Becky and Cass have been lifelong friends, after a recent falling out, can they go back?
|Becky Carter glanced up from the research she was doing on her laptop, an upcoming sports event of all things. When she wasn't accidentally on purpose running into criminals, she had to report on rather uninteresting subjects, like that freakin parade last week. She frowned, feeling restless about researching baseball. Becky sat at her desk, in a maroon tank top, dark skirt and tights, long blonde hair flowing behind her, typing away. It looked to be a slow week, for her anyway. Sure, sure, my editor, or boss in other words, is making me take this crummy assignment, because I'm the 'newest' journalist at MDT, gimme a break, Becky rolled her eyes dramatically, then paused with her rapid typing. A glance at the clock in the right hand corner of her monitor, told her it was still only mid-afternoon, on a Sunday, I usually go over to Cass's house for some gaming and a movie, and if I recall it's my turn to pick. Why not take a break? I don't always have to be a working girl, do I? Becky looked around, at her desk, at the monitor. She glanced out her bedroom window, the tree just outside rattled, indicating a strong breeze. The sun reflected off her neighbors' houses, and she could see children playing on the tree lined sidewalks. She sighed, Ok, so I was planning on going over after dropping Erin off, but had to run home for a bit . If I'm honest, I'm a little nervous about just showing up at Cass's house, I mean, we did have a big fight the other day. What if she's still a little upset with me? She did, after all, get kidnapped trying to win me back and helped me see what we are to each other. I mean, that moment was fine in the warehouse, but we haven't gotten a chance to see each other since then. What if? But why hesitate? The questions were left open ended in her mind, her overactive brain going through several dozen scenarios in the space of several seconds. Outside a child shouted, and Becky watched them playing, fondly recalling childhood memories of herself, Cass, and sometimes Dakota, playing. The smell of fresh spring grass clippings from the whirring lawn mowers, a soft gentle breeze tossing her blonde locks about. Her and Cass running through sprinklers, the water cooling off their flushed faces, temporarily dispelling summer's heat. She remembered as teenagers, the wild stuff her and Cass would get into, dying their hair pink, snooping on her neighbor because she thought he was a kidnapper. More memories surfaced, and the article was forgotten as she conjured them up. Her grey eyes were slightly unfocused, no longer looking out the window, but remembering things, both sweet and bitter, yet every experience a building block for who she was today. It's been a long, arduous journey.
What we are to each other. Becky bit her lower lip softly as she repeated the phrase, staring out the window but not seeing anything, Cass and I have been through more heartache together then some. Becky recalled something then, sitting at this very desk, several years ago……….
Becky sat at her desk, dressed in a grey tank top, tight black leggings, a scandalously short miniskirt, at least for her, and pink socks on her feet. She wrote carefully in her journal, college textbooks stacked up around her.
It's been three weeks, and I'm still grieving. Every day I miss him. Mom is almost catatonic, Dakota is miserable at school, and me? I just miss my dad. He was the lynchpin in our family, my confidant. I always went to him for advice. This feels so, so wrong to me. He should be here, teasing, laughing, cracking his corny dad jokes, telling me it's going to be ok, except it's not, not ever again, Becky paused in her writing, grabbed a tissue to wipe her eyes and nose, Nowadays I come home from college on the weekends, and this Sunday afternoon couldn't be more dreary, here Becky stopped writing, glancing out the window of her second story bedroom. Rain fell in waves outside, rattling the branches of a tree next to her window. It pounded on the sidewalks and the road, bouncing off then falling down again, causing waves of water to rush into the gutters. It slammed against her window, angry watery beads attempting to get inside, to soak her through and through, drown her in her grieving. She tapped her pen against her journal, then looked down at her watch. Dad died right after my birthday, making this his last gift to me. It was a Cartier watch, with a gold square face and a black leather band, and now her most prized possession. She shifted in her leather chair, glancing around the room, blonde hair falling around her shoulders messy like.
Outside the rain continued to pound, and Becky's despair continued to override her desire to write her feelings down on paper. She felt like opening the window, letting the rain soak her. Her bedroom did have a dormer window, and she impulsively got up and went over to it, watching the rain fall. Becky opened her window, putting her palm up against the screen, feeling the cold, cold rain prick her hand. It reminded her of Dad's funeral, how it had dumped rain, making the day even more miserable, I just wish he'd be here. Why did this happen? Why? Becky wanted to scream. She shook her head dismissively, her emotions were all over the place, she was just so very, very tired. Closing her window, Becky sat back down in her chair beside her desk. She put her head in her hands, closing her eyes wearily.
"Knock knock," a familiar voice called.
"Come in Cass," Becky turned slightly, to see her blue haired friend enter, in a blue checkered miniskirt, long sleeve Metallica tee, and black tights. A black choker collar graced her throat.
Cass smiled that little smile she had, "Wow, Beck, place is a dump. What's gotten into you?"
"Just missing him," Becky sighed. She motioned with her hands at the bed, "Push the junk aside, or throw it on the floor."
Her friend complied. She pulled a book out of her bag, opened it, and began reading. Cass looked up after about thirty seconds, "Do you want to talk? You're stressed."
Becky shook her head, playing with her pen again. C'mon, I should just tell her, she knows me to well.
"I won't force you, we can spend another weekend afternoon sitting here reading, in silence," Cass flipped a page.
"I'm journaling," Becky said flatly, tapping her pen lightly on her notepad.
"Ok," Cass glanced up.
"I'm just writing Cass, nothing more really," her hands moved about, as her tongue struggled to find the right words. A rarity indeed, Becky thought wryly.
"And I said, 'Ok'," Cass pretended to read.
Becky started writing again, then stopped, looking over at her friend, "Cass."
"Yes?" Cass asked softly, closing her book.
"I'm so worried," Becky bit her lip for a moment.
"Why, Beck? Take time to grieve, not worry."
"Like what's going to happen? With Mom? She doesn't sleep well, I can see it in her eyes. Dakota is being a monster at school, and her grades are suffering. I'm supposed to be focusing on college, and here I am working a part time job, to help make ends meet. And we have to get my sis through college, somehow."
"Beck, I thin-."
"And I miss him so much, Cass. Like you miss your mom whenever she leaves? Except Dad's not coming back. He's gone, Cass. He's six feet under the ground," Becky's hands went from her notepad, to examining her hair, to toying with her pen.
"Beck, I want you to-"
"You want me to what? My Dad's dead, Cass. He's buried in a cold, damp cemetery. There's not a damn thing I could do about it. Nothing. Do you how helpless that feels? Do you?" Becky's eyes felt prickly at the unfairness of it all.
Cass nodded, "Beck, if you'll-"
"And I have to be strong. Always put on a brave face for classes, people whispering behind your back. I hold my little sister every night, while she cries herself to sleep. And after she falls asleep it's usually my turn to cry, Cass. Because I can't in front of Mom and Dakota, I have to take care of them."
Cass nodded, this time an encouraging tip of the chin.
"Then I go check on Mom. After a long day at the office she sits with a glass of wine, not saying anything, staring off into space. She's not been getting along with Dakota, and I'm trying to keep the peace. Trying to hold it together. Money's been tight, my part time job filing paperwork has a bitchy supervisor…." Becky's voice trailed off, and tears pricked her eyes. She looked at Cass helplessly from her chair.
Cass got up, quickly going over to Becky. She threw her arms around her slender neck from behind the chair, her blue hair intermingling with Becky's golden tresses. Becky could feel Cass put her cheek against hers.
"Let me tell you a story," Cass began.
"Cass you don't have to do-" but she was interrupted by a blue fingernail gently held against her lips. Becky nodded, then reached up and held onto her friend's hands with her own.
"Just let me talk, for a few minutes. Once there was a little girl, who lay crying and bullied on the sidewalk. The local girls thought she was 'trailer trash', and they were prepared to demonstrate with more cruel teasing, one even threatened to break her disposable camera," here Cass chuckled, and Becky couldn't help but give the slightest of laughs. "Anyway, there she lay on the sidewalk, and the lead bully stood over her, when suddenly the bully was pushed aside, chasing them away, and a small hand belonging to a blonde girl, helped the crying girl up. She put some band aids on her, helped her get dusted off, and most importantly, comforted her in her time of need. The two went on to become friends, great friends."
Becky's eyes were watery, and she started to open her mouth to say something.
"I think you're a hero, Beck. My hero. You've been saving me ever since. Now, now you need me, and I'm here for you. No I don't have the answers to the stress, I can't tell you why your Dad passed away, hell I can't even offer money to help pay for the bills. I can hold you up though, and I can tell you that you have strength, Beck. A hell of a lot of it."
Becky leaned into Cass's cheek, drawing emotional strength from her, "Cass." They held onto each other. No other words were needed, Becky lost herself in the moment, so very grateful for her friend…….
Becky came out of her reverie, focusing on the present. She wiped her eyes, which had misted up for some embarrassing reason. I have one hell of a friend, who's been a hero to me as much as I am to her. Becky clicked out of Wikipedia, pulling up her photos, another memory, a happier one, resurfaced. There's one in particular, let's see, right here. She leaned forward, resting her chin in her hand, fondly gazing at a picture of her and Cass. It was the two of them, both holding beers, arms draped over each other's shoulders. They were in dresses, Becky, a glamorous red dress, with a transparent hem at her knees, nude nylons, and matching red heels. Her long blonde hair was in a loose ponytail. Cass had a nice mix of Goth and glam, all black of course. The dress was an off the shoulder, black tights, black leather boots, her choker collar at her throat. Shoulder length blue hair, combined with black lipstick, and she looked stunning. The picture had caught the moment perfectly, both of them smiling at each other, waving their beer bottles, and Cass was attempting to raise both fingers behind Becky's head, in the old bunny ears, but somehow only her middle one was showing. Becky, on the other hand, was tipping her bottle, spilling her beer onto Cass's shoulder. They had both screamed with drunken laughter after seeing the pic, but agreed it had turned out nice, especially with Cass setting the self timer thingy on her camera, essentially taking it herself. Becky's smile widened, I'm so damn proud of that girl, she has been through so much. That does it, I'm going over there, she decided impulsively. We've been friends long enough, haven't we? Time to put on some street clothes. She hurried to get dressed, in her haste almost tripping over her chair. Easy, girl. I can't go if I break my arm. Becky rolled her eyes at her own clumsiness.
"And so here I am! Really wanted to surprise you," Becky grinned hopefully at Cass. Her hand went up to check her long blonde hair, the golden tresses draped like a curtain over her light grey hoodie with the words 'NY' stenciled in maroon lettering. Dressed 'down' in a frilly blue skirt with dark nylons, and her tall high heeled grey boots. She wore her black leather wristwatch, with a touch of light pink lipstick. Her gothic looking friend was in blue jeans, dark Black Sabbath long sleeved tee, and black socks. Cass's black choker collar was fastened snugly at her thin throat. Shoulder length hair, dyed blue, with black lipstick.
"I'm glad you came, Beck. It's been awhile since we did something like this."
"I felt like it was time to catch up, ya know, after everything?" Becky tugged on her skirt. The both of them sat on a couch in Cass's living room. Cass sat yoga style, and Becky's long legs were stretched out on the floor. They were both angled, with one in each corner, to where they could look each other in the eyes. The flat screen tv sat in front of them, with a coffee table which had a bag of chips and a two liter of pop. Two Xbox 360 controllers rested by their feet.
Cass said nothing to Becky's explanation, just picked at her jeans.
"I mean, we haven't played any video games in awhile, so I thought it'd be fine to come," Becky's mouth felt dry, and she fiddled with the expensive timepiece strapped to her wrist.
"I know, it's been a long time, you sure you want to play?" Cass looked.... uncertain?
"Umm, yeah? Since when have I come over on a Sunday afternoon and not played a video game?" she picked at her tights, fidgeting. Has it been that long?
"Well, since the Alfonsi case, you only came a couple times, five?"
"Six, I thought."
"Ok," Becky bit her lip, at a loss for words.
"It's ok, really, you have other things going on too, I can't expect you to come all the time," Cass forced a smile, and Becky felt her heart lurch seeing it.
"This is important, Cass."
"No it's not, not really."
"Yes it is, and we both know it," Like hell Cass, I'll get you to see it.
"In the bigger scheme of things, playing video games with each other is not as important," Cass looked away.
"It is for us, maybe not for other people, certainly for us," Becky said sincerely.
"Why would you, Beck? You're not even that crazy about playing them. Dakota likes them better than you."
"What about shopping? You hate shopping, yet you come with me. Every single time I call. Every."
"That's different," Cass mumbled.
"Not if you get kidnapped trying to help a friend to see something about herself. You went to the mall for me, doing two things I love to do. For me. For me, Cass," Becky smiled hopefully.
"It still doesn't feel as important," Cass bit her nails.
"No, that's you feeling guilty for some reason or another, I have no idea why."
"And if I am? Because my hobbies and likes don't feel as noble as someone else's?"
"Does it matter? And there is hardly any hobby that is noble. It's about two friends getting together to do something fun."
'Does it matter? The words echoed around in Cass's brain, and for a moment she quit talking, quit thinking about their gentle argument. She remembered her mom for some reason, who had moved out a year or so ago, and a particular memory surfaced, bringing her back a few years…….
"Cass, I had to take your mom in again."
Cass felt a heavy, sinking feeling in her chest, one she was all too familiar with. She said nothing, just looked at her nails tinted with black polish.
Her dad sat across from her at the table, "She's going to do better this time, I know it," Dad's work worn face was sorrowful.
"She promises every time, Dad. Then she does it again, and again, and again. What'd you catch her using this time? She always keeps the door locked in your goddamn bedroom, I hardly ever see her anyway."
"Cass, sweetheart, I know she wants to do better, she just-"
"She doesn't care about you, Dad. Or me," Cass interrupted, "She just looks for the next fix, the next sugar daddy, when she has one right here," Cass took her dad's work worn hand in hers, as she blinked rapidly.
Dad said nothing, instead staring at a crack in the worn out kitchen table.
"You work your fucking ass off, and what does Mom do? Blows your hard earned money on goddamn drugs, over and over. Why are we both so skinny, Dad? You barely eat anything, if it wouldn't be for what I bring in taking pictures we would both starve," Cass felt herself start to get really upset.
"Cass, I don't know. Your mom is looking for something, some fulfillment."
"You don't even believe that yourself, Dad. I did two years of college, then had to drop out to take care of Mom, after one too many relapses. That makes me feel like shit, Dad. All because my mother can't stop and get ahold of herself," Cass's eyes were starting to feel hot at the memory of having to quit college, and she realized she was crying. Dad said nothing, jaw clenched, a guilty look on his face.
And it's not even his fault. He won't shed a tear though, that man never cries. I shouldn't be either.
Cass admired Dad. A lot. But she felt a strong need to get away, "I'm going out," she announced abruptly. Dad said nothing as Cass grabbed her camera, then she slid her black nylon feet into a pair of tall leather boots, her blue checkered skirt swishing. She wore a plain, long sleeve black tee shirt, and grabbed a black leather vest before stepping out in the chilly spring weather. She fired up her Dodge Neon, surprised it started on the first round, then drove to a particular park she liked.
The weather was nippy, with clouds scattered about, painting a pinkish skyline as the sun began to set. Cass pulled into the woodsy park that was a favorite of hers, then got out, holding her camera loosely in her hands. It was a Nikon, her baby. She walked on the fresh grass, a vibrant carpet of green, more so noticeable after the greyness of winter. Cass spotted a potential pic hotspot. The park was right next to Burnley Lake, and along the grassy knoll were several park benches facing the water. What had caught Cass's eye, however, was one lone bench, studiously facing away and in the direction of the woods. It would make for a great pic at the right angle. She has an eye for the perfect view, and after looking it over carefully, she found it. She positioned herself, kneeling, then focused her camera. The lake was off to the right, clouds gathering over it, with the dark woods with only small green buds on them to the left. The bench being in the middle, and the pinkish rays spilling over the green, the grey, the blue, and the plain brown wood of the bench. Cass breathed deeply, then snapped several pics. It was beautiful, and she felt a small thrill as she forgot her troubles in the moment.
Then felt an aching, stabbing pang of loneliness. Her tears were gone, but the feelings remained potent.
"A lovely picture, Cass," a voice called softly from behind her, "You always know how to pick them."
Cass whirled around to see Becky, or Beck as she called her, dressed in a skirt and blouse, with her grey peacoat, "Long day doing secretary work? How did you find me?"
"Yes, it was long," Beck ran a hand through her flowing hair, "And your dad called, told me you might be here."
Dad, Cass thought fondly, he knows me too well.
Beck knelt down next to her, studying the angle from Cass's view, "Wow, that is gorgeous. I always admire your ability to pick out the best scenes to snap photos of."
Cass resisted the urge to bury her face in Beck's shoulder, hesitant for a moment. Beck gently draped an arm over her friend, pulling her into a warm embrace, "I heard," it was all Beck said, but it was enough. The tears began to flow again, and Cass felt the rage and frustration ebb out of her as she began speaking.
"Why Beck? Why can't she see what Dad and I sacrifice for her? What's wrong? Is it me? Dad?"
Beck did something Cass never forgot, she gently led Cass to sit down on the ground, and she sat next to her, heedless of the grass staining her tights. Then Beck gently took Cass's face in her hands, holding softly as she looked at her with her warm grey eyes, "Cassandra, I love you exactly the way you are. I don't care that you never finished college, or how much money you have. I wouldn't even care if your parents were both in jail for murders, I like you exactly the way you are. You're smart, funny, and a hell of a talented photographer. And most important of all."
"Don't, just stop Beck," the tears were flowing more freely now, and Beck used her thumbs to wipe them gently away, "You don't have to do this."
"You're my best friend Cass, always will be. We've been through too much to not be anything else."
Cass gripped Beck in the tightest hug she had ever attempted, both of them burying their heads in each other's shoulders. Cass's tears flowed onto Beck's locks, and she hugged her friend ever tighter, afraid to let go………
Cass pulled back from the memory, then blushed as she realized her cheeks were damp. She looked at Beck.
"Are you ok?" Beck asked softly.
"I was just- nothing, really."
"Just, wha- I don't know, Becky."
"Ok, I'll go first. I was sitting at home, researching, when I remembered how you helped me after Dad died," Beck paused, and Cass's heart lurched at the expression on her friend's face.
"You don't have to, Beck. I know how hard that is to talk about."
"As I was saying," Beck's eyes misted, just a bit, "I remember sitting all depressed up in my bedroom, when you walked in," one tear rolled down her cheek, "And wrapped your arms around me, telling me it would be ok, and that I had the strength to pull through."
Cass struggled to say something, then just did it, "I was remembering my Mom's last rehabilitation. The park, someone gently setting me down, telling me it would be ok, and it doesn't matter about my background."
"Well," Beck smiled ever so gently, "We both have these memories, we must have some good friends. And this friend that held you, would you believe her if she said she enjoys video games, because her friend does? She loves her friend enough that it wouldn't matter what she did, she enjoys it because it's time well spent. And she even learned to like them."
Cass's lower lip quivered with emotion, "I guess I would, seeing what we're supposed to be."
"Yes, seeing what we are together. You reminded me of that in the warehouse, how could you forget yourself so soon?" Beck asked very quietly.
"I have at times, Beck. Most childhood friends part ways, because of one reason or another, or something else," Cass felt her pulse quicken.
"We haven't though, you know why?"
"I have a few ideas."
"Look at this," Beck reached into her hoodie, pulling out a small gold necklace around her slender neck, with a tiny hummingbird at the end.
Cass smiled, then broke out into a huge grin, "Oh it's that necklace I got you for Christmas. That's what I like about you. No matter what I buy you, you always wear it. Remember that horrible off color green dress I got you a long time ago? We went out for a girls night out on the town, and Maggie saw it? Remember what she said?"
Beck laughed, "She said, 'Why Becky, what the hell happened to your fashion sense? That is the ugliest dress I have ever seen. You'll be a spinster at this rate if you keep that up.', and I totally told her in no uncertain terms that it was a great dress, and she could keep her opinions to herself."
Cass suddenly felt like she was going to start bawling, and she desperately reigned her emotions in, "And I was too embarrassed to say I had gotten it for you, it was you looking out for me, once again."
"And here you were having second thoughts? Just because I screwed up? Never, Cass, never."
Cass tentatively reached out and took Beck's hand in hers, "You know how bad I suck with words."
Beck said nothing, surprisingly, just wrapped her arm around Cass's shoulders, and Cass followed her lead, putting her own arm around Beck's. They both simultaneously leaned back into the couch, and Cass let her head rest against Beck's chin and neck. The video game controllers lay forgotten on the floor.
"You still haven't answered my question, Cass. Why are we still best friends?" Beck said it so softly Cass had to strain to hear her.
"That necklace was part of the answer. We simply let nothing get in the way of our friendship. Possessions, careers, money, hobbies. None of that matters when we're together, that's why we enjoy each other so much."
"Well I did, to my sha-"
"Hush, Beck. Another thing, we forget when one makes a mistake. It's essential."
"If you say so," now it sounded like Beck was crying.
"Hey," Cass reached over and picked up a picture frame that had fallen over next to a beer bottle, "Remember this?" she turned her head enough to look at Beck. Her friend wasn't crying, but her eyes may have been a bit misty, "Enough of that, you can't carry the whole world on your shoulders, Beck. Well maybe you could carry half, but there's no need to."
Beck chuckled at that, and Cass joined in, "You're pretty good at making me giggle, you know?"
"Of course I can, you're the best comforter, and I'm the best comedian. A perfect combo."
"Humor is subjective you know," Beck said as Cass leaned back and saw a twinkle in Beck's grey eyes.
"Uh-huh, now shut up and look at the pic, Miss smartyskirt."
"I was just looking at some pics before I came, and ran across that one. It's one of our best friend pics together," Beck smiled, then laughed, "I'm still not sure how much beer I spilled on your arm."
Cass laughed as well, "And I was really going for bunny ears, honest, I was just too damn drunk and my fingers weren't working."
They both laughed long and loud at that, and a contented feeling washed over Cass. No, life wasn't perfect. No, things wouldn't always be easy, but they did have each other, and that would be enough, more than enough, in her book. Knowing Beck's determination, her friend would definitely need her support in the coming months, no matter what happened.
Beck leaned over, swiping up a controller, "We can't game like this, can we?" she laughed lightly.
"We can try," Cass smiled back. Immense relief washed over her, somehow Beck making the first move to start gaming put her completely, all the way at ease. Everything was as it should be.