2.9: Equilibrium Shatters

Parental Advisory Explicit Content
Generation 2 is Not Safe For Work and Not Suitable For Children.


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This chapter is mostly a time lapse, narrated from god-view. They are now looking forward to adulthood at last. Annika’s early character development is nearly ready to move on to the next chapters of their lives. This is the calm before the storm.

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Things did go back to normal, mostly. Another year passed by. After her heartfelt apology, Annika never brought it up again, what had happened on the beach that day. With her usual easy spirit, she never treated him differently than before.

It took Jessie some time, but it eventually got easier, and equilibrium was restored. If anything, their friendship deepened in some ways. He was drawn to that other side of her, the one almost no one got to see. One of the most popular girls in their peer group at school, she was a carefree, effervescent social butterfly when in the company of others. Even with Aimee, she was in social mode. But when it was just him? It was often like a switch had been flipped, and he didn’t need to be told to know that she too appreciated being comfortable enough to power down around him. A quiet look was all that was needed between two lifelong friends who knew each other so well.

That’s not to say Jessie wasn’t acutely hyper-aware of the way she affected him and his stupid body. After that day by the tidal pool the year before, he’d finally acknowledged to himself that he did have feelings for her, but he clamped a lid on that. It was hard, even harder than before, to see her with Abel, but he took a private satisfaction that those instances were few and far between, and that she had a growing disdain for Abel.

 

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Abel, while seemingly taking for granted his own relationship with Annika, still attempted to make her jealous, and/or get her attention, by sleeping with other girls. Though Annika’s views on sex and relationships meant nothing romantic could ever come of his own relationship with her, at least it also meant that Abel would never have the benefit of her jealousy.

Still, something in him wouldn’t let go of that day on the beach. It had viciously blurred his self-imposed boundaries. Whether or not she had any idea how deeply she affected him, and how much more so after that day, she didn’t say. She did seem to discern, at least, that she’d crossed a line he didn’t want her crossing. Well, he wanted it; he wanted her, what guy wouldn’t? But no good would come of it.

Rather than interpreting the hidden meaning behind his protestations, she’d apparently thought only that he wasn’t into casual sex. Which, he wasn’t. There was nothing casual about his feelings for her, and it was fortunate indeed that she was oblivious to that.

 

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Though there were times when, if she wasn’t fully aware of his feelings, she must have sensed something. Like the day in class that she’d caught him staring at her. What was written on his face, he could only imagine. But she’d looked away, unable to meet his eyes. And that, Annie, is why I can’t just go with your flow, he’d thought bitterly.

From Annika’s perspective, she’s always been intimate with Jessie on a friend level (well, and those couple of times sexually, too). There was never anything she couldn’t tell him. And sometimes she didn’t have to tell him and he’d still understand. Just by sharing a long glance, she could easily gauge his mood–usually serious–and tease him out of it. And she loved making him laugh. As serious as he often was, he could also be easy going and light-hearted, and she loved hearing his unfettered laughter.

But sometimes when he looked at her, his eyes were shuttered, guarded. Or sometimes she saw something intense in his look, and had to look away from it. She’d left him alone sexually, as he’d asked, and they still hung out as much as they always had, so surely he wasn’t still angry with her about that day? He didn’t seem to be, but, sometimes there was just that something in his eyes that she couldn’t meet. Annika’s mind was more subtle and perceptive now that she was older, but it was such a second nature to her to shut down anything messy or emotional, that her thoughts on the subject never went further than a moment’s wonder.

 

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And so time passed. It was their last year of high school, and their friends were busily and excitedly planning their lives as adults. Making their own camps, hand-fasting with their partners and raising families. Jessie just looked forward to not having school, and to getting out of his mom’s camp, to make his own. Marriage wasn’t a consideration; he appreciated a pretty girl as much as the next guy, but none had really aroused so much of an interest to entertain the idea of a woman in his life. It would happen someday, he assumed, but for now it wasn’t something on his radar.

 

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Jessie swung up the stairs at Meadowstone Manor, and headed down the open walkway toward Annika’s bedroom. Annie and Aimee had said they’d be here doing homework this afternoon.

The class had been studying the history of the island’s dragon lore, and his mother had dug a dusty tome from one her trunks that had centuries-old depictions of the dragons for which the island was named. He couldn’t wait to show it to Annie and Aimee. So after finishing his chores for the afternoon, he’d decided to drop by unannounced since he knew they’d both be there.

Humming tonelessly, he pushed aside the leather door covering over the doorway—

 

 

 

 

Sweet mother of Twallan.

 

 

 

 

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A clatter dimly registered to his ears as the ancient book of dragon lore fell to the floor at his feet.

From her position between Aimee’s legs, Annika looked up, her mouth glistening wet.

“Jessie.” Her voice was soft with surprise as her eyes widened.