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The Secret of Destruction
Xavier pulled his Ford Mustang GT up to the curb as close as he could get to Tina Kirk’s house and sighed before turning off the car and getting out. He pressed the master lock button on his keys and was about to go around to the sidewalk when a car’s headlight swerved into his path, followed by the car itself and a honking horn. Xavier jumped back with a swear, his back hitting his own car’s bumper as the idiots—probably drunk—sped by. Well that woke him up. Now for the hard part.
Xavier made it to the sidewalk alive and quickly walked towards Tina’s house. The sounds of partying teenagers poured out into the warm spring night. Xavier would have been among them if there wasn’t a lacrosse game tomorrow. This didn’t stop about half of the team from going because they took girls more seriously than the sport. Xavier was gonna whip the ball at his teammates instead of the goal if their playing suffered due to hangovers.
The house was packed with bodies even at the door. Xavier pushed through laughing and staggering people to find Felicity. He was glad that she wouldn’t take a ride with one of her drunk friends or that she wasn’t going to drive, but it annoyed Xavier that it was him she had to call. He was her boyfriend, yeah, but still. He needed some flippin’ sleep if he was going to be any help on the field tomorrow.
Since it was mainly Greenwich school girls and Brunswick guys here, Xavier asked around to see if anyone knew where Felicity was. After lots of shrugs, Jenny Longmeyer pointed near the center of the room. Xavier craned his neck to see over the crowd, and sure enough, Felicity was dancing with her friends to the blaring music.
Xavier fought his way to the center of the room and tapped his girlfriend on the shoulder. She whirled around and stumbled; as Xavier caught her and held her upright, Felicity smiled and gasped dramatically. “You’re here!” she squealed before tackling her boyfriend with a hug.
“Yeah,” Xavier replied, his annoyance leaking though, “you called me to take you home.” Again.
“Ooooh, riiiight. Do we have to go now?” Felicity pouted, widening her makeup-smeared eyes and puckering her lips slightly. That only worked on Xavier when she was sober, since her eyes were currently too unfocused to capture him like they were supposed to for the effect.
“Yes, we have to go now.” Xavier took Felicity’s wrist firmly and lead her through the crowd. With a groan like a kid told it was time to leave the park, Felicity let herself be dragged through the suffocating press of bodies by her tense and agitated boyfriend.
Xavier didn’t let go of Felicity’s wrist until they were away from all of the people sitting outside the house just in case she wanted to try and stop to talk to them. She was friends with a lot of people and felt the need to talk to every single one of them—especially when she was drunk. When he did release her, Felicity stumbled like he had been the only thing holding her up. With an eye roll, Xavier put his arm around her waist.
Felicity hadn’t always been like this. It’s not like she didn’t drink or anything, but she had never gotten to any point over tipsy from sipping from Xavier’s beer, and she only went to parties every now and then. Now, she would go to any party she could and have a minimum of three beers. It was getting ridiculous.
Xavier opened the passenger side door, half-dumped his girlfriend inside, and went around the other side. The lights from the dashboard lit up his stony face, and he pulled away from the house and headed across town to Felicity’s house.
With heavy lidded eyes, Felicity slurred, “Where we goin’?”
Xavier spared her a quick, angry glance before returning his eyes to the road. “I’m taking you home. Then I’m going home and getting some sleep.”
Felicity groaned. “But I don’t wanna go back,” she whined.
“Too bad.” Xavier tightened his hands on the steering wheel.
He could see Felicity’s lazy smile out of the corner of his eye, and it instantly annoyed him. “Are you mad at me?” she asked, like this was all amusing to her.
Xavier glared at his girlfriend again, but she seemed to pay no mind. “Why shouldn’t I be?” he demanded. “I’m always having to pick you up from these stupid parties in the middle of the night while you’re wasted.”
“Aww, I’m just having fun. You should try it sometime.” Felicity wound a piece of her curled brown hair around her finger. Glitter shone in her hair, which made Xavier even more annoyed, because he would probably have to clean the stupid stuff out of his car.
“I do have fun, Felicity. Just not so... irresponsibly.”
Felicity laughed. “Irresponsibly? God, you sound like my mom.”
Xavier rounded on her, his glare lasting longer this time. “Well maybe she’s right. Did she also mention that this isn’t like you? You never used to pull this drunk party girl crap.”
Felicity just stared, but he wasn’t done. “Your mom talked to me, actually, about how your grades are crap. Do you just not care anymore? And what about volleyball? Did you stop caring about that, too?”
It was Felicity’s turn to get mad. Seeming to be suddenly sober, she turned in her seat towards her boyfriend. “Like you would know what I cared about anymore,” she snapped. “God, I hardly see you! And it’s not like we talk or anything.”
“Because you won’t listen!”
She didn’t get the chance to finish her sentence, because a truck honked its horn—Xavier hadn’t been watching the road and wandered across the yellow line. With a curse, he swerved violently into the right lane and corrected the car just in time to avoid hitting a car parked in the street.
Felicity screamed the entire time, but once the car was back to a safe position, she suddenly started to laugh. It was a deep, short laugh, but that escalated into laughter that made her throw her head back and her body shake, like almost dying was the funniest thing ever.
By the time Xavier pulled his blue GT into Felicity’s driveway, she was alternating between short breaths and bursts of airy laughs. Streams of tears trickled down her face. Xavier waited impatiently for her to calm down, which took several minutes. Once she stopped laughing, she turned to stare at Xavier with a lingering smile. She really was pretty, Xavier thought, with her long brown hair and hazel eyes, not to mention how toned her body was due to her dedication to volleyball, but it hurt him to see her doing this to herself. Maybe when she slept off her hangover, she would listen to him. He would go to his lacrosse game, hopefully win, shower, and come over to see her. Maybe then they could work this whole thing out.
“That was fun,” Felicity said with a grin.
Xavier blinked. “What, almost dying?”
She shrugged, still smiling. It made Xavier frustrated with her all over again. He shook his head. “You should go.”
Xavier was glad to see Felicity’s smile fade. Maybe she was starting to think straight. She put a hand on the door handle, but hesitated and turned back. “Wanna know a secret?”
Xavier was taken off guard again, but quickly composed himself. “No,” he replied firmly. “You need to go.”
Seeming to try and salvage the situation, a small smile crept back onto Felicity’s lips and she sang softly, “You’ll be sooo-ryyy.” She bit her lip and raised her eyebrows, waiting for Xavier to change his mind, but he just stared straight ahead at the garage door out the windshield. After a long moment, Felicity shrugged and muttered what sounded like, “I told you you’d be sorry,” before opening the car door and stumbling to her front door. Xavier didn’t hesitate when pulling out of her driveway.
Felicity looked back once she got to the door, but the car was already gone, and she stared at brake lights before turning the doorknob to get inside. It wouldn’t turn. She shook the door and twisted harder, but the door wouldn’t move. Her mom had been serious when she said she wouldn’t let Felicity in if she left the house tonight.
With a sigh, Felicity brushed her hair out of her face and turned. She looked out into the night, the street lights seeming dimmer than before. She felt alone—the loneliness pressed on her, made the air thicker, her chest weighted, and she started to cry.
Felicity had never let herself cry, even when she was by herself in her room. But in the car with Xavier, hearing the anger and disappointment in his voice, thinking about it all—she started to cry then, but disguised it with laughter. Now there was no hiding her sobs. But no one was listening. No one was there for her to talk to them about her father’s drinking and her mother always telling her that she could be smarter or thinner or better at volleyball—or just better in general—and that her friends were intentionally hurting her feelings because she hadn’t liked to go to parties much. And now, with Xavier not looking at her like he used to or talking to her at all....
And now she hates herself for trying to be the perfect daughter, the perfect friend, the perfect girlfriend. She hated being an embarrassment. She hated the new Felicity so much that she wanted to destroy her.
And she would.
Xavier tapped his fingers on the steering wheel to the beat of the song playing on the radio. His team had won the lacrosse game, no thanks to half of the team stumbling around the field. It had been close, but they did it. Being in such a good mood, he did what he thought of last night: he took a quick shower, got into his car, and drove to Felicity’s house. They needed to talk through a lot, and hopefully it would mend their strained relationship.
He wasn’t expecting the police cars at her house when he turned onto her street.
Oh, god, what happened? He had seen Felicity walk up to her door, so she couldn’t have gotten into any more trouble. Maybe someone had called to complain about the party? But she had left—did they track down everyone who went to get them in trouble or something? But then why were there two police cars? Didn’t they just need one guy to give her a slap on the wrist and preach about teen drinking?
Xavier parked across the street and made his way to the Lance’s doorstep. He knocked hesitantly and heard talking and footsteps inside. A police officer opened the door with a somber expression. “I’m sorry, son, but you have to leave,” the cop said sternly.
“But—but I have to know what’s going on,” Xavier replied, tapping his own chest with four fingers. “Is something wrong? I have to know, sir.”
“And who are you?” The question could have been asked the wrong way, but it wasn’t—it was just a simple question the way it was put. Xavier still had to control himself before he blew up.
“I’m Felicity’s boyfriend,” he told the officer, raising his voice a little. “Now, what’s going on?”
The cop’s demeanor changed completely. Instead of defensive, his eyes filled with what looked like pity, and his face softened with it. The officer stepped out onto the porch and shut the door behind him. Xavier’s stomach clenched uncomfortably.
“What’s your name, son?” the policeman asked.
“Xavier, sir.” Hopefully this guy would stop calling him “son” now.
The cop sighed. “I’m Officer Stone. I don’t know how to tell you this, Xavier.”
Another constriction in Xavier’s stomach. “Then just tell me,” he suggested, a little bit of a tremor creeping into his voice.
Officer Stone swallowed hard, then met Xavier’s eyes. “Felicity’s remains were found beside the railroad tracks this morning, about two miles from here. I’m sorry, son.”
Xavier just stared at the policeman for a minute. He had heard the words, but he couldn’t make sense of them. His brain had been put to a halt. Then, slowly, a gear started to spin in his head, turning another, and everything started to click into place. “She’s—she’s dead? But she—I saw her—she was fine—”
Xavier’s knees gave out, and he grabbed the porch railing for support. When Officer Stone tried to touch him, Xavier stumbled back and down the three steps up the porch, lost his balance entirely, and fell into the grass by the sidewalk. The cop took a step forward to help him, but Xavier yelled, “Get away from me!” and tried to crawl farther away.
Officer Stone put his hands, palms up, in surrender. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean....”
But Xavier had stopped listening. His attention had been stolen by some scattered dirt from the flower bed that ran along the house’s front and sides. Something looked strange about the area where the dirt was thrown over the grass, so Xavier moved closer. What he saw made his stomach give a squeeze so tight that he became sick in the grass next to him.
Scratched into the dirt in front of two bushes were six words.
“Want to know a secret now?”
Brad Lindeman sat outside some house that was throwing some party that he didn’t care about. He stared out the side window of his brother’s car and grumbled curses under his breath, then louder as the time passed. He had called Xavier and told him that he was here, and that he had driven his car, since Brad wasn’t about to waste his own gas picking him up from some stupid high school party.
Finally, Brad caught sight of Xavier staggering across the lawn towards the car. Brad didn’t give him a second to breathe once he opened the car door to get inside. “I’m not doing this anymore.” Xavier chuckled a little, which made Brad add, “I mean it.”
“Oh, come on, you did this stuff in high school, too,” Xavier slurred. “I would have picked you up if I could have drove, because I’m a good brother.”
Brad put the car into drive and made a disbelieving noise. “What do you think I’m doing here?”
“But you’re complaining,” Xavier replied, leaning his head back and grinning lopsidedly at his older brother.
“Yeah, I’m complaining. I didn’t plan on spending my weekend home from college hauling you around. God, grow up, will you?”
“Maybe I don’t want to.” Xavier was still smiling, Brad’s harsh words seeming to roll off of him.
“Well, you have to.”
There was a silence between them. Brad glanced over to make sure his brother hadn’t fallen asleep. He was awake, staring at him. When he didn’t quit it, Brad snapped, “What? What are you looking at?”
“Do you wanna know a secret?”
Brad made another disbelieving noise at his little brother’s stupid question. “Uh, no, I don’t.”
“You’ll be sorry,” Xavier said softly, a smile still lingering at the corners of his mouth.
Brad snorted. “No, I don’t think I will.”
With a widening grin, Xavier looked out his window into the dark blurs speeding passed. “We’ll see.”