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Chapter 15: If You're Surprised And You Know it Clap Your Hands
Scrump-dilly-umptious chapter image by Camila @ tda :D
Saturday morning at roughly four am, I woke up in a cold sweat, having just jerked awake from probably the worst nightmare in the history of the universe. This certain night terror had the horrifying power to beat out any bad dream I had ever gotten as a child: me getting attacked by a family of enormous spiders, my mum and dad buying a baby at the grocery store. Pretty scary, I know. But believe me, this one was way worse. The sun wasn’t even up yet and I lay petrified in my bedroom at my dad’s flat, my chest rising and falling with each labored breath, and vaguely wondering how my subconscious comes up with this kind of horse shit. And I was also having a hard time distinguishing whether the fact that my pajamas were soaked through were because I was sweating like a pig or because I had peed my pants. I was hoping it was the former.
But despite all this, my thoughts kept flickering to my nightmare, the memory of it causing me to shake.
I was laying in the grass at the park with James – eerily similar to the better half of our date on Thursday night – but instead it was the eve of our wedding day, which seemed pretty fast to me. I mean, I should know the bloke a bit better, don’t you think? We’ve only known each other a few weeks and what if we don’t want the same things in life? I mean, what if he wants our kitchen cabinets to be oak and I want mahogany? I can’t have oak cabinets in my kitchen, that’s just mad. It wouldn’t work – it just wouldn’t work.
But I digress.
Our conversation was really random and disjointed, ranging from things like childhood imaginary friends to the low production value of porno videos. It was really bizarre – like really. I mean, there we were all fine and dandy acting like this was the most normal thing in the world, that it wasn’t at all usual that we were discussing this sort of thing which, now that I was awake, was really bugging me out. Who talks about that kind of stuff anyway? I certainly can’t marry him if we’re going to talk about that. But soon we moved on from that and onto a topic that apparently held a lot of weight for James: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
“How do you eat your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?” he asked me solemnly. This seemed like a make-it-or-break-it type of question, the way he said it so intensely. I swallowed hard and hoped that my subsequent response was sufficient.
“I don’t like jelly,” I said honestly, shrugging. “Just peanut butter.”
I turned my head to face James and was shocked to see the disbelief in his brown eyes. “What?” he spluttered, utterly appalled and enraged. “You don’t like jelly? How can you not like jelly?”
“Well, I –” I wanted to explain how my tongue just didn’t appreciate the jelly’s slimy texture and I preferred to dine on the dry, sticky peanut butter on its own, but I didn’t get another word in.
“Do you cut the crust off? Tell me you cut the crust off, Spencer!”
“I –” Lie. Everything in me told me to just lie, and then everything would be alright, but my mouth betrayed my brain and heart and before I knew it, the truth was tumbling from my lips. “Don’t.”
A cry of outrage, anguish. James immediately called off our engagement. I held onto his leg as he tried to hurry away in a huff and he dragged me along the grass for a good six or so meters before he finally shook me off, leaving me alone in the park.
Out of nowhere, rain starting falling out of the sky with surprising force, drenching me completely. I was not only an alone loser now, but an extremely wet alone loser.
The next day I still needed to get married even though James had dumped my sorry arse because my dad had spent so much money on the wedding singer and cater.
Before I knew what was really happening, I was saying ‘I do,’ to Freddy Weasley and the priest, Tony Stark, was handing us our ‘baby’ – a plastic baby doll with the body of a teddy bear.
Freddy named it Carlos.
I woke up screaming.
Thirty minutes later and I still couldn’t fall back to sleep. Before long, I was standing in the bathroom, my fingers poking and prodding at my lips, sticking out my tongue for further inspection in the mirror every ten seconds or so. I had been practicing this ritual every time I came in contact with a reflective object since Thursday night, since he kissed me. I mean, they didn’t feel any different, and they certainly didn’t look any different – but they were. They were all grown up now: no longer unsnoggable, no longer pesky virgins. I couldn’t help but compare it in my head to a bar mitzvah; dare I say, my lips and tongue had crossed the threshold into manhood.
Huzzah! Snaps for my lips and tongue.
It amazed me how seventy-two hours ago I had never even been on a date before and now, I had not only done that but also snogged a bloke – as in, I had let him stick his tongue into my mouth. I know, right? What is this sorcery? And, like, it was crazy because earlier in the evening, I had been really worried about the whole ordeal but then when he was at my house, about to leave, and giving me a final kiss goodnight, we just kind of went for it. At least he did, I just tried to stifle an embarrassing squeak and keep up the best I could. And while I don’t think I was miraculously brill at it, I wasn’t terrible either – which I think was a triumph within itself.
Once I had poked my lips to the point where they’d be swollen until the day I die, I decided to head back to my room and try to fall back asleep. I’ve always hated going back to bed after a nightmare; it’s almost as if I’m stupidly charging into a room where all of my fears are waiting for me.
I walked down the hallway quickly, not even bothering to practice being a ninja by avoiding the floor panels that creaked and whined; my dad was practically the basis of the phrase ‘sleeping like the dead.’ The universe knows that no level of noise could ever steal that man from his dreams. But who was I to judge anyway? I’d slept through a handful of minor earthquakes over the years.
Back in my room everything was still – as it should be a four-thirty in the morning. Standing in the doorway, I couldn’t help but be scared shitless. I mean, what if I Freddy were to pop out from underneath the bed in nothing but a bowtie, demanding that we consummate our dream-marriage? Or something equally as horrible as that?
I rolled my eyes at the very thought. Why could I easily imagine him pulling something like that? I mean, it’s so…Freddy.
Scolding myself for being such a baby – just thinking the word made me picture the deformed teddy-baby and I shuddered at the image – I tiptoed across my room, hoping not to awake the beast that lay beneath my bed. Not that I actually believed he was going to be there or anything. You know…just in case.
Once I got a few meters away from my bed, I made a run for it, my heart beating frantically in my chest. With a jump, I landed on my mattress with a bit of a bounce and quickly ducked underneath my covers before any creature of the night (i.e. one Freddy Weasley) could attack.
I am seventeen years old, hear me roar.
I lay waiting in the stillness trying not to breathe so loudly and debating the pros and cons of an investment in a nightlight. (Is seventeen too old for that sort of thing? People do that, right? It’s not at all weird. How much would the cashier judge me?) When all seemed well, I decreased the buildup of tension in my limbs and closed my eyes in an attempt to fall back to sleep.
I’ve always been a violent falling-a-sleeper – ever since I was small. Whenever encountered with a fit of insomnia, blankets were thrown, kicked, and shoved about; pillows were bludgeoned to death; sheep were cursed into the depths of Hades. All of the works. And tonight was no different. If my beddings were alive and capable of speech, I’d be facing multiple charges on account of assault and battery.
But you couldn’t really blame me; it was all that Weasley bloke’s fault. I never liked him – and rightfully so.
And you know what? It wasn’t just the wedding-nightmare. Sure I’d forever be scarred, traumatized, and in therapy for it, but that stupid berk was causing me a lot of not-needed stress and much more trouble than he was worth lately.
I mean, he just had to fornicate with my mother on a regular basis, didn’t he? He couldn’t just find a pretty girl his own age. No, he just had to make my life a living hell. He’s not a very smart bloke but he should have foreseen the problems this would cause me! I mean, how does one tell their male parental unit that their ex-wife is shacking it up with someone half their age? Huh? How would one go about that other than trying to avoid the conversation completely? Because Captain Kurk’s tits, nothing seems to be working.
I mean, my dad being my dad, he’s bound to get on my nerves at times but I always valued him to be a smart man. And I worried about him a lot because he was so fucking nice all the time and I was always afraid of someone taking advantage of that, you know? And this thing with Freddy would just crush him; I just wanted to protect him from all that.
But he was so goddamn persistent! How was I supposed to protect him if he was so hell-bent on finding out who my mum’s boyfriend was? Or recruiting me as his Inside Man? I’m clearly not smart enough to keep my mouth shut – I proved that much the other day.
When he came to pick me up from my mum’s on Friday, he completely caught me off guard. I had barely parked my arse in the seat of his car when he started yelling. It was like in Batman when he was all like, “Where is he?!?!” but instead was all like, “Who is he?!?!?”
And I was all like, “Freddy Weasley!”
And then I realized what I said so I quickly added “I – I mean Queasley! Freddy Queasley!”
If there’s anyone in London that goes by the name Freddy Queasley, you’re in trouble. Because if you’re out there, he will find you.
I wish you good fortune in your upcoming duel.
If it helps at all, he’s ticklish at the back of the knees.
So yeah, I royally screwed up.
Nothing new here.
“Dad, is it socially acceptable for the girl to ask the bloke out on a date?” I asked while slumped in a very unlady-like position on the couch. I had taken residence in said piece of furniture fifteen minutes ago with the intent of asking this very question, but I had to sit for ages in silence while I impatiently waited for a commercial break. You see, my dad didn’t have many rules, but talking during one of his telly programs was practically punishable by death.
My dad turned to look at me, an eyebrow raised so high that it disappeared behind his fringe. “I think you’re asking the wrong person that question, Spence.”
I mirrored his raised eyebrow. “Is that so?”
“Uh-huh. You know better than anyone that I’m no expert on what is so-called ‘socially acceptable.’”
“Touché, Mr. Spock.”
We turned simultaneously away from each other to look at the telly screen. It was playing some poorly made commercial for vacuums and we watched it in silence as if we were both interested in purchasing such an item. Which we weren’t; I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time our carpets were cleaned.
My dad startled me a bit by clearing his throat unexpectedly. “So…what? He didn’t call you or anything?”
“No, he did,” I assured him, keeping my eyes trained on the screen, certain that he was doing the same. It was a bit odd, I thought, how well my dad was taking the news of me finally having a boyfriend. I had actually fessed up to him about how ‘Ned Knickerbocker’ wasn’t real a few years back so he knew this was my first relationship. I don’t know, not that I was disappointed or anything that he wasn’t flipping out or overreacting in any way, I just kind of felt robbed of the ‘protective father’ experience. Watching numerous made-for-TV movies as a kid had prepped me for a period of perpetual tenseness until we finally had a father/daughter breakthrough that ended in tears and a stronger bond.
But whatever, he hasn’t met James yet so perhaps the tides will change. “We just didn’t talk about going out again.”
“Oh.” Silence. The commercial changed to a bunch of girls in bikinis that was somehow supposed to be related to cars. “Well…what did you two talk about?”
“How the names ‘James and Spencer’ don’t generate a very good selection couple names.”
“Sames. Jencer. Spajames. They all suck.”
“Spajames has a nice ring to it.”
I shrugged. “I guess.”
We were quiet again for three consecutive commercials. Most of them were alright but a fair few got a laugh out of my dad and me. After a while I knew that the commercials would be coming to a close and the show would soon pick up where it left off. Having no interest in watching the remainder of the program, I rose from my place on the end of the couch and made my way out of the living room.
“Spence?” my dad called. I back tracked and stood in the doorway.
“I think it would be alright if you called him.”
I smiled. “Thanks daddy.”
I wasn’t entirely sure why I was so nervous. I mean, he was my boyfriend, wasn’t he? Calling him was perfectly normal; people do that sort of thing all the time. And we were Spajames, damn it! If we could get through a series of events that included word vomit and actual vomit alike, we could handle a measly little phone call that was initiated on my behalf.
Okay, so it didn’t exactly work out as I planned. I actually hung up four times. You know, before James even had the chance to pick up. I was about to increase my cowardice count to five – you know what they don’t say: the fifth time’s the charm – when my phone started to ring.
The caller ID: James.
I picked up before I could chicken out. “Oh hey there, James! Salutations! What a pleasant surprise; I simply was not expecting to hear from you today – but I’m very glad that I did! What inspired you to contact me on this fine Saturday?”
“Well, you seemed to have had a bit of trouble staying on the line before,” – someone kill me please – “so I figured I’d put you out of your misery and do the hard part for you,” James replied, his voice dripping with amusement. I could only imagine the smirk on his face at that very moment.
“You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar,” I said flatly.
“I do my best to serve.”
“And serve, you do.”
Then there was this weird, awkward silence where there was nothing else to be said so we didn’t say anything until James finally took the bait and broke the silence. “So what’s up?”
Sweaty palms and a shiver of nerves that slivered down the length of my person – I hate my body. I mean, this was my boyfriend for crying out loud; why the hell couldn’t my body function properly? “Oh, well, you know.”
And I left it at that.
I’m not entirely sure why.
“No, I don’t know,” he said, clearly amused.
I took a deep breath – I could do this. Yeah. “Well…I – I thought you might, perhaps, like to accompany me to the city in which has been graced with the given name of London. Ever heard of such a place?”
James let out a hearty laugh. “Why, Spencer Lockwood, are you asking me out on a date?”
He laughed again. “So tell me more of this ‘London’ in which you speak of,” he said mirthfully.
I smiled and settled down in my computer chair. Putting on my best storytelling voice, I said, “Well it’s this magical place…”
And thus began our nonsense conversation about the fictitious origins of England’s capital.
“Hey, I’m eating ice cream all by myself in a shop window and I feel like a loser. Wanna meet up with me?”
In all of my years of knowing her, I could never understand why Robyn always felt the need to shout when she was talking to me on the phone. Only old people are supposed to pull that kind of shit (I had this theory that they were so miserable in their elderly deafness that they felt the need to impair the hearing of their surrounding youngins…you know, cuz nobody would suspect old people to do that sort of thing). But, regardless, this situation actually called for the absurd volume; I could barely hear her.
“Hey, Herp-Derp. What’s all that noise in the background?” I shouted as I skipped down the steps to the first floor, on my way out to meet James. Another thing I could never understand was why I always felt the need to match Robyn’s volume while on the phone with her. I mean, it wasn’t like it was a contest or anything – but if it were, for the record, I’d totally win. My vocal chords are, like, made of steel; Robyn would lose her voice before she could ever beat me.
Mrs. Herman, who lived down the hall, was on her way up the stairs and she glared at me as we passed one another but I ignored her; I mean it’s not like the old hag owned the bloody staircase. I could be as loud as I wanted, thank you very much. I threw her a made up gang sign and internally cheered when her eyes widened in fear, and scampered up the stairs like a spider as a result.
Spencer Lockwood: Scaring the shit out of old people since ’05.
I turned my attention back to Robyn on the phone. “Did a bunch of homeless people drag you into a bar so that you could pay for their drinks again?”
“Oh no, not this time. It’s just a bunch of thirteen year olds sitting behind me who think they’re cool. I was thinking that you could throw M&Ms at them while I sit on the sidelines and pretend that I disapprove. You know, the works.”
I’ll admit, this was really bizarre for me. Never had I ever been too busy to hang out with Robyn; I mean, it was always a given that I was free, seeing as she was my primary connection to the real world. I never had anything going on and I always needed her to get me out of the house. Or I was just in desperate need of saving from either Danny or from some science fiction film I was being force to watch with my dad. If it was anything, she was the one who usually had other plans.
And not gonna lie; I felt this odd mixture of triumph and guilt.
“Oh. Erm. You know I’d really love to – cuz that sounds pretty rad, actually – but I’ve already, um, I’ve already made plans with James.”
Once the words left my lips, all traces of the minimal triumph I had been feeling previously had subsided, and guilt immediately took its place. I knew that I didn’t have anything to feel guilty about; I mean, I shouldn’t have to apologize for having a date but I couldn’t help the uncomfortable twist that had taken residence in my stomach. And the twist – it was twisting and curling and participating in other malicious acts that involved a hell of a lot of twisting. And mixed in with all that, something must have been pressing on my bladder because I suddenly needed to pee.
The only word that could possibly describe it – the moment, the feeling – would be, well, awkward. As in ‘I think the Awkward Gods may have just taken an awkward shit on our friendship’ kind of awkward.
“Oh,” Robyn said softly.
And then I just died.
I mean, could my organs twist any more or were they going to twist until inevitable popage and thus lead to my untimely demise? I mean, within that one little word, Robyn sounded so…sad, so hurt. It wasn’t my fault, it wasn’t my fault, but I couldn’t help but feel like it was, like I had abandoned her. You know? Was I really the type of person that would leave her best mate hanging for a bloke? I mean, I never thought I was.
“No, no, no, no, no,” Robyn burst out suddenly, the sudden strength in volume of her voice nearly enough to rupture my fucking eardrum. I stopped outside the front door of the flat building and held the phone slightly away from my ear so that her shrill wouldn’t cause any further damage. “I mean, erase what I just said; I’m being an awful mate. That’s really brill, Spencer, real brill.”
I appreciated her backtracking like that – I really did – but I couldn’t help but feel like an arsehole. I mean, how many times had I crashed dates of hers in the past (with blokes, I might add that were either really smart or really bizarre because half the time I had no idea what they were even going on about) – many times without even a lick of warning? Surely I could let her do the same.
I didn’t want to do it – because I rather liked being alone with James, but I had to take one for the team.
“Well, um, you wanna come with?” I asked, trying to keep the reluctance out of my voice.
“Er, Spencer, you know that third-wheeling isn’t exactly my style…”
“Yeah, I know, but I’ve never really given you the opportunity to do that before considering my – er, lack of – dating history. Er, besides this would be really…great because you’d get to meet him.” I crossed my fingers, hoping that my false enthusiasm sounded genuine.
“Ah yes, finally a face to put to the infallible James. My day has officially gone from a negative twelve to a ten,” she drawled sarcastically.
“Whoa, okay, hey. He is not infallible.”
“Really? Cuz he sounds like it from the way you talk about him.”
“Yeah, well, he’s not. The bloke has his flaws,” I insisted.
“Well, um, er, when…when I do stupid things he doesn’t laugh with me, he laughs at me. Like really hard. Like, I-can’t-control-it-I’m-laughing-so-hard type laughing.”
“Sweetie, everyone laughs at you like that when you do stupid things,” Robyn reminded me lightly.
“Danny doesn’t,” I said indignantly.
“He did that time you got hit in the face with a volleyball at the beach.”
“Don’t remind me of that; there were far too many attractive witnesses. But whatever, he’s in no way perfect. I mean, there’s a chance that he doesn’t want mahogany kitchen cabinets and we all know how flawed non-mahogany enthusiasts are.”
“What is it with you and mahogany cabinets?”
“Hey! They’re a good investment!”
“Whatever. I’m not coming on your date with you.”
“I can’t believe I’m coming on your date with you.”
“Yeah, well, shit happens,” I said, shrugging as we walked down the street together. After about ten minutes I had been able to convince her to join us. And after hearing her bitch and moan about it for a billion hours, I was kind of regretting it.
“And are you sure that he’s okay with this?” Robyn asked for about the hundredth time.
“Yes,” I said, for about the hundredth time. Bloody hell, this was getting annoying. “I called him and said that if I can deal with his pain in the arse cousin, he can deal with my pain in the arse best mate. I told you, he’s cool with it.”
“You know,” Robyn said in that voice of hers that she usually uses when she’s about to inform me of something that she probably thought was interesting and would no doubt be not interesting. “I think between the two of us, you’re probably the pain in the arse.”
“Not right now, I’m not,” I muttered.
“What was that?”
“Nothing,” I sing-songed.
“Really? Cuz it kind of sounded like you were implying that I was the pain in the arse,” Robyn said, trying (and failing) to sound angry. I had to fight a laugh so she wouldn’t feel bad. She doesn’t like it when I make fun of her (lack of) acting abilities.
“Oh look! There’s James!” I squealed with a bit too much enthusiasm. I mean, fuck, I practically wet myself with glee.
Apparently not looking where I was looking, Robyn didn’t seem to spot him at the table in the back so I grabbed her by the hand and practically raced toward him.
Really, my level of pathetic knows no bounds.
But you couldn’t blame me; I mean, he looked so good. His hair was as wild as ever, and he was wearing a blue t-shirt – I decided that I really liked that color on him – that hugged his muscled chest nicely. In my mad dash to get closer to him, the memory of my hands on that wonderful chest of his – his hands on my waist and in my hair – invading my mind. I may have quickened my pace as a result.
If I thought that James was going to greet me with a hug and a kiss, I was immediately proved wrong when he stood up from his seat and knit his eyebrows together, his gaze not on me but Robyn. Utterly baffled, I looked over to see that Robyn was as appalled as James appeared to be. She had stopped dead in her tracks and was eyeing James as if he was a ghost.
My eyes darted back and forth between my stunned boyfriend and best friend, bewildered. “You two know…each other?” I asked slowly, my head spinning.
“Yeah,” Robyn said softly, still keeping her gaze on James. “From school.”
A/N: Hey everyone! Long time no see (sorry about that)! Are you surprised? Okay, so before the lot of you chew my ear off saying that this is not possible, I will tell you why it is. I did not cop out or pull this out of my ass. When I originally created Robyn, her turning out to be a witch was all part of the plan (I mean, how many times did Spencer refer to her as 'Robyn-the-Wise' in that chapter? I smell me a Ravenclaw!) but then I scraped the idea because I thought that everyone would either think that everything was way to coincidental or predictable. WELL, I can honestly say that not a single reviewer has ever guessed that Robyn was a witch AND I decided that I needed a good plot point so I pulled this out of my pocket. I hope this doesn't upset you or make you hate the story, but you have to trust me on this. How she kept it from Spencer all these years will be explained in the next chapter and if you think about it, it's probably common for a Muggle-born to have to hide their true identity from their Muggle BFF. Also, for those of you that are probably wondering, Spencer has never mentioned James's last name to Robyn (you can look back and check me on that; let me know if I'm wrong because then I'll fix it) so she couldn't have possibly known that Spencer was seeing one of her classmates. So yeah...I hoped you enjoyed this chapter!!! :D
Thanks for reading and please review! I got such a FANTASTIC response for the last chapter so thank you!!!!
PS: NEW RULE: PLEASE DO NOT SWEAR IN REVIEWS; I LOVE YOUR REVIEWS AND I DON'T LIKE LOSING THEM. IF YOU ARE QUOTING THE CHAPTER (which I love by the way) PLEASE CENSOR OUT MY NAUGHTY LANGUAGE. I'M SORRY FOR SWEARING LIKE A SAILOR SO MUCH; I CAN'T HELP IT.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of Iron Man (Stan Lee), Star Trek (Gene Roddenberry), Batman (Bob Kane and Bill Finger; the quote "Where is he?" is from The Dark Knight - screenplay by Jonathan and Christopher Nolan), or M&Ms (Mars, Incorporated).
Also, I can't take credit for "You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar." It's just something that my Economics teacher says a lot.
Translation: Touche is a French word, meaning "To touch" but is usually used for "Good one man."