DD (dreamon_dreamer) wrote in misfitmuse,
DD
dreamon_dreamer
misfitmuse

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All Falls Down ; Chapter Two [K+]

Original Post Date: November 27, 2006
Word Count: 3117

Whit pulled out her sunglasses as she stepped off of the sidewalk with the mass of pedestrians crossing Philly's bustling 16th Street. The huge frames slipped on easily and immediately went to work, blocking out the biting August sun. As much as Whit loved and appreciated the sun, she preferred it when it was coming from or moving on to another section of the globe, not lounging above her. Plus, her hater blockers, as she liked to call them, allowed her to ignore the feeling that she was being inspected by strangers while out in public as she so often did.

Spending most of her summer days only on the quickest route that took her to work at the library and back each day, she had forgotten how much she loved the layout of the school. As if it had organically grown from the ground itself, Kerr University's Hartley Campus was a perfect fit in the heart and soul of Philadelphia. Not quite at the concrete Amazon status of NYU or Georgia Tech, it still braved pretty well and had its own set of wilds to endure. What Whit loved most was the blend of small, open-air shops and eateries lining the busy blocks that didn't overshadow the few areas of greenery on the inner fringes, framing academic buildings and dorms. We pride ourselves on creating a haven within the city for our students, the admissions brochure had read, a nurturing hub where everyone feels they are an integral part of the Kerr Family. Whitney had scoffed at it four years ago, but now she could honestly say it had pretty much lived up to the sugar coating it had dished out. While the majority of the Kerr student body lived and attended classes on the Hartley campus, the Reilly campus was another option located in more rural Pennsylvania, mostly for art/science majors who needed the green space.

Finally reaching Belle's, Whit sped up her pace as she made her way to the front door. Behind the intricately painted B on the glass front window, she could see Veradis seated at their favorite table, her excitement bubbling over in frantic waving, as if Whit were in a sea of people. The door rang it's familiar chime; Whit plucked her earbuds and chuckled.

"Finally!"

"Oh whatever, you know how long it takes to get across campus."

"Yeah yeah...let me look at you!"

Vera engulfed Whit's tall frame with her own petite one, her hands linking behind Whit's neck to squeeze all the love into her that she could muster.

"OK V, you act like you haven't seen me in 5 years." Whit tried to shake her off.

"That's what it feels like...!" Vera squeezed harder.

The pair went into a giggle fit. It was always like this, easy routine that made Whit feel needed.

Whit caught her breath, twisting her mountain of curls into a messy bun as she took a seat. "It's not like you could actually look at me anyway, with your whole body almost WRAPPED around me."

Veradis flicked her wrist at Whit, not even looking up from putting her cell on vibrate. "Stop being so analytical. You know what I meant."

After dropping her phone back in her Coach clutch, Vera looked directly across the table at her best friend, eyes sparkling.

Whit looked up from her menu back at her. "Oh my goodness, it smells soooooo good in here."

"Doesn't it?" Vera agreed. "We should hurry and order; it's going to take forever to get our food anyway. All these damn freshman who overheard some upperclassman mention Belle's crossing campus one day. I swear this place should only be open to juniors and seniors."

Whit rolled her eyes. "You're so impatient. And rude. If I recall correctly, the two of us stumbled in here one day freshman year, after getting lost on this side of campus when we were trying to find Powell Hall to signup to volunteer with that after-school program."

"Yes, but we KNEW what we were doing. We weren't your typical freshmen."

"I guess..."

"Why are you even looking at the menu anyway?" Vera asked, her forehead rippling . "We're getting what we always get, right?"

"Well, I thought I might switch it up today. You know, 'live on the edge' like you're always suggesting." Whit gestured for effect.

"When I say that...I'm referring to things more meaningful than ordering lunch dear." Vera patted her hand and they launched back into giggles.

A waiter appeared at their table within seconds, as if he knew they were ready. "What can I get you, loves?" He pulled a Bic from behind his ear, flipped open his notepad and popped his Cotton Candy Bubble Yum in one fluid motion.

"We'll each take a chicken caesar salad, please. And of course loads and loads of garlic bread as an appetizer."

"And I'll take a bowl of potato soup to go with my salad," Vera added. "Oh, and we're going to share a slice of key lime for dessert."

Appreciating that his two customers knew what they wanted, he speedily took down their full order, making a mental note to bring out their pie when they were done eating their entrees. "Coming right up."

As Vera flashed the waiter a grateful smile and handed him their menus, Whit began fiddling with the fresh daisies sprouting from the vase in the center of their table, ordained with acrylic daisies of its own. Getting lost in the tiny brush strokes and comparing them to the natural lines of the real flowers, she drifted into her own world. Used to losing her best friend to her thoughts, Vera smiled and shook her head, the warmth of normalcy making her heart flutter. She cleared her throat, then pointedly pushed the vase to the side with her left hand, and grabbed Whit's hand with her right. Whit looked up in a daze, the clouds in her eyes parting and again showing the brightness that didn't reside in them often enough.

"Ohhh...I did it again didn't I?" she said, cutting off the circulation to a small chunk of her lower lip.

"Yep. But it's ok. What were you thinking about?" Vera asked, poking each of her knuckles. "How you could improve your painting game? I really don't think there's much else you could do to improve, you're already the black, female Van Gogh."

Whitney sucked her teeth. "Flattery will get you no where. Especially when it's blown out of proportion."

"Uh, I wasn't flattering you. I mean, I was, but it wasn't just meant to blow up your head. It was a compliment. And it wasn't blow out of proportion! Would you stop doubting yourself?"

Whit knew she was right. That part of her heart that held the revelation just hadn't made it to her soul yet. "Ok ok. I know what you meant. I just don't respond well to that...title you gave me. Besides, you know who I like above Van Gogh. Neither is really my favorite in the world, but I guess..."

"Of COURSE I know who else of the textbook greats ranks higher than him, Whitcasso!!"

That was enough. With the mention of yet another groan-inducing nickname, Whit shot her signature stone face across the table.
An amused Vera tried to stifle her snickers, but her eyes deceived her. "Alright, I was fresh out of names anyway. But seriously, you're going to be in the spring exhibition, right? Because I need to see a bunch of your work together, and gush, and and, buy a new outfit that matches the mood and/or theme that you'll be going for." This got a short laugh from Whitney. "I'm not kidding. You know I'm your biggest fan. Whit, you're really that good." Vera softly squeezed her hand to make her meet her reassuring gaze.

"Thanks. You always know how to keep my paper-thin ego balanced."

"Well, that's what I'm here for." The pair fell into silence, just enjoying that they weren't having a conversation through the phone for once. Vera began absently chipping away the paint on Whit's thumbnail.

"OK! Would you stop that?" Whit whined, pulling her hand away and shoving it under her leg.

"I see you were getting some work in before our lunch date, no? It's all over you, your nails, your earlobe." She dipped her head under the tabletop. "Uh huh, your pant leg."

Whit crossed her arms. "What? I woke up and felt like painting. I haven't gotten anything out since before classes started. Plus, I bought some supplies at Perry's yesterday on a whim. They were practically yelling at me from the bag." She sighed, looking out the window, to a point in the distance without coordinates. "I like what I did do though, didn't feel like a waste of a canvas, you know? I didn't sketch it or anything, just did my random freestyle type thing. I've been on this Africa kick lately; I wanted to try to see what I could come up with. The Masai women are really interesting, very strong. Their ornamentation, jewelry, their robes. I just thought about all that, and all of the photos I came across in the library stacks -- damn it was so boring working there -- and just went at it."

"It sounds amazing. I can't wait to see it. Of course, I wouldn't have to wait at all if you had agreed to live with me this year."

"I should have known that was coming. V, you know I couldn't have handled that rent every month."

"And you know I offered to make it a 70-30 split, or even 80-20. Hell, I wouldn't make you pay any of it if you didn't have so much pride."

"Yeah, well. That's the best gesture in the world and I love you for it, but, no."

"I mean, we've lived on what feels like opposite ends of the world all 4 years here," Vera expertly ignored her response. "For once, I wanted us to be able to run into each other's rooms when we had something juicy to tell, without buckling a seatbelt or running for public transportation being involved."

"You mean, when YOU had something juicy to tell."

"Minor detail. It still would have been great!'

"Yeah, well..." She repeated the open-ended phrase, letting the rest of the sentence dissipate before it was even formed. It was easier than saying what was still caught up in her heart, the emotions biding their time to mature into words that would express what she wanted to say. What she wanted to say to quite possibly the person in the world who cared about and understood her the most. Still, the words didn't come.

"It's ok," said Vera, knowing already what roadblocks her best friend couldn't seem to get around. "It would have been great, but we can still make this year great without sharing bills. Can you believe we're about to graduate?!"

Vera occupied Whitney with talk of their last 2 semesters as undergraduates as they waited for their order to arrive. Belle's had gotten even busier, with a crowd growing outside and patrons staying at tables far longer than average, enjoying their parties and ordering dessert and coffee in addition to main entrees. The crowd was beginning to showcase more of the Kerr student body, trying to get a quick, filling meal in before the night's festivities.

"So you really spent the whole class texting him?" said Whit, indulging in their second basket of bread.

"Yes, I really did. I gave him my number at that party I went to last weekend, it was pure luck that we ended up sharing a class," said Vera on a wink. "What he had to say was far more interesting than Dr. Osborne on Economics in a Global Society."

Before Whitney could lecture Veradis on how she should have sucked it up and focused on note-taking, she realized they had company.

Three girls swooped around their table and greeted Vera. Whitney recognized one of the girls as Lea Matthews, the other two she didn't know. They probably helped plan the fashion show too, just a wild guess, Whitney thought, as she picked aimlessly at a piece of bread. Lea and Vera started chattering immediately, obviously still high off of their win. Whit didn't really have anything against her, she didn't even know Lea that well. But that didn't stop her from feeling mild resentment whenever she interrupted her time with Vera. And mild jealousy.

"So, Whitney, why didn't we see you in the audience at the Back-to-School Show?" asked Lea, with innocent eyes masking spiteful motive.

Well, I wasn't exactly invited Whit wanted to say, but hestitated when she glanced at Vera's oblivious smile. "I, um, didn't know about it until the day of...and i had a lot of homework to do anyway. It's cruel how mean some professors can be this early in the semester." she added, trying to sound pleasant.

"Damn. That much homework for you already? What a shame." Whit was the only one who caught Lea's minute smirk.

"Oh, that was partly my fault too. I was so busy with planning that I forgot to tell you about it," Vera said. "And then I promised you that ticket but Lea didn't know I needed it so she gave it away and...yeah. I know I already begged you to forgive me, but I felt so bad. Sorry again about that, Whit." She gave a genuine look of guilt to her best friend. Lea looked satisfied.

Whitney counted to 5 in her head and took a mental deep breath. "It's fine V, honestly. No big deal. I know it wasn't your fault," she said, giving Lea half a glance. Whit locked eyes for a moment with the girl who looked the part in every way of someone who should be best friends with Vera, knowing that looks meant nothing. Vera noticed the prolonged glance and looked back and forth between the two, confused. Again on cue, the waiter appeared with their food, trying to squeeze past the trio of non-patrons and flashing them a fake smile.

Maybe it was the fact that Lea and company didn't attempt to get out of the waiter's way, maybe it was how much she wished she hadn't agreed to come in the first place, maybe it was that she yearned to figure out a way to lessen the levels of Vera's naivety...whatever it was, enough was enough.

"I'll be back in a minute V, I'm going to the restroom. Start eating without me." Whitney mumbled the last sentence as she walked away, habitually forcing her thoughts back into the comfort of shadows.

"Oh! Don't let us ruin your lunch..." Whitney didn't hear much more of Lea's retort, but she could imagine Vera's concerned face; that only made her want to flee faster. She needed the safety of silence, somewhere away from everyone, those who sensed fragility and those who loved her more than she even loved herself.

~

Belle's almost had a split personality -- quirky bistro/coffee shop by day, moonlighting as a mellow performance venue by night. The most popular being Thursday and Sunday nights, when Kerr and Philly's open mic aficionados bombarded the place, packing in under intimate lighting at the round tables that were configured in a much closer arrangement than during regular business hours. A cross section of this set sat at tables along a wall of cushioned seats, downing baskets of gourmet hot wings. Loud, but not to the point of causing a scene. Instead, attention was drawn toward them because of their reputation on campus, as the ones making moves, as the ones who were about something. Stylish, sophisticated sisters, Timbaland-outfitted brothers. Laughter seemed to be emanating from somewhere near the middle of the table line, caused by the one who usually kept everyone entertained and uplifted. It wasn't a very difficult talent for him, Nathan Foxworth Crane wore charm as if it were cologne. One of Kerr's most well-known upperclassmen, he got along with everyone, not because it was a goal, but because it came naturally. His deep brown eyes and sandy blonde hair didn't really hinder his sociable nature either. The crowd favorite's close circle of friends, those who were surrounding him at that moment along the back wall of their usual Saturday afternoon meet up spot, didn't look much like him by typical standards, but looks meant nothing to him anyway. He felt just as cool hanging with them as he did with his family back home in Georgia. Life was good, that's all that mattered.

As he surveyed the table for a basket with at least one wing left, Fox's attention was diverted. Walking toward him, maneuvering through the noise and tables as if on a predetermined course, was a girl he had never seen before. But he assumed she had to be from Kerr, just, somehow never crossed his path, until now. Yet he felt connected, drawn to her, even though he had only made eye contact with the crown of her head; her gaze was too busy pointed toward the ground. He studied her as she came closer, realizing that she wasn't really walking toward him, but instead toward the restrooms to his right. She looked troubled, he thought to himself, but even the worry she was shrouded in didn't take away from the untamed delicacy of her frame. He kept his eyes on her. Reaching the door, she sped up, but almost bumped into two girls coming out. Apologizing profusely, as if she hadn't even seen them, he caught a better look at her. Her features definitely took after the first impression he got of her. She was gorgeous. He needed to know who she was, and to see her up close.

What was he saying?

Although he was social, Fox was often misinterpreted in the relationships arena. He didn't care enough about what others thought of him to correct the misconceptions, but he knew that what was going through his head right now was out of character for him.

But still, it's what he wanted. What he needed.

His nice guy charm took back over. I can just wait until she comes out, see where she's sitting, and go introduce myself. That's me, that's what I do. Telling himself this was the best plan before he could even complete the thought, he positioned himself to keep a better eye on the ladies' restroom door.

"Yo Fox, you want to come back down to Earth and hand me some napkins?" said one of the guys from the end of the table to his left.

"Sure. Here." He passed some down hastily, temporarily taking his eyes off the door. But as he turned back around, trying not to be so obvious with his surveillance this time, he had a feeling it would be a little while before he caught sight of his mystery woman again.
Tags: [passions] all falls down, chapters, fanfic
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