For the most part, Theo’s week had been exactly what he envisioned it was gonna be like. Between the endless amount of hate messages from people who he didn’t even know to those who were pretty civil towards him and the endless amount of purposely missed calls from his mother, he was effectively on a social media hiatus. Any trace of activity from Monday morning to Friday evening of that same week, his online presence had more or less been nonexistent. At some point, Theo got tired of the same opinions being repeated. It wasn’t even that he let their words get to him but he was annoyed at their unoriginality, so he deleted all of his socials, deactivated his account -- whatever he had to do to get a little breathing room, Theo did it.
And from then on, Theo’s first week as a third-year college student went off without a hitch. His classes had kicked off as predicted: his professors ``welcoming them back”, same usual information was given about the course and how they were going to be tested unlike before (yeah like nobody ever heard that one before), and, of course, Theo’s favorite part, the stereotypical syllabus. It was annoying, but compared to the mess that had been Monday, Theo welcomed it with the same sheepish grin he always managed to brandish whenever he just wanted things to end.
Theo’s time after his final class was spent wandering somewhat aimlessly around campus. He had made a momentary stop by The Bean to get his daily dose of caffeine. Usually, he would enjoy it at the cafe, but he wasn’t in the mood to sit around while people might want to take their jabs at him, so he took his triple mocha frap to go, though he didn’t get the excessive whipped topping and chocolate syrup like he did when Shi got him one earlier in the week.
He spent the next hour or so reflecting on the week, how stressed he was because of everything, but mostly, Theo was trying to figure out what he could do to release all of the pent-up stress that gathered throughout the week. Unlike last week, there wasn’t any grand party happening or even a festival in town that he could use as a distraction. Since there was one literally last week, the Meadow View city council were probably in the process of planning out the next celebration.
As he parked himself on the top of a bench in the courtyard, Theo laughed as he mused about something. “This town sure loves their parties.” Which he found ironic since its university was led by someone who hated the idea of college students enjoying themselves at a party. Theo didn’t approve of most big league universities approving of over partying. Lord knows some frat houses deserve the shit they have coming to them, but Theo wished a fraction of that leniency was given to those who worked their asses off to stay at an Ivy League uni for more than two years. “But nope. We’re being punished for my mistake.”
Sighing, Theo shot his cup into a nearby trashcan like a basketball. It rimmed the edge of it and went it. “Still got it!” He quickly gave himself a pat on the back for the nonexistent audience.
Another twenty minutes spent walking from the courtyard, Theo had driven off in his red F150. He came to a stop at a red light downtown and it was a slow one. Traffic was backed up nearly a quarter of a mile. Exhaling a long sigh, he took out his phone, sending a text to both Shi and Connor. “We should do something tonight. Stop by the manor if you’re down. We’ll work something out. But know it’ll involve some bad decisions and a lot of alcohol.”
After he sent it, he glanced at the time for a short moment. It was only a little after seven, so by the time he would get to the manor and relax, it would probably be closer to 8. Well, whatever was gonna happen tonight, Theo knew he was in for a long night, especially since he would be with the two people who not only encouraged him to make bad decisions but when shit got real, those two were by his side, ready for round two.
The light was green and Theo went straight for the Bonfamille Manor that sat on one of the hills in Meadow View. From where he was at, he saw it start to come into view.
Featuring older sister Samara Hart
“Don’t even get me started on this week.”
Joey’s voice echoed in her empty room with two beds. She sat against the wall, looking over at it with an empty smile. It was one of those moments since Lottie had moved out on Monday afternoon that hit her for exactly one of those moments, a length of time where the sadness took over and she shook it off, refocusing her attention on something else entirely. What happened to be Joey’s focus right now on this Friday evening was a cherished, once-in-a-blue-moon call with Samara.
Joey’s relationship with Mara wasn’t as defined as the one she had with Bradley. Of course, nothing compared to that of a sibling bond like that of twins, so maybe it wasn’t fair to compare the closeness she felt and had with Brad to Mara. Joey knew she tried her best. She didn’t hold her older sister’s career taking off just when Joey’s life had come crashing down against her nor did she pester her sister to maintain contact. Life got in the way, but Brad must’ve spoken to her because Samara and Joey had been in constant contact for the entire week. Whenever Joey felt low, when Brad was busy with his Navy responsibilities, Mara had been there for her either on the opposite end of a phone screen in a text or a call. That was something Joey appreciated.
“Fine!” Mara’s response came a few moments after silence with a laugh Joey recognized. “How about we talk about the elephant in the room.”
Joey sighed out quite noticeably. “And what might that be?” She asked suspiciously.
“Dad has been asking about you.”
Just the mention of that man managed to get an audible response out of Joey. “Please, can we not talk about him. It’s bad enough he thinks less of me out of all of you guys.”
“I know,” Mara said, “trust me, I know how difficult he can be, but he’s worried--”
“Hah!” Joey interjected. “As if Wyatt cares enough about anyone but himself to worry about anything not named Wyatt Taccone.”
“--But he is, JoJo!”
Joey twitched, eyes blinking repeatedly. JoJo. Lottie used to call me JoJo.
Her smile faded into a frown and then she quickly brought herself out of it and took a swig of the bottle of vodka in her lap. “Okay, I’ll indulge you,” she said, shaking her head from the burning aftertaste of the cold vodka that coaxed her throat. “What did he say? Exactly.”
“He saw the video and heard about the probation,” Mara admitted, her voice low as though her words held a forboding message to them.
“No surprise there,” she laughed, shrugging off what she knew as her sister trying to sell that Wyatt actually cared. “Let me guess: he wants me to drop out and move back home, doesn’t he? And I bet he mentioned something about who I let into my bed.”
When Mara didn’t say anything, that told Joey everything she needed to know. If she was being honest, she really hoped that her father changed. She’s been avoiding going back home for celebrations and special occasions as often as she could. Whether it was her parents’ anniversary, T’s police academy graduation party, or even just to pop up every now and then, Joey hasn’t actually set foot in the condo she and her brothers and sister grew up in since she was sent away to England. Her mother has come and seen her but even then, it’s been a while.
“But hey!” Joey broke the silence, taking another swig. Another moment later, she continued, “I appreciate you trying. It’s more than I can say he has done.” With another shrug came another hefty swig.
“I’m sorry, Joey.”
“It’s whatever!” It really wasn’t but there wasn’t anything joey can do. She couldn’t make her father show her that he loved her. He had to make the jump first.
Joey glanced at the electric clock that hung over what used to be Lottie’s bed and she noticed the time. It was a little after seven. “Well, I’ll catch ya later sis. I gotta go.”
“Oh..” Mara sounded surprised, probably thinking she and Joey had more time. “Okay, I guess we’ll talk later?”
“You bet! Don’t be a stranger. And be sure to give mom my love! Can’t wait to see her come family night!”
As the call ended and Joey was once again left to her own devices, it was then the feelings of loneliness began to creep back up her spine like a poisonous snake slowly digging its fangs into her neck. And with it, the thoughts of how different things were last week. Hell, the beginning of the week before her breakup was a helluva lot more preferable than...this.
Once again, eyes that spent more time wallowing in regret than not, fell on the bed and when they did, Joey finished off the bottle of Vodka that had been full just this morning.
Stumbling off her bed, Joey picked herself up and managed to reach the door without crashing into it. That’s a first! She went directly across the hall, knocking intensely on Jade’s room and letting herself in. “Jade!!” She saw the girl at her desk and Joey took it upon herself to crash on her bed, though excited eyes remained on her friend. “We should go out clubbing tonight!”
Collab with @TootsiePop
After nearly losing his throat from the university’s most violent-and-equally-jaw-dropping woman, the rest of the week was a big, fat disappointment.
From classes to getting his sleep on and getting bestie time in with Millie Jean, Nate did a whole lot of nothing. He didn’t do anything because of the absence of activities. Nobody was planning anything because of the whole probation thing hovering over them like a bad rain cloud, like it was the annoying little sister they couldn’t escape. Or maybe people were avoiding Nate. He was the laughing stock of the entire university, after all. Could be everyone just saw him as a big joke.
Either way, since his classes were mostly in the afternoon and a few online, he spent a lot of his time in his dorm room, lounging about, repeating the same things he did every day: eat, sleep, and facetiming with Mandy whenever he could. Millie wasn’t around right now, so it was mostly him all by his lonesome.
Mandy was the only person other than Millie Jean who knew him inside and out. Their time might’ve been short together and maybe they had more of a friendship than anything more, but he always could go to her whenever he needed a distraction. He hated how different colleges led to them not being able to share a plate of blueberry pie at the Sunshine Diner and how it caused them to be across the country from each other.
But thank God for technology! FaceTime became a literal lifesaver - especially in these trying times.
“I wonder if she’s busy,” Nate mused, toying with the string of his backpack. He laid on his back, his head against his pillow, his left leg crossed over his right thigh, just below the knee.
He spent a little over a minute deciding if he wanted to go through with it or not. When he did, Nate reached for his iPad that rested screen side up on his desk. Him having lanky arms proved to be useful for once because he was able to grab it without having to completely surrender his extremely comfortable position on his bed. He immediately brought up Mac Messenger, went to Mandy’s contact, and started a video call.
After about half a minute of it ringing and ringing and ringing, it stopped. His connection lagged for a few moments, causing Nate to panic. “Not again,” he cursed, rolling his eyes. “Come on work damn you!” He slapped the side of his iPad.
“...Nate?” On the other side of the screen, Miranda “Mandy” Warner adjusted her phone, leaning it against a mountain of textbooks. A combination of her and her sister’s school books. Books about sports medicine, core curriculum, and public relations. She was sitting in her rundown apartment, in the dining room. Fortunately for Nate, he caught her at a good time.
In the background, the sound of Looney tunes could be heard playing out of her laptop, specifically a Road Runner episode. Her hair was damp, down, and unbrushed. A purple towel rested on her head, as if she was midway rubbing her hair semi-dry but got distracted by the bowl of trail mix in front of her and, of course, the cartoons. She was wearing a dark gray racerback tank and lime green pocket shorts. Based on the bags under her eyes, it was a no brainer that she had an eventful week. Letting her show be background noise, since she’s watched these episodes a thousand times over, she grabbed a handful of mix, the area specifically with the most m&ms and silently chewed on it, waiting for Nate to notice that they connected. Her glasses rested on her laptop’s keyboard, so her hazel eyes noticeably glimmered under the dining room light. As she chewed, she gave a delicate smile and watched him scramble.
Nate hummed a random tune impatiently, his voice cracking slightly the longer he had to wait only to notice that it had a few moments too late. “Oh finally!” With a sigh of relief, he relaxed his body and raised his legs up to an almost right angle and placed a nearby pillow under his iPad so he didn’t have to hold it steady. As he brought his now undivided attention on Mandy, he properly greeted her with a wide smile. Nate’s hair was a mess, but then again when wasn’t it? He had a pathetic excuse for a beard starting to come in. “Well hey there! Sorry, I hope I didn't catch you at a bad time.” He couldn’t tell if she was in the middle of something, but from the crumbs of trail mix (he assumed) and the presence of her jammies and knowing her like he did, Nate was 80% certain she was probably watching some rerun of some show. Still, it was better to make sure than be flat-out wrong, especially after the week Nate’s had.
With a deadpan stare, Mandy teasingly quipped, “Totally bad time. Can’t you see I’m out getting drinks with a tasmanian devil?” She turned her phone to her laptop and chuckled, “Of course I’m free, dummy. What’s up?” She stood up, after closing her laptop shut, and took the towel off of her head, placing it on the chair. Holding the phone in her hand, she made her way to the living room sofa and plopped on it.
Nate smiled and shrugged. “A whole lot of zipperoni.” He lifted his hand up and balled it into a loose fist for emphasis. “I’m just in my dorm doing nothing,” he admitted with absolutely no gusto. “What about you? Tell me the latest in the Beverly Hills grapevine!”
“Aside from Meg playing with the rich boys from your year? Uh, nothing that you don’t already know. You know I don’t pay attention to all that, but I see familiar faces at the diner from time to time. That Hart girl came in with her friends one time this week. Can’t beat our milkshakes, even for an old family diner.” Mandy held the phone above her, as she laid on her back, seeing how long her arms could keep at it. “It’s a Friday. I’m surprised you’re not out with friends, making downtown your bitch. Staying in is my thing.”
“I guess you’ll just have to share!” He stuck his tongue out, letting it linger for a moment until he sighed. “But I mean, not like I wanted to be inside. If I’m being honest, I think people are distancing themselves from me,” he admitted, frowning slightly.
Her smirk faded when he mentioned people distancing themselves from him. The moment was cute until it wasn’t. Sitting up, her (now) long hair dangling over her shoulders, she matched his frown, but her expression had more annoyance behind it than sadness. Not beating around the bush, she assertively asked, “What happened?”
“Seriously? What is this? Preschool?” The glare coming from Mandy’s soft face was a simple way of her saying without saying: do I need to kick someone’s ass?
He cracked a half-smile as a small laugh escaped through said cracks. “I mean, it did go out to everyone. So I don’t blame them or anything, but it’s like, I don’t know..” He muttered that part. “I guess I expected the probation and Theo’s fight to take priority over me accidentally touching Jasper’s chest.” He couldn’t help but feel annoyed at all of this. It’s not like he was the most popular guy around campus. Sure he knew a lot of people and some knew of him, but he always tried to make an honest effort to put himself out there. “I guess it’s just a little disheartening.”
Nate still found himself stuck in a prissy ass school. A text about a boob touch? That somehow lasted a WHOLE week? Frustration washed over Mandy’s face, baffled at the mediocre crime that made people bully her ex. “She should be glad it wasn’t leaked pics or videos.” Getting up from the sofa, she made her living room brighter. Originally, it was just a lamp on a side table, but this time she turned the overhead light on. “Get up.” She demanded.
“W-what?” He asked
“Just get up!”
What was it with him and being drawn to commanding women?
As he lowered his legs, placed the pillow he had on his lap to the side with one hand, and grabbed the side of his iPad with the other, Nate grunted as he heaved himself off his bed. His bones cracked due to being in one position for so long but he was up.
He leaned against his nightstand and looked down at his iPad and at Mandy. “Okay, I’m up. Now what?” He asked, feeling a familiar tight sensation in his stomach. It was the same feeling he had when Jasper held him against the vending machine but in the exact opposite way.
Smiling once again, happy he wasn’t as headstrong as she was, Mandy rested her hazel gaze on him and nowhere else. “You’re going to put on your nicest jeans, and a nice shirt. Maybe the one you wore at my championships? I know you still have it. You’re going to look good, and feel good, and you’re going out tonight.” That wasn’t a request, and he knew she’d be sad if he didn’t follow through. “You're going to message two friends of yours, and you're going to stop letting stupidity bother you. I expect a picture from you with your friends at whatever place you decide to go to. Got it? Stop sulking and have fun. Be Nate the GREAT.”
He might’ve talked a large game and carried on like the soldier he tried to convince himself that he was, but when all of the whispers online about him and about Jasper started to consume all of his feeds and dashboards, Nate felt less great the more the week progressed. He hadn’t realized how drastic he retreated into that familiar bubble until Mandy had jokingly pointed out staying in was her thing. Part of him wasn’t sure about her orders, which he knew that’s exactly what it was.
As he dragged his feet across the floor, he walked over to the closet and found the blue jeans that Mandy referenced. They were his nicest by far, the only pair he had that were name brand. As for the shirt.. “So, I’m guess this wouldn’t count as nice?” He leaned the iPad in the direction of his favorite Dragon Ball Z shirt that he wore almost every day.
Rolling her eyes, Mandy’s response was a quiet shaking of her head. While cute, and very him, he needed to put the extra effort tonight because he was clearly in a rut. That wasn’t even the shirt he wore at her roller derby game either. He was stalling. Well, if he was going to be a butt, she’d stay quiet until he impressed her. He was fully capable of it and she would not settle for less.
Her silence spoke volumes. It had done its job because Nate spent about half of a minute going through all of his shirts, muttering in disappointment as he kept running into the wrong ones. A majority of his shirts, while quite fashionable in his humble opinion, didn’t exactly say
nice. He didn’t like to splurge on expensive-looking shirts. His simple-minded nature didn’t support such a lifestyle. “There has to be--” Oh, there was one. “I forgot about this one,” he said in a low voice, pulling out a white dress shirt. It was one of his uncle’s shirts that he gave to him as a graduation present. His uncle wasn’t rich but he loved Nate, so he spent a decent amount on this one shirt, told him that every man should have at least one very nice shirt.
Nate took a moment to remember those words and he smiled. Then he pointed the iPad at it as he held the shirt up by the hanger it was still attached to. “How about this one?”
Her brilliant hazel eyes, warm and lively when she looked at someone she adored, went from his shirt to his face. Giving him a thumbs up, which was her sign of approval, Mandy kept the knowledge of a memory she had seen him wear that exact shirt to herself. She remembered more than she’d ever admit to him, like all the times he told her she was beautiful when she didn’t see it. Miranda gave him a sincere and affectionate compliment, hoping it was enough for him to own the night and smile, “You’re going to break someone’s heart tonight. I can tell.”
He wasn’t entirely convinced (at least not yet), but seeing her smile filled him up with so much confidence. Whenever he was feeling down and out, whenever life had thrown him a curveball, Mandy was always able to bring him out of whatever funk he was in. Even if he wasn’t completely feeling as great as he normally did, this was a good start and it was all thanks to the only person in this world who could look at him, regardless if it was in person or through a LCD screen, and know exactly what he needed.
“Thanks for this! Thanks for...everything, really. I..” Nate started to blush. He took a brief moment of silence before continuing, “I’m just grateful to have you in my life!”
Okay. He was getting sappy and this is where Mandy would inevitably start feeling embarrassed. Looking away from the screen, letting her hair that had impressively grown out hide her face, she muttered, “...you too.” Not wanting this to sit for too long, since he was going out to hopefully meet a girl, she looked at the wall clock, and declared, “Well, look at the time. Shouldn’t you shave and get ready? Remember to send a picture! Now go, I’m here if you need me.”
He wasn’t always the most observant person, but even he noticed she acted a little weird after his comment. If he had the time, he might’ve asked her, but she was right. If he wanted to make any attempt of winning someone’s heart tonight, he had to get going. “Yeah for sure! You’ll be the first person I tag!” He shot her a grin, showing that he was slowly returning to greatness. “And try and have fun tonight, too! Do it for me?”
“You got it, dude.” She winked at the camera, and added a finger gun for extra incentive. It was easier to play it dorky so he didn’t think anything on her tinted red cheeks. Thank god her hair was long now! “Talk to you later?”
“You know it! Who else will hear of my epic night?” He laughed.
“The whole school if you don’t be careful.” She stuck out her tongue.
There was nothing Nate could say in a retort that topped that, so the only thing he could do was bow his head in both respect and defeat. Laughing, he said, “I’ll make sure to read what my settings are before I let MJ send another text.” That was more of a declaration for himself than anything else.
“Good. Now go, silly! Conquer tonight with an iron fist! Or booze! Probably booze.” He knew she had a hard time hanging up, for reasons that date back to her childhood. It was his job to do it when they chatted. “Please hang up,” Mandy kindly demanded.
Ending a call was never something he liked doing. It always made him feel awkward and maybe even slightly guilty. If he didn’t, though, they would be here for hours and then Nate wouldn’t have any stories of heartbreaking for her tomorrow. “Good night!” With a last smile, Nate followed her last orders and clicked off the call and set the iPad on his bed.
An hour later, emerged from the co-ed bathroom a new man, or a slightly less hairier man but a new man nonetheless.
As he reached his dorm room, Nate made quick work of getting dressed. He then fixated his gaze on his phone, thinking about what Mandy said. He just had to message a couple of friends, right? Two friends. Well, he wasn’t sure if Millie Jean was down for a night on the town. Truth be told, he wasn’t sure if she was even up for leaving the isolation of her room but he couldn’t imagine doing this without her. She was one of his rocks. His partner in crime at this school and one of the few people he didn’t piss off yet. So that was definitely a plus
“But who could be the other?” He asked himself, sitting on his bed. After a minute passed, he had a sudden lightbulb moment. “Yeah, Dee! I know she’s up for just about anything.” Nate laughed at his brief assessment of Dee. Still, those were two friends, though the fact that he didn’t have a lot of male friends was truly telling. It was like he was the opposite of those girls who mainly hang out with guys because girls were drama. Given the grapevine of this university, Nate could see a lot of truth in that.
Shrugging, he refocused and sent a group text to them and only them. “We should definitely hit the bars tonight. I’m feeling like tonight is my night to turn my week around! What’cha say?”