The Future Is Unclear (1/?)
Title: The Future Is Unclear
Summary: Lemonade Mouth: some stories are worth telling, despite their ambiguous and indefinable endings.
Warning/Spoiler: Non-linear storytelling.
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Wen/Olivia, Scott/Mo, Charlie/Victoria, Charlie/Mo
Author’s Note: Look at my life. My choices. Seriously. D:
The Future Is Unclear
1: subzero degrees
The aroma of tomatoes, cheese, and soda tickles her nose, sending shivers through her skin. She’s glad of these moments, these grounding moments that bring her to reality and solidify the companionship she feels beside her band mates.
There’s a bundle of brown hair on her shoulder but she doesn’t mind the sleeping girl. Olivia grabs the first slice of cheese pizza on the table, gently nudging Mo from her shoulder. “Up.”
“Yes. You need to eat.”
Mo’s grumbling and frowning, but she rubs her eyes awake and sighs. “I’m tired.”
Wen laughs, his mouth covered in red. “We noticed.”
Stella shoves a napkin at him, grimacing in disgust, before shooting a glare at the grinning Charlie. “Boys are disgusting.” Charlie shoves a slice of sausage pizza in her face in response and Stella’s grimace grows more pronounced, only fueling Charlie’s amusement. “Get that out of my face,” Stella demands, her voice hard.
Charlie joins Wen in laughing, but removes the pizza from Stella’s bubble and takes a sip of soda. “What are you going to eat if you’re stuck on a deserted island? Fruit?” he asks, half-hypothetically.
“I’m pretty sure you can get diarrhea that way,” says Mo flatly, her eyes still sullen. Her hands mechanically reach for food and drink, settling the need for nourishment.
“You and your fun facts.” Scott pulls up a chair beside his girlfriend, and Olivia notices that he looks just as tired as Mo. He leans over Charlie to snatch a slice of the sausage pizza; Charlie stiffens slightly but Olivia’s sure she’s the only one who sees.
Stella bristles. “Well, I wouldn’t get stuck on a deserted island in the first place – and if I did – “ she continues before Wen can say anything, “I’d eat meat because it’s for survival.” She shoots a look at the slice of pizza in Wen’s hands. “That is for some disgusting pleasure.”
Olivia rolls her eyes good-naturedly. Stella’s vegetarianism isn’t questioned, it’s just accepted, but teasing her keeps her head on the ground. But Olivia still giggles when Stella flicks a mushroom at Charlie’s face – he catches it in his mouth with a grin.
Wen scoots closer to her, and Olivia’s nerves return to familiar state of fire. “Hey,” he says softly, his whisper igniting the somersaults in her gut. “What’s up with them?” His gaze is fixed upon Scott and Mo, the couple sitting with only inches apart, but their eyes refusing to meet.
Olivia shrugs with a small frown. “No idea,” she whispers, taking their need to keep their voices low as an opportunity to lean her head closer to his. Her attention falls to Charlie for a moment, whose laugh interrupts her thoughts when Stella tells him something, sparking a forgotten memory. “Have you seen
Wen shakes his head. “I haven’t seen her since school let out. Why?”
“I was just curious,” she says, forcing herself to smile.
“Oh.” Wen gulps down some Coke, and Olivia smiles when a drip of soda lingers on his chin. Her smile catches his attention. “What?”
Olivia giggles, and gestures at her own chin. Wen wipes away the lingering soda, but his sticky fingers find their way to her arm. Olivia jumps away when he tries to rubs his fingers on her skin, both of them grinning. “Wen! Stop it!”
He laughs when she bumps into Mo, who’s still eating silently. Mo raises an eyebrow at the pair but just shakes her head with a small smile. Olivia blushes, but glares at Wen. “Keep your fingers to yourself, young man.”
“Yes, ma’am!” responds Wen, using the napkin Stella had thrown at him earlier. Olivia makes a face at him, but her grin contorts the look.
“You two are ridiculous – “ starts Stella, laughing, but Charlie interrupts her, jumping out of his seat.
“Vic!” Charlie slides easily around Scott’s chair, and meets
Charlie pulls up a seat for
“Something’s up,” she states flatly, doing her best to keep her voice low. Wen gives her a questioning look. “Later,” she mouths, since Charlie’s asking her a question. “Sorry, what was that?” she asks.
“You guys want to hang out with Vic and I? Stella’s got some family thing,” adds Charlie, and Stella shrugs, slurping down her smoothie; Olivia catches tension in her shoulders though.
“Sorry, Charlie, but Wen and I were going to work on that new song today,” says Olivia apologetically. “Maybe next time?”
Charlie shrugs nonchalantly. “Yeah, sure.”
“What about Mo and Scott?”
Charlie glances at
Wen frowns. “Oh, okay.”
They escape an awkward silence, however; Scott and Mo walk over, Mo’s eyes red and Scott’s voice hoarse as he speaks. “Hey, so we’re going to head over the movies or something.”
Stella glances at her phone. “Yeah, I better go too.” She throws down some cash, followed by the rest, but when Mo reaches into her purse, Scott pushes her arm aside. Olivia catches them in a silent exchange, but finally Mo gives in and she walks off, Scott’s eyes following her first before his feet. Stella exits too, and Charlie and Victoria awkwardly wave as they exit out the back door.
Olivia turns to Wen, her stomach churning. “Something’s definitely up.”
Wen throws an arm around her shoulder, giving her a one-armed hug. “We’ll figure it out, Liv. We always do.”
She smiles at him, he smiles at her, and for that moment, she believes him.
Her eyes itch. She rubs them fiercely, waiting for Scott to catch up. “What do you want?” she snaps, regretting the way her voice sounds so harsh.
Scott sighs. “I’m sorry about last night.”
“No, I get it,” says Mo, and while her voice is bitter, there’s the undertone of sincerity. She sighs deeply when Scott’s glance falls to the floor. “Scott, I get it – really.”
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
“It was my idea,” says Mo, hesitance filling her words. She doesn’t want to lie to her band – her friends – but she cares for Scott, and she’s pragmatic. In a band formed for friendship, the ex gets cut. She can’t do that to Scott; a sleepless night had reinforced that.
“If you sure,” echoes Scott, his voice a reminder of a far-ago conversation. There are cracks in his vocal chords, the stress from performing and losing his best friend and losing his girlfriend culminating.
“I’m sure,” she answers firmly, her heart clenching for a moment before releasing and beating in tranquility.
They stare at each other for a moment. Mo stares into his eyes and for a moment wonders why she broke up with him. But then a voice floats over, filling the silence and clenching her heart again, and she remembers. She cares for Scott, but not as much as she should, and she’d only hate herself for not putting everything into their relationship.
She can only be glad that the break-up was mutual, though; that Scott was losing romantic interest and that their friendship was strong enough to hold together civility. The little things, Mohini. Remember them.
He blinks first and together they walk back to the table, so much space between them.
Stella hates this.
The white walls suffocate her, edges blending together, the sterile titles patterned and routine. One brother’s curled up on a chair and the other’s tinkering away on some gadget, but Stella knows his thoughts are elsewhere.
Mr. Yamada enters the room, his face forever sullen and solemn.
“Well?” questions Stella, yelling at herself for that flame of hope that flickers in her chest. He shakes his head sadly and shrugs, and the stream of water drowns the candle; she wonders why she even hopes anymore.
The brother closest to her hugs her arm while the other walks over to their father and comforts him. Comfort and hugs – there’s nothing else they can do.
A black part of her hates her father for not having the cure yet. He’s supposed to be close, to have the foundations – but when it comes to his own wife, her mother, he can’t seem to make it work. What’s the point of curing cancer if you can’t save the one who matters most?
Stella closes her eyes and uses her brother’s arm as a pillow.
When she wakes up several hours later, she’s in her bed and a Lemonade Mouth poster stares back at her from across the room; a note written in her mother’s handwriting sits on her nightstand, with only a simple it’ll get better.
“I have a present for you.”
Mo looks up from her algebra homework in surprise at his voice. “What? Why?”
Charlie shrugs, taking a seat at the cafeteria table across from her, a little box in his hand. “Just ‘cause. I was getting something for
Mo hesitates, but Charlie’s smile is friendly and confident, not the puppy-dog look from ages ago. He’s just a friend; he’s accepted it. So she can too.
Her fingers run under the gift-wrap, lifting the shiny paper and revealing a small rectangular container that Mo immediately recognizes. “Rosin?” she questions with a laugh.
“Well you mentioned you needed some the other day,” says Charlie. “And I was getting
“Thanks,” she replies with a bright smile. “Really.”
“No problem. That’s what friends are for and all that, right?” He laughs and stands, missing Mo’s slight frown.
“Where’re you going? I really don’t want to do homework right now so I thought we could go get some pizza or something – “ she starts, her stomach dropping a little and Mo wants to scream at her insides for acting up.
“Oh, sorry, Mo, but I was going to meet
“Right,” she says, the smile on her lips unnatural but convincing. “Some other time.”
Mo watches him walk away, each step a rhythmic beat against her heart.
The seven run into other at the grocery store.
Olivia wanted Reese Pieces and Wen wanted Twizzlers, so they go for a candy run, hoping to grab some other junk food, and maybe even a movie. Not that I was hoping for that or anything. Wen twirls Olivia around when she starts dancing to Breakthrough playing on the store’s intercom.
They’re about to stand in line when he spots Stella.
“Stella!” He calls out to her, not only to get her attention, but to gain himself time to process her appearance. She’s in PJs and a worn t-shirt, her hair sticking up at odd angles; but most disturbing are her bloodshot eyes that her hands seem to permanently rub.
“You okay?” asks Olivia quietly, her soft voice sending Wen’s insides spinning. “You look horrible.”
“I’m fine – just tired,” says Stella unconvincingly. “We ran out of salsa,” she adds, lifting the hand carrying the item. “What about you guys? I thought you were writing a song today.”
Wen rubs his neck, hoping his face isn’t turning red. “Um, we were – we wanted some junk food and then we were going to rent a movie – “
“Uh, yeah, everyone else was doing other stuff so, uh, we were just going to, um, hang out – “ rambles Olivia, and Wen half wants her to never stop talking and half wants to cover her mouth.
Stella laughs. “Uh huh, okay.” Her voice is lighter now, as if the drowsiness from earlier has ebbed away. “Now let me get my salsa and you two can be off on your date – “
“It’s not a date – “
“We’re just hanging out – “
“Lies, I hear,” says a voice, interrupting the defensive Olivia and Wen. Charlie raises an eyebrow at the three of them, carrying a box of cereal in one hand and holding
“Uh huh,” mumbles Wen, his face tinted in pink. “What are you guys up to?” he asks, hoping to move the attention from him and Olivia.
“Charlie and I were just heading to my house, but he wanted to pick up some cereal,” answers
“Cereal?” asks Stella with a laugh.
Charlie shrugs. “Don’t question it.”
Olivia giggles. “That explains so much.” But she isn’t the only giggle Wen hears, and when he turns around, Mo’s grinning at him with Scott right behind her.
“This is an interesting reunion,” says Scott. “Are we interrupting anything?”
“Nope,” says Charlie, popping the ‘p’ quickly. “Just a little thing called coincidence.”
“We can see that,” says Olivia with a smile and a curious look. Wen mentally notes to question her later. She nervously looks at the cashier, who’s staring at the group incredulously. “Uh, I think we should buy our stuff and get going, Wen.”
“Right,” he agrees, dumping their basket onto the counter. Behind him, he can hear the others awkwardly finding registers to buy their items. Wen leans into Olivia, frowning. “What’s up?”
Olivia smiles at him. “The same thing from before. I’ll explain at home.”
“You said that earlier.”
She rolls her eyes but sticks out her tongue with a smile. “I promise I’ll tell you. Patience.”
“You know I’m not patient.”
Olivia just laughs as he pays for the candy.
When they’re done, only Stella’s left.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” asks Olivia, concerned.
Stella nods. “I’m fine, don’t worry. You kids go have fun,” she jokes. Wen says nothing, but pulls his friend into a hug before leaving with Olivia.
“Do you believe her?” he asks Olivia a minute later as they make their way down the graveled pavement.
“Not really, no,” she answers.
They walk in companionable silence towards her house, their plastic bag flapping in the breeze. His heart jumps into his throat every time he accidentally brushes his fingers against hers.
By the time they reach her house, their fingers are loosely intertwined.