The sight of the teddy bear in Cloe’s lap, retrieved from the irritating, Techno pig, Ved made Dee’s stomach churn with nerves and rage, but she knew she couldn’t abandon the girl. No, Cloe looked pitiful sitting there with so much on her mind, there’s no way Dee could just abandon her, not without giving some sage advice, a strength she’d learned from her former leader, Moz. Yes, Dee had stood in Cloe’s shoes before, head over heels, young and in love fighting with her head and her hormones, nevermind her heart. She’d never admitted to anybody but her good friend, Moz, that she’d “done it” before, but now Cloe knew it too. It just wasn’t something that had come up before, nothing important and as she’d told the girl, she hadn’t known what happened to him. No need to pine after something she’d lost.
Fact was, Dee’s first romance had been before the virus, with a boy older than her by a year, and yes she had slept with him, the juicy details she wasn’t getting ready to give Cloe nor had she given them to her former leader. All Cloe needed to know is that sex was a big deal and opened up a new can of worms. So instead, she tried to dissuade the girl from making a decision before she was ready for it.
“I am sure, he makes me laugh,” Cloe interjected, stubbornness being her strong suit.
Dee smacked her lips and couldn’t speak fast enough, “Clowns make you laugh but you don’t have to sleep with them,” the knee jerk response coming out coarse with a tough-love tone. “Don’t give it away to just anybody!” There was an urgency in her voice because it was the same exact thing Moz had said to her when the boy who wore oddities in his hair and too many ponytails came along woo-ing Dee, what seems like a century ago. Dee was just a street urchin then, mother dead and father dead; to her at least, anway, as long as he was happy with the slag he abandoned his family for. Dee didn’t have anybody until Moz came along, taking her under her wing and she valued the woman’s opinion, but didn’t want to hear the truth, just as Cloe wasn’t hearing her presently. “Ved isn’t just anybody!” the younger teen spit back vehemently but with an edge of uncertainty.
If the moment wasn’t so serious Dee might have laughed because it was instant déjà vu. She could hear herself now at Cloe’s age. “I love Sasha, and I already did IT,” she emphasized the it part, “so save your breath!” Dee remembered screaming at Moz, who seemed disappointed that her little birds and the bees speech was a moot point. Dee could see the hurt in her friend’s eyes before turning herself away and storming down the street in heat, to go see the boy who was putting the wedge between them.
Sasha was corny, but he was gorgeous, in his own way. He was not some chauvinistic hunk of a turn off, that’s for sure. It’s honestly what had first caught her attention about him, his indifference to fitting in with the crowd. That and he had beautiful, sparkling pools of blue for eyes that spellbound her. Oh, how her heart sung, everytime she looked into those orbs or when he took her hand and kissed her on the lips. Plus, the boy was a charmer, always knew what to say to make her feel better; he always had the right insight to any situation. It was probably all too much, too soon for a fourteen year old girl to be that in love, but Dee had always been a rebel. Still, Moz had been at the back of her mind and she ranted for a good part of her date that day.
“She’s only looking out for you, I get it,” he put his hand on top of hers across the table at the diner they sat in, a sundae between them. “But I would never hurt you. And I know that’s cliche to say, but trust me, babe?” He left the question hanging there between them. She loved the way he called her babe, even though she had told him a hundred times not to.
“I do.” Dee nodded. There were only two people on earth she trusted without question, other than herself, and they were Moz and Sasha. They kept her grounded and happy, a feeling she hadn’t truly felt since she was young. Why the two could never get along, she had not known. Moz just had something against men, she had guessed, but how anybody couldn’t love Sasha, was beyond Dee. He was funny, never taking anything too seriously because life was serious enough, that’s what he’d said. And he was a bit quirky, but carefree and happy, it was infectious. Dee wanted to bask in his aura all the time just to feel alive.
“Then here,” his bright smile should’ve been the tell-tale sign that he was up to mischief as the spoon of ice cream missed her mouth and instead landed on her cheek.
She gasped at the invasion of cold to her warm cheek, but she wasn’t angry. “Oh, you’re so gonna pay for that,” she smirked and dug into the dessert, launching a spoonful off like something leaving a slingshot. Sasha ducked last minute and the dessert hit the waitress square in the forehead as she served someone two tables away. “Hey, you kids!” her face went red as the woman started towards them with an angry stomp.
Sasha was already two steps ahead of Dee, out of his chair and pulling her out of hers, giving her a moment’s notice to grap her rucksack and sling it on her shoulder. “Come on!” he shouted as they ran out of the building and down the pavement, whizzing through crowds of pedestrians until they were sure they’d lost pursuit.
“We’re probably banned from that place now,” she giggled as she fought to catch her breath. “Yeah? Who cares, there are other places.” he answered her, kissing her cheek as their pace slowed to a walk.
“Yeah, you’re right. And we’ll be kicked out of all of them, because of your shenanigans” she bumped him playfully with her shoulder.
“Oi?” he laughed, “You love my shenanigans. Besides, I’m not the one who used her forehead as target practice.” Dee was in stitches, “Did you see the way it just glided down the bridge of her nose like going for a slide?” The question only prompted more laughter from them both, as they recalled the scene, re-enacting it as they walked down the street, no destination in mind. There was never a destination, only adventure at every turn with him. It was like that almost every day until the quarantine had come that same year and the great darkness that led her to where she was sitting now with the Technos at large, Moz missing, and playing house with the Mallrats as Lex’s deputy.
She sighed as Cloe spoke again, the past and the present of teenage romance, colliding, the experienced teen, now the mentor. “You don’t think I should?” the younger asked, looking at Dee for the answers to the war inside herself. Shelooked at the girl straight on, “It doesn’t matter, what I think, does it?” she told Cloe, who only responded with silence and worried brows. So they sat that way, knowing exactly what would happen, it was just a matter of when. That’s just how teenage fever worked.