Status: COMPLETED: 1047 readers 360 comments 420 subscribers 144 recs


gotta keep my bitches in line

“I swear to God, if you don’t pinky promise me right now, this entire friendship is over.”


“No exceptions, over! Done with! Never to be rekindled for the rest of our lives! To the point of no return! Come our high school reunion, I’ll be hanging off my gorgeous rich doctor husband and you’ll come grovelling back for our beautiful friendship and I will completely ignore you because I’ll be living a super fabulous life and you're not going to have any fabulous part in it! Do you really want it to come to that, Ash!?”

I blinked, peeking over the makeshift pillow I’d created with my arms to see Layla staring at me with the utmost serious expression inscribed on her face. Her hand was held out in that familiar pinky-promise gesture, edging it closer to my face as if to further convince me, eyebrows furrowed together into a troubled expression.

“Layla,” I sighed, “When I’m a zombie, I can’t promise you anything. I don’t have any rational thought at all, c’mon now, how can I help it if I bite you?” I reasoned with her, chuckling softly into the crook of my arm.

“Ash!” she whined, banging her other first on the cafeteria table. “I don’t think you understand the gravity of the situation here, I am giving you my oath as not only your friend, but as a future survivor of the impending zombie apocalypse that I will not bite you and you can’t do the same for me?” Despite the intensity of her words, a betraying smile had slipped onto her face as we both locked eyes and she dissolved into laughter, hiding her face between her hands like she always did, and causing a quirk of the lips to appear on my own face.

“How about I promise you that I will try my hardest not to bite you if I do end up mindless zombie?”

She grinned, obviously pleased with this compromise, holding out her pinky in a confirmation. “Shake on it, man.”

Still slouched over and feeling an intense sensation of drowsiness gripping onto my consciousness, I reached out and locked pinkies with her, a lazy smile slipping onto my face as we shook a deal. I could tell that Layla was trying to cheer me up out of the rut that I’d been wallowing ever since Chloe’s eventful party, and I was trying not to let it show how much I’d noticed Chase’s absence, even though it seemed like every five minutes a reminder would shove itself down my throat.

“I’m glad you’ve finally come to your senses there, you are now officially allowed back into my fabulous life, you’re welcome.”

I snorted, rolling my eyes at the cheeky grin curved on her face, radiating delight. She’d already been victim to my unleashing of all that had happened over the course of the recent weeks, and had offered her comfort with a sympathetic smile and a pack of Cheetos. Not that it helped that much, but I appreciated the sentiment. Still, when I’d retrieved my phone from my pocket and scrolled through my texts once again, that familiar lump formed itself in my throat like clockwork.

My eyes slowly absorbed text after text, all from Chase, of pointless conversations we’d had ranging from making taco plans to him demanding I reply whenever I was with Mason. Despite all the times I acted annoyed whenever he’d mandate that I text back or that we hung out after I’d spent time with the blonde, reading over his words I felt that funny feeling return with a vengeance at the back of my throat.

“I swear right now Asher Matthews if you are reading old texts from Chase right now I am going to castrate you right on this cafeteria table for everyone to see,” Layla’s stern voice pierced my thoughts and I glanced up to see her lips pressed together in a thin line, with something like sympathy softening her eyes.

“I’m not,” I feebly lied, slipping my phone back into my pocket and refusing to look her at her. With the silence that followed and her gaze that I could feel burning into the top of my head, which was buried in my arms, I huffed. “I’m not!”

“What was that, do you hear that? I’m pretty sure that’s the sound of denial!”

“Don’t you have some poor boy to torture or something?”

“Nah man, I cleared my schedule just to torture you of course, didn’t you know?

I finally regained my composure, straightening my back and inhaling deep, eyes falling onto the broad grin that was plastered across Layla’s face. She reached over and flicked my forehead like usual, to which I rolled my eyes and pathetically tried to swat away her hands only seconds too late. She stuck her tongue out at me, and I chuckled lightly.

At the table tucked into the corner of the cafeteria, I had a pretty good view of the entire room, and as it was raining most everyone had piled themselves into the multiple tables that littered inside. Including, I regretfully happened to notice once I took a survey of the room, the soccer team at the other end, boisterous and loud as always. Including, of course, Chase. Including absolutely everything I was feebly trying to avoid. My stomach grew queasy as my eyes rolled over the familiar brunette, just a glimpse before someone sat down and interrupted my vision.

“Are you hanging out with Mason, soon?” asked Layla, chewing on the granola bar she’d produced from her bag, capturing my attention once again.

“Hmm? Oh yeah, today actually I’m going to his house to watch some horror movie or something, why?”

Why did everything have to get so complicated so fast? What happened to those years of swallowing my unrequited crush just so this didn’t happen?

“Hm, wait, what?” I blinked, realising I’d only heard the end of her words, and caught her gaze over the table to see her eyes gleam with the familiar sympathy I’d come acquainted with in the past few days.

“You can’t just stare at him all day, Ash, he fucked you over big time and you don’t deserve any of the shit he put you through. I mean, I get it, honestly, he was your best friend and I’m not going to try and replace him or anything but I just… I just really want you to be happy, and I hate seeing you kill yourself over that douchebag.” She rested her chin in the palm of her hand, propped up on the table, fire-engine red curls falling loosely around her.

I took a moment to swallow, taking in a deep breath. “Wow, Layla, are you getting soft on me?”

She scoffed, flipping me off with a smile curving on her lips. “Oh, you fucking wish Matthews.”

“Thanks Layla,” I said earnestly, a light laugh pushing up my throat when I noticed her denying my gaze and pointedly looking anywhere but at me as she mumbled something incoherent under her breath. “Don’t worry, I’ll keep it a secret that you’re actually a giant emotional softie underneath it all.”

“I just like to keep my bitches in line, is all.”

I opened my mouth, but was cut short as Layla’s gaze lifted above my head and the sound of my name floated past my ear drum, fashioned out of a unfamiliar feminine voice. Twisting my body, I looked up and a shock of confusion charged down my spine when I realized that it was Ashley, in all her pantene-smooth hair glory.

Her nose was tinged scarlett and her swollen dull eyes screaming with the echoes of tears, her pale petal-like bottom lip chewed on nervously. I swallowed as her voice, quiet and seemingly strained, formed around my name once again.

“Um… uh, yes?”

“Can I talk to you for a second? Outside?” she asked, wringing her hands anxiously.

For a moment I only stared, wondering if there was some sort of punch line that was going to follow any second, but only managed a cough as she continued to gaze at me with hope shimmering in her eyes. “Um, yeah, sure I guess,” I murmured while swinging my legs over the bench, casting a questioning look to Layla, only to see her shrug in response.

Ashley, without another word, meandered through the tables and towards the large cafeteria doors, throwing a glance over her shoulder only to check if I was keeping up. I followed obediently, the questions swirling about my head and gnawing at the edge of my sanity, having for me to forcefully swallow the clamouring words settled on the tip of my tongue.

As of late, Ashley had been throwing a more generous amount of smiles in my direction, sometimes accessorizing with a wave here and there in the hallways, which I figured was some sort of effort to befriend me merely because of my tight bond with Chase, but it was fairly toned down. Considering some of his past girlfriends tended to bombard me with their attempted friendship, it was a nice change but hardly reciprocated.

We’d never really dared to trek through conversation territory, however.

Finally she pushed open the doors leading outside, allowing a gush of autumn air to sweep in, the chilly tendrils wrapping themselves over my exposed skin and causing goose bumps to rise to the occasion. There were a couple of people mulling about, but she padded over to a corner free of any human presence and stopped, turning on her heel and beckoning me with her eyes. I followed.

“Um, so, was there anything that you, uh, wanted to talk about or anything?” I mumbled, crossing my arms over my chest in a meagre attempt to conserve heat.

“I guess you aren’t too surprised to hear this but I wanted to talk to you about Chase,” she spoke lightly, a hint of a chuckle punctuating her words.

“I figured.” I offered a suggestion of laughter of my own, only tinged with a slight anxiety.

She rubbed her arms feverishly, clad only in a light grey cardigan and a frilly cream top underneath. “Well, we broke up. I guess it wasn’t really that long of a relationship or anything, so I can’t really say that I’m that torn up over it.”

“Um, I’m sorry,” I said honestly, feeling my chest tighten at her words and confusion gripping at my rationality.

“Oh, no, it’s fine, it’s more of a tipping of a lot of things,” she said while sniffing and rubbing her nose with the sleeve of her sweater. “And a little disappointment because I’d always had a crush on him, I guess.”

I nodded, hands stuffed in my pockets and unsure of what to do with myself. I wasn’t really sure where this conversation was going and why my presence was needed at all.

“Ah, sorry! You’re probably thinking why’s this girl dumping all her problems on me for no reason? My bad, my bad, I actually did have something to say to you.” She ran a hand through her long brown hair, cascading down her shoulders in slight waves, and it was a little comforting to see that she seemed to be as uncomfortable as I found myself to be. “I don’t know your business, and I’m not going to pretend to, and I know this isn’t my place but I felt like I needed to say something, if anything at all.”

“Oh-okay.” I took a deep breath, the air cool and fresh inside my throat, as I prepared myself for what she was about to say.

“I really care about Chase still, I won’t lie I’ve been sort of expecting the break up anyways, but I noticed that ever since we started dating that you guys haven’t been as… close, and I’m not asking why or anything because like I said, not my business or anything. But he really does care about you, and whatever’s been going on between you two has really been tearing him apart. I can just tell, even from the way he acts, he’s been so distant with everyone and he’s constantly spacing out into his own mind, and whenever someone mentions your name, you can just tell it kills him. I don’t know what happened but I just think that if anything, I think you should just give him a chance to… I don’t know, do something.”

I felt my jaw tense.

"It's just he isn't the same Chase you know? And you can tell that you're both sort of off beat now, and if you guys can work it out, it just seems like it would be the better option, I guess."

She sniffled again, rubbing her sleeve against her nose and staring up at me with hopeful eyes, scrutinizing my reaction. I swallowed, hard, and carded my fingers through my hair out of force of habit. Hearing her words I could feel my stomach knot intricately, feeling as if it was forcing itself up my esophagus and pushing a sigh from my lips.

“Ashley, I, um, well I appreciate what you’re saying and all, but it’s really just… complicated. And weird and uh, yeah, just I hear it all the time about how Chase actually gives a shit about me and all from everyone and you know it’s nice that you’re looking out for him and all but I’d probably believe it more if he actually, well… acted like it. That probably doesn’t make sense but, well, thanks anyways.”

She nodded her head and her lips curved into a soft smile. “Yeah, no problem, I felt like I would regret it if I didn’t say anything.” As her words floated through the autumn air and whirled into the chaos presently tearing up my mind, I watched her retreating figure disappear back into the school, leaving me completely alone outside.

I leaned up against the wall, forcing the oxygen into my lungs and desperately trying to make sense of the words that she spoke, but any reasonable thoughts seemed to crumble the moment I tried to pick them apart. I grabbed at my locks of hair tight, pulling against the scalp while a frustrated sigh forced past my gritted teeth.

It wasn’t fair that despite all my trying to avoid him, Chase still held such a tight grip on the entirety of my life, still somehow found a way to slither back in even if his presence wasn’t near, somehow continued to creep by the weak blockades I’d created to keep him out like always. As if they were nothing. Just waltzed back into my life without any sort of struggle at all.

As I released the grip on my hair, stretching my hands, I swallowed.

Why couldn’t this just be easy?
♠ ♠ ♠
Is it weird that lately the last few chapters have been longer than usual? I don't know, just weird how these things end up. In other news, this story will be ending in UNDER TEN CHAPTERS which means that HOLY HELL ARE THINGS ABOUT TO HAPPEN SO MUCH. ARE YOU GUYS EXCITED?

Yes, yes, I'm sorry my stories aren't that long. D:

Also, hey-ho, I was quite speedy with this update, yes? Yes. Despite that not much happened, Chase and Ashley are officially a no go tho, next chapter will have a lot of MASON if anyone's excited for that yes no I don't know. c:

MusicTrans, Through-the-Night, Baby-I-like-it97, BleedingHearts, TropicalStormHawaii, BeautifullyTattooed, eragon122, Just.Call.Me.Goldie, Tongue Tied Ideas, polka dot perfection, stallion duck and A T T A C K !
You guys are like fifty different kinds of wonderful. :D