*careful not to fall
have to climb your wall
'cause your the one who makes me feel
much taller than you are*
-Peeping Tom, by Placebo

The Venture Inn wasn't exactly an inn. It was more of a vacation resort, tucked away conveniently near by to a charming tourist attracting city. It was only ten minutes to drive from the city to the Venture Inn, where people reserved rooms much like small but comfortable apartements for weeks at a time to enjoy the country scenery and many opportunities to entertain themselves.

People living in the city had shops filled with clothes, trinkets, food and books open six days a week, only five hours on Sunday. Then there were tall business buildings, space-aged in appearance with their dark glass walls and revolving doors. There were neighbourhoods with picket fences and well kept gardens, apartement buildings with friendly (and not so friendly) landlords and clean schools filled with bright children, kind teachers and over fed class hamsters named things like spike and muffin.

This is how the city appeared to those who visited. The residents, however, were not as perfect as they appeared. They had bad days, had mortgages, had children who misbehaved and had problems just like everyone else who came there to vacation.

Brody Thio had come to the conclusion that tourists thought it was a perfect place because they wanted to believe there could be somewhere without problems. They were going on vacation to get away from it all, and it made sense that they would want somewhere carefree to spend their time off. He was happy to keep up appearances, play his role of perfect son and student, since it was the tourists that supplied him (and his mother) with a job. They lived and worked at the Venture Inn, his mother the manager and he doing simple summer work.

In fact, Brody was sitting behind a desk the first Friday morning of July, ready to answer any questions that the guests might have about anything at all. It was boring work, but his mother liked him to do it because he looked so 'approachable'. He didn't think he looked approachable. He thought he looked like a thirteen year old boy (as opposed to his actual seventeen) with blond hair that liked to stick up funny at the back and brown eyes that probably should have been blue.

A girl with long orange-red hair in a ponytail bounced up to the desk, smiling brightly at him, face freckled from spending time in the sun. She leaned on the desk, panting.

"I...'ave...a question, Monsieur," she gasped in a fake french accent. Brody raised his eyebrows, amused.


"If I just happened to be a boy AND a girl- not that I am, I'm asking for a friend- which bathroom would I use?" she giggled, abandoning her accent. He burst out laughing, attracting the attention of several people walking through the lobby.

"Sybil, you freak, I'm trying to work," Brody said, keeping his voice down.

"You're bored out of your skull. I can see it in your eyes. Dance with me!" she shouted the last few words, spinning around on the tiles. Brody put his head down on the desk, blushing. Any minute now.

"Sybil, you're in for it now."

"Nuh uh."

"Yah huh, here comes my mom."

"...Nuh uh..."

"Sybil," sang Brody's mother, stepping up beside the desk. She was a short woman with wavy blond hair, not unattractive although maybe a little old looking for someone not yet forty. Sybil grinned, nodding.

"Yeah, I'm going. I was only stopping for a visit anyways. I have to go out this evening. Call you tomorrow, Brody!"

"Bye, Sybil," he called to her retreating back, looking up at his mother.
"Brody, it's almost six. I'm going to have someone else take over here, can you go home and start dinner? We've got some important guests arriving any minute and I really should be here to greet them."

"Sure," Brody smiled, glad to get up from the desk after sitting for so long. "I'll see you in a bit?"

"Thanks, hon. We've got tortellini in the fridge...ooh, I think thats the guy. I have to go now, see you in a while."

He watched her walking away towards a small group of people who had just come into the lobby. There was a man in a suit, a woman he assumed was his wife and two teenagers dressed casually and hanging back from their parents. He watched for a moment as his mother greeted them before he turned and walked to the elevator, stretching his arms above his head.

The 'apartement' was on the second floor of the building, which had six floors in total. Brody and his mother treated it as though it was just a normal place to live, although having so few permanent neighbours always felt strange. As soon as he walked through the door a small gray cat was rubbing against his legs, meowing plaintively. He scooped her up, kissing the top of her head.

"Did you miss me, Tris? Miss you Daddy?" He carried her into the kitchen, pouring dry catfood into a dish to distract her while he started dinner for his mom. He was used to things like that happening, she had resposibilities that didn't go away since the resort didn't close very often. Cleaning up, cooking, Brody didn't mind any of the helping out.

Two and a half hours later, when he was done eating and watching television, his mother walked in.

"Sorry I'm so late, hon, I got roped into dealing with some problems and talking to the people at the desk...mm, the tortellini looks good."

"It's no problem," Brody said, smiling, a little disappointed that she would have to heat up her food instead of eating it with him.

"You're such a good boy," she sighed thankfully. Brody shrugged, averting his eyes.

"Well, I try."


"Sybil, I'm bored. We've been sitting on this balcony for an hour. He's not coming out!"

"Such impatience. So little faith. I swear he was outside last week!"

Brody picked at the chipped paint on the balcony railing. He was the first to admit that he was less than social. His life consisted of working at the resort, hanging around with Sybil and school. However, he was having trouble believing he'd spent an hour of his summer vacation standing on a balcony overlooking the pool waiting for man who Sybil swore left his room only once a day to come outside.

"I'm so boooored!" Sybil glanced at him, shrugging.

"Fine then, we'll just walk away. We'll just give up."

Brody ignored her meaningful look as he walk towards the doors leading into one of the second floor hallways.

"Good, 'cause I'm thirsty."

"Wait a sec! come back!" she hissed, waving frantically. He went back, exasperated but still curious. Maybe the hermit man was leaving his room.

"Where is he?"

"Its not him, its some interesting looking people. I have to tell you their story," Sybil said solemnly. Brody rolled his eyes but returned to his spot leaning against the railing, Sybil's stories were always interesting.

Brody looked down at the pool and saw the two teenagers from the lobby the day before as well as the woman (their mother?) who had been with them. The man in the suit was missing, however.

"That woman and her children are part of a plot. They all had a part in killing their father, her husband, for the insurance money and inheritance!"

"Sybil, you are so full of it," he snorted. The woman was preparing to stretch out on a long chair while the daughter, a slim girl with curly brown hair, went straight to the pool steps and began wading in.

"See, the mother and daughter are cold. They know they've gotten away with it. But that boy there, Frank, he-"

"Frank? Can't you even give them original names? I'm pretty sure I've seen them with their father, you know."

"Original names like Brody? Yeah right. Stop interrupting me."

Brody looked down again at the family. The mother was sunbathing, the daughter swimming, and the son was walking slowly along the edge of the pool in his. He had brown hair as well, shining reddish in the sunlight, and pale skin.

"He's almost as scrawny as you are, Brody. Maybe his mom keeps him locked in his room and only lets him out to keep up appearances?" Sybil chuckled, enjoying the plot she'd made up to go with the family.

"First you insult my name and now you're calling me scrawny," he huffed, feigning irritation. The girl in the pool called out suddenly,

"Are you going to swim, Gavin, or just stare at the water all morning?"

Brody grinned at Sybil.

"Ha! Seems our Frank has a name."

"Our little Frankie, all grown up with his own name."

"We really need to find new ways to amuse ourselves, Syb."

"Don't call me Syb."

"So what happened with little Frankie? You were saying something about him." Brody leaned over the railing, surprised to see that 'Frank' was leaving. The mother didn't notice, although his sister watched him go, shaking her head.

"Frank just isn't the kind to pull off a crime like that. The secret is gnawing at him, driving him so slowly insane. He's hearing voices now, our little Frankie."

Brody gave Sybil an incredulous look.

"I'm going to get my drink now."

"Meet me in the library in fifteen?" she asked. Brody nodded, sliding open the glass door.

"The library then."


The library didn't really qualify as a library. There were several bookcases filled with favourite novels of the employees, sometimes even guests, that were bought every now and then to go on the shelves. It was a room with tall bay windows and comfortable chairs, a gas fireplace and piles of magazines on tables. A wooden box was attached to the wall encouraging suggestions for new books.

Sybil happened to know that Brody sorted through the suggestions, so he usually found nothing but notes from her suggesting more books on Lion Taming or that they have video games instead of books. For all the years that Brody had known Sybil- since they were nine years old- the library had been where they would play when it rained, or if they didn't feel like swimming or playing tennis, or exploring the woods for the five hundredth time.

He was there first, drink in hand, about to go in the door when Sybil arrived and jostled him almost enough to spill.

"Sorry I'm late!"

He opened the door and walked in, nearly dropping his glass when he saw frankie sitting on a chair with a book open in his hands. The boy had a pair of glasses on that he hadn't worn earlier, and he looked up calmly to see who was coming in. He had green eyes and a delicate, almost pretty face. It was a confusing sort of face, the kind that made Brody look twice and curse his own. Sybil told him he was cute, but cute didn't cut it when you had someone like Frankie in the same room. Or country.

"Frankie!" Sybil cried. Brody blushed, putting a hand to his face. Sybil WOULD embarass him in front of a total stranger. The boy shook his head slowly, closing the book.

"I think you've mistaken me for someone else," he said in a soft, clear voice.

"Ooh, sorry! You look a lot like someone I met once."

"Sybil, you moron," Brody muttered. Frankie glanced at him, making him blush again out of embarassment. Trying to break the sudden uncomfortable silence, he smiled, the smile he gave to all the guests.

"Are you enjoying your stay at the hotel?"

Frankie looked a little unnerved, but he answered,

"Yeah, um...are you?"

Sybil burst out laughing, and Frankie recoiled, pulling back into the chair and frowning.

"I work here," Brody explained quickly, trying not to smile too much. He held out his hand, sorry to have confused him. "My name is Brody. That's Sybil, she doesn't work here so you don't have to worry about running into her too much..."

Frankie stood and shook his hand, perfectly composed. He was barely taller than Brody himself, who was five foot six and shorter than Sybil.

"Gavin. It was interesting meeting you both, " he almost smiled, then, "But I have to go now."

"Bye, Frankie!" giggled Sybil as he walked out, book in hand.

"Sybil! Do you have to scare all the guests like that? Mom'll kill me if she finds out, you know. That guy is the son of some important businessman."

"Really, his Dad's alive? I guess that explains why his name isn't Frankie."

"Just try to be friendly in a less crazy way or something," he pleaded, putting on an expression he knew would get her to listen.

"I won't talk to him any more. Besides, I don't like him very much. He's too quiet. Watch out for the quiet ones, Brody."

"Right. Lets get out of here, I don't feel like sitting inside any more," Brody sighed. He didn't agree with Sybil, she didn't know Gavin (formerly known as Frankie) at all and you couldn't judge a person from meeting them once. He followed Sybil outside again into the summer heat of July, still feeling weird after the encounter in the library. Hopefully Gavin and his family wouldn't be staying long, so Sybil and he could get back to their normal routine without distraction.


Brody was sitting behind the questions desk on Monday morning. It had been an eventful day so far, with one lost child asking where his mommy was and an elderly couple concerned about having handles in the shower for safety. There were people going in and out, just arriving, leaving, going out for the day. Brody called out across the echoing lobby,
"Hey Jan!"

"Yeeees?" the woman at the front desk called back.

"Do you know where my mom is?"
"In a meeting, Brody. She should be out soon."

Brody nodded, slouching over the desk. Maybe he could take a five minute break in a little while.

"Excuse me?"
Brody sat up straight, surprised. He hadn't noticed any footsteps coming close to him, but a familiar girl with curly shoulder length brown hair and soft features was standing near his desk.

"Oh! Um. Hi, can I help you?" Brody flustered, running a hand through his hair and messing it up even more. She smiled, looking much more friendly than he imagined her brother ever could.

"Yes, I was just curious about the tennis courts. I didn't bring any equipment with me, so..."

"You can borrow some. It's free and you only have to sign it out and back in again. I can go get it for you, how many racquets do you need?" he asked, pleased with the idea of getting up from the desk.

"Just two, and a ball."

Brody went to retrieve the items from a large walk-in closet where they kept things like that, stretching his legs and pulling the keys from his pocket to open the door. He found what he needed quickly and re-locked the door, stopping at the front desk to get a sign-out sheet from Jan before he returned to his desk. The girl was there as well as Gavin, who was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt with a pair if sunglasses resting in his hair.

Brody put everything down on his desk, smiling nervously at the boy.

"You two playing tennis together?" he asked, searching for a pen in one of the drawers.

"No," the girl answered, "Gavin is above playing tennis with his sister once in awhile."

"Thats right, Mo," Gavin replied coolly, leaning against the wall.

"Moe?" Brody asked, uncertain that anyone who named their son Gavin would name their daughter Moe. The girl touched her forehead, smiling sheepishly.

"Monique. Thanks for helping me out...do I just sign here?" she pulled a pen from her own pocket and checked various boxes on the slip of paper, signing her name at the bottom. "I'll see you later when I return these," she said brightly, picking up the racquets and ball before jogging away. Gavin remained, not even looking over his shoulder when she left.

Brody sat down, pretending to organize the papers on his desk and put things away.

"Have you worked here a long time?" Gavin asked, picking up a paperweight and inspecting it. Brody raised his eyebrows.

"Thats not the usual type of question I get sitting here. I've worked here for two years, I guess...but I've lived here since I was six or seven. My mom is the manager."

Gavin set the weight back on the desk, nodding agreeably. Brody wondered if he was really bored to be hanging around with a total stranger at the questions desk, he even considered asking, but thought better of it. That was something Sybil would do, not him.

"How long are you and your family staying?" Brody wracked his mind to come up with conversation, it was his job to keep the guests happy.

"Three, four weeks. We've been here before."

"Really? I don't remember seeing you..."

Gavin shrugged, looking at him. It made him nervous, the way the boy looked straight into his eyes when they spoke. Brody always looked away, at his hands or inspecting the persons face from nose to mouth to eyebrows. He felt compelled to follow Gavin's example and look at his eyes, though, and was having difficulty holding old habits at bay.

"I never came. Just my parents and my sister."

"Oooh. But you love it here, right?" He asked, grinning. Luckily, Gavin smiled back before he had the chance to worry that the joke might not go over well.

"Well, so far it's been an experience..."


Brody jumped in his seat, surprised to see Sybil skipping over to his desk. Gavin stared at her blankly.

"Sybil, hi. You scared us," the blond boy laughed, and Sybil shrugged, glancing at Gavin. Brody sighed inwardly. Sybil had already decided she didn't like him, and he would have a hard time convincing her to change her mind. He thought that 'Frankie' was probably just bored and maybe a little shy, it might be all right to spend some time with him while he was on vacation. After all, three or four weeks wasn't as long as it sounded and they didn't have to spend every waking hour with him.

"Spending a little quality time with our Frankie?" she asked, letting her sarcasm seep through. Gavin looked away uncomfortably. Sybil didn't waste time playing nice and pretending.

"Well, y'know.." Brody murmured, blushing. He wished she didn't have to be so territorial around him. As much as he loved Sybil, she being his best friend, he couldn't ignore her resentment of anyone else he socialized with.

Gavin drew himself up, still blank.

"I'll be going then. Nice talking to you, Brody," he said smoothly, and then, "Sybil."

Sybil watched him go, making a face at his back.

"See that? He's being totally cold."

"Syb, you're the one who was sarcastic! No wonder he was cold, he can tell you don't like him."

"Kind of like a little animal...and don't call me Syb."

Brody cradled his head in his hands, frustrated.

"You don't have to hate him on principle...I wish you would give people a chance now and then."

"I do give people chances. Frankie has used his chances up."

"You know what I mean, Sybil." Brody looked up at her balefully, but she was in a stubborn mood and looked away at a potted plant. Then she looked at the ceiling. She was still looking up when she muttered something about going home for lunch and running out the front doors.

Jan heard at her chair a loud groan from the questions desk, and what sounded like someone banging their head off a table.


"Brody Thio, this cat has to go! I won't have her running through the halls making trouble all the time!"

"Tris doesn't get out ALL the time-"

"She was in the kitchen, Brody. We have guests who might be allergic to cats. The last thing anyone needs is animal fur in their food."

Brody opened the door to the cat cage sitting on a chair in the kitchen, pulling Trisqit into his arms.

"She won't get out again, I'll be careful. I'll take her for more walks in a harness and leash or something...maybe she'll be less restless that way. We -can't- get rid of Tris, Mom!"

His mother sighed, massaging her temples. She hadn't been this annoyed at the cat (or Brody) since the time Trisqit had carried a live mouse into the lobby in her mouth.

"All right...I know you love that animal, she can have one more chance. One, you hear?"

Brody nodded, stroking Trisqit's ears. He watched his mother walk towards her bedroom and opened the door leading into the hall with one hand, cradling Tris in his other arm. Carrying her along the hall, he rushed to the glass doors that led onto one of the public balconies, stepping outside into the rapidly darkening evening. The air was still warm and a soft breeze was blowing, there was potential for a perfect time alone to contemplate had he been in a better mood.

//Mom's annoyed, Sybil's annoyed. If I piss off Trisqit, everyone I talk to will be irritated with me.//

He stood looking over the railing at the pool area, locked up for the night. Stars were slowly appearing in the sky, and Tris began to struggle in his arms while he gazed up at them. He let her down onto the floor to wander the balcony and she sat down near the end, licking a paw.

Brody walked to a corner, of railing, leaning against it and staring at the view. He could see the city lights past the woods and silhouettes of tall buildings covered with tiny glowing windows. It felt lonely to stare at them, knowing that there were so many people he would never meet and talk to. He would just sit at the Venture Inn, making up stories with Sybil and cooking dinner for his mother.

"Hey," called a soft voice. Brody glanced around but saw no-one else on his balcony. He looked at the nearest one beside him, but it was empty as well.

"Up," the voice said and he caught sight of Gavin on the balcony diagonally above his.


Gavin was leaning over the railing, it was a little difficult to see him clearly in the growing darkness and Brody strained to see if he could make out the colour of the other boy's eyes.

"I heard you come outside, but...I didn't say anything right away because I wasn't sure it was you. Is that a cat?"

Trisqit rubbed her head against Brody's legs, golden eyes glinting. He picked her up and held her close to his chest.

"Yes, she's mine...Trisqit. She's acting sweet now to make up for getting me into a load of trouble."

Brody wanted him to go away. He wasn't in the mood to talk, especially not to someone he didn't know and had nothing to say to.

//Weren't you just thinking about being alone? All those people you never talk to? It's sad that you can go for days without having an actual conversation with anyone other than your mother and your best friend. Why don't you want to talk to him?//

"Trouble?" Gavin asked.

//I don't like the way he always looks right at me,// Brody decided, //I don't like the way he concentrates on me when we talk. He's unsettling.//

"She was loose in the kitchens, apparantly. I get to keep her, at least, but my mom isn't pleased. So here I am. What brings you out here this evening?" he asked, switching the subject.

Gavin cocked his head, looking away at the view for a moment.

"At home I can go where I want, when I want, but here...there's only so far you can go. I'm not used to being with my family twentyfour-seven, and even going out on the balcony for time alone is a relief sometimes."

Brody blinked, surprised by the boy's honesty. He'd been expecting him to say something about the view, or fresh air.

" Try working here," he sighed, smiling ruefully.

" I couldn't. I'm not exactly a people person."

A man walked onto Brody's balcony, making him jump and Trisqit twist around in his arms to look. He was lighting up a cigarette, ignoring the boy's presence completely.

"I should probably take Tris back inside now. It was nice talking to you, sorry if I interrupted your...alone time."

After stretching with his arms above his head, Gavin leaned dangerously over the railing of the balcony.

"You didn't interrupt me. I interrupted you, remember?"

Brody laughed nervously, nodding, and then went back into the hallway to walk home. He could hear the shower running in the bathroom and went into his bedroom, closing the door and dropping the cat on his bed. He didn't bother turning on the light as he dropped his clothes on the floor and found clean pajamas in a basket of laundry, spilling some of it and not bothering to pick it up. It was a little early for going to bed, but he didn't feel there was anything else he could do.

//I should have been more friendly,// he thought while climbing into bed, //He doesn't seem to get along with his family very well. I'm in the doghouse with Sybil and Mom, I don't have any excuse NOT to be. Maybe I'll get used to the way he looks straight at me.//

The curtains on his window were open, letting in the moonlight to illuminate the mess in his room. The walls were painted a boring sort of blue and the furniture was mismatched, but he liked it the way it was. His bedroom was a safe place, filled with memories and familiar objects. Lately the familiar way life went had been getting to him, and he considered that maybe that was why he'd let Sybil go away mad.

He didn't want to play it her way, this time, and abandon 'Frankie' because she had a bad feeling about him. Her bad feeling was probably just the suspicion that Brody might make another friend as close as she was.

//He'll be gone, though, just like every other guest here. She doesn't have to worry. I can't even make up my mind about him, I like him more when he's not standing in front of me looking so...//

Brody paused, uncertain how to describe the way Gavin looked.

//Intense. I'm not used to the way he concentrates on me...Sybil is always in motion, planning something, but he seems to expect that things happen on their own. What is it about him that bothers me so much? He's perfectly nice!//

He shifted in his bed, wide awake and staring up at the ceiling.

//I'll figure it out, eventually. If I can get over the way he looks at me.//

Trisqit jumped on to his stomach, purring, shoving her face into his. Brody smiled despite himself, petting her soft back and relaxing into his bed.

//I'll think about it tomorrow..//


Authors notes:
Yeh, I ended this chapter strangely ^^;; But hey its DONE!! I know Gavin and Brody don't seem exactly the same. Thats because of the situations they're in...and the third person instead of first person. Brody is less nervous because he's been working there for awhile and his mom has fewer problems. Gavin will hopefully have more character developement next chapter ^_^
I know Sybil is really weird. She always was.
Brody's parents are still divorced, Gavin still has issues, yes. They basically have the same life stories, only this time Brody's mom is a workaholic instead of an alcoholic.

anyhoo, feeback is good! I'm nervous. Going to see David Usher at 3! :D
tell me if you think the next chapter should be about Gavin?
Still in third person, but about Gavin.
I know there was a lot of Dialogue in this chapter. and...yeah. I went through and put spaces between paragraphs so txt format wouldn't be so awful to read.