Ohhhhh, the dreaded 7th chapter. Hope the cursed 7 won't make my writing bad (hahaha, just kidding, I'm not superstitious).
Aaaanyways, I don't want to keep you too long, but I wanted to apologize for the time it took me to put up Chapter 6... I was swamped in schoolwork, then I was travelling, and long story short, it took way longer than I hoped. That's why I'm trying to make number 7 extra-good and extra-long to make up for it :D
Oh, and thank you so much for all the reviews, again. More than 10 now, I believe. That's great, keep going, please, it lets me know you like the story. I also really do appreciate constructive criticism. Seriously :D
... This is becoming tedious. TS is not mine, it belongs to Marathon Inc. But if you've read the previous chapters, you should probably know that by now. Unless you're suffering from memory loss. In that case, my condolences. Okay. That's it.
"Sam, it doesn't have to mean anything if you don't want it to," Clover huffs as she drags me towards the WOOHP jet by my arm.
"What, so you're saying I should just ignore the fact that my name - AND SCAM'S - were on a criminal's database? Why didn't you let me open it, anyway?"
"I TOLD you," Clover says slowly, as if I were stupid or something, "we're not doing anything before we talk to Jerry about this."
"Speak of the devil," I murmur as Jerry hurries towards us from the jet's open exit. Clover's face brightens, but our boss doesn't even look at her.
"Sam! Are you all right?" Jerry asks, looking less concerned, more... worried?
"Uh, yeah, sure," I answer, studying his face closely. In the past week it feels like Jerry has become a stranger to me, not the man I used to care about like a father, a much better father than the one who left my Mom when she was pregnant. Now, he's less trust, more guilt. Less Jerry, more stranger. Everyone is a stranger to me these days. Is it really them, though, or is it me? Before I can confront Jerry, however, Clover jumps in, eager to please.
"Jer, ," she babbles in a single breath, ignoring my dagger-sharp looks of the 'shut-up-damn-it' variety. Jerry seems taken aback, extremely sincere.
"Oh, Sam!" he says, laying an arm around my shoulders comfortingly and leading me towards the jet. "You poor thing! We'll start questioning him as a suspect right away."
When I look back over my shoulder, Clover stands alone, rigid, on the wide space of the landing strip, the shine of her blonde hair much less radiant than it used to be. And I can't help but feel like that's somehow, for some reason, totally my fault. The worst thing is that I have no idea how to make it better, because this Clover is just as much of a stranger to me as the rest of the world.
When I get home, I stand in front of my phone, lying innocently on my make-up-table, screen facing upwards, for a long while, before I decide to take a risk, pick it up and dial Alex's number.
"Hello? Who is this?" she sounds so normal, so Alex-ish, that I almost break out into tears right then and there.
"Alicia? Is that you?" she asks, and I choke on my own breath. Who is Alicia? Has Alex gone and found herself new friends already? Were we that disposable?
"Okay, Leesh, listen: Is this about Mike? Because you know I never liked him anyway. You're better off without him," her voice sounds sympathetic, motherly, the exact same way she used to talk to me when I was having guy troubles. I make a strangled sobbing noise, accidentally, but she reacts anyway.
"Oh my God, Leesh!" she screeches, then takes a few hurried breaths. "Okay, I'm coming over. You need support. See you in ten."
"Alex, wait!" I yell before she can turn off the phone. It comes out way too loud, almost angry. Alex's voice is timid when she speaks.
"Sam?" It's like we're completely different people. I just don't know what to say to her.
"Alicia," I state, my frown clearly showing in my voice. Alex sighs.
"Can you blame me?" she asks. Then, silence. I look at the phone's display - she hung up on me. The line is dead.
Teeth churning, I sit down on the bed. There's a knock on the door, and Avery sticks her head in. Even without make-up, she looks gorgeous. It's extremely aggravating.
"Oh my God, Sammie! What's wrong? Do you want me to get Gabby?"
I shake my head and make a shooing motion with my hand, which she chooses to ignore. Instead, my cousin barges in and jumps onto my bed, hugging one of the fluffy green pillows to her chest.
"Oooh, this is so much fun!" she gushes. "It's like we're girlfriends, Sammie! So, what're we talkin' 'bout?" I rub my temples and close my eyes.
"Oh God," I say, more to myself than to her, "this can not be happening."
"What is it, Sam?" Avery asks slowly, strangely composed. And somehow, that's what makes it all come flooding out.
"You want to know what the problem is? Fine! The PROBLEM is that YOU seem to be my BEST FRIEND right now. My ONLY friend. There's no one else left, Avery. There's no one."
She doesn't say anything. She just gets up and leaves, shutting the door quietly behind her. Around a minute later, there's a knock.
Is it strange to know by the way a person knocks on the door, that it's them? To just... feel it?
"Samantha," he says, and his voice sounds distant, not just because of the ebony of the door between us. My name from his mouth is not my name. It's a poem, a song, the notes pulling me ever closer, a poem, a song, Samantha.
"Sammie," he tries again, and there's a smile in his voice this time. Not a smirk. A smile. I know this smile. It's the sun in the winter, reflected in the snow crystals like a million tiny mirrors, forming a blinding spectrum of light. And it's contagious.
"Sam." Barely a whisper. I break out into a cold sweat, my hairs standing on end. My body is electrified. Third time's a charm.
"Okay. Open up now." And I do. I don't know why. It's Electrified Sam acting, not me, not the old me. That me is still shielding her eyes from the dizzying light.
He walks past me into the room like he owns it. Who knows, maybe he does. The world's going crazy as it is. My room might as well belong to him. Nothing makes sense. None of it makes sense. I cling onto this thought for dear life, like it's some kind of raft that will keep me afloat in the tidal wave that seems to have taken everyone and pulled them under, under, as far away from me as it gets.
"It doesn't make sense, does it?" He sounds unsure, confused. The rational part of me - remember? The one shieldind her eyes? - knows exactly what he's talking about. He's talking about us; not about me, not about my life. And yet, the suspicions come flooding in ten times stronger than ANY flipping tidal wave. It all just fits a little too well for comfort. Watch out now, Scammie. Electrified Sam's long gone. Here comes Miss Furious.
"Oh, my GOD! How did I not think of this before? It was YOU! Of COURSE it was you. Ohmygodohmygodohmygod. I'm so STUPID!"
He's not looking at me. I'm not sure he even heard me. He's staring out the window, at the curb, where the beautiful snow has turned into some sort of murky brown slush. It's still Miss Furious here though. It's all pretty clear to her. He's not listening. So I just have to make him.
The next thing I know, my fists are on his back, his arms, his head; anywhere's good. I'm letting out more than just one week of frustration. Where does the week stop and the years begin?
Scam clearly wasn't expecting me to jump him like this. Instead of fighting back, he lifts up his hands to protect himself from my crazy-girl ambush.
"Hey, hey, stop! When Avery said you were having a mental breakdown and she didn't know what to do, I was expecting tears, not" - he lifts up one of my balled fists and stares at it with a certain kind of wonder - "punches."
"She said I was having a MELTDOWN?" I shriek, my mind having now completely short-circuited.
"Well, no. I believe what she said was 'breakdown'. Of the mental variety."
Roaring, I pick up something - a picture? A glass figure? A book? No idea - to hurl it at the wall, then stop short, dropping whatever it was onto the floor.
"Wait, and she asked you to help console me?" I ask incredulously.
"Precisely what I was referring to when I said it made no sense," he says, nodding to himself.
"Oh," I say weakly and sit down on the floor. How embarassing. Then again... at least I got some of my anger out, even if it was just a misunderstanding.
He barely notices my sudden change of temper.
"I don't know, Sam, I don't know," he murmurs, and my heart jumps. Just a little, though. He runs a hand through his hair. He's still not looking at me.
"I have to think," he says curtly. He doesn't shut the door behind him when he leaves. The air from outside my room is cold. I want to go and close the door before I freeze. But my body just won't listen.
I dream that night. I dream of Jerry and Alex. And Scam.
He was standing right behind me, hands on my bare shoulders. It was dark, and we were in some kind of closed space. Usually, I'm a bit claustrophobic, but the walls weren't closing in on us at all this time. His breath was in my neck. I wasn't scared of him. Not one bit.
I was scared of something else; and I wasn't just scared. I was terrified.
Light streamed into the room - /closet/? - through a crack right in front of my face. As my eyes adjusted to the brightness, I realised with a start that I was staring into Jerry's WOOHP office. We weren't alone, either.
"Jerry!" It was Alex, bursting into the room and fuming in the doorway. "Don't you DARE walk away from me!"
Scam chuckled, and I elbowed lightly in the gut to silence him, but I couldn't help smiling to myself. There was the Alex I knew, my feisty best friend. And she was on fire today - it was like sparks were flying off her.
"Jerry," she repeated, hands on her hips, "don't turn your back on me, old man. I deserve to be looked in the eye."
Up until now, Jerry had been in some corner of the room that I couldn't see from my compromised position, but now he walked over and stopped right in front of Alex, who glared up at him with undisguised menace. But, more than that, I thought I could see hurt and betrayal in her eyes.
"Why?" she asked, her voice cracking. "I mean, I understand that you fired me - I should have quit, you know? That would've been the right thing to do - but Sam? Sammie? What the HELL" - here, she pushed his chest vehemently; not, of course, that it had an effect. Jerry was in excellent shape - "did she ever do to you?"
"Nothing," Jerry told her. "Sam did nothing to me." His eyes were desperate as he stared at her.
"You have to understand - I had no choice! She was just... collateral damage. It was Scam that mattered!"
Alex shook her head in defeat.
"I can't believe that she means so little to you, after all these years. You really don't care about any of us, do you?"
Jerry shook her shoulders in frustration.
"Alex, of course I care about you. About YOU! Can't you see? I did this for US! Scam couldn't be free - he wanted to destroy everyone I love. And, last time I checked, that meant you," he finished, shoulders slumped.
Us? I thought. You? What?
My inner confusion turned into total mind-chaos seconds later, when Alex' face softened. She took Jerry's chin in one hand and turned his eyes up towards her.
"Why do you always do this?" she breathed, but her eyes were warm and brimming with tears. "Why do you mess with my head like this? Don't you know I can take care of myself?"
Jerry nodded, his own eyes wide. My body stiffened in Scam's grasp, that now moved to grip my elbows tightly to keep me from moving and exposing our hiding place.
And then she was kissing him.
And then I was screaming.
And then Avery was there, her face suddenly filling my vision, laughing and tapping me on the nose with her finger.
"Don't worry about me, Sammie," she sang, "I keep myself busy."
I wake up sweaty and screaming, my throat raw. My mother is sitting next to me on my bed and takes my head in her lap. She strokes my hair, slowly and rhythmically, trying to calm me down.
I'm anything but calm.
"Don't worry, darling," she murmurs. Her voice is silk. "It was just a bad dream."
There are tears drenching her skirt. They're mine.
"Just... a bad... dream," she hums.
Oh hell yeah. I went there.
Then again, it was just a dream, right?
Review and let me know what YOU think. I need opinions, people! :D
SamScamokaytoday? Moremoremore of them next chapterrrrrr. Hint: His lips are rough and soft at the same time, okay? HINT HINT!
Wasssssssuppppp with Avery? What's happening there?
Stay excited, stay reading & stay happy, guys.