have your cake and have me too
He couldn't stop laughing.
Or maybe he could, he wasn't exactly sure - maybe if he held his breath, slapped himself, imagined a litter of abandoned puppies on the side of the freeway, and prayed about it or something he'd figure something out - but right now, as he chanced another glance at the girl seated to his right, it seemed just about impossible.
"God, Alex, get a hold of yourself," Charlie whispered furiously. Her eyes were shut and she spoke out of the corner of her mouth, which he noticed was quirked up in shared amusement. "Just close your eyes, will you!"
The rollercoaster continued to crawl forward as the car in front of them took off and he just shook his head with a grin, trying not to look at her anymore. Not five minutes ago, she was screaming her head off, holding tightly to the bars of her bright orange seatbelt-vest-thing, prophesying, "I'm gonna die! I'm gonna die! We're all gonna die!" as their car sped along the tracks, climbing up high and then dropping them down, flipping them over in loopty-loops, causing the two preteen girls sitting behind him to erupt in fits of giggles and shrieks, and him to nearly barf up the lunch he'd just eaten.
After the ride was over, though, Charlie, with her brown hair that looked sometimes blonde and sometimes red still wind-blown from "The Xtremerator" (he still couldn't get over that name), turned to him with her eyes alight with mischief and said, "Oh my god, we should pretend we were sleeping the whole time!"
And that was what she was doing now - what he was supposed to be doing too - as their car returned to the front of the line. Alex held back a laugh as Charlie let out a little whistle-snore and a few people in line gaped at her while others looked amused by her obvious act.
Alex cleared his throat when the guy working the coaster announced that they could take off their seatbelts. He looked over at Charlie, whose head had lolled forward. "Charlie, wake up!" he whispered, shaking her shoulder, which earned him a whistle-snore. "Charlie, ride's over, we gotta get out of here."
Probably realizing she couldn't keep the people in line waiting much longer, Charlie stirred and blinked her brown eyes up at him sleepily. He pinched her cheek in a sudden rush of affection. For her acting skills, of course. "Huh? Oh, um, okay," she murmured, rubbing at her cheek absentmindedly and lifting her seatbelt-vest up. Stepping out of the car, she grumbled, a little louder for the sake of her audience, "Why didn't you wake me earlier? I missed the whole ride!" Alex then saw her chance a quick look at the young boy who was taking her place in the car. The boy looked at her with suspicion and awe and she looked at him like she was about ready to burst into hystersics.
In an effort to save the act, Alex grabbed Charlie's hand and pulled her down the ramp toward the exit sign where she immediately collapsed against him, laughing freely and loudly, clapping her hands in her mirth. He was vaguely aware of the fact that her head resting on his shoulder and her left hand now splayed across his chest as she held on to him and tried to quiet her laughter combined to make him feel as if he'd been suddenly transported to the big dip on the rollercoaster for a second time. Or maybe he was just hungry. Probably he was just hungry.
Alex disentangled himself from her and she looked up at him with those winsome brown eyes and he gulped because he was so very hungry.
Charlie grinned at him. "Oh man, that's the best thing we've ever done! Wasn't that the best thing we've ever done? That was so the best thing I've ever done, that's for sure, I mean-"
"Yeah, okay. I get it. I'm hungry," he said shortly, stepping away from her.
At seeing her suddenly deflate, he wished he had just laughed with her because it was funny, and he opened his mouth to apologize, but she rallied quickly. "But we just ate! You kept complaining about how you were gonna barf up your lunch, you fatso!"
Alex frowned. She was right. He did just eat. And although he was a growing boy, he didn't get hungry that fast. And even if he did, he certainly wasn't willing to cough up another twenty bucks for a cheeseburger and fries so soon. Blast these amusement parks and their outrageous prices! He scowled a little deeper at that and Charlie must have thought he was scowling at her because she sighed a little sadly and turned away. He felt his stomach drop a little as she said, "God I wish everyone else were here."
He opened his mouth to say something but the words dried up in his throat as he realized that a part of him wished the same. "Everyone else" - the four other friends that made up their little group - had left for college two weeks ago, a month earlier than the two of them would leave, so he and Charlie had the rest of their summer to kill alone. Together.
The last time they'd all hung out as a group was just two-and-a-half weeks ago, in his living room. He remembered Charlie's eyes were bright with tears as she lay on the red leather couch, her head resting in Rachel's lap, her teeth worrying her bottom lip raw. Mike, Tiffany, and Nate were playing cards on the coffee table in the middle of the room but Alex just sat in the armchair off to the side watching Charlie and Rachel. He couldn't look away.
"Rach," she'd said, sniffling. "You're leaving me all alone! Tomorrow it's you and then it will be Nate, then next week Mikey and Tiffany and what am I gonna do? I hate the semester system! I hate college! Why can't we all just start at the same time? Why do I have to sit here and rot as all of my best friends leave and go to red-cup-parties and have fun and forget about me and-"
Rachel smiled down at her best friend then, smoothing her brown hair away from her face - her soft, wavy, sunstreaked brown hair that looked red in some lights - and which Alex realized with a jolt he wanted to stroke himself. He shook his head and picked up a magazine from the coffee table as he listened to Rachel's words.
"It sucks, I know, and I'm gonna miss you like crazy, but trust me, no one could forget about you. I'll call you every day-"
"That's what they all say!" Charlie interrupted on a wail.
"I'll call you every day and we'll video-chat and in the meantime, Alex will take good care of you. Won't you Alex?"
Alex then looked up from the article he wasn't reading and into Rachel's knowing eyes. Suddenly the whole room was looking at him with those same knowing eyes - the game of poker on the coffee table momentarily suspended - except for Charlie, who looked at him with crying eyes. Hopeful eyes. Chocolatey, warm, beautiful eyes.
He swallowed hard as he looked into them. "Uh-huh. Quarter system buddies, whattup."
Charlie had given him a small smile then, totally unaware of the glances the rest of their friends were exchanging. God, it was as if they thought he liked her! He didn't. So he suddenly had an urge to touch her hair, big deal. Didn't they know it was Rachel he'd been crushing on? Rachel, the mature, nurturing one with the killer blue eyes? But Charlie was smiling at him and he had to smile back.
But, oh no, she wasn't smiling at him now, now as they stood outside "The Xtremerator" and he realized he wasn't hungry at all. Instead her eyes were glazed over and a little empty, probably imagining Mike there in front of her instead of him, Mike who would scoop her up into his arms and swing her around and laugh with her and tell her she was absolutely brilliant for that pretending-to-sleep-stunt and he'd probably kiss her cheek, too, because he and Charlie were the more touchy-feely of the group and Charlie would probably laugh.
God, at first Alex had wished for all of them to be there, too, just so they could protect him from the monster they'd unleashed on him! When all their friends were around, Charlie didn't mind sinking into the background, laughing at Mike's silliness and listening to Tiffany's latest relationship exploits and having Nate regale her with his stories about the ultimate frisbee team.
Sure she'd smile and laugh and joke with him too, but now, now Alex felt the full force of her brightness and her charm and her spirit without the shield of their friends to protect him.
Now, on second thought, he wasn't so sure he wanted that shield at all.
Maybe he wanted her - all of her - all to himself.
As Charlie leaned against the rails behind her, still with that wistful look in her eyes, Alex walked up close to her and grabbed her hand and pulled her into a hug. She stiffened in his arms and then quickly relaxed, wrapping her arms around him, too.
And she was hugging him because she missed her friends and she needed one - a hug and a friend - and he was hugging her because he wanted to show her that he was there, and because she was sad, and because he wanted suddenly to touch her.
After a minute, Alex pulled back a little and rested his forehead on hers, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, admiring the freckles that dusted her cheeks and the bridge of her nose. He cleared his throat and said with an honest grin, "I thought that sleeping thing was funny as hell," and blushing, she laughed.
Charlie tried to remember if Alex had always been this touchy-feely.
She was pretty sure he hadn't been, not even with Rachel who she was sure he had a thing for, at least for a while there.
And Charlie just knew she would've noticed if he'd been touchy before because she was a touchy person and touchy people always discovered each other quickly and, you know, cuddled and stuff. There was this instant, affectionate bond between all touchy-feely people of the world, she theorized. Like the one between her and Mikey.
But Charlie had never cuddled with Alex and Alex never seemed like a cuddly person. His hair was too black and his brows too dark and lovely, and when he stared at her, with those green, green eyes, she felt like she was burning up or drowning, not being warmed comfortably by nice, fluffy, touchy vibes.
It was the first time she'd hung out with him since the rest of their friends had all boarded planes and left for their colleges of choice. Charlie had been on the phone with Rachel the night before and just before she got off, Rachel had said, "Don't forget, it's Alex's birthday tomorrow. You guys should go do something together."
Charlie hadn't forgotten, just like she hadn't forgotten the way Alex had looked at her when he sort of promised to take care of her two-and-a-half weeks ago, but she did wonder how much fun they'd have together, just the two of them. She phoned Alex anyway. She couldn't have him read books in his room or whatever it was he did in his free time on his birthday.
But maybe she should have left him to celebrate his birthday alone (for alone he would have spent it, if it weren't for her. He didn't have any siblings and his parents were idiots and cold as strangers) because she just couldn't take any more of these casual touches. Okay, so all he really did was ocassionally reach out and play with her hair. But still!
Still, Charlie had to admit she was having a lot of fun. Alex was lowkey a prankster just like she was, and he made fun of the same people she did, e.g. the thirteen year old girl next to them in line who was talking about her multiple boyfriends to her awestruck younger friend. She and Alex shared a look and snickered.
The line moved forward and Charlie's stomach twisted in knots. She wasn't a very good liar but Alex had successfully convinced her to come with him to the tent where they were giving out birthday pins so she could tell the guy working the booth that it was her birthday too. He wanted to have a contest. They'd both wear their pins and whoever got the most birthday greetings by the end of the day won. Loser had to pay for dinner.
She chanced a glanced at Alex then, who she noticed with a fluttering heart was already looking at her. He had a small grin on his face.
"Nervous?" he asked, eyebrows raised.
"No way," Charlie replied, sticking her chin up defiantly, and he smirked. With a jolt, she realized they were already at the front of the line. He stepped in front of her and Charlie tried to arrange her face so it didn't look so guilty. She really was an awful liar. She stared at Alex's nice strong shoulders and cursed him for making her do this.
"Hey man, name's Alex," he said to the guy with the permanent marker who was working the booth. The guy nodded, and a few moments later handed him a pin that read, "I'm Alex and it's my birthday!"
"Happy birthday my man, enjoy your...day..." the guy said, trailing off as Charlie poked her head around Alex's shoulders and squeaked, "It's my birthday too! Promise! Can I have a pin?"
The guy grinned at her and Charlie blushed as he ran a hand through his blonde hair. "It's your birthday too, huh?" he asked, looking a little suspicious, but smiling anyway. Charlie smiled tentatively back and stepped forward to stand at Alex's side. "Yeah, totally," she said.
"Uh-huh, and what's your name sweetheart?" he asked, already picking up a pin off the table. He looked up at her and grinned again.
"Charlie," she responded, but it came out as a squeak, as Alex suddenly wrapped an arm around her waist and sort of clenched his jaw. She glanced up at him in confusion but he wouldn't meet her gaze.
"Ah, Charlie, a pretty name for a pretty girl," the guy said and she felt her face flush again.
"Uh, sure, it's alright I guess. I always thought it was kind of a boy's name," she mumbled as he handed her the pin, folding her fingers around it for her. Alex's arm had tightened around her waist and he started rubbing circles on her hip. Her skin felt like it was on fire. Ah! More touching!
Alex spoke before the guy could. "I agree. Charlie is a boy's name. So you're gay, right?" With that, he guided Charlie away from the booth and ignored the guy's indignant spluttering.
Charlie was spluttering too. "'So you're gay right?'" she quoted incredulously as they weaved through the crowd of people, his hand still burning at her waist. "You are such a weirdo! Why would you say that? You don't just say that to people. He was being really nice, you know. I mean, he obviously knew it wasn't my birthday since I'm such a crap liar and then you go and-"
"Guy was a creep," Alex shrugged uncaringly, guiding her to a bench and affixing his birthday pin on his blue T-shirt.
Charlie hmmed in response and did the same. "Yeah. He kinda was. I almost got the feeling he was hitting on me or something." Since her head was bent as she struggled with the pin, she missed Alex's incredulous glance her way. She missed, too, the way his green eyes softened as she muttered under her breath after sticking herself with the pin. When she finally looked up he was trying to catch the attention of a little girl a few feet away. The girl was licking her ice cream and staring at him with her forehead puckered in confusion as he pointed to the button on his chest and grinned. "Happy birthday," he mouthed. "Say happy birth-"
Charlie snickered and covered his mouth with her hand. "Okay, you little cheat, let the games begin."
Alex was grumbling as he approached the diner. "This park is full of creeps. It's absolutely crawling with creeps. Have you ever noticed that? Why have I never noticed that?" he asked Charlie's back as he held the door open for her.
"I think you're just jealous," Charlie replied, grinning brightly, and Alex felt his cheeks flush. Oh God, she hadn't noticed, had she? It was ridiculous how possessive he felt over her. But she was so dense, he didn't think she'd notice-
"You shouldn't be, though," she said with a small smile, and Alex's heart lurched. "I mean, some of us have it and some of us don't. We can't all be so charming." He couldn't stop the rush of disappointment he'd felt at her words. But what had he really expected? "Don't be jealous Alex, I'll only ever have eyes for you"? Really now. Could he stop being such an idiot for like ten seconds?
Something must have shown on his face because Charlie stopped smiling and walked over to where he was still standing by the door. She took his face in her warm hands and tried pushing the corners of his lips up with her thumbs. "Come now, let's have a smile, birthday boy," she said teasingly. Oh God, her hands were on his mouth and he wanted to kiss her. He wanted to run his hands through her hair and down her sides and press her up against the wall behind her and kiss her.
"Uh," he said as Charlie looked up at him expectantly. Oh, right. A smile. He closed his eyes and scrunched up his face and sort of bared his teeth at her.
Charlie, always one to be delighted by any sort of silliness, dropped her hands and laughed at him. His lips quirked up as he took in her dimpled cheeks and he breathed a little easier as she stepped back from him. "Anyway, dinner's my treat. Even though I won by like a gazillion happy birthdays," she added smugly.
"Two," Alex corrected with a roll of his eyes. He probably would've caught up, too, but he was tired of watching guys leer at her as they greeted her so he called the competition off early. He was hungry, too. "And I'm paying, you won fair and square."
"Yeah, but it's your birthday," Charlie said, crossing her arms.
Not wanting to argue with her, Alex simply rolled his eyes and dragged her with him to the podium where he asked for a table for two. They were seated immediately in a comfy booth in the corner and once they sat down, Charlie started fidgeting in her seat. He wondered if she was feeling the same thing he did: that this suddenly felt a lot like a date.
"So..." Alex started, tapping his fingers against his knees. God, where was their server with the menus already?
"Hand sanitizer?" Charlie offered, producing a tiny bottle out of her bag. Her cheeks were flushed and he wondered what she was thinking about. He thought, I bet that's what she'd look like after being thoroughly kissed.
He shook his head then, as if to clear it, and held his hand out as she squeezed some out of the bottle. She squeezed some out for herself and rubbed her hands together as Alex looked at the label.
"Cucumber melon?" he whined, sniffing at his hands. "I smell like a girl."
"No, you baby, you smell 99.9 percent germ free."
"No, that's how I always smell. Now I smell like a girl."
"Nah, I'd say you always smell 10 percent germ free, at best. Now you smell-"
Charlie was interrupted by someone clearing their throat. Loudly. They both looked up and saw their waitress, and Alex tried not to shudder as she looked at him and licked her lips. She was probably not much older than them, but she did look a heck of a lot creepier. It was just like he said. This place was crawling with creeps.
She smiled at him seductively and Charlie was torn between glaring at her and snickering at Alex's obvious discomfort. Because she was unfamiliar with these feelings of jealousy and all too familiar with laughing at Alex, she chose the latter. He narrowed his eyes at her and she just laughed some more.
When the waitress continued to stare at him and Charlie was absolutely useless, dissolving in her seat in a fit of giggles, Alex cleared his throat and said pointedly, "So. How about those menus, miss?"
"Oh, right," the waitress said, smiling coyly. "Sorry, I was just thinking that you look like you smell 100 percent germ free, if you know what I mean," she said, winking. Alex stared back at her, horrified. He didn't know what she meant, but her comment had him shuddering anyway, and Charlie - he glanced at her practically crying across from him, pounding the table in her mirth - was useless as ever.
"Right," Alex coughed. "We'll just take these, miss-" he said, plucking the menus right out of her hands, "and we'll have two waters. Quick with the water please, my friend over there looks like she's going to die."
The waitress spared Charlie a disparaging glance and Charlie took a few deep breaths before grinning up at her cheekily. "Yes please, be quick with the water, if you know what I mean."
Alex snickered and the waitress glared at Charlie before turning back to him and leaning down to whisper in his ear, "Please, call me Rachel."
Charlie was glaring at her now and Alex couldn't help but feel a little pleased, for all his disgust. "Right. Bye now Rachel," he said, leaning his head as far back away from her as possible. "We're gonna figure out what we want to order now."
And with a flutter of her eyelashes, she left the two of them in peace.
Charlie picked up her menu after a moment of stunned silence and started perusing through its contents. "Her name is Rachel? Man. I should have recorded that and sent it to Rach, I bet she'd have enjoyed watching that lady disgrace her name."
Alex grinned, leaning back in his seat. "Yeah, I bet she'd be personally offended," he said, picking up his own menu. Then, more seriously, "You miss her, don't you? Like a lot?"
Charlie hmmed, looking over the dessert menu with apparent interest. "Yeah, like crazy, but she loves it up there, I can tell." She looked up at him suddenly, her mouth curved enticingly. He swallowed hard. "I bet you miss her, huh?"
He caught the suggestion in her words and it brought him back to earth a bit. "What do you mean?" he hedged.
"I mean, you totally have the hots for my best friend!" Charlie exclaimed, eyebrows raised way up.
"Had," he corrected shortly, and he looked back down at his menu. He stared down at it unseeingly, tensely, and when he risked a glance across the table, he thought that the small smile that curved Charlie's pink lips was tilted sweetly with relief.
When their orders came, they ate in comfortable silence, and Alex thought contently that all he needed in life was good food with good people. And Charlie was definitely good people. Great people, really. Gorgeous people. Alex's eyes dropped to the graceful curve of her neck and it was suddenly very warm. He really had to get out of there.
Charlie cleared her throat and he dragged his eyes up to her face. She looked a little confused and there was a faint blush on her cheeks. "Uh," Alex said, scratching his neck. "Want to split a dessert or something?"
Charlie's eyes brightened immediately and he knew he'd said the right thing. She snatched the dessert menu from the center of the table and crossed over to his side of the booth, her side pressing against his as she rambled on about how everything looked so good. She finally settled on some cheesecake and looked up at him for his approval.
He nodded and then crushed his lips against hers.
Alex was kissing her and she liked it a lot.
She liked it so much she almost forgot to kiss him back.
Just when she felt he was about to pull away, she dragged his head back down to hers, and he groaned softly, dragging her up into his lap and pressing her back against the side of the table. Her hands were clenching little fistfuls of his shirt because he kissed her so slowly and so sweetly and she thought she might die. She ran her hands through his hair and his grip on her waist tightened as she deepened the kiss. Her tongue met his boldly and he stiffened. Suddenly his hand cupped the back of her neck and his kisses grew heated and more demanding. Now she was really going to die.
Alex's breathing was ragged when he broke away and stared at her with his green eyes cloudy and dark. He stared hard into her eyes for a minute, searching her face, and then lowered his head again. "Charlotte," he whispered heavily, and started dropping kisses along her jaw.
"Um," Charlie said breathily. "Alex, stop."
He just nipped at her neck defiantly. Charlie bit down hard on her lip. "Alex..." she tried again, trailing off when he lifted his head to meet her gaze. He stroked her cheek tenderly with a thumb and she forgot what she wanted to say.
"Yeah?" he asked, pressing a soft kiss to her bottom lip.
"I think I want dessert now," she blurted, and he stiffened.
"Okay," he said simply, and slid her gently off his lap. She scrambled to her side of the table, straightening out her clothes and sinking into her seat. "Cheesecake, right?" he said, having no trouble meeting her gaze, although she couldn't help but think his eyes looked a little cold. Her stomach clenched.
"Yeah. Alex..." she started, fiddling with her hands.
"Here comes Rachel," he said, ignoring her. Their waitress was back, pad and pen ready, and Alex stared straight across at Charlie as he said, a little mockingly, "The lady wants her dessert now."
Rachel looked at Charlie a little too knowingly for her tastes and Charlie mumbled, "Cheesecake, thanks," refusing to meet Alex's penetrating gaze.
The silence that stretched until Rachel came back with her New York-Style cheesecake was agonizing. Finally she set the plate down in front of her and Charlie thanked her. Without looking up at Alex, Charlie picked up her fork and asked him, "Well aren't you gonna help me finish this?"
Alex narrowed his eyes. "No."
Despite her embarrassment and guilt and stomach-knotting confusion, Charlie rolled her eyes. "So you're just gonna sit there and watch me eat?"
Crossing his arms across his chest, Alex said firmly, "Yes."
"Fine," Charlie said petulantly, taking vicious bites of her cheesecake and meeting his eyes defiantly after every one. About halfway through, she thought she would burst she was so full, and she took one last bite before pushing the plate away and meeting his eyes in surrender. "I'm full," she said flatly.
Alex was blushing slightly and he wouldn't quite meet her gaze. "You've got a little-" he pointed to her lip.
"Oh!" Charlie said, embarrassed, and blushed too, though she couldn't fathom why. She ran her tongue across her bottom lip experimentally and realized how stupid the move was when Alex's eyes zeroed in on the action and darkened.
"God, Charlie," he said, and placing his hands flat on the table, he leaned over to capture her lips with his.
He really couldn't help himself.
She was so adorable and still so sexy and she made him want to laugh and strangle her at the same time and even though the last time they'd kissed, not twenty minutes ago, she'd pretty much broken his heart - he was ready to tell her he was halfway in love with her but he supposed she couldn't care less; after all, a slice of cheesecake she couldn't even finish was worth more in her mind than whatever he felt for her - he just couldn't get enough of her.
She started kissing him softly back and the rollercoaster was back in his stomach. He licked at her lip and God, she tasted amazing. Maybe he'd finish that cheesecake after all.
Charlie pulled back with a gasp and Alex dropped his head in his hands, groaning in frustration. "What do you want, Charlie?" he asked, not looking up. "More cheesecake? You've still got half of it left so-"
"I want you," Charlie said, her cheeks burning brightly. Alex practically gave himself whiplash as he sat up and stared at her. "I mean, I like you. I think you're - I mean, I think you're great. And sometimes you're even wonderful. Like two years ago when you cancelled your date with that really hot girl so you could come to my piano recital even though I sucked. And today when you cheered up that little boy who was crying after he got off that rollercoaster. And when you kiss me. That's wonderful, too." Alex continued to gape at her and Charlie closed her mouth with a snap. "But yeah. I guess I could go for some cheesecake, um, instead," she said, dragging the plate back to her side.
Alex stilled her hand with his own and shook his head. "Mine," he said, pointing at the cheesecake. Charlie nodded glumly. "Mine," he said, pointing at her with a dazzling smile. She watched him carefully. "Yours," he said, putting a hand over his wildly beating heart, and he captured her laugh with his lips.
She broke away a few moments later, saying breathily, "Is that cheesecake really yours? I mean you said you didn't want it and I'm kind of getting hungry again..."
Alex rested his forehead against hers, laughing at her, adoring her. "Yes, it's really mine." And you're really mine and I'm really yours and thank God you're staying in California, he thought as she pouted up at him.
Suddenly she shrugged. "Fine, but I'm paying," she said, and before he could protest, she leaned over and kissed him again.
He laughed against her lips and he felt her smile.
Best birthday ever.
a.n. UHHHH WHATTUP FP! so yeah i haven't posted anything up here in like two years. WHAT. and oh man i'm already going to college in like less than a month. WHAT. so yeah i locked myself up in my room today and i wrote this and it's like really hot in my room so i hope you liked the story. and my new laptop doesn't have spellcheck (WHAT) (probably i just don't know how to activate it) so i hope this wasn't riddled with errors. if it was...well that kinda sucks. confession: i haven't written a story in a long time. just essays for class and all that, which not gonna lie, i find really fun sometimes. but i graduated like two months ago and i realized i missed writing stories so yeahh here i am. kinda nervous to post this after such a long time away (sorry about that) but here goes...
p.s. this was inspired by the fact that all my friends who start college earlier than me are leaving me to rot, abandoned all by my lonesome (but not really) and by my recent trip to knott's berry farm.
i love everyone! reviewing is for champs! CHAMPS I TELL YOU
note: where i come from, universities on the "semester system" usually start in mid-late august, while universities on the "quarter system" (which is not actually divided into quarters, but three grading periods; more like trimesters) usually start in late september so yeahh. alex and charlie's schools were on the quarter system which is why they started school later.
p.p.s. shout-outs to the old homiezz Frozen . By . Sloth, Jamie Bell, and Kyllex, if you are all still alive