one6two6: (mov: up :: russ)
[personal profile] one6two6
we could argue over where and when the cymbal hits should be





He wakes the next day to an empty bed, one that's not even his own. Not close.

She's gone before he can even protest, and he accepts it. He expects he's going to see her and it'll be like nothing ever happened. He knows it'll all hurt, passing her in the halls, seeing her before she even notices his presence, acting under the familiar pretense of not knowing each other.

He bears it, trudges the fuck on, because deep down, he knows she's worth it all.

He hopes she's worth it all. The alternative hurts too much, it’s unthinkable.

Accidentally stepping on the empty liquor bottle, he slips and falls. Just gotten out of bed and already bruised on his hip. Not even his room and it's still nasty to him.

Pity Naomi wasn't even there to witness it and laugh at him. Probably would've enjoyed it, that berk.

He probably would've enjoyed seeing her laugh, too, to be honest.

--

They fight often, Katie and him. Hardly about anything solid. Not really, anyway. No one's actually sure of anything lately, their recent separation taking a toll. And that’s how it keeps going for quite some time.

What’s there to argue over when all they have are a series of well-constructed, thought out denials?

--

Home life on the whole, as it turns out, is actually quite dreadful. Big surprise, that. It becomes a big noticeable jump for Emerson to go from keeping to himself, constantly sticking to Katie's side to suddenly having other places to go to, all on his own. He hopes that everyone would just attribute his recent activity to him having entered college. Aging, perhaps. Maturation, it happens.

It's no help for his cause that his entire demeanor had changed, become something else. At that point, one would have to be blind as a bat to not notice. And it's extremely unfair that when his mother decides to care, or even just pay attention at all is when he starts to come into his own. A whole lifetime's worth of careful neglect and general apathy, then, he changes and all of a sudden, she's poking her nose everywhere.

His paranoia level rises exponentially because he's started leaving the house. Fucking typical, that nothing works in his favor.

“Emerson.” Her voice grates in his ears as his nerves stand on end. His mother calmly stands behind him, awaiting his reply.

“Yes,” he says, hesitantly turning. “What is it?”

“Where are you off to in such a hurry these days?" She says the last two words as if she knows exactly what he'd been up to the days preceding. "And without Katie?”

“To a friend’s, mum.”

“How are you getting around?”

“A bus.”

“Without Katie?” she repeats.

“Yeah," he quickly lies, "she doesn’t know her.”

His mother refuses to give up. “So, your friend’s a girl then?”

Emerson grimaces, just a bit, in realization of his slip. “Yeah. My—she’s a girl. Just from school. We bonded over having trouble with politics. Okay?” He reaches behind him and opens the door. “Satisfied?” He’s out before she can come up with a reply.

On the other side, Emerson lets out a breath and holds his head in his head as he walks down the driveway. The sudden line of questions made him nervous and uneasy. He determined to be at least a little more careful from then on, if only to not be made into a prisoner for no reason.

--

Naomi was sat in the middle of her room, poring over books and her laptop out. Yeah, he can see she was busy.

“I’m busy, what you want?” She said, stating the obvious without even looking up.

“Thought I’d …” Emerson mumbled out, testing the water, “come help you research. Looks like you could use a little-”

“No thanks.”

“Okay, how about I just stay with you? Won’t hear anything from me. I swear.” He already put his bag down, ready to take a seat.

“Look, Em.” She puts down her pen with force and manages to convey tired with fervor; Emerson stays put, his knees protruding forward from his half-bent position.

She isn't even pretending she's busy doing anything important. There aren't any open books strewn about, any significant biographies or historical texts she's haphazardly highlighting though, but her eyes say it; they communicate in very unfriendly terms that she's feeling unwelcome to any company. His company, in fact. She doesn't even need to say a thing. And he reels.

“Fine. I hope you have fun playing house with yourself.” He quickly collects his things, rushes away with his face tighter than ever.

“Em,” she tries to assuage him, but he’s already out the door.

He makes it all the way down the stairs when he remembers he doesn’t exactly have a third place he could resort to. It takes him a moment or two to think of a friend who could possibly identically not have anything to do on a Saturday afternoon. He racks his brain for it, sets his mind to it, and leaves.

--

A few determined knocks, and a meek boy shows up to answer the door.

“Hi JJ.”

“Hello Emerson.” They stand there awkwardly for a moment. “Might you want to come in?”

“Yeah, sure,” he replies incredulously. He steps in, jarred by all the tiling he has going on in his décor. To each their own, he guesses.

JJ closes the door behind them and asks, “So, what troubles bring you here?” Emerson, confused, begins to answer, but then a shout comes.

“Jonah!” His mother calls out worriedly from the other room, “Who’s that you’re talking to?”

“Just my friend, mum!” he answers as she turns from round the corner to greet them. Her face relaxes considerably when she sees just who his friend is.

“Oh. Not Cook. Thank heavens." She stops wringing her hands. "Hello, and you are?” She smiles broadly as she approaches him, exuding a friendly demeanor.

“Emerson. Nice to meet you.”

“Same. Well, you two need anything, just let me know.” She turns to leave, considerably more relaxed then her voice was earlier.

It turns out the both of them had a ton of grievances. Combined, it would at least be a two-hour conversation. Which is sort of what they were doing, conversing, but it more closely resembled a mess of back-and-forth lashes that did not necessarily lead anywhere. JJ would get heated about a certain point about Cook and Freddie and studies and would get locked on, prompting Emerson to take him out of it with a certain amount of force, then inevitably JJ not being able to properly listen to what Emerson had to say due to having just been locked on. And so on and so forth.

They might’ve had a lot to say but it was hard to get a point across, let alone any conflicts being resolved. Instead, they both laid down on his twin bed, exhausted from flinging residue nastiness at each other. Being stepped on, as it turns out, truly was tiring.

“Perhaps we should try a different approach,” JJ suggested. Emerson nodded.

“We should follow through on what we want, not back down.”

“Yes, exactly.” JJ agrees with a finger in the air for emphasis. He puts it back down and when it lands, it’s right on top of Emerson’s dormant one. “Oh, sorry,” he immediately recoils then follows it with a string of unintelligible babble mixed in with more apologies until Emerson feels sorry him and plants his lips on top of his. When Emerson pulls away, it’s completely silent.

JJ looks confused for about two seconds and looks like he wants to protest, but doesn't. Instead, he leans forward himself and they kiss as if they're two kids in a bed all straightened out with postures like they’re actually five and not fifteen. Emerson squirms from his uncomfortable position and shifts his weight onto his elbow.

“What do we do now?” JJ asks.

“Not sure.”

“What happens if we … continue? Keep going?” And JJ says this with both innocence and expectation, one that wholly belies the other, but somehow he manages both.

“Then … we’re not virgins anymore, JJ.” Emerson postulates as he bites his lip. “You get that?”

“I think I do. I mean, I should.” He looks down. “It certainly feels like I get it.” Emerson follows his gaze and shoots his eyebrows up in surprise.

“Yeah, I’d say you certainly ... get it.”

JJ twists to look behind him at his bulletin board, blinks, then turns back to Emerson. “Just this once, right?” He smiles, suddenly more confident. “Why not?” His expression turns jovial. “Consider it a favor.”

Emerson smiles as well, brings his hand up to tap JJ on the nose. “Consider it yours.” They laugh and sink into the bed, rustling the sheets up over themselves, following up on an impulse.

The remainder of the day passes much more quickly than anticipated.

--

Everyone's associations with each other remain sporadic. Emerson hardly keeps prolonged contact with JJ at college, JJ stutters about with everyone, Emerson meets clandestinely with Naomi, and Naomi just tries to keep contact with anyone at a bare minimum. Emerson's hope in Naomi is running on empty, but at least she doesn't act like he's the scum of the earth anymore. It's something.

Emerson made JJ keep their tryst as a secret purely on the premise that it would ruin friendships, dynamics would be shifted, and who would want that? He especially wants to keep everyone’s shanty stability with each other sort of intact, so he understands.

They both seemed to have taken a huge step backward. The moment they decided to do something for themselves, it turned out to be good for neither in the big picture.

But Emerson pays it no mind, he doesn't care how many lies he has to carry. As long as he gets to keep kissing Naomi in empty hallways, he doesn't care.

She says to him, "My place—no one's home, I'm sure of it.” He nods and they run. Run towards a place they can be alone, no one knowing what they're up to.

They hurry into it. It's a dash, but it slows to a crawl at certain points—points Emerson etches to memory: the way her hair slips down and falls on her shoulders bare. He touches it, smooths it away and kisses her collarbone with his mouth. She lies down and he climbs up her body and she clutches at him when they kiss and for once, he feels it, that she wants him there.

He climbs back down her body and she gasps. He remembers the moment forever. He wouldn't be able to forget it even if he tried to.

It's one thing he knows he should forget, especially when he wakes the next morning and she's left him alone again. This time, his protests having a recipient, but all of it remaining completely fruitless.

He's left alone again, in her room. And he breaks down.

But she doesn't leave completely. Not yet.

It's like they're both caught by surprise by her action, simply opening the door and returning, and she embraces him and he the same. And they kiss madly, in a manner unlike their secret meetings. There's a passion there and Naomi pulls away, completely unable to look him above the range of his mouth. She speaks, but only in fragments and Emerson nods, frantically agreeing with her, just muttering calming words.

She kisses him again, leaning into it more than before. He cups her face and she suddenly leaves like she's been stung just like that.

He grabs his side, making sure he's really there. Making sure he isn't some figment floating around. That when she sees through him like he doesn’t exist, it isn't fact.

She's run again, he thinks, but he knows now that for the first time, she doesn't want it to be the last. The last of what exactly, he's still unsure. It's something he shoves into somewhere deeper inside him.

--

Time flies. Naomi keeps trying to avoid Emerson when she feels like it. She feels like it quite often when people are around and conversely, doesn't feel like it when she's by herself and has her mobile ready.

The feeling of indignation comes and goes. Emerson remains fluid.

The conversations between them are constantly short and succinct, with bursts of desperation, quiet and certain. It's as if she's been cold and calculated up until the point she actually has to interact with a boy, the boy waiting on the other line for an ‘I want to see you’ or something just like it; both completely disassembled by the time they come face to face. Needless to say, Naomi has a hard time dealing and just runs completely whenever it suits her.

Fortunately for him, he's very good at dealing with hiding secret sessions. But it's not at all so secret to him, when he shows how much she's affected him right there on his face daily.

"What the fuck are you smiling about, exams are today. Stop being a creepy twat." Katie shoves him out of the way as she makes her way to the shower, grumpy as ever.

Emerson lets it roll of him, taking advantage of the tiny moment of quiet solitude he might be getting for the next few moments. He closes his eyes and slips into a flat a few blocks away, secluded, with a girl who is happy to see him.

"Seriously," his sister's head pops in through the door, "you're a creep." And maybe she's right. Maybe he is a right creep, just sitting there smiling. But Emerson's all right with it.

Because he's finally in love. And that, to him, is something worth being a creep over.

--

Naomi thinks it best to distract herself with other things the world has to offer. So she decides to bury herself in menial coursework.

"Mum! You around? I'm having trouble finding that—” Naomi's hand hits a piece of paper she cuts herself with. Jerking her hand back, she puts her finger in her mouth and refrains from shouting. She seethes at this point, having turmoiled over something so minute.

"What is it, honey? I'm making poppy seed muffins," Gina shouts from the floor below.

Fucking hell, Naomi thinks. The day women stop using baking as a crutch for feeling better would be the day she'd feel indefinite victory.

"Nevermind," she shouts back. She heaves a sigh and says in a much quieter voice, "I've found something else." She picks up the offending paper and takes a closer look at it. It's in Emerson's unsurprisingly unique handwriting and scrawled all over it is pieces of poetry. Bits here and there describe her, the tall girl with light hair and Naomi can't decide whether he'd tucked it away on purpose when he was over, or if it'd dropped out of his bag and she put it in with all the rest of her notes. It smelled of awful vodka when she put it close to her face, so she decides the latter. None of these new discoveries exempts it from its offense, however, and she curses it for cutting her.

Minutes later, when she's working on what she was actually looking for, the metaphor dawns on her. She curses that, too.

"Buggering, fuck, never leave me well enough alone, will you." She mumbles to herself in frustration. Shaking her head, shutting her books closed, she abandons her coursework.

She goes downstairs to see her mother sat at the table by herself. Well, almost by herself—it's just her and her goddamn muffins.

"Where is everyone?" Naomi asks, finally, with a bit of sympathy.

"Gone. I sent them away." Her mother tries to say this with apathy, a simple handwave accompaniment.

There are times in which Naomi cannot bring herself to pity or condescend, and so far, if she's keeping a tally in her head, there's more than she can count on one hand from this past year alone. Her bit of sympathy balloons to a larger size as she sits down and puts her chin in her hand, looks straight at her mum.

"Not to be a tit, but I'm glad. You're better when you're a loner."

Gina sighs. She eyes her daughter curiously, searching for the source of the sudden confession possibly hidden somewhere on her face. She leans in, waiting for something to click. A stint of silence, and then she realizes she does know her daughter better than she thinks. She lets out a sigh, relaxes against the chair.

"Have I ever told you about your father?"

"Don't have to," she replies tersely.

"Well. You used to be a lot more keen on knowing who he was when you were younger. Weird thing, that. How quickly you think you've grown." She begins to clear the table.

"I have," she says defiantly. "I have!"

"So dramatic."

And the more Naomi becomes indignant, the more her mum simply chuckles in response. Soon, Naomi joins in, after much more jabs taken at her expense. She's the only one who can get away with it, she knows this about herself and her privileges. She also knows that when her daughter said 'a loner', she meant to say 'here with me'. It's a sweet sentiment coming from such an insufferable teenage girl.

Gina and Naomi are women who both hardly attach themselves to conventions, cut from the same cloth, as it were.

--

It was different though, outside of the safety of her home, for Naomi to comprehend how to be when her world’s so clearly been turned on its head. Her world, clearly turned, by just one boy. She'd hated how he changed her, how he could change her. How he could eventually make her his, that's what scared her most.

It was chaos at college, evacuation sessions being called left and right from false alarms, mostly, although the entire student body was aware they were drills instilled by the new policy perhaps. The new regulations were, of course, completely exaggerated by Doug et al, as if it was their entitlement to cause panic and disarray.

Everyone took advantage of one particular day in which things got so out of hand that people started running through halls, throwing their coursework in the air and running out school exits like it was the end. No one was going to get caught and freedom was a sprint away. It wasn’t particularly deemed 'nobody give a shit day' by anyone, but it was certainly welcomed.

Naomi pondered in her head if the increased lack of response and respect to Doug’s loud commands had to do with her and Emerson’s past efforts in a meager protest, not too long ago. But she’d be far too arrogant in considering herself culpable for such a mass effect, even if she had help.

She ducked into an empty classroom, away from the denizens of madly stampeding teenagers, for a moment of long-awaited solace. The week had been seriously rough, trying to actively avoid everyone heaps at a time.

"Hello." A voice she recognizes creeps up from behind her.

So she wasn't alone. She stood still, looking down at her shoes for a whole moment, not knowing exactly how to react to the girl whose act was so coy all the time.

"Effy," she says, a smile freshly plastered on her face.

Effy lowers her eyes, fingers a fag laid on the desk, clearly not disguising her intentions. To what extent of mischief, Naomi wasn't sure, but she didn't feel like running for the hills either. She stepped closer.

Effy picks up an idle lighter with her free hand and brings it up to her lips. Lit it in one fluid maneuver. It was mad, her expertise, especially with devices that would kill most young children. The girl knew how to handle a flame, how to handle heat. And she inhaled it.

"What you doing here?" Naomi asked.

"Should ask you the same thing." Effy offered her a drag, and Naomi lightly shook her head. She smiled, just on the corner of her lips, and she stepped closer again.

Effy returns her smile—-hers is wider and more of a smirk—and exhales. Naomi breathes it in and realizes it wasn't a fag, not at all. Effy gets straight up and kisses her, wraps her in a bit of an embrace and it's like they were planning this all along when really, it couldn't be more of an improvisation.

They bump from flat object to flat object, until they hit a wall and stop bumbling around enough to try and remove certain articles of clothing from each other, nearly tearing it off, as delicate as they are. Naomi recognizes a burgeoning thought in her head, one full of regret and embarrassment, but she shoves it away, tucks it in the back to be dealt with later.

Much later. Because she has sex with a girl. With Effy.

And she didn't love it. Not fully. She could chalk it up to the fact that they rushed through the whole ordeal, that she hardly knew what she was doing, but she doesn't. Being fair, mind, only when it's ended.

"Could have done worse, couldn't I?" Effy says after they'd sat in silence, each smoking through the awkwardness. They both light up this time, what with the fire alarm having long gone off. "Could have slept with someone who does love me."

Naomi looks over at her, completely befuddled. "And there is?"

"Nevermind," she says, stubbing out the rest on the floor, just the filter barely remaining and a tiny pile of ashes riddling its surroundings.

"Riddles, Eff. It's all you got, isn't it?"

"Who knows," she half-replies, half-says it to the opposing wall, only proving the point further.

Who the fuck knows, Naomi repeats in her head. Who the fuck really knows. She thinks about the exact person she’s tried so hard not to. It hurts to do so. And she begins to resent it.

There are things she wishes she could take back. More than anything, she wishes she never had to.

--

Neither of the two knew how to navigate themselves properly.

Mainlining for a better mixture of loving and hating, after some time, proved to not help. Emerson decided to keep his distance, as much as he could. Or, in clearer terms, to let Naomi keep hers. It was probably something he should have done sooner, if he'd wanted to. He never wanted to, if he had it his way. But he hardly had things his way. It was easier to get used to that than people thought, him having more practice at it than others.

The more time he spent away from Naomi, he spent with JJ, Katie not being an option whatsoever. Whenever they'd talk, it would be about just how much she loathed Naomi, day in day out without a moment's rest. Her constant blathering about needing to change this, and wanting to change that did a number on her, and she'd need to unwind and vent to Emerson whenever she could.

He couldn't stand it. So he left. To wherever he felt like. People could find him from time to time.

Sometimes Cook would come by, making everything go tits up before they could even blink. Emerson discovered how well at running away from things the three were by the end of the week. Less and less pubs became an option for escape by the end of the month. Emerson didn't mind it, but the exhilaration wasn't as fulfilling as the ones he'd previously had, privately to himself. He dared not tell them. But he figured enough showed on his face well through the days.

Freddie barely showed, being a man of Effy's constant torment, as Emerson saw it. He didn't think much of either of them, constraining them to just themselves and at least her lusty stare wasn't hovering over anyone she really cared about. He had less and less to worry, the distance not being so much a barrier but a test. And he tested well, as his marks would clearly show.

"Oi, Emster," Cook blurted, "Where's that Naoms girl of yours?"

He shrugged in response. "Dunno." He says, knackered. They're all off their heads by this point, figuring they'd make a day of it. "And she's not mine."

Cook leaves him, saying hello to whoever they're meeting for more pills.

"Never was," he admits, pressing on.

And the majority of the night is long forgotten.

--

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June 2016

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