Chapter Two
Word Count: 4,067

He didn't drive to school since he wasn't supposed to be able to afford things like cars, so her giving him a ride to her house after school wasn't problematic.

"Wow," he said, taking it in. Stubby's house had been nice, but the Standishes was nicer than nice. Her dad was a lawyer John knew and evidently good at his job.

"Thanks. Well, my parents thank you, I had nothing to do with it." She parked in front of a garage stall but didn't pull into it.

"What did you end up doing yesterday anyway?" she asked?

"I actually ended up seeing a movie," he answered. "I forgot I'd told a friend if I could go we would."

"What movie?"

He grimaced at the question. "Splash," he replied. He hadn't hated it, but he would have much rather have seen Police Academy. That had been sold out anyway, so they wouldn't have been able to see it.

"Oh! I saw that last weekend."

"Yeah? What did you think?"

He didn't really care when it got down to it, but if she'd loved it as much as Amy had he wouldn't put it down. Truthfully, while he hadn't hated it he'd been bored for about ninety percent of the movie. That's what he got for telling her to pick anything she wanted to he supposed.

"It was all right," she said with a shrug.

"That's sort of the opinion I walked away with."

She laughed softly. "All of my friends loved it and I just thought it was sort of silly."

"Me, too."

She glanced at him then after she'd let him in.

"Who dragged you to see that?"

"No one from around here," he said.

"Oh," she said. "That's a relief. I was trying to picture any of your friends…"

"Yeah, no," he said with a soft laugh. No one he hung around with at Shermer would have been caught dead seeing any movie let alone Splash. Maybe they'd see a movie, but he didn't think many of them did.

"What did you do yesterday?" he asked, realizing that was probably the polite thing to do since she'd asked him.

"Nothing much. Went to the mall for a little bit with some friends, but that was about it."

"Ah," he said, closing the distance between them once she'd set her book bag and keys down. "Mom and Dad gone?"

"Yes," she said.

"Mom works?"

"Yes. She's a nurse."

"Really?" That surprised him for some reason. He didn't think mom's like hers worked. He certainly hadn't had her pegged as a latchkey kid like he'd been.

"She doesn't work full-time. She works a couple of days a week at a pediatrician's office. Sometimes she works a week or two at a time, filling in for others in the office who have vacations."

"Ah," he said. "Enough to keep her skills fresh and get a little mad money coming in when you kids were running wild and taking all of Daddy's paychecks?"

"Something like that," she whispered as he leaned in closer to kiss her. He'd seen her a couple of times in the hall this morning. She'd seen him, too, and looked kind of confused when he didn't say anything to her.

He hadn't known what to say really. He still really wasn't sure what she was expecting from him after Saturday. They kissed, twice now, and everything, but that didn't mean they were at the point he should be carrying her books to class for her or anything.

Did it? God, did it? Was that what he'd signed up for kissing her and taking the earring?

Fuck if he knew. He supposed he'd see tomorrow how she acted when seeing him and go from there.

His captain was curious about Stubby's family as well and wanted John to work at getting closer to him the next couple of months left of school if he could. He could. He had an in right here in front of him, but fuck if he wanted to use her as part of his job. And, yet, if spending time with her allowed him to do his job, was that using her?

He moved her so her back was against the door, sliding his hands to her arms as he deepened the kiss and pressed into her. She gasped a bit, but didn't push him away. He thought for a second she might when he felt her hands go to his chest. He waited for it, not that he stopped kissing her or would until she gave him some indication he had to stop.

It never came, though. Instead she worked her hands under his shirt. She didn't do anything with her hands there, just set them there. He imagined she wasn't sure what to do and he wasn't in the position to show her right now. Well, he supposed he could show her plenty without breaking any laws, but he didn't want to.

Eventually, she moved a hand of her own doing, a small movement of a thumb against his stomach as he broke the kiss and found her neck and ear.

"Did your mother see this?" he asked, kissing the hickey.

"No. Well, I don't think so. She may have, but she didn't say anything and if she did it was only for a second when I took my scarf off after church yesterday and scratched my neck, forgetting about it."

He chuckled softly at that. "Do you bruise easily or something?"

"Why?"

"It's just so dark."

"I don't know. Maybe because I've never had one before?"

"Maybe," he whispered. He was no expert either. He'd given a few, gotten a few but that was about all and his parents sure as hell didn't care what he did for the most part.

He worked a button on her blouse, kissing lower along her throat along her collarbone.

"John," she whispered.

"Hmm?"

"I didn't…"

He kissed the top of one of her breasts before drawing away.

"You didn't?"

"I didn't ask you here for that."

"Really, Princess? What did you have in mind then for our afternoon until Mom and Dad get home?"

"I don't know. I just thought you'd like to come over."

"You thought right," he said.

"I wasn't thinking you'd want to."

"Why wouldn't I?"

"It's three thirty in the afternoon!"

"It was earlier than that Saturday."

"That was at school, and totally different. Not a conscious decision."

"You leaving the library and searching for me until you found me was pretty conscious, sweetheart. I don't know how to break that to you."

"It wasn't that difficult to figure out where he put you."

"You tell yourself that if you want to."

"So, is that the only reason you came here?"

"Is what the only reason I came here?"

"To get laid?"

"Uh, I haven't even really touched you and you think I'm trying to have sex with you?"

"Well, I don't know…"

"I like kissing you. Sue me."

"I don't want to sue you."

"Fantastic to hear that. So, you don't want to make out with me. What do you want to do?"

"I don't know! I just thought we could, you know, hang out."

"Hang out?"

"Yeah. You know, like two people who like one another might do."

"Princess," he said. He knew he liked her. A lot. More than was right considering the many obstacles that existed. Her age wasn't even the biggest one. He was stopped from saying more to her, though, by his pager going off.

"You have a pager?"

"Yup," he said, sliding the device off his belt so he could see who was calling. It was a voicemail, and likely from his captain because he was the only one who left him voicemails on the pager system. Amy had the number, but she just typed her number in for him to call her back.

"Can I use your phone?" he asked.

"I'm sorry. What?"

"Someone left me a voicemail, they wouldn't do that if it wasn't important."

"Yeah, sure," she said.

He could tell she didn't quite believe him. He couldn't blame her. She had to be wondering who would be paging him. She led him to her kitchen and a phone on the wall there. "I'm going to go hang my coat up and stuff. I'll be back. Unless you don't want to stay here anymore?"

"Claire," he said, exasperated. "That's not what I said."

"You came here to get laid. I don't want to do that so you might not want to stay."

"I didn't come here to get laid. Did I try anything to suggest my goal was to get you out of your panties?"

"No!"

"Okay," he said, as his pager went off again. This time it wasn't a voicemail message, just the number to call back. His captain knew he was out of school by now. "Then what the fuck is the problem? Jesus. I've never had someone get mad at me before for not being a letch."

"I want you to!"

"You just said you don't want to do that!"

"I know."

"Am I supposed to understand what you're saying? I'm not if I am."

"You're supposed to want to!"

"Who says I don't?"

"You wore my earring. You came to the party on Saturday."

"So that means I'm supposed to try to fuck you?"

"No! Yes! I don't know."

"Okay. When you have an actual answer to that question let me know. I really have to use the phone now, though," he said as the pager went off again.

"This is Bender," he said, watching her leave the kitchen.

'You get lost on your way home from school today or what?' his captain asked. Ed was, well, he was a pretty nice guy when all was said and done. Most everyone warned John away from taking this assignment because of Ed, but John sort of liked him. He was certainly a better role model than his old man ever was. He was tough, for sure, but John could handle the kind of tough Ed was in spades. He just wanted the job done right. The first time.

"No."

'Then what took you so long?'

"I'm busy!"

'John. That's not an answer.'

"You've never asked me to account for my time before. Jesus. I put in my eight hours the same as everyone else. I get downtime, too."

'There was another overdose yesterday, John. Penny Franklin, you know her?'

Know her? Sure. She was in with Claire's crowd and had been at the party Saturday night. She was in one of the bedrooms he was pretty sure, but not with the stuff he sold because he didn't go to parties equipped with hard stuff. The only time he'd gotten anything harder than pot was when he'd been asked to get it as a test, to gain trust.

"Yeah," John said. She wasn't a mayor's or judge's daughter, but her dad was a banker or something if he recalled correctly. Investments? Something like that. He wasn't like a teller John knew that much. There were so many in their class let alone their school he couldn't remember everyone off the top of his head. "I saw her at a party Saturday night," John admitted, eyeing the doorway Claire had gone through.

'Anything from that?'

"No, but she may have gotten the stuff there. It's possible. There was more than just my stuff there, I know that. All I got was those pictures I dropped off for you this morning. Might be more, but getting access isn't so easy. You know?"

'From that party?'

"Yes."

'Try to find something, John. We're starting to look bad.'

"Look bad! Do you want to remind them how many busts I've given them tied up with a big bow? The way I figure it I account for at least seventy percent of the busts that go down around Shermer."

'I know. We've had two years.'

"Two years of not knowing who we're looking for. I'm not a miracle worker."

'Tomorrow morning plan on meeting with me. I'll excuse your tardiness as I've done in the past.'

"Yeah, all right, sure," he said, eyeing the doorway. He heard her on the stairs, so she was coming back. "I have to go. I'll be there. You're buying me breakfast, too, if I'm getting up before dawn."

'Bring everything you've learned about anyone.'

"Yeah, sure. You have it all, but I'll bring it along."

'See you tomorrow morning.'

"Yup," John said, hanging up. He watched her as she came back to the kitchen. Her friend was dead. A third one from her class. He knew the first two were friends with her, too. John Bender, Shermer High senior, didn't know about Penny's death and likely wouldn't know about Desirae's or Samantha's either. Well, he probably would have heard about them, but they'd died before he got to school so didn't know them.

"Hi," she said.

"Hey," he said.

"You're done with your phone call."

"I am."

"If you weren't eighteen I'd wonder if you had a wife or something."

"I don't have a wife," he said with a shake of his head. "Listen, I don't know exactly what I did out there to fuck things up. I like kissing you, sue me. I can't jump into bed with you as much as I may want to. It's not something I can do right now."

"Why not?"

"That's kind of a complicated answer."

"But…"

"This earring thing," he said, bringing his hand to his ear and pulling the backing off of it before he slid it out. "You gave it to me. I've worn it. Evidently…"

"I just thought," she shrugged.

"That because you gave me a diamond I'd think the next step was sex?"

"Well, I don't know."

"I don't really either, but I think it's supposed to be me giving you gifts to push you toward that step not the other way around."

"It's not a gift."

"Yeah? What was it then?"

"I don't know," she said, shrugging a bit and nibbling on her lower lip again.

"Yeah, you do. What?"

"I wanted you to have something of mine and it was all I could give you."

"Oh," he said.

"I liked thinking you'd wear it to school, people seeing it," she shrugged again.

"Okay. You do know we, like having even had a date, right?"

"I know."

"I mean, I took it and wore it, but I'm not like ready to pick out China patterns."

"Well, that's sort of why I invited you back here."

"Oh," he said.

"I mean not to pick out China patterns."

He was super relieved to hear that. She was all kinds of confusing. Then women generally were. His not being in high school and being three years older than her didn't lessen that confusion.

"To maybe see if you want to keep wearing it, knowing I like to see you wear it."

He reached for her then, drawing her to him as he eyed the clock on the wall behind her.

"What time do your parents get home?" he asked.

"Dad it depends on his workload and his day. Mom, around six."

They still had plenty of time.

"What time do you have to be home?" she asked.

"I don't. I mean, whenever."

"Your parents don't expect you for dinner?"

"No," he said.

"Oh," she said.

He leaned in and kissed her again. He absolutely shouldn't have done it, but he did it anyway and loved every second of it. He noticed as he broke the kiss to switch them so she was against the desk where their phone was that she hadn't worked the button on her blouse he'd undone earlier. He liked the idea a lot.

He settled her on the desk and stepped in between her legs, deepening the kiss as he worked at working the next button on her blouse. It was a nice top. Not as nice as the one Saturday, but he supposed she had clothes that were just meant to go out in. He slid his fingertips along the top of her breast. She breathed in sharply at that and drew away from their kiss.

"John," she said.

"Uh huh," he said, intent on moving to her neck if she wasn't in the mood to kiss him anymore.

"John. You have to stop."

"Jesus fucking Christ," he said stepping away from her. "I know no is no and everything, but I haven't even done anything!"

She was busy working the buttons on her blouse. So, clearly she was done for the day, which was fine and should have been good. John was a fucking idiot is what he was. If he was smart at all he'd leave this afternoon and say fuck the hoity toity senior in high school who didn't even know a real thing about him.

Except Amy didn't either really when it got down to it. She knew he was a cop, but not where or doing what. She didn't even know where he lived really because he always went to her since she was in school and everything.

"I know that. That's not why I told you to stop."

"It wasn't?"

"No! The garage door just went up."

"Oh," he said. He didn't know the sounds in her house to know what that had been. Her panicked expression made much more sense now.

"Relax," he said. "We weren't really doing anything wrong. We were kissing."

"Yes, but you had your hand…"

"I didn't touch anything I could get arrested for or anything."

"This is my parents' we're talking about."

"True enough. You look fine," he said. "May want to get off the counter, though."

She did just that.

"Don't just stand there. You look like you're guilty of something."

God it was on the tip of his tongue to invite her back to his place, but he couldn't do it. Not today. Not knowing her friend was in the morgue somewhere being cut up and analyzed every which way. Thinking that if he'd paid better attention to his surroundings on Saturday night he might have seen something, a clue to help them. And possibly save her life.

"I'm just waiting for you to show me where we're going, Princess."

"Oh," she said. "The basement." She gestured to a door off the kitchen, the same direction as the garage door opening sound came from.

"You're not setting me up to meet the 'rents, are you?"

"No. Go on down there. I'll get us something to drink. Chips?"

"Sure," he said.

"Please be presentable if Mom or Dad do go down there."

"Me? I hate to tell you this, Princess, but this is as presentable to meet the 'rents I get. If you're hoping I have an argyle sweater in my pocket, I don't."

"Not that! I don't care what you're wearing."

"Then what," he said. She opened her mouth to respond, but turned beet red as she glanced at the front of his jeans. "I'll fix it, yeah, don't worry." It was already starting to fix itself. Something told him if he was going to continue hanging around her he had a lot of cold showers in store the next few months.

Ironically, once he'd gone downstairs to wait for her his pager went off again. This time it wasn't his captain, but the girl no cold showers would be necessary for. In fact, she'd been a little confused he hadn't gone back to her apartment with her yesterday after the movie to stay for longer than a few minutes.

He was a lot of things, but having sex with Amy while having thoughts of wanting to do those same things with someone else wasn't right. So, he'd bowed out of putting himself in the potential situation to feel like worse shit then he did right now about all of this. He'd even brought the earring along yesterday, pocketing it though once he realized he was still wearing it.

He hadn't counted on her legitimately being interested. He figured he'd go to the party and if she was there she'd brush him off as she would've done the day before if he'd shown up at a party. She hadn't, though.

And now, another one of her friends had fallen victim to the very thing he'd been sent here to try to stop from happening again. He didn't know Penny very well, but he knew she was pretty tight in with Claire's crowd.

He did something he hardly ever did, knowing it was the only way his captain had of getting a hold of him. He shut his pager off. If he shut it off he wouldn't hear it go off again and start to feel guiltier. Really, though, how serious was she thinking they could get when she was going back home to New Mexico for the summer? Going three months was no hardship for him, but it wasn't like they were ultra-serious or anything.

She came downstairs a few minutes after he turned the pager off.

"No inquisition?"

"No. It's Dad. He's home to change for a dinner and leaving again."

"Oh," he said.

"He knows you're here, though."

"I see," he said.

"I can't lie to him!"

John shrugged. "No sweat, Princess. As you can see I was all positioned correctly and everything to meet them."

"Shut up. I just didn't need them thinking …"

"That their perfect angel of a girl might be discovering that boys are good for some things?"

"Well, yes," she said.

"Well, anytime you want to get that halo a little more tarnished you let me know."

"Anytime?"

"Well, sure, within reason. I have to sleep and stuff."

She snorted softly at that as she handed him a Coke.

"Thanks," he said, popping the top on it before taking a sip.

The room down here was nice.

"Pool, ping pong, and foosball?" There was a pretty nice entertainment area setup, too.

"I know."

"Are you any good?"

"At which?"

"Any?"

"I'm best at ping pong, but I can hold my own."

"Oh wow," he said, when he noticed the air hockey table.

She laughed then.

"That's Chris' favorite, too."

"Holy shit, Claire, this is fantastic."

"You going to come over to play games now?"

"Well, playing doctor might get old after a while."

"I've never played it."

"No?" he asked. He wasn't surprised at her answer, but surprised she admitted it so easily. They'd established on Saturday she was a virgin.

"No."

"Well, you know, sometime we can. Preferably when you're sure your parents aren't going to walk in on us. I'd rather not get shot." And not seventeen. "When is your birthday?" he asked.

"I'm not playing doctor with you for my birthday."

"As fun as that in itself sounds that's not why I was asking."

"Why were you asking?"

"I don't know, you gave me this earring, want me to wear it, and other people to see me wearing it and know it's from you."

"Yes."

"That seems like a birthday present is called for when it gets to that time."

"Oh," she said. "July fifth."

"Really?"

"Yes."

"Huh. Your mom couldn't have pushed a little harder?"

She laughed at that. "I was born at like five in the evening, so no."

"Oh, I suppose not."

"When's yours?"

"March second."

"Happy belated birthday."

"Thank you. I think you were the only to say that."

"Now I feel bad."

"Why? You didn't know me."

"I know," she said with a shrug. "So, do you want to play air hockey?"

"Do I? I've been standing here trying to figure out how to ask to without it making it sound like I might just use you to get access to it."

She glanced up the stairs before walking toward him, working one of the buttons on her top. The top one she left undone so this was the second one he'd worked upstairs. "I think I can come up with ways to be sure you don't just come over here for air hockey."

"I think you might be right," he whispered, sliding a fingertip over her skin there. Fuck, she was dangerous. "For now, though, since Daddy's upstairs and Mommy won't be home too long after he leaves. Air hockey."

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