Camo stirs to an alarm clock going off. It's 2am. He opens his eyes and sees Verona's head next to his. He smiles, and she moves, also waking up to the noise in her room. Camo swings his feet over the side of the bed and puts his swim trunks and tshirt back on. Verona throws on some shorts and a tank top and shuts off her alarm. She takes Camo's hand and leads him back outside to her car. Before she can get into the car, Camo grabs her and kisses her hard, like he doesn't want to leave and wants to remember this moment forever.
Titanium looks out the window of The Compound's front door, keeping an eye out for Camo so he can let him in. He's been home since Absolon dropped him off at 9pm. He knew Camo went to the beach, but he didn't know when Camo would be back. Titanium had hoped Camo would be back before him because he's scared of being the lookout for their first time breaking curfew. He's not very confident of his skills at sneaking around, but he's sure Camo would be very good at it. He tried to sleep for a little while after he got back from his date, but he only managed four hours of actual sleep before waking up. He stayed in his room for an hour before his worries got the best of him. He's been standing by the front door for about thirty minutes. Camo, where are you, dude? Oh thank god. Titanium is relieved when he sees a boy in an orange shirt get out of a blue car and run up to the door. It's Camo. He quickly opens the front door and Camo comes inside.
Camo and Titanium hurriedly walk back to their room. The hallways are dark and not a soul is awake, much to the relief of both of the boys. Even though they're both smiling, they are still scared of what would happen if they got caught. Camo's still thinking about Verona, and Titanium is glad Camo made it back before 6am.
"Camo, you have no idea how glad I am that you are back. My heart was literally beating out of my chest waiting for you. I was really scared that we'd get caught, and then I don't know what."
"Aw, dude. Thank you. You are so brave for being the lookout. Next time I'll do it for you so you can stay out."
"Camo? Can we figure out a time to meet? I think I was more afraid because I didn't know when to expect you back. I couldn't sleep. I slept until 2:00am and then I had to get up."
"Yeah, that would be good. Sorry we didn't do that before. Slipped my mind."
"That's ok, let's get some sleep before class. I'm just glad you're back."
Did your perception of The Strangers change and did you ever break curfew?
I was slowly starting to gain more trust in Absolon, especially since he was always trying to get me back before curfew, despite his hatred for The Compound. At first I was really grateful for him doing that because I knew he cared enough about me to make sure I was not doing anything I was uncomfortable with, but as time went on and we hung out more, I found myself not caring about the curfew and being more willing to sneak in like Camo did.
I just dropped Camo off at his shelter. From the outside, it looks all right, it has fancy fountains and a statue. It's kind of ritzy for a homeless shelter, but I guess it's good they have money to take care of the facilities. It looks better on the outside than some of the other shelters around here, but I'm still unsure of all those things Camo has to go through, and I know I don't like them one bit. I wish I could get him out of there, maybe he and I could get our own place and be together forever.
Whoa... forever, Verona? This is so unlike you. I have officially just surprised myself with putting thoughts of a boy and forever in the same vicinity. I meant what I said to him last night, though, I love him. The thought of losing him made me feel like my world was ending. Wow. How can this be? I haven't known him for that long, and I love him? How does that even happen?
"Good morning, Verona."
Blah. Mother. I'm so not in the right frame of mind to talk to Mother at the moment. I swear if she asks me about another set up, I'll... I'll... sock her? Sigh. I could never punch Mother, no matter how infuriating she gets.
"Good morning, Mother."
"What are your plans for today, darling?"
Grr... I already don't like where this is going. I hope her plans for us don't royally suck. Ok, what the hell, Verona? Stop assuming things. Daddy told you assuming only makes an ass out of you and the person you're talking to. Don't assume Mother is trying to piss you off, just talk to her.
"I'm making some dim sum and then I hadn't thought about anything past that."
"I was wondering if you'd like to accompany me to the country club for some tennis."
Surprisingly, this sounds like a wonderful idea to me. See, Verona? Daddy was right. I need to hit something to release this weird worrisome mood I seem to be in. Tennis would be perfect for that.
"Yes, Mother, I'll go with you. Would you like to eat with me?"
I pull the food out of the oven when the timer goes off, signaling that it's done. It smells so good.
I smile to myself when Mother calls out Daddy's name. I always feel better when he's in the room. I sit down to eat and both my parents join me at the table.
"This food is really good, baby girl."
"Verona is going to accompany me to the country club today. Would you like to come as well, Charles?"
Please say yes, please say yes.
"I would, but I already have plans. Sorry, darlings, I'd love to spend time with my ladies, but a new script has been sent to me and I'm going to visit the writer and look over it to see if it is something I'd want to direct."
Damn it. I'm going to be stuck with Mother all day when I want to talk to Daddy about Camo. No way in hell do I want to talk to Mother about Camo. After breakfast, I put the dishes in the dishwasher and give Daddy a hug goodbye before he goes to his work meeting.
"Verona? Are you ready to go?"
I roll my eyes, but I try to think happy thoughts as she drives us to the country club.
Titanium and Absolon have gone to the park together. They're having a picnic that Absolon made for them. Titanium is enjoying the sunshine and the fact that he's spending so much time outside. He's starting to enjoy the world for what it is and not letting The Compound's distortions of the world ruin his day.
"Well, Titanium, I guess I can answer your question from last night. I'm sorry I got so annoyed when you asked me, but my family is very dysfunctional. Do you still want to know how I became homeless?"
Titanium nods in between bites of his hot dog.
"It's a really long story and I probably won't be able to tell you all of it tonight. How much time do you have?"
"I have to be back by 2am."
Absolon looks at Titanium a little skeptically, although he's excited that Titanium seems to be all right with staying out past 10pm.
"Are you sure? I can get you back by 9pm like you always want."
"Okay, well you already know how my parents used to fight all the time, and then my mom found some friends at The Compound, and things were getting better. My dad was still yelling at me, until my mom told him to go to therapy, and then he got better at talking to me. So I'll start from there."
Titanium smiles at Absolon as he listens to his smooth voice tell his story.
I was sitting on the couch watching tv. Mom was at The Compound again at some meeting, she didn't really go into detail. I heard the door open and I looked up, happy because I thought it was Mom. When I saw it was Dad, I went back to watching my show. Usually if I stayed out of his way and didn't bother him, as he put it, I could have some peace and quiet.
Strangely, Dad sat on the couch with me. I was used to him not even wanting to touch the same piece of furniture I was using, and he never watched tv with me, choosing to make fun of the show I was watching and calling me stupid for picking such a thing. I wasn't surprised that he chose the cushion furthest away from me because that seemed more his norm.
I was laughing at one of the characters on the show when Dad suddenly laughed and tried to make conversation by making fun of one of the characters with me.
"I can't believe she did that!"
I wasn't quite sure how to react, so I didn't say anything, thinking he would just yell at me if I replied to him. I was even more surprised when he clapped his hands and smiled.
"Wow, Absolon, this show is so entertaining!"
Now I was really confused. He'd said my name without swearing in the same sentence. Something was definitely up, so I thought maybe he was high or drunk. I wouldn't put it past him to do drugs since he was such a jerk and he was obviously unhappy with his life.
"Dad, are you on drugs?"
Dad scowled, which was what I was used to, and I thought for sure he was going to yell at me. That time I would have thought it was deserved because that was a rude thing to say to him. Instead he looked at me, the scowl disappearing from his face. He didn't exactly smile, but he didn't look angry either.
"No, I'm not on drugs. I'm just trying to make small talk because I never talk to you."
"Yeah, but you don't talk to me because you hate me. You've made that very clear. Why do you even care that you never talk to me? I'm okay with you hating me. It's been that way for as long as I can remember."
Dad sighed, and I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye, thinking that he actually did look like he was sorry. I was still wierded out by his sudden change of attitude, but I secretly liked that he was making an effort. I just felt like I shouldn't make it so easy on him since he'd been such an asshole to me my whole life.
"Look, Absolon. I'm sorry. I can't take back all that hate I threw at you, but I want to try to start being nicer to you."
I couldn't believe that he actually apologized to me. It was like the person sitting next to me wasn't my dad. He was looking straight ahead with a sad look on his face, like a puppy who'd just been kicked. I was stunned, and I'm pretty sure it showed on my face.