"Do you really have to go?" Vera asked wearily as her disheveled bangs formed a curtain to hide her concerned eyes. She held the almost-blanket, more like an oversized itchy rag, to her bare and shuddering chest. Why did she even bother? It's not like she had anything much to cover. Just two discolored dark nipples on an otherwise flat mess of matted grey chest fur.
The tall and nude lynx glanced at her releasing a sort-of grunt as he clutched an unlit cigarette tight between his disarmingly white teeth. He was a tall statuesque senior from Vera's high school, and though he was lean like most felines she had encountered, he was also very toned. He was naked too -- entirely naked -- except his socks which he had never and would never take off in all the times he fucked her. The lynx, still with cigarette clenched, rifled through the discarded clothing beside the bed and lifted a pair of stylishly tattered work jeans. In the front pocket he retrieved a red lighter as the last of his things he needed to check before he prepared to leave. He began to light his cigarette. (This is my room... my place... you might have to leave... but I won't have your smoke sticking around -- not if you won't) but instead of saying that, Vera looked away; troubled.
"You know, I can't sleep unless I'm in my own bed." he took a long raspy drag and Vera watched the slow crackle of the embers as it danced at the end of the cigarette. (Please don't smoke. You'll get cancer and die. Or, I'll get cancer, you'll--)
"T-Take me with you then" her voice said in some kind of confidence but a meagerness betrayed her. She was timid, small, scared and meek. Too damn meek.
"Heh." He let out a large gust of grey smoke as he slid the pants up his legs, barely bothering to raise his ass as he did. "My brother would loooooove that, you know that little shit still thinks you're so cute. I'm sure he wouldn't leave us alone, and I intend on sleeping -- so fuck that."
(He thought I was cute? I'm not though... I'm a filthy thing begging not to be alone and I'm full of this guy's--) "I don't mind" She sniffled. The smoke really bothered her nose and bad eye; causing it to water. She swatted at her eye and, in the dim glow of her lamp, she looked like a pathetic little thing who had just woken from a bad dream. "I would rather deal with your brother than spend time away from you (I know I only just met you, and this is crazy... crazy because it's probably a lie) I love you."
"Babe~" He cooed; cigarette dropping its trail of ash on that itchy blanket. His body turned to face hers -- the same body that, only 20 minutes ago, was planted on hers; pinning her onto her own bed in hard, beating succession. "Baby girl-"
"Please... don't call me that." the small coyote stubbornly yipped; looking down and grasping the blanket even tighter than before.
"Vera. You know I have work in the morning and then the guys at the garage want to drive out to Celebration Point to see 'The Bad Invaders' play."
"I want to go too." she sounded so tiny, so timid, so young (no you're not young. Being young is innocent. You just got fucked like a dirty woman.)
"Ha!" He let out another drag and then squashed the still partially-full cigarette on the dresser (hope mom doesn't see that mark). "Baby girl, (don't say that) you know it's a 16 and up gig. Last time I checked, you're only 13."
This time he slid back up the bed, closer, she could smell his sweat, his cigarette breath, and that alluring cologne that, only 2 days before, meant something special but now started to smell so fucking cheap. He was probably going to mount her again and, honestly, she really didn't want that -- not if he was just going. Then again, maybe if she let him, he might just stay.
She gave the blanket a little slack and her small and quivering voice came out again. "Yeah but you can take me with you, right? My friend said that as long as you're with someo--"
"Eh hehe..." he tittered and as he leaned forward. He did not pin her nor did he kiss her or embrace her. He simply lifted his shirt up off the headboard and then resumed getting dressed. "It doesn't work like that. Plus, my ex will be there and she would fucking kill you if she saw you. So I have to say 'no'. For you."
"But I love you!" She whined. She knew she didn't but she could make herself. She met him at the record store a week ago and that meant something! They both liked music and he said her haircut was cool. Plus, then when some creepy pig boar tried to touch--tried to grab her ass--this guy actually threatened, full on, threatened to kick his ass. She could learn to love him but keeping his socks on in bed was a little weird.
"I gotta take a leak." He remarked; ignoring her. Then, as if on queue, he rose, seemed to think about it, sat back down and gave her an obligatory kiss on the cheek.
He left her alone in her room again and had he have taken his shoes or phone, she might have assumed that he would have left all together. Still, it was a good of time as any to finally get dressed. She could shower after he left. She still didn't want him to leave, though.
Vera slowly got up; her feet comically dangled off the bed before she slid down to the carpeted floor. She began to root around for her own clothes. She ran through the check list:
- Panties -- up and on with a quick snap of the waistband. Though, where they really panties? No, no, that was something little kids wore. These were "boyshorts". Perfect wear for a teenager. Fuck that word. 'Panties'.
- Bra -- Check, the straps dug into her shoulders hard as she got on this completely unessential piece of garb. She debated stuffing but that didn't go well for her the last time she tried. After one look in the mirror she realized that the rest of her body was so comedically tiny it only made her "boobs" look like some bad dumb inflated prop.
She skipped the pants and went for a hoodie. His to be specific. It stunk bad of tobacco and had traces of B.O. -- not the musty scent that she would enjoy during a rousing session of sex -- this was that sort of work-funk that reeked of an lousy auto shop.
The entire hoodie hung low on her like a dress and she assumed she probably looked quite cute in it. The keyword being 'assumed' as she just felt like a gross dog in it. Like she always did. The bagginess swayed from hip to hip, and the chest (somewhere on her tummy probably), bore the logo of the auto shop her 'love' worked at on weekends and breaks. Feeling the pockets, she detected his phone. Huh?
She lifted the small flip phone up immediately and, without any trepidation, began to look through it. She was charmed that his background was a picture of them. It was from the date they had about 4 nights before. The image was a beautiful young couple, they hadn't done anything yet at that time. It was just two kids in a restaurant being goofy. That Vera, the one shyly smiling from under her bangs, had no idea that within an hour of that photo, she would be pressed naked against the hood of his car. She recalled how she didn't want it -- how so much of it seemed like teasing and joking -- and then she recalled how fucking cold the hood of his car was against her tummy and chest and how much it stung her knees to be grinded into the grill with each furious thrust he made.
She was so upset, and yet she had asked for it... hadn't she...? Not verbally but by eagerly wanting to take that late drive. She basically asked for it again once he was done -- this time with words.
Oh well, that Vera was in the past and, even in a few days, Ms. 'Current' Vera saw no connection to her -- though she did see a few texts placed sporadically throughout the night. (It was work -- he reminded her from within her head) She found out his work and "ex-girlfriend" must of had the same name. Only these were not texts to an ex at all. Each one was a semi-love letter followed by him complaining that he has to stay in late at the garage tonight.
Her knees went weak and she stumbled to sit on the corner of her bad, kicking the wad of one her long socks. (why DID he wear his socks to bed?) She pawed, frantically, into his photo album. Dozens, maybe even a hundred, photos with this silky furred lop eared rabbit 'woman'. Every fucking holiday, birthday and date there were photos of her naked and taking his manhood which was the same manhood that, only 20 some minutes before, was familiarizing itself with Vera again.
Wouldn't it be great if Vera had the strength to send the rabbit the image of their date? Just show her the true colors of their shared lynx. But, of course, she couldn't. She was weak, and, what right did she even have to ruin him?
She set the phone back into his pocket with her eyes meeting the floor; a feeling of a glob of snot suddenly slipping from her nose as hot streams of tears rolled down her eyes.
"Jeez. I'll see you in a few days." the lynx said, walking back in. (no you won't). "You don't need to cry about it. baby girl."
"I know." She offered a half-smile. The tears wouldn't stop.
"It's cold as shit outside. I can even see frost on the windows. I'm gonna need my jacket back."
"Oh-oh s-sorry." she slowly lifted up the thing (I didn't really want it... smelt like cigarettes and sweat anyways) and tossed it to him; avoiding eye contact as she did. He barely said much more. Maybe somehow he knew what she found? He dressed and, with hardly a goodbye, he left; leaving Vera all alone on her bed again. Sitting there looking stupid in her underwear.
She lied down; grabbing her headphones and turning on her depressingly dire music. She clutched Patches, her stuffed bunny, tightly as she began to kiss the inanimate object; weirdly wishing it came to life and comforted her. She ended up crying herself to sleep half naked and dirty.
A filthy whore didn't deserve to shower or deserve a blanket; even if that blanket was nothing more than an itchy rag.
Some years later.
Vera lied in the same bed, though her stuffed bunny was long gone -- given to her little cousin Viola. He was too full of memories and sadness for Vera to keep. This was better for both of them because he would have a new girl / a new grief-stricken little monster full of secrets and Vera could grow the fuck up. The blanket was also long gone. She always hated it and, recalled vaguely, simply throwing it out one evening. Good riddance.
She also, on this evening had been sharing her bed with a different kind of deviant, not a strong lynx or seductive wolf or some half burnt out rock star who would try to lick her tail hole and always blow his load in her face no matter how much she whined and pouted which was so fucking demeaning, no, this deviant that slept beside her was her closest friend, Kas, a jackal as loving and supportive of Vera as he was gay. So there was no threat, no intimidation, no strings, no stupid fucking car-hood sex that leave horrid bruises on her knees with Kas.
Vera loved sharing her bed with him. He was funny and sweet and they would often lay there telling stories or talking about friends until one of them (usually him) was asleep. Tonight had been no different and she listened to him snore. Not a harsh labored snore but instead it was a soft almost-whimper. Vera was the one who snored: she foggily recalled Justin, her ex ex ex ex ex boyfriend, waking her in the middle of the night.
"Fuck, Vera, this is why I don't stay over. You snore like a fucking buzz saw and you're drooling all over me!"
How nice it was that Kas never told her that. Since he had passed out, she couldn't sleep; plagued by shadows of phantoms -- the typical shit that haunted her. It -- this metaphorical ghost -- repulsed her. It would make her stomach turn, her cluster headaches would fire up, her bad eye would burn, she would shake, stammer and sweat... and for the love of fuck... it would often leave her confusingly horny. Not in any good way. But she hated it all the same. That was the thing that made her most uncomfortable and quickly that slight wetness made her nearly vomit.
("Your organs and your brains are on different planes, girl, get used to it. Womanhood's a bitch." Vera's internal voice told her followed by the voice of Zara recorded somewhere in her brain. "You're so fucking sexist")
The entire night she had been texting her oh-so-obvious crush, Hunter, loving every time she saw his name flash up on her phone. He was adorable.
He was so jealous and nervous of Kas, which Vera adored. No one was ever jealous of someone else hanging out with her.
She also adored how Hunter was rationalizing about Kas' homosexuality and claiming how much he really liked Kas but how he still felt it was weird for them to sleep in the same bed. It was neat to see him trying not to turn all "knuckle dragger" and not being a control-freak.
After all, they weren't even dating.
Every new beep made her smile and it kept the phantoms at bay.
She could also feel an excitement radiating from inside of her; adding to her refusal to sleep. Tomorrow Kas and Zara agreed to take the entire group to see a show in town and though Vera bemused at her disdain for loud shows and flashing lights (her color blind eye had about a dozen headaches just waiting to fuck her up) this totally meant she would have a chance to get on her best wear and show off for Hunter. Er... all of them, technically... no, not really, she wanted Hunter's eye.
Vera was being honest with herself. She had needed an excuse to show them how cool she could dress, not just a t-shirt, skinny jeans, and hoodie. (do you smell BO and cigarettes... that's what shame smells like) Earlier she showed Kas the outfit and he eagerly apploaded every element. "You look very punk-rock."
Vera felt very punk-rock indeed.
She felt a yawn, tried hard to fight it, and finally gave in to its demand.
"Alright get up, go pee, if you're still tired, say goodnight to Hunter and pass out. You don't need huge purple bags under your eyes," She thought and slowly sat up while slipping her bare feet against the floor. (your feet don't dangle like they used too)
She left the room and tended to her business quickly, articulately washing her hands before aiming to return before bumping briefly into her cousin.
Viola had a haunted expression which was something that, at its core, sincerely bothered Vera and, strangely enough, she wasn't exactly waiting for the bathroom. There was at least two others in this blasted huge house. She was waiting for Vera.
"Prima," Viola said in a voice barely above a whisper. Her voice was so smooth. Vera detested that her own was so raspy and frequently had that vocal-fry quality. "I heard something."
The parents were away for the night which is probably what is getting Viola so freaked out right now. Vera was definitely looking forward to when her parents intended on leaving for an entire week AND taking this little piss-ant with them.
Vera hid a small yawn and placed a hand on her hip in a sassy gesture; rolling her eyes. "Are you sure it's not your creepy girlfriend sneaking around again?"
"Mi amor? No no, she is not... here." she trailed off looking down. "Prima, this is... different something horripilante."
"Huh?" Vera raised an eyebrow as her inexperience in Spanish always protruded very far when around her little cousin. (You're a Mexican, Vera? That hilarious. No wonder your pubic fur is so thick) another ghost and she was reminded why, since she was 13, she had been so amazingly tedious with grooming her private area.
"Oh.. something creepy. I'm scared." Viola muttered and then sniffled.
"Viola, I'm super tired. Just grab your shit a--"
"Oooh, Prima Vera cursed." Viola gasped.
"Your... stuff... oh shut up, I hear your creepy girlfriend saying worse things."
"But mi amor is allowed to." Viola nodded her head. "She is older than you."
"Eh..." Vera dropped it. "...Grab your stuff and you can crash on the floor in my room." she rubbed her forehead. "I can't deal with this tonight. Grab your blanket and pillow and bunny--"
"Patches!" Viola corrected and Vera wasn't aware that she visibly cringed at that name. A particularly creepy ex used to beg her to act like a toddler and try to fuck patches while he watched. Though, she can't recall if she had.
Funny though, they never broke up, he was arrested and trialed as an adult for attacking some girl walking home from school.
Always picking winners as usual, Vera.
"...Patches." Vera repeated and then shook her head sending her now super annoying bangs fraying side to side. "Hurry though, like I said, I'm super fuc--"
She saw Viola's cyclops eye widen.
"...freaking tired..." she continued more clean that intended. "...and I'm not going to walk you to the bathroom every time you need to pee or get water so do all of that now."
Viola sprang up and down excitedly and suddenly hugged Vera tight before disappearing into her room. Vera was unable to figure out why the fuck this made her smile.
"You are so cute~" (nobody calls me cute) Kas said from her open doorway, he looked so much like a girl sitting there in his long socks (why do so many guys wear socks to bed?!) and long shirt. "Did you allow her in your room because you know I wanna snuggle with her?"
"Shut your gay-hole," Vera barked and squinted at him in the dark. "I'm just not in the mood to hear her tapping at my door all night or running in bawling 'cause something creaked in the house. This house is old! IT CREAKS!"
"Oh yeah?" He said; sarcastically inflecting his usually level of spunk and sassiness. "I bet she is the biggest inconvenience too. We can probably sell her off to that fat old husky down the street, you know, the one that eyeballs us every time we walk by - he'd probably pay us a bag of money for her. I'm not saying it's a lot of money. It's just a bag of it."
"Yeah, with a dollar sign printed on the side and everything. It's a shame I'm not a pimp... also he would want a refund. Defective goods."
"You know I'm joking, right?" Kas sneered at her.
"Probably." She wanted to continue the joke elaborate about how her cousin was also gay- joking about it was her way of coping, but as she lowered her jaw Viola emerged from her bedroom; dragging an oversized blanket and overstuffed Patches.
"Hola, Kas..." Viola whispered sleepily.
"hole-lah!" Kas smiled and stepped aside so she can walk passed him to get into Vera's room.
"So, you only woke up to tease me then?" Vera scoffed.
"Well that and to tell you to go to bed already." Kas snickered. "I noticed a distinct lack of snoring."
"You went so long being the only guy next to Hunter who didn't talk about that." Vera sighed. "I was even thinking about that a few minutes ago."
"What's the actual reason you woke up?" Vera cut him off.
"Well!" Kas decided to drop the previous subject as well. "I sort of figured you were slinking off to the living room to hot-chat Hunter. I was about to text him to tell him that, like a good breeder, I got passed this 'being gay' phase and was about to make a move on you." he roundabout gestured with his flimsy wrist.
"You wouldn't dare." Vera narrowed her eyes and her raspy voice got a little raspier. "I would suffocate you in your sleep"
"So you actually hot-chat him, then? I'm the best detective ever." Kas said. He always had that silver lining. He played Mental Chess chaotically but somehow got the better side.
"We aren't going to bakery in the morning now." Vera deadpanned with almost 100% vocal fry in that statement.
"But--But-- Donuts...!!" he pleaded and suddenly, as if it was his spunky life source, his playfulness was drained. Checkmate.
"Then shut it and go to bed! I'm really tired!" She checked her phone quickly at a glance. One new message from Hunter: Got to sleep, tiredface :P TTYT.
"See?" Vera said pointing to the phone in some kind of victory. "He's forcing me to sleep now. What a control-freak, I says."
A few miles away, Hunter's window was only one light amongst a scattered few; twinkling in the midst of quite neighborhood. The rest of the house was dark, save for a nightlight burning dimly in the bathroom and lone hallway. The Samoyed had company on this night, however, so the nightlight seemed unnecessary... even if it wasn't for him being afraid of the dark or anything. Honest.
Lana lay on Hunter's bed tummy-down; her mouse tail flailing erratically and her eyes fixed stubbornly on his TV. There was a Super Nintendo controller poorly clenched within her grasp. She had a strained and stressed expression on her face with her eyes fixed on the small avatar representing her on the screen. This was Castlevania and she was on her last life. Not that she really cared that much... or could even tell that this was her last life.
A gamer she was not. A filthy casual, some could say.
As it turns out the Super Nintendo was one of the best gifts Hunter had ever received apart from his Nana's scarf which still adorned his neck. Hunter was never much for games but he was overjoyed when Midian, his sister, Lumina's, best friend (and/or boyfriend maybe?) gave this to him a few years ago. He was no gamer and neither was the little mouse, Lana, but he loved watching her get furious playing game after game. "My buddy, Mason, was dropping stock. I hope you like them." the jackalope, Midian, said, "I got you pretty much everything he had extra -- not counting duplicates."
Lana and him had been ritualistically playing with this device for 2 years and had yet to even burn 3/4ths of the box of games he gave with it.
While Lana played, with a few groans and swears escaping her, Hunter sat behind her. His phone rested on the pillow beside and he had Lana's bass guitar on his lap. He followed the addictive melodies of the game; sliding his hand up and down the guitar's neck and trying hard to get it down: he was no bass player though. Lana would occasionally look back and remind him.
Lana died from a bottomless pit. Oh well.
She sighed loudly, dropped the controller and turned to face him. The lock of hair from under her goggles and spaghetti strap seemed to work in tangent as both fell in unison.
"'Cheap' is not just a sound birds make." she sulked and folded her arms.
"I-It's okay, L-L---"
"Ugh, Hunter I hate it when you stutter my name." she rolled her eyes and sighed catching a glimpse of his illuminated phone. "Are you still texting with Vera?"
He shook his head solemnly, "Sh-she was telling me h-how tired she was s-- so I told her to go to bed."
Lana adjusted herself to sit cross-legged, and then rested her chin in her hands. She had this expression that Hunter couldn't read like maybe she was thinking or was troubled or something.
It was weird.
"A-A-are you okay?" he stuttered; feeling frustrated at his vocal failures. (Think about your middle name!) his speech therapist's voice echoed in his head.
"Yeaaaaaah." She replied; that same look not leaving her. "How come you like her but won't say it?"
That was alarmingly direct. He really hoped he wasn't blushing.
"I-it doesn't w-work lik-l-l-lik-" holy shit, his stutter was bad tonight. It was flustering him worse. "like that!" he spat out finally.
"Doesn't it really?" She said blandly as her eyes fixed on his. She blew a crimson lock of hair off of her face. That was the look! Boredom.
"Huh?" he slowly set her bass down; resting it gently beside his bed. "I d-don't follow."
"Just, if you--"
"Everything alright in here kids? It's pretty late." The intrusive voice of his dad said from the cracked-open door. For whatever reason his dad had started INSISTING that, when Lana stayed over, they left the door open a little. It was strange, but whatever, Hunter's room was pretty isolated so it's not like they would wake anyone if the game-playing or music-talk got too loud. Still super weird though.
His dad peered in with a delirious exhaustion in his eyes hidden only slightly behind his spectacles.
"Mhm." Hunter nodded; noticing that Lana didn't break her weird bored looking gaze on him.
"Well, I want you kids in bed asleep within the hour -- no buts -- and if I catch you up, you're not going to go to that rock and roll show tomorrow."
"S-sorry dad!" Hunter sheepishly looked away. "W-we should have been asleep hours ago b-b-but Lana was getting so far in the g-game and--"
"He was texting his girlfriend" Lana added in with a smile. There was a stupid grin on her face, showing off her buckteeth, that said 'gotcha' all over it. "Don't worry, Mr. White, when things got too hot I hit ol' Hunter with the watergun. Cooled him off real good."
"That's not true!" Hunter roared; his stuttering suddenly becoming clear for one concise moment of defense.
Hunter's dad chuckled slightly which begat a yawn. "You're a funny kid Lana -- I really wish you would stay over more."
"Thanks," she smiled and looked at Hunter noticing his apparent mask of discomfort. She wouldn't take her eyes off him as she spoke on. "We'll be asleep in the hour or your money back."
He let out another weak chuckle and, as stealthily as he appeared, he was gone.
"I'm not going to see the show tomorrow." She suddenly said; taking her eyes away and moving toward the TV to turn it off.
"How come?" he said slowly as to not stutter.
"I dunno. I don't enjoy watching you like that. All weird and shy and stupid." Lana scoffed. "I would rather you tell her you like her and go from there. You have this vibe around her that can be so unbearable." She turned back to him with a stubborn smile. "Also, lately, Z has been... getting to me."
"Th-th-that's just how sh--"
"No no not like that. I mean has been weirdly hitting on me." Lana said; sounding a little distant as she rolled out her sleeping bag.
"She does that with me too, Lana."
"Ugh, not the same!" Lana seemed like she wanted to say more, not that Hunter would want to hear her, how much Zara had been teasing her to come over and do some kind of 'cam thing'.
"You promise we can still hang out over the weekend though? Zaily's boyfriend is in town and that's just making me sick." she shuddered; quickly changing the subject. "When he's not sucking on her weird ass headgear their talking like babies and watching Disney tapes."
"Did you decide what you might a-a-ac-actually like to do yet?" He watched as she dug out a pillow; harking back to earlier when she seemed to have no idea what to do besides play games. "Also. Just sleep on my bed, please. I-I-I'll take the floor."
"No, and I did, I want to go to the comic store your sisters boyfriend works at and get some new games for the Nintendo. These last ones are all stupid- then we can... I dunno... see a movie or maybe even hang out with your sister or something."
Yeah right, Hunter thought. Lumina and him had been... 'interesting' lately. He loved her and she was really cool to him but she seemed to fight way too much with their mom and dad. The last time she was over, she just had to drop the whole 'atheist-gate' thing. Oh boy. He wasn't looking forward to an hour-long lecture about why mom and dad are sheep and why he needs to be a rebel. Especially from Lumina who had 2 friends, no job, and lived on some pink-haired-dude's couch.
"I g-guess, we can definitely d-d-do the game thing and m-maybe we will bug Lu. Maybe." He looked at his phone once more and a new feeling filled him. He ached for privacy, suddenly stricken with the anxiety to chat alone to Vera. He would spend the entire day with her tomorrow, even stay over the night, probably, and yet he did feel a rush of privacy welling.
"You should still enjoy the show though." Lana said from the floor as she slowly got up to turn off the lights and left a blue stream of still-hung Christmas lights lit; hanging on his walls. "It's really not just you and Vera. It's kind of everything." she sadly said.
"It w-w-w-will be okay." Hunter's stutter was so bad.
Even with Kas beside her and Viola on her floor, Vera had very troubled sleep. She kept being visited by ghosts every time she started to doze off. Some new memory would walk out of the shadow and she would lay, limply, watching in her mind. So many whispered promises on her sheets and so often it was followed by disgust or repulsion.
"You drooled all over the pillow. No wonder it's all yellow,"
"You snore so loudly,"
"Could you ... maybe not hold me? I'm not a very cuddly person,"
"...My friend wants a turn next."
Like she promised, she and Kas woke up early to get 'only the freshest' donuts from the bakery. Viola pleaded to come -- Vera tried to brush it off but Kas wouldn't let her. They ended up taking Viola along to Vera's partial dismay. Viola still didn't want to be home alone yet.
The walk was misty and cold and she desired, so badly, to get home and sleep. She hugged her middle tightly from under her hoodie.
Kas had done her hair up in such a way that her bangs were not in her face. It was an odd sensation to go outside without major difficulty seeing shit. Still, her forehead was freezing. The walk was fair and it was adorable to watch Kas try to bond with Viola. It seemed that the biggest reason for her tagging along was simply to not be alone; but she ended up being bombarded by Kas' very hyper love. He would try to pick her up and give her piggyback rides and just... weirdly rub his face on her face and exclaim how cute she was. She would fight back and constantly proclaim how she had a lover already and how this was UNACCEPTABLE.
As cute as it was, Vera almost saw Viola's struggling as something much more dire. After all, her little cousin reminded her of herself at that age anyways... minus the truckload of braided hair dangling and bouncing on her thighs. There was something nerve-racking about seeing Viola plead to be left alone and Kas constantly snuggling with her. It was all innocent fun but Vera's mind was playing her to be some kind of victim.
She imagined herself as Viola and Kas as one of her first boyfriends who would constantly show her off to his friends like she was some sort of trophy. It made her feel like the prettiest girl in the world at the time but that feeling quickly faded when she realized how he was sort of grooming her to be his group of friends' plaything. Luckily that never came to fruition... somehow.
"Or did it." Vera muttered to herself in a sort of trance as they were a block away from the bakery.
"Prima?" Viola's ears perked from under her goofy hat. Ah, right. Viola's ears could perk at will without her being freaked out by something. There's another difference between her and her little cousin to break her out of that feeling of nostalgia... that and having two eyes. And non-scarred skin. That helps too.
"Wha?" Vera shivered; met by the concerned gazes of her little cousin and Kas.
"You said something?" Kas chimed in.
"I said I'm freezing--"
"Te gustaria soy milk?" Viola asked. She probably was asking if Vera needed soy milk or something. She barely knew.
"I'm getting a coffee -- a very dark coffee." She hissed; her eyes emotionless flames deep within sunken globes.
"Is everything okay, sweetie?" Kas asked and then his bloody ears perked too. Everyone damn ears keep doing the one thing Vera's can't do on a whim.
The ghost of her second grade teacher, Mrs. Cruth, (Vera called her Mrs. Crunch like the cereal) whispered sharply: "You always look so sad, Vera. Is everything okay? Do you need to talk?" Then the phantom image of Vera as a 2nd grader appeared in her head with thick black hair and cartoony bows feeling so ashamed and embarrassed. She remembered the little blue polka dot dress her mom would always dress her in.
"I cant do it. I don't know how." little Vera sniffled. " My ears won't move.... they wont move and Saria says they're dead."
"Huh," she, once again, broke herself out of her stupor. "Everything is fine. Why?"
It really wasn't. This is the second day she felt so... haunted. Still, this was easier than telling him she was going insane. By next week she would probably be wearing a tinfoil hat and screaming about the aliens... so it was probably better to enjoy today.
"Well you seem a bit---" his eye looked down to Viola and then back to Vera, "El Loco in the head...o"
"You are being insensitive!" Viola pouted. "Estas loco Señor Cara de Papa!"
"I don't know what you just said," Kas hugged her again. "But your Spanish is sooooo cute."
"I called you Mr. Head of Potato!" Viola snapped as she tried to push him away with her massive tail gusting back and forth. "Not cute! Your head is a potato!"
"I'm more of an orange, darling." Kas snickered. "Since I'm orange and all." he analyzed her with a judgmental smirk. "You're like a blackberry. How about that?"
"I'm not a food, estupido!" Viola roared. "Eres tan estupido como un perro!"
"Vera, your little cousin is so precious." Kas let out a loud chortle as he ruffled Viola's hat.
Vera, at that point, already checked out entirely to the rest of their playful banter. It really bothered her, the more she envisioned it, how much Viola looked like her when she was a pup. Granted, she had both her eyes but she was also keenly reminded of another ghost which made her shudder. She might have even been wearing a beanie like Viola was on the day she met him... she doesn't remember.
Vera remembered being as carefree and innocent as Viola was right now and meeting that one stranger who really should have been an entity of a horrible memory but someone she realized how much she missed.
She didn't speak much at the bakery once they finally got there. Its rich smells offered no comfort, and the jolly fat old tiger behind the counter could've been an inanimate scarecrow for all it mattered. "You're going crazy. That's it. You're going completely nuts and you're sinking into a breakdown." she thought as she calmly sipped her coffee; half-watching, but not really seeing, as Kas and Viola picked out donuts. They were bantering about the amazing selection of donuts and, for once, Viola didn't look so uncomfortable. Adoration of sweets was the only thing those two had in common after all. It was as if they were suddenly two old friends. Just two old people, having a lifetime of memories (ghosts) talking to each other like two old...
"...friends." Lana said with strong emphasis to the cashier at the McWayan's burger. "Just friends."
He had made that fatal and irritating mistake everyone had been making since her and Hunter were nine: Are you a couple? Why everyone felt the need to push the subject on either of them was beyond her.
Hunter paid and they rested; tired at the counter. She had thought to thank him but something stupid stopped her from doing it: Zaily would've reminded her. Then again, though, stupid Zaily was probably having her braces checked by her lovey-dovey perfect boyfriend so, instead, a dismal looking and grouchy Lana folded her arms and sulked. Her army jacket felt even heavier than usual. Probably all that emotional baggage she had been lugging. Ugh.
Another strange thing was: Hunter had not checked his phone even once. That was odd considering how, when that parasite, Vera, attached herself to him, he had been nearly glued to the little cancer device most of the day. The fool probably showered with it. She could picture him hanging the device out of the shower like a fucking idiot.
"Jeez." Hunter suddenly spoke. He had been pretty quiet walking down here. "I know things are tough.... Zaily and all..." he couldn't say cancer.... or rather c-c-c-cancer, it was a permanent thing to say anyways and Lana appreciated not hearing it. "I don't mean to be so weird." He continued talking so slow as to not stutter.
"It's okay." Was it? Probably. Probably not. She kicked her boot and mulled it over. "You're dumb and so obviously in love."
"I'm not! I'm n-n-n--" Lana used the sudden increase in stutter as her natural lie detector. "N-not in l-love!" He flicked at his bangs. "She's just--"
"This girl that you like blah blah -- it's okay." she kept telling herself that but there was something about the way Lana pictured Vera in her head that made her want to puke."It's super weird missing my best friend but I'll live. I just think it's weird imagining you going out with someone." Lana sighed with a half-smile. "I would just like you to pull back on the creepy degrassi stuff." She looked up and met his grey eyes and, though sincerely troubling, it was happy to get on the level. Hunter, as she knew, needed to either do this and get hurt or be happy but right now it was just a rotten tooth in all of their relationships.
Lana had heard stories about Vera but... who was she to destroy this possible happiness over a couple of rumors. Well, if it was Vera and someone she didn't nearly care as much about, she probably would've blabbed like a mother fucker but she knew Hunter was very sensitive. She was sort of stuck in a decision-limbo. Oh well.
"Are you sure you don't wanna come to the show tonight, Lana?" Hunter resumed speaking slow and deliberately.
"Yeah, yeah." Lana wasn't much in the mood to hear the stupid way Vera always said 'yeaww' anyways. Plus, she wouldn't know how to even approach Zara after that whole camgirl proclamation thing. She was probably afraid Zara was going to molest her in a bathroom or something -- she really didn't know but, either way, it was ridiculous. "I'll just hang out with Zaily tonight... if she's not too busy with her boyfrie-- UUUGH, HER BOYFRIEND!"
"Still d-don't like him?" Hunter snickered a little.
"HE'S TOO NICE, IT'S WEIRD." Lana shuffled around; it was as if something jolted her awake just so she could talk shit about this guy. "HE'S LIKE... ALWAYS... SMILING! UUGH! I know that's not bad but UUGH IT'S CREEPY."
"Maybe h-he's just h-happy to be with your sister."
"THAT MAKES IT WEIRDER. Her attempt at being a demure princess really makes his act of being some sort of Prince Charming is really... REALLY GROSS!"
"W-well... come to the show then?" Hunter failed to see her logic.
"I...!! No. I'll deal with it." After labored minutes their number was called from the dumbass cashier who assumed things. Lana gestured to a booth where they both sat. She unwrapped her burger and stared at it for a bit as Hunter worriedly eyed her like an eagle. "Promise me something though." she muttered; averting her eyes from his.
"Could we... like... hang out this weekend?" she scrunched her nose. "By ourselves again?"
By the time the show was close, the ghostly whispers felt like screams and Vera felt crowded in a room of leering men, only, there was no room. She was actually in her bedroom, sat with all of her new friends minus Lana who said something about staying behind to babysit her 'stupid sister'.
Kas sat on the floor next to Vera's old bolted wooden chest; fruitlessly trying to fiddle with Viola's hair as she sat reveling in the security of all the older teens. She would gently swat his hands away whenever he tried and Kas took it as playfulness rather than hostility.
Vera had a hard time making any eye contact with Hunter, who sat beside her on the bed with one of her pillows on his lap; looking sleepless and amazing and oooh she couldn't wait to sleep on that pillow.
Zara was eagerly standing by the door with, of course, a crisp white cigarette bouncing between her teeth; unlit. Vera's eyes narrowed as she glared at Zara; hoping the stink-eye alone would deter her from being so careless as to ignite that stupid thing and blow ashes all over the place. (I'll get cancer, younger Vera thought).
Vera had been largely uncommunicative for the last hour, nodding, and listening (not to her ghosts) and offering an occasional "heh" while her friends chatted. Finally, there was a lull in the conversation which, if her ears were able to, they would perk at the chance.
"My headaches are super bad tonight." she suddenly butted in; entirely unprovoked. "I'm sorry for being so... weird, I guess... just lots and lots of pain."
"W-w-we understand Ve-Vera." the look of concern he had was so captivating that she wanted to fold her arms around him, but, it made her feel guilty. She didn't have a headache at all. Her colorblind eye, the almighty source of her cluster headaches, felt fine this night. Insanity, as she claimed it was, seemed to be the problem for now.
"Yeah!" Kas added; making another grab for Viola's hair with a subsequent and quiet 'no es bueno!' as the little coyote, once again, swatted his wandering hands away like an annoying fly. "Not like we have to go to this show; if you'd rather just stay here and nap or -- something. Want us to stay with you?"
"Us?!" Zara blurted out with a cough; taken aback.
"Shush!" Kas reprimanded with a parental wagging of his finger. "Don't be mean, Z."
Zara shot him a deadly glare in return; obviously reveling in the size difference between the two and how intimidating she was if she were to stand in front of him. She began to step forward; drawing in air for her powerful argument before Vera weakly piped in.
"No, no, you guys just go. I should stay here anyways." (she dressed up and everything, too)
"I could s-stay if you want." Hunter shyly chimed in with a head tilt so sudden that his single floppy ear bent backward.
"Uuuh..." Vera saw Hunter's face quickly turn to dismay and her previous argument that she really wasn't feeling good was lost down the drain. "...of course, Hunter. I'd appreciate that." (Good job, Vera. Now he'll see how nuts you are)
"Seriously?" Zara sighed with a folding of her arms. "Gonna bail out on us?"
"S-s-sorry." Hunter shrunk in his fear of her judgment. "I'm r-really tired myself. Lana k-kind of wore me out last night." He glanced about and noticed everyone but Viola, who was cluelessly fiddling with her rabbit doll, was shooting daggers at him. Vera seemed the most bothered by the statement. "S-sorry! I meant... you know what I m-m-meant."
"What did you mean?" Vera quietly asked; fiddling with her sheets as she could feel a loose strand of her pulled-back hair flop over her face.
"We w-were just u-up talking most of the n-night." Hunter tried to keep his panic at bay but the constant stuttering was very damning. "T-t-t-that's all!"
"Oh." Vera felt a weird simultaneous rush of relief and jealousy but it was all covering something else that just kept coming back whenever she looked at Hunter on this night. Guilt. Why, oh why, was she so guilty. "Okay." she resumed as quiet as before. (There was a lion guy sitting where Hunter sat a long time ago -- it was kind of making her sick to even see them as the same person just because of where they were/are sitting)
"Huh. Is she actually babysitting Zaily?" Zara intruded back into the conversation; theatrically looking around with a palm over her eye as if she hadn't notice the mouse absent all this time. . "Cuz we talked a few nights ago on the internet and she's being a huuuuge baby because I asked her to do me a favor. Yeesh."
"Sh-she has to t-take care of Zaily a l-lot, Z. You should know that's r-r-really hard for h-her" Hunter stammered defensively.
Kas, in an awkward attempt to stay out of, what he felt was, an impending fight, decided to make another playful grab at Viola's hair which resulted in a very silly snarl from the little coyote.
"Jeeze, don't need to get your panties in a wad." Zara sighed with a passive smirk aimed at Hunter before turning to Vera. "Just take care, you have Hunters big ol' red rocket here to keep you fed." Vera and Hunter collectively stammered and spit in embarrassment with no defense. "You can text Kas if you need us. Kas, if you're not outside by the time I'm done smoking, I'm leaving without you."
"Cazador wears panties?" Viola looked at the older kids curiously, imagining Hunter with women's underwear which harked back to Zara's weird selection of words. She didn't know to feel embarrassed.
"N-NO!" Hunter roared; curling up into a sort of defensive ball.
"Ah." Viola smiled. "Okay then."
"I swear," Kas gigged. "Cutest little cousin ever." he glanced at Vera as he tried to pull on Viola's cheeks which resulted in a very playful bite at his fingers.
"Also a nightmare." Vera groaned and rubbed her forehead. "Go back to bed, Viola. You're going to be exhausted in the morning if you keep staying up with us."
"Okaaaaaay." Viola sadly obeyed. "I'm not scared anymore, at least." she turned to everyone and put her hands behind her back; straightening her posture and bowing to all of the older teens. "Good night, prima. Good night Zara. Good night Cazador--"
"Seriously, w-why does she call me that--" Hunter was cut off.
"Goo--" Viola glared at Kas; stopping mid-sentence and resuming the rest of the allotted time staring at him before quietly leaving the room.
"Huh." Kas watched as Viola's fluffy tail finally slipped around the threshold of the door and she was out of view. "See you guys later." Kas winked at Hunter. "Don't be too rough, bro."
"Sh-sh-shut up, dweeb!" Vera loved how bad Hunter was at friendly insults. Hunter was the worst at witty remarks. Ever.
Kas teasingly blew him a kiss as he, along with Zara, left the room while Zara was muttering some nonsense to herself under her breath.
It was then that Vera found herself alone with Hunter. They sat quietly and awkwardly on her bed. All dressed up with no place to go.
She couldn't very well begin to tell him that she was being bombarded with memories so strong that it might have caused her some form of acute schizophrenia, but at the same time, she also could barely find the strength to say anything. So they sat and waited. 2 minutes... a million years, who knows how long, before there was a sudden shake from her pocket.
1 new message from Hunter: "Hi : )"
She glanced up and saw that he was looking at his phone. She couldn't help but giggle at how much that little text message cleared the dread-clouds of this silent interval.
":3 hiiiii - you don't stutter here~" she typed in response.
"You dont have headaches here either <3"
They slowly moved back to back as they typed quietly to each other when a strange tickling marked her side. Hunter's tail, like a strip of snow, was curled over her waist. It might have been an unconscious action but Vera prayed that he did it on purpose as a sort of gesture to, maybe, warm her up? She didn't need to be warmed up, no matter how little she was dressed in, but the thought made her swoon.
Vera's cheeks burned hotly, as she slowly did the same to him but with less subtlety. Her massive tail gusted around his waist; almost constricting him like a snake.
"so Hunter y did you stay? :o you love that band"
"i dunno," Hunter texted back; shifting his weight a little so he wasn't leaning too strongly against Vera. "didnt feel like it maybe"
"=w= you just like how cool my room is, dont you." Vera's shoulders rose in anticipation; giggling to herself at, still, how bizarre it was that they were continuing this silly mode of communication. "dont worry, i can take pictures of my posters for you whenever you want ;)"
"you're weird >w>" Hunter replied with a bit of a chuckle under his breath. His laugh vibrated against her back; definitely not an unpleasant experience. "youre much better to look at than your room, i think."
Oh dear, Vera. He was so vanilla but it melted her heart. She loved that kind of boyish innocence in horribly cheesy compliments but it swooned her just as much as it did when she heard crap like this in soap operas. That's how she felt but her reaction displayed something else entirely as she, finally, realized that he just directly flirted with her... like... in a not passive way like he normally did. Sure, he would call her beautiful and all that but that was just something you said to be nice! Kas called her beautiful too, it wasn't that special.
But he picked her over her posters! What an odd but special thing for Vera to get excited about. She, however, didn't know how to reply and sat in stunned silence.
Would 'I love you' come on as too strong? Probably. Probably yeah. Definitely yeah, he just said he wanted to see her -- that's not technically a declaration of love BUT IT COULD HAVE BEEN. Vera's mind was racing and the only thing to come out of her mouth in the following moments was a mild squeak of joy or terror or both.
For the rest of the night, Vera was too distracted to be plagued by those guilty ghosts of her past. They talked and watched movies and made snacks together -- it was a wonderful time. She found it refreshing, at least for now, to just focus on the adorable boy next to her.
She didn't want to ruin this night by admitting her love to him and having the rest of his time in her house be awkward if he actually didn't feel the same way, anyways. Though, it was a good sign to the contrary when she rested her head on his shoulder while they watched some campy late night show and he didn't protest.