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Day One Hundred and Twenty.

To call... or not to call. To text... or not to text. Oh Shakespeare, you have presented me with a dilly of a pickle.

The problem was that I had put it off for so long (four days - ninety-six hours - five thousand, seven hundred and sixty minutes - etcetera), I was afraid she had forgotten. After all, Rainie didn't ask for my number, which left me completely in control.

But would she be mad that I waited so long to contact her? It wasn't like we went on a date and I said I'd call her the next day. It wasn't like I was being a jerk for waiting four days, right?

Or was it? My relationship with Rainie wasn't normal. In fact, it was so abnormal that I couldn't figure it out despite my Chaucer-ness. Were we acquaintances? Were we friends? Were we secret lovers? (Well, technically we weren't lovers yet... all in good time).

In the end, I decided to contact her. The reason is this: when Ron Weasley left Harry and Hermione in the woods, I cried. I would never tell anyone this, even though Joe saw me and still held it over my head, but yeah. Tears were most definitely shed. And Ron took fucking forever to come to his senses. In fact, he took so long that I was sure things wouldn't be the same between him and Harry. Or more importantly, between Ron and Hermione.

For argument's sake, I am Ron and Rainie is Hermione. Jesse is Harry Potter (except he's not a wonder child and this time, he dies in the end and everyone cheers). And that's why I had to contact Rainie.

Trust me, I spent a lot of time that day thinking of exactly what to say to her. I wrote up a couple of drafts on a piece of paper (which I ripped up into tiny pieces and flushed down the toilet afterwards, just in case Joe happened to come across it). Ultimately, I landed on a short, cheerful message that would make her smile, accompanied by a question at the end. Questions are key if you want a response, and I wanted a response.

---Recipient---
Rainie
367-5304
----Message----

4 days without kendall - wooo!
I feel like a free man. How's the
city of angels holding up?

As soon as I sent it, I stared wide-eyed at my phone, waiting for a reply. After thirty seconds, I let out an exasperated, "Gah!" and stuffed my phone into my pocket, unable to stand the suspense.

My life was honestly fulfilled exactly forty-three minutes later when I received a response. A text message has never been so anticipated. So full of hope. So... beautiful

-----From-----
Rainie
367-5304
----Message----

dont abuse the freedom, slick.
its warm here and i miss you
guys. breakfast isnt the same.

Breakfast certainly wasn't the same. In fact, now that I'd met the girl I was going to marry, nothing was the same.

You know, I've never seen Casablanca and shouldn't be allowed to quote it, but I will anyway:

This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

And by ‘friendship' I mean much, much more.

(Side-note: I may not have seen Casablanca, but my mom rented it for Joe and Kevin when we were younger. Joe was eleven, and after the movie, he asked Mom when the world acquired colour and stopped being black-and-white. I remember this very vividly. Even at the age of eight, I recognized that my older brother was a complete tool in every sense of the word).

Day One Hundred and Twenty-Six.

---Recipient---
Rainie
367-5304
----Message----

Day off. Wish you were here.
Just tackled your weak bf in
football.

-----From-----
Rainie
367-5304
----Message----

did he deserve it this time?

---Recipient---
Rainie
367-5304
----Message----

Not really.

Day One Hundred and Twenty-Eight.

---Recipient---
Rainie
367-5304
----Message----

Found a summer job yet?

-----From-----
Rainie
367-5304
----Message----

handed out a few resumes.
callan said she might have
heard of something.

---Recipient---
Rainie
367-5304
----Message----

I think you should give up
and visit me. Ohio is fun.

-----From-----
Rainie
367-5304
----Message----

yeah, la is so boring, right?

---Recipient---
Rainie
367-5304
----Message----

:)

Day One Hundred and Thirty-Five.

---Recipient---
Pep
413-6832
----Message----
 

Back in LA in twenty four
days 

-----From-----
Pep
413-6832
----Message---- 

i know!!! so excited to see
ur curly head!! :D 

---Recipient---
Pep
413-6832
----Message----
 

Woops, meant to send
that to Rainie 

---Recipient---
Rainie
367-5304
----Message----
 

Back in LA in 24 days!

-----From-----
Rainie
367-5304
----Message----

good. i need an excuse to
take a day off. 

---Recipient---
Rainie
367-5304
----Message----

What is this, day 2 of
summer job? 

-----From-----
Rainie
367-5304
----Message---- 

day 2 of hell. 

---Recipient---
Rainie
367-5304
----Message----
 

Told ya you shoulda
joined us again. 

-----From-----
Rainie
367-5304
----Message---- 

i will in 2 weeks. lets
go for breakfast. 

---Recipient---
Rainie
367-5304
----Message----
 

Absolutely we will. 

-----From-----
Rainie
367-5304
----Message---- 

ugh boss told me not to
text when there are no
customers.. txt me lates 

-----From-----
Pep
413-6832
----Message---- 

fuck u, asshole 

---Recipient---
Pep
413-6832
----Message----
 

Not my fault your name
is Pep - its right on top
of Rainie in my contacts 

-----From-----
Pep
413-6832
----Message---- 

my name ISNT pep. eat
shit, nick j. 

---Recipient---
Pep
413-6832
----Message----
 

Blow me.

-----From-----
Pep
413-6832
----Message---- 

u wish.

---Recipient---
Pep
413-6832
----Message----
 

Your loss. Ill get Lance to
blow me, then. Sure he'd
be up for it.

Day One Hundred and Forty-Two. 

---Recipient---
Rainie
367-5304
----Message----
 

Didnt hear from you yesterday
-- you good? 

-----From-----
Rainie
367-5304
----Message---- 

fuck this. i hate people. i
hate my job. i hate working
overtime. i hate selling
food. save me. 

---Recipient---
Rainie
367-5304
----Message----
 

Would if I could.

-----From-----
Rainie
367-5304
----Message---- 

omg. 17 days. im going
crazy please get here faster. 

I shut my phone with a smile on my face, stuffing it into my back pocket. God, she was hot. Even when she was only a few characters on my phone, I was uncontrollably in love with her.

"What are you smiling about? I'm totally kicking your ass, Jonas," Jesse said with a smirk as he shuffled the cards.

I returned the smile calmly, suddenly feeling very superior to him despite the fact that I was losing the game. "Nothin'. Deal me something good."

I exhaled a bit of a laugh as I picked up my cards, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw Joe raising a quizzical eyebrow in my direction.

Day One Hundred and Forty-Five.

It was time.

I had been thinking of this for a while, and on this day I finally mustered up the courage to do it. It was time to progress my relationship with Rainie to the next level: a phone conversation. Texting just wasn't enough anymore. If I couldn't see her face, I needed to hear her voice.

I was ready for this. We were ready for this. I had planned out what I was going to say days ago. This was going to run smoothly, and it was going to become a frequent event.

We were on the bus travelling from one state to another, and I left Joe and Kevin in the midst of writing a song in the kitchenette area. I was safely holed up in my bunk, and nothing could possibly go wrong.

"Hello?" her voice filtered into my ear after the third ring. Static played a role in drowning her out, but oh my God, it was so worth it.

"Hey," I replied in a low voice. (I was trying to sound cool and casual. I had recorded myself on my phone a few times to get it just right).

"Nick Jonas," Rainie said matter-of-factly.

I hoped she'd be a bit more enthusiastic when she was screaming my name during all the wild sex we were going to have. After all, I already knew she was loud.

"Funny," I remarked offhandedly, "Your voice sounds just as depressed as the texts you send me."

She sighed with a weary chuckle. "Sorry. At the end of every day, I'm beat."

"How come?" I inquired. (Side-note: I was so thankful that I sounded unrehearsed. I was also thankful that she didn't bring up that this was the first time I had ever called her. It made things less awkward). "Don't you stand at a cash register and ring people's groceries through?"

"Do you know how many people get mad at cashiers, Jonas? It's not exactly a respectable position to hold; I don't have rock-star status like you," she replied easily.

"Why do they get mad at you?" Because you're so fucking beautiful but you're taken? I know I'd be pretty pissed if - wait. Shit.

"Oh," she sighed. "You know. This is overpriced. This doesn't have a price tag. I wanted to use this coupon but it expired yesterday. No, the oranges can't be bagged with the lettuce. Why don't you sell Coke products?! Ugh, you're coughing - now my food's going to be all germed-up! If you're a cashier, you should be able to-"

"Ouch," I interrupted her. "Sounds rough."

She sighed again. "Customer service is a bitch."

"I know one place where customers only appreciate," I suggested.

"Give them my resume!" she exclaimed brightly. "Where?"

"It's called the Gentleman's Club. Of course, you'll have to be willing to dance topless..."

"Ha, ha," Rainie laughed dryly. (She didn't understand that I was completely serious. Oh, the lengths I would go to in order to sneak into a strip club to watch Rainie parade around in-) "Somehow, I don't think my boyfriend would approve."

I frowned at her interruption to my fantasy. "It's your summer job, not his." Yeah, so let's leave him out of it.

She paused before saying slyly, "I'll think about it. It's not like we don't have secrets."

Secrets? They had secrets?

"Like what?" I prodded.

"Mm..." she breathed. (Side-note: what a sexy thing to do. ‘Mm'... I liked it). "Well, for one, I don't think he has any idea how much time I spend talking to you. Unless you've told him, of course."

I gulped. My heart rate accelerated ever so slightly. "No. I wasn't sure."

"Sure of what?"

"I wasn't sure if you wanted him to know," I answered.

"Well..." she trailed off. She appeared to be contemplating this issue. "It's not like it would make a difference whether he knew or not. We're just friends."

That's fine, Rainie. Lie all you want.

The thing about withholding information from someone is that there's always an underlying reason. Personally, I couldn't be happier that Jesse was oblivious to my budding romance with Rainie. It meant that she felt it, too. It meant that she had a reason for hiding it from him, and the reason was that she was as enamoured with me as I was with her.

Thank God.

"Nick?" she asked.

"Yeah?"

"Oh. I thought I'd lost you or something."

I realized that I'd left a lingering silence in the place of my response to her ‘We're just friends' comment. It was unfortunate that I hadn't been able to think of a witty remark to enhance it, while at the same time making her fall so deeply in love with me that she took her words back, thus cancelling everything out completely.

"... seriously, are you still there?" she prodded.

Shit. I had to pay attention.

"Yeah. Sorry, just thinking," I apologized half-heartedly.

It's oddly exhausting - paying attention to people all the time. It requires a lot of patience. I don't think I'm built for it. Some people are just so fucking boring. Rainie's not one of those people, but it still killed me inside to have to stay entirely focused and not let my thoughts run away with me. It was strange to listen intently to every word spoken to me over the phone. I wasn't used to it. Normally, the only three people I speak with at length on the phone are my mother, Pep, and (insert girlfriend's name here). All three of these people understand my quiet nature.

"About what?"

If she hadn't recently thrown me the ‘just friends' card, I might have admitted that I was thinking about what she looked like naked... but apparently it wasn't the right time for that.

"About how you're hiding this from Jesse," I replied, my voice relaxed.

She let out a nervous chuckle. "I'm not hiding it from him. I'm just choosing not to tell him."

"Why? Is there something about us that you don't want him to know?"

I knew I was pushing her buttons, and it kind of thrilled me. This was like our first mini-argument as a couple. A mere stepping stone of one of the great romances of the twenty-first century.

Rainie laughed again. "Nick, there's no us. You're sixteen."

I fought the urge to sigh. Did she honestly think I was unaware of my own age? ‘Oh, really? Gosh, I totally forgot. Well, in that case, I'm totally not in love with you anymore, Rainie'.

I answered with a smile, "It's interesting that you had to defend yourself instead of just answering ‘no' to my previous question."

Rainie paused, and I could almost hear the rattling mechanics of her brain. "I can tell him we're friends if you really me to. It just wasn't significant enough for me to mention it."

Low blow. Clearly, she was in denial. Is there like a five-step system to falling in love? If so, I'd say denial is probably the first or second stage. She meant to hurt me, but instead, she gave me hope.

"No. Don't do anything you aren't comfortable with," I told her gently. I literally gave myself a pat on the back for that one.

"I'm perfectly comfortable with it."

"Well then, tell him," I replied nonchalantly. "I can do it, if you want."

"No," she spat out quickly. I grinned. "Just... ugh, why are we talking about this? Why are you calling me, anyway? You never call, you always text."

Fuck. I was hoping she wouldn't bring that up. Way to make things awkward, Mystery Bitch. It was time to think fast. (Luckily, thinking fast is one of my many, many strengths).

"I was calling to ask you what you were doing tomorrow morning."

"I'm working, so... I have to be up early and out of the apartment by 8:30. Why?" she asked suspiciously.

"Because I decided I missed having breakfast with you, and I don't think it's a tradition we should be giving up."

(God, I'm good).

She laughed. "So you're flying out here to eat breakfast with me?"

I wish. "No. But I could always call you over breakfast."

Seriously. I'm brilliant. This was a sure-fire way to ensure another phone call. And, if all went well, many more afterwards.

"You'll call me tomorrow morning, then?" she asked.

"If you insist," I joked.

You know, for being a sixteen (almost seventeen) year-old kid, I have to give myself a lot of credit. I'm so fucking smooth it's unbelievable. Girls are naturally attracted to me, so I guess I can't pin it all on my sharp brain... but really, I'm pretty confident that I could make anyone fall for me. Rainie was so on-the-edge it was hard not to take her hand and drag her down with me.

I should probably write a book. A romance novel. It's unfair to everyone to let my knowledge of the opposite sex go to waste. For hundreds of years, schmucks have been reading shit like Jane Austen and Shakespeare and totally buying it. Why? I don't know. Everyone knows that Austen died a virgin and Shakespeare was probably a closet homosexual.

At least I'll (eventually) have real-life experience to fall back on.

Day One Hundred and Forty-Nine.

Sometimes when I spoke to Rainie on the phone, I liked to dance.

Not in a girly way or anything. No fuckin' pirouettes or any of that shit. Just dance moves that proved my awesomeness. Like the moonwalk. Which I couldn't really do a few days ago, but since I had been practicing while on the phone with Rainie, I was getting better. In fact, I might have been willing to argue that I was up to Michael Jackson's level by that time.

Usually the only spare time I had to call her was while we were travelling from one state to another. This was problematic because I shared a bus with Joe and Kevin. Kevin, of course, was completely oblivious to me unless my ears were open (which they were not), but Joe watched me sometimes with a frown on his face, wondering who on earth I was talking to that spurned so much joy in me.

"Do you have a cold?" Rainie asked me in confusion as I spun around and began to moonwalk in the opposite direction.

"No. Why?"

"You're sniffling a lot," she pointed out.

I hadn't sniffled in at least three hours. I think she was delusional. I was about to protest when I heard a whimper behind me, and I rolled my eyes as the puzzle pieces connected.

"That's not me, it's Joe," I told her. "He's reading Harry Potter for the first time and it's having a great effect on him.

Joe glared at me.

"Harry loses everyone!" he exclaimed angrily, waving The Prisoner of Azkaban in the air. He sniffled. "And now they've gone and killed Buckbeak... he never hurt anyone... except for fuckin' Malfoy, but that kid's a douchebag and a half."

I shrugged, smiling into my phone. "We have to make sure he reads it at specific times. He gets so worked up that he needs fifteen minutes or so to calm down before he engages in another activity."

"That's hilarious," Rainie giggled. "How is this his first time reading the books? Everyone should have read the books at least twice by now."

"Agreed," I responded with a nod of my head.

"You should tell Joe to lend them to Jesse when he's done. I don't think he's read them, either."

"You're dating someone who hasn't read the books?!" I exclaimed. "That's ridiculous. You should re-evaluate."

Her continuous laughter indicated that she thought I was joking. It was probably a good thing, otherwise my suggestion would have spawned an awkward silence.

"Re-evaluate what?"

"Your decision to date him," I answered quietly, my smile fading.

Playfully, she returned, "Then who would I date instead?"

It was times like these when I had trouble figuring her out. This was the reason she was ‘Mystery Girl'; the reason she would always be Mystery Girl. Was she stringing me along and teasing me again, or was she genuinely joking around? And if she was leading me on, was it because she wanted me to advance? If she wanted me to advance, was it because she was interested or because she was a frigid bitch who wanted to watch me crash and burn?

Damn that Mystery Whore.

"I know of someone who might be interested," I replied as casually as possible. I held my hand in front of my face - weird, it was shaking ever so slightly, and not just from the movement of the bus.

"Mm... do you?" she asked. There it was, that sexy ‘Mm' again. I could swear that everything she said to me was meant to be said seductively. It didn't matter what the actual words were, because behind all the words, she was saying, ‘I want you. I need you. Oh Nick, be mine. Right there.'

(I don't know if the phrase ‘right there' was included in her every word, but I assumed it was something she liked saying when she was turned on - Pep had clued me in on that piece of information).

I was pretty sure that was what she meant, anyway.

"I'll keep that in mind," she continued with a giggle.

I'd always thought that flirting was for the weak, but somehow, it was proving to be the most arousing activity I'd ever taken part in. It was possible that I had heavily underestimated its power. Girls always flocked to me like fuckin' sea gulls to a dead fish (a better metaphor could have been used here), and I never had to worry about saying anything to impress them - merely my physical appearance and brooding nature was enough. But with Rainie, things were different. Flirting was the furthest I could get with her on the baseball analogy chart - flirting! What's that, a foul ball? A strike out? It's not even first base! Still, I would take it. I would take it with open arms for the time being.

And once the ‘time being' was up, we were going to have to have a serious discussion about her meaningless relationshit with Jesse.

Day One Hundred and Fifty-One.

When I heard my phone ringing on this fine Thursday afternoon, I had a small panic attack. After working up a sweat playing soccer outside with the guys, I took a shower. It was upon getting out of the shower, nothing but a towel wrapped around my waist, that the phone rang.

Normally I keep my cell in the pocket of my jeans, but I had changed into basketball shorts to play soccer - basketball shorts that didn't have pockets - and for the life of me, I couldn't remember where I'd put my phone.

Fuck me! What if it was Rainie? I couldn't not pick up my phone if Rainie was calling. That would be like forgetting to RSVP upon receiving a personal invitation to heaven from God.

Holy hell. Goddammit. Where the fuck was that piece of shit?

"Son of a bitch!" I exclaimed loudly, digging through my suitcase as fast as possible whilst holding up my towel with one hand.

Why the fuck was I looking through my suitcase? That was the last place it would be.

I could hear it. It was somewhere within a pile of clothes lying on the floor beside the bed. I spun around and bent down to sift through the heap of crap.

"Fuckin' bitch... fuck you... motherfucker..."

What stressed me out was that I could hear it clear as day. It was taunting me. I don't curse under my breath on standard occasions, but when I'm stressed, I've got the mouth of a fucking sailor.

And I mean that in a completely non-homosexual way. Sailors are often perceived as gay. Really, it's just an expression.

Finally. I found it in the pocket of my jeans which I had been wearing earlier that day and had carelessly discarded on the floor. I wouldn't be making that mistake again.

I immediately flipped open my phone and breathlessly spat out, "Hello?"

"Hi, is this Nick?"

My heart sank. It wasn't Rainie. All of that effort for some dumb nervous broad who needed clarification of my identity. She called my cell phone, for fuck's sake. Who else would it be?

I had half a mind to tell her it wasn't Nick, but, polite as I am, I responded, "Yeah."

"Oh. Hi! It's Selena."

Kill me.

My throat went dry and I'm surprised I didn't drop the phone out of my hand. Selena? This was Joe's doing, it had to be. (Side-note: kind of my fault. I could have avoided this if I'd only checked the caller ID before answering. Wouldn't be making that mistake again).

"Hi," I squeaked.

I met Selena a bit before Miley and I broke up. A few months later, we dated. A few months after that, we broke up. It was a friendly break-up (I guess), but that didn't mean we were friends. You don't just call your ex-boyfriend randomly. That's just... no. It's wrong. It's not allowed.

"Hi. You sound really scared," she giggled.

Yeah, well, I'm scared as fuck.

Instead, I cleared my throat and replied, "I'm not. How are you?"
The only reason that was a question was because I was questioning whether I should ask it in the first place. Did I want to make conversation? No, not really. I wanted to put on some pants and beat the living shit out of my brother, then shove it all back in and beat it out of him again.

"I'm good. Really busy, but you know what that's like. Still, I haven't talked to you in a while, so I thought I'd check in and see how your summer's going."

Selena was always nice. Probably the nicest person I'd ever met in the business or elsewhere. That was why we weren't together anymore. She was too fucking nice. How can you be nice all the time? I know I deserve to be complimented, but at the same time, I'm arrogant as hell and it irks me when people keep telling me how great I am. I can do that myself, thank you very much.

Also, she took her purity ring way too seriously. It goes hand-in-hand with her nice-ness. I wear one too, and I'm not saying I'd ditch my vow and go for a home run, but fuck. Third base me once in a while, square. At the very least let the wandering hands do their wandering. It's only fair.

"It's swell," I replied as cheerfully as possible.

Swell? I groaned inwardly.

She hesitated, obviously thinking that I was going to elaborate. Nope, wasn't going to happen. Sorry, babe. "That's great, Nick. Miley told me the tour is going well."

I rolled my eyes. Was this some sort of ex-girlfriend conspiracy? Every time I or my brothers ditch another girl, they band together and form this fuckin' Jonas hate-club. Miley was like the head recruiter because she got there first, but Taylor, who went out with Joe, was quick to follow. Their anthem is Miley's ‘7 Things', which they sing at every club meeting (Side-note: funny story. Miley and Pep originally got along, but when Miley released that song and whined for a while about how my friends were jerks, Pep had a conniption and I had to confiscate her cell phone for a full week in case she called Miley up to bitch her out). Anyway, these girls bond over the fact that they've all indirectly exchanged bodily fluids through us brothers. And then, as if to make us fear them and regret breaking their hearts, they call us to remind us that they're best friends and our separation has only made them stronger.

Yeah... I don't think I care.

I sighed wearily. "Sel, did Joe put you up to this?"

"Put me up to what?" she asked innocently.

The great thing about sweet, naive girls is that you can coax anything out of them with a little gentle crooning. (Well, anything except for a hand job... God knows I tried).

"He did, didn't he? Don't worry, I won't tell him. I'm just wondering," I assured her.

"No, he didn't say anything," she answered sweetly. I smiled, shaking my head at her innocence. I knew her well enough to decipher that very subtle quiver in her voice.

"But you did talk to him?" I urged. As an after-thought, I added, "It's okay. I'm glad. Just wondering."

"Mm... yeah," she answered carefully. (‘Mm' didn't sound half as good coming from Selena's mouth as it did from Rainie's). "I mean, he didn't say much. He said you were feeling kind of down lately and he wondered if maybe I'd know of a way to cheer you up."

Aha. That fuckface. I knew it.

"I see," I said slowly. I smacked my lips together before exclaiming cheerily, "Well, you know what? I feel a lot better. Thanks so much for calling, Sel, it was great to hear your voice."

She let out a breathy laugh, as if she couldn't believe her ears. "Wait, that's it? Don't you want to-"

"I actually have to go," I interrupted hastily. "I'll call you, though." (No I won't). Because I was feeling angry and betrayed, I spat out, "Hey, me and Miley are going for lunch when I'm back in town. You should come. It'll be fun."

I don't know why I thought I was getting revenge on anyone but myself, but as soon as the words came out of my mouth, I regretted it. What the fuck was I thinking? Jesus Christ, I was going crazy. Lunch with Miley was bad enough, but lunch with Miley and Selena? Why not invite the whole goddamn hate-club while you're at it, Nick?

"Um... okay," Selena said, confusion dripping from every word. "That sounds nice."

"It should be peachy," I finished.

Knife... gun... poison... Kevin's voice... there were so many ways that I could end my life. Also, for the love of God, someone please tell me why I chose this moment to try out the word ‘peachy'.

When the call ended, I dropped my phone to the ground, never wanting to touch it again. How could one tiny piece of technology turn out to be such a life-ruiner? Shutting my eyes tightly, I pinched the bridge of my nose and exhaled. Why do bad things happen to good people?

It was then that I heard light chuckling from behind me. I didn't know how long he'd been listening to my enlightening conversation with Selena, but it was obvious that he'd heard enough. I took another breath and opened my eyes before slowly turning to face my treacherous brother.

In retrospect, I probably would have been much more intimidating if I wasn't holding a towel around my waist.

Since one of my hands was occupied, I couldn't exactly engage in a duel with him like I wanted. Instead, I glared at him as frostily as possible. "Hilarious," I muttered, nodding my head quickly.

"So you guys are meeting up?" Joe asked, casually tearing off his scarf and throwing it on top of his bag.

"No, we're not meeting up, you dumb fuck," I spat. I almost threw my arms up in the air. Luckily, I remembered the towel in the nick of time. I took a few steps towards him, hoping to seem menacing. "I hope you're really enjoying yourself, shithead, because the end is nigh for you."

Joe snorted with laughter. "The end is nigh?"

I tapped my fingers on the desk while he erupted in raucous giggles. I seriously don't understand how it's possible that I'm genetically related to someone who is so much less evolved than I. Maybe Mom really did sleep with the milkman. It would explain so much.

"It means you're fucked, dipshit," I retorted. "I will make you suffer."

Joe shook his head, still amused and clearly not comprehending the validity of my words. "I don't know why you have to be such a dick all the time. I was just trying to help you out. You're lonely, dude. You need a girl."

Moron.

"I'm working on it," I hissed. And I didn't need his ‘help'.

Sticking my hand into my suitcase, I grabbed a few items of clothing and stalked past him towards the bathroom.

"Fine," Joe replied carelessly. "I'll stop trying to be a nice guy. Just know that I was always looking out for you, bud - hey, wait. Nick?"

"What?"

"Why the hell do you always cart a bouquet of flowers with you wherever you go?" he demanded, pointing to the colourful display on the table in front of the window.

So what if I did? The flowers reminded me of Rainie and her perfume. I liked them. I read in a yahoo! article that a human's sense of smell has the most power out of all the senses to evoke memory.

I did nothing but glower at Joe.

He shrugged. "I mean, it's cool with me if you swing that way, but... bro, that's kinda gay. That's all I'm saying."

I scoffed. "Fuck you."

"No thanks," he chuckled. As I slammed the bathroom door as hard as possible, I heard him shout, "Unlike you, I'm into girls!"

Day One Hundred and Fifty-Three.

I hadn't talked to Rainie for three days. I think I was slowly going crazy. My mood deteriorated immensely. My mom sat with me while I checked my blood sugar because she thought I was lying about it. The last time I had acted so sour, I was diagnosed with this stupid inhibiting disease.

Also, I got a little sidetracked with thoughts of Rainie the night before during a show, and Kevin wasn't about to let me forget it.

Instead of ‘a little bit longer, and I'll be fine', I mistakenly sang, ‘a little bit longer, and you'll be mine'.

So what? It still rhymed. Give me a fucking break.

Day One Hundred and Fifty-Four.

Why the hell wasn't Rainie picking up her phone? More importantly, why wasn't she answering my texts? I didn't want to seem too overbearing, but I sent her a couple asking if she was okay. Had I done something to make her hate me? No, that wasn't possible. I was nothing but delightful towards her.

I had my index finger extended, ready to tap Jesse on the shoulder and ask him if he'd spoken to her recently, but I noticed that Joe was watching me curiously. I stuck my hand back in my pocket and growled under my breath. He ruined everything, that bastard.

Day One Hundred and Fifty-Five.

What the fuck.

Day One Hundred and Fifty-Six.

Seriously.

Day One Hundred and Fifty-Seven.

-----From-----
Pep
413-6832
----Message----

why havent i heard from u
in a week? i miss u, curls.

---Recipient---
Pep
413-6832
----Message----

Busy. Miss you.

-----From-----
Pep
413-6832
----Message----

can i come over when u
get home?

---Recipient---
Pep
413-6832
----Message----

Can I come to you instead?

-----From-----
Pep
413-6832
----Message----

u bet.

Day One Hundred and Fifty-Nine.

-----From-----
Rainie
367-5304
----Message----

hey! sorry, forgot my phone
in la and went home to BF
for a few days. don't have
your aim so couldn't tell
you. good luck on your last
show tonite. so f'in excited
to see you guys.

As I lazily pulled my phone out of my pocket, I wasn't expecting this. A wide smile crossed my face as I breathed a sigh of relief. Thank God. (Side-note: what on earth was ‘BF'? Either it was short-form for Bakersfield, or she was cheating on Jesse with a new ‘bf'. I didn't approve of the latter - she was only allowed to cheat on Jesse if it was with me).

"Ha," I hissed triumphantly, immediately returning the text.

---Recipient---
Rainie
367-5304
----Message----

Breakfast Monday morning?

-----From-----
Rainie
367-5304
----Message----

if you insist.

As if she didn't want to.

"You feel it runnin' through your bones... and you jerk it out," Joe sang quietly to himself, jogging to catch up with us as we walked to the car.

I tore my eyes from my phone for a moment to shake my head at him.

"Joseph," my mother scolded with a frown. "Don't say things like that."

"It's a song, Ma," Joe replied breathlessly. He started to sing again, "Oh baby, don't you know you really gotta jerk it out!"

Idiot. I laughed when Kevin smacked him across the back of the head. Our mother looked positively horrified.

My laughter caught Joe's attention, and he glanced behind himself to scrutinize me. "Who you texting?" he asked, thoughts of his dirty song long forgotten.

"Someone," I replied coolly. It was pointless to say ‘no one' - not only is it a lie, but it's a sneaky way of letting someone know you're hiding something. Why not be honest about it?

"That narrows it down," Joe said dryly.

I shrugged.

Unsatisfied with my answer, he grabbed my hat and placed it on his own head, walking faster for a few paces to get ahead of me. "Miley? Selena? Kendall?" he threw out suggestions.

I followed him closely. Once I'd snatched my hat back, I replied irritably, "I do not text those people."

"Who, then? Pip?" Just as I'd placed my hat back on my head, he grabbed it again.

"No!" I growled, launching forward to retrieve my accessory. "Why do you assume she's the only person I text?" Joe's a few inches taller than me, so I put a hand on his shoulder and jumped in attempt to rescue my hat. He twisted his head to the side like the annoying little fuckwit he is.

Joe laughed happily. "Because she's your only friend."

He climbed into the car and I followed with a scowl, ignoring Kevin's chuckles. When we were side-by-side in the backseat, I again tried to reclaim my hat. From her spot in the middle, Mom turned her head to scold Joe once more.

"Joseph, leave him alone," she ordered. "Nick has lots of friends."

Christ. You know you've lost the battle when your mom has to come to your defence.

"How is Pep doing, anyway?" Mom asked, turning her attention to me.

"I don't... know..." I responded in exasperation, desperately reaching for my hat. Joe and I had engaged in some sort of arm-wrestling competition that was requiring a lot of effort. "I haven't... spoken... to her..."

"Oh," Mom said, frowning in confusion. "I thought you were on the phone with her every couple of days."

With a final spurt of energy, I let go of Joe's wrists and victoriously grabbed my hat from him. Placing it back on my head where it belonged, I stated, "Not that often." When I saw Joe raising his eyebrow at me, I added, "What? It's not that often! I talk to her a reasonable amount!" When he pissed me off by looking unconvinced, I spat out, "Reasonable!"

Mom had lost interest in me a long time ago, but because Joe was still unimpressed, I grumbled, "And she's not my only friend." Under my breath, I added, "You fugly cocksucker."

With an expression of faux-shock, Joe's jaw dropped and he exclaimed, "Nick! That's the second time in a week you've accused me of being gay!"

Mom shook her head in front of us, clearly choosing not to intervene anymore.

Joe placed a hand on my shoulder, which I shrugged off immediately. "I'm sensing that you may be suffering from homobrophobia."

When he tried to put another ‘reassuring' hand on my shoulder, I grabbed his wrist and threw it away, muttering, "If you touch me again, you'll have no balls to homobrophobia with."

With a scoff, Joe folded his arms across his chest and muttered, "That doesn't even make sense."

Oddly enough, my phone vibrated with a text message from Pep. I waved the phone around in Joe's face long enough for him to see her name, and then I closed my phone and stuffed it in my pocket, proving my point by refusing to reply

Chapter End Notes:
Joe's lovely song is ‘Jerk It Out' by the Caesars.
Anyway... I sincerely hope this chapter was okay, because I don't think I've ever worked so long on a chapter! Man, it took me forever, I was jumping back and forth and leaving things unfinished and deleting things and adding things in and just being overall frustrated because sometimes I forgot what the point was and none of it made sense anymore. I think it's because this chapter is different from all the others and it was just really overwhelming to deal with for some reason hahah.
Or it could be because I have a 15-page essay, the impossible stats assignment from hell, and three midterms within a span of two days... it's quite possible that this was the reason I was unable to function.
Whatever. This week's going to be fun. Usually I have the next chapter written
before I post, but I don't, so once I'm done being stressed on Wednesday I'll write the next one AND the one after that and then post, so... I have no idea when I'll update again. Soon though! I miss being scholastically unproductive.
PS. So sorry for the confusion about who ‘Jenny' was in the last chapter... there was/is a link to the song in my last AN, so if you're still confused, go check it out. It's an old song. Basically, no you did not miss anything, ‘Jenny' is just a girl from a song that Nick was referring to.
PPS. I've only replied to half of the reviews, I promise to do the rest later.
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