Yeah, okay, so this chapter's a bit on the short side, but this isn't the story getting all the publicity anyways. ::chuckle:: I'm not posting this little bit because it's all I've written - it's because I had to find an appropriate place to cut it up into chapters and this here was the only option. Sorta. More ranting. Sorry.

Chiclets - Chapter Five, Pizza and Paper Towels


Logan left not long after his dramatic introduction, claiming he had to go pay little Mark a visit.

"See you around, then," he'd said, kicking a shoe down the hall and walking to retrieve it.

John had narrowed his eyes, before chuckling. "Get out," he'd grinned, and had closed the door after the retreating boy.

No sooner was Logan gone than John flopped down onto the floor.

Staring up at the faded white ceiling through half-lidded eyes, John contemplated his next move.

"I could keep looking for a plate," he mused aloud.

Colson…the little voice in his head warned.

"Or," John added, "I could go back to sleep."

Colson! Stop making excuses.

"Fine, fine!" John sighed and got up reluctantly. He knew things with his mother needed to be resolved, and being the obsessively neat woman that she was, her coming back to a messy apartment would not be a good thing.

Not that she usually freaked out over things like messy rooms.

The first thing he did was open all the windows in the apartment to let it air out. Then John rolled up his sleeves and tackled the piles of boxes, starting with those in the bathroom.

Only about two thirds of the boxes held items that belonged in the bathroom. "Why on earth would someone put electronics in the bathroom?!"

He found a small battery-operated radio and turned it on, humming softly while he arranged toiletries on the cabinet over the toilet and cleaning supplies under the sink. Finding his mother's "personal hygiene items", he closed the box and shoved it to the side, blushing. "I think I'll let her deal with that," John muttered. "Probably should've started with the bedrooms…"

John diligently unpacked and arranged their belongings for the rest of that afternoon, ignoring the fact that he had had no supper the day before and no proper breakfast that morning.

John was wiping the windows with a cloth when someone knocked on the door.

What is it with me and visitors today? John thought as he stripped off his gloves. He unlocked the door and swung it open to find Logan standing there, twirling his necklace on his index finger.

"Oh," John said. "Hi…again?"

The punk smirked. "What are you doing?" he asked, peering around John. "Don't the women of the house usually do all that junk? Is that vinegar I smell?"

John sighed and tossed a glove at Logan's head. "I am cleaning the windows because my mom isn't here, and yes it is vinegar that you smell. What gives? Why back so soon?"

Logan untangled his necklace from John's glove and threw the glove back. "My bro coerced me into getting the groceries this week. Wanna come with?"

John chuckled and tossed the other glove at Logan. "Why do people say that?" he complained good-naturedly. "It sounds so weird… 'Wanna come with?' like it's an incomplete sentence. Go with you to get groceries? What's so interesting about groceries?"

Logan rolled his eyes. "Nothin'. But Dalton's so small, I just walk there. And I'd show you around the place some. It's more a town here than a city – "

"Hey," John smirked. "Of course you'd have to walk. Aren't you underage? You can't drive yet."

Logan tsked. "Details, details. Coming? From the looks of it, you've been working hard. Leave the rest for your mom, or for later. Did you have lunch?"

John shook his head and sighed. "No, I didn't. But I have to do this. I don't know why my mother's so upset with me right now, but she'd probably expect me not to laze around and not help us get settled in."

"If any woman expects that much of her kid and still snaps at him like that, then she's not a very good mother," Logan said bluntly.

John's lips parted into a near-snarl. "She isn't like that!" he said softly, angrily. "You really have no right to say that about my mother. You don't even know her."

He frowned at the floor for a moment, then sighed. "Sorry," he said finally. "It's been…stressful. Sorry for snapping."

Logan laughed uneasily. "If that's what you call snapping, man… Yeah. Shouldn't have said all that – sorry, you're right. Hey, maybe you both just need to chill for a while. Settle down and all. Ya know? Anyways, I'll leave you to your…penance. Ain't that what is it?" he added at the strange look John shot him.

"Sure…see you around." John took his glove back and nodded, unsure, before he closed the door.

What on earth was THAT? he thought as he pulled his gloves back on and picked up his cloth. You probably scared the kid away.

She isn't a bad mother.

She isn't.

John threw in the towel not too long after and hunted out the phone book.

"Hello…yeah? Yeah. Um, can I order – yeah. Uh, medium…please. Hawaiian…two? Mushrooms…peppers. No, no – the red ones. Bell. Yeah – okay, thanks. 2493 Larkspur – really? Okay, that's great – yeah. Thanks."

He pressed the 'end' button on the handset and tossed it onto the couch, then thought better of it and put it on the kitchen counter.

Even Mommy's boy has his limits, he thought, surveying the living room with grim satisfaction.

The windows, he thought, would have sparkled had the sun not already set, although even then, the windows faced east…

The apartment smelled faintly of vinegar still, but it was hardly noticeable to John, who turned on the fan above the stove to help get rid of the scent. The windows were clean, at any rate, and the sinks with them.

He had ordered a pizza for supper because he had no idea what his mother's plans were. He'd called her cell, but she hadn't had it on, and she hadn't contacted him either.

"Probably because of her interviews and all," John decided. "They're supposed to be uninterrupted or something. No big deal."

He yawned and stretched, then stumbled into the wall when he tried to enter the bathroom.

"Ouch." Looks like I'm missing that sleep more than I'd care to admit.

Someone knocked on the door while he was in the bathroom; he zipped up his pants, washed his hands, and bolted out.

It was the pizza delivery boy…girl.

"Hey, Apartment 147, Larkspur Complex?" she asked.

John wiped his hands dry on his jeans and fumbled for his wallet. "Yeah. Thanks."

"And you wanted the medium H and P with mushrooms and the red BELL peppers," she clarified.

"Yeah, that's right."

"Then that's $14.54."

The girl tapped out a rhythm to the beat of her iPod while John pulled out three fives. "Do you have change?"

The girl nodded, dull orange braids flapping. "O' course. Fifty-six cents, right?" She handed John the pizza box and reached for the money.

John paused. "Wait. Keep the change. And here – " He poured a small handful of quarters out of his wallet and gave it to the girl. "Thanks."

She beamed at him. "No, thank YOU. Have a nice evening!"

John couldn't help the small smile that tugged at his lips as he closed the door. "Yeah…hopefully."

He plunked the pizza down on the kitchen counter and stared at it for a while, then flipped open the box.

"Time for a bit of guilty pleasure," he said, piling four slices onto a piece of paper towel and sitting on the couch. Then again, if my idea of a guilty pleasure is eating on the couch when I'm not supposed to…now that's just sad. He chuckled and started on his first slice.

I need to go shopping. Mom needs to go shopping, he thought, working through his much-needed supper. Juice would be nice. Or pop.

"Pop…"

He got up and pulled the remaining can of caffeine-free diet cola from the fridge and debated about whether or not he should drink it.

But I want something cold…

John opened the can, sipped, and almost spat it out.

"Maria's right…it does taste like dirty dishwater…how does Dennis drink this stuff?" he sputtered. "Not…that I've ever tried drinking dirty dishwater…"

He drank the rest of it anyways, as so not to waste it, although, "It's actually probably better off wasted than in my stomach." He had to wash it down, so to speak, with his pizza.

In the end, John finished off seven slices and cleaned up the kitchen, putting the remaining five slices into the microwave. He was in the process of writing out a grocery list when he heard the sound of a key in the lock.

John looked up as his mother entered the apartment and removed her shoes. "Mom?" he asked tentatively.

"Mm…hi, sweetheart." His mother rolled her shoulders, yawned, and let down her hair.

John straightened. "I'm sorry – I didn't know when you'd be home, so I bought a pizza. The rest of it's in the microwave; do you want me to heat some up for you?"

His mother barely looked his way. "No…no, I'm fine."

"Uh…I got you a bit of chocolate cake from a party we had for the apartment residents – "

"No, I just want to go to bed."

"Oh…okay."

John watched his mother disappear into the bathroom, slightly disappointed. He hadn't been expecting high praises or cries of surprise at the sight of his cleaning achievements, but a little acknowledgement would've been nice.

"She's just tired, that's all," John muttered as he stuffed the grocery list into his pocket. "That's all."

He picked up his mom's purse from where she'd dropped it, and rifled through it for the car keys.

"Mom?" he said, tapping gently on the bathroom door. "I'm going out."

There was no response.

"For groceries," he clarified, before he headed for the door.

John was halfway down the hallway when he realized he'd forgotten socks again.


Rebellion Author: Said pyromaniac would be a certain country-lovin' volleyball-playing friend of ours...

mandraco: Glad you think it's "cool". Lol. Thank you for reviewing!

Esquirella: Hm, I assume you mean...which friendship? Logan? Well, I must say Logan's a bit of a favourite of mine, despite the fact that he does not play a major role in this story - not too major, anyways. ...I actually have yet to see any boy with hair coloured in such a fashion. But blue sounds cool...

Chiclets