Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon. I do own Tera, Aaron, Elijah, Natalie and Taylor so don't take 'em. If you wanna use them, just let me know and as long as you don't rape and mutilate their characters I'll be just fine with it.
A/N: Okay, let me just say right off the bat that I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing with this chapter. This is a transitional chapter because then next one is the very end. Let me just say two things, one: I know Kari and TK's crest have not glowed. I know! Give it a rest, I wrote the story, you really really don't have to tell me! Second: unlike everything else this chapter is not planned and I'm pulling it out of my ass as I go so I cannot claim it will be good. I am doing this because I want every character to have a little bit of "air time" because the last chapter focuses mostly around one character only. It's not that great, but I'm trying.
"TAYLOR!" Matt's scream echoed through the house, as he leapt over backpacks left haphazardly by the front door and up the stairs, taking them three at a time. She appeared in the doorway of the girl's room at the top of the stairs, looking confused and searching for the caller before he jumped off the stairs and snatched her off the ground. Twirling her around, he laughed as they collapsing backwards into the girl's room.
Taylor's hair fell around her face as she lay on his chest and stared down into his face. "What happened?" she whispered. Her hair danced softly on his neck, tickling the naked flesh as he laughed out right. "What's going on with you?" she demanded, laughing and oblivious to Riley and Sora watching from their beds at opposite sides of the room.
He leaned up and kissed her cheek, and for an instant her body leaned in closer to his, hesitantly relaxing before he pulled away. "I'm gonna be a rock star."
"What are you talking about?"
"I auditioned for a band today. Evan Kilgor's band."
"You hate Evan Kilgor's band," Taylor pointed out as she giggled.
"True, I did hate Evan Kilgor's band, until today."
"Why until today?"
"Because they kicked Evan Kilgor out and got me as their lead guitar player!" His smile widened. "I'm in a band again! This is so great!"
Her arms reached around his neck in a tight hug that brushed her lips against his cheek, and he felt electricity run through his body. "That's awesome, Matt!"
"Well, there is a slight problem."
She pulled back, concern in her bright lavender eyes, and her freckled face scrunched as she stared down at him. "What?"
"Well, when Kilgor left the band, his girlfriend, you know, Alana, left too. So now they're out a singer."
"But I don't want to sing. I just want to play the guitar. I've had enough of being the front man for one lifetime."
"So what are they going to do? Hold more auditions? I'm sure if you sat in on the choir-"
His hand reached up and traveled down her face, and a shiver coursed through her body. "I told them I knew somebody who they should give a shot."
"No, Matt," she declined, as she started to sit up. His hand caught her arms, refusing to let her go. "Please, don't grab me like that, Matt," she whispered with a tremor tucked into her voice.
"Taylor, they don't want another goody goody choir member with a half ass voice and an ego the size of the student body. They want you."
"They don't even know me. Kilgor used to call me mutie, and told me he was gonna make me scream his name."
Matt suddenly looked furious, and unconsciously tightened his grip on her arms. "And the other guys? Tyrell, Gabe and Corey? Did they do stuff too? Because if they did-"
"No!" Taylor cut him off, easing herself back down against him 'till his hands loosened and withdrew. "They were nice to me. They were. I'm just…I just don't think I can sing in front of them. I mean, Matt, I can't do it with other people. I'm not that good."
"I think you can, I know you can! Please, just come and meet these guys and sing. One song. One. That's all I'm going to ask. If you don't want to do it again, you won't have to, and I won't ask again. But Taylor, you can't be scared of everyone for the rest of your life."
"I won't be like this forever."
"Don't be like this now."
She stared at him, fighting the feeling of anger that rose up inside of her chest. Finally, with a small sigh, she leaned down into his chest. "Okay, I'll go."
He grinned and kissed the top of her head. "I wouldn't ask if I didn't believe you could do it."
"When do they want to hear me?"
"They're downstairs waiting."
"They're what? They want to…now?" He nodded, and she closed her eyes as her breathing quickened beyond her control. "I can't, Matt, not now. I can't. I can't sing and I can't talk. Not to them. I can't."
"You can, and you will, and you're going to blow them away," he whispered as he tilted his forehead to touch hers.
"AWWWWWW!" They both looked up to see Riley and Sora give an overemphasized swoon before bursting into a fit of giggles. Suddenly painfully aware of the position they had been in, they jumped away from each other, spreading a space of a few feet between them. The action caused the girls to laugh harder.
"It would have been the polite thing not to sit there watching us," Matt growled.
"It would have been the smart thing not to lie on the floor in our room for us to see," Sora retorted, as her giggles began to subside.
"Taylor, you should go," Riley encouraged with a smile. "If you can sing well enough to be in a band, you should totally go for it!" She emphasized her support by whipping out an air guitar and playing a few silent cords.
"We're going out for pizza," Matt spoke up again. "And then they've got this small gig. I'm gonna sing a little bit, and Gabe's gonna sing a little bit, but they want you to come. They want a girl. Their songs were written for a girl." He stood and held out his hand to her. "Come on, please."
"I guess," she sighed as she held out her hand. Matt helped her to her feet and picked her up, twirling her around once again.
"It's gonna be great," he promised. A car horn blared downstairs. "Let's go." Without a word, she gripped his hand tightly and followed him out the door.
Tera slipped into the bathroom silently, softly shutting the door with a small click before perching on the side of the tub, tottering softly as she watched the elder girl get ready. "Are you coming home tonight after prom?" Tera questioned with an impish grin.
Natalie glanced up as she applied a thin smear of mascara over her thick lashes. "No, we got a room down at the hotel. Prom is there, might as well not worry about all the other drunk high school kids driving around and just hang out down there." Tera giggled and Natalie blushed a shade that accented the blush spread over her cheeks. "Two rooms. And there will be more than just the two of us."
Tera shifted on her porcelain perch, and started swinging her legs out in front of her, almost kicking Natalie in her bare foot. "Voyeurism. I didn't think Eli was into that."
"One more word out of you and I'm getting Aaron and Tai to hold you down, and I'm gonna put make up all over you." Leaving the threat to hang in the air, her lips pressed together, rubbing in her dark lipstick. "I'm nervous. Get my dress, please."
Tera jumped off the tub, enthusiasm bubbling in her face. She rushed out of the bathroom and Natalie checked her reflection in the mirror for the last time. Wincing at the face that stared back, her mind pinpointed the flaws automatically, without conscious thought. It was second nature, brought on by the shiny mirror. Her hands ran down her body, touching her hips and stomach. She was skinny, painfully so. But it just didn't seem enough as she imagined herself tonight, swaying in front of so many people.
Tera entered again with the dress swishing in tail, perched over her arm. She shut the door and leaned against it, surveying Natalie's face with care-worn eyes. "What's wrong, Natalie?" She held the dress up with a cute grin and Natalie returned it.
"Nothing, babe," she answered, as she pushed off her boxers and shrugged off her shirt, careful to avoid smudging the make up that had been so carefully applied. "I'm really nervous."
Tera eyes gave a quick glance over Natalie's disrobed body, standing in her underwear and bra as she took the dress, before she let her eyes fall to the tile underneath. Natalie pretended not to notice how Tera avoided looking at her body with so much gusto as she took the dress. It was a simple gesture, brought on by Natalie's own discomfort with her body, but at times it just made her feel like a freak. "Why are you so nervous?" The question was pitched to the floor in Tera's desperation to keep Natalie comfortable and not look at her body. "You've gone to prom every year since freshmen year."
"But I've never gone with Elijah. This is my first time with my boyfriend and he doesn't even want to go." The dress fit over her curves like a glove, to give in to old clichés. It was a simple dress, strapless and sleek, the color of midnight, with a soft glitter woven into the fabric. "Zip me up, sweetheart."
"It's not that Eli doesn't want to go. He's just embarrassed, ya know?" Tera's fingers fumbled over the small zipper for a minute before she zipped it up over Natalie's pale back. "He can't dance with his own girlfriend, it makes him feel like a jerk." She stepped back, and Natalie turned to face her, running her hands down the dress to smooth it and to keep her hands moving, as the pace of her heart quickened. Tera let out an excited squeak. "You look so incredible!"
Natalie let out an uneven breath of relief that she didn't even realize she was holding. "No kidding?"
"No kidding! You look so beautiful. My brother is going to fall all over himself when he sees you." Tera jumped up and down, her small frame almost spazing with energy. "You're so beautiful, Natalie! I wish I was pretty like you."
Natalie leaned down, enjoying the sound of the swish of her dress and the way the fabric crinkled. She pressed her lips against Tera's forehead, pecking a soft kiss against her cool skin. "You're a very beautiful girl."
"Tera!" Elijah's cry echoed through the house and vibrated the bathroom.
Tera let off a lopsided grin as Natalie stepped back. "I'd better go see what he wants," she laughed, pecking Natalie on the cheek. She turned to go, but stopped in the door. "Natalie, I know what you think and the way you look at yourself. You're pretty, Natalie. You're beautiful. Remember that, okay? Remember the feeling you get when you're with Eli, and make that how you feel about yourself." Her eyes were gentle, but intense and wary. Natalie smoothed her hands over her stomach and hips, clutching to the fabric with clammy hands and fought a hundred words of protest. "I love you, Natalie."
Four words and a click of the shutting door silenced any and all protests from Natalie. Tera was not a girl for false or thin love, and in three years the only person to ever pull those words from her lips was her elder brother.
Natalie turned back to the mirror, where her reflection stared back with the same wary intensity that Tera reflected, and her pale made up reflection glowed in the lights of the bathroom. "I love you, Natalie."
Footsteps echoed outside his room, and the door inched open with Tera poking her head of brown hair into the room. "You rang?"
Elijah faced the mirror beside his bed, profile to the door. "Funny, short stuff," he grumbled curtly, still facing his dark reflection. "Get over here." She stepped inside, shutting the door with a bump of her hips and skipped to his side. His hands collapsed palms down on his wheelchair as he slumped in defeat, black tie hanging limply around his neck. "I can't do the tie."
He registered her childish giggle before she fell into his lap, sitting sideways and turning her body to fix the collar of his white tuxedo shirt. "So what do you think? Do I look suave and debonair?" Her short, but nimble fingers pulled and worked at his collar, standing the stiff fabric and rewrapping the black tie around his neck. "Or at least presentable?"
Tera's eyes jumped to his face before returning to the tie, and he recognized amusement in her face. "You look dashing. If you weren't my brother and I wasn't already obsessed with my best friend, I'd totally give you a second glance." He chuckled a deep laugh that started deep in his throat and shook his entire body. With one last fastening tug, she sat back. "You look very handsome, E."
"I'm nervous," he admitted, as he folded his collar down, examining his reflection around her body in his lap.
Tera ran her hands over his hair, feeling his short, crisp hairs against her skin and enjoying the feel of the warm skin on his neck. "Nervousness seems to be the general consensus. Don't worry, kay? It'll be perfect."
He squeezed her in a hug before swatting her bottom. "Okay, up. You're wrinkling my finely pressed pants." She obliged and moved to sit cross-legged on the bed.
"You wanna go tonight?" she asked, as he moved around the room, checking his wallet for tickets and hotel reservations. He stuck the wallet into his jacket, which lay across the bed, and looked up at her. "Don't'cha Eli?"
His head tilted in confusion at her questions. "Sure I do. It's my senior prom, after all. Why wouldn't I want to go?"
She shrugged her thin shoulders and crawled to his jacket to fish out his wallet. "You didn't seem all that enthused in the beginning." The answer came out, as did the tickets from the scrap of leather that was his poor excuse for a wallet.
"You know how it is, Te. I feel like a dork going to a dance. Natalie should have a real date." He picked up his jacket and swung it over his shoulders, sitting forward in his chair so that it fell right down his back. "The student council girls laughed at me when I went to buy tickets."
"I don't think dancing really matters to Natalie, or to the rest of the student body. You were crowned homecoming king by them, after all. Besides everyone knows student council is full of preppy assholes." He caught his wallet after she tossed it to him, and he tucked it back into his jacket. "You're going to roll into tonight and they are all going to pass out at the sight of you."
"No! At how handsome you are, and at the fact that you, Roller Boy, has the dream girl of the century on your arm." She laughed. "You're an inspiration to the wheel chair bound everywhere!"
He shook his head as he laughed. "How would I ever get by if I didn't have you, Te?"
She laughed again. "You wouldn't," she replied, with a kiss to his cheek. "Now go get Natalie and leave, before Gennai loads the camera."
Elijah groaned. "He's gonna ambush us with the camera again, like SnoBall, huh?" (A/N: Winter Formal)
"Like any proud papa. He plays a father well," Tera mused.
"That he does." Elijah moved to the door, but Tera hadn't moved from his bed. "Well, wish me luck, kid."
"Good luck, E. Have a great time," Tera called, as he exited the room. "Don't get anyone pregnant!" she yelled after him.
The door creaked open softly, but Tai didn't look up, nor did he move. He just lay there on his bottom bunk, arm over his eyes, sprawled across the unkempt sheets. Music blared from the stereo, screaming the echoing tunes of the AFI CD that TK had borrowed from Riley earlier in the week.
"Not now, Kari," Tai called, still not looking at her from his position. "I have a headache."
TK and Aaron glanced up at her with eyes that seemed apologetic as Aaron helped TK into his jacket. She ignored their pitying glances as she stepped over to his side. His face clouded in confusion, still half-hidden behind his arm. The other boys continued to stare as she picked up his arm and moved it to rest on his chest before her long thin fingers began a soft massage of his forehead. He moaned softly.
"I didn't come for a fight, oniichan." As quickly as the word escaped from her mouth, his body stiffened and he grabbed her wrists. His eyes opened with shiny curiosity as he gripped her arms, his thumbs running over her scars absently.
"What…did you call me?"
She didn't move. "I'm sorry, Tai. It was accidental. Really-"
His eyes ran down her front. "You're dressed up," he cut her off.
Aaron glanced at TK as they both stood forgotten, watching the pair. "What does oniichan mean? Is that Japanese or something?"
"Big brother, very affectionate," TK answered.
She laughed outright and pulled her arms away to rub his forehead again. His eyes locked on her face, searching for the angry girl he was so used to, but he found no trace of her. Without moving his eyes, his hand moved over her lap, feeling the sleek fabric of her black kimono. He followed the length of the dress, stopping just above her knee, where the material ended.
"It's a little short," he laughed. "Isn't this the dress TK gave you?"
"Yeah, it's a beautiful dress. No point in spending money on some useless fluff thing that I won't be able to move in." She looked down at his hand on her bare knee and, with a small smile, picked it up and their fingers intertwined.
"I said I'd buy your dress."
She shook her head. "I don't want your money, Tai. I want this dress." Her other hand left his forehead and began to follow the golden ivy that was embroidered into the black. "Do I at least look okay?"
"What? You look great!" He grinned like the doofus that was her brother, and she laughed, but her smile remained the same, uncertain and small. He propped himself up on his elbows. "Imoutochan, you look absolutely wonderful."
The uncertainty disappeared from her face as the guarded smile grew into something genuinely happy. Throwing her arms around her brother's neck, she hugged him tightly, pushing her face into the crook of his neck. "Arigatou, 'niichan," she whispered joyfully, as his arms snaked around her.
TK smiled as he watched the pair. "So…what did he just call her?" Aaron whispered and TK rolled his eyes.
"Imoutochan, it means little sister." Kari pulled away from Tai and wiped away the smear of lipstick she had left on his cheek. "So how do I look, Kari?"
She looked over at the blonde, twisting her body as she studied him. "Like a preppy little American." He grimaced. "When are you going to learn that I'm not going to be nice to you?" She stood and walked over to him, stepping past Aaron with a flirtatious wink and adjusted TK's collar. "You look very good, Takeru Takaishi."
Kari stepped back and TK examined her work. "Has anyone seen Matt?" he asked in a low voice, a hint of something unsteady and wistful in his words.
"Sora saw him. She said that he said he'd see you tonight," Kari answered, as she ruffled his unruly blonde hair.
TK sighed, "He didn't even remember my prom was tonight."
Kari took his hand and he felt the tingle of her skin against his own, catching his breath in his throat. "It's okay, big brothers are stupid." Tai opened his mouth to protest, but Kari pulled TK from the room before he could find the words. "Just give him hell later." TK smiled with a laugh before he grabbed Kari around the waist and carried her out of the room, protesting. A shriek of laughter echoed down the hall as he dropped her on her butt by the girl's room door, and she laughed until her sides ached. "You're a jerk, TK!"
He chuckled and hauled her back to her feet. "Sorry, I couldn't help myself. Is your poor butt okay?" He gave her butt a hard pat.
Slapping him away, she shrieked, "Hey! You perv! I wish you would keep your damn paws off my butt. I know it's much better then Riley's, but still, you gotta have some sort of loyalty to her!"
The door to the girl's room swung open, and Riley appeared, decked out in a shin length red dress. She glared at Kari. "All right, Ms. No-Butt! I have a way better butt then you, any day." She surveyed the look of doubt on Kari's face, and moved to TK's own look of bewilderment. "What?"
"That's not the dress you showed me."
She grinned. "Don't you like it? Sara bought it for me. I thought it was less appropriate for a school function, so I opted for it! It's cool huh?"
"You look like a fifties hooker," Kari remarked cynically. "I like it."
"You look really good," TK added.
Riley beamed and turned to Kari. "Are you meeting John at the dance?"
Kari's mouth went dry. "Yeah, but…this is stupid. I can't go with him."
A chill ran up her back as TK ran his fingers over the skin of her back that appeared through her back-less dress. "Now, you don't be stupid! Be nice to him tonight. I don't want him going home in a body bag."
"I don't make promises."
Riley grinned. "And that's why I love you. Come on, let's go!" She grabbed the pair and jerked them down the stairs. "Gennaiiiiiiiiiiiii! Let's go!"
Gennai appeared in the doorway of the dining room, fiddling with a digital camera. "I don't know if this is working," he muttered, as he met them in the middle of the foyer.
Kari reached for the camera, and Gennai relinquished it readily. "Aren't you supposed to be the guardian of the Digital World?" She examined the smooth face of the camera, before pressing the power button. "You really sadden me, Gennai."
He gave an embarrassed smile to Kari's own condescending smirk. "When I was a boy, cameras consisted of film and looking through a hole at what you wanted a picture of. None of the stupid bells and whistles that this thing has." He took the camera back from her. "Okay, you three get together." TK and Riley stepped closer together, while Kari remained at a distance. "Kari, get in the picture." His voice left little room for argument.
With a sigh, Kari stepped forward and Riley grabbed her by the waist, hauling her into a hug. Kari remained stiff, but Riley's hold only tightened in effort. Gennai raised the camera, as TK stood at Kari's other side and lightly put his arm around her waist. Neither met each other's gaze, though they were both hyper aware of the touch. The camera clicked, and TK's arm snapped back like she burned.
"Alright, let's go!" Riley cried impatiently, as she relished Kari from her inescapable arms.
"All right, all right!" Gennai sighed, as he set the camera down on the hallway table and picked up two disposable cameras and some money. "Here are the cameras you asked for, Riley, and here's some money for that party you wanted to go to. Whose driving you and where is it going to be?"
Riley gestured for TK to take the items, as she wrapped a light red shawl around her shoulders. "Nicole's mom is driving us, and it's at Johnny Rocket's. You can pick us up at 12."
Gennai turned to the door, picking up his keys from the key rack by the door. "Thank you for the pleasure, Riley," he remarked sarcastically.
TK and Riley followed him out the door, but Kari lingered for a second, watching the stairs. On an impulse, she dashed up the stairs, taking them two at a time on high clog heels, and rushed into the boy's room where her brother sat on his bed, talking to Aaron. "Bye, Tai, I love you!" she rushed, as she pecked a kiss on his cheek and turned, running back out before he had a chance to react.
Knocking rattled through the room, echoing off the wooden door. "Come in," Tera called, not bothering to look up from the book she was reading. The door creaked open, and for a minute, Aaron stood in the doorway, waiting to be acknowledged. Finally, when Tera didn't say anything, he cleared his throat, hoping to pull her from her reading.
"What'cha reading?" he asked, shifting uncomfortably in the doorway.
"Virgin Suicides, by Jeffery Eugenes," she answered tonelessly, rolling from her stomach to her back, and setting down her book on the purple and blue comforter. "Are you going to come in, or are you just going to stand at the door staring at my ass?"
He shut the door behind him and smirked at the banter that had worked it's way almost unnoticeably into her words. "That was originally the plan, until you rolled over." He sat down at the edge of the bed, and she stretched to kick his side. "What was that for?" he laughed, as he watched her shirt ride up as her arms rested behind her head.
"Because I love you," she answered with a cute smile.
Lightly, as if it might sting, his fingers began to trace her navel, playfully at first, but as he turned back to talk to her, it became subconscious. "Tai and Sora are going out tonight. They wanted to know if we wanted to go see a movie."
"No," she shrugged simply.
"Why not?" he asked, his voice full of concern.
She sat up on her elbows, bringing their faces inches apart, and his hand pressed flat against her stomach. "I wanna go out, just you and me."
He swallowed hard, and she could see his adam's apple bob in his throat. "Seriously?"
"Yeah, we haven't gone out in a while. It would be nice, ya know?"
"Yeah, I know. I just didn't think you'd wanna do anything with me. After the whole 'we're not friends anymore' thing." She smiled softly at him. "So what do you wanna do?"
"We haven't gone to play pool in a while."
"The pool hall goes 21 and over at eight. We have less then an hour."
"We haven't used our fake ids in a while either," she grinned.
He laughed outright. "I knew I kept you around for a reason."
"That and the sex?"
It was a simple joke, but it gave him pause. Then, finally, as seamlessly as she had. "Oh, wait, that was the reason." She laughed, and without a second thought he tackled her back onto the sheets and began to mercilessly tickle her sides, until tears ran down her face. In a flurry of motion and badly aimed kicks, he sat up, straddling her hips and pinning down her hands above her head. "Pinned ya!"
She wriggled and jerked, but to no avail. Her hair matted to her cheeks were her hot tears had run down and softly she panted. "Okay, okay, uncle."
"No, no, no. Not this time," he grinned banefully. He tickled her neck and her wiggling grew, but still he didn't release her. "Say it!"
"NO! LET ME UP, AARON!" His next attack was her sides and the tears fell once again. "Okay, okay! You win!"
"You are the greatest in the entire world! I am inferior and am awed by your manly physique and irresistible charm! You win!" Finally, his fingers stopped their assault, and she curled into a ball choking and panting. "You're going to be sorry for that one," she growled as he collapsed beside her.
He grinned in his boyish way that made her chest hurt, as his arms snaked their way around her waist into a warm hug. "I know."
"I missed being your friend," she said suddenly. He looked up from their hug to her shiny hazel eyes that seemed much older then they truly were. "I hate when we fight. I miss this."
"Then we can have this," he whispered, close to her face. Too close to make his words even remotely true.
Finally, she leaned in and kissed his cheek. "Good. Let's go." She stood up and he followed closely as she led him with a seductive smile out the door.
It was beautiful. The entire night was beautiful. He had to hand it to those student council assholes. They made the hotel ball room look damn good.
Elijah sat at one of the tables, watching the dance floor from a distance. The music pounded an interesting mix of rap and rock with the occasional slow song thrown into it. His classmates flooded the dance floor, bumping and grinding to the beat in a massive, sweaty, clothed orgy.
It look sorta fun.
Natalie was out there, swaying in the dim lights with one of the many guys who lined up for a chance to dance with the beautiful junior before they had to leave her presence forever. Ever so often, her eyes would wander to the table where he sat, and he would flash a neat smile that allowed her to keep having fun while he sat and listened to his other dateless friends talk.
Currently, Xander, a non-football playing jock at the table, who, incidentally, did have a date, who was sitting in his lap, was talking about what they were doing after prom. Xander, his girlfriend Sorida, Natalie, himself and a couple of others were sharing a room.
"Hey." He looked up at the voice and the hand on his shoulder to see Natalie, accompanied by Scott, a third basemen on the baseball team.
"Having fun?" he asked, as she pecked Scott on the cheek and fell into Elijah's lap.
"Yes, but I wish you would come out there with me," she replied breathlessly, running a hand down his cheek.
"Sorry, but these are two wheels that just don't roll with the soul train, babe. I couldn't dance when I could walk, and these wheels just impair me even more." The guys around him laughed, but she still seemed unsatisfied.
"Natalie, mind if I have the next dance?" Max, the captain of the football team, called from across the table. "My date went to dance with her friends. Giant girl orgy, I was kicked out."
She smiled at him. "Sure, Max. Just let me catch my breath." He smiled a dimpled smile as he stood, stylishly hot in a black tuxedo. She turned back to Elijah, leaning close to his face. "I'd like to be with my boyfriend for at least five minutes tonight," she whispered quietly, gazing softly at his eyes.
He brushed his lips against hers. "Later, I promise you my undivided attention later." She sighed, and kissed his cheek again before standing and taking Max's outstretched hand.
Xander snickered. "About that later you promised her. I don't want to be kept awake by any strange noises coming from your bed tonight, all right." Elijah rolled his eyes, but Xander turned to his girlfriend before Elijah could come up with a good enough come back. "Would you like to dance?" She nodded. Again, he was left with the rest of his friends- jocks and their more fascinating dates.
"Elijah, why'd you come if you're going to pawn your girlfriend off to every guy who asks?" Phoenix, a soccer goalie for the varsity team, asked as she sat down beside him. She wore a tuxedo while her girlfriend wore a black cherry print dress. Elijah shrugged half heartedly as he took the drink she offered.
Becca, a second soprano in the girl's choir, sat down beside Phoenix, holding her hand lightly. "Natalie looks really good tonight." Elijah shot her a blank look and she blushed. "Sorry, I couldn't help myself." Phoenix laughed and kissed the back of Becca's hand.
Lips on his cheek sent a sharp chill down his back, but he turned his head in response and felt their lips meet. Natalie pulled back. "I can almost forgive you for not dancing with me." She settled down into his lap. "Oh, I'm tired now." She rested her head against his shoulder. "This is fun, you might want to try it." He nuzzled her cheek.
"All right boys and girls, how're you all doing tonight?" the DJ erupted from his booth. A roar echoed from the sea of students. "Alright, the next song is a request. It was requested by," the DJ laughed as he read off his paper, "the football team, soccer team, and the baseball team, plus a couple members of the cross country. This goes out to their favorite assistant coach and his girlfriend who he," the DJ was cracking up now, "who he no doubt paid. Very funny guys. Natalie and Elijah, this one's for you!"
"Pretty women out walking with gorillas down my street. From my window I'm staring while my coffee goes cold. Look over there (where?)."
The pair exchanged puzzled glances while their table burst out in laughter.
"Is she really going out with him? Is she really gonna take him home tonight? Is she really going out with him?"
"Thanks, guys," he chuckled. She laughed into his shoulder. "I've been waiting for someone to work up the balls to ask that." The others just laughed. Elijah grinned and suddenly Natalie's lips were on his as everyone else faded into the background.
"Is she really going out with him? Is she really gonna take him home tonight? Is she really going out with him? 'Cause if my eyes don't deceive me, there's something going wrong around here!"
She felt the muscles in her stomach tighten as she gazed across the stage and across the room where last minute preparations were still being made to the construction and crape paper. Her mouth felt uncomfortably dry as she felt her knees lock.
Two arms wrapped lightly around her waist and Matt's chin came to rest on her shoulder lightly. "You lied to me," Taylor growled, as he pulled her against his body. "You said this was a small gig. A small audition." She tried to pull away, but he held her tight.
"Okay, so it's not such a small gig," he excused.
"It's a prom," she groaned. "When was I supposed to audition?"
"Second set, right after superlatives."
She jerked, but still he held her. "That's not an audition. That's-that's-" her breathing became beyond her strength to control.
"Shhh," he cooed, and nuzzled her neck. "It'll be fine. This crowd is gonna be great."
"I'm terrified," she admitted.
"Hey, Matt, can you give me a hand with this?" Gabe called, as he lugged an amp up the stage stairs. Matt's arms abandon her waist as he moved to grab one end of the bulky amp.
"Taylor, come here." She glanced up and saw Tyrell, a tall blonde, standing by an old piano with an open binder on its top. With a second glance toward Matt, she crossed the stage, but stopped a couple of feet away from the dimpled and tanned lead bass player. "You've heard us play before, when Alana sang right?" She nodded softly. "Have you heard this song?" He held out the open binder and she took it with shaky hands. Reading over the music, something burned in her chest. She nodded mutely. "Can you sing it tonight?"
The burning grew a little more painful. "Y-Yes."
Tyrell grinned. "Great! Can you read music?"
"Matt taught me."
"Okay. Here you can take this and use it to learn that song." She nodded and he picked up Matt's guitar among their equipment tossed haphazardly in a pile off stage. "You wanna run through it?" The burning in her chest soothed as he began to play with the chords on the guitar.
"What if I mess up tonight?"
He shrugged, "Well, then you mess up and we pretend the song went perfectly well, and hope no one notices. It's no big deal. I've only done bass for a good month and a half, I mess up all the time." He grinned in a relaxed way that she returned without hesitation. "Okay. Try the first line, I'll cue you for your entrance."
With a deep breath she watched the words and then him for her cue. The song felt empty with just the guitar, but the chords were right on. Finally, he gave her a sharp nod. "In a modern culture…"
Kari laughed outright as she twirled and twisted to the music that blared from the DJ's speakers at the top of the school cafeteria stage. She couldn't help herself. She hadn't felt this good in so long. All she could do was laugh as the teachers glared in annoyance at her short, but modest dress that bordered on unconventional. At John, who insisted on pressing so close against her when they danced. And at herself when she let him. At this point, she wasn't even sure of what song was playing, or who was jumping and dancing around them. She just let herself go loose.
"Enjoying yourself?" John called over the music, as he twirled her.
"YES!" she yelled. There were people watching them, he was a good dancer and she was a good follower, and she could feel their eyes. People from her class, John's ex-boyfriend; even some of the high school kids who came back to work the dance every year. Her arms looped around his neck. "This is great!"
The song ended and they stopped, gasping and hand in hand. His long ruby red sleeves were rolled halfway up his arms and his black hair fell into his eyes as he led her off the dim cafeteria turned dance hall. They walked up to the serving window, where there were trays of cookies and brownies and other sorts of goodies, and the high schoolers served glasses of punch so their classmates wouldn't spike it. "Two," he ordered to the short, oriental girl ladling out the pink lemonade into small styrofoam cups. She held the two out and he took them, offering one to Kari. She took it and he took her hand again, leading her toward the tables at the back. "You want to just sit for a little bit?" She nodded, and he sat down on the bench, and she plopped down beside him. He watched her as she sipped away at her drink, and a small smile played on his lips.
"Did you come to the dance intoxicated? Or did I get your less violent twin for the night?" His voice was soft and joking, but he was implying something deeper.
"Would you like something more violent?" she grinned, smoothing her hair back and adjusting the black chopsticks that held her maroon hair in a bun at the top of her head.
"I will always step down and allow you to be the butch in the relationship," he countered. They laughed, light headed and relaxed. They sat in silence for a moment before he stretched and slipped his arm around her waist, drawing her a fraction closer. "I can't believe middle school's over already. Where are you going to high school?"
"I petitioned to go to Tucson High, for the photography program, but I still haven't heard anything yet," she sighed. "I may just end up going to Rincon with my brother and the people I live with."
"I'm going to Rincon," he stated, his hand that wasn't wrapped around her played with her hand, twisting a ring on her finger. "High school will be fun."
"What makes you say that?"
"Well, it's not middle school," he grinned. She felt a smile push across her face. "And there's only four more years of this crap. Besides, most of the people will be dropped out, dead, or pregnant by the time we graduate. So odds are, you may never see these assholes ever again."
"You bring up a good point. Although I may end up like them as well."
He nodded grimly. "There is always that possibility, but I like playing the gamble."
A hand clamped on her shoulder; causing her to jump, and Riley laughed as she pulled her hand away. "Hey, my g-dogs? What up in the fo'shizzle?" the cute Puerto Rican joked, as she sat down across from the pair. TK lowered himself to sit beside her.
Kari cocked an eyebrow. "You didn't just say what I think you just said," she demanded with humor caught in her voice.
"Fo'shizzle," she smirked with a cocky nod.
"Hey you can't change the meaning of that for your sickening purposes," John jumped in, raising a fist. "The rules of slang don't work like that!"
Riley just giggled wickedly. "How come you guys stopped dancing? You two were getting pretty popular," TK spoke up.
"Got tired," John answered, his hand still caught with hers, playing with the ring around her finger. "Needed a breather. Have you been dancing much?"
"Yeah." TK wiped his perspiring brow with his blue sleeve. He had long since shed his jacket. "Too much."
Riley jabbed him in the side with her elbow then turned back to the pair across from her. "Superlatives are supposed to be up after the next song. You up for almost every one of them, John."
The black haired boy gave a brassy smirk. "I can't help it if I'm just charismatic that way." He glanced at the girl sitting beside him. "I think I saw your name under one of the categories."
Kari looked stricken, "For what?" John shrugged.
Riley lit up. "Oh, I saw that! My math class had a good laugh about it."
Kari stared at her expectantly. "Well, come on, you whore! What was it, then?"
Riley laughed, "All Around Girl."
Matt led Taylor back up the stage stairs; her warm hand wrapped around his as the slipped unnoticed behind the ugly blue curtains that hid the stage. Their breathing was quick, pant-like almost, as they grinned and sweated from nearly twenty minutes of dancing. Tyrell, Gabe and Corey looked up from where they grouped together snacking on cookies and punch.
"Having fun?" Corey grinned as he ran his hand through his hair and then twirled one of his drumsticks in his hand.
"Well, the DJ is certainly entertaining everyone, but people are beginning to wonder about the live band that was supposed to play tonight," Matt summed up for the group. "Can we go on yet?" He pulled Taylor to stand in front of him, and he wrapped his arms around her waist.
"We're going on in ten minutes, but we were having some thoughts," Gabe answered as he turned the guitar in his lap. His black hair stood in straight spikes at the top of his head, and his dark framed glasses shielded his eyes from being seen, despite behind inside. "Our band's name doesn't work anymore. Kilgor's Garage Band. Kilgor's gone, thank god. But the first name has to start with a K, or else it just doesn't work."
Matt shrugged, "Corey can just start spelling his name with a K."
Corey pumped his hands in the air. "It's about time I got some recognition."
Matt laughed and Taylor giggled. "So is that all? Sorry to say, but your guys' thoughts are quite narrow."
"No, there's more," Tyrell shook his head. "The song we were gonna do first, we don't want to do first. Taylor's gonna sing first."
Taylor tensed and Matt's arms dropped from her body. "No way! You can't do that!" Matt snapped.
Tyrell raised his hands in front of himself. "Come on, man. We've always performed that song first if we do it. Otherwise, we don't do it." The other two guys just stared at him.
"But-" Matt started.
"Okay," Taylor whispered. Four heads turned and stared at her. "I'll-I'll go first."
Tyrell grinned, but Matt looked uncertain. "Perfect. You better get changed then."
She looked wide-eyed. "Changed?"
This time Matt grinned. "Can't have you perform at a prom like this in shorts and a tee shirt, now can we?" She looked down at the short white shorts and pink tank top she wore, considering his words.
Gabe twirled his drumstick in his fingers, and pointed to a pile of black dress bags that sat on the old piano off stage. "We borrowed something from Alana. You're a bit smaller then her, but I think you could pull it off much better." He gave her a shy smile, which she returned.
Matt gave her a gentle push toward the pile. "It's the top one. Go get dressed."
Her chest throbbed, and she felt like her heart was going to burst out of her body. She had long since given up on fragile control of her breathing, but as she gripped the black microphone, she began to question whether this was such a good idea.
'I'm going to pass out on stage in front of a room full of people.'
She glanced back at the four guys behind her, dressed in suits of various colors, Tyrell in a powder blue tux, Gabe in black pants and a dark blue dress shirt, Corey in a waiter's shirt and black pants, and Matt in an ugly purple tux that he had borrowed off Tyrell for fun. They held various grins on their faces and their expressions encouraged her. This was it…
The music stopped on the other side of the stage curtains, and there were footsteps on the lip of the stage, the DJ about to announce them. "How is everyone doin' tonight?!" The DJ's voice erupted from the speakers and sent sharp chills down her back. A cheer went through the crowd. "Well, I am outta here for the night, but I do have some special guests to present to y'all before I depart. For the rest of tonight's entertainment I would like to present, Tucson's very own, straight from Rincon High School, the KGB. Korey's Garage Band!"
The curtains snapped open and a sea of face stared back at her and instantly the guitars behind her broke out into a hard melody that suddenly seemed incredibly foreign. The words escaped her mind and for a moment she felt the slightest desperation of loss. Drum beats slowly over powered the guitar and the words drifted back to her. Three…two…one…
Her grip tightened on the microphone as she opened her mouth. "In a modern culture my friend you must be careful. They've a million ways to kill ya." A screaming roar erupted from the crowd and the sound of clapping ensued, but she heard none of it, as she focused on the music and the numb feeling spreading through her body. "In this dangerous world there's an art to growing old. Taking chances, magic happens." The dress shifted around her ankles as she relaxed her stance on the stage and the sweeping red and black poke-a-dot dress hugged her body tightly. "One mistake's all it takes." Her voice grew in power, something she had not given into in so long. "And your life has come undone. Walk away 'cuz your breaking up the girl. It's a drag, I know it's hard, but you're tearing her apart! Walk away 'cuz your breaking up the girl!"
Riley jumped up and down as she watched the group on stage. "That's Taylor! Holy crap, it's Taylor, and she's singing!" Kari stood on the table bench, staring over the sea of head at the blonde on stage with her lips pressed toward the mic, practically screaming out the haunting tune. "Do you see her?! Holy shit, she looks drop dead gorgeous."
"I am afraid, that there's much to be afraid of. Here today, gone tomorrow. Don't end up in the gutter, just like the one before ya. You're just the same. Such a loser."
Kari smirked in disbelief. "If she'd talk the way she sang, she'd have quite the attitude."
TK pulled his attention away from the band…and his brother. "She'd be like you, except cute."
Kari shot him a stare of death. "Fuck you, asswipe."
"Shut up, the both of you!" John growled. "Taylor's cool. I wanna hear her sing."
Three stared at him. "You know Taylor?" Kari asked.
"Yeah, she graduated last year. She was pretty cool. So will you shut up so I can hear her?"
"You've got to let her go because your breaking up, your breaking up the girl, oooooooo!" The music ended and for a moment she felt like she couldn't breathe. Not that it mattered. She hadn't taken a single breath the entire song. Silence rang through the crowd for a moment before someone started clapping…followed by applause that echoed throughout the entire room and a smile crossed over her face.
"Go, go!" she heard Tyrell yell out. "Start another song. Sing Taylor!"
The music grew softer as the night wore on. The clock bordered on nine fifty, and the dance ended at ten. And Kari was spending the last ten minutes of the dance, alone, sipping pink lemonade and watching the crowd of students dance as Taylor sang softly on stage.
"Where'd John go?" Her head snapped up to a pair of shy blue eyes that gazed on her with nothing but sweetness and questioning. TK gave her a soft smile that made her give a half smile in return.
"He was asked to dance by another boy." She sighed, "I hate it when I drive them toward the opposite sex."
"Then may I have this dance?" He offered his hand to her.
"She was asked to dance by another boy. Steve wanted to dance with her."
Tentatively, she held out her hand, slowly, unsure about the touch as their fingers met and laced together. His touch was familiar as he led her toward the dance floor, his clammy hand bigger then hers as it fit near perfect in his. His warm breath on her neck brought her crashing back to the reality that was him, and not the strange-perfect touch that he provided her. His breathing had quickened considerably since they had come together on the floor, surrounded by their classmates who would no doubt ogle them for this near unholy union of the jock boy and goth girl. But despite all that around them, neither could tear their eyes from each other.
"Having fun?" he whispered, as his arms looped around her waist and her arms crept around his neck.
"Yes," she whispered breathlessly, as if it were painful to get out. This whole night was absolutely perfect. If only it could never end. "Too bad it's almost over." Her finger played with the blonde hair that grew short at the base of his neck. A chill swept up his back and she almost recoiled away from him. "Sorry."
His hold would not relinquish from her waist. "It's okay. Your fingers and touch are just…a lot different from Riley's. She's…a lot more firm." He shrugged. "You're just softer." His tone was gentle, softer then he had sounded in months. He was being civil to her…and she was dancing with him. "Does this feel strange to you?"
"Dancing. Touching. Talking."
"…Yeah, but I can't help but feel like that. I don't think it can be helped."
His brow creased as he watched her. "I want to help it. I don't want to stay like this forever. Not when we both remember what we had."
She wanted to push him away, but couldn't bring herself to leave his grasp. "I don't want to remember what we had. I don't want to remember fighting with you all the time while you had chemo, and I had to deal with my parent's death!"
"That was fucked up, I know, and we both realized something that we knew before. You were my best friend. I wish you could be her again." Kari said nothing. "But then again, I guess you never could be. We can't be those people."
"People who care and love, and want to live."
"I want to be one of them, and I think you're well on your way to being one of them," she stated blandly, as if it was stupid she even had to explain it to him. "We are those people."
Slowly, he kissed her cheek, unexpectedly flicking the softness of his lips against her skin. "You know I'll be here for you forever, right?" he whispered when he pulled away. "I'm sorry I wasn't before, but I want to be. Until forever ends."
It seemed like eternity before she could bring herself to answer without tears blurring her eyes. "…Thank you."
Okay, let me just say right now, I did not like this chapter. It was a lot different from my usual work, but it is a much needed transitional chapter. Please excuse the fact that it sucked.
Second please excuse the lateness of this chapter. I had it finished in September, but it's been with my beta since. I haven't heard from her since early December so I said forget it, I'm uploading. So this chapter was not beta and neither will be the next one. You don't like it; fact of the matter is too bad.
Let's see anything else to say….um Happy New Years (late I know). Merry (insert whatever holiday you celebrate here).
Oh and in case you missed the reference, the band in which Matt played in was called the KGB (Korey's Garage Band). The KGB is the Russian counterpart to our FBI. My friends and I thought it was a cool name for a band, so I used it.
And oh yeah, the song that Taylor sings is Breaking Up the Girl by Garbage. (Best band with a woman lead ever!)
And now I'm done. -BoarderKC
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