Slowly, Laynie and Walter fell into a sort of routine. They had breakfast before they left in the morning, and on the weekends, Walter would run whatever errands might need doing, go out on a date with his girlfriend Alissa on Saturday night, and work a half day on Sunday. Laynie followed his busy schedule as well as she could, and ended up watching a lot of television.
The second week of living with her father, Laynie was invited to a party. She had no clue why it had happened and wondered if it was a mistake, but on Wednesday she had found an invitation in her locker. Walter had given it a green light as soon as she'd asked about it, and she was slowly working up the courage to go.
Instead, the night of the party, she found herself in her pajamas, on the couch, watching Star Trek for the thousandth time. In trying to talk herself into going, she'd only made up enough reasons she shouldn't go. By the time her dad realized where she should be, it was too late to go.
Walter plopped down on the couch near the end of the movie, and they watched the last twenty minutes of it together. Once the credits were rolling, he turned off the television to catch the attention of his teenage daughter.
"So, home early from the party?"
She gave him a look. "I never left the house."
"I know," he responded quietly. "Why not?"
"Well... I just, I don't have friends here, and I'm never comfortable in crowds. Even if Carter were here, we wouldn't go. She's not really into mass socialization."
"I assume that's your friend, the girl who stayed with Stark with you?"
"All of the Avengers were there," she quickly corrected. "But, yeah, Carter too. She's my best friend; we grew up together."
Walter nodded. "How about we do something fun in the morning? I know I've been really busy with work lately, and I'm sorry, but I want to make it up to you. It's about time we did something with each other."
Laynie smiled and fiddled with the blanket over her lap. "Yeah, that sounds nice."
"What do you like to do, then?"
"Uh, well, I dunno. The last few weeks I've spent trying not to die from the guys chasing me, or trying not to die of boredom on the helicarrier before that. What is there to do around here?"
Walter had to think for a minute. "There's a bowling alley down the road a bit, and an ice cream shop just around the corner from that. Do you like bowling?"
"Gosh, it's been a while since I went bowling. Yeah that sounds good." Remembering the last time she had been bowling brought her back to the day it had happened. Carter's ninth birthday was spent in a dingy New York bowling alley with only her parents, Laynie, and her mom.
"Alright. What time do you want to head out?"
"Sounds good." Walter ruffled her short hair, one of the only physical ways of showing affection he seemed to have toward her. "I'm going to bed kiddo, see you in the morning."
Laynie went to bed not long after her father, but didn't find sleep. She was so anxious about what would come when she awoke.
Finally, she rolled over and grabbed her phone. Once she got used to the blinding light, she pulled up her's and Carter's conversation and texted her.
Idk if you're awake... But if you are, how are things going?
A response came not even a minute later. Laynie! I was beginning to think you forgot about me. It's okay here, but I'd rather be with my best friend. :) how are things with you?
Laynie let out a sigh of relief. Same here! Um, things are pretty good. Walter's nice, and I almost got kicked out of school last week! How's your boyfriend?
He's not my boyfriend! A few seconds later, another text. And I'm glad I'm not the only one who almost got expelled last week. But, I'm curious what did YOU do? You never do anything wrong.
Oh my gosh! Not the only one? Who knew we were more trouble apart than together?
Laynie expertly dodged the question and redirected it to her friend.
Yes, yes. We're both demon children. Now answer my question.
Laynie had to pull her pillow over her face to another her giggle. Speak for yourself. There was just a few girls and I got sent to the principals office and then he told me my hair color is against school code so I may or may not have told him I won't dye it.
So... what you're saying is you almost got kicked out of school... because your hair was dyed?
Ummm, basically. That and I told the principal to suck it up, in a sense.
Laynie Combs, you never cease to surprise me. :D I'm glad you're first week of school over there was eventful.
I'm not! So what happened to you? Are you okay?
Oh, I'm fine... you know, the normal. I went to school, had a good time up until the point that Tammy showed up, like she always does. And I may or may not have attacked her. Violently. And vehemently. And then got suspended for a week.
Carter! Laynie was speechless. She immediately felt like it was her fault. It was her job to be there to protect her friend from that scum, and she didn't.
So it wouldn't seem that she was angry at her, she quickly sent, Did she hurt you? Did she start it?
No, she didn't hurt me. It was kinda her fault. But, it was also kinda my fault. She said some stuff that I didn't like, I tried to walk away, she wouldn't let me. So... I hit her. And got suspended. And that's it.
Ugh, foster parents can't be happy with that.
No, not really. Honestly though, they handled it better than I thought they would.
That's good. But seriously, how is your boyfriend?
For the last time, he's not my boyfriend. And if you must know, he's nice and I think we could be friends.
...Not even a tiny spark of romance?
Liar. Anyway, Walter is taking me bowling tomorrow... So I should probably sleep. Wish me luck. A lot of it.
Good luck! I'm sure you'll have fun. :D
Hm, I'll let you know. Goodnight!