The night sky is filled with bright white stars and Gwen looks up at it, entranced. It's been so long since she was away from light pollution and truly able to experience such a beautiful scene. Part of her mind is whirling with ideas for sketches and drawings as she scans the stars and her brain easily identifies their names. Being alone, out in the woods, made her feel peaceful and tranquil. Away from the problems of the busy, congested world.
A hand closes over hers and Gwen turns to see Trent looking intently at her with his green eyes and a slight smile on his face. Silently, he leans in towards her, closing his eyes, puckering his lips. Filling with elation, Gwen did the same. When his lips touched hers, she felt a few shivers run down her spine, but her heart wasn't spinning radically in her chest; it was beating slowly and smoothly.
The kiss was light and breezy. As soon as she pulled away from him, Gwen found herself looking into his eyes and calm washed over her: Trent made her feel safe and secure, whole. The way he blinked and looked back at her, his simple facial expression, signaled that he was feeling the same way...
The two of them came closer and Trent enveloped her in his embrace, resting her head in the crook of his shoulder. For the rest of the night, they could lay there like that, looking up at the heavens and watching the sky transform from velvet blue, to the brighter, more brilliant hues of the day as the sun and moon exchanged places in the sky. There was no need to say any words at all or do anything to express the feelings between them.
Just being in his presence, Gwen already knew.
It was the best kind of love. Sparks and fireworks had come first, but it was never really full-on passion, it was like the flickering tip of a candle flame, subtle and sweet. In a way, that was better because it lasted longer and they both knew each other as well as they knew themselves, maybe even better.
Suddenly, a shooting star with a long white tail trekked across the sky, igniting it with a burst similar to a magic puff of fairy dust. As it left, Gwen became of aware of her ear pressed against Trent's chest. She could hear his heart beating, softly and surely.
Thump. Thump. Thump...
Gwen's eyes snapped open and for a second, she was confused and bewildered.
The bedroom was painted in shadow, a crescent moon up in the sky outside. A loud siren blared, making Gwen sit up ramrod straight, the sheets falling around her as reality came charging at her like a freight train.
She was in a cheap hostel with paint chipped wall, barely anything in the rented room. Propped up against the bed was her small gray suitcase, ready to be picked up and carried at any given moment. Looking down at herself, she realized that she was wearing just her underwear. The rest of her clothes were draped over the foot of the bed.
Slowly, she turned and saw Duncan's form next to her, turned away towards the one window, moving up and down as he breathed. His bright green Mohawk seemed disheveled and messy, strands sticking out like loose hay in a hay bail.
Tenderly, Gwen reached over and smoothed them. Her heart rattled against her chest, beating like a Congo drum, like it always did when she was around Duncan. There was something about him that truly woke her up inside, made her feel like a primitive Neanderthal and revealed parts of her personality to her that she never knew she had.
Breathing slowly in and out, Gwen lowered herself back onto the bed and snaked her arms around Duncan's chest. She folded herself against the curve of his body, placing her head on his shoulder. The images of her dream played through her mind as she touched his neck and stroked it with her index finger. Blowing out her breath, Gwen felt her stomach twist and knot with huge bouts of guilt.
She'd been thinking and dreaming about Trent all week.
Duncan opened his eyes and smiled when he looked at her.
"Hey babe," he said.
"Hey," she replied meekly, Trent's smiling face from her dream burning in her mind.
"How long you been up?"
"Just got up."
Duncan rolled over to face her, raising his eyebrows as he propped himself up on his elbow.
"Wanting more action?"
Gwen shook her head.
"Then I'm going back to sleep."
Silently, Gwen watched as Duncan laid back down, nestled back in the sheets and immediately fell back into the unconscious dream world. It seemed so unfair that Duncan could be so nonchalant towards a huge plethora of things. He did anything and everything he wanted to and nobody could get in his way. But as tough as he was, he had a sweet side, too, and it seemed strange to Gwen that ever since they'd been together, she'd been seeing a lot more to that other side of Duncan.
She turned away from him and focused her attention on the wall, at a huge gaping hole. A pair of yellow eyes peered out at her and caught her interest for a second. Gwen smiled, happy for the distraction from her merry-go-round of thoughts, but that was just when whatever little creature it was scurried away back into the darkness.
Sighing softly, Gwen pulled the sheets up and over her head. The sheets smelled like strawberries since she'd had the audacity to wash them and strawberry scented laundry soap was the first one she'd found at the closest convenience store. She closed her eyes and lost herself in the overwhelmingly sweet scent, and it summoned up vivid memories of yesterday, when she'd driven out to go get that laundry soap.
As soon as Duncan had found Gwen outside of Total Drama World Tour, after a year of long distance relationship drama and otherwise, he'd convinced her to go on a road trip with him. Using money Duncan had..."gathered", and Gwen had saved up from working a part time job, they rented a cheap black minivan and took off. They only planned on traveling for a few weeks.
A day or two after the start of the trip, the couple ended up in Las Vegas, because Duncan wanted to "hit the slot machines". Outwardly, Gwen never would have guessed that Duncan was the gambling type, but then again, life was full of surprises. He hadn't seemed like the "road trip" type either, but this was the first time in forever that Gwen was able to spend time with him, so she wasn't about to complain.
In L.A., they spent the morning hitting casinos and slot machines. The entire time, Gwen didn't have much success with gambling, yet Duncan was scoring a jackpot at every other machine. Gwen had her suspicions and they were just confirmed by the mischievous sparkle in Duncan's eyes. Though, with this crime, Gwen actually saw it as justifiable, since casinos were all a huge scam anyway.
After lunch at a ritzy restaurant where the manager looked at Duncan suspiciously but accepted the money anyway, they hit several of the other attractions that L.A. had to offer. Around seven, Duncan found a cheap hostel on the west side of the city and rented a room there. It was the most unkempt and unattractive room Gwen had ever been in: some floorboards were loose, there were various holes in the wall, and she could swear that she saw a rat scamper across the room.
Duncan looked unfazed and immediately stuck his suitcase on the floor, sat on the bed. Gwen went to join him, but her nose puckered as soon as she smelled the sheets: musty and dirty. That led to her ripping the sheets from the bed and sending Duncan sliding to the floor. He was looking at her strangely, then he smirked and raised an eyebrow. Before he could say anything, Gwen had squirmed out of the hostel room, out a side door where the person in charge couldn't see her escape.
Then she'd scrambled into the minivan, tossed the abominable sheets into the back seat and took off driving until she found an actual laundromat with a convenience store right next to it. Both were small, box-shaped buildings connected by a wall. They were probably the two of the most honest-looking buildings Gwen had seen in L.A. so far, after a day of casinos anyway.
When she went to get out of the minivan, two loud, screaming voices ripped through the air and instantly gained Gwen's attention. Others were staring in the direction of the yelling while others just looked away and continued with their business.
She was too far away to make out who the two people were, but one was yelling a huge string of Spanish and the other had stopped yelling. Gwen had a peculiar interest for people watching, so she ended up closing the van door and creeping closer out of pure curiosity. The closer she approached, the more eerily familiar the Spanish voice and accent became.
Gwen stood right beside the front doors of the convenience store when she held a favorable vantage point. Instantly, from twenty feet away, she recognized the two that were arguing: Alejandro and Heather. Alejandro was in a wheel chair, glaring at Heather and clenching his fists while she sneered back and folded her arms, promptly ignoring them.
Fear gripped Gwen in a vise: Other than Duncan, she wanted nothing more to do with Total Drama World Tour. And the off chance that she'd found the two most ferocious competitors in the same location just made the experience that much worse. But as she stood there watching Alejandro and Heather go at it, she realized that they were more absorbed in shrieking and squawking at each other than anything else. It made perfect sense.
Her nerves were frayed from being in the same location as those two, so Gwen slunk into the store behind her. The florescent lights overhead were bright and white and people aimlessly pushed carts across the blue and white linoleum floor as the wheels squeaked. The squeaking sound made Gwen cringe as she walked deeper into the store. She passed through several aisles of just everyday stuff, but she deliberately gave attention to stacks of paper towels and brooms, wasting time in the hopes that those two would be gone once she exited the store.
Somehow, Gwen stumbled across a jug of laundry detergent and a clock above the shelf she was lingering at said it was close to 6 o' clock. She'd spent about twenty minutes lumbering around the
store. Frowning, Gwen took the detergent, paid for it, then wandered out of the store, hoping that Duncan had figured out what she was up to or that he hadn't gone back to the casinos already: Two cops had already given them the evil eye earlier that day.
Just as she was heading back to her van, Gwen's eyes almost popped out of her head: Alejandro and Heather were still in the last spot she'd seen them.
Both of them were...smiling. Actual, genuine smiles. That image would end up haunting Gwen's nightmares for weeks and she was an avid fan of horror and gore movies.
"Heather...will you marry me?" Alejandro had a black velvet box in his hand and had opened it. A huge diamond flashed and sparkled, almost blinding Gwen.
Through the blinding light, she watched Heather gasping and freaking out like a fan girl, something she wouldn't expect in a million years. Then Heather had launched herself at Alejandro, wrapping her arms around his neck and full-on kissing him.
Disturbed, Gwen headed towards the minivan again and when she was pushing the door open-
"Gwen? Is that you?"
Gwen yanked open the door and scrambled into the back seat, practically wrapping herself up in the nasty sheets she'd put there. A concerned face was looking in at her through the window with furrowed brows and it was the last person she'd expect to find in L.A. after Alejandro and Heather: Cody.