V: I'll Keep You my Dirty Little Secret

I had a teacher back in high school that used to tell us that life sucked and then we died, so we ought to do whatever we had to do and like it while we were at it. Honestly, I used to think that was annoying; like, he'd leave a substitute with a stack of papers for us to work through and he'd leave little letters that would apply to all his classes and they'd always tell us to do something and like it.

As can be assumed, we all bitched and moaned about whatever it was we had to do and we never liked it. When someone tells you to like something, human nature tells you to hate it because we're just contradictory creatures like that.

Here's the grand thing: I've gotten to the point where I don't exactly hate Theo anymore. It's more like a "Dios, why do I like him when he's so…ugh" kind of deal, but still, with everyone and their brother telling me that he's the one I ought to be more inclined to want to be with rather than Josh, human nature goes right back and tells me to be stubborn and still go out on my date with Josh.

And I did.

And it was half-decent; what can I say? I'm warm for his form.

He didn't try to pull some half-ass attempt at trying to get in my pants like Theo has – let us remember the nerdy pickup lines – and he was cordial the entire time.

But there was one slight problem. He wasn't Theo.

"It was a perfectly amazing date," I had whined to Victoria on the phone afterwards while simultaneously peeking under the bed to make sure that the boogeyman in question wasn't down there listening in on my conversation, "but the entire time I was wishing that he'd suddenly shrink a couple inches and grow black hair and somehow get these amazing blue eyes and –"

"And that he would suddenly become Theo?" she filled in for me, sounding mildly amused.

"Yes! Wait. No."

I could hear her laughing. "You liiiiiiike him!" she sang obnoxiously loud. "You like the boogeyman! Martine likes the boogeyman, Martine likes the boogeyman, Martine likes the boogeyman!"

I scowled, wishing that I were talking to her in person so I could smack her. "I do not like the boogeyman."

"Yes, you do!" Victoria shouted back, way too excited for this conversation.

Although I would rather keel over dead than admit anything of the sort to Victoria, she was right. Did that little factor stop me in accepting a second, even third date with Josh?

Nope. You'd have figured it would, but it didn't. I couldn't tell you what we even did on those second and third dates, but, obviously, Josh must've thought something was going good if he kept asking me out.

Were we "official?" Were we a "couple?" Depends on how you define it. The way I saw it, we had never mutually decided that we were a couple, so I was free to go off and accept a date from anyone I pleased.

But there was a fault in that logic: the only anyone I wanted to accept a date from was a boogeyman who was only in it for sex. And I had to weigh my options. A possible short-term sex relationship with a guy I really could never stop thinking about or a possible long-term one with a guy who wasn't looking for sex just to have sex.

I chose long-term. Did I regret that choice? Only everyday when I carpooled to and from COD with Josh now that the fall semester had started, when he sat next to me during meals at the boarding house and kept his hand on my knee, when Theo came out from under the bed for our nightly chats/arguments.

But, today, as I lied in bed, happy that I had no classes and couldn't be forced to go anywhere in a car with Josh, I felt the regret more acutely than usual. I was twenty today. Two decades old. It wasn't twenty-one, but being alive for two decades seemed a hell of a lot more important than being able to legally partake in alcohol.

And what did I plan to do today, on the day I turned twenty? Go out with Josh on our fourth date. Tonight was the night; I knew it, he knew it, hell, even Theo knew it. He was going to make "us" official. He would ask me to be his girlfriend, and God only knew how badly I just wanted to waste the day away and hide in bed until Theo came out from under it for our chat/argument.

I knew I wouldn't end up doing that, though. I was still going to go out on the fourth date and, in all likelihood, when Josh asked me to be his girlfriend, I'd say yes.

Why? Because he was long-term. Theo was short-term. I didn't want short-term. I wanted that ever elusive happily ever after, not a love built completely on sex.

"Martine, I know you don't want to go out tonight, so why are you going out with him?" Erin asked, concerned as she watched me put makeup on in front of the vanity on my dresser.

I don't honestly remember why I still tried to make myself look nice for him. I didn't like him, but I still bothered, probably out of an effort to try and force myself to. "When I figure it out, Erin, I'll let you know."

"But whenever you go anywhere with him, you're never happy about it," she mused. "And you're even unhappier when you come back."

"I think you're just imagining things."

"I'm not the only one who sees it! The pack," her werewolf friends, "our brothers, the other witches, the nymphs, and even bruja have noticed!" she shot back. I glanced at her face in the mirror and saw a variation of distress that she was never one to express. "I asked Iris and she said it was his fault," she paused then, as if struggling to find the right words. "I think you should listen to her. He just…doesn't seem right."

"And since when can you judge whether or not someone is right or wrong?"

"Iris said I'm always right, too."

I turned around to look at her properly, not minding that she was studying me right back. Suddenly, a lot of things about Erin made sense. She wasn't affected by the crazy magic-pheromones like I was because her magic wasn't latent. In fact, she didn't even have the latent magic of a witch like I did; she was like Iris, a hag. She would never be able to cast a spell like Ricky could, but she could damn well give off illusions that people were in the Twilight Zone and she could control how the magic pheromones would affect others.

It was completely ironic. Erin, the slim, Latina beauty, was a hag, a term that conjured up images of wrinkly, moled old women. It was irony at its best.

"Erin, you really wouldn't understand it," I finally replied because, seriously, how can you possibly justify yourself when the counterargument is always right?

She frowned, eyebrows knitting together before she stood, brushing herself off. "I'm fourteen, not ten. Don't think I'm unable to understand. There isn't something right about Josh, and I know that boogeyman is doing something off with Cameron and Luc, but Iris won't tell me what." As she headed for the door, she turned her head to continue looking at me. "Whatever it is that Cameron and Luc are doing with the boogeyman, I'm going to find out; I've got a sinking feeling that it's got something to do with you. It won't work though. I can almost guarantee it, and that's what makes that boogeyman of yours better for you. At least you wouldn't come home depressed after being with him."

Great. Not only was Theo up to something less than savory with my brothers, but they were doing something bad that had to do with me – even if the girl who was now always right could guarantee it wasn't going to work anyways. Way to go, God. Throw me in a madhouse with the crappiest mother alive, throw a couple drool-worthy guys at me, and then make both of them absolutely terrible for my emotional and mental health. I'm totally thanking you for the insanity that you've made my life.

And that was when I laughed. I actually laughed at my own self-pity. I laughed so hard I almost cried – and thank God I didn't; I so didn't need my mascara to run – because, looking at the entire family, I'm the most normal.

My mother's a whore who married a man-whore warlock, my grandmother tells anyone and everyone that preternatural creatures are stalking them, my sister's a hag, my brothers are warlocks, and here I am, poor little Martine with her latent magic. By Council standards, I'm as normal as the supernatural gets.

Granted, that normality wasn't really any type of boon considering that my normalness was why Theo wanted to get in my pants. But, in its own little way, my small quantity of normality was comforting in a way that made up for a lot of the trouble it ended up bringing me.

When I left with Josh, we didn't go anywhere special or fancy, but that was okay. I never wanted to be anywhere that required dress other than casual with him, if only because I feared that it would cement the idea that we were seriously dating in his mind and others. We ended up at Lou Malnatti's in downtown Naperville, an old fire station that had been converted into pizza parlor.

The comforting notion that I was at least slightly normal made my spirits higher than they had been in ages, and with the Cubs-Dodgers game playing in the background – Dodgers winning, of course – I actually had a semblance of happiness.

But then Josh had to open his fat gob. "Martine, I was wondering how you would like it if I were to call you my girlfriend."

How arrogant. He hadn't even said it as a question; he had stated it, like a fact that I would absolutely love it if I were his girlfriend, but, still. The answer I gave would determine so much. It would be a testament to the constant war between my mind and my heart.

I could tell him that yes, I would adore to be his girlfriend. My mind would win and it would attempt to tell the heart that this was better. This had long-term potential that wasn't based on physical adoration. Reason would win.

I could tell him that no, I would sincerely loathe being attached to him in any way conceivable. My heart would win and it would tell the mind that sometimes love doesn't need to be reasonable. That this was better because, even if the relationship was short-term, at least I had that short-term to experience.

Either way, I was never going to end up with my happy ending. One choice left me with someone I was slowly discovering that I would never really love, and the other left me with someone who would love me and leave me.

After the date, I avoided my room. I wasn't quite sure I could face Theo yet and what I had decided what I had wanted. So, I hid in the basement, curled up pathetically on the reclining chair, watching the news give a summary of the Cubs-Dodgers game. The way things were going now, the Dodgers would sweep the Cubs with no problems, booting the Cubs out of the playoffs again, and through it all, the Cubs fans would say that they always had next year.

I won't lie. It cheered me up that the Cubs lost by seven runs. I always had been a Sox fan.

Go-go, White Sox.

But, if I had anything good to say about Northsiders, I could at least compliment their perpetual hope in next year and their everlasting belief that maybe if they keep letting goats into Wrigley, they'll break that "curse."

Somehow, I didn't think I'd be allowed that option of saying that maybe next year, the choice I made will be better. It wouldn't be better. My choices never got better. COD never got better, living in the boarding house never got better, hell, even choosing one boy over the other would never get better.

Life sucks. Then you die. Get over it.

My life sucked and I was pretty sure I wouldn't get over it. Was I still allowed the option of dying, like, right now?

I really didn't get a whole lot of time to ponder whether or not God would just let me crawl into a hole and die before I started to hear what sounded like arguing come from Cameron's room.

"I'm telling you, she's got it figured out!" Luc squeaked, and I could almost imagine him wringing his hands nervously.

"There's no way Erin could have anything figured out," Cameron retorted, attempting and failing to calm his brother down. "Latent magic, remember? Only Ricky has the active stuff."

"I dunno, Cameron. She's been peeking under all the beds she can find looking for him and she's been hanging around with that hag that stays in the room next to Martine's. And I really don't think she's looking for La Chupacabra like her sister is." That one was about Theo. He was the only one besides Armando who would be under a bed.

"You're paranoid. Erin hasn't shown any signs of having anything but latent magic. The chances of her having anything active are so slim that they are inconceivable, okay?" I could hear both Luc starting to argue, but Cameron just continued to talk over him. "The plan's working just fine and nobody knows that it's even in action. Its fine, we're fine, and everything will be fine."

When the door opened, I quickly turned back to the television, faking an avid interest in watching the news report after the game and ignored Cameron as he paused to watch. "How was your date?"

"Everything was fine."

He started, as if figuring that I had heard the little tiff coming from his room, but he shook his head, probably telling him I couldn't have possibly heard them. If it was inconceivable for Erin to be a hag, then it was just as impossible for me to hear them. "That's nice."

I flipped the TV off, pushing myself up and brushing past him to head towards the stairs. "I'm going to Abuela's for a while."

"You're going to go to your grandmother's house at this hour?" he asked, surprise written all over his face.

"Yes, Cameron," I said evenly through gritted teeth. "I'm twenty. I am entitled to go where I please, when I please." I ignored the very, very strong urge to just clock him in the jaw. As far as I was concerned, he probably deserved it, but the need to just get away from the boarding house overrode anything else I could have acted on.

By the time I reached Abuela's, I wasn't sure I'd be able to pry my hands away from the steering wheel because I was gripping it so tightly that my knuckles were white. And when she caught sight of my expression when I walked into the kitchen, she frowned. "¿Qué pasó, mi cielo?"

"I met La Chupacabra, Abuela," I remarked instead. "His name's Armando. He's a scaly dog-thing and really not very social."

"I'm going to guess that that isn't the reason you look like you would like to murder someone."

I sighed, running a hand through my hair, collapsing into one of the chairs. "A friend of mine, Mar – Marlene, found out back in June that there is a guy, The – Thom, who happens to be a boogeyman living under her bed.

"Now, speaking hypothetically, say Marlene really, really happened to like Thom even though she knows that he'll love her and leave her. And she knows that there's another guy, who she will never really love, but she knows that he'll be there in the long-term. What does Marlene do?"

"¿Estás enamorada?" she asked after a few moments, apparently not phased by the fact that we were talking about the boogeyman, one of her many sworn enemies in this world.

"I like to think I'm not, but lately, my mind hasn't been winning too often."

"If your mind isn't winning, then you've obviously already gotten your answer," Abuela replied with a shrug. "Why do you need me to tell you what to do when you've already chosen?"

"Because I think I might have made a mistake and let the wrong organ determine my decisions."

She fixed those beady black eyes of hers on me and pointed a wrinkled finger at my nose. "It's only a mistake if you acknowledge it as one."

I sighed again. "Okay, so I don't acknowledge it as a mistake now. Why do I still feel bad?"

"Because you are a stupid girl who thinks she can have a perfect happy ending."

"Gee, thanks, Abuela," I muttered sarcastically. "I totally appreciate being called stupid on an already crappy birthday. This is just the icing on the cake."

"Are you going to tell me you haven't been a stupid girl?" Abuela shot back. "You go out with a boy you dislike and you're stuck between two boys now? Eres una chica estupida."

Okay, so I might have already known that I was stupid for that, but I did not need my schizo grandmother to remind me of it. "Great. I didn't come here though to get insulted. Just…I dunno. Tell me what you would do."

"Depends. What's that other boy? He isn't another boogeyman?"

"He's a warlock."

Abuela nodded, standing. "Then I wouldn't date either of them. Normal boys like your Abuelo are the way to go."

"Right. Because you marrying Abuelo turned out great in the long run anyways," I remarked, rolling my eyes, the ghost of a smile tugging at the corner of my mouth. "You left him in Cuba because of banshees."

"Yes, but we're still married. And we still visit each other! We still have sex. Perfectly good relations we've got."

Face, please meet palm; palm, please meet face. If that wasn't my cue to leave, then God only knew what was. I didn't want to think about my own (nonexistent) sex life, let alone hear about my grandparents'. "Basta. No more, Abuela. I'm out of here."

She walked me to the door, calling out as I got into my car, "¡Feliz cumpleaños, mi cielo!"

Happy fucking birthday to me, indeed.

He didn't come that night or even the night after.

He didn't come for a week, in fact. But, when he did show up after a weeklong absence, I had been sitting in bed, reading my ever favorite European history text, wearing Cameron's crazy presidential print boxers, and listening to Moondance on my iPod – downloaded from Cameron's computer while he wasn't looking, of course.

"You know, I still think I'd make an excellent Secretary of Internal Affairs."

I looked up to see him idly watching me with a half-smile from the foot of my bed, and I almost hated myself for the way my heart leapt at the sight of him and my mind screamed for reason. Emphasize the almost. "What makes you think the position is even open?"

"Joshy-boy ask you to be his girlfriend?"



"And what?" I figured that if he could not show up for a week, then I could be as difficult as I pleased. I didn't care that I was just prolonging things. I'd gone a week without anything. It was his fault and he could deal with the consequences.

"And what did you tell him?" he near shouted, running a hand through his hair in frustration.

I shrugged as if what I was about to say was inconsequential, and I pretended to read my text again. "I told him that I was holding the position of Secretary of Internal Affairs for someone else."

I had been staring intently at the book, but I was still hyper aware of his presence and how he had silently moved to the side of my bed and how he had tilted my chin up.

Had someone told me that the best kiss I would ever receive would be a chaste, closed-mouth experience with a boogeyman who couldn't even remember his real name while Michael Bublé sang a remake of Van Morrison's Moondance in the background, I would've laughed at them.

He was the Darcy to my Elizabeth, the James to my Lily, the Hareton to my Catherine, the Fiyero to my Elphaba, the Church to my Tex. He was insufferable most of the time, a pervert, a terrible pick-up line artist, and he could coax my heart to flutter better than anyone I knew.

He would break my heart someday; I was letting him have the access needed to hurt me more than anyone else possibly could.

And I had decided that I was okay with that. Even if the length of our relationship was confined to that one kiss, the hurt was more than worth it.

"Martine," he breathed against my face, breaking off the kiss and leaning his forehead against mine. "Am I your alguien?"

I pulled away from him, still disoriented from the kiss, but when his question sunk in, I laughed, not only at his poor Spanish accent, but at the idea that he had even thought to allude to my disliked blood song. "Sí. Eres mi alguien que me dices lo que quiero escuchar," I chuckled, leaning forward for another kiss. "Eres mi alguien que me quieres."

His bemused expression only made me laugh harder. "Translation please?" he asked.

"You're a smart boy. I'm sure you'll figure it out eventually."

He grumbled under his breath about asking other residents before we lapsed into companionable silence. "What should I tell Cameron and Luc if they ask why I happen to be spending more time than usual in your room now?" he finally asked after a few moments.

"Certainly not that you are the Secretary of Internal affairs," I replied in all seriousness. I honestly didn't want them to know what the status of our relationship was. I figured it would throw some sort of wrench in whatever the hell they were planning.

"Martine, they're your brothers and they're not stupid," Theo retorted. "They'll know something's up."

"Let them think something's up. I don't care. They're asses."

"Do I want to know? Or is it like when you start talking about how all Cameron needs is a hippie-druggie-girl named Sunray or whatever the hell her name is and no one understands what you're talking about anyways?"

I frowned, deeply affronted that he couldn't remember the name of Cameron's future wife that he hasn't met yet. "Her name is Sunshine."

Theo rolled his eyes but smiled anyways. "Fine. Sunshine. But I still don't understand. Why don't you want them to know?"

"Because the three of you are planning something," I started, staring up at the ceiling, "that I'm fairly sure has to do with me, and I'm almost positive that I'm not going to like it. I can't control whether or not you happen to know if whatever you are planning is working, but I am going to damn well try and control if they know. Think of it as their punishment."

His jaw looked like it needed to be unhinged in order for it to drop as low as it did. Oh, yes. They had no idea that I had sources telling me that they were doing something bad. Muahaha. "And…and what if I tell them anyways?"

I shrugged and snuggled into the warmth of his chest. "Then you'll get a double heaping of punishment."

"What does 'punishment' entail?"

"When I come up with something diabolical enough, I'll let you know."

"Fine. Keep us a secret from anyone and everyone."

"Not from everyone. Just Cameron and Luc."

For the first time in what felt like forever, I was content, and that was the way I had drifted off to sleep. Content and curled up beside the boogeyman that had taken complete – and what I supposed was irrevocable – possession of my heart.

If I learned anything useful my freshman year of high school, it would have to be that history teacher's catch phrase.

Life sucks. Then you die. Get over it.

But, at the end of the year, he added more to it. You only live one life, so live. Even if life sucks, just keep going. Make it memorable.

Make your one life memorable. That was exactly what I planned to do.

Victoria noticed the change in my step almost as soon as I walked into the batting cages. "Did someone finally ravish the boogeyman?" she asked, a sly grin curling on her lips.

"No! We just…kissed," I admitted, blushing, much to my chagrin.

She giggled like a school girl. "Now for my good news!" She covered her mouth with both hands, as if the information was too much for her to completely hold back by sheer will. "I have a boyfriend," she finally stage-whispered, grinning so much it looked like it could quite possibly hurt.

"Really? Great! What's his name?"

"Well, his name is Josh and I almost thought that he was your ex-Josh until I found out that my Josh's last name is Gowldthorp and not Leonetti. But, yes. His name is Josh and I have a boyfriend!"

For some reason, all those happy thoughts I'd been having since last night turned sour. Josh Leonetti had not been happy when I denied him, and I was sure Erin and Iris would agree with me when I told them that something about me turning down one Josh only for Victoria to start dating another Josh with no preamble whatsoever about even meeting a boy who could even compare to her ex, John, seemed really, really off. I didn't need to be a hag to see the strange coincidence in that, and in the type of world I was living in now, coincidence just didn't exist like that.

A/N: Yeah, so, I fail. It's been uh...exactly four months since I last updated. Blame the school system and band and work. But, anyways, this isn't dead, nor do I plan on letting it die at all. This is pretty much the shortest chapter to date and I'm really not completely happy with it...I might go back and do some editing and rewriting. Please note that I do not own anything recognizable from the outside world. I do not own any songs mentioned, any MLB teams, Lou Malnatti's, any books, or Red vs. Blue characters. Oh, and I still don't think all hippies are druggies and named Sunshine. Stereotypes are bad. Don't let Martine influence your outlook on hippies. Oh. And someone asked if Theo's old blood song was an actual song. Yes, it is. It's called Moondance and was originally written and sung by Van Morrison, but for the story, I used the remake by Michael Bublé. All the songs I use for blood songs are actual songs.

Spanish Translation:
-Dios: God
-Bruja: witch
-¿Qué pasó, mi cielo?: What happened, my dear?
-¿Estás enamorada?: Are you in love?
-Eres una chica estupida: You are a stupid girl
-Basta: enough
-¡Feliz cumpleaños, mi cielo!: Happy birthday, my dear!
-Alguien: someone
-Sí. Eres mi alguien que me dices lo que quiero escuchar: Yes. You are my someone who tells me whatever I want to hear
-Eres mi alguien que me quieres - You are my someone who loves me

-jevanminx: Hmm, you think so? The only reason the two are even linked is because history has a habit of repeating itself, even if this time around, it'll end up going down wayyyyyyy differently.
-fortuneismymuse: Aw, thanks =D
-Claudia: Update granted, albeit, four months late, but still. Updated.
-VVastedtime: You can't have Theo. He is my stud-muffin. Go make your own imaginary men! But, yeah, I have read Twilight. It's not the best thing I've ever read - actually really far from the best I've ever read - but it made for a good way to spend my summer three years ago.
-Petals of Paranoia: I actually don't make most of this up as I go. I set down a plot line and I know what I want to happen in what order, but some things - like what was going to be off about Josh - took a little longer to figure out, so I had to make it vague until I did know.
-little fall of rain: I know you're not exactly like Victoria...I over-emphasized your inherent insanity. Hope you like Josh Gowldthorp. You can thank Kerry for that lovely spelling.
-Guacamole: Look up Moondance by Michael Bublé on youtube. That be Theo's old blood song. Gracias!
-Winter Rise: Thanks xD
-NeonCrayonz: lol, gracias =D I'm glad you like the boogeyman aspect.
-Katherine-the-greate: Seriously? Thanks! There's a lot of Spanish in this one; hope you enjoy ;D
-Kuritsutaru Takahashi: Thanks! :D
-life's a bore: I sent you a personalized reply...what, on the ninth or something? I don't remember what day. I just remember sending a reply because I felt bad that I wouldn't have anything out until at least this weekend.

Gracias for the reviews even though I'm a terrible, terrible person and didn't write anything for four months. But keep reviewing because then it guilts me into writing faster.
-extrapolating ideas