A/N: I am so so so sorry. But here is an update. Don't kill me. Then you'll never get the end.

Chapter Twenty

We got suspended.

Not for the, ah…That. We got suspended for the fire that burnt a nice black, crackling dip into the drawers beneath it. And singed a few of the books sitting there.

All I can say is thank god they took a minute to get there.

They called our parents. My mom came in like some sort of avenging angel prepared to kill all those people hurting her baby. Then she found out what I had done. Did I mention I'm grounded? I think Salem's dad came in expecting something else. We'd heard the calls and they came in without knowing at all what was going on. Mrs. Nichols had just told them we had gotten in trouble with another boy.

My mom seemed to think someone beat me up. Salem's dad seemed to think…Let's just say I bet he was closer to the truth on what we did, if not why we were in trouble.

Mrs. Nichols had given them both a speech on controlling us, and I did argue each time she went after Salem that he hadn't started the fire. I'd even said he was trying to stop me. Which was sort of the truth. I just didn't tell her how he had tried.

We'd ended up swept out of the building. My mom had ignored Salem and his dad to push me into the car and tell me off. For such a normally calm woman she was mean when she wanted to be. Better her than dad. I'd have to deal with all the dislike the fire would bring my way for a week.

Yeah, I was only out of class for a week. You'd think they'd have kicked my ass out for good by now. One plus, the principle sort of listened to me. Salem only got three days.

I was only grounded for a week too. It was how my mom did it. Steady disapproval but she matched punishments to the school. The last messes actually got less grounding than suspending. I'd even been able to tag along wherever Danny went on the weekends and go to his house. It had been like a mini-vacation with a lot of make-up work.

You do realize I blathering on just avoid a topic, right?

I should have killed him.

As it was, I did feel like I owed him because…Well, does it seem fair to you?

Still, a week without facing him? Fucking heaven, even with being grounded and disapproved at the whole time.

How was I supposed to deal with that? He gave me a blow job! Was I supposed to do the same? Or did he expect something else?

Fucking shit, was this some messed up way of saying he wanted to go out?

No. Nononononono.

Bully. I had to keep him in that category. Not think of what he had looked like while he was down there or how it felt or…No.

He was Salem Nighte, the jerk who had made my life hell for the past few weeks just to do a damn about face on me and start mashing his face with mine. He had a brother who had been raped, whose rapist I apparently reminded him of or something. He was friends with the school jerks and jerkettes. I still had bruises on my face from him goddamnit, even if they were mostly gone.

You see why I hate Mondays?

I really wasn't going to enjoy this week at all.


Monday night my mom spent fielding my phone calls from Danny, and Raquel who had probably been forced to call by Danny. Don't know what she told them, but I was betting I'd be explaining how Salem got involved to Danny. Maybe I could convince him I was trying to kill the bastard.

Tuesday…Tuesday I learned about a part of my grounding I didn't know of.

I still had to wake up in the morning.

No biggie. Except I'd been hoping to avoid myself by sleeping for a while. At least I didn't have to babysit Sarah for the day. Mom had pitied her enough to let her have the first few days off after she broke her leg to get used to the crutches. No more though.

I had a feeling she was trying to keep me away from her before I taught her how to set things on fire. Or maybe it was a small piece of niceness for me, because Sarah was milking that leg for all it was worth. Do this, do that, get me this, get me that. It'd probably end up being wear this, wear that too by the end of the day if I was stuck with her.

There might be no house left after so many hours.

She didn't chase me from my room when she woke me up. Dad had freaked the night before. "You useless, fucking son. Going to become a fucking criminal." And on and on in that vein until mom had sent me to my room. He had probably not stopped even when I was gone. He wouldn't be any better yet. Which was maybe why she told me all my meals for the next two days would be in my room.

She promised a phone call at lunchtime to check on me and then the house was empty.

I'd been forbidden from touching the TV and the phone. The TV I might get away with. The phone would tell her I'd used it because you couldn't wipe one call without wiping them all on it. She would check, or dad would.

I collapsed back onto my bed. Going back to sleep could happen. Except the nearest phone was now behind the closed doors of my parents' room to keep me from secretly using one or something. As I said, can't really do that, but the logic of parents: it makes no sense. The point is, I wouldn't hear it if I went back to sleep.

I rolled off the bed. There was always the computer. They couldn't really check that I don't think. It's not like they had it keeping a log of sign ins or they'd know I'd been on at the wrong time a few times already.

Wingless had emailed me back, I'd expected that. It had been a few days after all.


My life is one boredom after another. I made a new friend, corny as that sounds. That's about it. My brother is being overbearing. Protective and he has our sister doing it. If I so much as gasp I have them jumping on me wondering what's wrong. Did I get hurt? Did something happen? It's annoying.


I leaned over the keyboard. So much for getting on early. My brain was dead of all response. It was going: Guh-ah-ohhhhh. Stimulating, right? I started typing, erasing a hundred times before I got anything coherent.


I'd kill for boredom right now, so that isn't always a bad thing. Annoying, yeah. As for your brother, I'd say tell him but that always sounds stupid when you're the one hearing it. Maybe try to give him the hint? I'm sorry. Mostly I deal with a brat tattling on me or I'd be able to help more.


Leaning my head on the desk after I sent it, I wondered what else to do. I thought porn, because it had been a while for that, except then I was thinking of Salem. Groaning I dove out of the chair to leave the room. Waffle. I would get a waffle.

Except it turned out that we were out of waffles. That brat. She'd eaten the last one.

I banged my head on the freezer door. I was going to slowly starve to death without my waffles, I just knew it. Soon there would be no crackers and then no bread…

Fuck it all, I'm dramatic in the mornings.

I closed the freezer and stared around. There was always toast, even if I was inept as all hell at spreading the butter without tearing the bread. Cereal? Yeah, no. All that we had was the nasty ass fruity stuff that tasted like smoothie barf.

Don't ask.

Toast it was. And of course today was the day that the toaster decided that it hated me and wanted to mutiny. Burnt toast for the fail.

I stalked into the living room and lay down on the coach. To watch TV or not to watch TV? I'd pretended to be sick often enough in the past to know that morning cartoons that weren't for five year olds and younger were an extinct species and the soap operas didn't start until after noon.

"Life fucking sucks."

Nothing to watch, nothing to do. I almost missed school. At least I could sleep there or be entertained by gossip. Which was actually probably focusing on me today. It's a wonder I'm not more popular all the fires and booms I seem to be able to create. Probably explains why I'm not a popular science partner though.

It took twenty minutes for me to end up bored enough to give in to the lure of bad morning TV. Baby talk cartoons with bright ass colors and too many sing-a-longs, infomercials, or the news? Two minutes of watching some chick cut stuff with a magic bowl or whatever the heck she was selling and I picked the news. It proved a worse idea than watching the woman with her bowl. I fell asleep watching traffic jams.

If I'd had a choice, I'd have slept till the phone rang even with the chance of missing it. Instead I woke up to someone banging like crazy on my door. They'd probably been at it for a while.

I stomped to the door. Very few people who would care knew I was home and all of them could make the easy guess as to why I wasn't answering. The only person obnoxious enough to keep banging would be Danny and I was going to kill him and chop him into tiny pieces.

Except the world was once again proving how much it hated me.

Salem still had his hand up to keep banging when I pulled the door open. He stared, I stared. He smiled, I shut the door and locked it. It took all of two seconds before he was knocking again.

"Go away!" The door wasn't thick enough he couldn't hear that.

"Open the goddamn door!"

"Not happening." The pause between shouting and knocking lasted long enough that I was beginning to actually hope that he had listened.

"Jeremy, let me in."

"Or you'll huff and you'll puff?"

Another pause. "I could totally turn that into something dirty."

Yeah, so could I. Which was probably why I was blushing. "Just go away."

"Open the door and talk to me for two minutes and I will." I didn't open the door. "Links, you dumbass. I'll stay on the porch, just open the door." Still not opening the door. "Open the door or I'll camp here until your parents get home."

Mother fuck. Wishing for the…Well, the first time actually, that we had one of those chain latches to make it only open so far, I opened the door and glared out at him. "Hurry up and leave."

He leaned against the door, making it so that I had to brace it with my body or have him push his way in. I refused to meet his eyes through the crack in the door and ignored his stupid smile. Salem tried to grab my hand through the space and I slapped his hand away. "You know you're going to let me in eventually."

"Like hell."

"Links, what the hell is your problem? I'm here to check on your dumb ass and you can only manage porcupine mode."

Blink. "I'm fine. Go away."

Salem just leaned more heavily on the door, seeming to take the one almost civil response as permission to stay despite the whole go away part. His weight pushed the door open a little more. He peered into the space. "My parents can't decide if they should ground me or not."

"My opinion? Yes."

He snorted at me. "You're grounded, aren't you?"

"Of course not, I only set the science room on fire. Why would I be grounded for that?"

"Good point." He had wrapped one hand around the door's edge and seemed to be set now on prying it out of my hands. "For how long?"

For a moment I managed not to answer. "A week," I admitted finally. He almost had the door out of my hands now. I knew one way that might make him stop long enough for me to get the door shut again. The weapon to beat all weapons. "Sorry for getting you suspended."

I was right. He stopped pushing at the door and looked at me like I had grown horns. I started to shut it only to have him yelling and cursing at me.

Er…the door was almost closed and there were fingers wriggling at me. Why were his fingers still in my door? Salem was practically growling when I pulled the door back open, a little further than I should have.

"What the fuck, Links?" He showed me his hand. "They're turning freaking purple now."

Embarrassed, I touched the crease I'd made in his fingers. It was more red than purple, but even still getting your fingers caught in the door hurts like hell. And I hadn't exactly been gentle about closing it. "Sorry." I offered again. "I thought you'd be smart and you know, move them."

"Don't make this my fault."

"But you should have moved your fingers!" His hand was still in front of my face and I pushed it away. "Besides, I said sorry."

He grabbed my finger that was pushing his away. The fact that his face was way too close now did not escape me either. "Links, you've got me suspended and just about broke my fingers." He was exaggerating. I hadn't shut the door that hard. "I need more than a sorry." I eyed him. It was obvious what he meant.

Not happening. Now how to get him to leave? The bastard had made it so I couldn't shut him out now. He was half way in the door and I felt bad enough about his fingers not to do it to his toes too. What to do, what to do.

"Besides," Salem went on, oblivious to the fact that I was thinking. "After yesterday…"

I kissed him, the only thing I had been able to think of to make him shut up. Except, this probably wasn't going to help with getting him to leave. I tried to pull back but he threaded his fingers through my hair, keeping my mouth pressed to his. He stepped closer, ignoring the hands I had pressed to his chest to keep him back. Salem was now mostly inside my house and would not be willing to leave if I ever managed to end the kiss.

His tongue had begun to tease at my mouth when the damn phone rang. Twisting away, I barely made it two inches away from him before he had me pressed back against him. "Ignore it."

"Can't, it might be my mom."

"That totally ruins the mood here."

"Sort of the point. Just let me go already before I end up grounded for even longer."

I ran for the phone, already on its fourth ring. "Hi?"

"Took you long enough honey."

Mom, oh goddamn… "I was in the bathroom." I paused. "Sorry."

"Hmm. Well you sound awake." She really didn't need to know exactly how awake. The door closed and I turned to glare at Salem, standing inside the door now. Inside the locked door. Oh, damn I was dead. "What have you been doing?"

"Homework?" I asked blankly. Oh, yeah, like she knows.


"Yeah, well, what else am I supposed to do?" I muttered.

She hummed back at me. "Well, keep it up honey. Daniel is supposed to bring today's assignments by and I'll see about heading up myself to get the rest of them later this week. I'm sure he doesn't appreciate being made our errand boy."

"It's not like he has anything else to do."

"Oh, be nice and go finish your homework. I expect good grades for it now that you have nothing else to do."


"Okay mom. Bye."

"See you later sweetheart."

I hung up the phone and stared at it. It was better than looking at him. Apparently though, I am magic because the stupid thing rang again less ten seconds after I set it back on its cradle.


"Hello is there a Ben Fitz…"

"Wrong number." I hung it up again and stared at it. I should have drawn that call out. Less awkward than talking to my mom and hopefully just as good at keeping Salem off of me. I wondered if I could make a run for it. Hide in our neighbor's yard. Their dog was big enough he might scare Salem away.

He was also mean enough I'd probably come home without a couple toes and fingers.

"Are you praying to the phone god?" I'd been too damn focused on the phone. He was now behind me, the fingers of one hand playing along my arm.

"I thought you said you'd stay on the porch." I said, turning to glare.

Salem smiled. "That was before you kissed me."

How childish and stupid would I seem if I declared 'did not' and ran? "That wasn't an invitation to come in." He kept smiling. "Which means get the hell out of my house."

Instead he kissed me, hands pinning my arms to my sides. I stepped back into the phone table and nearly fell over it. Salem pulled me forward into him, laughing. He still had a hold of my wrists so I kicked him instead. The smile faltered for a moment before he snorted.

"You are insanely immature. I've met more mature three year olds."

"Then obviously you're a pervert for kissing me. You should totally leave." That came out a lot better than my inner mantra of fuck you, fuck you, fuck you.

"I really believe you're insane."

"I am." Setting a fire didn't scare him away. Kicking him did nothing. Did I need to chase him with a knife to make my point?

Okay, if I ran with a knife I'd end up killing myself. I needed a new plan. Plan B…Except by now I was probably on Plan J or something near the end of the alphabet. Maybe I should lock him in a room with Sarah. If that didn't make him run for the hills I was doomed. So where the hell was she when I wanted her here?

Salem was trying to maneuver me between him and the wall, ignoring that I was trying to kick him again. He was laughing as I tripped myself and he had to hold on when the doorbell rang. We stared at it as it rang a second and then a third time. Raquel.

"Let go."

"No one knows anyone is home. Ignore it."

"There is something vaguely serial killer to that statement, now let me go. It's Raquel and she does actually know I'm here."

"The hell? Can you see through walls?" He tugged me back when I dove for the door. "How about clothes?"

I squawked at him and dove again. This time I made it just when she started another round of ringing. She pressed it for the third time while she raised her eyebrows at me and glanced at Salem huffing behind me.

I let her in. Maybe she'd scare him off cause I was pretty much slowing down on thinking up ways to do it myself.

"Hola, chicos. ¿ Debo volver más tarde?"

"What?" Salem ignored us both, turning on his heel and stomping into the living room. "Hey! You're supposed to be leaving!" I looked back at Raquel and gestured to the room where Salem had gone.

She rolled her eyes at me. "Problems?"

"He. Won't. Leave."

"Why'd you let him in then?"

"I didn't! He came in when I wasn't paying attention."

Raquel shook her head at me and followed Salem into the living room to perch in my dad's chair. He sat sprawled out on the couch and glared at me when I stood in the door. I had two people over who weren't supposed to be. Please, parents of mine, don't come home early today.

I gave up for the moment on getting Salem out of the house. Raquel could play buffer for now. "What are you doing here?"

"Danny." She smiled. "Your madre has apparently forbidden him from coming over until you're grounding ends, so he sent me over when he knew she wouldn't be here. He says I have to ask: What the hell happened?" She tilted her head at me. "A good question. He says everyone thinks that you were either trying to set Salem on fire or he was trying to set you one fire." Raquel paused. "Some people also think you were trying to burn down the school but the more common thought is that you were trying to kill Salem."

"I thought about it." I stuck my tongue out him.

He just stared. "But that's not how the fire got set." His voice was a sing-song.

"I will so kill you."

He grinned but Raquel was shaking her head and laughing at us. She knew. Oh, god she probably knew. Maybe I should retreat to my room. They'd leave eventually.


"Maybe I don't need to know. But ah, what excuse do we throw at Danny? I don't think he'll be all that game for: It was an accident that occurred while they were making out."

"We were not making out!"

"Nope." Salem agreed.

"I will murder you both in your sleep."

"Hector might not like that." She pulled me onto the arm of the chair and hugged me. "Forget it chico. Just relax."

Salem watched us and then frowned at her. "How long are you sticking around?"

"Oh, I don't know. I don't have any classes today."

I think he just growled at her. Whoa. Also: Yay. I got to keep my buffer.

"However," oh shit. "I'm supposed to meet Hector in a little bit." She ignored my pinch to her arm. "And he is too annoying to ignore. But," She flashed another smile. "Maybe I should call Lynn to come babysit. Keep poor Jeremy safe."

"You mean suffocate me." I pointed at Salem. "I think he might actually be the safer option."

Raquel laughed as she left, letting me drop into the chair with my feet flopping over the edge. She stopped at the edge of the living room and looked back at us. "No mate uno al otro. Estoy seguro que devastaría a sus madres."

"Do you know what she just said?"

"Not a clue," Salem leaned forward, elbows on his knees. "Who is Lynn?"

"Raquel's insane, clingy roommate."

"Clingy?" His voice was odd.


He just shook his head, standing and walking the few steps until he hovered over me. "One benefit of her showing up, you seem calmer."

"Appearances are deceiving. Believe me, I am very willing to scream my head off and then kill you."

"In that order? Well, I think that means I have time."

There wasn't really a chance to protest that before he was kissing me again. With him kneeling on the edge of the chair, one hand on my waist and the other by my head, escape was sort of hard. I pushed at his shoulders while he a slow kiss down my jaw, his fingers playing along the edge of my shirt and brushing my stomach.

"Salem." He hummed, his teeth catching at my neck. "Salem, seriously, stop."

That he actually pulled away made me stare at him for a moment in surprise. "What?"

"I wasn't thinking beyond stop." I tried to pull myself out of the chair. Time to push the advantage and make him leave. He pushed me back down and kept his hand in the middle of my chest to pin me there. "Hey!"

"Stopping doesn't mean let you go."

"Yes, the hell it does." No go. I glared up at him. "Let me up…Please."

"You're almost starting to use that word like a normal person. It no longer has power." Salem leaned down brushed his mouth over my ear. Dear god, can't he behave like a normal person and not touch me? "Why do you keep bothering to fight? It's amusing but," he leaned back to look me in the eye. "Really, really frustrating."

"Give up then or get used to frustration." Please give up. I tried picking his hand off of my chest. Why were his hands so damn warm? Better than cold I guess. "I pick give up."

"It's so fun to fuck with you though." I looked up to see him smiling.

"So this is just you fucking with me?" I knew that. I mean, I thought that might be it. Just a switch from the punching to fuck with my mind…But…it didn't hurt. Really. The shaky feeling was just me wanting to hit him.


"Get out," I said. There was maybe a little bit more venom in it this time than the others. I bit my tongue. Stupidly, I wanted to yell at him.

He was backing up from. "Links, you idiot, what…"

"Out, out, out." It was chant that or scream. Dear gods, I was a complete idiot. I opened the door and pointed outside. "Go."

He stared for a moment, completely blank. "I was joking you know." He reached for me and I slapped his hand down. Salem frowned and the second time caught my wrists and pinned me to the door. "You over react to stupid, stupid things." He leaned down until we were nose to nose. I could bite him. He was definitely close enough to bite. "Half the time I feel like I'm trying to flirt with a crazy ass chimp and the other half I keep fooling myself into thinking we're getting somewhere. I know what my problems are, I'm even working on them. But you seem content to ignore whatever bug has crawled up your ass. Do it, so that we can work on our fucking problems."

I was staring up at him, still biting my tongue cause, really, what the hell was I supposed to say to that? Okay, bye now? Talk to you when I stop thinking about how less than two weeks ago your were shoving your fist into my eye? Part of me, the part that was maybe a tiny bit grown up, was thinking yeah, I over reacted and the rest was just giving the typical response.

"Fuck you," I whispered, looking at the empty space by his ear.

The noise he made was part growl and part curse. He kissed me one last time, a hard, biting kiss that clacked our teeth together. We stood there for a moment without moving before he let go and stormed out of the house. I stood there and refused to move, staring at the wall with the wind rustling the mail, until I heard his car door slam and the engine start.

Wheels screeched when he pulled off and I watched him take the corner at twice the speed limit. My mind was numb.

I think maybe I did something stupid.

Well, I do stupid everyday and probably every other hour too but this…I slumped against the door and looked at the street.

Right at our neighbor Mrs. Thurmond with her ugly poodle in the front yard who was staring back at me.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck times infinity.

You know what?

Tuesdays suck just as much as Mondays and no way in hell was it going to be anything but downhill from here.


A/N: Drama. So much drama. And sorry that this was not an incredibly long update for how long it took.

First: the Spanish.

Debo volver más tarde: Should I come back later?

No mate uno al otro. Estoy seguro que devastaría a sus madres: Don't kill one another. I'm sure it would devastate your mothers.

Thank you so much to all who have stuck with the story despite it's bad update schedule (not sure it can even be called that...). I give no excuses because no matter what, leaving you all hanging for so long just sucks.

Thank you for the reviews. Please keep reviewing. Its one of the few reasons I've stuck with this story, even with my too frequent patches of ignoring it.

Short idea of the next chapter: Unforgivable a little less Salem, but a lot more family. Yeah, mom decides she can't stay sidelined.