Confessions of a Maraschino Addict
Chapter 16: Summer Hair = Forever Young
I'll never let you go, don't ever forget. Tell me you remember, forever young.
I don't know about feeling like P Diddy, but when I wake up in the morning I definitely feel fucking awesome.
Usually it takes all of my willpower to keep my eyes open when my alarm goes off, and it takes even more effort to roll out of bed, but this morning I shoot up like a daisy in the springtime and practically skip over to my closet.
I'm a sap.
But at the very least I'll never be late to school, if no other good comes from being with Mars again. Though I could go on forever about the good things about being with him.
"You're up early," Dad observes, folding his newspaper down in surprise when I come bounding into the kitchen. "And quite full of energy."
I just grin and grab a banana and a piece of toast, taking a savage bite of it. "Had a good night. I'll see you guys when I get home from school. Bye."
I'm out the front door two seconds later. With my backpack slung over my shoulder, I take my phone out of my pocket and send Mars a text.
Thinking about you. I love you :)
And I start smiling like an idiot just because it feels so good to be able to say that to my boyfriend again.
"You look happier than usual, Brendon," Josh observes during second period, our first class together.
I shrug and set my books down on my desk, barely able to contain my smile. I'm so disgustingly pathetic.
"What happened?" Josh presses, leaning forward and prodding my shoulder. At that moment, though, Justin walks into the classroom, neon green gauges and all. He sits next to me, diagonally from Josh, and Josh just starts awkwardly staring at Justin while the smaller boy sets his notebook down.
I turn around and give Josh a knowing look. "Have you talked to him yet?" I whisper. Josh shakes his head, and I roll my eyes. "Go. There are, like, two minutes till the bell rings."
Josh stares at me, his eyes huge and terrified. "I don't even know what to say!" he hisses, his voice a little too loud. Justin hears, and he looks our direction. When he sees us both staring at him, he sighs and averts his eyes.
I push Josh in Justin's direction, and my friend reluctantly falls halfway out of his desk and then walks the rest of the way to Justin's.
"Um, hey Justin," Josh mumbles awkwardly.
Justin doesn't even look up from his notebook as he stiffly replies, "Hi."
I groan and slam my head on my desk. Fantastic. Now Justin seems to be even further under the impression that Josh has decided to turn him down. Despite my phone call to Justin two days ago. Because apparently he's taken the lack of communication with Josh and our whispering just now to mean that Josh is going to say no.
"So, uh," Josh continues, fumbling for his words, "I, well, I'm sorry you, uh, I mean, Bren said that you thought I was going to say no, but, um, I- I, uh, I'll give it a shot. If you, um, still want to- to go out sometime."
Of course, Josh's luck ran out at that moment, because the instant he started that last sentence, our teacher called the class to order and the whole room got deathly quiet.
And every single one of our classmates heard Josh tell Justin that he'd go out with him.
Someone wolf-whistles, and Justin and Josh both turn bright red.
"Okay," Justin whispers, so no one else can hear it. "We can talk later, all right?"
Josh nods and then slinks back to his desk, looking like he'd rather die than be at school right now.
And I can't blame him. By brunch, half of the senior class knows that Josh agreed to go out with Justin- though the rumors are saying that Josh asked Justin out in the first place, rather than the other way around. And I bet by the end of the day, everyone will know and be waiting to get some news.
It's all really petty, but I can't help but miss the haughty feeling that came with the whole school being invested in my relationships. Back when people thought Josh and I were together, everyone gossiped about it. About me. But with my boyfriend on the other side of the country, and no one even knowing, it's like I sank into the background again.
And here I was thinking I was popular.
Oh well. School's almost over, anyway. After this, I'll be back in California and who I was for two years in Boston won't matter.
When my phone starts vibrating in my pocket during brunch, I breathe a sigh of relief and excuse myself from my circle of friends so I can answer it.
"Good morning, Mars Bar," I say once I'm at a quiet spot some distance away from my loudmouthed friends.
"Sure, you can say that since you've already been up for three hours," Mars groans, his voice muffled briefly by a yawn. "I got your text, by the way. You're sweet."
"I try." I lean against a tree outside of the school entrance, smiling to myself and staring distantly at the sidewalk. "Man, this morning was pretty funny. I was all hyped up because of your call, and I swear my parents thought I was crazy."
Mars laughs, the sound still a little sluggish. He must be pretty tired from all of the shit that changed in his life last night. "I bet it'll be the same story with my family. The past couple days have been pretty interesting, to be honest. According to my family, I started moping as soon as you left, and my mom told me last night that she knew it was only a matter of time before I realized I should dump Drew and be with you."
"See, your parents really do know best." I laugh smugly and close my eyes, pretending that I'm sitting on Mars' bed with him, hearing his voice in all of its richness rather than through a static-y, long distance connection.
"Apparently." Mars sighs heavily. "I really miss you, Bren. No matter how much I want to make this work again, it'd still be a thousand times better if you were here with me."
My heart clenches, and I reply, "You know I wish I was there. Just a few more months, babe."
"I'll probably die before then. If for no other reason than I need you here to protect me from Drew's jealous wrath." His words are light and joking, but I can hear the real fear behind them.
"If he does anything to you, I swear-," I begin to menacingly growl, but Mars cuts me off with a delicate laugh.
"He won't," he reassures me. "He's not a psychopath. He was mad at me, and he knows I broke up with him because of you, but you're not here for him to kill and he wouldn't hurt me."
I mentally sigh. Just because Drew likes Mars doesn't mean he wouldn't do something to hurt him the way Mars hurt him. Jealous exes are jealous exes, no matter the circumstances, and I've had my fair share of abuse from girls who hated my guts after I dumped them.
"Still, if he does anything, tell me, okay?" I say. "I can, like, prank call him or something. Tell him he has seven days to live."
Mars laughs again. He seems to be doing that a lot now, and I love it. Happy Mars is much better than surly, go-back-to-Boston-you're-ruining-my-life Mars.
"Alright," Mars agrees. "Well, I woke up a little late, so I should probably go, but, um, I'll call you after school. Ooh, wait, better idea! You have Skype now, right? Maybe we could talk on there."
"But then I'd be tempted to make out with my computer screen," I shamelessly point out, smirking even though he can't see it.
"You're so classy." I can hear the eye-roll in his voice. "Whatever. Text me your username later and then we can talk with my laggy internet connection."
"Okay, babe. Have a good day. I love you a million."
Mars sighs happily. "Love you too."
Mug of hot chocolate, check.
Skype properly installed, check.
Comfortable position on the couch, ch-
"Brendon! Come put away the clean dishes!"
"But Mom," I whine loudly, setting my laptop down on the coffee table and standing up.
"No buts," Mom replies, slapping a towel into my hands when I reach the kitchen. "You can bum around later."
"Fine." I hurriedly dry off what feels like three hundred glasses and two hundred plates, nearly dropping each one as I jam them into their respective places in the cabinets.
Mom looks up from the stove, amused. "Why are you in such a hurry?"
"Skyping with Mars soon," I say in a rush, pushing too many glasses onto one shelf. The door barely shuts.
Mom raises an eyebrow in confusion. "Skyping?"
I resist the urge to roll my eyes at her. "Webcam. Video chat. Whatever."
"Oh." She nods and starts to stir the vegetables in the pan again, but then she whips her head up again. "Mars?"
"What about him?" I ask impatiently, dropping forks and knives carelessly in a drawer.
"I remember you saying that you two broke up, that's all," Mom says, shrugging.
I stiffen up and mumble, "Just because we broke up doesn't mean we can't get back together. Besides, it's going to work this time." I add that more to reassure myself than my mom.
"Whatever you say, sweetheart. What's that sound?"
There's a ringing sound coming from the living room- from my computer. I slam the dishwasher shut and sprint out to the living room, practically jabbing the screen with my cursor so I can answer the call.
The webcam slowly connects, and in a couple of seconds Mars' head and shoulders appear on my screen. "Hey!" he says cheerfully, leaning forward a little. The movement is a little jerky from the webcam's lag, but it's pretty good considering our cheap computers. He laughs and adds, "I was totally just about to hug my computer. I think I've lost it."
I laugh as well and say, "Just as long as we don't start trying to make out through the screen." I wink, and Mars rolls his eyes. "How was the rest of your day?"
Mars groans and replies, "Boring. You have no idea. You should see what I did to my math homework today instead of paying attention."
I raise an eyebrow and lift up my laptop, balancing it mostly on my knees and reclining on the couch. "And what exactly did you do to your math homework?"
Mars holds up a finger as a signal for me to wait, and then he ducks out of the webcam's view for a moment before appearing again with a notebook in his hands. As he flips through the pages, he says, "I kind of...wrote your name all over my notes. The girl next to me kept looking over at me like I was insane." He holds up the open notebook, and sure enough, I can faintly see my name scribbled dozens of times all over the page.
"You're so cute," I coo, grinning. "I'm flattered. No one's ever graffitied their notebook with my name."
Mars looks a little embarrassed, but if he was truly embarrassed about writing my name all over his math notes, he wouldn't have showed it to me. He likes being cheesy and cutesy with me and I just love him.
A knock sounds through my computer's speakers, and Mars turns in the direction of his door. "What?" he yells. There's a muffled reply, and then he sighs and adds, "Yeah, come in." He turns back to me and says apologetically, "Sorry. Mom needs to get the laundry. Maybe she'll want to say hi."
Sure enough, I hear his mom say, "Honey, what are you doing?" before appearing in the webcam's view. She peers over Mars' shoulder at the computer and then says, "Hi, Brendon!"
I laugh and wave at her. "Hey, Mrs. Watson. How are you?"
She smiles and waves a hand dismissively. "Oh, I'm fine, but I'm sure no one could possibly be in as good of a mood as Mars has been since he called you last night."
"Mom!" Mars whines, pushing her out of the webcam's view. "Go get the laundry and leave me alone."
"Whatever you say, dear," she replies, reappearing again, this time next to Mars' bed where he puts his dirty clothes. She waves at me from behind Mars again and then leaves the room.
"Your mom is awesome," I tell Mars, still smiling.
He shakes his head, closing his notebook and dropping it on the floor. "And she's also obsessed with you. Or us. Being together. You know."
"Well, she did tell me when I was at your house that she doesn't like Drew," I point out.
Mars tenses up and stares incredulously at me. He's so still that for a moment I'm afraid my computer froze.
When he does speak, though, he says, "Are you serious? Did everyone hate Drew except for me, and yet no one bothered to tell me otherwise?"
"Like you would've dumped him. Look what happened when I tried to step in."
Mars' expression softens, and he looks away from the computer. "That's different. It's you."
I don't really know what to say to that. We just kind of stare at each other through our webcams for a bit before Mars coughs nervously and I say, "How about we don't talk about Drew?"
"Good plan," he says weakly. His eyes dart across the screen like he's looking for something, and then he yelps, "Holy shit, is that snow?"
I turn around and look behind me, into the backyard. There's still a light dusting of snow covering the grass and deck outside, something that's become pretty normal for me. When we first moved to Boston, the first snow made me jump for joy, but by the end of the week I realized that I wasn't just on a ski trip in Tahoe- I was living here. And then snow kind of lost its appeal.
I've spent a lifetime with snow, anyway. It's my last name.
"Yeah, there's still some snow," I reply, turning back to the computer.
Mars is still looking in the general direction of over my shoulder, and he impatiently says, "I can't see. Lift up your laptop."
He's so adorable. I obey his little command and pick my laptop up, balancing it carefully on the back of the couch so he can see the snow in the backyard.
"You're so lucky," he says, awe evident in his voice. "I know you're probably sick of it, but I'd kill for some snow. Well, you know that. You lived here, too."
"Yeah. I dunno." I gaze out at the snow as well, watching an icicle on the roof drip slowly onto the deck. "I like the snow, but after a while it gets boring."
"Mhmm," Mars hums his agreement. "Okay, you can turn me back around now. As much as I like this view, I'd rather look at Brendon Snow than Massachusetts snow."
"Ha ha," I say sarcastically, picking up my laptop again and setting it down on my lap. "You're so clever."
"I know." He smiles up at me.
Before I can say anything else, my front door opens up and my dad walks in. He waves at me with the hand that isn't holding his briefcase, and then Mom yells from the kitchen, "Brendon, your father and I have something to discuss with you. Please come in here."
"But I'm talking to Mars," I reply, my voice whiny.
"It's important," Dad calls, using the same tone of voice you'd use when trying to entice someone on a diet to eat a slice of cake.
"Brendon. Now. Please." Mom is no-nonsense now. I should probably listen to her.
"Fine. Hold on," I sigh, turning back to my computer.
"Gotta go?" Mars asks, smiling slightly. I nod, and he shrugs. "It's okay. It's just nice seeing you. We'll talk later, okay?"
"Yeah," I agree. "Love you."
He bites his lip to try and hide his huge smile. "Love you, too."
Once we hang up, I close my laptop and trudge into the kitchen. "What's going on?" I ask my parents, leaning against the counter.
My parents exchange a brief glance, hints of smiles on their faces. "Well, sweetie," Mom begins, "we know you've got your heart set on going to college back in California. And that's absolutely fine with us."
"But...?" I cautiously reply, dread starting to fill up my whole body. They're just setting this up so they can drop a huge bomb on me. I'm terrified about what they're going to say.
"But," Dad continues, the smile on his face setting me at ease a little, "we were wondering how you'd feel about moving back to California a little sooner than that."
My jaw drops and my heart starts running a freaking marathon in my chest. "What?" I croak, staring disbelievingly at my parents. "What are you talking about?"
Dad smiles wryly and explains, "The company cut my job here, but instead of laying me off, they offered me my old job back. So our options are to either move back, or I have to find a new job here."
I'm still speechless, gaping at them, so Mom fills the silence by adding, "We figured that, since you'll be in California anyway, we'd move back so we can pay in-state tuition for whatever college you decide to go to. Culinary or otherwise."
I can't help it. I laugh. "Oh, so there are other, more realistic reasons you're doing this. I thought you were just being awesome parents."
My mom and dad laugh along with me. "It's the least we can do, after taking you out here in the middle of high school," Mom replies gently.
I take a deep breath, feeling relief washing over me. It's not like I wasn't bound to eventually end up back in California, but having it guaranteed by my parents, knowing that they finally understand how much moving away from my life in California tore me up...it's crazy.
This is seriously the best week ever. I get my boyfriend back, I find out that I'm really going to be going back to California...I am on top of the fucking world right now.
I step toward my parents and hug both of them, nearly squeezing their brains out as I mumble, "You guys are the best. I..."
My voice cracks before I can say any more, but they know what I mean.
"When're we moving back?" I ask, once I pull away from them and regain a little bit of composure.
"Not until you've graduated, so don't get your hopes up for any earlier than a few months," Dad says, giving me a look that's just daring me to complain.
But honestly? I wasn't expecting to be back in California until the fall. So a few months earlier is perfect. Way more than I could ever wish for.
So I just grin at my parents like an absolute loon and tell them, "Awesome."
Because really, there isn't any other word to describe it. Maybe now my life can get itself back in order. The way everything should be.
A/N: Sorry this took so long, and that it's kinda filler. I have several excuses. There was a death in my family earlier in the month, so we've been busy, and my mom has been diagnosed with breast cancer and is having tons of surgery, appointments, and getting ready to go into chemotherapy.
Also I had a week-long Supernatural marathon.
But I'm here, never fear!
ALSO ALSO ALSO. Confessions of a Maraschino Addict and my other story Just Because have both been nominated at the SKoW Awards for Best Slash (incomplete and complete, respectively)! So. If you like my boys, drop us a vote? I'd love you forever more than I already do. Link is in my profile, and voting ends on March 8th. Thanks!
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