right, I'm here," Maddie gestured to the bed and room around them, adjusting her cheek as it rested on her hand, "You said that you wanted it to be like when we used to lie here together. All I ever remember is staying up all night talking. So, you wanna talk, Josh?"
"Talk?" Josh became a bit more serious as their gazes penetrated each other so completely and honestly. His cheek twitched and teased a smile, but it disappeared as he sat up a bit, grabbing the vodka bottle off the table and bringing it to his lips as he tried to shrug the subject away, "You know, I feel like I've really spilled my guts to you, Maddie. I mean, what's left to talk about?"
"How about that?" She asked carefully as she nodded towards the bottle in Josh's hands, and he slowly lowered it from his lips, seeming less comfortable with speaking about it than she had expected.
"What, my drinking? Isn't it clear?" He scoffed obnoxiously, obviously trying to get by without addressing it too much, though that seemed to be exactly what he did in her snide tone, "I'm just a dumb kid with crap luck, running away from my issues instead of dealing with them."
"Is that it?" Maddie wondered, raising her eyebrow and waiting for more. He did not keep running though, he just let out a breath and actually answered her.
"Well, I think so. There isn't really any other reason I would do it, right? I don't really know what I like about it, honestly," he turned the glass container over in his hand as if he was studying it, "I mean, it doesn't taste very good, it makes me sick and clumsy and stupid, and it's expensive."
"I don't think it's much about liking it any more," Maddie suggested to him as she tilted her head just a bit more, observing his reaction.
"Maybe not. Because if that were the case, I would have stopped a long time ago. Because the more I think about it, the more I realize I really don't like it," Josh frowned and glared at the thing that fit so well in his hand, and he shoved it back onto his bedside table roughly, "I mean, it was his vice, Maddie. It's something that he left me, and it hurts almost as bad as those judgemental stares of his."
"You mean your dad, right?" Maddie had to be certain of that, though he made it pretty clear.
"Yeah. I never wanted to be anything like him, but here I am, and even though he's gone, it's like we've never been more similar," he sighed in frustration as he laid back down beside her, furrowing his brows as he looked at the ceiling.
"Drinking isn't exclusive to your dad, Joshua, plenty of people do it," Maddie tried to be consoling, but he didn't seem to bite, "Your dad had a lot more wrong with him than a little indulgence."
"It sure didn't help him relate to any of us," he nodded slowly as more of his life began to spill from his mouth, "He used to lock himself up in his study, or stay out late claiming he was at work. All he really did was push everyone away and polish off his own poisons. I'm not doing much differently, Maddie. I'm pushing everyone away too, worse," Josh's eyes met Maddie's in the dim light, and the dull orange lamp cast his eyes as dark red, glistening like wine and just as enticing, "I'm pushing you away."
"I'll be honest with you, Josh, I don't like it when you drink so much," Maddie spoke with her own honesty, leaning over him a bit, "I like it when you're you, I like knowing that the things you say to me, or, do to me," Maddie blushed a bit as she fought off the memory of his lips on hers and struggled to make herself heard and understood, about all of it, "I like knowing that all of that stuff is real."
"I never thought it would get this bad, Mads," he admitted reluctantly as he avoided looking back at the bottle, staring at Maddie instead as he made up his resolve, "But I can promise, I can promise that I'll be better."
"You don't have to-" Maddie tried to tell him, but he wouldn't let her go on.
"I do, I do!" He turned towards her and grabbed her hand, holding it between them in both of his own as he swallowed his pride for once, "Madison Stallanos, I would do anything for you. Drinking, it's, it's, whatever, I'll fix it."
"I wanna believe you," Maddie said gently, knowing things like this were not as easy to shake as speaking about it was.
"You will. I want to be better for you, Maddie. So maybe one day, maybe we can," all of Joshua Berkeley's features slipped into an excited smile, as he looked back up into her eyes hopefully, "Maybe you can look at me differently."
"Differently how?" Maddie inquired, finding his suggestion somewhat vague.
His smile grew larger and he bit at his lip in this childish little act, his natural charisma and charm enthralling her once more as the words came out and captivated her, "I think you'll want me to answer that sober."
Maddie thought she knew what he meant about that, and realizing it made her skin flush red enough to notice even under such dim lighting. It was one of those things that Maddie had mentioned, one of those things she wanted to know was real instead of just an act or thought based on lack of sobriety and excess of isolation.
He turned around and clicked off the lamp behind him before he decided to pull down the covers and climb beneath. Maddie followed suit until their bodies were beneath the surprisingly cool covers, and they lay facing one another.
Though at first their hands were touching between them as they stared into the vast darkness where they knew our best friend lay, that did not seem to satisfy theirr needs for intimacy. Soon enough, Maddie was staring up at the ceiling, with her arm wrapped around Josh's small body, holding her against me. His head rested on her chest, but it was not heavy or uncomfortable, in fact, it put her at ease. His legs entwined with hers beneath the wrinkling covers and he pulled her closer, his own arms around her midsection.
Something about all this felt like way more than simply friendliness, and it made Maddie nervous to think about it. She didn't know if most friends cuddled like this, in fact she wouldn't have pegged Joshua as the kind to want to curl up beside her anyway. But here he was.
Maddie let out a slow and hot breath as she tried to calm down enough to sleep, or enough not to alarm him with her frantic heartbeat, which surely he could hear while his head was on her chest. Maddie found herself smiling though, knowing that the darkness would obscure such a fact from his prying eyes.
She allowed herself to enjoy the moment while it lasted, because come tomorrow, everything would go back to the way it had been before the weekend began.