“Think the guys would have
called for a search party by now?” she asked, slumping down on the
bench, sipping the cool beer slowly.
“Huh?” he looked at her
momentarily lost. She’d switched topics abruptly and it took him a
while to comprehend what she just said. She turned slowly to look up at
him, shaking her head sadly.
“Oh! Nah. I’m not that
important to them. They’d have called me on my cell if they were
worried enough,” just as he said that, a shrill ring escaped from his
pocket. Veruca let out a short laugh as he took a look at the number
flashing on the screen. “Speak of the devil,” she mused and returned
to the scenery in front of her. They were sitting under the dappled
shade of the huge tree down the boardwalk where they’d gone after
lunch in some Chinese restaurant down the street.
“Where the fuck are you?!”
Mike smirked when he heard Joe’s voice over the other end.
“Having my lunch.” He simply
said, taking a gulp of his beer.
“What?! Alone? But we got you
lunch!” Joe grumbled.
“Hey. Who was the one who got
hungry and left me to fend for myself in that place infested with fans?
Dare you complain, you dick,” Mike’s voice was filled with sarcasm
and the urge to laugh.
“Where are you? We’ll come
get you,” he could hear Joe frowning. He turned to look at Veruca. She
was still looking out into the sea, apparently deep in thought. She took
occasional sips of her beer without diverting her attention. Mike
contemplated over what to tell Joe.
“It’s okay, dude. You guys
stay back there. I’ll be back when I’m done.” He heard himself
saying into the phone and panicked for a moment. “You can have my
share of lunch that you so generously got for me. I don’t really feel
like a double double at the moment anyway,” he said, knowing full well
what they guys had bought him They always got the same thing for him
when ever they got him food. Double cheese burger, large drink and two
helpings of fries. His favourite meal. But even that didn’t seem
appealing to him right now. Not after the amazing banquet Veruca had
ordered for them.
“What?! What are you going to
do then? Where are you?” Joe sounded frantic and Mike had to laugh.
“I’m just going to hang a
bit. It’s pretty cool out here...”
“Dammit! Where the fuck is
here? Mike, what the hell are you up to?!” Joe was almost screaming
into his phone while Mike was being so elusive.
Mike was by then reduced to fits
of laughter that he was trying to suppress. Veruca turned to look at him
with a look of amusement on her face. She could hear Joe’s screams
from where she was and a smirk spread across her face. He grinned back.
“Is that Joe?” she asked.
“HEY! Who’s that with you?
Is that Veruca?” Joe asked when he heard another voice. “Dammit
mutherfucker.. are you out there with Veruca?!”
“Can’t talk now, Joe. Gotta
go,” he hit the end button with Joe still yelling over the other end.
“Gee, that was sweet. Hanging
up on your best friend when he’s all concerned about your whereabouts.
I won’t be surprised if a search team pops out of the bush looking for
a missing Mike Shinoda.” Veruca said calmly when he turned to her with
a grin on his face. She wondered why he didn’t tell Joe where he was
and then shrugged it off.
“Well, that should teach them
not to leave me behind.” Mike finished his beer and tossed the empty
bottle into the trash can next to him.
“So, what do you want to do
now?” she was looking at him with her deep green eyes again. He
blinked, lost for words at the moment.
“I dunno. What’s fun to do
around here?” he looked around him at the summer crowd on the
boardwalk. Surfers and sails dotted the sea down below and the beach was
infested with sunbathers. Veruca shrugged. She’d never really bothered
to find out what was fun around that area. She’d been there for about
a month for the fest and she’d only gone as far as the bar two blocks
away from the fest for a drink.
“We could find out,” she
leaned over him and dropped her bottle into the trash. He froze and
gulped when he felt her so close to him. He still couldn’t understand
why he felt that way around her.
Veruca stood up and looked at
the emcee. She wondered if what she just did was considered as flirting.
She hoped not. That’s the last
thing you’d want to do, girl. Don’t do anything stupid... whatever
happens, DON’T do anything stupid. She warned herself.
They walked down the street,
stopping by each and every stall they came across. He watched in
amusement as she paid for her ice cream. She licked the deep pink
watermelon ice cream and offered some to him. He looked at her stupidly,
then leaned down to take a bite of the ice cream she was offering. He
felt the cold sweet flavor on his tongue and yelped when she proceeded
to stuff the whole cone into his mouth.
She stood laughing as he licked
the ice cream off his lips. He looked at her and his glare consequently
melted into laughter.
“Here,” she handed him a
piece of tissue, licking her own sticky fingers. He cursed himself as he
wiped the remnants of his face and hands. DAMMIT,
Mike. Get a grip of yourself. Does everything she do have to turn you
on? he chuckled as he
followed her down the street.
“Hey! Let’s get our
portraits done!” she said excitedly when she spotted the sidewalk
artist up ahead. She grabbed his hand and led him through the crowd. He
She chuckled at the price of a
portrait in disbelief.
“You know... I bet you can do
better than that,” she told him.
“What?” he looked at her,
“Draw.” She gave him one of
her mischievous looks and stepped over to the artist and whispered into
his ears. Mike watched the entire scene, slightly uncomfortable, not
knowing what Veruca had install for him this time. He had to admit that
he was enjoying himself.
“Okay. Here you go.” he
looked down at the piece of charcoal she held up to him, puzzled.
“You’re supposed to draw... I’ve managed to convince that old cow
to let us do our own so you better cos he’s not exactly nice,” she
scoffed, pushing the charcoal into his hands. He smirked and sat down on
the empty stool as Veruca seated herself in front of him and proceeded
to do a sketch of him.
Her head was spinning and she
could hardly see. It’s the sun.
It’s getting in my eye, she concluded as she squinted slightly to
get a better look at the guy in front of her. He was looking intently at
his paper, his hand sketching furiously. She wondered why she was
behaving the way she was. Liz
would have called me a slut by now and slapped me. she mused. Thank
god Liz isn’t here. She looked down at her piece of work and
smirked. She’d captured his eyes perfectly onto paper.
They thanked the man, placing a
ten dollar bill in his hand and walked off, much to the amusement of the
crowd. The rolled up sketch of themselves held in their hands.
“Here. I think you should have
a look at this mess I made,” she grinned, handing him her scroll. He
handed his to her and unrolled it. He blinked. She’d captured his
features and placed it on the paper perfectly. He felt like he was
looking into a mirror, only his image was in black and white. “Oh my
god.” Was all he could say.
“Yeah.. my sentiments exactly.
He looks too good to be you,” she joked. His gaze shot up from the
paper to her grinning face.
“Let’s see how good I
look,” she unrolled the scroll in her hand, slightly uncomfortable
under his gaze. She felt a smile spread across her face. He was good. He
was really really good. The rough charcoal sketches shaped her face and
her jet black hair, capturing her intense look. Mike had almost fell
back the stool when he’d looked at his finished work back at the
stall. Those eyes were creeping him out, yet he like being with her.
“Not bad,” she commented
coolly. “Didn’t quite get my nose right
though. You just made me look like Britney Spears. Are you sure
you don’t have some subconscious lust for her?” she pretended to
examine the picture.
He balked. “What?! NO!” he
replied almost immediately. They looked at each other and
burst out laughing.
“Shit! This is so amazing!!”
he said looking at his portrait after he’d finally stifled his
laughter. “I don’t believe it!”
“Did I forget to tell you that
I have a degree in illustration too?” she asked in an innocently sweet
“No shit. Where?” he looked
“Back up in New York.”
“I’m keeping this,” he
scrolled it back up. “You can have that portrait of Britney Spears in
“No.” she made a grab at the
scroll he was holding, missing it as he held it above his head,
chuckling. “Give it back, Mike.” she pouted.
“Nu-uh” he shook his head.
He was much taller than her and knew she couldn’t reach the scroll no
matter how high she tried to jump. He let out a yelp when he felt her
tickling his sides.
“Stop! Hey! That’s my weak
spot! DON’T!” he yelled trying to get away from her.
“Not unless you give that back
to me,” she threatened, not stopping, a devilish look on her face.
He finally surrendered when he
couldn’t take it anymore. “Okay okay... I said OKAY!” he shoved
her hands away, trying to breath laugh and talk at the same time.
“Here,” he held the scroll out to her and pulled it away when she
tried to take it from him.
He grabbed her by her waist and
tickled her when she least suspected. She let out a shriek and tried to
dodge, but he held on to her tightly.
“It’s PAYBACK time!” he
growled, tickling her sides as she laughed uncontrollably, unable to
speak. Onlookers stared at them, stepping out of their way. The scrolls
lay on the floor near them with the rest of the stuff they’d purchased
“STOPPIT!” she managed to
“No! I shall grant no mercy
you little monster!” he laughed. “After all that torture you put me
through!” he didn’t stop tickling as they struggled on the sidewalk.
Veruca shoved him with all her might, falling onto him as he fell back,
his arms still around her waist. He groaned as he felt the ground hit is
back. The heat from the sunbaked pavement seeped through his shirt
brought him back to reality as he stared at the girl lying on top of
him, trying to breath and stifle her laugh at the same time. He lay
there, out of breath and dumbfounded. Veruca looked up at him, a smile
on her face.
“Shit, Mike. I swear I’d
have died laughing if you didn’t stop,” she told him. Her smile
slowly faded when she saw the glazed look in his eyes.
“Mike?” she called up
softly. He merely stared at her, trying to catch his breath.
Veruca jumped off almost
immediately when she realised the position they were in. Her mind raced
for something to say, but she could think of none. Mike had stood up,
brushing sand off his shirt and pants. She tucked her hair behind her
ears and moved to pick up their stuff, handing a scroll back to him in
“Sorry,” he finally said
after a long moment of silence. They continued walking. She looked up
and smiled at him. It was the only thing she could do whenever she
looked at his face and into his eyes. Smile
like an idiot, why don’t you? she scolded herself. He smiled back
and she felt his eyes burning into hers. They were just as intense as
“Don’t be,” she murmured
hitting him playfully on his arm with her scroll. “C’mon. Let’s
get you home, cleaned up and tucked in for a nap,” she nudged him as
they made their way back to her car.
“I don’t need a nap,” he chuckled, all discomfort vanishing as he greeted her plush cream passenger seat gratefully. He closed his eyes as he heard her revved the engine. I’m just tired.
Veruca stared at the road she
was on, her mind occupied. She furrowed her brows as she tried to figure
out what had just happened. Veruca,
stop being a slut and behave. For a moment, she was worried. What
the hell just happened?! I’m not supposed to be flirting with him!
He’s a goddamn Linkin Park emcee! What’s that got to do with all
this? Dammit, he’s just too fucking nice! But who said you’re
flirting. You’re both having pure innocent fun. It’s just your own
corrupted mind that’s polluting the whole situation. She
rationalized in her mind. No. Whatever it is, I gotta stop. she stopped her thoughts,
wondering why she was making a big fuss over something so trivial. It
bothered her that she’d been over friendly with Mike. It bugged her
that he’d suddenly grew distant, but concluded that it was perhaps her
self that was being distant. Besides,
he looks tired. She turned to look at Mike for the first time since
they got into the car. She felt a little disappointment.. Mike had
fallen asleep, arms folded, resting his head on the back of the seat.
Veruca sighed, tearing her gaze away from the sleeping form and back
onto the road.
She felt exhausted too, and
closed her eyes for a moment. What’s
going on?!! her mind yelled at her. She didn’t know and she
didn’t want to find out at that moment. All she wanted to do was to
get him back to his band members and curl
up in her own bed and continue her sleep. I
should have stayed home. The more she pondered about the situation,
the worse she felt. As she pulled up at the parking lot, she felt ready
to burst. She shook him lightly to wake him.
“Hey sleepyhed, wakey wakey.”
She managed to smile at him as his eyes fluttered open.
Mike squinted at the sudden
brightness and sat up. For a moment, he didn’t know where he was, and
then he caught Veruca’s face. He groaned lightly and rubbed the sleep
off his eyes with the back of his hands like a little kid.
“This is your stop, man.”
She said, leaning on the steering wheel, watching him wake up. He heard
her chuckle and did the same himself.
“Sorry. I must have needed
that nap more than I thought.” he opened the door.
“Yeah. I told you.” Veruca
said in a soft voice, feeling tired herself. The day had exhausted her
more than she expected. “Well, I had fun.” she smiled up at him.
“Yeah... me too..” he said
after looking at her awkwardly. “Wanna come down and say hi to the
rest?” he asked remembering the rest of the band suddenly.
She shook her head. “I got to
meet up with a friend,” she mumbled. Which wasn’t really a lie. Alex
had called her late last night to tell her about dinner that evening.
“Oh. Alright then. See you
around,” he muttered, puzzled over why they were suddenly so awkward
with each other. We were doing
fine just hours ago. Hanging out... horsing around... he came to a
sudden realisation as he watched her drive off. What
the... Just chill bro’ he
comforted himself as he headed towards the tour bus, yawning. He groaned
when he spotted Chester’s face pressed against the tinted glass window
of the bus, a stupid grin on his face.
Veruca pondered whether to go up
to the guys. Watching them from afar. She’d been subconsciously
avoiding them for the past couple of days, busying herself with work and
Alex. She admitted that it wasn’t fair to the guys, especially Mike to
avoid them like that. She slipped behind the crowd of fans, hoping that
they wouldn’t notice her. As always, nature worked against her, Joe looked
up, spotted her and waved madly, making his way through the crowd before
she could do anything.
“Veruca!” Joe grinned and
wrapped his arms around her. “Where have you been, girl?” he seemed
really happy to see her.
“Hey Joe. I’ve been busy,”
she laughed, hugging him back. ‘Sorry, dude.”
“That’s okay. We all missed
you,” he pouted a little. “C’mon. Say hi to the guys. Chester’s
going nuts wondering what happened to you.” He pulled her along by her
hand. She had to follow him.
“Hey guys!” She called out,
grinning at them. Chester’s eyes lit up as he climbed over the table
and hugged her, “Girl!”. Rob grinned, leaning over the table to give
her a hug.
“Where have you been?”
Phoenix asked when he realised she was standing over his table.
She shrugged, grinning,
She turned to look at Mike who
was sitting at the end of the table just as he looked up. His dark eyes
flashed when he say her, but he did nothing. She smiled.
“Hey Mike! Look who’s
here...” Chester said in a teasing voice. Mike gave him a pained look
and smiled at her before turning back to the fan in front of him. The
guys looked at each other, puzzled.
“What’s up with Mike?” Joe
asked. Veruca kept her eyes on Mike as she listened to the rest of them.
“I dunno. He’s been like
that for days. I wonder what crawled up his ass.” Chester shrugged.
The crowd had thinned and they had time to spare for a chat.
“HEY MIKE! What’s up with
you?” Brad called out. Mike looked up at them without a look of
comprehension on his face.
“Yeah. What’s up your ass,
man. You’ve been acting all weird and cranky lately.” Phoenix asked.
“Poor baby didn’t get his
nap?” Joe pouted speaking in a babyish voice.
Mike’s expression was
indifferent. “I’m alright guys. Just a little tired. That’s
all,” he said, flashing a look at Veruca. She groaned inwardly. Don’t
tell me he’s making the whole thing a big deal. Shit. He made the
effort to smile for the guys, hoping it would shut them up.
“Well, are you going to hang out with us already or not?” Joe asked Veruca, tugging at her sleeve to get her attention. He didn’t tell them?! Veruca’s brows furrowed slightly, but she smiled. “Sure.” She glanced at Mike who busied himself doodling on the table.
“I’m off at five. We can
have dinner then.” She made instant plans. The guys nodded in
“I’ll come back here at six
thirty, alright?” she looked at the guys. That should give her enough
time to get back home for a shower and to pick out something to wear. Maybe I’ll even use make up, she mused to herself sarcastically,
wondering why that idea just popped into her head... in that manner.
“Okay!” Chester nodded once.
“We’re gonna hang with Veruca... we’re gonna hang with Veruca...”
he sang, doing a dance. Veruca threw a last look at Mike before she left
them, but he wasn’t looking at her. She felt disappointment as she
walked back to meet Liz.
Mike was the last to get off the
bus. The rest were already in the van waiting. They’d gawked when they
saw Veruca. Chester mocked a fall, holding his heart, guffawing.
“Damn, gurl, if I wasn’t
married, I’d have made a move on you,” he smirked.
“You don’t look too bad
yourself, Chaz. If you weren’t married I’D have made a move on
you,” she teased back. He looked down at the black shirt and grey
slacks he’d dug up from the bottom of his luggage and smirked. With
Chester, she could flirt outrageously and not feel a thing, because they
both know that nothing would happen and it was all in the name of fun.
Mike stopped decending the steps
when he caught a glimpse of Veruca at the bottom of the steps, talking
to Chester. He gulped, not knowing what to do. At that very moment,
he’d wanted to bolt back up the bus and hide under his covers, but he
forced himself to continue. She looked up at him and flashed him her
smile. She looked amazing in the deep red dress she wore.
“Hi.” He kicked himself
mentally. Damn, Mike. It’s not
like you’ve never seen a girl in a dress before. But you’ve never
seen HER in a dress before.
“So... where are you taking us
for dinner?” he managed to ask finally after a long pause.
“You’ll see,” that same
old flash was in her eyes again as they got into the van. Mike got into
the back, thankful that he was furthest away from her.
“Mike? What’s up with
you?” Brad egged, a hint of hopelessness in his voice. They’d asked
him the same question about a million times but he’d always given them
the same answer, which was so blatantly obvious that he was lying.
“I’m fine,” Mike grinned,
his thoughts suddenly brought back to reality.
“You’re such a lousy liar,
man,” Chester turned to look at him from the front seat.
“Wha..? I wasn’t lying,”
Mike answered curtly, turning to look out the window, avoiding
“There you go again!”
Chester exclaimed, pointing at him excitedly.
“Shut up man. I said I was
fine,” Mike reached out
to push Chester’s face away. Veruca turned to look at Mike from the
passenger’s seat, silently asking him ‘what’s wrong?’. He caught
the look and gave her a wan smile.
Veruca couldn’t take it
anymore. Mike had sat through dinner silently. He was so different from
the person he was when she’d taken him out for the day. Right now,
they were seated around the low table in Cube, the jazzy club with
square furniture in strong bold colors and white walls and floor. She
looked at her margarita and frowned. That’s
it. I can’t take this weirdness anymore. She gulped the contents
down and stood up, sidestepping Joe and Brad and stood in front of Mike
who was staring at the dance floor.
“C’mon Mike. Let’s
dance,” She pulled him up by his hands, smiling at him. Her eyes held
a different light. One of inquisition and determination. He followed her
reluctantly as she led him to the dance floor.
“What’s up with you Mike?”
She asked over the loud music as they moved in the crowd. He looked down
at her, expressionless. “Mike. If it’s about the other day. You’re
just being stupid,” she blurted out. His eyes flashed.
“What?” he strained his
thoughts against the loud music that was banging in his head. She rolled
her eyes and dragged him out through the back door. He stood looking at
here, frowning, not knowing what she was going to do next.
“Mike you’ve been acting so
distant ever since that day. What happened? Don’t tell me it’s
nothing cos your eyes are telling a different story.” She searched his
eyes for any sign of him answering her with a truth.
“What was it Mike? You have to
tell me. I have a right to know cos it’s about me. I just know it.”
she continued when he didn’t answer her.
Mike let out a sigh and looked
down at his shoes. “I don’t know.” he finally mumbled. “I’m
just feeling really bad about it... guilty.” he finally said after a
“Guilty for what? For having a
good time with a friend?” she asked. He looked up at her to find her
boring into his soul again. A sudden look of comprehension fell upon her
face and she let out a small sigh. “Mike, PLEASE. Tell me what’s
wrong.” she pleaded. “Was it me? Was I flirting with you? Was it
something I said?” she drilled. He stood looking at her, not knowing
what to say. He shook his head slowly.
“Talk to me Mike. You didn’t
even tell the guys about that day. And now you’re being a grouch and a
half over something you’re refusing to tell everyone else, but not
hesitating in biting everyone’s head off about it. It’s not fair to
them. Nor to me. You gotta at least tell ME what’s going on,” she
gave him a sad look.
“I’m sorry. I was just being
stupid over nothing.” He looked downcast. He couldn’t let the words
out of his mouth. he didn’t know how. He regretted not telling the
guys. At least someone could have helped him out. Perhaps one of them
could have figured out what he was feeling.
“Michael Kenji Shinoda. Are
you going to talk or do I have to make you,” Veruca was angry and
frustrated. She’d thought that it would have been a lot easier than
this. He swallowed before saying anything. Fine.
You want the truth? I’ll tell you. We’ll figure this out together
right? he asked her in his mind.
“I like you, V. I like you a
lot. But I think everything’s moving too fast. This shouldn’t be
happening, you know? We shouldn’t have gotten so close. We shouldn’t
have gone out for lunch that day. We shouldn’t have hung out. Nothing
would have happened if we didn’t. And we wouldn’t be standing here
having this goddamn conversation!” he ended vehemently. Veruca looked
at him, not knowing what to make of his pseudo speech.
“What are you trying to say?
What happened?” she furrowed her brows questioningly.
“I’m saying that I’m
confused. Okay? I don’t know what’s going on and I for sure don’t
know what the hell I’m talking about right now.” he ran both his
hands through his hair in frustration.
“I’m so sorry.” She said
finally, after studying his face. “I shouldn’t have been the way I
was with you.”
“What’s that supposed to
mean?” he frowned, looking up at her.
“I was just trying to be nice
to someone for a change. I didn’t mean for anything else to happen.”
She rested her hand on his arm lightly, then running them over her hair.
“Oh my god. Mike. I wasn’t leading you on, if that’s what you
“No. No!” he shut his eyes,
trying to form a proper cohesive sentence. “It’s not you. It’s
“Mike... if you want, we could
start again. You know, forget the whole thing and start on a new page...
a new slate... whatever the cliché is. If it’ll make you feel better.
Let’s do that. Cos I really like you too, and I don’t want anything
no matter how trivial or uncomprehendable to come between whatever
possible friendship that we could have shared.”
He looked into her eyes and for
once he wasn’t intimidated by them. They were soft and kind, yet deep.
“Okay,” he finally sighed.
“Hi.” Veruca smiled,
sticking her hand out for him to shake. “I’m Veruca.”
“Mike,” his smile returned,
shaking her hand.
“Nice to meet you Mike,” she laughed.
|TOP | Last updated 15 February 2002 19:42 (AUS EST / +1000 GMT).|