Eleven: "You have leftover pizza, right?"
Recap of character list:
Alexie - crew
Diane - crew
Zoe - crew
Emily - crew
Jake - crew
Chase - crew
Jack - crew
Lucas - crew
Nick - Zoe’s older brother
Tara - Jake’s older sister
Louie - Diane’s younger brother
Philippe - drug lord’s dog (not literally)
Tracy - the crew’s frenemy (mostly enemy)
Alan - Ashley’s older brother
Ricky - Ashley’s older cousin brother
Samantha - Ashley’s younger cousin sister
Rebecca - Chase’s girlfriend
Rex - Zoey’s boyfriend
The police station was pristine, but just as intimidating. Every nook and corner, I see a man or lady suiting a police outfit with badges decorating their exterior. Some would give us small smiles which I still didn’t comprehend as to why, whilst others expressions were determined on whatever case they were working on. In a way, the feel of hard work and obstinacy never left the air.
A man around his late twenties, escort Jake, Nick and I to a room which had the name Will Darby sprawled across the translucent door. The man pushes the door knob and holds it open for us, a ghost of a smile on his lips. Nick files in first, and I follow with Jake behind me.
As we enter, the man behind the desk raises to his feet. His head was balding with a clean shaven face, suiting his mud blonde hair that was flowing in all directions. If it wasn’t for the invigorating smile stuck on his face and the uniform on his body, he could’ve fitted into the category as an outlaw.
He claps his hands softly and a rush of confusion sets in my body, also by the looks of it, in Nick and Jake’s body too. He waves his hand in front of the seats and we slide onto them. Crossing his hands over the table, he grins, “You have helped us capture one of the deadliest drug gang leaders that we have been trying to for so long. And you three are in high school? What’s your names?”
Nick lets out a shaky laugh of nervousness, he was used to being on the other side of being congratulated by the police that when the reverse happened, it took him by surprise. Jake widens a smile, “Jake, Ashley and Nick. So, we’re not in trouble?”
“Trouble?” Officer Will chuckle, “Dear boy, quite honestly we were planning on arresting you when we caught you just like Chris’ other employees but when we checked on the material, it was fake. Putting two and two together, we realised you were innocent.” His eyes drop to me, “We got pictures of you and there other of your friends, a couple of days back. But clearly, it was hoax, right?”
I nod my head, breathing a sigh of relief, “Yes. We wanted to make sure our names were cleared because the person who sent you that had a grudge against us.”
His face loses a drop of thrill and he nods, “Alright, I believe your story especially because we have proof. Be careful who you make enemies with.” His hazel eyes warn me and I nod cautiously under his intimidating gaze. “You may leave, do consider joining the force when you’re old enough.” He cracks up before we leave, and we laugh politely.
We exit the station through the front doors, avoiding gazes with any other officers. Upon reaching the cool air outside, we look at each other frantically. Nick shakes his head with an unsure laugh, “Did that just happen?”
Jake nods, his eyes wide, “Let’s not question it, shall we?”
“I guess so.” I reply. We reach the main road and whistle for a cab, grabbing on we head to my place. We assumed everyone would be there considering we told them to before. They had texted us a couple of times, but we thought it better to talk to them in person. Makes it sound more intricate.
We enter the house that my best friends had very easily gotten into. Following the muffled aggravated screams, we walk into the basement which we had converted into a game room. It only consisted of a television set, a ps4 and a snack bar but it was cosy and private, which is really all that matters.
Small smiles find themselves on our three faces as we see them on the floor, yelling at each other over a board game. Oh yes, I speak of the one game that could get Romeo and Juliet to kill each other rather than killing themselves.
Diane yells at Lucas, flinging her arms in the air, “That’s not fair, you didn’t buy it! How could you build a house there?”
Chase nods in accordance, “Scott, you’re cheating!”
“Wait a minute.” Jack says almost inaudible, “I had five fifty’s, where’s the other..?” His coal black eyes land on Alexie and he squints his eyes, “You thief!” Alexie shrugs but as Jack walks over to her, half pissed and half laughing, she throws a bag of chips over him. Jack gasps, his mouth falling agape and she giggles, pacing to us, hiding behind the tallest one of us- Nick.
Amongst the chaos, Emily and Lucas were making out, shutting out everything around them. I mean sure, it was cute but it was hilarious since Diane and Chase were yelling at Lucas when he clearly didn’t give a shit. I look around not finding Zoey amongst the disaster. Looking closer, I find her on the couch, asleep.
As Alexie tosses and turns Nick in different angles to protect her from a supposedly frightful Jack, I grab Nick and pull him away. Jack and Alexie stand head to head, I roll my eyes, “Seriously, Jack, it’s not like you’re going to hurt her.”
Jack opens his mouth and his eyes look at me before he nods knowing, “Good point.”
Jake crosses his arms, a disgruntled expression glued to his face, “Does no one care that we went to a police station?”
Chase and Diane’s screaming tones down, and the couple looks up finally cracking an apologetic smile. Zoey’s face even pops up from her, very light, slumber. Jack and Alexie grin toothily at us with wide invigorating, impatient eyes. I poke Jake under all their gazes, saying not so softly, “Oh em gee, they care!”
“It’s a miracle!” Jake exclaims, tuning into my sarcasm.
I sit on the fur coat rug where the board was placed, Nick and Jake taking seats around the board as well. Chase huffs looking at us silently until he sighs, “Well? What happened?”
With everything that was going on, it was really easy to forget about treacherous school. I mean, come on, you’re born one day and next thing you know, after three years, you’re in this estranged place with random people your age. My ball of flesh seventeen years ago may have wanted to be a unicorn for all I know.
“Ashley Kendrick, get up this very minute.” The voice of my oh-so loving mother slaps me in the face. Glimpsing at the time, I realise that it was a good thing that it did wake me up. Mumbling incoherent words against every living thing on the planet, I haul myself into the bathroom.
On arriving at school, I sling my back pack over my shoulder and walk to my usual spot with my ‘crew’. We had a place called the cave. A couple of years ago, there was a fire here. Long story about that fire, just thinking about it sends my stomach knotting. We’ll get to that later, since I really don’t have the mind or, apparently, stomach to talk about it. Basically, the fire caused damage to the school but there was one place where it ripped open. This place was never touched by the authorities, hence, we decided to make it our place. Allowing only people we remotely liked, which consisted no one other than ourselves and any significant others into the place.
As I stride up the pavement, my head whirls in a sudden rash of rage as my eyes lock with Tracy’s. Her lips curve into a dubious smirk, almost taunting me. And yes, it did work.
My feet crash against the concrete under my converse, my breathing hitching as the blood rushes to my face. I point at her, as I get closer to her. The deceitful smirk still playing on her lips, I say, my voice raising, “What the fuck is wrong with you? I get it, it depends on your life that you make people’s life miserable but how is me going to jail going to help you? Do my clothes make yours like a hobo’s? Well maybe you should try shopping somewhere else, little miss popular.” I snicker and walk away, feeling the burning gazes of the football team, cheerleaders and other socialite groups staring at me in awe.
“Oh.” I mumble, turning back to her. I say louder, “Come near us again, and I swear, clothes won’t be the only thing you’ll be investing in.” Turning on my heel, I strut out and into the school hallways. I flinch slightly as a hand grips onto my shoulder. I smile softly seeing Rex.
Rex Timothy was Zoey’s boyfriend. Honestly, never liked the guy. He was nice, quiet and funny but I always had a feeling there was something missing about him. He fit into the science geeks category, if there is one. Zoey and Rex were really different. You have the collateral hyper mysterious girl and the collateral hyper geek guy, in a way they were alike but in more ways, they were different.
Rex smiles softly, adjusting his beanie, “That was priceless.”
I nod, mustering a fake proud face, “I know right?”
“Nah seriously.” Rex repeats as we walk to the cave. Since Rex was Zoey’s significant another, he was allowed. “Priceless, did you see Tracy’s mouth hung open for so long?”
I chuckle, “Nope, but I’m sure many people have.” I wink at him and he chokes on his coffee, only causing me to laugh even more.
Upon reaching the cave entrance, we duck over the rubble that acted as a disguise and enter. I grin widely seeing Jake, Chase and Diane the only ones present, messing with the foosball machine. Jake cussing loudly as Diane and Chase kicked his sorry ass.
The cave. A normal sized room, however, devoid of any noise from any of the classes or corridor noises. It was separated from the main building of the school. Lucas took great care of his special place, he claims it to be his own second home. The cave held a foosball machine, a refrigerator (which Lucas thought was completely necessary and who can even blame him?), a large couch, two recliners and a mini golf course. When I say mini golf course, I mean really small, it’s a wonder how we play on that thing. The nine of us come here whenever we have free periods, study periods and classes which are held by substitutes.
We weren’t those delinquents that skipped class. Well, not all the time. We did home studying which caught up with everything we did at school, that way no trouble with parents. Again, most of the time.
The day summed up was regular. The people, the classes, the teachers, the yelling, the rumours, the people and did I mention, the people?
By the end of the day, I was exhausted. I grab a ride with Alexie, Jake and Jack, since we lived in the same neighbourhood. Jack listened to different music than I did, so he kept fiddling with the stations putting on idiotic pop culture.
I grunt, “I let you sit in my seat, Jackie!”
Jack shifts in his seat, covering the radio. “I didn’t ask you too, Ashie. Stop calling me Jackie, sounds like a girl’s name.”
“Then it’s perfect.” I say, with a toothy grin and slumping back in my seat. Out of the corner of my eye, seeing Jake chuckle and roll his eyes. The music of pop culture still in the air. “Jackie, look!”
His head snaps to the window and I sigh, reaching over and changing the station. “Gullible, is what you are.” I smirk and lean back in my seat as Jack grumbles.
“If anyone touches the damn thing,” Alexie says threateningly, “You’ll be walking home.”
Moments of silence linger in the air, as pure rock music floats in the air. Jake and Alexie were just as big rock fans as I were, a three to one ratio was completely fair. “We going to my place?” I ask, looking at the familiar surroundings which meant we were really close to my house.
“Yeah,” Alexie replies, “You have leftover pizza right? Then we can get to that cosplay convention.”
“Pizza.” I nod, pursing my lips together with a smile, “I knew I shouldn’t have told you that.”
Jake pats my back, “Too late.”
As Alexie said, we park in my driveway and make our way to my place. I scavenge for my keys, and place into the keyhole but it didn’t click. I knock on the door softly. After a few long minutes, the door swings open and a petite girl stands in front of it, chocolate smeared on her tan complexion. “Sam?”
“Ashie!” She says happily and wraps my in a hug, the three of them walk in and I close the door behind me.
“Wait a minute.” I say looking around and hearing.. silence. “Is anyone home?”
“Nope.” She says, innocently licking her lip. I notice her hand tucked behind her, but ignore it for now.
I scratch my head, “Where’s Ricky and Alan? What about your mom and literally everyone else?”
She shrugs, her eyes fixed on me, “Ricky and Alan went out. Mum and dad told Ricky not to, but he went anyway. Aunt and Uncle are at work right?”
My parents were at work, true. I don’t find it surprising that my aunt and uncle told Ricky not to leave the house, they still think he’s sixteen when in fact, he’s twenty four. And I don’t even what to get started on where my brother might be. I nod, pushing the blood pulsing through my brain, “Okay, so Ricky and Alan left you alone.” I curl my fists but smile at her, “Now give me the chocolate.”
She pouts, jotting down her bottom lip and her brown eyes widen. “B-But Ashie.”
I sigh, narrowing my eyes, “I’m not Ricky, Sam.” I repeat, pulling out my hand, “Chocolate.”
She grumbles and roughly places it in my hand before pouncing up the stairs into, what I’m assuming, the guest room. I turn to the living room seeing my best friends flipping through the channels, keeping their mouths occupied with the pizza stuffed in their faces. I grab the empty box and sigh, “Aren’t you guys the nicest?”
Jake nods with a grin, moving his eyes from the screen, “The nicest. Want a bite?”
“Eek.” I exclaim falsely. “Your saliva? Nah.”
I’m not one of those people that freak out from sharing food, just so you know. I just wasn’t hungry and telling them that would devoid my chance of even remotely making them feel bad.
Jake shrugs, “Okay.” He stuffs the rest into his mouth and I gag, he laughs in return knowingly cause he did it on purpose.
Alexie springs from her seat after twenty minutes on the couch, “We’re going to my place to get ready while you guys..” She trails off, tapping her chin, “What do you guys do?”
Jake smirks, “We do what all guys do.”
I quirk an eyebrow, “And what’s that, hotshot.”
Jack replies flexing, “Be awesome!”
Jake thumps his head, “Idiot, we just do what all guys do.” He heads to the door, “The suspense is killing you isn’t it?”
I sigh disappointed, “Jake, you’re turning into Jack.”
Jack shrugs, “Well, we have the same first letter.”
Alexie yells half laughing, “Leave!”
After dropping Sam at her friend’s place, we head to Alexie’s place. Alexie was a part time cosplayer, she adored the whole idea of it. By the end of a strenuous two hours, she decided to cosplay as Miku, an anime character. She wore a blue wig that shaped her face and an outfit that looked great on her. With the relish smile on her lips, she looked amazing.
When we arrived at the convention, we met up with Jack and Jake. Jake and I were patiently waiting for Jack to complete his sentence. When Alexie arrived here, she looked stunning. Jake said she did but for some unknown reason, Jack was taking his time in giving her a compliment.
He started of with, “Alexie, you look...” And he trails of for the next ten minutes, just looking lost in her eyes. Jake nudges him several times, but Jack’s mouth still lays agape.
“Okay then.” I say, interceding his daze, “Romeo stick with Juliet, while Jake and I walk as far as possible from this very awkward situation.”
Alexie thumps my head, “Stop being a cunt.” She looks at Jack, slaps his shoulder and he wakes up.
“Beautiful.” He completes with a charming smile earning a giggle from Alexie. “Let’s go.” He turns his head to me, “I heard the romeo reference, I’m coming for you Ashley.”
“Yeah.” I say, scoffing, “I’ll get my leprechaun to defend me.”
Jake and I walk away as they leave. At these conventions, it’s amazing how many people want to take a picture with Alexie. I’ve come here plenty of times for Alexie. I love her but I simply do not have patience for any of that.
We met up with the rest of the crew and we waited for like, thirty whole minutes after we lost all traces of patience and left. Jack was with Alexie so we knew they’d be fine. As long as they had each other. Geez, that sounds cheesy and they aren’t even together.
I sat shotgun after what felt like years as Lucas was driving all of us home. It was mess in the back seats, considering five of them had to squash themselves there. Eventually, they fell asleep somehow on each other. However, being in the passenger seat, it’s an untold rule that I should not sleep and keep the driver company which is what I did. It seemed rather idiotic to play twenty questions with a guy I’ve known for years so we twisted it a bit.
I ask, tapping my chin in deep thought, “What’s Emily’s favourite... book?”
Lucas replies within a heart beat, “Open City by Teju Cole.”
I grin, “Aw.” I lean over and pinch his reddening cheeks, “You’re blushing. You guys are adorable.”
“Well, obviously.” Lucas says with a smirk to which I roll my eyes. There’s a short pause as I don’t know what else to ask. He clears his throat and asks, as if the question was lingering in his mind. “Do you like anyone, Ash?”
I scoff, “Over my--”
“Cut that shit.” He interferes, “Do you like anyone?”
My heart wrenches, “Not after Hunter.”
His smile fades and is replaced with an agonising one. Maybe I shouldn’t have brought him up. “I wish I could’ve done something to save him, I just..”
“No.” I say, “I don’t think I like anyone.” I change the topic not able to see the pain flooding in his eyes or anyone in the crew’s eyes whenever I said his name. It hurts too much, the pain of death, it hurts too much to relapse from it.
Lucas’ stretches a close mouthed smile, “So you’re telling me, you still don’t like Jake?”
I roll my eyes, the pain slowly settling back in the corner of my body. “You guys need to get over the fact that we’re--”
“Just friends.” He completes, a smile resting on his face again, “You know what Emily and I were?” He waits for dramatic effect and I don’t even bother to reply. “Just friends. Have you seen Jake look at you?”
“Lucas seriously--” I shut my mouth and look at him wide eyed, his lips curl into a smile. “What do you mean, the way he looks at me?” I poke him repeatedly but he doesn’t reply, looking straight at the road. “Lucas!”
“Shh,” He replies with humour in his voice, “Don’t want to wake him up, now do we?”
“Answer my question before I rip you apart.”
Lucas looks at me for a brief moment, “You know exactly what I mean, Ash. You’re just pushing it to the back of your mind.”
“I do not.” I retort, slumping in my seat, looking outside in the darkness.