Black Sun 013: Reconnecting (Original Draft)

Black Sun 013: Reconnecting (Original Draft)

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For the first time in a really long time Julian woke up feeling like she SLEPT. The dreams still happened. Things that she knew weren’t just the nonsense of a usual dream. But instead of jerking awake at random intervals during the night and waking groggy and unsettled, she felt… okay. Good even! There was no need to hit her snooze ten times and then make a hasty exit from her house. Which meant she got to take a shower, get dressed and eat breakfast with time to enjoy her walk to school.

Angela wasn’t waiting outside for her, but Julian managed to catch up with her in the hall about the time she reached their lockers. “PUH!” Julian blew a hard puff of breath behind her to jostle her hair and make her jump, then plopped to lean and laugh against the locker. “Someone’s walking like they hit the bottle of shame last night. You shouldn’t drink on school nights.”

Angela rolled her eyes and made that whatever mom face as she plucked a very old, obviously NOT a school textbook out of her locker. “Yeah well, solve all problems with booze all night, every night, I always say.” she glanced at her, before shoving her bag in to tiny locker space. …then did a double take, perusing Julian from head to toe. Her hair was pulled up and out of her face in an actual styled ponytail. There was the cat eyeliner, the smoky shadow, and lipstick. The wine colored vest over a green skull shirt. Black jacket and black jeans. Those heeled boots, goddammit Angela wanted those shoes. Julian was even wearing jewelry.

The corner of her mouth slowly starting to quirk up. “Is that my lipstick? What’s got you all dolled up?”

Julian grinned wide. “I slept. I think that’s a pretty good occasion.”

“Huh. That IS news.”

“AND dreamed. So I think mayb- Shit, Margrit’s coming, runrunrun!” Julian squeaked, hefting her own bag on her shoulder. Now that Margrit had the idea in her head that Julian’s dating life involved one more boy than it should, Julian wasn’t eager to get grilled. Both girls tried to book it down the hall, but it was too late. Margrit was already calling out their names. Angela groaned out loud and Julian just glanced skyward with a sigh. Then both girls turned around to greet her.

“I’m so glad to see you finally put some effort and time in to your makeup and appearance, Julian. But heels weren’t a good idea, especially after that fall the other day.” she stated. Now it was Margrit giving her the look over, an eyebrow slowly raising.

“I LIKE her Fuck-me boots.” defended Angela with a frown.

Silvia appeared, though no one had noticed when. “I like THESE! These are bird feathers?” She asked poking her fingers at the long feathered earrings Julian wore.

Margrit snorted. “Of course YOU would like anything that involved fucking.” she dismissed Angela with a wave of her hand. “Though, I’m not surprised you went with Fuck-me boots. It takes a lot more work to keep the attention of two boyfriends. I’m guessing the classic black is for Michael and the rock throwback blouse is all Leo.”

Angela SCOFFED. “If it’s ANYTHING, the updo hair is for Michael and the Fuck-me boots are for Leo.”

“Leo is your boyfriend too? I guess that explains why he looked so torn up when you passed out.” Silvia pondered.

“When did you pass out, Julian? I TOLD you to be careful about your health. You definitely need to take off the Fuck-me boots and switch in to some flats until your ankle heals.” Margrit chided.

“OH MY GOD, can we stop calling them Fuck-me boots!” Julian practically shouted. Which drew a lot of snickering and curious look from other people in the hall. “And Leo is NOT my boyfriend. Why are we all eyeballing me like I’m a prized chicken on a runway?” Julian complained, swatting Silvia away from trying to grab her hand and look at her rings.

Margrit rolled her eyes. “Sweetie, don’t be so vain and get over yourself. Your friends are just glad to see you looking like YOU again. A little fussing is good for you. If I had to see you with the dark circles and wearing those awful shapeless pants one more day, I was going to die.”

Julian blinked and finally just laughed. “Were you mourning the absence of my ass, Margrit? You know Angela is the only girl for me.”

“Aww, man. I’m sorry, Jules. But you’ve been gone so long, I think I’m in to bitchy red heads now.” Angela’s arms went up as she inched towards Margrit making kissy noises.

As expected, Margrit got flustered, “Don’t you DARE touch me, Angela Mercy. I will slap that look right off your face and down the hall.”

Silvia was now giggling, along with a still laughing Julian. She bounced up and down. “Does this mean we get to hang out again? We haven’t in FOREVER and I don’t hate Angela anymore.”

Angela cast Silvia a look suggesting she was about to march over there and sock the girl. Margrit, though, looked interested by the idea. “We SHOULD. There’s this new exhibit at the Garden Cen-”

“Lets NOT hang out in the most boring place in town, and do something ACTUALLY fun.” Angela interjected. “Clubbing would be great. Silvia will be a bitch to sneak in, but we can probably hide her under a coat or something.”

“Or we could go to Fleetwood Macchiato and get the Angela Employee Discount on coffees.” Julian suggested with a grin.

“It’s settled then.” agreed Margrit. “Coffee it will be. We’ll meet after school. Invite your boyfriends, Julian! I want to spend time with them!”

“I’ll invite Michael, but I’m not sure he’s going to be interested in talking to a bunch of dumb girls for hours.” Julian confessed.

Margrit dismissed that too. “Please. A gentleman will always insinuate himself within a lady’s circle of friends. That’s how they learn useful little details about you for future plans and surprises.”

“Or manipulation or serial killing…” commented Angela with a scowl.

The bell rang, ending anyone’s chance to ask Angela why she was suddenly so snarly.

Julian and Angela were the first to arrive at the coffee shop, since Margrit and Silvia had to stay after school for a quick cheerleader’s meeting. Angela spent the walk there making fun of the whole ‘cheerleader meeting’ concept, while Julian was failing her attempt to not encourage her with giggles. Once they hit the counter, Julian knew what she wanted immediately, but Angela was taking forever to decide, so Julian was leaning against the counter with her chin in her hand.

“You WORK here. Don’t you already know what it all tastes like?”

“Doesn’t mean I know what I WANT.”

Julian wasn’t in any rush, so she waited, just glancing around the room while Angela muttered under her breath about her choices.

She ended up locking eyes with Owen DeWhitt.

He was in a corner booth, sitting across from someone whose back was turned to Julian. They had something spread out on the table between them. A map, maybe, or an architectural drawing… something mostly off-white with thin colored lines. The person on the other side was pointing at the paper and talking animatedly, but trailed off when they noticed that Owen’s attention was elsewhere.

They peered around the back of the booth, and Julian realized it was Robbie Kilpatrick- a senior who TAed the computer science classes, when he wasn’t hanging out with his fellow metalheads. (He had the look and everything: super tall with a long brown ponytail, goatee, and a Lacuna Coil hoodie.)

Robbie waved at her and smiled. Owen slunk a little lower in the booth, turning kind of red.

Julian wiggled her fingers in a wave at Robbie, and cast Owen a questioning blink. What was he looking so strange about?

“Who’re you waving at?” asked Angela, FINALLY telling the clerk her order.

“Robbie. Wait! Don’t forget the caramel latte!” They had been waiting so long Julian had to make sure he remembered her order too.

“Which Robbie?”


“Ah, Senior Robbie.” Angela glanced over her shoulder, sure enough there was Senior Robbie. …and Owen DeWhitt. Her mouth pursed and curled up in to a cat like smile. Before Julian even knew what was happening, Angela was gone. Plopping in the seat next to Owen and resting her arm behind his head on the back of the booth. “Owen, Owen, Owen… I know your secret.”

Oh shit! Julian groaned. Well, crap. Maybe it wouldn’t be too bad. Angela surely wouldn’t molest the guy when Margrit could show up at any minute.

That didn’t stop her from paying for their coffees and skittering over to the booth as quickly as possible. She slid in to the seat next to Robbie, mouthing Don’t Panic to Owen. “Whatever you do, don’t make any sudden movements, or the blond might attack. If she wants her COFFEE she’ll come quietly with me.”

During the time that Angela had forced her way into his personal space, Owen had rolled up whatever he and Robbie were looking at and shoved it across the table at the senior. Robbie was just finishing packing it away in his laptop case when Julian arrived on the scene.

“Hey. Julian, right?” Robbie had one of those voices that sounded eternally cheerful and not at all what you’d expect from the guy into broody goth metal. “‘Sup?”

Meanwhile, Owen glowered at Angela.

“Fuck off, Mercy,” was what he said. But the way he was looking at Julian with grumpy, over-caffeinated, bags-under-his-eyes… eyes made it really clear that this was Owen Speak for What do you want? And maybe a bit of What do you know?

“Julian.” she confirmed with a grin. “Margrit and Silvia are meeting us here in a little bit, so I apologize in advanced for all of the horrible things that are about to happen.” she confessed to Robbie, though it was also a heads up for Owen. He looked so worn out. She ever so slightly shrugged her shoulders, giving Owen the What’s with you? look.

“Oh Owen. Always playing coy. You’ve had your paws all over two of us now, want to add a blond to the collection?”

“NOOOooope. Nope.” Julian immediately hopped from her seat and grabbed Angela by the fabric at her shoulder. She hauled her bodily out of the booth and reclaimed the spot by Owen.

Angela scowled and settled down next to Robbie, looking none too pleased about getting KISS BLOCKED by Julian. How rude. She clonked her elbow on the table and her chin in her hand, and turned her frown towards Robbie. “What’s up with you, nerd?” She was blatantly ignoring the fact she herself had recently been in and out of the computer labs a LOT lately for her special research.

Julian bumped her shoulder gently against Owen’s. “You look tired. I’m sorry if we’re getting in the middle of something?”

“Just homework,” said Owen. At Julian’s shoulder bump, it was like some of the tension drained out of him; he propped his elbows on the table and took a sip of his cooling coffee. It was what he always got: plain black coffee, no cream and no sugar and no flavor.

Until he apparently realized what Angela was going on about.

“You told her.” He frowned. Hard.

“Am I interrupting something?” asked Robbie with increasing interest.

“No,” grunted Owen.

“Should I leave?” Robbie peered at Angela, then at Julian and Owen again. “Hey. Owen, are you blushing?

No. Eat a dick, egghead.”

“It kind of slipped out…” Julian uttered looking thoroughly guilty. She reached across the table to switch her and Angela’s coffees to their new seating arrangement.

“The fact she even lasted a year without me finding out is some sort of magic. You must be one hell of a good kisser, Owen. Why don’t you give me a little sam- OW!” Julian kicked her under the table. Angela hissed in pain, bending down to rub the spot on her leg. “Jesus, you could kill somebody with those shoes!”

Julian grinned cheekily. “That was kind of the idea.”

An eyebrow quirked, as Angela worked out what that meant. “Seriously?” A flash of teeth from Julian was the answer. Angela mouthed Badass. at her. Then the blond was turning to Robbie and giving him a complete look over as if she were only noticing him there for the first time. “What about you, nerd? Kiss any girls lately? I’m looking for a boyfriend and you seem tall enough.”

Poor, poor Robbie. Now that Angela was distracted, at least, Julian leaned closer to Owen and tugged gently on his sleeve. “I haven’t seen you for awhile. The track team is looking really good this year. Probably the best I’ve ever seen it! Not training too hard, are you?”

Owen didn’t smile. Owen basically never smiled. If you wanted to know what Owen DeWhitt was thinking, you had to pay a little more attention than the average person.

“Thanks,” he told Julian. He sat up straighter- and after a beat, he bumped his knee against Julian’s under the table.

“We’ve got a really good lineup this year,” Owen told her, ignoring what was happening on the other side of the booth. (Mostly, Robbie grinning and responding to all of Angela’s flirtations with increasingly ridiculous answers. Something about his last girlfriend and event horizons?) “A couple of solid new team members. We’ve got a meet at the end of the month, if you want to come.”

He finally did glance over at Robbie and Angela. When he was sure they were distracted, he leaned in a little closer to Julian.

“I’m fine,” he said. “Are you doing okay?”

“I think I’d like that, yeah! I kinda miss being at all the games and meets.”

Julian cast a quick look at Angela and Robbie, and seemed it seemed Robbie was perfectly capable of handling a conversation with her. Angela had moved on from girls to yanking at his hoodie and asking about the band on it.

She turned in her seat towards Owen, setting an elbow up on the table and her hand against her cheek, pretty much the signal for ‘this is a private convo, don’t be a pain‘.

“I’m better.” she grinned, giving a small shrug of her shoulders. “It was kind of rough there for bit. I’m really sorry I haven’t been around and that we haven’t been talking. I guess I just kinda shut down for awhile and then by the time I shook out of it, I was just used to not being here.” Julian examined his face, tapping her fingers against her cheek.

“Are you okay? Senior year is more than you expected?”

“Yeah,” he said shortly. “Yeah. I’m good.”

He was crap at hiding things from her, since she knew where to look. His mouth was doing that I’m-not-telling-you-something-or-maybe-multiple-somethings thing. But was he clamming up because they weren’t alone, or because he didn’t want to talk to her?

Cracking his knuckles, Owen downed the rest of his coffee.

“You should hang out more. It’s weird with you not around.”

Her brows went up, it was pretty clear she knew he wasn’t saying something, but she was quick to realize why. For the moment she dropped her hand from her cheek so she could reach for her own cup. Julian grinned bumping against his shoulder again. “Miss me too, huh?”

“Of course he did. He’s been annoyingly despondent.” Margrit and Silvia finally appeared. Silvia sliding next to Julian and forcing her to squish on over to Owen. Then she was throwing her arms around her in an affectionate cling, of which Julian accepted with a weary sigh.

“Are you sure it’s not because he’s been stuck being your trophy lover for the past two months?” Angela asked, finally tearing her attention from Robbie to glare at Margrit.

“Owen and I aren’t exclusive, so if he didn’t enjoy my company he wouldn’t HAVE it. Now give me my seat.” hissed Margrit, already grabbing at the blond.

Angela swatted at her and even turned side in the booth to shove at her with a foot. At this point she was practically sitting on top of Robbie trying to keep Margrit out. “There’s not enough room for all of us!”

“That’s why I told you to MOVE.”

“I guess we’re just holding Robbie hostage now. I hope you don’t have to be anywhere.” apologized Julian. She was trying to keep a straight face, but it wasn’t working out. The corners of her mouth were twitching.

“No, I’m good,” Robbie replied, unperturbed by the invasion of his lap. He grinned at Owen and Julian. “So you guys were a thing? What happened there?”

Owen shrugged. Or tried to; Julian was blocking his way. He wriggled his arm free and put it on the back of the seat behind her.

“Oh, come on, man. You guys aren’t trying to kill each other, so it can’t be that bad.”

“We were hanging out a lot over the summer and we were bored. We stopped when school started back up. It’s whatever.”

“Not still interested?”

“Not really.” Owen scowled. “Are you seriously hitting on my ex through me? She has a boyfriend now, Kilpatrick.”

Robbie just laughed, holding up his hands. “No! Just curious, damn. Who’s your boyfriend, Julian?”

“Her boyfriends are Michael Hightower and Leo Lanier. You’ve seen Michael at school, I’m sure.” Margrit interjected first, sounding a little out of breath. Then taking a hold of Angela’s leg and trying to just pull her off the seat. She almost had her, but then Angela wrapped her arms around Robbie’s leg and held fast.

“DUDE! Did you not just HEAR Julian and Owen had a thing? Get off me, you harpy!”

Margrit rolled her eyes. “Who cares! Who is going to be jealous over something that happened a year ago?”

“Well this isn’t embarrassing at all.” Julian stated flatly. Thankfully Silvia stopped her hugging, but now she grabbed Julian’s hand to eyeball her rings again. Julian retrieved it to pull them off and handed them to the girl. “Leo’s not- Whatever! You can give me a call if my two boyfriends don’t work out.” Julian caved, giving Robbie a shrug and a grin. She could feel fingers poking at her earring, so she took it off and handed that to Silvia too. The girl giggled and hopped out of her seat, bouncing over to a big mirror to try it on.

“Hello, Julian.”

At some point during the conversation, Michael had appeared out of nowhere beside their booth. He was wearing a tight smile and holding a cup of espresso hard enough that the cardboard had buckled a little. His other hand hung by his side, clutching a small black box.

“Is this a bad time?” he asked, his gaze sweeping across Julian’s friends. “I was passing by and thought I’d join you, but…”

“Oh,” said Robbie, adjusting his grip on the edge of the seat so that Margrit and Angela couldn’t collectively haul him out of it. “You must be one of the boyfriends. Michael?”

“That’s right.” Michael’s eyes returned to Julian.

Oh shit. “Margrit, get off.” Something about Angela’s tone registered because Margrit let go immediately. The redhead leaned against the side of the booth instead, giving Michael a big wide smile while Angela quickly released Robbie and sat back up again.

Julian looked exasperated for about a split second, then she was scooting out of the booth. “Margrit was just being wicked.” she explained, leaning up to kiss him on the cheek before pointed at the two boys. “Robbie Kilpatrick and Owen DeWhitt.”

“Who are welcome to stay and hang out with us, but we should move up stairs where there’s actual lounges and chairs to sit in.” Margrit clapped her hands real loud to catch Silvia’s attention, then pointed upwards to signal they were going upstairs. Silvia led the way skipping to the stairs, apparently with no intentions of giving Julian’s rings or earring back.

“I’m glad you’re here.” Julian finally said to Michael, rocking on her heels a bit. “You’re probably going to wish you weren’t seeing as we’ve outed one secret already and a boy has been held hostage in the span of fifteen minutes. But! I’m really glad you’re here.”

“Nice to meet you, Owen. Robbie.” Michael stepped closer to Julian, slipping one arm around her waist and pulling her flush against him. He dipped in to kiss her on the lips, almost like he was directly answering her peck on his cheek. He carefully kept his coffee held aloft and away until he was finished, at which point he finally gave the other boys a second glance. “It would be great if you stayed.”

“I’ve got something to do,” answered Owen, after a moment’s pause. He pushed his way out of the booth past them, shooting Julian a look over his shoulder. “Bye. Text me.”

“I was just heading out,” said Robbie, rubbing the back of his neck. “Catch you guys later, maybe.”

“That’s a shame.” Michael smiled. “Another time then.”

“…Bye Owen!” Julian called after him as he rushed out. She really would have liked it if he stayed, but now that their big secret was spilled, she could understand why he was booking it out of there quick. Margrit and Angela were likely to comment on it all night. “Now then, come with me to the mysterious upstairs.” she took Michael by the arm with both hands to lead him towards the stairs. Her cheeks were still a little flushed and there was no wiping the grin off her face.

Margrit grabbed Julian’s coffee and trailed closely behind them.

Angela’s nose wrinkled up and she frowned at Robbie once the others were out of sight. “Is it just me, or was that a little intense? Never mind, don’t answer that, you have no idea what I’m talking about.” Grumbling under her breath, she scooted out of the booth too. Resting her hands on her hips she eyeballed the boy.

“What can I bribe you with to give me a key to the computer lab?”

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