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- Just a Girl // No Doubt

Finally worked out where I’m taking this Gabriel thing. Also I’ll try include the other girls soon I just don’t want to contradict things you’ve written since I’m behind.

Grace Milton; November 12

"We’ve missed you so much Grace.” Were the words that greeted me as I exited my last (actually my only) class of the day. They were of course uttered by the charmer known as Karl, Thomas hanging by his shoulder.

“I sense some sarcasm.” I singsonged, pulling my bag up onto my shoulder as I made my way towards them.

“Never,” I didn’t think he could be more sarcastic. I’d been wrong, “Seeing you lights up my day.”

“Well when you put it that way.” I said cheekily, standing on my tiptoes to plant a kiss on his cheek. He looked completely shocked, which hello had been the whole point.

“Well I missed you Gracie.” Thomas spoke up, wrapping his arms around me in a hug.

“Thank you.” I returned the gesture, taking the opportunity to stick my tongue out at Karl (who still actually looked shocked, or brain dead even) over his shoulder. “Though what exactly did I do to deserve the honour.”

“Can’t a guy just want to see his best friend.” Thomas let go of me, though keep one of my arms slung around his shoulder.

“What’s Karl doing here then?” I deadpanned as we began to walk, well actually I didn’t know where we were going. I just let Thomas leave me, Karl falling into step next to us.

“I already told you. I missed you.” He leered. 

“I’m just going to assume that it’s because no one else wants to put up with him.” I continued as if I hadn’t heard him. Which is when a thought dawned on me, “Actually how did you know what class I had?”

“Karl.” Thomas shrugged nonchalantly. That was really weird in itself.

“How did you know.” I turned a narrowed gaze to him. 

It was Karl’s turn to shrug now. Really did no one around here know anything, “I just remember these things.” Which was a straight answer from him. Weird.

“It’s true.” Thomas whispered conspiratorially to me, “He remembers everything.”

“Creepy.” I remarked. And that was the moment when my phone began to ring.

Fumbling the ringing device out of my bag I checked the screen to see it was Joe calling. “Sorry, I’m gonna take it.” I smiled at Thomas apologetically, slipping out from under his arm.

“ We’ll be over here when you’re done.” He gestured vaguely towards a park bench.

“Alrighty.” I nodded in acknowledgement before wandering a little way away from them and answering, “Hello.”

“Gracie Hi!” Joe sounded, well he sounded stressed but also strangely cheerful.

“Hi Joe.” I smiled, leaning back again some big old tree, “How have you been?”

“Busy. Really really busy.” He laughed which again was a weird reaction, “I’m really really sorry I couldn’t make it down the other weekend when I said I would.”

“You’ve already apologised for that like a hundred times Joe.” I let out a small laugh myself, “You warned me in advance and had a valid reason. It’s perfectly fine.”

“Well as long as you’re sure.” He said skeptically.

“Do you want me to be mad at you?” I asked faux threateningly.

“No, no that’s quite alright.” Joe laughed, sounding much more sincere this time which in turn made me feel about a gazillion times better.

“So what do I owe the pleasure of this call?” I asked, still smiling, “And don’t say you’re just calling to talk to me because frankly I take that as an insult to my intelligence.” 

“I would never.” He sounded affronted. He was totally just faking it though.

“I know you to well Joe.” I rolled my eyes even though he couldn’t see me. It was the principle of the issue really, “So spill.”

“Just calling to let you know we’re all coming up to Brown for the family visit thing.” He said casually. Like he hadn’t dropped the biggest bombshell in the world on me. What was I going to do about Gabriel? I was so screwed.

“Oh really.” I managed to keep my voice steady and not betray my internal panic, “All of you?”

“Well no, not mum.” He relented with a small laugh, more like a breath than anything, “But me, Cassie, Lily, dad and Cody.”

“Oh.” I repeated kind of weakly.

“Is that alright with you?” Joe picked up on my discomfort. Of course he did. Joe always knew. Knew more often than I did in fact.

“Of course it is.” I believe myself. Almost.

“Well if you’re sure.”

“I mean you’re all an embarrassment to me but I’m cool enough my reputation will withstand it.” I continued, hoping my joke (really bad joke) would distract him. Funnily enough it did, or maybe he was just going to try and find out when he was actually here, 

“Is that so?” He asked in amusement, “Have you pulled a Jedi mind trick on everyone or something?”

“Yeah. Basically I don’t mention Jedi Mind Tricks.” I teased him playfully, shifting my weight against the tree slightly because the bark was starting to dig into my back. “Where are you staying anyway?”

“I dunno, dad organised that shit.” Of course he didn’t know. I’d call Cassie some time to find out from her.

“I’m not surprised.” I laughed, and then because he was probably expecting it from me I asked “So have you fixed things with Gabriel yet?” I knew he hadn’t but I wasn’t even meant to know where Gabriel was, “Have you even found him yet.”

“No.” He said followed by a long pause. A pause so long in fact I thought he might not elaborate, “I’m getting kinda worried Gracie.” He finally admitted. Which meant he was really worried, he’d never straight out admit he was worried unless he was on the verge of a panic, “I think I really messed up.” He added in a small voice.

“Aww Joey.” I said, trying to figure out what to say to reassure him without giving away the fact Gabriel was here. Once again I was hit with a feeling of guilt, stronger than ever before, “I’m sure he’s fine. I mean you’d have heard otherwise.” It was my turn to pause before I tentatively asked, “What did you even fight about?”

“It doesn’t matter.” Which just wasn’t on. Joe usually told me everything so the fact he wouldn’t tell me meant it was mostly his fault. He was embarrassed.

“Joe Milton.” I said in my best warning tone.

There was yet another long pause before he finally answered “I’ll tell you when I see you in person next, alright?” He sighed eventually. With a jolt I realised we never used to keep so much from each other. I could blame Gabriel I guess but Joe was choosing not to tell me what was going on.

“I will hold you to that.” I told him, meaning it. Like if he didn’t tell me on Friday I would never talk to him again.

“Well I don’t want to keep you from class or anything.” He said eventually.

“Thanks.” I said, not bothering to tell him I didn’t actually have another class today. I really needed to find Gabriel to talk to him anyway, “I miss you.”

“I miss you too but I’ll see you this weekend okay?” He said soothingly. 

“Alright. Bye.” I said before hanging up. Rubbing my hand along my face I made my way to where Thomas and Karl had been before to let them know I had something to do. Surprisingly enough though when I made my way over Karl was the only one sitting there.

“Where’s Thomas?” I asked him, eyes narrowed suspiciously.

“He had something to do.” He shrugged looking over at me. Clearly I was just a terrible actress because as he looked me over his eyes softened. Well softened as much as Karl would ever do, “You alright.”

“Fine.” I told him shortly, wrapping my arms around myself. Which okay didn’t make me seem fine at all but what can you do.

“Well I don’t believe you but I’m not going to make you tell me what your issue is.” He shrugged, returning his attention to his phone, “I’m assuming you’ve got something to do.” He commented, and wow when did he get so good at reading well everything really, “But just know if you ever want to talk.” For someone that was known as a giant ass his offer seemed kinda sincere.

“What? You’ll offer me a shoulder to cry on and wipe me tears and hold my secrets to your chest.” I scoffed much harsher than I meant.

“No. I’ll listen.” He looked up from his phone appraisingly, “I care enough to listen but I’m not going to try and sort your problems.” Refreshingly honest and actually a tempting offer, “I’m under no impression I’ll magically fix anything but I’m just offering.” He shrugged before returning his attention to the phone and clearly ending the conversation.

As I walked away I found myself actually considering it. Which meant time for a huge check of my priorities and life choices.
-

“We kind of need to talk.” I told Gabriel, dropping into the seat opposite him at one of the cafe’s around campus when I finally found him.

“Are you breaking up with me or something?” He asked me, wry grin on his face.

“That’s not even close to funny.” I rolled my eyes. You couldn’t even call it humour really, “And if I was breaking up with you I’d be kicking you out also.”

“What’s wrong?” He asked me, smile dropping (though only slightly) as he clearly read my mood.

“Joe called again.” He looked kind of panicked for a second so I reached over the table to grab his hand, “I didn’t tell him you were here though I feel more and more guilty each time.” I sighed, twirling my rings around my fingers, “He sounds legitimately worried.”

“Stop trying to guilt me.” Gabriel sighed, squeezing my fingers tightly, “I’m just trying to give him space.”

“I know but he’s my brother.” I sighed, using my free hand to push some hair that was falling in my eyes behind my ear, “And he sounds really worried and guilty.”

“It’s not your relationship to meddle in. It’s not your problem.” He said stiffly, letting go of my hand.

“You made it my problem the second you ran away to hide with me.” I snapped, drawing the attention of everyone around us. Lowering my voice I continued “Look I didn’t come looking for you to guilt you or anything.” I sighed, rubbing my hand over my eyes, “Are you ever going to tell me what’s going on?”

“Probably not.” He shrugged honestly. No loss for me. I was going to find out soon anyway.

“Fine, I’ll find out from Joe on Friday then.” I told him matter of factly, “I just thought you might want to tell me your side first.”

“You’ll hear it from Joe?” He asked, brow furrowed in confusion.

“Yeah. It’s families weekend or something. Anyway everyone except mum is coming up for the weekend.” I explained patiently, tapping my fingers along the table to let out some of my energy, “Which is what I came to tell you actually.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah. Oh.” I perhaps could have been more sympathetic but I was just tired of the lying. I wasn’t very good at it at all and it made me feel terrible, “So you know I’m not going to kick you out or anything but you might be seen.” I stopped, giving him a chance to speak. He didn’t, “This would be a good opportunity to tell me your side. A good opportunity to sort your shit out.” I hinted.

“I think you should hear the story from Joe.” He said finally. That was odd, but I wasn’t going to push him. Not when we were both clearly in bad moods.

“Fine. I will then.” I sighed, getting up from my hair. “Like I said you’re welcome to stay with me but it’s likely you’ll be seen. Otherwise I’ll tell you where they’re staying and you can find somewhere else to stay.”

“I might go back to Boston actually.” He said and my heart sank just a little.

“It’s your choice, which I’m sure you know.” I sighed again, walking round behind him so I could hug him from behind, “But I really think the two of you should at least talk. Plus.” I added, “I really don’t want you to spend Thanksgiving alone.”

“I’m used to it.” That officially just broke my heart, “But thanks for caring so much.”

“It’s my job as family.” I shrugged, leaning forward to kiss his cheek, “Now as fun as this moping and feeling sorry for ourselves is, I actually have midterms to study for.”

Honestly I’d rather deal with family drama.
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