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Author Topic: Fiona's Side-Story: Different  (Read 107 times)

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Offline EffulgentFirefly

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Fiona's Side-Story: Different
« on: June 09, 2018, 11:58:18 AM »
More side stories from the universe of my world-class figure skater. This one is about Fiona, set about two years before the main story takes place, or in other words, right before Isolda's story takes place. It gets kinda repetitive, but I can't be bothered to edit it right now. This is... Far from my best writing, to say the least.

Split into a couple parts, the second of which I'll post later, hopefully. Here we go...


“Hey, Mama, I’m going to the karaoke place with Apollo and some friends!”

“Be back for dinner!” Fiona heard her mother call back, and she nodded as she followed Apollo out of her apartment. He grinned at her. “We gonna see who can sing better again or what, Fio?” He cleared his throat as if to emphasize the newfound deepness in his voice, something most of the boys Fiona’s age didn’t have yet. She supposed it was the advantage to most of the kids in her apartment complex being a couple years older than her. “I’ve been practicing.”

“Please, Apollo,” She replied with her own little huff-of all their friends, she and him had always had the best voices, and they took pride in it. “You don’t know English, your choices are limited.”

“I know English!” The Greek teen argued as they left the complex into the bustling streets. He cleared his throat, before saying in English through a thick accent, “See? My English are fine!”

Is,” Fiona laughed-her own English had been perfected as a child due to how often her family moved, and though Apollo’s Spanish and Greek were perfect, his English had always had left something to be desired. The girls in his English classes called it charming. She reminded him of his dropping grades. “Not are. Your English is so bad, Apollo!

“Shut up,” Apollo simply huffed as they made their way down the streets of the city. The karaoke place was close enough to walk to, and it was near the coast as well. “You can’t speak Greek.”

“Well, yeah, because Greek isn’t a worldwide language!” She huffed, flipping her black curls over her shoulder. “And I can speak Spanish, English, French and Italian fluently, and I should probably pick up Japanese or Chinese if my dad keeps us moving all the time.” Fiona shot a grin at her longtime friend. “I think I win the language war.”

“Whatever, Fifi, you’re just bragging,” Apollo huffed as they crossed a familiar street and waved to one of the townspeople they knew. “I’m a better singer than you, and you know it.”

“We’ve gotta let the crowd decide, ‘Polo,” She replied with a grin as they approached the karaoke place. “May the best man win, yeah?”

“Aw, your English is so cute, Alexia!” Fiona cooed as her friend finished the song. It was a perfect song for the blonde teenager, an American song called ‘Havana’ that she wasn’t particularly fond of, but worked for her nevertheless. Alexia laughed nervously, putting the microphone down and retaking her seat between the mixed girl and Matias. “You’re too nice, Fiona. You’ve gotta sing something in English, your English is so good!”

“I’ll try, I’ll try,” She laughed, beginning to look through songs. Maybe it was because she’d spent time all over the world, but Fiona liked American music just as much as she liked Spanish or French music, and her being fluent in English definitely made listening to it more enjoyable. With a hum, she cocked her head. “You know ‘Attention’ by Charlie Puth?”

“Oh, he’s so cute!” Marina gasped, clasping her hands together and feigning a swoon, and Etienne nodded from beside her. “He’s really hot. If he was gay and Spanish, you know, I just might have to hunt him down for a night.”

“Okay, we get it,” Alexia joked, playfully shoving the French teen. “You’re gay. And he isn’t that hot, Marina, you just like Americans.”

“I mean, I’m not denying it…”

“Alright, alright,” Fiona laughed, choosing the song and putting her arms up to halt her friends. “I’ll do ‘Attention’.” As the song started, in English, she said to Apollo with a grin, “Get ready to have your ass kicked, Apollo.”

Apollo rolled his eyes as she began to sing-either he hadn’t understood a word or he couldn’t be bothered to care. She kept her eyes competitively on him as she sung in perfect English-she didn’t need lyrics, she knew most of the American songs that charted in Spain by heart anyway. Etienne wolf-whistled as she continued, and Fiona grinned as her friends began to clap along with the song. She liked karaoke with her friends. They were a good group to sing with, and out of habit, Fiona began to dance, to sway her hips along with the music. Though she didn’t know if she’d follow it as a long-term career, she loved to sing and dance, even if she wasn’t that great on the larger scale of things. Whether she was going to or not wasn’t on her mind as she hit the bridge of her song, enjoying singing with her friends maybe a little too much.

The pause between the bridge and the last chorus was heaven to her lungs, and as she began the last bit of the song, Fiona almost laughed and lost the beat as her friends joined in with the only part that could be familiar to them, Apollo included. Grinning as they finished the song together, her own perfect English mixing with the Spanish (and one French) accents of her friends. She let out a laugh as it ended, and her friends erupted in cheers. “Thank you, thank you, you’re too kind.”

“You’re so good, Fiona!” Marina exclaimed as she sat back down. “You gotta teach me how to sing American songs like that. I’ll have to know when I finally find my American husband, right?”

“If your only concern is singing American songs to your husband, I don’t think you should be looking for a husband,” Apollo joked, and Fiona smiled in amusement as Marina whacked his arm. “C’mon! You can’t even sing, Apollo!”

“I can better than you,” The Greek teenager challenged, standing up to pick a song himself. “Get ready to be wowed.”

“Yeah, right!” Fiona replied playfully. Their singing war had gone on since they were kids, and it probably wasn’t about to stop anytime soon. “Let’s see what you’ve got. Gonna do something English?”

“Oh shut up, Fifi,” He mumbled as he picked a song. Though she’d been half expecting it to be something she didn’t recognize, the small mixed girl clapped as the song began. “Aww, you’ve gotten all soft and cute, Apollo! ‘Él No Soy Yo’, really?”

“Aww, Apollo!” Alexia teased. “Got some girl you’re after? Cute!”

Apollo simply flipped them both off as he began the song with that naturally smooth voice of his. It was nice, Fiona had to admit, and if she didn’t reckon herself a better singer, he’d probably be the best she knew at his age. Just as she’d done, his eyes were fixed on her as he sang, and she smiled back, swaying along with Etienne, Matias and Marina, who were mouthing lyrics to the popular song as the chorus came around. Alexia nudged her. “He’s gotten better, yeah?”

“Yeah, why?” She asked, teasing playfully, “You got a thing for that voice of his now?”

“Ew, no!” The dirty-blonde girl replied with a quiet little laugh, and Fiona nudged her as if to say ‘you sure?’, even though she knew for a fact Alexia had no interest in the handsome Greek boy. Apollo had always said she had some sort of creepy mind-reading ability, and though she’d called it intuition, she knew that her friend was far more interested in Matias than anyone else, even if she hadn’t said anything about it. Sometime, down the line, maybe she’d help Alexia out with her little crush.

Apollo finished the song without a falter in his voice, and like they’d done with almost every performance before, Fiona and her friends clapped and cheered from their place on the couch, the raven-haired boy giving a clumsy, playful bow as he sat back down. “Thank you, thank you. I think I did better than Fiona, right?”

“It was pretty good,” Marina admitted with a little smile and a shrug. “But Fiona sang like the most flawless English and a Charlie Puth song. So… My vote goes to her.”

“Geez, you should just go live in America already!” Apollo whined as he checked the time. “Our time is up, and it’s getting late. Next time I’ll win, watch me.”

“Yeah, right,” Fiona teased as they stood up and began to leave the room. She waved to the person at the desk-they came in enough that most of the workers knew their faces. “I’m multilingual. You can’t beat me!”

“We all had fun, though,” Matias intervened as they stepped outside. She and Apollo had a tendency to go on with their competitions for a long time, and it was usually either Alexia or Matias that had to step in. He smiled at them as he began to leave the group. “I’ve really gotta get back. I have work tomorrow. Thanks for the fun, guys, we should do this again soon.”

“Bye, Matias!” Alexia called after him, and he waved back with a smile. Fiona almost laughed-whether she was good at reading people again, it had to be obvious that the two had some sort of chemistry, right?

“I should get going too,” Marina sighed, running fingers through her hair, and Alexia nodded. “Oh, yeah, the sun’s going down. Etienne, Apollo, Fiona, we could catch the bus if we really run.”

Etienne nodded, and though Fiona was going to nod too (though her mother was lenient with  curfews as long as she was with Apollo or some of the other trustworthy kids in the building, her father was a little more strict), Apollo shook his head. “We can walk, it’s only like ten minutes if we aren’t too slow. Right, Fifi?”

“Uh… Yeah,” The short mixed girl agreed, even though she had no idea why her childhood friend wanted to walk all of a sudden-Apollo was typically pretty lazy. She was curious, to say the least. “I’ll see you guys later on. We can do this again next weekend, maybe.”

“Alright.” Marina smiled at them, and Etienne waved as they began to leave the front of the karaoke place. “Don’t do anything too bad to her, Apollo, don’t wanna scare the only cool kid off.”

“I won’t,” Apollo replied with a roll of his eyes. “See you guys.”

As the rest of the group left in the direction of the bus stop, and she and her old friend began on the road home. With an eyebrow raised, Fiona cocked her head at the taller boy. “So why the hell aren’t we taking the bus?”

“I just wanted to talk to you,” Apollo replied with a shrug as the cooler evening breeze blew in, dragging the natural, salty smell of the sea with it. She crossed her arms over her chest. “Uh-huh, I don’t believe it!”

“Wow, fine, you caught me Miss Mindreader,” He sighed with a little smile, shoving his hands in the pockets of his shorts. He seemed oddly bashful, and she furrowed her brow in curiosity as he continued. “I did want to talk about something though.”

“Alright. Shoot.”

“Ah, okay…” He sighed, rolling his shoulders back and clearing his throat. “I guess I’ll just spit it out. Let’s go on a date.”

“Oka-wait, what?” Fiona stopped in her tracks, unsure of what she’d heard, if anything at all. “What did you say?”

“Geez… I want you to go on a date with me,” Apollo repeated, his tanned cheeks turning red. “Actually, I want you to be my girlfriend. But if you want to go on a date first…”

A date? She’d been on one date before, and nothing had clicked in her mind. She hadn’t wanted to date the person long-term, no matter how nice they’d been. Unsure what to say, she started at her longtime friend with a flabbergasted expression. “‘Pollo, I…”

“I know, it’s sudden,” The Greek boy sighed, licking his lips nervously. “And it’s kind of weird because we’re like siblings, but I’ve wanted to ask you out for a long time…”

“Apollo…” She stammered after a moment - her words had been stolen away in an instant. She didn’t want to hurt her old friend’s feelings, but…

I just don’t feel that way towards him… I don’t feel that way towards anyone, whether I want to or not…

“I’m not forcing you into anything, Fiona,” Apollo said seriously, his usual playful demeanour gone, and he gave her a little smile as he continued walking ahead of her. “But consider it, okay? We have all summer.”

“I… Okay…” She sighed as he left her on the sidewalk. She’d been hoping for a calm, peaceful summer… And suddenly, Fiona had a feeling it wasn’t going to be either.

Though she and the other kids obviously lived in their apartments, Fiona had always considered the streets of Barcelona her home. Her parents fought often, and though they loved each other, she was sure of it, their marriage had always been messy, and as an only child, the house could get lonely or intimidating with quarrelling parents and very little else. Apollo had never had the best life within the walls of his own apartment either-being the youngest of four children to a single mother hadn’t served him well. And so both of them had spent most of their days on the streets of Barcelona, making friends and getting to know the residents. Most of the other kids in the complex were similar, and the grand majority of the teenagers on the surrounding streets knew each other well, so it wasn’t uncommon for them to be wandering the streets, like they were that day.

“Hey, it’s Rio!”

“Huh?” Fiona jumped at Apollo’s enthusiasm, following his pointed finger - Rio was indeed standing in front of one of the large walls of an apartment building, with his paint and sketchbook as per usual. He was one of the best graffiti artists in the city, known for the whimsy and absurdity in his murals. He wasn’t much older than Apollo-22? Maybe 23?-but his art was beautiful. Fiona had always felt like it was almost an honour to be friends with him.

“Hey, my two favourite kiddos!” Rio smiled and waved them over as he turned away from the wall. “Come here, you two, as long as you’re watching me paint you aren’t getting into trouble.”

“We don’t get into trouble that much,” Apollo huffed, looking to the outline on the wall. “What’re you painting this time?”

“It’s kinda hard to explain,” Rio replied with a laugh as usual-Fiona couldn’t remember a single time he’d simply told them what one of his creations was. The young Spanish artist simply picked up his sketchbook off the ground and held it out to them. “See for yourself.”

Curiously, the shorter girl peered over Apollo’s shoulder to see the page of the sketchbook - it was what looked like a female child releasing dozens, if not hundreds of white birds into a night sky with what appeared to be a malicious-looking moon. What could only have been a crystal ball was broken at her feet, and there were details she could barely pick out on the small scale, but Fiona was stunned nevertheless. Though he was elusive and kept to himself other than his graffiti, Rio was a fantastic artist, and that was all that mattered when it came to admiring his work.

“What’s the symbolism?” Apollo asked, handing back the sketchbook, and Rio grinned at them. “I tell you this every time, Apollo, I’m not gonna tell you anything about why I drew it like I did. Your job is to figure that out.”

“Aww, Rio…”

“I just make the art,” Rio replied as he continued to paint an outline on the wall, nudging the ladder out of the way as he did - Fiona had to wonder just how big it was going to be. His works tended to range from almost unnoticeable petite to massive and sprawling. “It’s up to the viewer to interpret it how they will.”

“Well, I think it’s beautiful,” Fiona assured him with a little smile, and over his shoulder, the young Spaniard smiled back at her. “Thank you, Lil Miss. It’s nice to know I’m not doing this for nothing.” He sighed, taking a step back to observe the wall, before beginning to paint again. “I can teach you two if you’d like. You’re well old enough now. I started legally when I was your age, Apollo.”

“Did you paint illegally?” Apollo asked from beside her with a little laugh, and Rio simply laughed back, pushing light brown hair away from his face. “We don’t talk about those days. But if you two wanna start tagging, then just ask me. I’ll teach you.”

“That sounds awesome!” Fiona replied, unable to keep the enthusiasm from her voice. She’d always loved the arts, whether it be through her dancing or singing, or watching people like Rio paint or the figure skating champions of the world. Both Apollo and the young artist laughed, Apollo elbowing her gently. “You’re real enthusiastic.”

“It’d be so cool to start tagging!” She grinned at him. “Don’t you even wanna try?”

“Well, I mean, maybe…”

“Here, come here, you can try something.” Rio motioned them both over with the hand that wasn’t holding a paint can. Unable to bite back her grin, the small mixed girl practically pulled Apollo over. “Oh my gosh, Rio, are you sure? This is like, a masterpiece you’re making! I don’t wanna ruin it!”

“Here, this spot will just be in the background anyway,” Rio assured her, pointing to a spot near the bottom of the brick wall. He held out a can of paint to them. “Wanna try? It isn’t that difficult, really.”

“Says you!” Fiona said with a little huff as Apollo took the can, stooping to be eye-to-eye with the area Rio had indicated. “Alright, Rio, how do I do this?”

It took ample fumbling, and some laughs from Rio (Fiona was glad she hadn’t worn good clothes that day), but eventually, they got it, and as she finished with a small, blue, imperfect star with a fuzzy yellow outside to mimic a glow and a hot pink outline, she looked over to see what Apollo had done. Rio saw it first, laughing, “Aw, hey, you got a girl? You gotta bring her around and let me meet her sometime!”

“Not yet, I don’t. I hope so by the end of the summer,” Apollo replied sheepishly, straightening up to let Fiona get a good look at his own little piece of the wall - it was another sloppy shape, but it was quite obviously a pink heart with a black outline, and a pair of black initials in the middle with a plus sign-A.T. and F.A.? Fiona only knew a few people with those initials, and even fewer that knew each other. Though she said nothing, Rio smiled at them both. “Well good luck, kiddo, and nice tagging. You can sign off on it, if you want.”

“Really?” Both she and Apollo spoke in unison - it wasn’t often street artists let anyone else on their work. It was a privilege really, and as the young artist nodded with a grin, holding out a can to both of them, Fiona felt some sort of pride wash over her. Trying to decide how to sign her name, the shorter girl smiled up at him. “Wow! Thanks Rio, that’s pretty awesome.”

“Ha, anything for my biggest fans,” Rio simply replied as Apollo signed his last name just under the heart in bright, deep green - a bold, drippy 'Tavoularis'. Enthusiastically, Fiona began to follow, signing her first name in big, swooping purple cursive that intersected with some of the star, before following it up with her last name in smaller, bolder letters. She handed the can back to Rio, who simply said to her with a smile, “Maybe one day you’ll be up here painting away too.”

“I hope so,” She replied, wiping her hands on the distressed black overalls she was wearing-they were covered in paint anyway at that point. She followed Apollo’s lead to leave the little side street-they had been on their way to a shop. “Thanks, Rio!”

“Don’t get into trouble, kiddos!” Rio called after them with his usual laugh. Fiona bumped Apollo with her hip as they turned the corner. “What was that heart about, huh?”

“Ohm c’mon, Miss Mindreader,” Apollo replied bashfully, blushing a little bit. “You know exactly what that was about. And I don’t want to push you into anything, but it’s been two weeks, Fiona, and it’s killing me not having an answer.”

“I know, I know,” Fiona sighed, pushing a black curl out of her face as they walked. She wanted to give him an answer, and she wanted to give him the answer he wanted, but no matter how much she liked the idea of being Apollo’s girlfriend, Fiona felt nothing other than the close friendship they had.

Is there something wrong with me? Can I just not fall in love with him?

“Give me a chance, Fifi,” Apollo asked, sounding almost nothing like his usual self-it was an almost desperate tone, really. The short Spanish girl felt her insides clench in guilt as he longtime friend continued. “You never know until you try.”

“I…” Fiona hesitated-he was right, really. She’d never been in a romantic relationship. It couldn’t hurt to try, right? Especially if it was with Apollo…

“Alright,” She agreed after a moment, smiling at how her friend’s face lit up. “I’ll go on a date with you. We can see if this works, I guess.”

“Really?” Apollo sounded childishly excited, and the shorter girl laughed a little, nodding. “Yeah, we can try and see if it works out.”

“Thank you,” He said gratefully, seemingly much more peppy and excited than usual. “Let me take you out somewhere tonight. We can check out some of the stuff by the coast if you want.”

“Tonight?” Fiona blinked in surprise-it was already nearly six, and she was grungy and covered in paint from running around the streets of Barcelona. Whether she felt anything but her usual loyal friendship towards Apollo or not, she wanted to look nice for him. He nodded. “Fiona, you’re the coolest girl I know. I wanna take you out as soon as possible.”

“I’m covered in gravel and paint and… And who knows what!”

Apollo smiled at her, taking one of her hands. “Fiona, I don’t give a damn. You’re beautiful in your paint-covered overalls and your fluffy hair and that bit of dust on your cheek.” Blushing, Fiona quickly went to swipe away the dust off her face-she knew she must have had something on her face. “Come on, let’s get cheap pizza and ice cream and go to a crappy movie because we’re unemployed teenagers without allowances.” Though she wasn’t quite sold on the idea, Fiona let her childhood friend grab her hand and begin to tug her down the busy streets of late afternoon Barcelona. “Let me treat you like a princess even if neither of us are fit to be in a castle.”

“No need to get all poetic,” She laughed as he turned a corner and they waved to a shopkeeper sweeping his front patio. “Hi, Leander!”

“Hey hey, you two!” Leander laughed as they hurried by. “Don’t get in trouble, yeah?”

“We won’t, we won’t!” Apollo called over his shoulder with a laugh, and Fiona giggled herself-her friend’s laugh was overly contagious. “I dunno, ‘Pollo, you’re good at getting us into trouble…”

“The best kinda trouble,” Apollo replied as they turned another corner onto a familiar street, the street with the small, almost unheard of pizza place they ate at occasionally-he was being serious about taking her out that evening. “Let’s have fun, Fifi. I don’t have to worry about you finding out my worst because you already know it. It’s real refreshing not to worry about appearances.”

“Yeah… I guess it is,” She agreed as they halted in front of the pizza place, already out of breath from the light jog in the Spanish heat. Fiona shook her head in amusement as Apollo held the door open for her. “After you, Princess.”

“Jesus, Apollo,” She chuckled, but obediently walked in before him. Even if she couldn’t find an ounce of romantic love to give to her best friend, the small Spanish girl had a feeling the night was going to be fun nevertheless.

“Did you have fun, Princess?”

“Stop calling me that,” Fiona joked as she licked strawberry ice cream dripping down the cone. “The mindreader thing was enough.”

“Alright, alright, I agree it’s a little much,” Apollo agreed with his own little chuckle as they sat atop the rooftop of their apartment building, watching night descend over the city. “But really, did you have fun, Miss Mindreader?”

“Yeah,” She admitted, catching a drip of ice cream before it fell into her overalls (not that it would’ve mattered at that point, considering they had more than paint on them by then). “It was pretty great overall. One of the better days of July so far.”

“So, um…” Apollo took a bite of his ice cream, looking over the city as he asked hesitantly, “Did you think about being in a relationship?”

“I mean, we are in a relationship…”

“You know that’s not what I mean,” The Greek teen said, and she nodded with a little laugh. “Sorry, sorry. Apollo, I… You’re the best kind of friend, and hanging out with you is great, but I…” She swallowed at how her friend’s face fell. “Apollo… I don’t know, maybe there’s something wrong with me, but I… I don’t feel anything for you except that. I don’t for anyone, I don’t think, it isn’t a personal thing, because in theory, I…” Fiona could feel her cheeks heating up as she continued, “I’d really like to date you, but… I just don’t feel it. I don’t know how to describe it…”

For a moment, there was silence between them as the streets bustled down below, and though she was worried he’d be mad, or storm off, Apollo simply hugged her around the shoulders. “That’s okay, Miss Mindreader, that’s just fine.”

“A-are you sure?”

“Yeah.” Apollo finished off the ice cream cone far faster than she finished her own, letting her lean into him as she licked most of the ice cream from hers. “I’m not gonna force you to do anything, Fifi. You’re still gonna be my Miss Mindreader.”

“Well… That’s good,” Fiona replied, watching the clouds pass lazily. “I’m sorry, Apollo, I wanted this to work.”

“It’s really okay, Fiona,” He replied, standing up to return to the inside of the building, and she followed, finishing her own ice cream quickly-her father probably would have scolded her for buying it with money she could have saved. The Greek boy did that signature nervous licking of his lips as he began, “Hey, um… But… Look, I know you don’t like me that way, but can I kiss you, Fiona?”

A kiss? Though she was taken aback for a moment, it wasn’t as if it was a crazy request. Technically, it was the end of a date, and perhaps it’d make her feel something for him, that something she wanted but still wasn’t there. Suddenly bashful, Fiona tucked a curl away from her face with a little nod. “Yeah. Alright.”

“You’re very shy all of a sudden,” Apollo remarked with a little smile, brushing those last few stubborn curls away out of her eyes as he cupped her face. “Haven’t you been kissed before?”

She had been, not that it had meant anything to her. She’d never had that lovey-dovey feeling her friends described. Quietly, she nodded, her eyes fluttering shut as Apollo wasted no time in kissing her. It was heavy, almost too weighted with emotion, and nearly scared her away, but Fiona let her friend do what he wanted, trying to find something stirring inside her. She wanted to date Apollo, to fall in love with him, to argue and get back together again, to go through their teenage years together and perhaps adulthood.

She wanted to love someone.

As Apollo pulled away slowly, their eyes meeting again, Fiona could feel her hope fall away and a wave of guilt come over her as she saw the happiness in her friend’s face. She hadn’t felt anything… She hadn’t been able to see herself kissing him, or loving him.

What’s wrong with me…

He must have seen it on her face, because that joyful, carefree expression fell away with a sigh, and his hand slid away from where it cupped her face. “Alright. I’m sorry I pushed this on you, Fiona, I didn’t mean to make things awkward between us.” He turned to go back into the apartment building. “I’ll see you tomorrow, okay? Night.”

“Apollo…” Fiona said sadly under her breath as the door closed behind him. She’d had fun. She’d been happy all evening, she loved spending time with Apollo, who didn’t care if she was covered in paint and grime and dust from the alleyways of the cities, who knew her very worst and very best.

And she’d turned him down. She didn’t feel anything for him except her usual friendship, no matter how much she wanted to try and love him.

With an unhappy sigh, Fiona began to make her way back into the apartment building. She didn’t want to think about possibly ruining hers and Apollo’s relationship.

“Holy *censored*, you turned down Apollo?”

“I didn’t turn him down!” Fiona argued unhappily. It had been a few days since their failed date, and though there had been little change between her and Apollo, she still felt immense guilt, and Alexia and Matias weren’t helping much as they talked over lunch in the nearby cafe. “I just… I don’t know. I didn’t feel anything when he took me out or kissed me-”

“He kissed you?” Alexia interrupted, and biting her lip, Fiona nodded. “But I don’t know. I didn’t feel anything. He’s perfect, I just… We’re platonic…”

“Well, that sucks I guess,” Matias sighed. “Apollo doesn’t like being turned down.”

Fiona flinched-it almost felt like she was being judged, and judged harshly. She was different, moreso than a short black girl hanging out with kids older than her was in the heart of Barcelona. Taking a breath, she cleared her throat. “I didn’t turn him down. What about you two? Any love this summer?”

She swore she saw Alexia blush as both her and Matias shook their heads, the brunette boy shrugging. “I mean, I’ve kinda got my eye on someone, but I… I don’t know. It’s a little iffy.”

“You should just tell her!” Fiona suggested, and Matias shook his head again with a nervous little laugh. “I think I’ll pass.”

“Hey, I’ve gotta get back,” Alexia sighed, standing up from the table. “My brother’s heading out and I’m supposed to be home when he does.” She waved as she turned to leave the cafe. “See you.”

“Bye…” Fiona sighed as she left, tracing patterns on the wooden table-she loved Barcelona summers, but she wasn’t feeling herself, especially with the endless guilt she felt around Apollo   Maybe Matias noticed it, because he gave her a little smile. “Fiona, it’ll work out. Apollo’s a little crazy asking you out so young, anyway. He’s wanted to since you were in middle school, but that would have been downright odd.”

Since middle school? Fiona took a deep breath to try and calm herself down-she was feeling more guilty by the second. What kind of person was she not to be feeling anything for someone so perfect, so infatuated with her, so kind? Rather than say anything about it, she nodded in agreement. “Yeah. I guess the age difference does show sometimes…”

“Well, just so you know, we treat you like you’re just as old as we are,” Matias replied with a smile as he stood up from the table as well. “And I dunno, Fiona, I think you and Apollo would be good together, but if it doesn’t feel right, don’t let him bully you into it.” He waved over his shoulder as he opened the door to leave the mostly empty cafe too. “I’ve got someone I want to catch. I’ll see you soon, okay?”

“Yeah,” The short girl nodded as her friend walked out, letting her forehead fall to the tabletop. The guilt was eating away at her. Was there something wrong with her? It certainly felt like it at that point.

Why can’t I just fall in love with him? He deserves it, and I don’t know why I don’t feel anything with him because I should…

With a sigh, Fiona finished her drink, leaving a tip under the glass. She needed to clear her head, and more often than not, wandering the streets and watching life go by was how she did it. She felt her body become heavy in the heat as she left the building, adjusting her mother’s old FC Barcelona hat to try and block out the sun a little more. She didn’t want to be worried about the sun while trying to figure out what was wrong with her, if anything.

Why am I like this? Am I really just a weirdo? Some sort of freak?

She still didn’t have an answer for any of her questions, even if it simply felt like she was simply different. There couldn’t be another reason, could there?

It isn’t fair that I’m doing this to Apollo though…

Swallowing the bitter feeling of unhappiness, Fiona decided to try and think of something else - Matias and Alexia were the first to come to mind. She couldn’t get their chemistry out of her head. It was cute, and truthfully, seeing them get together would make her feel better at that point. At least someone would have a happy ending that summer.

Actually… Maybe…

Fiona felt a little bit of a smile work onto her face as an idea began to form in her head. Maybe she could put the origin of her nickname ‘Miss Mindreader’ to good use.

“It’s nice that we get to see each other more in the summer.”

“Yeah,” Fiona agreed with Etienne, nodding with a smile as the movie played on the screen. Though it certainly wasn’t that all of them hung out every day, it was nice when they got together over the summer break, even if it was just for a movie that night. With a stifled yawn, she glanced up onto the couch where Apollo sat just behind her spot on the floor, alongside Matias and Alexia. Apollo smiled a little at her, and though she smiled back, the small mixed girl had her eyes on the prize - making Matias and Alexia realize they had chemistry.

They could be so good together… They should at least realize it…

“Matt!” Marina whined from beside Fiona on the floor. She held up an empty bowl. “We’re out of popcorn!”

“Jesus, can’t I sit for two seconds?” Matias grumbled, but obediently rose from his seat and took the bowl to go into the kitchen in the darkened room. Fiona heard Apollo scoff from behind her, leaning his arms casually on her head. “You should give the poor man a break.”

Though she had to agree, Matias leaving was a good chance for her to try and get Alexia in the right mindset for a relationship with him. Shaking Apollo off, Fiona hopped up to join them on the couch and nudged the blonde girl beside her. “Any juicy stories since we last talked?”

“Uh…” Alexia cocked her head, before shaking it, her eyes never leaving the television. “I… I don’t think so. My older brother got back together with his girlfriend, but…”

“Aw, no love for you?” Fiona asked, and with a little sigh, the dirty-blonde shook her head again. “No.. not yet.”

“Oh,” She replied, even though it was probably better if Alexia had nothing going on for her. “Well you’ve gotta have eyes for someone, right?”

“I…” She blushed, crossing her arms and turning to the movie that everyone was half-watching. “Fiona, c’mon…”

“You should try and at least practice a date or a kiss or something on someone!” Fiona insisted-she knew Alexia, and she knew how to convince her friend into things. “Like Apollo! Or Etienne!”

“What?” She shook her head rapidly, as if she was trying to dispel even an inkling of such an idea. “Ew, no! Etienne’s boyfriend would kill me!”

“He would,” The French teen agreed from his spot on the floor, and Fiona let out a little amused sound. She hadn’t met the new boyfriend yet, but she’d definitely heard stories.

“What’s the problem with me then?” Apollo asked with a fake whine. Alexia simply rolled her eyes and flipped her hair over her shoulder. “Come on, Apollo, you know what’s wrong with you! Ever wonder why you don’t have a girlfriend?”

“He’s probably gay too,” Etienne said nonchalantly, earning a laugh from all of them in the room. “I mean, no one thought I was gay until I was.”

“Yes we did,” Fiona replied in time with a still giggling Marina. It was true-even though at a glance, Etienne looked like all their other male friends, maybe even more manly with his height and muscles, and it was hard other than the fact he definitely had a bit of a... flair to his personality, one he tended to take pride in. She short mixed girl chuckled. “Apollo isn’t gay. And then you should ask Matias! I’m sure he’d help you.”

“Who’d help who?”

All of them turned at Matias’ reentry to the room, an overflowing bowl of popcorn in his hands. Alexia shook her head. “Nothing, nothing.”

“Well alright.” Fiona let out a little yelp as Matias basically shoved her off the couch and re-took his spot between Apollo and Alexia. “Here’s your goddamn popcorn.” His voice dripped with sarcasm as he settled into his spot. “Made with love.”

“Ha ha,” Fiona rolled her eyes as she began to settle back onto the floor, only to be lifted back up by hands under her arms. The smaller girl blinked in surprise at Apollo, who placed her in his lap with a little huff of amusement. “You could just ask to sit here, you know.”

‘You know we aren’t together’, a big part of her wanted to say, but she’d never really minded sitting in Apollo’s lap. He sat still enough and he was built with enough muscle for her to settle into his familiar form, like he’d always been. Though she didn’t want to lead him on, Fiona let herself relax in his lap. She didn’t want to think about any change in hers and Apollo’s relationship, especially while she was focused on getting Alexia and Matias together. It sparked some sort of guilty anxiety within her. The last thing she even wanted to think about was the possibility of losing her childhood friend.

Still… Why am I like this? And why can’t I find any answers about it?
I'm too shy to initiate... But I'm open to anyone else doing it. Just tell me if you need to say something :D

Offline EffulgentFirefly

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Re: Fiona's Side-Story: Different
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2018, 10:27:01 PM »
The other, unedited half of Fiona's side story. I've got a helluva bunch of problems with this piece, and they only become more apparent the longer I look. Hopefully they aren't bad enough they distract from the rest of the story.

Summer tended to go fast, and that year was no exception, the month of August flying by, and Fiona had barely noticed it was nearly halfway through the month until she’d gotten a text from Matias in the middle of her eating a lunch on the steps of her apartment building of a muffin and a tea from the cafe down the road. It was a surprise-Matias never texted, considering he lived on the third floor of the tall building, and could walk a few flights of stairs if they needed to talk. Taking another bite of the chocolate chip muffin, she opened the message.

Hey, would you date someone you don’t know over a friend?’

Oh. That was interesting. Maybe her talk with Alexia had inspired something between them. Placing the muffin on the paper bag in her lap, she began to text back, a smile on her face. ‘Probably not. I’d say if a friend asks you out you should do it though!’

Though she hadn’t been expecting something (Matias wasn’t much of a texter), Fiona had barely gotten another bite of the delicious muffin in her mouth before her phone buzzed on the pavement beside her again. Curiously, she picked it up-it was indeed him. Brushing dark curls out of her eyes, the small girl opened the second message. ‘I guess I shouldn’t be asking a middle schooler for help anyway…’

A middle schooler? Though she was contemplating texting back something that definitely showed her disapproval of the term, especially since she’d recently graduated, she didn’t have a chance, as another message came through- ‘Whatever. I probably shouldn’t date anyway.

Wait, no, no, no no… Frantically, Fiona fumbled to type on her phone-she was determined to get her friends together, no matter what it took. Though it definitely wasn’t the best, most well put together message she’d ever sent, at least it kept Matias engaged. ‘Wait, no! If you’re thinking of dating a friend it’s probably good! Even if it’s just to get experience, it’s a good thing if it’s with a friend!

There was a pause in between messages, longer than the ones before, and Fiona took a bite of the half-finished muffin in her lap, keeping her phone open for convenience as she watched for a new text. The small Spanish girl made a face-she wouldn’t have been surprised if Matias had bailed on the conversation, but she also wouldn’t have been happy about it.

Her phone buzzed just as she was about to close it, and eagerly, Fiona peered down at the small screen. ‘You know I don’t do younger girls, Fiona.

What? Of course that had been what Matias had gotten from the conversation. WIth a roll of her eyes and a sip of the drink to wash down the rich muffin, she went to reply. ‘Matt! I’m not talking about me!

Though she was eagerly awaiting his answer, Fiona sighed as she polished off her muffin and the lukewarm tea-of course her friend had picked that point of the conversation to bail. It was very much like him-in fact, she didn’t know why she was so surprised as she tossed the paper bag and the cardboard cup into the trash and began back into the apartment building. Though she loved her hometown and summers spent in its streets, it was hot, and she didn’t feel like exploring the nooks and crannies of the city that day. The mixed girl went to slide her phone in her back pocket when it buzzed again. She sighed and rolled her eyes, but paused outside of the building’s doorway nevertheless, opening the message from Matias. It was short and simple-he didn’t take fifteen minutes to text this, did he?-and Fiona rolled her eyes as she read it. ‘Well, if you say so, Fiona. It’s on you if something goes wrong.’

She was tempted to text back ‘Trust me, it won’t’, and though she’d begun to type it out on her phone, Fiona decided at the last moment not to. There was no need for Matias to get suspicious about what she knew and didn’t know-in fact, it was probably better if he didn’t. She didn’t need to be branded as an uncaring freak and a meddler. Opening the door to the apartment complex, Fiona simply texted her friend back a winky face and put away her phone with a smile. Hopefully, she’d be able to help along a budding relationship that summer.

“You guys are back soon. Couldn’t stay away?”

“Nope,” Fiona shook her head as she and Apollo greeted the young man at the desk of the karaoke place. “Guess not.”

“Well, you know how it works by now,” He smiled as she put down her name to book them for the next little while-it wasn’t overly busy on Mondays, for good reason. Unless it was the break, she wouldn’t be out in the middle of the afternoon of the first day of the week either, but she and Apollo had decided on doing something together, and it of course had been karaoke. The young man (Fiona really should have known his name by then) smiled as she and Apollo began into the back of the local place. “Well have fun. It’s always nice to see you guys enjoying yourself here.”

“Thanks!” She called over her shoulder, giving Apollo a look as he held the door open for her. “Oh, what a gentleman. Thank you.”

“Nothing wrong in being nice,” Apollo simply replied with a smile, and the small mixed girl rolled her eyes, taking a seat on the small couch-it didn’t make sense to pay for a full sized room when it was only two of them. “That sounds real legitimate. Who’s gonna sing first?”

“Eh.” Apollo shrugged, grabbing a few pretzels in the bowl on the table that doubled as the virtual song chooser. “I dunno. You choose.”

“Ladies first,” Fiona teased, nudging him with the mic. The unimpressed look in his dark eyes was priceless, as always, and with a huff, the Greek teen grabbed the mic from her and began to scroll through the song selection. “You’re hilarious, Fifi. Let’s see who’s laughing in a second.”

“Mhm.” Fiona sat back on the small sofa as he went through the songs. Though she was still a little worried about Apollo’s feelings for her, they hadn’t brought it up since the day of the date, even if she’d been careful about leading him on. How did she not lead him on? They did almost everything together, and they teased each other about everything and anything. What wouldn’t  lead him on at that point?

“Okay.” She was snapped out of her thoughts by Apollo standing up from where he’d been hunched over the table as the music began. Fiona recognized the song almost immediately, and leaned back in her seat with a grin as Apollo seemed to ready himself. “Really? A whole song in English? You can barely form a sentence!”

“Shut up,” He huffed, but there were definite nerves in his voice. “I know like all of Queen by heart. And my English is pretty okay.”

“Alright,” Fiona replied with a little smile as he cleared his throat and prepared for the lyrics. It was a surprise when he not only didn’t need the words scrolling on the screen, but he hadn’t been lying, at least not too much-his English wasn’t bad, and it certainly was better than that of some of the other Barcelona kids. It was definitely slower than most of the songs he usually chose-it was nice, really. The small teen girl liked his voice in the mellow, casual song, and couldn’t help but smile. It wasn’t perfect, and his accent caused him to roll every ‘R’-which was a lot in a song called ‘Radio Ga Ga’-but he was smiling as he hit the chorus. With a little smile of her own, Fiona began to clap along with the beat, refraining from correcting his occasional odd word out. This was how their friendship was supposed to be like, and hopefully, it would stay that way.

Singing with Apollo had always been fun, and though people asked why they went out to the karaoke place down the street when they could use their phones, it was always the same answer-the streets of Barcelona were their true homes, where they felt most comfortable. Even though most of the songs they’d gone through were  American or English, Fiona knew that nothing had changed about it as Apollo flopped down next to her after singing something that had definitely been out of his newly deepenedvocal range. He grinned at her as he grabbed some of the last of the complimentary pretzels. “See? I’m good in English, Fifi.”

Oh, whatever,” She replied in English with a huff, checking her phone. It was getting late, and their time was running short. They could probably comfortably finish one more song, and Fiona leaned forward to mess around with the music list. “I have an idea.”

“Shoot,” Apollo gave her that familiar quirky grin as he took a swig of water-speaking multiple languages must have been hard on his throat, Fiona knew first-hand. Even so, she smiled as she found the song she was looking for. “We’re gonna see just how adept you are with English, or if you’re just memorizing stuff. I’m gonna sing with you.”

“Alright!” The Greek teen stood up, taking the mic. “Let me see the songs then!”

“Uh, no.” Fiona blocked him off from the song selection with her arms crossed over her chest with a little smile. “I get to choose. So you don’t get to cheat.”

Apollo looked like he was about to argue for a moment, his thick eyebrows knitted as if he was carefully considering the idea. He probably was, knowing him-Apollo was one who didn’t like being embarrassed, and he liked being the best at whatever he could get his hands on. Knowing that she was choosing the song was probably a whole different beast for him.

“Alright,” He finally agreed with a nod, leaning against the wall near the front of the room. “What’s the song, Fifi? It best be something I can actually sing.”

“It is,” She assured him, starting the music as she took her place leaning on the wall parallel to him. She saw him shoot her a look, but started on cue, his eyes following the lyrics on the screen above the sofa and his accent obvious and definite as he sung the Disney song. She could see it all over his face as he sung, his volume on point with the music, that he wasn’t exactly pleased she’d chosen ‘A Whole New World’, but she couldn’t bring herself to care as she chimed in for her first few lines. It was the point, and she knew that no matter much he didn’t like the duet, there was a hefty load of nostalgia behind the song. Despite his previous displeasure, Fiona could see him smiling as she sung her part, him chiming in in perfect harmony. She liked singing with Apollo, even if they didn’t always click when it came to music tastes, but they sounded good together, it was undeniable. She could feel herself smiling right back at him as they came to the end of the song, the call and return ending in their usual perfect harmony. It came naturally, and her eyes locked on Apollo’s, she let the note trail off as the music ended, taking a deep breath as it ended. The Greek teen was definitely about to say something, but he was cut off by clapping from the direction of the doorway. Fiona jumped, turning around so quickly dark curls tickled her nose. The boy from the front desk was standing in the doorway with a smile. “You two are cute. And very good singers for a couple of kids. But I really do have kick you out now.”

“Thanks for the compliment,” Fiona smiled at him as she grabbed her purse followed Apollo out of the room. “Do you ever sing here?”

“Nah, I’m not much of a singer.” He laughed as he walked them to the front foyer. “But you guys are good in English. Feel free to come back.”

“Thanks,” Apollo nodded towards the young man as they left the karaoke place. Fiona waved over her shoulder she she followed her friend out the door into the blasting summer heat. She nudged him with her hip as they began down the street. “You seemed to have fun with that.”

“You just preyed on our nostalgia,” The Greek boy huffed, even though he was smiling. “I can’t believe that’s still a thing we remember. Seems so insignificant now.”

“Yeah, I guess,” Fiona agreed, grabbing the hairband from her wrist to tie back her hair as a warm, humid breeze blew past them. Summer was awfully hot, and though she liked it better than the cold, it was definitely uncomfortable. “It was like the first movie we watched together, though. And both of us liked it.”

“At the time,” Apollo replied with a little laugh. “Looking at it now, Aladdin was definitely one of those types to drug Jasmine, *censored* her and then run off into the city. I’d be creeped out.”

“It’s a Disney movie!” Fiona exclaimed and whacked her best friend’s arm, prying another laugh from him. “Stop sexualizing everything! You’re such a creep!”

“C’mon.” She giggled as he gave her a little smirk and a wink. “You know you want some of this, Fiona. You don’t have to lie.”

“Ew.” She shoved him playfully, laughing as he shoved right back, his size being a massive advantage as she almost fell into the road. “You’re such a pervert.”

Apollo laughed again, before letting out a sigh and looking at her with his usual warm, dark eyes as they approached their street. “Hey, Fiona. I don’t want to force you into anything or make our relationship awkward. But…” He hesitated, and Fiona cocked her head up to meet his gaze. She had a feeling she knew where the conversation was going. “Yeah? What?”

“If you ever have a change of heart, I’m still going to be around,” He said without an ounce of anger or sadness in his voice-he was being too nice about it, and it was making Fiona more guilty by the second, even if he wasn’t trying to. “I’ve gotta go pick up my little brother.” He hesitated again, before pressing a soft, chaste kiss to her cheek. “It was fun today. I’ll see you.”

“Oh… Bye…” Unsure how to reply, Fiona raised an arm to wave as he jogged farther down the sidewalk rather than walking down their street. It wasn’t a secret by then-Apollo liked her, and he liked her a lot, enough to admit he did but assure her he didn’t want anything unless she did. It ate away at her, the fact she didn’t have any attraction to him whatsoever-what was wrong with her? Apollo was perfect, in theory-attractive, a good personality and a decent sense of humour, even if some of it was crude. They had good chemistry and a good relationship. A romance could perhaps do even better.

So why can’t I just feel anything about this? I’d love to like him like he likes me… Is there something wrong with my brain or something? It’s got to make me a freak somehow…

With a shaky sigh, Fiona shook her head and took out her phone as she turned down her street. She liked to see other people’s romances working out when she couldn’t figure out her own feelings. At least someone would be happy, even if it wasn’t her, or unfortunately, Apollo. It was even better when she had a part in it… And though it probably wasn’t the best idea while she was so high-strung, she pulled up her messages with Alexia. Maybe she could make some magic happen, even if it wasn’t between her and Apollo.

“Hey! Fiona, open up! Fio!”

Fiona rolled her eyes from where she’d been scrolling through her phone on the couch in the otherwise empty apartment. She definitely could her Alexia pounding on the door, even if she didn’t want to, and she couldn’t ignore it. With a sigh, she hopped up and walked to the door. “Okay, okay, hold your horses… Geez, it’s like not even noon yet, Alexia…”

“He asked me,” Alexia gasped out, as if she was out of breath the moment the door was opened, and though Fiona raised an eyebrow and began to ask who ‘he’ was, she was cut off by her friend. “Matias! He asked me out and I almost missed it-Fiona!” She was basically bouncing up and down-obviously the mixed girl’s hunch about her crush on Matias had been right. “He asked me! What do I say?”

“I don’t know!” Fiona replied with her own smile-Alexia’s was contagious, and she was happy for her too, even if she hadn’t been expecting the other boy to make such a move so quickly. “What did he say?”

“He just asked if I wanted to grab a coffee or something at the cafe today,” She replied, pushing blonde bangs out of her face with a rare enthusiasm, showing her the conversation. Matias had indeed asked her out, at least it seemed like he had, in his odd little way. It was surprising, but it was there, in front of her. She grinned at her friend. “That’s great! Just say yes!”

“I…” Though she hesitated, Alexia nodded with a smile, beginning to text Matias back. “Yeah. Sorry. Did I wake you up or something?”

“No, no,” She replied, though she yawned as she did, which probably wasn’t the most convincing. “Good for you. I guess I was right when I said you had a thing for him, huh?”

“Oh shush,” The blonde girl huffed, her light, freckled cheeks gaining a noticeable red hue as she stared at her phone for a moment more, then tucked it back into the back pocket of her short denim shorts. “I’m gonna go get ready.” She smiled at Fiona, tucking a little a little lock of hair away. “Thanks, Fiona. You’re pretty helpful sometimes.”

“Yeah.” The curly-haired girl nodded with a smile, waving as she closed the door behind Alexia. “Good luck!”

The older girl nodded once more before the door closed, and Fiona stood in spot for a moment. She hadn’t been expecting Matias to ask anyone out, even if she’d wanted him to. Fiona bit her lip, almost taking out her own phone to text him, before deciding against it. She didn’t want to mess anything up after she’d been pushing so hard for it. With a little sigh, she sat back down on the couch and grabbed the television’s remote. She had to step back and try to let the magic happen.

“So… Matias and Alexia went on a date?”

“A few hours ago, yeah,” Fiona replied, watching the screen in Apollo’s room. Though she wasn’t a big fan of video games, she did like to watch Apollo play them, even if it meant getting past his… interesting siblings to retreat to his tiny room where the console was. “He just asked her out for a drink, really. Kind of cute.”

“Huh, well…” Apollo paused as he clicked buttons in fast repetition from his spot on the floor in front of his bed. “Huh. That’s really all I gotta say about this.”

“What?” Fiona cocked her head from where she’d been laying on her stomach on the bed, still watching the screen. “Don’t you think it’s cute too?”

“Well, no, mostly because I’m not a teenage girl,” Apollo chuckled, leaning back as he won whatever game was playing on the small screen. “But I just… Huh. I’m surprised Matias would ask her out…”

“What? Why?”

The Greek boy shrugged as he began to set up another game. “No reason. If he’s getting some, that’s good. Hopefully it goes well.”

“Yeah…” Fiona sighed. Though it wasn’t her own romance, she wanted it to work. She needed someone to have a happy ending that summer, even if it was just a distraction from her own freakish behaviour.

If they find out… What will happen? Will they be upset because I’ve upset Apollo? Or just treat me like the freak I am…?

Fiona shivered at the idea of her friends pushing her away. She only ever had them to count on. As a petite, curly-haired black girl with a tendency to hang around with high schoolers, people had never really taken a shine to her, especially as details about her parent’s messy relationship trickled out into the public. She didn’t need the high schoolers against her too.

There’s no way I can let them know… There’s no way Apollo would tell them that I’m a freak when it comes to romance, right?

She looked over to her longtime friend, whose eyes were glued to the screen. He didn’t seem like the type (he never had been) but people changed, especially when they were hurt. She knew from watching her parents.

Fiona didn’t have a chance to think any more about it, because her phone buzzed from beside her. With a sigh, she picked it up and checked the notification-Matias? I guess his date would have been over right now…

She opened the text, rolling onto her side as she read over it-it was just a greeting, but it was a greeting from someone she didn’t usually get messages from. Quietly, biting her lip, she sent back a casual reply. She was anxious to find out how the date had gone, and Matias was easy to scare away when it came to talking about his personal life.

“Did you see Rio’s new piece on that wall in the alley?”

“No… Not yet…” Fiona replied absentmindedly-her least concern was her favourite graffiti artist’s new mural. She wanted to make sure Matias and Alexia had been alright.

Her phone buzzed, and frantically, she opened it again, reading over the text. ‘She probably told you, but I asked Alexia out for a drink at the cafe’, it read, and though he obviously couldn’t see it, the small girl nodded. ‘Yeah, she told me. You took my advice, then?’

There was that usual, long delay between Matias’ messages, and the moment Fiona returned to watching Apollo play the game on the screen, her phone buzzed from beside her again. Though she rolled her eyes-Matias’ timing was impeccable as always-she opened their messages again. ‘Yeah, I guess. I’m a little more confident now, at least.’

‘That’s good’, she texted back. Finally, it seemed like her work was paying off. Matias and Alexia were getting somewhere, and her own failing love life was off the table. Eagerly, she sent another message. ‘So how’d it go?’.

“Hey, you’re missing all my great plays here,” Apollo teased from his spot on the other side of the small room. Fiona rolled her eyes as Matias replied to her question over the phone. ‘It was alright. I guess it got me back in the game.

Well. It wasn’t an enthusiastic, lovey-dovey response, but it wasn’t a bitter, unhappy one either. She hadn’t been expecting the former anyway, Matias wasn’t that sort of person, but it was nice to know he hadn’t hated it. With a smirking emoji, she texted back, ‘You sure all you did was go out for coffee?’

There was little delay before the next text that came through, and Fiona grinned to herself as she read it in Matias’ unamused tone in her head. ‘Yes. And you wonder why I don’t talk to you about dating.

Fiona simply laughed to herself, letting her phone fall out of her hands onto the bed as she turned her focus back to the screen. Apollo glanced over with a raised eyebrow in between pushing buttons on the controller. “What’s so funny, Miss Mindreader?”

“Nothing, nothing,” She replied with a little sigh, resting her chin in her hands as things she didn’t know the name of were loudly shot down on the screen. Apollo let out a snort, replying sarcastically, “Right. Because you just burst out laughing for no reason so often.”

“It really is nothing,” She insisted, even though she was still smiling to herself. Apollo won the game (or she assumed he did, based on her almost nonexistent knowledge on video games) and turned back to her with a suspicious look in his eye. “Really?”

“Mhm.” She nodded with a little smile as he approached her. “Yup.”

Apollo looked her over for a moment more, as if he was looking for some sort of clue to what she’d found so amusing, before he leaned over her to try and snatch her phone. Fiona yelped, managing to reach out and grab his wrist before he got too far. “Hey! Apollo!”

“I mean, I gotta see what you found so funny,” He simply replied, smiling all the same as he held her phone just out of reach. Though he let out a little gasp of surprise as she yanked him down on the bed to try and get some leverage and grab her cellphone. He still managed to hold it just out of reach. “What is it? You hiding something, Miss Mindreader?”

“No, I just-” Fiona let out a little yelp as Apollo nearly fell on top of her from where he’d been balancing precariously over her on his tiptoes. Ths small mixed girl couldn’t help but laugh, even if she was still a little irritated, and turned her face away and tried to push him up from with a hand on his chest, which had come very close to crushing her face. “Apollo! Stop! Ew, gross, you’re all sweaty!”

“It’s summer in Barcelona and the first dozen floors of this apartment building don’t have air conditioning, Miss Mindreader,” The greek teen replied with a chuckle, his hand pinning her phone still just out of her reach. “You’re all sweaty too!”

“But you’re not being forced to inhale it!” Though she wasn’t particularly angry or upset with her friend (Apollo was typically not one to go around in the summer without having showered, and it wasn’t that big of a deal after spending so many years together anyway), he’d always taken advantage of their size difference, just like he was doing as he let himself drop to his elbows, bringing his tank top-clad chest dangerously close to her face. Fiona couldn’t help but giggle as he spoke in a faux sexy tone that didn’t suit his cheerful personality whatsoever, “C’mon, Fiona, inhale my manly scent. You know you wanna.”

“Ew, no!” Though she had both of her hands pressed against his chest, she knew for a fact Apollo wasn’t budging. She wasn’t nearly strong enough, and she rolled her eyes with a squeal as he did indeed let himself fall on top of her, hard enough for her to feel squished by his weight but not hard enough to hurt her. He laughed at her protest, teasing, “Don’t lie, Fio, you love it, the proof of my manliness in my sweat. It’s okay, you can admit it.”

Fiona opened her mouth to protest from her spot sandwiched between the bed and her childhood friend when another voice sounded from the direction of the doorway. “Hey, Apollo, it’s your turn to make dinner.”

“Eh?” Fiona took a deep breath as Apollo half-sat up to see one of his older siblings-Adonis, the only other boy of the family-in the doorway. He was only a year older than Apollo, the second-youngest by a far cry, considering the eldest sisters were twenty-two and twenty-six. Despite the meaning behind his name, and the confidence that usually came along with it, Adonis was shy and awkward, even if he was just as handsome, if not moreso than the mythical Greek man he was named after. Even if he was shy and one of the most awkward teens she’d ever met, Fiona liked him, at least more than she liked the sisters of the family. She gave him a sheepish smile as Apollo stood up from where he’d been crushing her with a sigh. “Alright, alright. I’m going. You really should learn how to cook, I shouldn’t be the one making most of the meals.”

“I-I can help,” Fiona suggested as she grabbed her phone and smoothed down her short, navy, pleated skirt as she followed the boys out of the room-it had flipped up dangerously high when Apollo had topped on top of her, but he either hadn’t noticed or hadn’t mentioned it. Though Adonis looked as if he was going to agree, Apollo shook his head, turning back to her. “Nah, that’s okay. You can barely cook yourself.” He closed the space between them, and leaned in close to her cheek as if he was going to kiss her goodbye, before seemingly changing his mind and tucking a charcoal curl that had escaped from her loose bun out of her face with a little smile. “I’ll see you, okay?”

“I… Okay…” Fiona sighed as Apollo carried on into the kitchen portion of the apartment. Though he’d insisted nothing would change after she’d rejected him, and he could move on, something so tiny, so subtle had changed between them. She didn’t know what, or if the Greek boy even realized it, but there was a change, and whether he’d insisted he could or not, he obviously wasn’t over her.

It was a little concerning. She didn’t want their longtime friendship to fall apart because she couldn’t reciprocate, even though she really, really wanted to.

“Hey, um… Uh… Are you two together now?”

“Huh?” Fiona was snapped out of her thoughts by Adonis’ hesitant question, and though she was surprised by it for a moment, she laughed it off, waving her hands in front of her. “Oh, no, no! Um…” She hesitated, biting her lip. What the hell was she supposed to say? Though she was probably overthinking it, she didn’t want to have to explain how complicated things felt, especially to Adonis. Swallowing, she simply shook her head as she made her way to the door. “We aren’t. Have a good dinner, though, he’s an amazing cook.”

“He is. Bye, Fiona.” She smiled over her shoulder as Adonis closed the door behind her, before letting out a sigh. She really didn’t want to think about anything changing with Apollo… Or rather, she didn’t want to think about why she couldn’t just bring herself to think of him romantically… Or why she’d never thought of anyone romantically. With a deep breath, she began the short walk down the hall to her own apartment a few doors down.

I wish… I wish I knew what was going on with me…

The end of summer was usually lazier than usual, and though she had no desire to leave her fan-cooled living room Fiona kept up with the going-ons with her friends, especially with the casual dates between Alexia and Matias that had gotten slightly more frequent, leading to both of them confiding her and h being able to make sure they were on track. They seemed fairly happy, and though as far as she knew, they weren’t officially a couple, she had faith.

There was also the fact she was going into high school in the next few days, and no part of her wanted to go back to school just yet. Things felt awkward and unfinished, and she didn’t want to start at a new school with something she hadn't finished, even if she was just watching over Alexia and Matias for the most part.

I’d also love to figure out what’s up with me and why I can’t just accept a relationship from Apollo…

“Hey, Fiona! We’re going to the karaoke place before school starts again! C’mon, let’s go!”

Oh. Right, it was the last weekday before school started again. Of course they were going to go. She didn’t have much of an opposition, but some part of her just didn’t want to face Apollo. She cared about him too much to reject him again without some sort of awful guilt.


Whether she wanted to go or not, Marina didn’t seem to be letting up, and grabbing a hairband from the table and her purse from a hook by the door, Fiona called back, “Okay! I’m coming, I’m coming.”

Marina smiled at her as she opened the door and was greeted with all her friends. The small mixed girl raised an eyebrow. “Were you waiting for me?”

Etienne shrugged with a little smile. “I mean…”

“He means yes,” Apollo filled in with a little laugh as she closed and locked the door behind her. “Mostly because you haven’t left your apartment in like two weeks.”

“It’s nice and cool in there,” Fiona mumbled, even though she knew he was teasing her. They began down the humid, too-warm stairwell, and she could practically feel the sweat collect on her forehead. “And we’ve like exhausted all our karaoke songs for the summer.”

“Then we can do them again!” Alexia simply replied, and Matias let out a chuckle-Matias laughed? It was out of character to say the least, but Fiona decided to let it go as they opened the door out onto the bustling streets. Etienne rolled his eyes. “Only because it’ll be Fiona’s last time before high school.”

“That’s right,” Matias sighed, stretching his arms above his head as they walked. “Baby’s grown up.”

“Hey!” Fiona crossed her arms with a childish pout, which couldn’t have helped her protests. “I’m not a baby! You guys aren’t that much older!”

“Well, you’re actually in high school now, so that’s pretty big if I do say so myself,” Marina replied, nudging her as they continued walking, weaving around people. It wasn’t too busy considering the time of day and the fact it was a weekday, but it was still Barcelona. The short girl shrugged, even though she was smiling. “I mean, I guess. The high school kids around here don’t seem too nice.”

“You just gotta ignore ‘em, really,” Etienne replied with his own little shrug, and Fiona had to take his word for it-though she didn’t know anyone who personally had a problem with it, being openly gay as a teenager could turn a lot of people off. She knew for a fact Etienne and his boyfriend (who Fiona still had never met) weren’t treated very well. The curly-haired girl nodded. “I guess so. I mean, you guys’ll protect me, right?”

“Uh,” Apollo hesitated, and Fiona shoved him to the side with a faux indignant huff. “Apollo! Are you kidding me?”

“Stop being an ass!” Alexia crossed her arms as they approached the karaate place. She glanced over to the mixed girl with a little smile. “I’m already like Etienne’s saviour so I can be yours too.”

“At least someone cares,” Fiona joked as they stepped into the air-conditioned karaoke building, and laughed a little as Apollo hugged her playfully around the shoulders. “Don’t worry, Fifi, everyone’ll love you.”

I hope so, Fiona thought to herself as they greeted the man at the desk to take a room. Perhaps she was being paranoid… But people already assumed she was different because of her friends and her background. Something like turning down Apollo multiple times could give her a bad rep early into her high school career.

You’re here to sing, she thought to herself, putting on her usual, charming smile as they headed into a room. So stop freaking out and sing. It’s the last few days of freedom.

“Geez! You two are still stupidly good!”

“Aww, thank you!” Fiona laughed, taking a bow after her song. She did love to sing-it took her mind off things, and it was nice that she wasn’t bad at it either. Apollo rolled his eyes, but shifted in his spot with a smile. “I know. But who’s the best?”

“Can’t we just call it a tie?” Marina sighed as she checked the time-Fiona had known her song would probably be the last, but it was still a shame it would be their last karaoke session of the summer. Apollo shook his head. “No way! I’ve gotta prove I’m better than her!”

“Our time is up anyway,” Etienne laughed a little-he always seemed to find their competitive streak amusing, not that Fiona minded. She knew she was the better singer, even if her longtime friend would say differently. “You two can settle this later. We’ve gotta get ready for school. Things get important this year.”

“Hey, before we go.” Alexia spoke after clearing her throat, leaving the room quiet other than her. She hesitated for a second, and Fiona felt a flutter of hope in her chest as her friend continued, “Okay, Matt, I know you aren’t really the type, but we’ve had a few good dates and you like things to be transparent and public, so here we go.” She turned to Matias, how had an eyebrow raised and asked with a bashful little smile, “So can we just be a couple? I liked our dates, and I’m fine with having it out in the open.”

“Aww!” Etienne fake-whispered in Fiona’s ear, and she rolled her eyes, even though she was grinning as she watched the couple. Though he hesitated for a second, his mouth open as if there were words on the tip of his tongue, Matias nodded. “Yeah, okay. I think we could make it work.”

“Yay!” Fiona clapped alongside Etienne, and after a moment, Apollo and Marina, who joined in reluctantly. “You two are adorable.”

“We also aren’t a reality show,” Matias reminded her with a little tap atop her head as he passed by her on the way to the door. “And our time actually is up now. Let’s go.”

“Okay, okay.” In time with the rest of the group, Fiona stood up to leave from her seat on the far side of the room. Though it had taken all summer, Matias and Alexia were finally official… It was at least something good she could look back on for those couple months.The raven-haired girl sighed with a little smile. It wasn’t a bad way to end off the summer at all.

“Hey, Fiona, wait a second.”

Fiona felt her heart drop, but obediently turned around to meet Apollo’s eyes with that smile that felt increasingly fake. “Yeah, what’s up?”

“I know… I know we went over this and I’m probably annoying as *censored*,” The Greek boy sighed, his eyebrows knitted in worry, and she could feel guilt working its way into her stomach for what felt like the hundredth time that summer vacation. “But I haven’t gotten over you, and Fiona, we are good together. So I… If you’ve maybe changed your mind…”

“I…” Fiona hesitated, the guilt nauseating. What was she supposed to say? She wasn’t making up her mind… She just couldn’t feel anything. She couldn’t see herself in a romantic relationship, no matter how hard she tried. It was confusing to her… Would Apollo understand what she meant if she didn’t even understand what she meant?

“Apollo, I…” She began hesitantly, feeling more nervous than she had in years. The large karaoke room suddenly felt suffocating, even though it was air conditioned and crisp. He almost looked like a sad puppy, in front of her, and it wasn’t helping her try and speak. “Look, I promise you-no, I swear to you-that it’s really me that’s messing this up, not you.” She took his hand, biting her lip at how his face fell. “But I can’t, Apollo. I didn’t decide not to like you like that… I don’t know why it’s like this, but I…”

“It’s fine, Fiona.” He gave her a little, forced smile as he mussed her already messy hair and walked past her to the door. “Don’t worry about it really, I won’t force you into anything.” He held the door for her. “C’mon, let’s go. They’re probably waiting for us.”

“Yeah… Alright.” With a nod and a sigh, she followed Apollo out the door, trying to ignore the guilt eating at her. She put on her usual smile as they joined the rest of the group at the front of the building. Etienne yawned. “Took you long enough! I’ve gotta get to bed, you know.”

“It’s like seven o-clock,” Apollo chuckled, seeming to have recovered from the rejection. Fiona could hear the disappointment in his voice, but decided not to bring it up as the French boy replied with a grin, “Hey, Alexia isn’t the only one with a boyfriend. And tomorrow is one of the last days before hell starts again. Gotta take advantage, you know?”

“Okay, TMI,” Marina chuckled as they left the karaoke place and stepped back into the uncomfortable heat and humidity. Etienne simply shrugged. “I mean, he asked. I really do gotta get back though.” Fiona smiled at him as he began on his way, and he waved over his shoulder. “Bye! See you in hell!”

“He’s a character,” Matias mumbled in amusement as Etienne turned the corner, and Fiona agreed with a laugh. “Yeah, he is.”

“We all should probably get back,” Marina suggested with a yawn, and Apollo nodded. “Yeah, it’s been a long day.”

“You go ahead,” Matias said with a little smile, and though Fiona began to nod (it had been a long day for her too, between the new relationship in the group and Apollo’s second confession), he continued, “Me and Fiona will catch up.”

“Well… Okay.” Alexia gave him a little smile and squeezed his hand as she turned away to walk with Apollo and Marina, and Fiona couldn’t help but smile-they really were cute together. The blonde girl waved as she caught up with their other friends. “Don’t be too late, okay?”

Matias nodded, and though she was still smiling, the shorter girl cocked her head as the rest of the group left. “Hey. What’s this about?”

“I guess I just wanted to thank you for encouraging me,” He said with a sheepish sigh, and Fiona could feel her jaw practically drop open-Matias wasn’t the type whatsoever to go around thanking people. Even so, he continued, “I really wasn’t going to ask her out, you know, I really thought I was going to get with Marina, but you said I should ask someone out, even if it’s just to get back in the game…”

“Oh, well, you’re welco-wait.” Fiona hesitated for a second-Marina? He was going to ask Marina? “Matt… You are going to ask Marina out?”

“Well, yeah.” He seemed oddly casual about it. “Me and her were going back and forth for awhile. I just would have never thought to ask out Alexia unless you’d suggested I go for a practice run. And I’m happy I did.”

He was going to ask Marina? Fiona could feel the breath taken from her lungs-had she really misinterpreted his attraction to Alexia? Had she potentially messed up a relationship with Marina? Suddenly, Fiona could feel her head spinning more than it already had been. Dazed, she nodded. “Yeah, uh… You’re welcome…”

“I’m going to catch up,” Matias said, beginning to walk down the street, and she nodded with a forced smile. “Okay. See you.”

He waved, and Fiona took a deep breath, leaning back against the wall. Things felt awfully complicated, and she didn’t like it. She needed to clear her head-and despite the heat, the best way to do it was to walk the streets of the city. She inhaled deeply again, the wind tossing her hair, before turning the opposite direction from her apartment and beginning to walk.

“Hey, Fiona! Where’s Apollo today?”

“Huh?” Tiredly, Fiona tired at the familiar voice to see Rio standing in front of a half-finished piece of work on a brick wall. She gave him a half-hearted smile. “Hey… He’s home… I just needed to clear my head.”

“Oh.” Rio placed his can of paint on the pavement, wiping his hands on the black, paint-splattered clothing and crossing his arms over his chest. “Well what’s up? You don’t look too great.”

For a moment, the petite mixed girl hesitated-she wasn’t one to share her problems, especially considering they were so small on the grand scale of things. At that moment, however, she was too tired to do anything except talk. “I… A friend of mind liked another friend who I thought liked the first friend but actually had a thing for someone else… And I… Influenced the first two people into getting together… Even though there was a side relationship that was happening…”

Rio was silent for a moment, thinking, before he replied, “Well, it sounds like you manipulated them into something good.”

I manipulated them
? The word made her flinch-manipulation didn’t have a good rep, even if there could be good things that came out of it. She didn’t like how strong a word it was-not that the young man gave her a moment to think about it. “It really seems like something else is bothering you, though, Fiona…”

Geez… I think he should be the one with the mindreader nickname… Fiona didn’t bother hesitating that time around-Rio was trustworthy, and she was simply tired at that point. “Someone… Amazing is asking me to be their girlfriend… And I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I don’t feel anything for him… Even though I want to.” She could feel all the suppressed emotions bubbling up in her tone, and she was choking on what felt like tears all of a sudden. “It’s just… I should really like him… But I can’t, and I…” She glanced up to Rio, who was looking at her with sympathetic eyes. “Rio… Am I just a freak or a weirdo or something?”

“No.” Rio placed a hand on her shoulder with a little smile, his reply much quicker and more confident than usual. “Fiona… You’re super mature for your age, so I don’t know if it’s that, but if you keep having this happen to you, then just remember that some people just don’t fall in love romantically.” He gave her a real smile as he rubbed her arm comfortingly. “There’s a reason the term ‘aromantic’ exists.”


“Yeah.” He sighed, crossing his arms back over his chest, though he was still giving her that sympathetic smile. “Aromantic people just don’t feel romantic love. You’re not a freak. You’re just a little different, Fiona, promise.”

Though she wasn’t sure how much she believed about Rio’s theory, Fiona could feel a little bit of weight lifted off her chest, just enough so she could breathe comfortably again. People like her existed. A term for people like her existed. She gave the young artist a look and a tiny smile. “Really, Rio?”

He nodded, picking up his paint cans. “You’re different, Fiona. And that’s okay, I promise. It’ll turn out fine.”

Despite the fact she was still worried, and having issues with her morals all of a sudden, Fiona took a deep breath, nodded, and gave Rio the most genuine smile she could as she turned to go back to the apartment building. “Okay. Thanks, Rio.”

“Anytime, Miss Mindreader!” Rio called after her with a little laugh, and despite how crazy her thoughts were and how much she had to worry about, Fiona smiled to herself, just a little. She could be different. And it would be okay.

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