.just full of bad ideas.

chapter four. (husky ha-has)

"Right?" Lester said again as he pounded the sand he was kneeling on with impatient hands, "Are we? We are, right? Aren't we? Please? We're going, right? Right?"

His grinning face appeared right above my own, and right in front of the sun which just illuminated his platinum hair from behind.

He must've had a big head.

"Left," I said in the flattest voice possible (uh, right after my startled yelp of "Lester Eclipse!"), tapping my fingers against my clammy forehead as I lay sprawled across the sand.

I felt like Mrs. Potato Head in an oven.

Lester frowned at me, but his eyes were bright and glittering. "Right! Right! Right!" he chanted, moving his head back and forth in a willful staccato.

I sat up and flexed my fingers pensively. If I said "left" again, we'd be stuck at the beach for generations upon generations upon generations' generations. So I folded my arms with a tilt of my throbbing head because the actions were thoughtful enough to keep my best friends off my case about "dismissing these golden opportunities so unthinkingly." They weren't even golden! They were more yellowish. Like pee!

I stifled a dismayed groan at the thought and answered slowly, "Well . . . I don't think I wanna go."

Honest, to the point, and just a little pleading. Brilliant, much?

"Alright, cool. Let's go grab a burger," Lester said with a grin as he stood up to stretch.

Score! I patted my stomach fondly, cooing as it voiced its approval. I looked up and Lester was waggling his eyebrows expectantly, as if to say, "Don't I get any love? I'm the one who saved you, 'member?"

I determinedly crawled over to hug his legs, trying not to laugh. Lester hardly ever forced me to do anything I didn't want to, and for whatever reason, that made me inexplicably pleased. Okay, maybe all that meant was that I was a spoiled little Brat-atouille. At least—uh . . . at least I—made my own dinner.

No, wait. I couldn't cook.

Well. Guess I was a brat. And I had to make the most of it, eh reader? Eh? Eh?

Lester patted my head imperially, and I rubbed my face against his jean-clad calf, purring just like my neighbor's evil kitten would because she was even more spoiled than I was. Lester was just about to fetch me some milk, I know it, but Izzy cut in with her "Excuse me?" and happy-bubble-extinguisher hidden in those clenching and unclenching fists.

I grinned up at her, fiddling with my watch unsurely. She was tougher on me. It sucked! "Uhm . . . I said I don't wanna go?" I looked at her glaring face and reworded. "Please? I don't wanna go, please?"

Izzy twisted her lips like she always did when she didn't want to smile. "We're going. Yes, we are. We are, I said. Goodness, don't you listen? Just stop whining for a second and—" she turned away from me with a roll of her eyes, pushing some of her brilliant red hair back from her face impatiently, "Lester, tell her we're going."

The boy in question raised an eyebrow at the exasperated command, smiling broadly. "Now why in the heck would I do that? If she doesn't wanna, she doesn't wanna."

I cackled smugly and he hushed me, grinning.

Izzy's right eye twitched. "Lester. Tell her. We're going." Now she looked positively dangerous as she eyed the two of us, and I wondered why I ever thought she was nice enough to befriend. Aw, man. What could I do about that now?

Lester faltered for a moment, and I crawled around him. "Deliver me from the evil one," I whispered up at his turned back, clasping my hands under my chin.

And so he straightened a bit, planting his feet into the sand. "No," he said to Izzy. But the muttered "Take that!" was what had me bouncing in my spot on the sand excitedly, fighting down my giggles.

"Lester!" Izzy pouted.

Ay, not the pout!

. . . Reader, I found it absolutely ludicrous how she still tried pulling that pouting business on us, as it had a zero percent success rate when put up against Lester and I, "heartless beasts for life." Or, "heartless princesses" as Lester had corrected Izzy indignantly.

Anyhow, if someone did that—that thing—with their lips, I only found myself even more resolute to keep from giving them what they wanted, because it just made me want to laugh. Whoops. So anyone who reacted by whispering, "Oh, no . . . . Please! Don't look at me like that!" had me rolling around in stitches for decades.

Especially in cartoons. Because when Ron got all—

"See that?!" Izzy shrieked, and I blinked at her slightly trembling body from between Lester's legs tentatively. "See? She's just going to be talking to herself about freaking Ron Stoppable for the rest of her life if she doesn't get out and go to bonfires with hot guys! I'm just trying to be a good friend here!"

"Aw, you're already the best friend, Izzy. Stop trying," Lester said, stealing the words out of my mouth. I laughed happily, giving his back a thumbs-up.

"You hush!" Izzy told him and then rushed past that very same hunk of a Mack-Shield to get to the Mackster herself. The pitiful whimper on my part was wholly unintentional. I did not squeal like a cute little pig just so Lester would scoop me up in the nick of time and look around before desperately throwing me into the icy ocean.

No, seriously.

But as it was, my hair was plastered to my face, and my head popped up from under the glacial water, as I said, "Lester!" around all my gasping and spluttering and swallowing and coughing.

And I was laughing even though I undoubtedly looked totally irate and a little scared with all the water surrounding me suddenly, because Lester looked so—Lester-y with his mouth hanging open as if he couldn't believe he'd just done that, and Izzy didn't look quite so scary with her hand pressed against her mouth, slim shoulders shaking.

. . . Actually, she looked a little too happy if you asked me. Little freak.

"Mack!" Lester choked out, horrified, feet nearing closer to where I probably looked like I was dying, face hovering over me in concern. "I am so sorry! She was coming toward you so fast and if I threw you anywhere else—well, it was all sand and I just panicked and the ocean looked all blue, you know?"

I choked on the salt-water, my laughter making it hard to breathe. "'Sokay, dork," I said as I paddled clumsily toward his waiting hand. When he pulled me up, I was dripping and cold and even Izzy took pity on me, because when I looked at her all shivering and cute-like, she sighed, blue eyes soft.

"Let's get you home first. We'll talk about this when we get there." She ended with a firm nod, and I had to nod back.

My best friends sandwiched me to keep me warm, Izzy on my left, Lester on my right, all the way to the car.

Looking at them, I thought: maybe this is what it's like to have both parents?

Reader, it felt so nice.


"But . . . I . . . please don't make me," I said, falling on my knees in front of Izzy The Queen. She had taken possession of my bed while I was in the shower, and my toy torch which she'd bought for warmth (read: decoration) in my "forever-arctic" (read: plain as an unspotted banana) room looked like a scepter in her pale hand. The kneeling seemed appropriate.

But the throwing cereal—the dried strawberries looked like rose petals to me—at her face was pushing it overboard, I guess. She glared at me and I cowered.

"Please?" Izzy said pleadingly—hey, wasn't that my job?—, spitting out the last of the Honey Bunches of Oats disgustedly. Aw, man. How could she not eat those? And how could I say No to her when she begged?

It was simply impo

"No," Lester responded for me.


Well, practically anyway.

"Lester," Izzy said with a pointed incline of her head, "I'm talking to Mack. Please, Mack? Please, please, please? Please? Pleeaa—?"

Oh, it was too much!

So I ran into Lester's chest, screaming "Make it stop! Make it stop!" and he wrapped his arms around me protectively.

"Shh," he murmured softly. "There, there. It's over now."

I turned around, opening my eyes and ears to see and hear Izzy with her imploring blue gaze and her "—eaaaseee? Please? PLEASE! Please?"

Lester laughed evilly. "Psych!"

"You—evil little—naked mole rat!" I fumed, breaking free from his hold and attempting to bolt out of my room.

He pulled me back, grinning like he knew something I didn't. Uh-oh.

Izzy was frowning at me. "Hey!" she said, pointing rather rudely. "I thought you said that you never had thoughts about Kim Possible or Ron Stoppable, and that I was wrong to accuse you of such earlier today. You said that you were actually thinking about Ron-the-cute-guy-on-the-boys'-soccer-team-Ron!"

I swallowed nervously. I did say that, didn't I?


I twisted my arm behind me to tug at the end of my braid. "Well, Rufus is not, you know, Ron . . . or Kim."

"Mack . . ." she started, lips twisting. Not in the smiling way, though. More like the frustrated-beyond-belief way.

"Fine, fine," I sighed. "I'm sorry." I suppose.

"That's okay, but now you have to go to the bonfire. You know, because lying is bad and you must be punished accordingly. Yeah."

I made a disbelieving sound and Lester snickered from beside me.

I turned on him. "This is your entire fault, you bum." And I sank to the floor with a pathetic sniffle.

He just lifted a shoulder. "I helped you out too much today. I'm just trying to be fair to both of my mistresses. You know how it is, yeah?"

Half a second later, he was covered with pillows.

Izzy and I grinned at each other, and I remembered why we were best friends. Good thing, too. I did not want to turn in my friendship bracelet; it was so uncontaminated-looking, unlike the rest of my cheap jewelry.

Izzy just wanted me stop beating myself up over the way Bing had looked at me, and—here's a concept—talk to him about it instead. Reader, I was not beating myself up. Just a little forehead-slap here and there. And Bing was freaking aphonic!

But I smiled at her anyway, showing her I appreciated what she was trying to do, and with a slightly self-congratulatory nod, she looked away.

Man, I loved her.

Lester decided to take that moment to seat himself in my lap, complaining about how my "ludicrously soft pillows had irreversibly injured" him and his ego, and I grinned the cheesiest grin ever, because it felt like something I was supposed to do.

"Group hug!" I said suddenly, shoving Lester off my legs and standing up quickly.

They pushed each other theatrically in their rush to get out the door.

I pulled out my flip-flops with a not-at-all disappointed "Eh." To Bing-Land!


The very first thing my best friends did when we drove back to the beach at exactly three-o-clock was make me feel like an idiot.

That is, after Lester acted like an idiot for himself. He always wanted to be first at that kind of stuff.

So this is how it went, reader; try not to feel too sorry for me.

Lester was holding out his ten bucks to the guy in the box reluctantly, pulling it back to his chest every two seconds as if he had the option of changing his mind and turning around with a line of impatient cars behind him.

"I don't know," Lester had said with a slow, dubious shake of his white-blonde head. "Ten dollars for parking? Don't you think that's a little much?"

"No," the fat guy in the uniform responded flatly. "Now pay up."

I snickered. Corny little dork.

And Lester was enjoying himself way too much, the honking from behind him only fueling his excitement. Apparently this was so much more stimulating than flirting with the girl who worked the morning shift and who cooed about how great a person he was for taking time to clean the beach. Izzy and I ducked in our seats, hoping no passer-bys would associate us with the curly-haired twerp behind the wheel.

"Pay up? Sounds like a plan, Mister Man!" Lester exclaimed. And he held out the bill as if all he ever needed was the noncommittal reassurance that he wasn't wasting his money, that ten bucks was a more-than-fair deal, and that only idiots (he wasn't one, obviously) parked at the McDonalds right across the street for free.

But when Fat-Man-In-A-Box glared at him suspiciously, Lester snatched his money right back, his expression pained.

"Hey now," he said, sniffing thrice, to which I snorted fondly at despite myself, "you don't have to go and look at me like that, man. I thought we were friends?"

But then there was a noise like static and Lester's "friend" pulled out his walkie-talkie and stared at it dumbly because the person on the other side of it was yelling at him—something about why was he making the people in line so angry and couldn't he do something as simple as collect money and say Thanks-And-Have-Fun?

Lester, the tactless moron, stuck his head out of the window, trying to get his voice heard on that walkie-talkie. "I know, right? I was trying to give him my money, but he just had to look at me like I was gonna steal all the powdered doughnuts he's hiding in that box of his—"

So Fat-Man-In-A-Box was red and breathing all fast and scary-like and the honking got louder and louder and Lester looked a little nervous and I was scared that Fat-Man-In-A-Box would eat us and so I squeaked and Izzy sprung into action from the passenger seat and took the money out of Lester's right hand and crumpled it in a ball and threw it at Fat-Man-In-A-Box so it hit him right in the foaming mouth and Lester sped off, laughing wildly, after I screamed, "Drive! DRIVE!"

. . . Yeah, okay, so right after that business—and the succeeding lectures and punches inflicted on the boy who caused it all—my best friends turned on me.

"Hmm," Lester murmured pensively, "Where to park . . ."

I raised my eyebrows sarcastically, but more confusedly than anything. "I don't know, maybe in one of the ten parking spots that are comfortably close to Pier 21 where the barbecue is to be held? Eh? Eh?"

Lester flushed. "Uhm, what do you mean? Where? And stop doing that 'eh-eh' thing, Mack, it drives me nuts."

I grinned cheekily. I saw the "'eh-eh' thing" on TV the other night and today was my first day experimenting whether or not I sounded as cool as that guy who did it on whatever weird show that was. "There," I said, pressing my finger to the window, even though I knew he hated it. "And there. And there. And there, there, there, and there—oh, and there, there, there—" I continued annoyingly.

"Okay, okay!" he stammered, flustered. Weirdo. I glanced to Izzy curiously, but she was suspiciously quiet.

Lester parked in the first spot I'd pointed out, and we all hopped out. I couldn't help but feel that something was a little off, though. So I stayed put and tilted my head, squinting my eyes at the shiny green car.

"Hey, Lester? Something looks a little weird to me, but I don't know what," I said to the boy who'd only moved about three steps in the full minute I'd been standing there.

"What?" he said innocently as he walked back to me. "Really?"

"Oh, you mean besides the fact that he somehow managed to park at an almost perfect diagonal and is so close to my car that I couldn't even open my door a millimeter if I tried to?" drawled a deadpan voice from somewhere to my right.

I turned. And I watched as Bing pulled out a red cooler and closed his trunk, and then leaned lazily against it, giving me a cool stare from his car next to us.

I swallowed and then looked at Lester's car again, blinking. Oh, Bing was right. This is why I didn't drive, dear reader.

"Yeah," I said weakly, as I avoided his gaze. "Besides that."

Lester's cheery voice broke the tense silence. "Oh, my bad! Thanks for pointing that out, man!" he grinned brightly at Josiah—who merely raised his eyebrows—but I saw a bit of wariness in my best friend's eyes despite the blinding smile. Probably in response to Bing's sarcastic little mini-spiel. That was kind of rude.

"Well, I'm just gonna try parking again. Don't know how I got my license," he said, and then whistled as he re-opened his door.

Izzy spoke for the first time in what felt like years. "Oh, I wanna come!" she cried.


"You wanna get in the car as Lester re-parks?" I asked doubtfully.

"Yeah, duh," she said quickly, before taking my previous spot in his car—right behind the driver's seat. She couldn't squeeze in on the other side because . . . well, Bing hadn't been exaggerating about the millimeter thing.

Bing and I watched, eyebrows raised to the heavens, as Lester expertly maneuvered his car into a perfect parked position in less than a second. Just as I began to clap, he quickly reversed, tearing out of the parking lot faster than I could say, "Whatthe! Just what in the heck are you—?" Believe me. I tried. And the "you" got partially cut off.

I don't know how long I was staring at the spot Lester had just vacated, but I know I only stopped when Bing started laughing. Whoa. And here I'd thought that he was incapable of doing so. Silly me.

So even though I was more than a little upset, and even though my thought process at the moment went something along the lines of: "Ohmygah, those TRAITORS!" and any stray musing was tied to deciding whether or not Lester had pulled that Fat-Man-In-A-Box stunt to keep me from thinking straight, as I was still reprimanding him in my head and/or laughing at Fat-Man's face—I think I may have smiled. And then I glared and crossed my arms because that seemed to make Bing laugh all the harder and I didn't want him to ever stop.

. . . Yeah, that kind of cheesy thinking halted after about, eh, give or take . . . two more seconds of his husky Ha-Has.

Now I just needed him to hush. Because if he thought I would join in on the Laugh At Mack's Unfortunate Predicament fun and fetch him water when he started choking, he was so wrong. I couldn't handle being laughed at if I couldn't find something to laugh at, too.

Um, spoiled brat, remember?

"Okay, time to shut up!" I exclaimed brightly, but managed to keep my voice flat. Sort of.

The backlight behind Josiah's hazel eyes shut off and his mouth snapped shut. Then I remembered that he was supposed to be the angry one here, not me. Maybe on a day when a bottle of some stranger's pee hadn't been all up in his grill courtesy of me, I could talk to him like that. Well, not really. Izzy said I only got like that when I was really nervous and now I was just making everything worse.

"Um . . ." I searched desperately for a way to rectify the situation, my stomach tugging uncomfortably, "that was a joke, man! Did you think I was serious? No, no, just go on laughing. I'll just wait here politely 'til you stop, okay?"

My face was burning as he eyed me coolly. Meep.

"Well, I'm all laughed out. Thanks for being so courteous, though," Bing said dryly.

"I . . . yeah, no problem," I mumbled, swallowing. Why couldn't he just grunt or something?

He turned to walk away, and after wondering for a second if I was supposed to follow, I caught up. I really couldn't handle a "Are you coming or what?" or any other rudely corny thing he could've said. Because it hurt after a while, when everyone was making you feel so dumb.

Especially when you were continually giving them a reason to do so.

"You know what I don't get about you?" Josiah asked lowly, and my head snapped up. My step faltered, but his didn't. He was looking straight ahead.

"Um, no?" I said awkwardly, trying to make myself stand as tall as he was.

"How you always complain about my rudeness when you're not so polite yourself," he answered bluntly.

My cheeks flamed. "I—um, sorry?" I said abashedly, looking down. If I protested and said that my behavior was due to the fact that he made me disgustingly nervous, he could either make that something it wasn't, or tell me I was making excuses—which I probably was—and that would make me feel pathetic. Which I probably was.

"I don't think you even know you say it, sometimes," Bing continued with a hint of a smirk, as I was trying to decide whether or not I liked him better mute. "You'll be doing your homework and asking me dumb questions and I'll be ignoring you, and you'll say, 'Rude, much?'—but it's not like I don't want to talk to you . . . well, sometimes I really don't, but whatever. Mostly it's because you're kind of distracting and I like to get a foot in my homework before practice starts. So maybe you're the rude one. You kind of talk too much."

I blinked at him and tried to keep my mouth from dropping.

I don't know how I'd thought I was making progress in this whole friendship deal-io. He just thought I was rude! And talkative! And an unwanted distraction! Maybe he was right. Maybe this whole sit-next-to-Pwalker-and-convince-him-I-was-not-a-total-dork thing was just another one of my bad ideas. I suddenly felt extremely stupid.

"You really don't like me very much, do you?" I asked quietly, adjusting the strap on my tote bag so I had something to do with my hands. Just as I was gathering up the guts to apologize for bothering him all the time, he spoke up:


The genuine surprise in his voice nearly gave me whiplash as I met his eyes again. When I looked at him, I think his expression softened for a moment before he looked away with a grunt and an exasperated shake of his head, his slow steps still steady. "If you think I'd play Sticks with a chick who wouldn't rest until she found out my name, but still calls me Bing half the time—or 'Pwalker,' whatever that means—without 'liking her very much,' you're dumb."

That confused me at first, but then my brain smacked me and said, "That means he doesn't hate you, you dork!"

"Oh!" I said, cheering up immediately, barely restraining from clapping my hands. "So that means you forgive me for the, uh, thing earlier today? Good, because—"

Pwalker cut off my relieved rant with a purse of his lips and an "I wouldn't go that far."

"But Bing," I whined desperately. "Believe me, it was a total accident. You can't hold me accountable for my accidents, dagnabbit!"

"I'm not mad at you for that," he muttered, and I looked over at him, shocked.

"Oh! Really? Because you looked pretty upset—"

"Not because you threw some piss at me in an Arrowhead bottle," he grunted.


"Hey, it is Arrowhead," I said, impressed, as I took it out of my bag. "I could've sworn it was Dasani. Then again, Dasani has the weird dark bottles, so I probably wouldn't have been able to tell it was pee. Well, their bottles aren't that dark, so maybe —"

"Why the heck do you have that thing with you?" he interrupted again, pointing at it and raising his brow.

"Noland told me to bring it," I said simply, turning the container over in my bare hands and watching it bubble curiously. I got kind of used to the pee after a while, and it didn't seem nearly as gross. Heh. "So—why are you mad?" I nudged him with my elbow nervously after I put the bottle back in my bag. I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from tacking on an "Eh? Eh?"

"Because," he said, and his steps finally varied. He was walking quicker, and I practically had to run to keep up. "You were ignoring me—only I can do that, see?—while some loser guy fondled you and—look, can we talk about this later? We're here and my sister's right there—" he pointed to a pretty girl standing under the Pier 21 lifeguard post, "waiting to introduce me to her boyfriend who finally grew a p—who finally got the guts to come down to town and tell his family he got a girl. My sister was freaking worried there was something wrong with her. I don't even know the guy and he already annoys me."

I'd never heard Bing rant like that before, and I couldn't even fully enjoy the experience, reader, because right there with his arm wrapped around Bing's sister's waist was . . .

"Mikey?!" I screeched.

end chapter four


a.n. (i do love semi-colons, but these scene breaks are just not the same without hearts!) heh. MISS ME?! don't know how many of you read my profile, but i was on a break. wewt. i'm still asking for God's help and i know i need a lot of it, but i'm getting better, thanks to Him. and so i'm back.

GAH. i wrote most of this chapter right now. i seriously could not concentrate on bill clinton and newt gingrich or whoever the heck i was reading about in my AP US history textbook because all i could think about was how mack & bing were gonna resolve this. hopefully my mind won't wander too much now. though probably not, because now we've got the whole mikey thing to deal with. oh. i do get myself into many a pickle.

AHH! NEW CHARACTER PICS! i found a different josiah, too. and i even made this nifty banner last night while i was supposed to be—you guessed it—completing 343210 outlines about the history that went over my head!

(as you can see, i'm totally stressing about the summer homework that i've put off. gah.)

do tell me what you thought of josiah here. he really is just a big softie. had you fooled, didn't he? neh. probably not.

and i know hannah was supposed to be in this chapter. but then i realized that this was hecka long already (i get carried away when writing lester), so . . . eh. next time?

YOU REVIEWERS ARE MADE OF AWESOME. seriously, thanks so much. i'm pretty sure i got back to all of you via reviewreplylinkityawesomeness, but if i didn't, feel free to slap me.

off to wake my brother up to drive me to the park! it's not nearly as fun as it sounds. i'll be doing intervals while trying to dodge sprinklers and not get stung by bees.

erm. YEAH. STAY COOL! not sure if i'll see you again this summer as i'm seriously about to explode with worry about school . . . but—everything by prayer and supplication, right? well. see ya when i see ya.


please review? please? PLEEASEE! pleeaaaaa—


P.S. —aaaseeeee

(love, izzy.)