"Part Six," Gil said once we were driving again.

He was waving his fingernails through the air, almost like he was playing piano.

"Leave flowers on Nonny's doorstep with apologetic note."

"What'd you do to him? And why are you giving him um...flowers?"

"Well, when he told me about Nick and something he was going to do to me, I sort of shot the messenger. And...I don't know...flowers are cheap."

"How so?" I asked.

We were pulled up to a stoplight, and some kids in a sports car next to us were revving their engine—as if I was going to race the Chrysler.

When you floored it, it whimpered.

"Well, I don't remember exactly what I called him, but it was something along the lines of 'sniveling, repulsive, idiotic, back-ridden, snaggletoothed, bitch with the worst hair in Central Florida—and that's saying something.'"

"His hair is great though. I remember Oona complaining a lot about someone yelling at Nonny for "no complete reason." I said.

"I know. When you say nasty things about people, you should never say the true ones, because you can't really fully and honestly take those back, you know? I mean, there are highlights. And there are streaks. And then there are skunk stripes. And yes, Oolala (A/N: If you get this reference I worship you, also I dedicate this to Mac.) did not take it well."

"Her name is Oona."


As I drove up Nonny's house, Gil disappeared into the way-back and returned with the bouquet of tulips. Taped to one of the flowers' stems was a note Gil had folded to look like an envelope. He handed me the bouquet once I stopped, and I sprinted down a sidewalk, placed the flowers on Nonny's doorstep, and sprinted back.

"Part Seven," he said as soon as I was back in the minivan. "Leave a fish for the lovely Mr. Walter."

"I suspect he won't be home yet," I said, just the slightest hint of pity in my voice.

"I hope the cops find him barefoot, frenzied, and naked in some roadside ditch a week from now," Gil answered dispassionately.

"Remind me never to cross Gilligan Zachary Gordon," I mumbled, and Gil laughed.

"Seriously," he said. "We bring the fucking rain down on our enemies."

"Your enemies," I corrected.

"We'll see," he answered quickly, and then perked up and said, "Oh, hey, I'll handle this one. The thing about Nick's house is they have this crazy good security system. And we can't have another panic attack."

"Um," I said. Nick lived just down the road from Nonny, in this uber-rich subdivision called Casavilla.

All the houses in Casavilla are Spanish-style with the red-tile roofs and everything, only they weren't built by the Spanish. They were built by Jason's dad, who is one of the richest land developers in Florida.

"Big, ugly homes for big, ugly people," I told Gil as we pulled into Casavilla.

"No shit. If I ever end up being the kind of person who has one kid and seven bedrooms, do me a favor and shoot me."

We pulled up in front of Nick's house, an architectural monstrosity that looked generally like an oversize Spanish hacienda except for three thick Doric columns going up to the roof.

Gil grabbed the second catfish from the backseat, uncapped a pen with his teeth, and scrawled in handwriting that didn't look much like his: GG's love for you: It sleeps with the fishes.

"Listen, keep the car on," he said.

He put Nick's WPHS baseball hat on backward.

"Okay," I said.

"Keep it in drive," he said.

"Okay," I said, and felt my pulse rising.

In through the nose, out through the mouth. In through the nose, out through the mouth.

Catfish and spray paint in hand, Gil threw the door open, jogged across the Walters' expansive front lawn, and then hid behind an oak tree.

He waved at me through the darkness, and I waved back, and then he took a dramatically deep breath, puffed his cheeks out, turned, and ran.

He'd only taken one stride when the house lit up like a municipal Christmas tree, and a siren started blaring.

I briefly contemplated abandoning Gil to his fate, but just kept breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth as he ran toward the house.

He heaved the fish through a window, but the sirens were so loud I could barely even hear the glass breaking.

And then, just because he's Gilligan Zachary Gordon, he took a moment to carefully spray-paint a lovely G on the part of the window that wasn't shattered.

Then he was running all out toward the car, and I had a foot on the accelerator and a foot on the brake, and the Chrysler felt at that moment like a thoroughbred racehorse. Gil ran so fast his hat blew off behind him and then he jumped into the car, and we were gone before he even got the door closed.

I stopped at the stop sign at the end of the street, and Gil said, "What the hell? Go go go go go," and I said, "Oh, right," because I had forgotten that I was throwing caution to the wind and everything.

I rolled through the three other stop signs in Casavilla, and we were a mile down Pennsylvania Avenue before we saw a cop car roar past us with its lights on.

"That was pretty hardcore," Gil said. "I mean, even for me. To put it Molls-style, my pulse is a little elevated."

"Jesus," I said. "I mean, you couldn't have just left it in his car? Or at least at the doorstep?"

"We bring the fucking rain, Molly. Not the scattered showers."

"Tell me Part Eight is less terrifying."

"Don't worry. Part Eight is child's play. We're going back to Jefferson Park. Jacob's house. You know where he lives, right?"

I did, although God knows Jacob would never deign to have me over.

He lived on the opposite side of Jefferson Park, a mile away from me, in a nice condo on top of a stationery store— the same block a dead guy had lived on, actually.

I'd been to the building before, because friends of my parents lived on the third floor.

There were two locked doors before you even got to the condos.

I figured even Gilligan Zachary Gordon couldn't break into that place.

"So has Jacob been naughty or nice?" I asked.

"Jacob has been distinctly naughty," Gil answered.

He was looking out the passenger window again, talking away from me, so I could barely hear him.

"I mean, we have been friends since kindergarten."


"And he didn't tell me about Nick. But not just that. When I look back on it, he's just a terrible friend. I mean, for instance, do you think I'm fat?"

"Jesus, no," I said. "You're—" And I stopped myself from saying not skinny, but that's the whole point of you; the point of you is that you look like a boy.

"You should not lose any weight."

He laughed, waved his hand at me, and said, "You just love my fabulous muscles."

I turned from the road for a second and glanced over, and I shouldn't have, because he could read my face and my face said: Well, first off I wouldn't say they're the most muscular exactly, and second off, they are kind of spectacular.

But it was more than that.

You can't divorce Gil the person from Gil the body.

You can't see one without seeing the other.

You looked at Gil's eyes and you saw both their blueness and their Gilly-ness.

In the end, you could not say that Gilligan Zachary Gordon was fat, or that he was skinny, any more than you can say that the Eiffel Tower is or is not lonely.

Gil's handsomeness was a kind of sealed vessel of perfection—uncracked and uncrackable.

"But he would always make these little comments," Gil continued. "'I'd loan you this hat but I don't think it'd look right on you.' Or, 'You're so spunky. I love how you just make girls fall in love with your personality.' Constantly undermining me. I don't think he ever said anything that wasn't an attempt at undermination."


"Thank you, Annoying McMasterGrammician."

"Grammarian," I said.

"Oh my god, Molls. I'm going to kill you!" But he was laughing.

I drove around the perimeter of Jefferson Park so we could avoid driving past our houses, just in case our parents had woken up and discovered us missing.

We drove in along the lake (Lake Jefferson), and then turned onto Jefferson Court and drove into Jefferson Park's little faux downtown, which felt eerily deserted and quiet.

We found Jacob's black SUV parked in front of the sushi restaurant.

We stopped a block away in the first parking spot we could find not beneath a streetlight.

"Would you please hand me the last fish?" Gil asked me.

I was glad to get rid of the fish because it was already starting to smell.

And then Gil wrote on the paper wrapper in his lettering: Your friendship with GG sleeps with the fishes.

We wove our way around the circular glow of the streetlights, walking as casually as two people can when one of them (Gil) is holding a sizable fish wrapped in paper and the other one (me) is holding a can of blue spray paint.

A dog barked, and we both froze, but then it was quiet again, and soon we were at Jacob's car. "Well, that makes it harder," Gil said, seeing it was locked.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a length of wire that had once been a coat hanger.

It took him less than a minute to jimmy the lock open.

I was duly awed.

Once he had the driver's-side door open, he reached over and opened my side.

"Hey, help me get the seat up," he whispered.

Together we pulled the backseat up.

Gil slipped the fish underneath it, and then he counted to three, and in one motion we slammed the seat down on the fish.

I heard the disgusting sound of catfish guts exploding.

I let myself imagine the way Jacob's SUV would smell after just one day of roasting in the sun, and I'll admit that a kind of serenity washed over me.

And then Gil said, "Put an G on the roof for me."

I didn't even have to think about it for a full second before I nodded, scrambled up onto the back bumper, and then leaned over, quickly spraying a gigantic G all across the roof.

Generally, I am opposed to vandalism.

But I am also generally opposed to Jacob—and in the end, that proved to be the more deeply held conviction.

I jumped off the car.

I ran through the darkness—my breath coming fast and short—for the block back to the minivan. As I put my hand on the steering wheel, I noticed my pointer finger was blue. I held it up for Gil to see.

He smiled, and held out his own blue finger, and then they touched, and his blue finger was pushing against mine softly and my pulse failed to slow.

And then after a long time, he said, "Part Nine— downtown."

It was 2:49 in the morning. I had never, in my entire life, felt less tired.

Tourists never go to downtown Orlando, because there's nothing there but a few skyscrapers owned by banks and insurance companies.

It's the kind of downtown that becomes absolutely deserted at night and on the weekends, except for a few nightclubs half-filled with the desperate and the desperately lame.

As I followed Gil's directions through the maze of one-way streets, we saw a few people sleeping on the sidewalk or sitting on benches, but nobody was moving.

Gil rolled down the window, and I felt the thick air blow across my face, warmer than night ought to be. I glanced over and saw strands of hair blowing all around his face.

Even though I could see him there, I felt entirely alone among these big and empty buildings, like I'd survived the apocalypse and the world had been given to me, this whole and amazing and endless world, mine for the exploring.

"You just giving me the tour?" I asked.

"No," he said. "I'm trying to get to the SunTrust Building. It's right next to the Asparagus."

"Oh," I said, because for once on this night I had useful information. "That's on South."

I drove down a few blocks and then turned. Gil pointed happily, and yes, there, before us, was the Asparagus.

The Asparagus is not, technically, an asparagus spear, nor is it derived from asparagus parts.

It is just a sculpture that bears an uncanny resemblance to a thirty-foot-tall piece of asparagus— although I've also heard it likened to: 1. A green-glass beanstalk 2. An abstract representation of a tree 3. A greener, glassier, uglier Washington Monument 4. The Jolly Green Giant's gigantic Jolly Green Phallus.

At any rate, it certainly does not look like a Tower of Light, which is the actual name of the sculpture.

I pulled in front of a parking meter and looked over at Gil.

I caught him staring into the middle distance just for a moment, his eyes blank, looking not at the Asparagus, but past it.

It was the first time I thought something might be wrong—not my-boyfriend-is-an-ass wrong, but really wrong.

And I should have said something.

Of course. I should have said thing after thing after thing after thing.

But I only said, "May I ask why you have taken me to the Asparagus?"

He turned his head to me and shot me a smile.

Gil was so handsome that even his fake smiles were convincing.

"We gotta check on our progress. And the best place to do that is from the top of the SunTrust Building."

I rolled my eyes.

"Nope. No. No way. You said no breaking and entering."

"This isn't breaking and entering. It's just entering, because there's an unlocked door."

"Gilly, that's ridiculous. Of c—"

"I will acknowledge that over the course of the evening there has been both breaking and entering. There was entering at Gaby's house. There was breaking at Nick's house. And there will be entering here. But there has never been simultaneous breaking and entering. Theoretically, the cops could charge us with breaking, and they could charge us with entering, but they could not charge us with breaking and entering. So I've kept my promise."

"Surely the SunTrust Building has, like, a security guard or whatever," I said.

"They do," he said, unbuckling his seat belt. "Of course they do. His name is Goby."

We walked in through the front door.

Sitting behind a broad, semicircular desk sat a young guy with a struggling goatee wearing a Regents Security uniform.

"What's up, Goby?" he said.

"Hey, Goby," he answered. "Who's the kid?"


I wanted to shout, but I let Gil talk for me.

"This is my colleague, Molly. Molls, this is Goby."

"What's up, Molls?" asked Goby.

Oh, we're just scattering some dead fish about town, breaking some windows, photographing naked guys, hanging out in skyscraper lobbies at three-fifteen in the morning, that kind of thing.

"Not much," I answered.

"Elevators are down for the night," Goby said. "Had to shut 'em off at three. You're welcome to take the stairs, though."

"Cool. See ya, Goby."

"See ya, Gil."

"How the hell do you know the security guard at the SunTrust Building?" I asked once we were safely in the stairwell.

"He goes to our school, Molly, haven't you ever seen him?," he answered. "We gotta hustle, okay? Time's awastin'."

Gil started taking the stairs two at a time, flying up, one arm on the rail, and I tried to keep pace with him, but couldn't.

Gil played many sports, and he loved to run—I sometimes saw him running by herself listening to music in Jefferson Park.

I, however, did not like to run. Or, for that matter, engage in any kind of physical exertion. But now I tried to keep up a steady pace, wiping the sweat off my forehead and ignoring the burning in my legs.

When I got to the twenty-fifth floor, Gil was standing on the landing, waiting for me.

[Gil's POV]

Molly was really anxious, and slow, and awkward, and loud, but she made for a pretty good ninja if you ask me.

"Check it out," I said.

I opened the stairwell door and we were inside a huge room with an oak table as long as two cars, and a long bank of floor-to-ceiling windows.

"Conference room," I said. "It's got the best view in the whole building."

Molly followed me as she walked along the windows.

"Okay, so there," I said pointing, "is Jefferson Park. See our houses? Lights still off, so that's good."

I moved over a few panes.

"Nick's house. Lights off, no more cop cars. Excellent, although it might mean he's made it home, which is unfortunate."

Gaby's house was too far away to see, even from up here.

I was quiet for a moment, and then I walked right up to the glass and leaned my forehead against it.

I could tell Molly was going to hang back, but then I grabbed her T-shirt and pulled her forward.

She said she didn't want our collective weight against a single pane of glass, but I kept pulling her forward, and I could feel her balled fist at my side, and finally she put her head against the glass as gently as possible and looked around.

From above, Orlando was pretty well lit.

Beneath us I could see the flashing DON'T WALK signs at intersections, and the streetlights running up and down the city in a perfect grid until downtown ended and the winding streets and cul-de-sacs of Orlando's infinite suburb started.

"It's beautiful. Don't you think?" I said.

Molly scoffed.

"Really? You seriously think so?"

"I mean, well, maybe not," I said, although it was.

When I saw Orlando from an airplane, it looked like a LEGO set sunk into an ocean of green. Here, at night, it looked like a real place—but for the first time a place I could see.

As I walked around the conference room, and then through the other offices on the floor, I could see it all: there was school. There was Jefferson Park. There, in the distance, Disney World. There was Wet 'n Wild. There, the 7-Eleven where I watched a movie and Molly fought for breath. It was all here—my whole hometown, and I could see it just by walking around a building.

"It's more impressive," I said out loud. "From a distance, I mean. You can't see the wear on things, you know? You can't see the rust or the weeds or the paint cracking. You see the place as someone once imagined it."

"Everything's uglier close up," she said.

"Not you," I said, before thinking better of it.

Her forehead still against the glass, she turned to me and smiled.

"That's sweet, but unfortunately highly false. Thank you, though."

Before I had a chance to say anything, she leaned in and pressed her soft lips against my cheek, leaving a warm, fuzzy, unexplained feeling inside me.

Her eyes went back to the view and she started talking. "Here's what's not beautiful about it: from here, you can't see the rust or the cracked paint or whatever, but you can tell what the place really is. You see how fake it all is. It's not even hard enough to be made out of plastic. It's a fake town. I mean look at it, Gilly: look at all those cul-de-sacs, those streets that turn in on themselves, all the houses that were built to fall apart. All those fake people living in their fake houses, burning the future to stay warm. All the fake kids drinking beer some bum bought for them at the fake convenience store. Everyone demented with the mania of owning things. All the things paper-thin and paper-frail. And all the people, too. I've lived here for eighteen years and I have never once in my life come across anyone who cares about anything that matters."

"I'll try not to take that personally, and look at you. Since when have you become so into looking at things? Have I changed you already?" I said, chuckling a bit.

We were both staring into the inky distance, the cul-de sacs and quarter-acre lots.

But her shoulder was against my arm, and the backs of our hands were touching, and although I was not looking at Molly, pressing myself against the glass felt almost like pressing myself against her.

"Sorry," she said. "Maybe things would have been different for me if I'd—ugh. Just, God. I just hate myself so much for even caring about everything that's been happening lately."

And here is what I said.

I said, "Molly what's wrong? You were fine until we got here and now you're all depressed? Did I do something? Ugh I swear to god if I did something-"

"Gilly," she said while cutting me off, "It's not you at all. Don't worry about me." she answered, her voice trailing off.

"Molly, you're worth a lot more than you think.

It makes me upset to see yourself and the world like this. Just tell me if anything's wrong okay? That's why I'm here, to protect you. We bring down the fucking rain, Molly, not the scattered showers."

She turned to me and nodded softly.

I smiled.

She smiled.

I believed the smile.

We walked to the stairs and then ran down them.

At the bottom of each flight, I jumped off the bottom step and clicked my heels to make her laugh, and she laughed.

I wanted to do everything I could to cheer her up.

She just wasn't worth the frown.









Amelia :)))

P.S: Read The Next Generation by Authorgirl12 and Rocking the Atmosphere by Amberstone12 because we totally didn't all update at the same time on purpose ;).