the promise (1/1)
Title: the promise
Summary: Lemonade Mouth: maybe everything is easier when you disappear.
Warning/Spoiler: Mild cursing.
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Scott/Mo, Charlie/Mo
Author's Note: This took on a life of its own. I definitely needed to get this out of my system. Not my best work since there are parts I feel are rushed, but it is a snapshot. No, this will not be continued.
[as when you hid in her arms in the sky and the world slept]
It's windy and cold and dark and gloomy. The clouds swirl above her head, gathering and spreading, ready to pour steady droplets of water onto the city below. She hugs her knees against her chest tighter; she wills herself to disappear into a tiny atom and float away with the sewage. Maybe then these feelings and problems will disappear, fall away; she can ignore the nagging claws that threaten her stomach and the burning tears that sit behind her eyes and the breaking heart that shatters in her chest.
Maybe everything is easier when you disappear.
She thinks she has hidden herself fairly well – it's close enough to home so she can get there before it gets too dark and wet and gross, but it's far enough away that no one will find her. But she underestimates how well they know her – how well he knows her – because she hears five sets of footsteps crash against the damp concrete and the squeak of rubber soles.
"Mo!" His voice and feet reach her first, and she struggles to keep her face in her lap and not to look into his concerned eyes. Her heart cracks some more; his warm arms wrap around her and she feels new fingers – feminine and gentle and flowery – running through her hair. She feels gushes of water splatter against her twice – she hears heavy breathing on one side and feels comforting hands on the other. And she senses a presence above her, ever watchful, vigilantly aware of her suffering and offering mental – emotional – support rather than the physical.
The rain falls.
Her heart shatters, each fragment slicing against her insides, as water burns her skin. She wants to cry, goddamnit, but the tears refuse to fall; instead, she hiccups and coughs and stutters and his arms just grab tighter. Olivia's humming a tune in her ear and Wen's harmonizing with her and Stella's whispering raspy lyrics. His arms unconsciously squeeze in time, waves of rhythm that clash with her erratic breathes. Moments pass and then they switch, effortlessly and without queue: Charlie's arms are still around her, but he's at her side now, gently pushing her head on his shoulder; Stella's behind her, chin on shoulder, but she's humming steady riffs; Wen switches to the other side, his fingers on her knees outlining forgotten lyrics; Olivia sits in front of her, just smiling with sad eyes; Scott stays close, only inches away, his eyes fixed to her hair and face and jeans.
It's when Stella lifts up her hair and ties it back into a ponytail that she opens her eyes. It's when Wen starts drumming a beat on her knees that she stretches her legs. It's when Olivia starts singing that she begins to shiver. It's when Scott bends down and levels his eyes to hers that she starts crying. It's when Charlie sneezes that she starts speaking.
"This is – s – so – st – stupid. We – we're all gonna get si – sick," she stutters into the wind, each breath that leaves her mouth freezing against Charlie's hair. "Just – just leav – leave me."
"No," says Stella flatly, and no one else bothers to verbally agree. She nudges Charlie's arms away and for a moment Mo wants to scream at the loss; but then the arms are back, and Wen's are too, and Scott's eyes are still on her. Wen and Charlie lift her up, and Stella and Olivia stand in front of her, leading the procession towards her house. Mo wants to struggle, to push back and scream and run away, but her energy drips away like the rain in the clouds; after each step, she finds herself leaning more and more on Charlie, who easily carries her.
Her house stares back at her, and she understands the irony at that moment. Before her resides the future: her family, her sanctuary, her refuge. Behind her, the world rages on as the rain falls thickly, layers of grime mixing with the precipitation. And beside her stands her five closest friends – her other family – holding her up when she has no energy to stand on her own. The crossroads glitters before her and she smiles – sardonically – for the first time in hours. The realization ignites a rush of adrenaline; she spins around, startling Charlie backwards and causing Olivia to jump, and runs.
She runs and runs and runs, ignoring the beats of her heart, the screams in her ears, and aches in her legs. She runs and runs and runs with no destination, only inhaling the journey.
When she stops running, her legs give out and she crashes onto the pavement, soaking her already drenched clothing. Her heart pounds rapidly but she leans back and laughs; she laughs and laughs and laughs until tears join the rain down her face. Her eyes catch the sight of location and starts choking on the complex emotions that race through her. The dirt on her hands stings the cuts on her arms when she tries to wipe them down, so she gives up and curls back into the ball.
This time, she only hears one set of footsteps.
"Mo," he says softly. She lifts her head to meet his concerned eyes and he smiles sadly. "Hey."
"Hey," she whispers, her voice cracking. "How'd you know I'd come here."
"You always go to familiar places when you're upset." His voice is calm, frank and true. "You tend to stick with the familiar."
Mo stares at him, studying the wistful tint in his smile and the tired quality in his eyes. "But why here?"
"We both know why, Mo," he states simply.
The previously elusive acceptance surrounds her now; she hesitantly grabs it, welcomes it, embraces it. And suddenly, she feels warmer, despite the water swirling and the wind racing in the air. "I'm sorry," she finally says. "I'm so sorry."
"It's not your fault." He chuckles dryly, and abruptly Mo knows he relates. "You can't control who you fall in love with."
"I wanted it to be you," she clarifies. "I wanted it so bad."
He just shrugs, leaving no further comment. The edge in his shoulders screams don't lie to yourself and Mo's throat dries. He offers her a hand and she accepts it, feeling oddly calm at the butterflies that fail to erupt in her stomach. They walk hand in hand, but Mo can smile because for this moment, it's right – she's holding hands with Scott Pickett in the rain and despite the fact that she only feels a platonic love, she's happy. She's happy because she may not be in love with Scott Pickett, but she loves him and he's her friend and she has friends –
"Oh." Charlie stares at her from across the street.
Scott acts the fastest, squeezing her hand before gently nudging her towards the other. Mo acts instinctually, flying into Charlie's arms; his eyes widen and stare at Scott who smiles and shakes his head.
"She was at your house," says Scott, a little smirk tugging the edges of his lips.
"Oh," repeats Charlie as his hands stroke Mo's hair. "Oh."
"It was always you, man," confirms Scott firmly. "And I'm okay with that."
Charlie blinks a couple of times before his eyes fall onto the girl in his arms. He nods slowly and when he looks up again, Scott is walking away but there's hope in his steps. Charlie smiles and tries to suppress the triumphant roar that builds in his stomach. Mo's sniffling now and leaning back and he just looks at her.
And that's how they stand – on the sidewalk, midway between his house and hers, dripping wet and freezing cold, his hands on her arms and her fingers on his chest. Her eyes dart everywhere, but when he lifts her chin to make their eyes meet, the gazes never waver.
"I'm sorry," she croaks and she cringes at the rough sound it makes in her throat. "I'm so sorry and I love you and I don't deserve you, I've put you through hell and you've moved on and I'm whiny and needy and I love you but it doesn't matter because I'm me and you're you and this is stupid. I'm stupid."
"Yes," agrees Charlie, laughing, and Mo wants to hit him for his contagious smile that muddles her thoughts and confuses her. "You are stupid."
"Right. So I'm sorry and hopefully we can move pass this eventually for the band's sake – "
"You're stupid," continues Charlie as if she hadn't just started to ramble on, "because you think I've moved on. Well, completely," he adds as an afterthought. Mo's staring at him, her eyes lost and broken, and Charlie decides to stop the teasing because he can feel his heart breaking in time with hers. "I'm still in love with you, Mo."
Seconds pass and she just looks at him, blinking away rain and tears. He feels his breath catch in his throat and his heartbeat beat in a rhythm he had never been able to perfect – chaotically disjointed yet melodious. He lets his hands slide down her arm, feeling the water catch in the grooves of his palms. Her fingers itch to intertwine with his and when they do, she can't help but step back.
"You're serious," she says incredulously, her fingers squeezing tightly but her feet sliding backwards.
He reseals the distance between them, letting go of one hand to touch her hair. "Yes," he whispers. He's never touched her hair, tucked a strand behind her ear, or caressed her check with his thumb. But he does it and she leans into him and then he can't help it anymore.
He kisses her. She doesn't kiss back at first, shocked and numb and scared, but then she does.
"Oh," she says and Charlie laughs. Her smile brightens at the sound and he tries not to grin too giddily. "I'm sorry," she apologizes again.
Charlie sighs. "You were already forgiven."
Mo hugs him after that, and he lets himself take a moment to just smell her hair, feel her chest against his, whisper words into the air. But then he steps away, still holding her hand, and wordlessly leads her to her house. She walks beside him, her feet dragging slightly, but doesn't protest; when they finally reach the fence of yard, the déjà vu kicks in.
"Ironic, huh?" he says, voicing her thoughts. She nods silently and he kisses her forehead. "I get it, that you think you made the wrong choice or whatever, but I love you, okay? Just know that. I love you, I love you, I love you," he repeats and the words echo in the wind as he releases the pent up words that clogged his throat for too long.
She shakes her head fiercely as the warmth returns over her. "I didn't make the wrong choice, Charlie. Far from it."
Silence answers her. Mo lifts herself to her tiptoes and joins her lips to his. Charlie struggles not to press back, but when Mo deepens the kiss, his restraint leaves him.
Mo breaks off the kiss later, flushed but happy. "I better go inside."
"We're gonna be so sick tomorrow."
Mo shrugs, a ghost of grin seeping onto her face. "It was worth it, in the end." Charlie's left following her with his eyes as she enters the house.
This time, she leaves instead of him. This time, both of them are sick. This time, he's grinning and she's smiling and they're happy.
This time, everything works out how it's supposed to.