I'M SO SORRY FOR NOT UPDATING! I had no inspiration for this fic and I wanted to wait until I had some. This wasn't exactly the way I wanted to go for this chapter but it'll do. Enjoy!
He had to get away.
"CHRIS! WAIT UP!"
Emily was behind him, rushing to catch up; her feet pounding the floor with each step. She was fast, but he was faster.
He hadn't meant to un off like that; it was an impulse decision. Seeing the bear in her arms, seeing the irritating bright grin she wore, watching as she held it around its middle just as how he used to do it when he was a child, it stirred up a frenzy of emotions that he'd kept buried for a very long time. It wouldn't have happened if she had only respected the privacy for his belongings, he reasoned. Who goes snooping through boxes that don't concern them? One by one she picked up the stuffed animals in the box, going from the bear to the tiger to the rabbit and so on. It was a miracle he didn't have a nervous breakdown.
C'mon, Chris, it's just a stuffed animal. No use getting all worked up over it.
But he was worked up over it. He knew he shouldn't have suggested they go up there.
So why did you?
That was a good question. Why had he wanted to go up there anyway? Perhaps for nostalgia's sake. Going up had been a mistake, one that he would certainly never make again
Typically that nickname caused some kind of reaction from him, irritation usually. But at the moment, he was so troubled that it didn't even register.
"Chris wait!" she said breathlessly. Humoring her, he promptly stopped midway down the long staircase. Her cheeks were tinted with red as she leaned against the rail for support. " Are you okay? Dude, I'm sorry I went through your stuff. I was just curious."
He'd been curious once, and it only got him into trouble. "I know," he finally spoke, avoiding all eye contact.
Emily shifted her weight awkwardly. Apologizing clearly wasn't something she was used to. "Are you, er, mad at me or something?"
As much as he wanted to be, as much as he deserved to be, he couldn't; not at her. "No," he reassured. "I'm not, I promise." She brightened up considerably.
"Great!" she exclaimed. "Let's go back up and finish packing."
"Hold on," he said loudly as she turned back to face him with a slight frown on her face. "We're not going back to the attic."
"But we're not done yet," she looked crushed at not being able to explore further. "Didn't you say you needed something up there?"
He inwardly cursed at his carelessness. "I know," he bit down on his tongue, "but I just remembered everything I need is in my room. Now let's finish before the sun goes down." The bright sunshine was flooding through the open curtains, heating up his back and hitting Emily square in the face. Before long it would begin to go down for the night.
"Oh, okay," she slumped a bit, disappointed by the lost opportunity. They'd nearly made it to the top when his mother came mincing out of the parlor and up the stairs, tray in hand.
"Oh hello dears," not noticing their flinches by the sudden noise of her voice, she continued, "are you two done yet? I have a snack for both of you."
Chris refused to acknowledge his growling stomach when he declined the offer. "That's okay, Ma. Em and I are probably just gonna grab something on the way. We still have a ways to go, anyway." He didn't notice Emily practically drooling over the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.
"Are you sure?" his mother rambled. "It's getting late out. Maybe you two could spend the night."
"No," Chris said firmly while Emily's face lit up then dropped. "We're fine."
"But Christoper," his mother's shrilly voice was wearing on him.
"I said no!" he snapped, being much harsher than he'd intended.
"Watch that tone Christopher," she warned. "You may be twenty but that does not mean you can be disrespectful."
As if his little freak out from the attic wasn't embarrassing enough, he had to endure a scolding in front of Emily, too. It was humiliating and degrading. Couldn't his mother realize he wasn't a child anymore that needs protecting?
"We'll be done in ten minutes. C'mon, Em." without another word, he turned on his heels with the intention of heading back to his room
"Err, I'll be there in a moment," Emily reached out for a cookie, dropping it when he yelled out, "Come on, Emily!" She gave his mother an apologetic smile before darting up the stairs.
"Did you really have to be so rude to her?" Emily inquired as she taped another box, preparing to take it to her car. "She was just being nice."
Chris rolled his eye. She wouldn't understand. No one would understand. "You don't get it," he could feel his frustration brewing, "you just don't get it."
"What don't I get?" she asked coolly yet patiently. Sometimes he hated how calm she could be. It took every ounce of self control not to blow up at the most trivial things while she remained perfectly fine. It was unfair. Completely, utterly unfair. Her face softened. "Chris, are you okay? You've been acting really weird today, you know, more than usual," she joked, trying to lighten up the mood. Unfortunately, it did nothing but make him scowl.
"I'm fine!" he snapped then instantly regretted it. If she was hurt she didn't indicate it. "Can we just drop it? Please?"
Emily narrowed her eyes, crossing her arms over her chest with a defiant look he'd come accustomed to. "You're going to tell me eventually," she said matter-of-factly. He had no doubt she would find a way to know. Until then, it was his family's little secret. "You know," she noticed he jumped but didn't comment on that, "your stuffed animals are really cool. Mine are kind of broken, some are but yours are in perfect condition."
If this was her attempt at small talk, he didn't appreciate it. "What's so cool about stuffed animals?" he scoffed. A thought entered his mind and he asked with slight horror, "You don't play with them still, do you?" The forts he could handle. The play pretend he could handle. He could handle any other aspect of her childlike personality, except for that.
"I wouldn't call it play," she said and he relaxed. "But Lollipop, Mr. Quackie, Snuffles and I do enjoy a mean game of hide and seek." Chris groaned, thinking of all he'd have to deal with once they were all moved in. Just his luck.
"Christopher, this is nonsense," his mother rushed in, flustered as she watched the room he'd occupied since he was a baby become bare. "Now you put those things down this instant and have a snack. You know you get hungry around this time."
"No, Mother!" he slammed the box he was holding to the ground and hoped it was just clothes inside. "I'm tired of being bossed around and I'm tired of living here." He ignored the sure sign of hurt on her face. If he didn't, he'd cave in and that was exactly what he didn't want to do. Hoping to distract himself, he instructed Emily to start taking the boxes outside so they could be put in his and her car. She'd generously offered to take some of his things so it would get done faster. Even though she was a bit odd, she was also very kind.
"But Christopher," his mother spluttered. "You use to love living here. What changed?"
Chris debated on telling his mother the reason, but, then again, he didn't even know the real reason. Indeed, he'd loved his house more than anything. Some of his best memories were in the house, but as time went on, his once happy home became nothing more than a pile of memories that he wished would be forgotten.
"Are we most done, Em?" deciding to ignore the conversation, he turned back to his friend who was still lugging out boxes.
"Well, I'm almost done. You're the one standing there lollygagging," Emily told him with her usual sass. He barely caught the box she so casually tossed to him. "Take that and make yourself useful."
"Tyrant," Chris muttered moodily.
It took longer than the anticipated ten minutes, perhaps an hour or so had gone by but they finally finished among his mother's attempted intervention. She was not at all happy at the turn out, not that Chris cared. He was so tense from their words exchanged that he pulled in all of what he could in Emily's car and, without more than a single, lose sideways hug to his mother, he urged her to drive.
"What about your car?" Emily inquired from the drover's seat, never taking her eyes off the road ahead.
"I'll come back and get it," he replied briskly.
Neither said a word for a long time. The drive to the new apartment was only forty-five minutes, they'd been on the road for maybe ten, yet felt like an eternity. "You know," her voice startled him from his daze, "we haven't discussed decorating."
"Decorating what?" he asked dumbly.
Emily rolled her eyes, muttering about boys being idiots under her breath. "The apartment dumb dumb. How are we going to decorate the apartment?"
"Oh," he uttered. Personally, he didn't particularly care as long as she didn't make it look like something out of a child's room. It had to look good, sophisticated. They were twenty years old, it needed that adult charm to it. "I'm not sure. How about you decorate your room and I'll do everything else?" he suggested. Emily was lazy by nature, she would definitely agree.
Only, she didn't. As she pulled to a stop in front of a red light, she twisted her body to face him. "Why do you get to decorate everything?" It was evidently clear she was not happy with the arrangements.
Instantly, he felt a pang of guilt for his thoughts. True, Emily was childish by nature, but she could also be serious and understanding. He could just tell her why...
No, no you won't. You promised that you would never bring it up. What would Father say?
"I have had enough of this Hundred Acre Wood nonsense.
If you cannot separate yourself they will have to go.
I don't want to hear you even breathe in that attic unless your mother and I say it's okay. Do you hear me, Christopher Robin Milne?"
"Chris," Emily nudged him but he was so lost in thought he barely felt it. "CHRIS!"
"Huh?" he jolted, smacking his head on the passenger door. "Owww," he moaned.
"What is wrong with you?" she hissed. "You've been acting weird since we went into the attic. Are you going to explain it to me or not?"
"Not," he chose stubbornly. "I don't have to tell you anything Emily. It's none of your business." Why was the drive so freaking slow? All he wanted to do was hop out and walk but that would lead to another string of questions. It was like she purposely strolled the car along agonizingly slow, that way he had no chance of escape.
"I just helped you move, I'm also going to be living with you. We can't keep secrets, Chris. This won't work out if we do," she pointed out.
He knew she was right, he hated that she was right.
"Not now," he pleaded, buying himself time. "Please, can it wait?"
Emily clicked her tongue. "I suppose."
The drive didn't last too much longer. She pulled up to the apartment complex, struggling to park due to the excessive amount of luggage in the trunk. The sun had long set, if it weren't for the street lamps, it would be pitch black outside. Chris wasted no time in unpacking; he was dead tired and wanted nothing more than to fall asleep. Imagine his surprise, and aggravation, upon realizing the only items in the trunk were a couple days worth of clothes, a small lamp, and boxes of useless junk from his bedroom.
"This is great," he seethed, "this is just great!" Now what was he supposed to do? There were no pajamas, no bed covers, no pillow, no toiletries or hairbrush.
Fortunately, Emily had a solution. "Chris, it's okay," she told him, a little astounded by his behavior. "You can use my bed covers tonight and I have extra pillows, extra toothbrushes and you can use my hairbrush if you clean it," the last part was her attempt at a joke but he was in no mood to play along.
"Fine," he replied snippily, causing her to glare. He shouldn't felt some twinge of guilt; it wasn't her fault he'd packed the wrong things. "Just-can we go in? I'm tired of standing out here." By now, he was whining (persistently pursuing, he dubbed it), though he had an excuse. It was in the middle of summer and even late at night it was still fairly warm out; so excuse him for wanting a feel of the air condition.
"As you wish, Sire," Emily retorted sarcastically. She turned on her heel, throwing a glance back over her shoulder. "Are you sure the stairs are okay for you or would you rather have me carry you?"
Chris massaged his temples. Sometimes he didn't know why he agreed to live with Emily. "I'll manage, thanks," he said dryly. Seemingly satisfied by the lack of venom in his tone, she skipped up to the door, almost patting herself down as she searched for their house key. "Don't tell me you can't find it?" he groaned whilst she checked her skirt pockets and even her socks.
"Nope!" she held up the key, having pulled it off her back. "I forgot I put it there." Wincing, she ripped off the tape that held it together. Chris watched the scene wearily.
"You taped the key on your back?"
"Yes," she spoke as if it were normal, like she just ordered hamburgers. He didn't even attempt to understand her reasoning.
It only made him appreciate the dark, after all, what would the neighbors think!?
"Come on," she opened the door, grinning like a loon, "let's go see our apartment!" They'd already seen it-as buyers-now they were renters which was a different story.
"In a minute," he instructed. "Come help me carry some things, please," he added at her raised eyebrows. Emily hurriedly made her way over, grabbing 3 large, and heavy, boxes at once. He was thoroughly impressed with her strength. "Do you work out?"
"Me?" she snorted at its absurdity. "No."
Chris tilted his head. "Then how are you so strong?" he questioned.
If she hadn't had those boxes in her arms, she would've shrugged. "I did use to live on a farm. We had to carry stuff left and right. It wasn't just feeding chickens and milking cows, you know." That made sense. It was odd, because of her nonchalant attitude, that she held an air of responsibility when talking about the farm. It made him grasp on to the tiny glimmer of hope he had; maybe he was wrong about her. Maybe there was more to Emily Warren than toys and games. "Are you coming?" she was already up the stairs, showing no indication of weakness from the heavy boxes she was still holding onto.
"Yeah, yeah," he grabbed all of what he could carry, a measly box and the lampshade, and together they trudged up the stairs until they were at the very top level. Apartment 612 was tucked away in the corner of the hallway. If you zoomed by, you'd miss it. Chris was breathless by the time they arrived while Emily was still going strong.
"Oh, boy, oh boy, oh boy," she set all of what was in her arms down, and unlocked the door. The lightswitch was on the inside over on the right. "Dude, this looks great!"
"You've seen it already," he reminded her. "Remember? That's how we met?"
Like a cat, she huffed through her nose. "I know. Honestly, you think I don't remember? I'm just excited, that's all."
One minute she was mad, the next she was happy and excited and now annoyed. Girls are weird.
"So," he gazed down at his watch, "we've still got time. Wanna unpack what I have?"
"Sure," she agreed. They only had a few more things anyway. Once all of his belongings were where they should be, he sighed, wiping the sweat off his forehead. That was a workout just by itself. He decided to busy himself with the task of dusting off the kitchen and living room. It was then that he noticed something peculiar.
"Hey-where's your stuff?"
They'd spent the afternoon working on him that he hadn't even thought of Emily. Now that made him feel guilty.
"Huh?" she came waltzing out, presumably out of her bedroom, wearing a confused expression.
"Where's your stuff? Did you forget it? Just give me your address and I'll go get it," he rambled on, oblivious to her amusement. It didn't matter that he'd spent majority of the day angry at her. She was his friend-and he wasn't about to let her go off late at night by herself.
"Chris, Chris," she interjected. "It's okay. I've got some stuff. I came by earlier to drop some stuff off before I went to your place."
"Oh," was the only reply he found suitable. "Okay."
"Thank you for offering though," she smiled sweetly. Chris had a feeling it was a bit of a put on for his sake, she wasn't the kind of girl who wanted other people to do things for her. She was very independent, from what he'd gathered in the short time they'd known each other.
"No problem," he nodded. "You know I'd do anything for you."
Emily glanced at him from under her eyelashes. "So it would appear," she commented.
So, how was that? Good? Bad? I apologize for the slight shortness. I wanted to make it longer but at the same time I wanted to update it. Hopefully updates will be done in a more timely manner.