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A Session in the Bedroom; Private by nature
Topic Started: Oct 18 2012, 06:58 AM (1,687 Views)
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((Gabriella Parker pregame start))

It was two o’clock on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, the sun hanging in the air and beaming down on the rest of the neighbourhood without a cloud in sight. It was by far the best weather in months, and Gabriella Parker was taking advantage of it by enjoying a long glass of iced tea by her sparkling pool, her favourite music humming in her headphones. She was rewarding herself after a hard week’s work spent studying and rehearsing, whilst her two little bothers were at their friend’s birthday party and her parents went shopping.

Or rather, that had been the plan.

It was still by far the best weather that Seattle had experienced in months, bar none, but Gabriella was barred from enjoying it, trapped in her bedroom with nothing but the rays making it through her bay window. This was because there was a test approaching in less than two weeks. It wasn’t one that mattered much, more of a review test than anything, but her parents, with their hawk-like vigilance, never failed to pry the existence of such things from her.

“They’re all important, Gabriella.” Her mother would say, in that tone that always sounded so patronising.

That meant that almost anything social or not studying, save what she could grab between leaving school and arriving home, was pretty much off the table until the test was over. Even her rehearsing took a hit at times like these.

As a small mercy, however, her parents allowed group study sessions. They weren’t monsters, after all.

The other thing that failed to fit in with her ideal weekend was the presence of her younger siblings. Apparently the unlucky kid whose party they were meant to attend was sick on his birthday, so the event was cancelled for the time being. As a result, they were spending the beautiful day playing another one of their stupid video games, at full volume no less, in the den.

She kept insisting that her parents not call it babysitting, that she just happened to be home whilst her brothers were there, but her father kept pointing out with a smirk that babysitting was exactly what she was doing. If her brothers knew Gabriella was studying they were supposed to be considerate of the noise, but they were seven years old, so of course there was still noise.

In her room, however, it was almost silent, thankfully. Ever since she’d become so involved in her music, her parents had taken steps to soundproof her room so that she could practice without disturbing the rest of the house in the middle of the night. Though the noise from her siblings still permeated through the walls, turning on some music was enough to drown it out on most occasions.

She checked her watch and saw that her guest would be here soon, if he wasn’t already ringing the doorbell whilst no-one answered. She had her books splayed out across her bed and her notepad with a fresh pen on hand. Her parents always insisted on note taking: you can’t learn nearly as much from just reading books, they always told her, and if she didn’t have any notes then she could have spent the whole afternoon doing nothing as far as they knew.

She looked out of her window at the pool below, it tempting her as it sparkled in the sunlight to just forget it all and go relax.

But if she did that, the payoff could never compare to the punishment.
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((Joe Carrasco continued from True Friends Are Jerks.))

The weather was far too pleasant today. Of course it was. That was practically how the universe worked. If it was a rare day for slacking off or going out and having a nice time with friends, it would always rain or be generally miserable. (Normal weather for Seattle, but the point stands.) Now that a test was approaching? Of course the weather would be ridiculously nice. Stupid Murphy's Law.

God, not to focus on trivial problems or anything... but if you could revoke Murphy's Law for just one day that would be awesome. You probably got better things to do, though.

Joe pedaled towards Gabby's house, squinting whenever the sun got in his line of sight. The sun trying to ruin his eyesight aside, riding his bike around in the warm weather was rather pleasant. Even if it was just a short interlude between studying at home and studying at Gabby's.

Actually, despite his inner grumblings about the weather mocking him, Joe was otherwise in a decent mood. He'd actually got some sleep the previous night, and even had a little bit of time to cook. He'd talked his parents into letting him make chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, saying that it was beneficial because oatmeal had a lot of folate and vitamin B6, so it was good for stimulating the brain and thus a really good study snack. Only took an hour to make them, anyway.

Hopefully, being in a good mood would stop him randomly getting angry again like he had at the library the other day. He still wasn't sure where that'd come from, but he blamed it on sleep deprivation. Not a problem today. Not that Gabby was the sort to do the weird 'getting all up in your personal space' thing, anyway.

He arrived at her house. After setting his bike somewhere out of the way, he checked his bag to make sure he hadn't forgotten his textbooks or crushed the package of cookies in there. All good. He walked up to the front door, paused for a moment to enjoy the warmth of the sun for a couple more moments (it would probably be raining when he left) before knocking on the door.
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Gabriella had been hypnotised by the gorgeous view out her window when her bedroom door opened, the terrible two standing in the doorway.

“Door.” Joseph, the younger brother, said with a mischievous grin.

Gabriella scowled in return. “Then open it.” She snapped back, despite already having gotten up to let Joe in. She knew that the two in front of her would never do so, no matter how many times she told them to.

“Mom said not to.” Kenneth, identical to his brother save for a mole on his cheek, replied with a nasal giggle. Gabriella continued to scowl, unsympathetic to her mother's concerns of stranger danger when it interfered with her afternoon.

“It’s Joe, you know Joe.” There was no doubt they’d already looked out the window and seen who it was, which would explain why they wouldn’t stop laughing (“Joe and Gabby, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G”) but they still had to take the long road and inconvenience their big sister, every single time.

Before they could think what to reply, she had already barged past them and headed towards the front door, the two following behind to hide on the stairs and watch for the sole purpose of annoying her and Joe.

She glanced over herself in the mirror by the front door, a force of habit she had no interest in breaking, and brushed a stray hair out of her forehead. She turned around and spat a “Get lost!” back at her brothers, before finally letting Joe in.

“Save me, please.”
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Joe rocked back and forth on his feet as he waited. He knew to expect a long wait sometimes, seeing as noise didn't reach Gabby's room easily. Once he'd had to yell out that he was down there, and that'd taken several minutes to work up the courage to doing.

He hadn't been waiting long when he saw someone peer through the window briefly. Not Gabby. One of her little brothers. That they were around wasn't... ideal. Admittedly, he probably only found them irritating because whenever he was around they just happened to be doing the obligatory 'annoying little siblings' thing. At least, he assumed it was obligatory. He didn't know from experience. The closest thing he had to a little sibling were a few distant cousins who lived in Chile, and he'd only met them once.

It took a while longer for Gabby to answer the door and let him in. Her first words were a plea for help.

"Don't think I know how to help, unless you count barricading the door as a soluuhh..." Joe trailed off after noticing that the Parker twins were both lingering nearby. Well, there went his ability to talk.

Joe subtly edged a little to the side so that Gabby was between him and the twins, a subconscious habit of his that happened whenever both people he knew and people he didn't know that well were both around.

"Uh... unless buh... bribing them with cookies to go away helps, I, um... don't have any ideas," he muttered, quietly enough so that the twins probably wouldn't hear.
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“Yeah, I’m really sorry about them. They were supposed to be at a friend’s party, but apparently the kid’s sick.” She shrugged, an awkward look plastered on her face. “Give me a second; I’ll get rid of them.”

Stepping aside to let Joe into her house, she turned on foot and jabbed her finger towards her brothers who were still giggling like a pair of monkeys. “If you two don’t get lost right now, I’ll tell Mom you were annoying me whilst I was studying.”

That did it. The two were still too young and spoiled to really understand the importance of studying, but they’d quickly come to associate the word with punishment whenever Gabriella used it on them. They rushed down the rest of the stairs and back into the den, slowing down only to flash the two another cheeky grin, and just like that they were out of their sister’s hair again. For now, anyway.

“I really am sorry. We should be fine in my room, but we could do this another day if you want.” She said, her choice of words as diplomatic as ever. The last thing she wanted was for Joe to leave her alone with her brothers, and she really had been looking forward to spending the afternoon with him. Even if the two would have their heads buried in books, it beat having your head buried in a book alone, every time.
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Joe nodded and shuffled into the house as Gabby ordered the twins to go away. He'd been here many times before, usually for studying, but it always felt a bit weird if there were members of Gabby's family around. Partly because of his neurotic fear of... well, people. But relatives of friends were an extra level of uncomfortable, just because... well, he didn't want to upset any of Gabby's, or any other friend's family. That would suck.

Once the twins were gone, Gabby asked if he wanted to meet up another day instead.

“Wha? No. No, no, no, no, no. I mean, I'm already here and... and there's fresh cookies in this bag and on another day they'd be stale, and also studying at home is really boring and... I mean, I can leave if you want me to, but I don't want to. Uh, not that I'd be offended if you did want me to leave or anything, I'm just not jumping out a window or anything and I'llstopramblingnowsorry."

The brief encounter with the twins, if you could even call it that (they hadn't even exchanged words) had thrown him off a little, but that's fine. He's fine. He can calm down. He's totally and completely calm. Okay, mostly calm.

"Uhhh... well, uh. Study time? Also, uh... these cookies are good for thinking." Joe held out the bag of cookies. "You fine with cookies? They're oatmeal, so they're kinda healthy."
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Gabriella couldn’t stop herself from breaking into a teasing smile as Joe began babbling. As great a guy as he was, she couldn’t help but find his panics over the smallest things just a little bit entertaining, bless his heart. She’d decided long ago that the right move when his mouth started running circles was to just let him get it all out, waiting for as long as she needed to. After that, she could act like nothing happened at all to save him face, and everything would be fine again. She’d enjoy his overreactions, not turn them into a joke.

“Oh, yeah, those should be fine.” She replied after he produced the cookies, which had in fact not just been a quiet joke before as she’d assumed. Her face had gone quiet for just a second, debating how many of the cookies she could enjoy without regretting it later, before she had smiled back her answer. Joe was a good baker, she would agree on that whole heartedly, but although she wouldn't want to offend him she still always tried to keep aware of what she ate. A healthy diet meant a healthy look, and that meant none of the break outs that so many teenage girls were prone to, that she was prone to.

But, all in all, a few cookies probably wouldn’t hurt.

“Why don’t you head up to my room, and I’ll grab us some drinks?” she offered, a fair trade of hospitality after he brought the snacks. He could set up, she could avoid her brothers, and everything after that would be boring studying gravy.

“What can I get you?”
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"Umh... er, water's fine. Am kinda thirsty, it's really warm out there and I biked over here and the sun's all... uh, I mean, yeah. Water."

Joe mentally slapped himself. Stop babbling, idiot. For once, can't you settle on some kind of comfortable medium between completely silent and babbling brook?

Joe hurried upstairs, afraid that if he stood around down there for too long that the twins would come back, and then he'd be right back to Stage One of his awkward conversation skills, aka silence. He pushed open the door to Gabby's room and immediately saw the mass of textbooks and notepads spread out on the bed. It was a simultaneously depressing and somewhat relieving sight.

Studying was kind of dull, yes, but it had to be done or else the world would explode. Such was the impression that both his and Gabby's parents always gave, anyway. Plus, it was better to study with people, and if he ever tried to get Travis or Chuck to study with him... well, they'd probably laugh him out of the room, before calling him back and demanding he play some video games with them. At least Gabby knew when to take things seriously.

Joe put his own textbooks down on the bed and plopped down on the floor next to it, shifting around until he was comfortable. He was actually calm now. Familiar area. Nice and safe. Boring, given the whole studying thing, but boring wasn't bad. Boredom was the safest thing ever, it meant he wasn't panicking about anything or afraid of saying anything slightly wrong. Even if there was a niggling thought in the back of his head about how he should have brought banana bread instead of cookies, because banana bread was much healthier.
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Gabriella returned with two tall glasses of water, decked out with a pair of ice cubes each. She handed Joe his, whilst setting her own down on the bedside table, well within her reach as she would study. She moved to sit herself down onto her mattress, but wound up flopping backwards onto it, staring at the ceiling as she let out an exasperated breath.

“Sorry, I really hate those two sometimes.”

Why did she always have to get stuck with babysitting? Her parents insisted that she waste all her free time studying so that she could follow their lives, not giving a damn about her musical passion, but the moment they needed someone to look after Joe and Kenny, suddenly she had even more responsibilities. You’d think they could at least pay her a little bit more money on top of it, but no, apparently her weekly allowance included such tasks. What a joke.

She pulled herself back up from her bed, looking down at Joe and giving him a resigned shrug. “Well, we better get to it, right?” She said with a half-smile, reaching for one of her note pads and her chemistry textbook to go with it. The only thing worse than being made to study was being made to study science, the lucky girl she was.

Only a little while passed before Gabby’s mind began to wander, the bright sunshine outside still mocking her as the words on the page stayed so dull by comparison. She still knew all these things; even if she didn’t revise, she could probably pass the test well enough. Right now she could be writing a new song, or meeting with Cho to rehearse for the next open mic night, but as usual her parents were bent on her having no fun whatsoever.

She needed a distraction. Thankfully, group study sessions worked perfectly in this situation.

“So, Joe, how is everything these days?”
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Joe took the class of water with a quiet thank you, taking a short drink before setting it carefully on the floor, making sure it wasn't in a place where he'd accidentally knock it over. He placed the bag of cookies on the bed in reaching distance of both of them.

"It's fine. Sounds tiring to deal with."

Joe opened his own chemistry textbook, flicking through to where he'd been up to before he left home to come over here. He'd spent most of his time awake so far studying already, and slipped back into it quite easily. It was much easier without any danger of his father suddenly bursting in and asking him for the signs of appendicitis or brain tumors or whatever.

It was quiet for a while. The only sound was the scratching sound of him and Gabby taking notes. Joe was completely focused on question twelve of some practice questions in the textbook when Gabby asked how things were going.

"Whaaaa?" Joe mumbled, snapping out of his focus. "...Oh. Oh, uh..." He looked up. "Uh, things are good, I guess. Same as always. Got some sleep and stuff, that was awesome." Also I got mad at some friends for almost no reason and accidentally cut myself while shaving and subsequently freaked out and didn't go near the razor for days afterwards, and I had half a shaved face for those couple of days and it looked ridiculous. That part of his thoughts only came out as, "I think Travis stole my Biology notes and I discovered that having only half a beard doesn't work."

I should get those Biology notes back. I wonder if he'd be home today, maybe I can stop by after study time.

"What about you? Anything interesting? Any more music things?" Joe didn't know that much about the intricacies of music, but Gabby's stuff sounded pretty good. Even if Joe was fairly tone deaf.
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Gabriella paid polite attention to Joe whilst he answered, but her pained mind couldn't keep focused for long, quickly beginning to sulk back to miserable boredom.

Other people didn’t have to deal with this, as far as she knew. Other people would just have the occasional reminder from their parents, if that; the rest just got to set their own paces and work on the things they wanted to. If they had wanted to become the next big folk group, their parents would probably throw them a party for it. But not her: that wasn’t how she was meant to function.

Medical school, architecture like them, or some kind of engineering or science: anything that made money and nothing that kept her attention. As long as she ended up becoming her parents in twenty years, they’d be happy. Whatever she wanted was irrelevant, just something to shut down whilst claiming to do it 'for her own good'. When she'd decided to look at language schools, it had been a compromise between both parties that neither were particularly pleased with; she only took it because she was already pretty good at Hebrew and other languages came almost naturally, whilst her parents were just glad that she was heading towards an actual degree.

She had began to scowl as she wound herself up, only just hearing Joe’s question. She was losing her will to even respond at that point: Joe was just a reminder of what she was stuck doing, trapped in the exact same situation himself. He was a comrade in arms on most occasions, an ally in the on-going war with their parents and books, but he was still a reminder that the war existed in the first place.

“Well, I wanted to practice with Cho today, but, you know, we’re both stuck in here.” She said, her sarcastic words sharp and merciless with the world around her.

“This is really stupid, isn’t it?”
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Joe winced at the harsh, sarcastic tone of Gabby's voice. Plus, the fact that she'd basically stated that she'd rather be hanging around with someone else stung a bit. It wasn't surprising, of course, and he wasn't offended because... well, he knew Cho was her best friend and music was way better than studying, and it wasn't like he was fun to hang around with anyway... but it hurt to hear it outloud.

Joe held the chemistry notebook a bit tighter and edged a couple of inches away, apprehensive about this sudden terrible mood. Not that he could talk, but...

"Um... you mean... is studying stupid? Because, uh... well..."

Joe didn't want to disagree with her, but he did. Studying wasn't stupid. It was boring, but it wasn't stupid. Sometimes it made him feel miserable, but it wasn't like that mattered. What mattered was that he do well at school and eventually become a great doctor, or at least one that didn't faint or flip at the sight of blood.

Didn't matter if he would prefer to be a chef. The world didn't need another chef. His family hadn't come to America so that Joe could flip burgers for a living (the exact words of his father.) But the world always needed doctors. Maybe if he was a doctor, then he could do good things and he wouldn't be such a waste of space.

So, no. Sitting inside going over chemistry notes wasn't dumb, no matter how nice the day. But... he didn't want to say that out loud.

"Uh, yeah. Totally stupid. I mean, uhhhhm... yeah." Joe made little circles near his ear with his index finger. "Insane. Crazy. Totally and completely stupid."

Overselling it, dumbass.
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Joe didn’t agree with her. Even though she had an advantage, knowing him as well as she did, it wasn’t hard to pick up on the nervous disagreement that he tried to mask.

It annoyed her, but she was never someone to jump down someone’s throat for not sharing her opinion. She stood up from her bed and faced out the window, hiding her rolling eyes from Joe as she clenched her folded arms in frustration. Losing Joe’s support wasn’t ideal, in fact it was downright upsetting, but she could at least elaborate on her point and make herself understood.

“I mean, we’re both smart people. We already know these things.” she said toward the window, her voice growing sharper by the minute. “So why should we waste all our spare time working? I mean, it’s not like studying is bad, I’m not an idiot, but there’s such a thing as overdoing it, you know?”

And spending a gorgeous day like this in a bedroom was definitely overdoing it. Whilst having Joe there was pleasant, his nervous habits never getting in the way of his relaxing presence, the fact remained that they were usually so busy studying that the bulk of the words they shared were practice questions.

She groaned and rubbed her forehead, her skin still smooth from its rigorous upkeep. For a moment the light shut out, as she closed her eyes and lost herself in her thoughts. She was getting annoyed, there was no doubt about it, but she couldn’t ignore the fact that she wasn’t alone. If it was just her in room, then fine, she could be pissy all she wanted, but today she had a guest over. Even if he had been a complete stranger, rather than a close friend, she would never let herself lose her cool in front of another.

“Sorry.” She sighed, turning back and twisting her frown into a smile. “Do you want to run some practice questions, or something? Let’s just get our heads out of books; maybe that’ll help.”
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Joe tilted his head a little, watching Gabby as she ranted. He could see her point, although he was still inclined to personally disagree. Maybe she knew everything they were studying. Unless he was getting 100% in every exam, which he sure as heck wasn't, he could always do better.

But spare time was definitely good. He was guilty of trying to wheedle his way into it at home. He'd put way too much thought into how to get his parents to let him take time out of his study schedule to bake cookies.

Joe shifted uncomfortably while staring at Gabby's back. He couldn't see her expression, but she sounded grumpy and Joe hated to see anyone grumpy or upset or anything bad like that, least of all a good friend like Gabby.

She suggested asking questions. Normally Joe would agree with this, but it seemed like a break would do her a lot better than going right back to studying while she was in such a craptastic mood about it.

"Practice questions can wait, right? If... if you're really, um, not in the mood we can just take a break. Not a super long one, but... just enough so that you're not... uh... you know?" Joe flailed his arms up and down, gesturing at her in a very vague way. Then he picked up the bag of cookies again. "Cookie break? Or something? I mean, you're right. Don't want to overdo it."
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A genuine smile broke through the corners of Gabby’s mouth; the offer of a break was exactly what she needed to hear. Without a word, only a thankful but weary smile, she took one of Joe’s cookies and sat herself down on her desk chair. Her long legs stretched out far as she leant back into the seat, transformed from the poised neurotic to an adjusted slacker by her friend’s support, and sunk her teeth deep into a delicious blend of oatmeal and chocolate.

“Sorry.” She said with a mouth full of cookie, and just like that her calm was shattered. She had spoken with her mouth full; that was something her little brother’s did, for goodness sakes. She raised a hand, requesting a moment from Joe to finish her mouthful and to berate herself internally.

“Sorry.” She repeated with a mouth no longer full of home baked goodness. “I guess I’m just wound up.” That much was obvious, but that didn’t make it any less inexcusable. Joe was her friend, not some pity party there to tell her what she could put up with and what she couldn’t, nor was he someone for her to whine at non-stop. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust him, because she did, but she couldn’t bring herself to vent at him regardless. It was just rude.

She straightened herself back up in her chair, her smile turning wearier by the moment. She took a drink from her glass, the ice long melted by the sun's rays, as she started to get a headache.
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