Raven entered the room and closed the door behind her, unaware of her roommate's presence. When she turned and looked up, she was surprised to see December, lying on her stomach on the bed, looking ahead of her as though she was…
Well, she was in a daze. That was all Raven could think of.
Biting her lip to stop herself from chuckling, she quietly walked over to her friend and waved a hand in front of her. Not even a blink.
Raven was amazed at the extent of December being unaware of her surroundings. She knew what brought this on, however, and though it's been a couple of days since December got asked out by their archery captain, their expectations that she would come down to planet earth instead of staying on the moon seemed to be underestimated.
Just then, an idea occurred to her.
Walking away from December, she stood in front of her study table and took out her hair pins out of her hair, all the while grinning to herself. Spotting December's phone, she picked it up and cradled it against her ear, saying loudly, "Hi Zach. December? Oh, she's in the bathroom right now but I can take a message for – "
The phone suddenly disappeared from her grip as December snatched it away from Raven. December was wide-eyed and flushed as she put the device against her ear before a bewildered look flashed across her face. She stared at phone before looking at Raven with an irritated look.
At her friend's irate and crestfallen expression, Raven couldn't contain her laughter. She clutched her stomach, her body wracked in laughter until she let out a few last titters of chuckle.
December then took her phone and sat on her bed, almost sullen.
"Oh, come on, D. It was a joke." Raven wiped a tear at the corner of her eye. "You should have seen yourself by the way. Has he been texting you?" She sobered a little and asked.
December's shoulders were slumped as she answered, "Nope."
Raven gave her an apologetic look before smiling. "Hey, don't worry about it. You know how busy he could get with all those tournament and club stuffs. And he's also part of the Student Council. I'm sure he'll get to you soon."
December paused in thought at that, before understanding dawned on her as she sat up straight. "You're right. I mean, I knew he could be busy…I just can't help how I feel." She smiled sheepishly at Raven.
"Well, I think I can understand that." Raven chuckled.
Just as December laid down on her bed again, hugging her pillow and Raven heading towards the bathroom, a sound rang out in the room.
Knowing the ringtone, December mindlessly reached around her bed for the phone, and when she glanced at it, her eyes became wide before she blinked. Then, with eyes still fixed on the screen, she let out a shriek.
Raven opened the bathroom door and peeked around, looking at December in sudden surprise. "What? What happened?"
December couldn't speak. She was happy yet anxious because of the surprise. Her mouth opened and closed a few times before she just raised her phone mid-air and croaked, "It-it's him."
Raven gasped, her eyes wide in excitement. Her roommate didn't need any more affirmation as she got out of the bathroom in only a towel. "Well, answer him, D!"
She nodded and fumbled with her phone, before swiping on the screen. "H-hello?"
There was a crackle before the caller on the line spoke. "Hey, December."
His voice sounded pleasant and warmth spread through December's body.
"Zach." The smile on her face bloomed and it only grew when Raven grinned at her. Despite her elation, her heart thumped erratically. She wondered why he called. Reminding herself to sound as she hadn't been on the verge of hyperventilating, she said, "So, what's up?"
She resist the urge to cringe at that. Raven's expression didn't help either.
"So, I was wondering if you're free tonight." Zach said. There was a creaking sound which sounded as though he was sitting on a swiveling chair.
December's heart skipped a beat at that. She had been wondering when or how things are going to be – listening to her friends talking about their dates and all was fun, but experiencing this herself when she barely know how to differentiate if someone's interested with her and or was just being nice was another. She believed that Zach must have had some interest in her to ask her out, but even that didn't reassure the doubts that would somehow prodded her mind when her guard was down.
Nevertheless, she wasn't going to let it ruin her euphoric feeling and possibility of getting a boyfriend. With a beam and vigorous nod, she said, "Yes, I am." Then, biting her lower lip to stop the smile from getting wider, she continued, "Why do you ask?"
Zachary chuckled into the phone. "Well, I wanted to ask you out tonight. How does dinner and a movie sound to you?"
December was beyond giddy now; her nerves were dancing and her heart wouldn't go back to its normal beat. She tried to tell herself that it's just a date and she shouldn't get all hype up about it – but that didn't work at all.
She shook her head to herself at her silliness. So what now if she can't control her feelings for him? She deserve to have this moment of treasuring what she feel, and not care if she looked ridiculous with it.
"I think…that sounds really good." She couldn't help the giggle that escaped her lips.
"Great. I'll see you tonight at 7."
"Okay, see you."
Once they hung up, December took a deep breath before exhaling it, meeting Raven's bright gaze – both of them quiet as they processed what just took place.
It was only seconds before they both squealed and shrieked, the shrill noise rang loudly in their room. They must have caused other dorm inhabitants to wonder what was up, but December didn't care.
She laughed girlishly as they stood and Raven was hugging her tightly, both jumping for a little while in that position.
"Oh my God, December!" Raven shrieked in happiness.
"I know, I can't believe this!" December replied equally.
After a while, December paced the room, with a towel-clad Raven sitting on the bed, excitement for her friend shone in her eyes.
"Wow, D. I'm impressed that you went through that without needing help from me." Raven started, her eyes twinkling in a playful glint.
December rolled her eyes, the beam still in her face as she glanced at her roommate. "Oh, I'm not that hopeless, Raven."
Then, she cocked her hands on her hips. "But I am pretty hopeless in what comes next. Will you help me choose what to wear?"
A delightful look passed Raven's features. "Oh, I thought you'd never ask."
She had always spent her Friday nights sleeping in and entertaining herself with her hobbies or hanging out with her close friends, and at one point December thought the pattern would stay the same. After all, she was way beyond hoping or even thinking that she could find someone in the academy who would have an interest in her let alone date her.
But the pattern would change tonight – because she was going out on a date – something that had never happened in her nonexistent dating life.
It thrilled her yet she was terribly anxious – because how does one go about this? And would it go well?
"Is there a guide on how to go on dates for dummies? Because if there is, then I need it ASAP." December bit her lip in uncertainty, and winced as Raven pulled on her hair as she braid it. Her roommate murmured an apology before tilting her head and then shook it.
Raven had called Brooke over to help her with getting ready. Even though Serena couldn't lend a help due to a family dinner with hers and Weston's family, she did cheered December and wished her luck.
She really was glad to have them as her friends.
December watched as Raven blow-dried her hair and untangle the braid.
She also knew that Raven was more likely not to answer her question when she's focused on something so she glanced at Brooke who was busy picking out her outfit.
"Hang on. I'm trying to find the…yes!" She let out a triumph 'a-ha!' before showing them the outfit. Glancing towards the outfit from the mirror, both December and Raven's expression turned aghast.
"No way." December said with a determined look. At Brooke's pout, she emphasized it. "No."
The outfit was something that December was certain she would never wear, more so on a date. It was a black dress that was so short, she knew it had to end a little higher above the knee. If that wasn't enough, the cleavage area was so low, she knew they would spill at how narrow and small the cups were, regardless whether she was a big or a small chested person.
Brooke huffed and muttered to herself, although it was loud enough that they could hear it. 'After all the trouble I went to get this from my boxes…"
December gasped. "I knew that's not mine! I don't remember ever getting such a...such a scandalous outfit!"
"Oh, don't be such a prude." Brooke rolled her eyes. "I just thought we're going in for the kill to make him go haga haga over you – "
"Haga haga?" Raven choked over her laughter, while December just looked at Brooke, looking horrified.
"– and I was trying to accentuate your blessed curves." Brooke grinned. "Besides, sugar, sorry to say this but you have nothing that'll match well for a date."
December grumbled. "Thanks for the reminder."
Raven was still busying herself over December's hairdo, said although a little distractedly. "Hm, why can't she – "
Brooke, knowing what Raven was about to say, gave her a look. "Raven, I'm not letting her wear a hoodie and jeans to go on a date with Zach."
December frowned at Brooke.
Raven struggle to keep a straight face. "Okay, mum." She rolled her eyes with a grin as she worked on December's hair. She frowned a little when she spotted something. "D, your roots are showing. Do you plan on dyeing it again or letting it grow?"
Meeting Raven's gaze through the mirror, she made an 'oh' sound before saying, "I didn't notice that. I think I'll dye it later." Then, she sighed out loud. "Also, I'm sorry for being a complete dunce about not knowing a single thing about dates and dresses but can we please not choose something that is too revealing? I just don't feel comfortable with it."
Raven and Brooke then stared at her for a moment before looking at each other, nodding.
"Okay, don't worry about it. We'll figure it out." Raven said with a soft smile.
It wasn't until an hour later that they managed to pair up a pretty outfit as well as applying some makeup for December. Ten minutes of pep talk and three minutes later, December was set to meet up with Zach by the entrance of her dorm, where her two close friends peeked through her windows and beamed down at the scene before them like proud parents.
The party had been going on for two hours and Pierre was starting to feel the usual boredom striking him. The upbeat music was playing to the energetic, gyrating and hormonal teenagers and despite the spacious house, Pierre felt trapped and aggravated.
He really shouldn't have come, after all.
He saw Blake, Caleb and Jethro talking amongst themselves with some girls and other guys from the football and archery team, all wearing grins as they laughed and enjoyed themselves.
Standing half-hidden from everyone else at a corner, he held his drink in a red paper cup – a carbonated or alcoholic beverage, he wasn't even sure – and kept an eye for the voluptuous blonde whom he knew was searching for him, if her wandering gaze sweeping across the room was any indication.
He thought at that moment that he had to be weird not to enjoy the things teenagers did at a party but it didn't bother him much to feel like he had to change that.
He tried to enjoy himself or even amuse himself with the theatrics of the drunkards but even that hadn't last long. Pierre just wasn't in the mood and with each passing minutes, he found himself annoyed with everything.
He knew why, of course but he wanted to ignore it, tried to ignore it, but his thoughts kept going anyway.
A week ago, when he met December at the garden, he received a call from Katya, asking him to meet her. Unaffected, he told her he had other things to do, and while she hadn't called him after that, it seemed like she was determined to bother him again this week.
He hadn't known how to deal with the people from his past; sure, they had been the best of friends before but those were the times before everything crashed and burned around him.
He was different, and he was sure they were too.
So, why did he felt frustrated and agitated by them, even though it was only to have dinner – for old times' sake?
Someone giggled beside him, and thinking that Karen had found him, he looked up in surprise just to find a girl leaning against him with a dopey expression.
"Hey, handsome. Wanna have fun tonight?" She giggled, the slur evident in her voice. She was pissed-faced drunk.
Pierre tightened his jaw and gently shrugged his arm off her grip. Scanning around and not seeing Karen, he took a step towards where his friends are, only to be stopped by the only person he was trying to avoid.
"Pierre!" Karen purred, her eyes bright at the sight of him but Pierre could tell she's buzzed too. "I've been looking everywhere for you."
Karen giggled and clung to his arm tightly, pulling him towards her equally buzzed friends. "Come on, let's go meet my friends."
Glancing around to look for his friends for help, he found them looking at him and grinning, waving their cups at him in salutation.
Pierre felt a buzz in his pocket, and as he fished out and read the text, he froze.
It's about your mother.
That was it; four words but it affected him deeply. His expression turned cold, and his gaze hardened the more he scanned the words.
At the same time, Caleb had noticed his expression and broke off from the group, heading his way.
Karen, who in her inebriated state had realized that Pierre had stopped moving, turned around and pouted. "What's the matter?"
Pierre ignored her, as well as Caleb's amused grin at Karen.
When his friend was within his reach, he put a hand on Caleb's shoulder and said, "I have to go."
Bemused and curious, Caleb asked, "What's going on? Do you need a ride?"
He shook his head. "It's…just something I've got to do. I'll see you lads later."
Pierre turned and left, his legs directing him to his next destination, as his thoughts focused on the content of the text, that unfortunately succeeded in making him relented to face his past.
The night air was cool with a touch of the breezy wind, and December basked in its soothing sensation. December and Zach just had dinner and though she thought it was going to be awkward, thankfully he made her feel comfortable as they conversed and ate. She found out some things about him, such as the fact that he was a vegetarian, which was the opposite from her, and that he had entered a skating competition when he was in junior high. December found that interesting and she stored that knowledge away in her mind.
They were now heading towards the theatre in town, the flashing lights of the cinema attracting people from afar, as they walked about and passed it. They walked side by side, both occupied by their thoughts, even though their silence were being penetrated by the loud sounds and carefree voices as they neared the populated streets in town. December was all too aware of the proximity of him beside her, even though she tried not to focus on it too much. Who knows what else she might come up with to embarrass herself?
Nevertheless, his mild spicy cologne and heat from his body penetrating her senses wasn't helping her much.
Trying desperately to think of something else, a thought occurred to her and she blurted out, "Why are we going on a date?"
At his startled and bemused look, she hastily amended, "No, I mean why…me?"
When his gaze met hers again, she quickly looked away, mentally chastising herself.
Was it the wrong thing to ask? Did she made him uncomfortable? Why was she being nervous like this? Things had gone well so far and she had to ruin the pleasant night walk, or so she thought.
His warm chuckle brought her out of her reverie and she looked up, surprise and relief to find that she didn't make him uncomfortable.
They stopped and Zach looked her in the eyes.
"I've always thought that you're charming, smart, funny, and you're cute as hell too and well…I told myself it's about time I ask you out. Before we go our separate ways." If that wasn't enough, he added quickly, as if he needed her to hear everything he's got to say. "I could list on more, and that's just the tip of the iceberg." His voice took on a shy tone, and coupled with his dimpled smile and shining look in his eyes, December thought she was a goner.
Oh my God…
Okay, calm down my beating heart!
Hearing 'cute' and 'hell' from him just doesn't feel right, but it sounded like music to my ears. Did he really think I'm charming? And cute? Cue internal squealing.
December's face was flushed and she had a shy smile on her face. Her heart was beating louder and she was smiling too much that her cheeks hurt, but she giggled and said, "Oh wow, ah, thanks. I didn't know you're a smooth talker, Zach."
She was trying to steer the topic away from her, lest she couldn't control her flushing cheeks anymore.
Zachary only smiled at her, and as they continued to walk towards the theatre, he glanced before saying, "I mean them, December."
Yeah, I'm definitely a goner.
December made it to her dorm just before the matron could reprimand her, feeling like she was walking on clouds. If the dorm matron did give her an earful, she doubted that would dampen her good mood.
After the movie, he had them driven to get some ice cream gelato at a parlour and they had talked the night through. She enjoyed spending the time with him so much that when she knew they had neared their curfew, it felt like their magical moment together was coming to an end really fast and she didn't know what else she could do to prolong them. The feeling was too disappointing and she almost wanted to just tell him to break some curfew to stay out late.
But December could never do that. Besides the fact that she knew Zach held punctuality like it was a part of his soul, he just doesn't seem like the sort of person to break them. And she knew what the consequences would be to his record if they were caught – and they most probably would – it would definitely affect his presidency at the Student Council.
She hadn't dared to do that at all.
December played back the moment from when he first came to pick her up, the pleasant dinner, the walk to the theatre, and their late night conversations – he looked so different and carefree.
She would not forget this moment; her first date with the guy she had a crush on; his smile, his dimples, the little laughs he would elicit when he found something amusing, the warm and tingle sensation he made her feel, those little touch and gestures he did when their skin met with contact – and though she'd heard this in the movies all the time, she finally knew it to be true because if this was a dream, then she didn't want to wake up from it at all.
But of course, she had to eventually.
Before she could reach her doorknob, the door swung open and she saw Brooke's eager face.
"Well? What happened? Details, December!"
"My God, Brooke! Let her come inside first before you start the Spanish Inquisition on her." Immediately, Brooke was pulled inside by Raven who gave her an apologetic but grinning look. "Hey, D."
December's surprise face gave way to mirror the grin on Raven's face. With everything that happened tonight, the feelings on being high on her emotion made it impossible not to. It was infectious.
She walked in and saw Raven, Brooke, and Serena all sitting on the beds looking expectant. And of course, beaming.
They were all quiet, too quiet until she realized they were struggling to keep the questions in, and she said what they have been wanting to know all night, "It was wonderful." She breathe a dreamy sigh.
All three of them squealed in excitement, and when December's eyes went wide and she gestured for them to tone it down, they giggled quietly when they remembered the warden patrolling at this time. Brooke and Raven hugged each other and Serena laughed at them before she reached towards December, pulling her closer to them.
"You have no idea how long these two crazies stood by the window, waiting to catch a glimpse of you and Zach." Serena chuckled. "They're waiting for the moment."
Raven poked Serena's arm. "Correction. We're waiting for it, because don't you act like you haven't been doing the same ever since you got back."
Serena's face broke out into a sheepish grin.
December was high on their expressions and feelings too, but she found herself a little lost at what Raven said. "Wait, the moment?"
All three of her friends looked at her strangely before they said in hushed unison, "The kiss!"
Then, they all promptly burst into giggles and suppressed squealing. December immediately blushed and made an 'oh' sound, because of course she had to be person who wouldn't be able to catch on what 'the moment' means.
She can't believe she was so dense sometimes – but could anyone blame her? Her senses were fogged as she still weren't over one of the best – if not the best – night of her life.
Looking at her giggling friends, she laughed at the state they were in. If anyone could see them right now, they would think they were highly drunk. It certainly weren't the everyday scenes people see of them.
December jumped on them in a group hug before finding some way to settle in between her friends on her single bed.
She sighed dreamily. "Guys, it was everything I have dreamt of and more. I just…I don't know where to begin and how to explain what I feel! I've never…felt like this before."
Serena sighed quietly and smiled. "I'm happy for you. Zach seems like a good person."
"He is." December nodded and smiled.
Brooke adjusted her position, but finding that she was on the edge, got up and sat on Raven's bed.
"Well, I think we really need to know what went on. Everything, D." Brooke gushed.
And she did for the next hour.
"Wait, so you're saying you guys didn't exactly get to kiss? Oh, this is atrocious!" Brooke exclaimed. She may be theatrical but they all nodded in agreement at that.
"It was kinda dark outside but I thought I saw your shadowy figures at a close distance. So, he didn't, huh. I would have thought Zach would go in for that." Raven said slowly.
Serena made a thoughtful sound. "Maybe but he just doesn't strike me as the sort to do that. Do you think he would kiss on first date?"
December turned to her. "Did Weston gave you one on your first date?"
Serena's flushed and shy expression was enough answer for her.
"Maybe he's shy?" Raven said.
"Or maybe he's a shy gentleman." December added. "It doesn't matter. I think we're still in the first phase. He did kissed me on the cheek, though and I think that's more than enough, really."
Her tone took on a shy one, and on cue, her cheeks heated. She could still feel the ghost of his warm lips on her cheek and the tingle she felt made her curl her toes. If she doesn't bring down her blushing tendencies, December might just have a fever soon.
Brooke rolled her eyes but smiled at her. "You're too cute, sometimes."
Raven and Serena giggled and said in unison, "Which is what he had said too."
"Ah!" December let out a small scream and got up. "Okay, I'm gonna go and shower. All these talk is making me remember of how sticky I feel." She was still smiling widely as she looked at her friends' crestfallen and sulky faces. But then, Brooke's face brightened up.
"You complain about that now, but one day you won't mind being sticky if it's from him."
They gasped and Raven cringed. "Brooke, that's gross!"
Brooke snickered behind her hand. "Serena knows what I'm talking about."
A gasp and a slap on the arm later, Serena said in astonished embarrassment, "Don't you bring me into this!"
Eyes wide and thoroughly embarrassed, she yelled in a hushed voice, "You're all out of control!" before reaching for her toiletries. Face flushed, December shook her head at her weird friends who laughed harder at her expression and hastened her steps towards the bathroom.
It turns out that following the address Katya had given him wasn't a problem at all, as he had feared. Although it had been a few months since he'd come to San Francisco, he was getting better at going around places.
But the residence she'd directed him had been at least an hour away from where he was at the party and reaching it was no easy task. He had never taken the time to appreciate what he had for a transport – the public transportation and his beloved motorbike; especially the motorbike – until he had to find some means of it.
Why was it so hard to get a cab around here anyway?
Pierre sighed inwardly. He really missed the motorcycle, and vowed to find a way to get it back from his father.
As he stood in front of a row of four-story glass apartment, Pierre let himself be a little awe at the quiet yet mysterious beauty of the place. He wouldn't be surprise if someone owned the entire building and live in it; it looked like it belonged to a sole person – the entire place screamed such.
Then he wondered who exactly lived in a place as recluse yet quite grand as this. Katya? But how did she even manage to find this place?
The longer he stood on the pavement facing the apartment, the more hesitant he was. What was he doing in this place? What does he even want?
He thought back to the text he received and frowned. He wanted to tear his hair out in frustration.
His mum. The woman who birthed and cared for him, yet she was also a stranger. Pierre was warring with his thoughts and feelings; of the past and the present. He wondered whether his future would change if he meet with whoever that was waiting for him inside.
As he took a step, a feminine voice stopped him.
"I didn't think you'd come."
He turned around and saw Katya, a soft and relieved expression on her face. He found himself frowning and a scowl plastered on his face.
"I hadn't wanted to."
"Yet curiosity got the best of you, huh?" She chuckled softly.
"Let's just get to the point." Pierre snapped. Every second ticking by with the person from his past made his nerves jittery and he just wanted to get this over with.
Katya's soft expression gave way to a humourless smile. "Always the impatient one."
His face gave no indication of what he thought of that and Katya became exasperated before she schooled hers into indifference.
"Very well. Follow me."
He walked up the steps to the building and as he took in the surroundings; a decent yet pretty landscape, an extravagant patio of dark furniture with wooden floorboards, glass balustrades and lights embedded on the floorboards and ceiling. He thought it was somewhat a nice place to live in. He imagined it's something a bachelor would choose.
Hell, he imagined himself living here.
And that thought made him scowl – he wasn't here to appraise living standards, he just needed to know something, and possibly get out of there as soon as possible.
The self-satisfied smile Katya gave him didn't escape his attention. It seemed as though she knew what he was thinking and he opted a look of nonchalance.
She pressed some buttons on a device, then swiped it with a card and stepped inside. As he followed suit, he didn't notice the equally dark refurbished place with a quiet masculine aura to it, its look a minimalistic approach with a touch of colour here and there that he would undoubtedly appreciate, as they fit some of his preferences if he were to own one someday.
But this wasn't a showcase building and he wasn't there to appraise anything.
Which might as well be because the first thing he saw when he walked into the brightly lit space was the other two people; one whom he wanted to see less of, and another he had never thought would see again.
A deep, slightly accented male voice spoke, his voice while pleasant, rang loud and clear in the quiet presence of other occupants.
Pierre knew then that there was no going back now, but strangely he didn't feel uncomfortable facing his past.
No, he couldn't feel anything at all.ns188.8.131.52da2