Saturday, March 9, 2013

Chapter 1.40

Chapter 1.40- Assumptions

            Prom night marked a change in Layla and Anthony’s relationship. When they were together, she found it easier to talk to him. Sometimes, they even voluntarily held hands walking down the halls at school. She had gotten used to him being there, and it was comfortable. Kind of like an old shoe.
            Once she had realized it for herself, she finally decided to take him up to the lookout spot she had taken Phedra on her last day in town. It wasn’t Layla very favorite place, but she wasn’t ready to share that with anyone just yet.

            “The view up here is nice,” Anthony told her.
            “Yeah, it is. It’s a lot higher than it looks from the road. You can see most of town really clearly. The river too.”
            “Yeah it’s nice,” Anthony responded.
            Layla nodded feeling the unusual tension between them. Turning slightly away she wondered what was wrong with him today. He was due to age up in just a day or so and would be graduating. Finally, he could move on and Layla had figured that should make him happy.
            “So,” said Anthony. “So what’s next?”

            Crossing her arms in front of herself protectively, Layla frowned. What did he mean by ‘What next?’ Hadn’t he said that he wanted her to take him to a place she actually haunted in better weather? She’d brought him here, what more did he want?
            “What do you mean? I thought you wanted to see where I went?”
            “That’s not what I meant.”
            “Then what did you mean? ‘Cause I’m a bit lost.”
            “Yeah,” Anthony nodded heavily. “Yeah, you are.”

            “And that is supposed to mean-what?” Layla was getting a little exasperated.
            “It just means that you just don’t know,” said Anthony. “You don’t know what goes on in my head at all. And by what next, I’m kind of asking where we go from here.”

            “See,” Anthony reached up to run his fingers through his hair in agitation. “See that’s what I mean. You don’t know- you don’t get… I’m not starting this right.”
            ‘Didn’t get and know what?’ How is it that that was the best he could offer her?
            “I want to know where we go from here,” said Anthony, haltingly. “I don’t mean where we walk to from here. Yeah it’s getting late and almost time to be home if we don’t want to freeze, but I’m not talking about physically and separately. I’m talking about-about us. About us as a unit, as a couple.”

            For a wild moment, Layla’s heart fluttered before she stilled it with an ounce of cold reason. They were only in this ‘relationship’ as a convenience. It was a fraud and a sham. It was only for the sake of appearance and weren’t they both on board with that? Wasn’t that the original agreement, presented by Anthony himself no less.
            “I thought this was only so that Selena would leave you alone, and my brother would leave me alone,” scowled Layla. “If I remember, you were the one to originally propose this course.”

            “It was indeed my idea to pretend,” Anthony conceded. “But that was a long time ago. And we’ve spent a lot of time together. We’ve talked a lot, we’ve even been to prom. I think we have a lot in common.”
            Layla nodded, still frowning.
            “I think that if we broke this off the moment I aged up, you’d just be beset at school again. We should probably wait until you age up before going our separate ways.”

            That wasn’t what she had been expecting to hear. It also created a strange conflict within herself. She found that shewas both glad he said it, and at the same time was angry with herself for being glad.
            She didn’t want to be tied to anything here. She hadn’t wanted a boyfriend in the first place. She wanted to be alone and free so she could run her life her way. Or was it what she wanted?
            “Of course,” Anthony continued. “I’ve gotten rather used to you. Sometimes, it’s rather nice to be able to talk to you about things. Maybe you could change your mind.”
            “No.” Layla whispered the single word so low the hiss of the falling snow almost muffled it entirely.

            “And why not, Layla?” The outburst surprised her. She looked quickly at him, saw the pleading look, looked away in agony.
            She couldn’t answer. Couldn’t trust he voice. So she shook her head, pummeling her emotions to keep them under control. Trying to understand why her emotions were reacting in the first place.
            “We’re so alike. Loners. Outsiders. Quiet. Smart. Unsure, unsteady and we fit so well. We’ve protected each other. We’ve stuck together. We’ve shunned friends and family to make it work. Why couldn’t it work better?”

            Layla still didn’t answer, she didn’t have one. And so they stood in silence, together and worlds apart at the same time. Searching through her mind Layla couldn’t come up with an answer, and until she had one she could reason through soundly she didn’t trust her voice.
            Finally, the sun sank below the mountains and a cloud slid over the sunset, making the light drop dramatically.
            “Then I guess it’s time for me to go home,” Anthony’s voice had a catch that caught Layla’s heart. But it was too late. He’d already turned and left, leaving her at the top of the hill with even more questions.

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            Sitting on the couch with Galen to watch some TV was a new comfort to Layla. Since becoming teenagers the two had drifted so far apart that it was hard for her to believe she had a twin sometimes. But since the computer matter had been smoothed over Galen had sought her out more. In return, she began to seek his company on occasion as well.
            “I can’t leave the house I’ve decided,” Galen said. “I know Arden wants to build something new and fresh, but this house is home. And since we’ve redone my room I think I’d rather just stay here.”

            “Really?” Layla was very interested in hearing this, since Galen had long ago informed her that she was going to be expected to live in the house with Anthony so Galen and Arden could build and live on their own. Maybe her plans to leave could be smoother in this aspect at least.
            “Yeah,” Galen answered. “I think Arden is aiming a little too high for us. Especially to begin with. This house is home for me. I just want to stay. Is that okay with you?”

            “Yes!” she breathed hardly daring to trust her voice.
            Layla was nearly giddy. This decision could really make leaving so very much easier for her. She wouldn’t have to worry about fighting with Galen, (and Arden by proxy) leaving him to the unnecessary worry over their parents. She’d never really understood why he seemed to think they needed someone to look after them. Maybe it was another of Arden’s ideas. It didn’t matter to her anymore who had cooked it up. She could go now. She could go now and be-
            And it hit her. She still had to deal with Anthony. She wasn’t entirely untangled yet. But she could be. If only everything could be so painless. No one was supposed to get hurt and until now it had been feeling like all she was going to do was hurt everyone. Now, the person to be hurt was the one Phedra had warned her would be hurt most by her selfish decision: Anthony.

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            “How much further, sugarbaby?” Buck asked Layla for the umpteenth time.
            “We’ve still got aways to go, but we’re a lot closer than the last time you asked!”
            Buck had been watching his baby girl struggle with an invisible weight on her thin shoulders for too long now. Though he’d only had his answer for a day or so he didn’t feel like he could hold it in any longer. So he had asked her to take him somewhere private and comfortable where they could talk, really talk.

            Layla plowed on, leaving Buck to struggle further forward.
            “Don’t leave me too far behind, now!” Buck called after her half alarmed.
            She stopped and stood waiting for him.
            His request had taken her by surprise. Even more surprising that the first place she thought of was just ahead. It had become her sanctuary and she’d never allowed anyone to find it. But taking her Daddy seemed natural. He was the one who taught her to love being outside, and so he should love this place just as she had.

            Finally managing to catch up to her, panting slightly Buck laughed.
            “When I said somewhere comfortable,” he said. “I had rather imagined that it would be someplace indoors with a roaring fire and comfortable chairs.”
            Layla nodded. She knew that. But this was far more comfortable for her, and much more private than anywhere indoors that she knew of in town.
            “Still not telling me where we’re going, eh?”
            Grinning broadly, Layla shook her head at him. He knew better than to ask even.

            And so the pair trudged on through the snow until they crested the next hill. There, just over the rise were a few bales of hay, and a large rock. Layla indicated that he could sit, and she did so as well.
            “Alright then,” Buck didn’t waste any time. “You care to tell me what’s had you so upset and worried the past few days? Care to tell me why your boyfriend ages up today and you’re not with him? You havin’ a tiff?”

            Almost immediately, Layla put her gloved hands on her face.
            Buck waited for her to speak, trying to give her plenty of time to organize her thoughts. It was hard though, seeing her distressed and upset. All he wanted to do was help. But he was going to have to figure out if his assumptions were correct first. And so he waited.
            Finally, she drew a shuddering breath, keeping her hands on her head.
            “Kind of,” she admitted. “Kind of not.”

            Feeling the relief of confession, Layla spilled her entire tale to her Daddy. How the relationship was really just an agreement. How Galen had been tormenting her with potential suitors. How Phedra had told her to be confident but wouldn’t take her along. How all she wanted to do was to see a little more of the world, but without having a place to start.
            Listening in silence was easy for Buck. He’d come with a large stock of patience and her story was rather absorbing if a little confusing. If Galen had been attempting this, why hadn’t she come to him? He’d have put a stop to it. And why did Galen seem to think he and Helen needed ‘looking after?’ They were getting older, sure, but they weren’t senile. They weren’t incompetent or frail. Buck could also have told Layla that getting close to anyone for any reason would spell trouble eventually if she didn’t want to be close in the first place. He could have guided her in finding a way out of town that wasn’t just ‘pack my bags and run.’ Shoot. Even Phedra should have told her that. Or maybe Layla should have observed that. No matter. It was a mess, and a rather sticky one at that.

            Once her tale was spent, Buck took a deep breath hardly sure of where to start.
            “Well, Laydee-bug,” he spoke slowly, still trying to absorb. “I’d say that first off, you should have come to your mom or me a long time ago. Especially about Galen, or Arden. Whichever one is trying to force you into a relationship.”
            Layla nodded. Looking back, that was obvious. But it was too far in the past now.
            “Second of all, I know you’ve got the money to travel, but why haven’t you been making plans, looking for where you want to go and how to get there? It’s okay to want to try your wings. It’s not okay to just run off without a plan. That’s irresponsible and could be dangerous. Your mom and I’ve traveled a little. We coulda helped ya.”
            Pausing to take a breath, swallow a little personal pain, Buck went on.
            “In fact,” Buck paused again. “In fact I think I might have a place for you to go to start. Somewhere with family even.”

            Surprised, Layla looked up a little. Had he found Cyrus?
            “I made a phone call a few days back, several of ‘em. Got in touch with Trigger, my brother, yer uncle. He and ‘is famly live out West on the farm I grew up on. The town is little, but it’s close to lots a’ bigger ones. It’s got mountains, an’ a river. They could ‘elp ya set up a place to stay fer a spell. See if ya like it. See if ya don’t. They’d ‘elp make sure ya weren’t lonely or anything.”
            Swallowing hard, Buck stopped for a moment. He really didn’t want to lose Layla. But if she insisted on going, he’d rather send her to Trigger than to the world at large.

            Even her posture displayed her interest in this idea. She’d heard Buck mention Trigger a few times. He was supposed to be pretty decent. But she’d really never thought to ask about him further. Buck had said family. Were there cousins?
            And then she took another look at her dad. He was upset. He was sad. Maybe she shouldn’t be quite so eager.
            “I think,” she said. “I think that would be great. I think it would be an awesome place to start. Out West…”

            “It’s a small town. Not much there, ‘bout the same as here far as places to go goes. Not a ton of people either. So if yer looking to go to some big crowded city this wouldn’t be it. Don’t want ya to think I’m offering New Sim City or anything. Ain’t like that.”
            “I only would like to see a city,” Layla hurried to reassure Buck. “I don’t think I’d like all the people. But somewhere close to one could be nice. It could be just right.”
            Steeling himself for the other matter he still had to clear up with her, Buck turned.
            “An’ what about this ‘Boyfriend?’”

            “Anthony?” she asked almost dreamily. She was still exulting about having a place to go when she aged-up.
            “He’s yer boyfriend.”
            Layla scoffed.
            “Well he is. And it sounds to me like the two of ya have gotten close. Close enough that yer actually conflicted over leavin’ ‘im. That he’s wantin’ more. Maybe even wantin’ ta settle down with ya.” It upset Buck a little to think that she could treat another person’s feelings so lightly.

            “I don’t know, Daddy. I just don’t know. I’ve been trying to figure it out myself.”
            Sighing heavily, Buck nodded. At least that was an answer. “If ya don’t know fer sure, then it ain’t meant ta be.”
            “I like him. I like being with him. Do I see forever with him? I don’t even see forever with me. And right now all I see is ‘west.’”

            Silence wrapped around the pair for a moment. Layla blinking rapidly, Buck sighing repeatedly.
            “Well,” he finally broke the silence. “Yer gonna have to end it. Ain’t fittin’ fer my Laydee to be stringin’ any boy along.”
            Nodding, Layla sniffled a bit then stood up Buck followed suit.

            Once he was steady on his feet, Layla sidled over to him, grabbing his hand and squeezing lightly. Then she put her head on his chest.
            “Thank you Daddy,” she whispered in a choked voice. “Thank you so much.”
            “Love you too, Laydee-bug.”

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            So Buck’s big plan was to get in touch of his long lost brother and bury the hatchet so Layla would have someone to turn to while still being able to getting out. Now you know. Also. <3 Buck.


  1. *cries*
    Buck, nooo!!! You have to go with her, and eat some ambrosia at least once a week.

    It seems I was right about Layla and Tony. I can't wait to see how Layla handles that, it won't be easy, but it needs to be done.
    I loved the father-daughter time :)

    1. Nope. Buck has to grow old sometime. I'm just glad I won't have to see him die, or get the pop up. I'll just leave this save alone to visit him from time to time.
      Father-Daughter time was fun. Layla has got to fix her own problems before she can move on. We'll see how it all goes soon.

  2. "Kind of like an old shoe." >.<

    Ahhh poor Anthony, I so liked the kid, but Buck's right, it's not decent for her to string him along. Although I think Anthony already sees the writing on the wall.

    So _that_ was Buck's plan. hah, not "New Sim City". But West, a small town, yep, I can see that for Layla. I can't wait to see her new home, although it'll be sad leaving behind Buck :(

    1. Anthony's in for quite a bit of hurt from Layla, and I'm sure he knows that to an extent.
      Layla's just returning to where Buck was raised. So it's kind of full circle. She'll fit in much better there.
      Ah, Buck! I'm going to miss him to. So will Layla.

  3. Awww, Buck is so sweet! I'm glad Layla is going to end things with Anthony, he never seemed quite right for her and a small town out west does seem right for her.

    1. Buck is a dear isn't he? lol
      Layla still has a lot to figure out about her life, but at least she knows that Anthony just doesn't fit.

  4. UGH! What a heartbreaking chapter. DON'T GO, LAYLA!

    1. She's got a bit of wanderlust is all. She won't be happy without seeing a little of the world.

  5. Aww, I loved that father-daughter interaction <3, Buck was just as adorable as usual. I'm very excited for Layla and the new life ahead of her.

    1. Buck is awesome. I love my Buck. lol. I was too at that point. Ha! Nah, I still am. Her life is very very different from the one her parents led and a lot of who she is now really shows as she gets older.

  6. So you won't have to see Buck die. I guess that's kinda good. I was so sad when my Pedro died in game. Then, I wrote it and was bawling. I came upstairs, and my husband's all like, 'what's wrong?' I answer, 'I just killed a character. Well, he died on his own, but I just wrote it, and he'd saved a little, sad surprise for Rose, and it was just so sad!' Then, he looked at me like I was from another planet. He doesn't understand how characters become real to us. It will kill me when Donovan dies. Maybe I'll do like you and have the heir simply go to another town. K, quite possibly 'taking a leaf outta your book' here. :)

    Oh, I know Layla does not look forward to this conversation she'll have with Anthony. Though, honestly, he should've expected it. He did, but I guess he thought he could sway her the same way she unknowingly swayed him. Or..did he like-like her from the beginning? Maybe once she tells him where she's going, he'll want to go, but I don't see that happening really easily. Oooooo! What if she's there for a while and he shows up?! Guess I'll have to read.

    1. Yes! When the good ones pass it's so hard. </3 Characters and pixels have so much life to them that outsiders don't quite get. :') Yeah. Hubs doesn't get it here either. Yet he gets emotional whenever an athlete he's covered for years graduates. xD

      Yup! You'll just have to read to find out the answers to those questions. But you are absolutely right. She doesn't look forward to this conversation one bit.