”Of course, I swear to be your best friend on my life. What kind of idiot wouldn’t?” She let out a sigh, and let go. “Okay, I’m getting depressed so we need to go back to planning the party. It’s going to be on the twenty-ninth…what else? Oh, right, guests. Let’s actually work on those invitations.” She got up and sat down at the nearest table. “And you’re not allowed to call my decorations cheesy again, okay? If you do, then you can just do all the work.”
She actually wasn’t much of a crafts person, but she didn’t really know who else to ask. Billie could have gotten Bracken to do it, but she doubted he would want to help out. Besides, with the way he was treating his art, it was definitely not a good idea. “So…colour scheme. We need to plan out one that will pop, but that won’t look too tacky. And it has to be colours you like. OH! Should we have a theme for the party? Those are usually lame, but what the heck, we haven’t done a theme party in years.” She thought about it. It could be fun. They just had to find a good theme to use.
Parker chuckled as she got up, glad she had changed the subject before the mood got too depressing. “I swear to my entire Harry Potter merch, I will never say anything about your decorations again.” he tried to sound serious, but he couldn’t help it but laugh, lucky she was his best friend and could understand how serious he was, even if he laughed. “Besides, if you don’t help me with this, we know I’d end up making a Facebook event and that’d be very unoriginal. So, thank you.” he got up and pinched one of her cheeks playfully.
He noisily dragged a chair from one side of the table and placed it next to the one Billie was sitting on, before doing the same. “What? A theme?” he thought about it for a moment “I don’t know. Yes they are lame, but… Probably they are so lame, they are cool now.” he smiled. “But we need to find the theme.” he said putting his feet on the edge of the table and started swinging the chair back and forth.
“I remember that. Why didn’t you want him to go again? Wasn’t he that guy who kept on leaving you weird texts or something? Oh wait, or was that me?” She shrugged. She couldn’t remember. “No, this isn’t a Will thing! This a ‘The teachers are going to tell Herondale that we’re breaking the law again’ thing. I think we should stop breaking laws before we ruin our futures.” She managed to keep a straight face for all of ten seconds. Then, she started howling with laughter. “Can you imagine that? Us not partying? That’s so funny!”
She took a deep breath and calmed herself down. “Oh, you don’t have to wait until Friday for there to be a party in your bed,” she whispered into his ear, before laughing along with him. “It’s never out of place, Parker,” she winked at him, a grin spreading across her lips. “You know that I’m totally cool with everything you’re cool with. As long as no one else is around of course. That kind of stuff is just weird.”
“There are many ways we could make our parties better! We could hire strippers…” she said, only half-joking. “But then again, that would defeat the whole, ‘low-key’ thing, wouldn’t it? Hmmm…” She thought for a bit longer. “We should throw a party and set off fireworks once in the summer. That will be a bush party! One where people don’t freeze to death,” she giggled, already excited about planning another party.
”Sorry, Parker! I keep changing my mind.” She felt sad at the thought of them slowly growing farther and farther apart. “Fuck. Now I’m going to cry. No! Okay? You’ll always be my best friend. Always. No matter what. Swear it on you damn life, Parker. You’re always going to be my hyperactive jerk of a best friend.”
“He was the guy who yelled what we had done the night before, right in front the Tolevine History class. While we were debating the first Minor War. You are the girl who keeps on leaving me weird texts and pictures of llamas on my Facebook wall.” he chuckled, but as his friend kept on talking, his face started showing concern. “Wha-?” he started to say, then she laughed and he sighed in relief, punching her playfully on the arm. “You scared me, you stinky pile of poop!”
Parker opened his mouth to say something, but closed it immediately and swallowed. “I know, I know. Sometimes I forget I’m the only one who can hear conversations across the room.” He smiled and nodded in the direction of a younger student sitting in a corner, far away from them. “But don’t worry, my roommate can conveniently get late detention one of these days…” he laughed and returned his friend the wink.
“Oh strippers…! he said with a sigh “I bet even Herondale likes strippers. Probably he won’t mind if we hire them.” he shrugged. “Of course, no minors would be allowed… I just loved the idea,” he whined. “Fireworks and summer sound like a great idea too.” he nodded. Parker remained in silence for a moment. “What are the possibilities of Cedric getting permission from his parents to go on vacations with us?” he asked very serious. “Wait. What are the chances of us having the money for that?”
“Don’t you dare to cry, because you’re going to make me cry and that’s not cool…” he tightened the hug. Why was she bringing this up now? They still had two more years in school. And after that, they’d move to the same neighborhood, if not together, as they had agreed years ago. “I swear to my life if you swear to be my tough know-it-all best friend.”
“Don’t look so disappointed,” she said, massaging his shoulders. “We can disguise some of the drinks. Or we’ll just have to keep it very low key. Maybe inviting teachers isn’t a great idea, though…” she said. “I don’t know. It’s your party. You invite whoever you want. Where are going to have it? Rudimenta Commons Area? Or somewhere else? I would say ‘just make it a bush-party’, but it’s February and it’s really cold out…”
“And what day do you want to have it? The actual twenty-eighth? Because that’s a Thursday. Or do you want to have it on Friday, or a week later? The date is almost as important as the rest of the preparations.” Billie was excited about having another party. They hadn’t had one in months, and she was starting to get tired of the monotone life that revolved around going to class. “Hmmm… There’s so much planning to do before then. If we make the party a bit later, we have longer to plan, and we can make it even better!”
“When are you going to get your own license?” she whined. “I mean, I don’t mind driving you places, but what if I’m not available at some point, hmm? You gotta get yourself and girlfriend. Or boyfriend. Just to free up some of my time,” she laughed. “I’m kidding, I like being needed by you. It gives me a sense of purpose in my life.” She smiled down at her friend and gave him a hug. “I’m going to miss you after we graduate.”
“I have the feeling you don’t want Will to go, do you?” he said with a smirk. “It’s cool, no teachers a.k.a. Will, are invited. And please, don’t pull that ‘It’s your party’ thing. Remember your birthday party last year? When you uninvited Joe Hughes because I didn’t want him to go?” he talked in a very calmed, almost parent-like, tone. “I want the party to be in my bed.” his voice changed, along with the look in his face to an already perfected smug face, but it quickly faded away as he laughed. “Sorry. I’m so sorry, that was completely out of place.” he laughed again. “Yes, sure. I don’t want anybody to freeze to death.”
“Friday, definitely on Friday. I have to hand in my Human Mythology project report in the morning and French test after lunch, so I can’t stay up late on Thursday.” he complained. “And that’s only what I have to do, I don’t want to imagine what you and everyone else with busy Fridays will have as an excuse to leave early on a Thursday.” If there was something that could ruin the fun for Parker, it was people leaving early a party. He could still remember each of the times when the party had ended at 1 a.m., leaving the slightly intoxicated Billie and Parker alone. ‘Well this sucks…’ was all they would say before heading back to their dorm rooms. “Better? How can you make one of our parties better?”
“Why is the point of having a licence if I don’t have a car? Besides you’re always telling me how much I suck at driving, so I doubt they would give me one.” He knew he wasn’t that bad, but he also knew how much his friend took care of her car. “A moment ago you didn’t want me to abandon you for a guy who I just became friends with, but now you want me to get a boyfriend or a girlfriend to drive me… You’re crazy!” he chuckled hugging her back. “I’m gonna miss you too… I hate you, you’re going to make me cry.”
Billie laughed. “Of course I’m jealous! If you get together with him, I’ll be all alone with nobody to braid my hair.” That wasn’t the only reason. Billie was worried about losing her best friend to some guy she didn’t even know anything about. How did she know if he was any good for Parker? And what if he really steal him completely from her? Then what would she do? Then again, he played sports, so how bad could he be? “Just don’t abandon me, okay?”
“I’m the what? Expert? Experiment? Hmm? Spit it out,” she said, pretending to be annoyed. “Please, if I’m a jerk, then you’re an asshole, so there we go.”
She took her hand out of his hair, and laughed. “Oh, really? I thought Youngs never gave up! Isn’t that what your brother always says?” Which was the truth. All Carson ever talked about was never giving up and following your dreams. “Easy for him to say, he’s good at everything,” she rolled her eyes. “At least I’m better than him at running. And same with you. You won first place for being a good sport, not for winning,” she teased. “I’m sure of it!”
Billie wasn’t too sure if they were mature enough to be in a room together. They had broken up four months ago, and Bracken still complained about Cedric being an idiot. Which probably meant that he still had feelings for him. “I don’t know…” she mumbled. “I just hope this party doesn’t turn into a shouting match, you know? You want it to be memorable in a good way.”
“Will is far from cool, Parker. Kind of reminds me of you.” She frowned when he grabbed her nose. He’d been doing that since they were eight, and it still bugged her. “Maybe we just won’t serve alcohol at the party. After all, a lot of minors are going and I don’t want to get in trouble with Herondale…again.”
”You know Ava dances, Parker! Who was this girl, anyway? Does she even do ballet? Had you ever seen her before?” Now Billie was just barraging him with questions. “At least you could go look for them, for her. It would be the nice thing to do. And you’re nice, right?”
Parker repressed a laugh that caused a barely audible snort. “Your hands don’t fall off when you fall in love.” He hated the idea of their friendship dying when one of them had a serious relationship. It was stupid ending a eighteen years friendship for something that would probably end in two or three years, max. “You shouldn’t worry, I won’t abandon you, because I’m not falling for anybody, that I can assure you.” He gave her a comforting smile and winked an eye at her.
“Nah-ah. I’m not saying it. Believe me, I’m saving us a two-hours argument. One we’ve had several times.” He shook his head. “Call me asshole one more time and you know what will happen to you…” he threatened her.
“We don’t most of the time, but when it comes to our hair… We let it be.” he tried to smile, but the mention of his brother made him itch inside. They’ve got along pretty well lately, but it was still hard for Parker to see his brother as that and not a rival. “Okay, yes, but I got to the finish line AND a medal. That’s what matters.” he poked his tongue out, playfully.
“Now that you mention shouting… I think I should take Cedric to play gotcha or something that helps getting all the anger out, you know, before the party. At least he will be too tired to shout.” Parker was worried too. Cedric wasn’t doing that well either, at first there were tears, lots of tears and cussing, which caught him off-guard. ‘I didn’t know you knew that one.’ he had said. But still, he felt his friend was bottling things up. “We can keep an eye on them, in case things start getting dangerous.”
“So you’re saying I’m not cool. I think you’re wrong, miss.” He pretended to be offended, sitting up and crossing his arms. “Ah, fuck! You’re right.” he ran his fingers through his hair, remembering the time Herondale they caught the alcohol, the minors and them in the same party. “Any way, I’ll still need you drive me to the town to buy sodas or whatever.” he said a bit disappointed.
“I know she dances, but she can’t be the only one, right?” he replied defensively. “I don’t know who she is, I think I’ve seen her a couple of times in the cafeteria, but…” he sighed. “Yes, I think you’re right…” he sighed.
I got to admit, I only ask to go to the town just to do this kind of stuff.
“Not as hot as me, though, right?” she joked. She wanted to lighten the mood, he was getting strangely defensive about this Jake guy. Even though he was covering it up with a laugh, she could tell that maybe he was worried about him. “Please don’t fall for him. How am I supposed to have any fun without you around?” Billie whined at him after a few seconds of silence.
“Oh, you would insinuate such things! You’re actually just a big jerk disguising himself as an overenergetic twenty-one-year-old.” She shifted so that she was sitting behind him and started to play with his hair. “How do you manage this mess of curls, anyway? It’s like a fucking forest in here, Parker.” Rolling her eyes, she teased, “You wish you could beat me to the lake.”
”Okay, whatever. I just hope a fight doesn’t break out or anything,” she shrugged. “Will? My cousin? You’re going to invite him again?! Last time he ended up kissing Mr. King, Parker!” She rolled her eyes and sighed, “I guess it’s your party, though…just make sure they stay away from each other this year.” A small laugh escaped her mouth. “That’s hilarious! How did you manage to do that?!”
“Of course not. You’re the hottest person I know… right after me.” he chuckled. She always knew how to make him feel better, still he could feel that uncomfortable sensation he had never felt before. But what made his stomach fall were Billie’s words? Fall for him? the thought of it made Parker nervous. “Are you… jealous?” he joked as he smiled mischievously in an attempt to put the emotional load on her.
“So now I’m a big jerk! Well, you’re the expe- Err, I mean… Never mind.” he knew if he finished that sentence he’d be entering war zone. “My hair is magical and full of secrets you’d probably never understand.” he joked. “Not even me, I just gave up on it years ago.” he left a playful laugh escape his mouth and moved to lay on the floor with his head resting on her legs. “Tell that to my “Active Youth Marathon” 1st place medal.” he smiled, closing his eyes as she played with his hair.
“Don’t worry, they are mature enough to be in the together same room, they’ll behave.” He opened one eye to look what the expression on her face looked like. “What? Will is cool, and it’s not like we will let him drink that much.” he reached out for her nose, grabbing it between his index and middle fingers, and squeezing it a bit. “Why do you always roll your eyes at me? Stop rolling your eyes at me.” he left go of her nose and sighed. “It’s not like I did it on purpose. I found them on the locker hallway’s floor and when I was on my way to leave them in the ‘Lost & found’ box a girl said they were hers. About an hour after that Ava told me they were hers.” he was moving his hands as he spoke, it was something he did whenever he talked while laying down.
Billie raised an eyebrow at Parker, the shrugged. “Oookay, whatever you say, weirdo.” He was acting defensive; but that could have been because she had brought up the Sanaturo topic. “Are you sure you don’t like him? It’s been a while since you’ve like somebody, in more than a ‘You’re hot stick your tongue down my throat’ sort of way,” she commented. “I mean, it’s not like he’s going to die anytime anytime soon, right?”
”There is no such thing as a cooler job, then an agent hunting down Sanaturos and bringing them to justice,” Billie grinned. “Are you calling my invitations cheesy? I think they’re wonderful thank you very much, Parker. Let’s see you make a better one.”
She took out a piece of paper and wrote out the names Parker had mentioned previously. “Are you sure you want to invite both Bracken and Ced? I mean, Cedric’s your friend, right? But Bracken’s my friend, you don’t have to invite him.” Besides, she thought, who knows what will happen if those two end up in the same room. “So you only want to invite five people to your twenty-second birthday party?”
“Like I said, I don’t know. He’s hot, I’m not denying that, but how would I even know if Ireally like him, anyway?” he sighed. “He better stay alive long enough for me to figure it out.” he joked. “I better keep him away the Naturalists in the mean time.” he shoot a sharp grin at his friend sitting in front of him. They may have avoided the regular argument, but they were very stubborn to leave it just like that.
Parker pretended he didn’t hear her talk about hunting down Sanaturos. “I would never, ever insinuate such things.” he laughed. “Besides, you know my handwriting is not invitation card-friendly and yours is, well, your handwriting.” he dragged himself from where he was sitting to lean his head on her shoulder. “But I can race you to the lake and we can see who wins then.” he giggled.
“It’s not like I have to invite him, I know he’s your friend and you know…At least I know who he is.” he looked up from her shoulder without moving his head away from it. “Of course not, I just haven’t thought of anyone else yet… Let’s see.” he stood still and quiet for a few moments. “Okay, that Walker guy, Will, Albert?… Abel! Do you know him? he’s cool. Oh and Ava is invited too… Can you write ‘Sorry I gave your shoes away’ on her invitation? Or is that tacky?”
”Oh right, that guy on the soccer team, right?” she smiled. “Don’t you like him or something?” she joked. She had known Parker all her life, and not once had he ever expressed romantic interest in another living thing. Sure, he had talked about girls and guys he found attractive, but he had not had romantic feelings in a long time. There was no reason for him to start having them now. Billie shrugged, figuring that Jake was just the next person whose pants Parker wanted to get into.
”Wait, what’s wrong with the S.A.S?” Billie asked. “They support a great cause. The Sanaturos are a big threat, and you know it. And don’t start again with the Sanaturo versus Naturalists crap, I’ve hear dit enough times.” Billie rolled her eyes. She was sick of having the same argument with Parker every other week. “Besides, we should be making the cards so forget I brought it up.”
Moving off the couch and onto the floor, she dumped a bunch of craft supplies from her backpack onto the floor. “I can benefit a lot from impressing Beaty. He’s one of Will’s best friends and you know that. Besides, maybe I do want to get recommended to the S.A.S. by my favourite teacher.”
Parker shrugged. “I think so. I don’t know, it’s weird and I don’t really want to talk about it. I just want him to go,” he spoke, as he made his best effort to look indifferent. It wasn’t the time to get all sentimental over a guy he had barely crossed two words. But Jake had defeated him during the Special Training demonstration for the new kids. That was the first time in years.
“Hah. Sure.” he muttered. He didn’t want to start that argument again. It was ridiculous how many times they had argued about the same thing and it always ended the same. He felt how the atmosphere got tense so he pulled out his cellphone and played “Playing God” by Paramore. Maybe listening to her favorite song would help their current situation.
“You should aim for a cooler job, like playing Ariel at a Disneyland Park or having a one of those TV shows where they destroy houses and make new ones.” He smiled taking the conversation in a friendlier direction. “Or you could move to New York and open a cheesy wedding invitation store-thing…”
”Sorry,” Billie apologised, slightly out of fresh. Her face was flushed from running. “I was working on an essay for Advanced Tolevine History. You know how Professor Beaty gets when you hand in work late.” She set her bag on one of the couches and sat herself down beside it. “Just give me a second to catch my breath. We can start on the invites in a minute.”
Closing her eyes, Billie tried to focus on slowing down her breathing. She hadn’t been running in too long, and it was probably time for her to start up again. Sadly, school had been getting even more in her way than in previous years; especially Latin. Professor Goulding had stressed how important the second semester was. She didn’t see the difference between first and second, but didn’t want to fight him.
”So who do you all want to invite, Parker? I mean, it’s not as big as your twenty-first, but it’s still important.”
“Do you still remember how to breathe?” Parker laughed, sitting on the floor in front of her. “Yeah, he can be a pain in the ass when you hand in work late, but I don’t understand that quirk of your to impress him handing it in a day earlier.” he pulled the green beanie chair and leaned against it. “I don’t know what kind of benefits you could get from that, besides a recommendation for a job in the S.A.S.” he sighed.
His face got a tad serious, but the smile was still there. Professor Beaty was a smart man, but there were at least three other teachers worth taking the hassle of giving a good impression. He shrugged and tried going back to the most important matter at that moment.
“Yes, it’s important so only important people this time. Last year, I swear there were at least like ten people I haven’t seen before in my life.” Parker looked up at Billie. “So, you’re invited… I’m invited. Hmmm… Cedric, Bracken, Kendra. Oh, Jake.” he nodded. “Jake Harrison..?” he replied to his friend’s confused look.