Chapter 14: Winter Break
"Have you talked to him yet?" I whispered to Veronica as she tried not to watch Timothy pass.
"Hmm?" Veronica asked. "Um....no." she said.
"Are you planning to?" I asked as he went into a class room.
"Of course." Veronica said. "I'll talk to him this week!" she added.
"Veronica, in case you didn't realize, today is the last day before winter break." I said.
"Well, it's not like I'm going anywhere." she said looking annoyed.
"Yeah but he is, he, Erik and Mei-Ling are all flying out tomorrow. We're going to the airport with them....we've been talking about it at lunch every day this week...." I said watching her face transform from annoyance to shock to panic. "You are coming to seem all off aren't you?" I asked.
"Umm...." was her only reply.
The next day, we left from Todd and I's street. Veronica wasn't there. Erik was going back to Virginia to see his mom; Mei-Ling was going back to China to visit her family and Timothy's family had left already for a skiing trip, he was flying out to meet them.
We got to the airport early to get them checked in. Timothy's flight was supposed to leave first, once we were past security, we sat in awkward silence. For Todd and I, the prospect of saying goodbye to our respective significant others was keeping us silence; the same was true for Erik and Mei-Ling of course. Todd broke the silence first. "I thought Veronica said she was coming as well?" he asked. No one else knew about the kiss so no one else recognized the flash of emotion cross Timothy's face.
"She wasn't sure when I talked to her at school yesterday." I said looking out the window, away from Timothy.
The silence returned and Erik put his arm around my shoulder, pulling me closer. No one said much until the call for Timothy's flight came over the speakers.
"Guess that's me." he said standing and picking up his laptop bag. We all stood as well and walked over to the gate with him. Just before he was about to go through the doors, I gave him a big hug. "Be careful on those slopes Timothy." I said with a grin.
He chuckled and lingered a moment looking over my shoulder for someone. I think I know who he was looking for but he covered the sadness on his face as he waved and went through the gate.
Just as he went through the doors, I heard a female voice behind me and turned to see Veronica running towards us. "Wait!" she said weakly and out of breath as she reached us. Erik, Todd and Mei-Ling looked marginally confused but I just looked on her sadly. "Sorry." I said softly.
Veronica slumped in a nearby seat and sighed. After that the wait time seem to speed up. They called for Erik's flight next.
At the gate we lingered in each others arms long enough to annoy the other passengers. "I'll be right back." Erik said with a wink.
I chuckled and gave him another kiss. "You better be." I said. "Have a good time with your mom." I said stepping back so he could board the plane before the flight attendants closed the door on him.
When Todd said good bye to Mei-Ling, there was pain in both their faces. I suspect they both knew what this was foreshadowing. In six months she was supposed to go back to China for good - or at least until the end of high school.
Timothy and Erik's planes were long gone, but the three of us lingered to watch Mei-Ling's take off.
I invited them over to my house for moping and hot chocolate.
"Gah!" Todd said flopping back on my bed. "This sucks Gin, really sucks!"
"I know." I said having no words of wisdom for him.
"And this is just the rehearsal. At some point that flight will be one way." he muttered not really needing my responses anyway.
"Yeah." I said anyway.
Suddenly Veronica stood up. "We need to do something...anything. Sitting around moping is not good for us....er you guys." she quickly corrected. Todd looked at her curiously for a second but let the slip pass. He was still stuck in his own feelings.
Veronica did her best to keep us occupied - although I think she was doing it as much for herself as us. We spent several nights at the Pit, days at the arcade, beach or park. Anything to stay in motion. As Christmas Day approached, she mentioned how her parents were going on a three day retreat so I invited her over for Christmas.
"So where are your parents?" my dad asked and I tried not to grimace.
"They went to a resort a few hours away." she said picking at her turkey.
My dad took note of her stance and dropped the subject.
After dinner we went into the living room where several presents littered the floor under the tree. Normally we opened them up first thing in the morning but I had asked daddy if we could wait for Veronica.
"This one is for you." I said handing a box to Veronica.
"Me?" she asked looking surprised.
"So is this one." my dad said holding out another wrapped box. We grinned at her .
"Well you better open some as well, I don't want to be the only one." she said still looking at the presents in surprised. As a trio, we tore into the presents. There were more for Veronica than I was expecting, apparently my dad had done some last minute shopping when I mentioned she was coming over. A lot of them were gift card or small things since he had no sense of teen fashion but she was genuinely thrilled with each one.
After we were done unwrapping, we lounged in the living room stuffed and happy. "Thank you both." Veronica said. "So much, this was a wonderful Christmas." she said with a smile. We smiled back at her.
Mei-Ling was the first to return. She got home a couple days before New Years and Veronica and I lost Todd to their happy reunion. Veronica had run out of steam for Project: Stay Busy so we spent most days hanging around my house bored. "Were we always this boring?" I asked staring up at my ceiling.
Veronica merely shrugged. "New Year's Eve party at the Pit, you going?"
It was my turn to shrug. "Erik won't be back until the third. Not sure I'm in a party mood. You?"
"Probably." she said.
"Figured out what you're gonna say to him?" I asked looking over at her.
"Not exactly." Veronica said not meeting my gaze. I didn't have the motivation to push her so I just shrugged again.
Somehow she managed to convince me to go to the NYE party at the Pit. I practically ran past the dance floor where Todd and Mei-Ling were happy in each others company to get upstairs to the lounge.
Veronica saw what I saw and followed me upstairs. "They're too happy." she muttered. I laughed.
When I found an empty couch I fell back into it's soft cushions. "Why did you bring me here?" I asked taking up the whole couch, forcing V into a chair.
"Because you need to have fun....WE need to have fun. Granted I haven't been the best company but we can have fun together." she said. "Besides, isn't this partly what your dad is worried about?" she asked with a knowing smile.
"Ugh! You're right!" I said getting to my feet. "Come on, let's go dance." I said grabbing her hand.
I didn't see him approach as I was having a good time on the floor. I didn't see either of them.
Erik put his hands around my waist and whispered in my ear. "Can I cut in?" he said with a smile. I whipped around to see his face and threw my arms around his neck. "You're home early!" I said with a grin.
"I'm home early." he said with a nod. For a second I thought he was troubled by something but it was gone as soon as I detected it so I forgot about it. "Look who I ran into." he said motioning to Timothy.
When we turned to look, Timothy and Veronica were making out in the middle of the dance floor. I grinned; Erik, Todd and Mei-Ling all looked on shocked.
Erik saw my grin and nudged me with his shoulder. "Did you know about this?"
"No, yes....not entirely." I said with a laugh and then started dancing as Timothy and Veronica broke the kiss. The six of us danced together
The music shut off a minute before midnight and from somewhere the countdown started....
Veronica pulled Timothy into a kiss a bit early.
Todd and Mei-Ling gave in as well.
Erik kissed me, a long lingering kiss.