Author's Note- Um… I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but I've been working on this one-shot on and off since the 4th of July. I honestly don't know why I'm posting it now (almost three months later than I started it), but I haven't posted anything in a really long time and… Yeah, I really don't know. It's out of season and probably full of grammar errors, but it's finally finished and it's going up BECAUSE it's finally finished. Yaaayyyyyy. Inspired by a fireworks show and the people around me during aforementioned fireworks show.
Disclaimer- None of these characters are really based off of anyone. And, clearly, I don't own the 4th of July or Independence Day because, amazingly enough, I am not over 200 years old.
My baby brother giggled, racing off into the crowd. I made a noise of frustration before chasing after him. People parted in our wake, either smiling in mild amusement or frowning in annoyance.
I was currently on little brother duty. Not that this wasn't any big surprise. I had been on Jesse duty ever since I got back from college for summer break. Just like every summer before. Usually it was fine with me. I loved him more than any of my other sisters (that might have something to do with the fact that I was never around him), and he had a strange attachment to me anyway. Weaving through crowds after the little boy, however, was not my ideal way of spending my 4th of July.
Every year for as long as any of us could remember, my family had always gone to see the fireworks that the wave pool shot off every year. The wave pool was on the lake, so when we were younger, we had gone out in the boat and watched the fireworks from the lake itself. This year we were watching it from the recreation area across the cove from the wave pool, but it was no less crowded than the lake itself.
I weaved through the crowds, keeping Jesse in my line of sight but not particularly worried about catching up to him. He would check over his shoulder occasionally to make sure I was still coming after him before giggling and turning back around to keep running.
Whoever decided we needed to get here forty-five minutes early obvious did not factor the baby in, I thought dryly. We all called him the baby, despite his being three years old. That's what he was. He was a 'whoops'. My youngest sister is twelve years older than he is. Although, when my mom walked into my room one night while I was filling out college applications and informed me that it was going to be a boy, I wondered if it was really as much an accident as my dad wanted everyone to believe.
My dad's mid-to-late life crisis, instead of changing jobs and buying a motorcycle, had involved getting his wife pregnant with his first and only son and selling off his boat.
Jesse had been fine sitting still for all of about fifteen minutes, but after that, it was completely hopeless. Hence the chasing.
In the middle of turning around to check and see if I was still there, Jesse ran face first into someone's legs. The person stumbled slightly, but my brother was completely knocked off balance. He fell back, landing hard, and looked up at the person before bursting into tears. I gasped and hurried over to him before scooping him up in my arms.
Almost as soon as I picked him up, his tears stopped and turned into sniffles. I smiled in affectionate annoyance. "Baby. What hurts?" He sniffled again, holding his hand out. It was a little scratched, but no worse for wear. I placed a sloppy kiss on it, making him smile.
"All better," he announced decidedly, making me laugh.
"I'm really sorry about that," I said, looking up at the person he had run in to. "He— Oh. I take that back. I'm not sorry at all. I wish he had knocked you down too."
The man in front of me chuckled slightly. "Nice to see you too, Is."
"Hm," I said shortly. "I don't know why you think you have the right to call me that."
"Are you really still mad at me?" he asked, looking slightly amused. "If I remember correctly, you broke it off with me."
"Before or after you made out with the who—other girl," I said, correcting myself with a glance at my brother.
"Who's that, Isa?" my brother asked, pointing towards the person I was currently in conversation with.
"I'm Andrew," the idiot said cheerfully. "You must be Jesse."
Jesse's eyes widened in small child wonder. "How you know that?"
Andrew opened his mouth, but I cut him off. "Andrew used to be a friend of mine a long time ago. A very, very long time ago. C'mon, let's go back to Mommy before the fireworks start, okay?"
"'Kay," Jesse said cheerfully, holding my hand when I put him down. "Bye," he said, waving to Andrew. Andrew laughed and waved back as I led Jesse through the crowds back to where my family was spread out on their blankets and towels.
"Where did you go?" my youngest sister Anna asked in confusion as Jesse ran over to where our mom was talking to someone she knew to show her his latest injury.
"Jesse had an accident," I said, throwing myself down on the blanket next to my younger sister Bethany. "He ran into someone when he wasn't paying attention to where he was running."
"Who did he run into?" the sister closest to my age asked.
I scowled. "Andrew."
Elizabeth's eyes widened. She was the only one that knew the whole story about what happened between Andrew and me. There is only a year's difference in our ages, so we tend to tell each other everything. "What did you say to him?"
"I apologized for Jesse, we exchanged pleasantries, I left. Nothing happened, if that's what you're asking."
"Andrew?" the middle sister Nadia asked, frowning like she was trying to remember something. See what I mean about my dad needing a boy? "Wasn't he that hottie you went out with most of your senior year?"
"The one that you totally dumped just because you were going to different colleges?" Bethany teased.
I don't tell my sisters anything. Seriously. There is a reason for my madness. I shrugged easily. "Yeah, that's the one."
"Ug," Nadia said, throwing her hands in the air. "You're so hopeless, Isabelle."
I shrugged again. "He was an ass in sheep's clothing. What else do you want me to say?"
"That you don't mind if Jesse makes a new friend," Elizabeth said, nodding towards where our mother and brother had been a few moments before. I looked and found that someone else had joined the conversation and was holding my brother's attention with ease that I thought only I was fortunate enough to possess.
I groaned, flopping back again. "Can someone get up and tell him to go away, please?"
"I'd be too tempted to ask for his number," Elizabeth said honestly.
"Too young," Anna said, raising her hand.
"I'd rather stay over here and drool, thank you," Nadia said cheerfully.
"That was a primarily rhetorical question," I said, throwing an arm over my eyes. Which explains why I was completely surprised when a sudden weight dropped itself on my stomach. "Oof! Jesse!" The giggle above me told me I was right even before I took my arm away from my face.
"I like Andrew," he announced.
I made a face. "Why doesn't that surprise me?"
"He's nice. He say he has big pool and I can come over any time Mommy lets me. He say I should get you to come."
"That really doesn't surprise me either," I said little darkly.
"Hottie alert," Anna whispered excitedly. She's fifteen, we'll let her get by with the excitement. Besides, I will be the first one to admit that Andrew is an extremely attractive male specimen. But I will also be the first to admit that he is as much of a jerk as he is a hottie.
Andrew strolled over, a slightly cocky smile on his face. "Hello, ladies," he said, using the tone I recognized as his charming tone. I knew all his tones. I knew him.
"Hi," all of my sisters chorused. I just looked at him. I wasn't going to be charmed. Been there, done that.
He grinned. "Would you mind if I borrowed your sister for a few minutes? It appears that we have some… unfinished business that needs to be discussed."
I opened my mouth to inform him that we had no unfinished business when Nadia pulled Jesse off of my stomach while flashing Andrew a bright smile. "Of course we wouldn't mind. Go right ahead, Isa."
I looked around at my other sisters for assistance, but even Elizabeth was no help whatsoever. I rolled my eyes before pushing myself up. "Fine."
Andrew looked like the cat that had just eaten the freaking canary. (Don't you love comparing yourself to birds?) He led the way over to the group of trees that surrounded the recreation area's playground. There were kids climbing all over the playground, but there were hardly any people in the trees seeing as a tree would probably block the view of the fireworks. The two of us stood there, looking at each other in silence while the kids screamed behind us and mothers yelled for them to be careful.
"I'd really rather see the fireworks with my family, you know," I finally said coolly.
He smirked. "Why did you even agree to talk to me in the first place, if you dislike me that much?"
"If I remember correctly, I didn't agree," I said. "Nadia did for me, and it was much easier to follow you over here than listen to the four of them give me shit about refusing to talk to you. What 'unfinished business' do we need to discuss?" I used air quotes for unfinished business just because I knew he hated it when anyone used air quotes.
He just continued to smirk. "Well, you see, there's this girl, ya know. She doesn't like me for some reason."
"Fancy that," I said in mocking surprise.
"I know, can you believe it?" he said just as mockingly. I gave him a withering look that made him smirk. "Anyway, back to this girl. We used to date. Back a long time ago. I loved her, did you know that? And—"
"You tried to use the same charming speech on her when you asked her out as the bull shit one you're spouting off now," I interrupted. "And believe me, she found it cuter and more charming the first time."
"Ah, she remembers!" he exclaimed, looking triumphant.
"I remember a lot of things. Particularly you blatantly making out with Sara Abrams."
"Ah, and so she discovers why we are here!" he exclaimed in the same tone as before, the same look on his face.
I shrugged. "I don't see how that's unfinished business. Seems pretty simple to me. I'm pretty sure we got it all sorted out back then."
"Ah, and there she is confused." He shook his head mournfully. "You see, she told me since we were going to college, we should probably start casually seeing each other. There was no way we could be completely faithful to each other living on other sides of the country. So I agreed to her plan, although I didn't see the logic, and when I followed her plan as outlined, she dumped me. Just like that." He shook his head sadly. "And she wouldn't answer my phone calls or see me, and until today, we hadn't spoken since the event."
"No." I glared at him furiously. "You are not going to blame that on me. You are not going to say that I was the one in the wrong. Because we both know I wasn't."
"You were the one that said we should be casual," he reminded me, his eyes still a little playful even if the rest of his face was serious. How I could see that as dark as it was, I don't know. Or maybe I was just imagining things.
"I said we should be casual when we were on other sides of the country. Not when we were still going to spend the next three months together. I was looking at it logically."
"You were protecting your own ass is what you were doing."
I was seething. Completely and utterly furious. I didn't even know why I was so angry with him, but I refused to let myself believe it was because he was right. "There's this boy," I spat out. "I used to love him. A long time ago. Back when he wasn't such an ass. When I loved him, I suggested that we be casual while we were apart. He agreed. We were going to go home together so he promised to meet me outside in five minutes. When I went back inside twenty minutes later, he was making out with a girl that I have hated since birth. So I went up to him, broke up with him for good, since he would clearly rather spend his summer with her than with me, and left. And I never regretted a single second of it."
"And the boy never understood why you wanted to go casual in the first place, nor does he understand why you wouldn't believe him when he tried to tell you that she came onto him," he spat back, finally sounding as angry as I felt.
"Oh, come on," I said, laughing harshly. "Sara is a pip-squeak compared to you. You could have pushed her away and left her if you wanted to."
"Don't you think, if she heard the conversation we'd been having by some odd stroke of misfortune, she would have attached herself to my side instantly? Don't you think she knew that you didn't really mean what you'd said but she was still going to use it as much as humanly possible?"
"I completely meant what I said!"
"Did you? Or were you just scared that you would find someone and have to tell me when you cheated on me? Did you just want to be able to do whatever you wanted without really being tied down?"
"Because, really, Isabelle, what reason is there for you to want to go casual? What were you so damn afraid of?"
"You!" I burst out suddenly, making him stop and stare at me. "Yeah, you heard me! I was fucking afraid that you would find someone else. And if we were going casual, you wouldn't have to tell me about any accidental endeavors. If we were going casual, we could be happy together and not know what the other one did with who!"
I think even the kids over at the playground were staring at me in shock. Finally, Andrew managed to open his mouth despite his surprise. "That's really fucked logic, Is."
I shot him a filthy look. "There. Now you know. Any more questions, or can I go sit with my family now?"
"No, you can't just walk away from an explosion like that!"
"Watch me!" I turned, ready to storm away from him and the conversation. I was abruptly turned back around again before I could more than two steps away, Andrew's hand wrapped around my wrist tightly. I glared at him furiously. "I have nothing more to say to you. Let go."
"No," he said firmly. "We have plenty of things to talk about."
"It happened two years ago," I said coolly. "It doesn't matter anymore, does it?" Even though, well, it really kind of did. He'd been my first love, and he'd broken my heart. That's not something one gets over very quickly or forgets very easily.
"Then why did you bring it up earlier when you ran into me with Jesse?" he asked a little smugly like he knew exactly what I was thinking.
"You brought it up, if I remember correctly," I said rather harshly.
"Because you were being a bitch," he retorted just as unsympathetically. "Both of us clearly still have unfinished business with each other, so we may as well get this over with now while we're angry enough to say what we really think."
"Now who has the fucked logic?" I spat. "I'd like to enjoy the holiday with my family, if you don't mind. Let. Me. Go."
"Like hell," he said angrily before yanking me to him and kissing me.
Now, Andrew and I dated for something like eight months. We kissed a lot in that period of time. He was not my first kiss, nor was he my most recent kiss. But never, in the entire time we had been together, had he ever kissed me like he was currently. It was one of those kisses that's practically meant to make the girl gasp in surprise at the suddenness of it. It's meant to get shocked surprise out of the person on the receiving end of the kiss. It's meant to be so fierce that, despite whatever you're feeling at the moment, you completely forget what's going on in the world around you.
I jerked away from him when there was a sudden boom! and the sky lit up as the fireworks show began. He let me take a step away from him, seeming almost as surprised as me. Both of us were breathing heavily, testifying to the fact that the kiss had lasted a lot longer and had affected both of us much stronger than either one of us had wanted or would admit to.
Jesse's going to be mad I'm not with him during the fireworks, I thought dimly, but my baby brother was the last thing on my mind at the moment.
"Is…" Andrew hedged softly.
"Are you happy now?" I asked without the kind of anger I really wanted it to have.
"I don't want us to be angry with each other anymore," he said, keeping his voice soft like he was trying not to scare me away. "I just want us to be friends again. Like we were before all of this shit happened."
"Friends don't kiss friends like you just kissed me," I said wryly, making him smile.
"Okay, that's true. But do you really want to hold a grudge about this, Is?"
No. Not really. I wanted to be friends with him again. I wanted to be able to think of him and smile instead of thinking of him and wanted to break something. I wanted to be able to greet him when I saw him without being completely fake. I wanted… I wanted the old Andrew back.
"No," I finally admitted.
He nodded before reaching for my hand. When our fingers interlocked, he smiled at me. "How about we go watch those fireworks with your brother, yeah?"