SHOUTOUTS TO MY FAITHFUL READERS:
RyanRossLuver - Haha. It seems that quite a few people enjoyed the dry humping bit. And yes, Chicago is like that. Crazy meth heads with baseball bats lurk the alleys. Only not really. In the area I live in, the most trouble comes from neighbors with fireworks and too much spare time.
kittkattbar - Aww, sorry I almost made you cry. I hope this chapter makes up for it!
lil_chica007 - I get nervous about getting felt up by concert security. I always stuff my camera down the front of my pants when I go to shows, and I get paranoid that someone's gonna find it. lol.
x_slowdown - I agree. We schould start a metal detector paranoia club. XD
everyone else that is still reading this story - I'd like to thank you once again from the bottom of my digital heart. You have no idea how happy I get when I see the read count going up.
Now onto the good stuff:
38: g u e s s w h o ’ s b a c k
As a sea of people poured out of the gate, I waved a large piece of cardboard over my head. MATSUMOTO was written across the front in big block letters. (I drew an elephant charging into a giant marshmallow on the back because I got really bored while waiting for the flight to land.)
I spotted Sophie and Gabe behind a mob of tourists. The petite brunette jumped up a few times, in efforts to see over the crowd. It must have worked because our eyes eventually met.
She grabbed her boyfriend’s hand and squeezed through the crowd. Being tiny, she didn’t really have a problem, but Saporta, on the other hand, was bumping into people left and right.
“God, I missed you.”
“I missed you more.”
We shared a bear hug, then came introductions.
“Gabe, this is my best friend, Peyton. Peyton, this is my one and only, Gabe.”
A broad smile extended across his face and he extended his hand. “Nice to meet you.”
I returned the gesture and shook his hand. “Nice to meet you, too. Sophie’s told me a lot about you.”
“I hope it’s all good.”
“Don’t worry. From what I’ve heard, you’re quite the prince charming.”
“It’s only because she’s my princess awesome.” He hugged Soph to his chest and kissed her forehead.
The pictures she had sent me didn’t do their relationship justice. The two of them were too cute for words.
“Now off to the luggage carousel!”
Their neon baggage wasn’t very hard to spot, so we quickly loaded a dolly with all their belongings.
“What’s the first thing you want to do now what you’re back in Chicago?” I asked as we made our way through the parking lot.
“I wanna drop by Clandestine and say hi to Joseph and Miranda.”
“That can be arranged.”
After loading all our things into the back of Peyton’s Jeep, we headed toward Pete’s tiny piece of Newport Drive. 15 minutes into the ride, Gabe was already falling asleep on my shoulder.
“Long flight?” Peyton asked, glancing in the rearview mirror.
“More like long night,” he sleepily explained. “Since it was the end of the tour, we decided to hit up a bunch of clubs in L.A.”
“We were out until 3AM. Then once we got back to the buses, we needed to pack everything up,” I added.
“Mhmmm…” He nodded and started dozing off again.
“Gabe, if you want, you can put your head on my lap and I’ll wake you up when we get there.”
“Thanks, Soap.” He took off his seatbelt and used my thighs as a makeshift pillow.
About an hour later, we arrived at our destination. Peyton shifted the car into park and I gently nudged Gabe’s arm.
“Babe, we’re here.”
He yawned, then got up and kissed my shoulder.
“Still tired?” I asked as he leaned against me.
“No. I just like snuggling against you.”
I chuckled and pressed my lips against his cheek. “C’mon. I have some friends I want you to meet.”
“Mmkay.” He took my hand and we hopped out of the car.
Due to the storefront’s opaque windows, I couldn’t tell who was inside. By the lack of cars parked outside, I didn’t think many people would be there. Quickly, I peeked through the bartskull’s heart--the only transparent part of the window--and saw that there weren’t any customers walking around. Instead, Joseph and Miranda were just sitting on the counter, watching an episode of Punky Brewster. Since they were facing away from us, it gave me an opportunity to make a grand entrance.
“OH MY GOD! WHERE’S PETE WENTZ?!” I yelled, bursting through the doors. The tall redhead put a hand over her face and probably rolled her eyes. Still facing the TV screen, the shorter male brunette took a deep breath before replying.
“Sorry. Pete’s not here. He’s still on tour.”
“No he’s not. The Overrated Hair & Underrated Hearts Tour ended yesterday,” I said, in a really high voice.
“Then he’s probably on a plane to O’Hare right now.”
“His plane landed 2 hours ago.”
“Well if you’re such an expert, why don’t you tell us--”
Miranda stopped mid-sentence as she turned around.
She hopped off the counter and Joseph quickly followed.
“What crawled up your asses?” I chuckled as they wrapped us in a group hug. “If our conversation just now went on for any longer, I think you would have bitten me head off.”
“Sorry about that. The Hush Sound had a show at the Metro last night and we were flooded with a bunch of girls asking when Pete would be stopping by the store, why we don’t have the limited edition shirts that he posted on buzznet, and if had the marauder hoody in stock.”
“It was pretty bad,” Miranda added. “But enough about that. How was tour?”
“Fun as hell, mostly because of this boy,” I replied, poking Gabe’s side.
“Yeah, we’ve seen the pictures,” Joseph said, extending his hand. “Hi, I’m Joe.”
Gabe smiled and shook it.
“And I’m Miranda,” she said, wrapping him in a half hug.
“Nice to meet you both.”
“Feeling’s mutual. We’re Cobra fans.”
And with that, the welcome home party began. Miranda stuck a “CLOSED FOR RENOVATION” sign in the window while Joseph ordered pizza. Gabe took a seat on my lap and we started playing a game of Pacman against Peyton.
“Some days, I really want to steal this thing and take back to my apartment,” Miranda said, referring to the old school game system. Pete’s decision to put it in the store was a stroke of genius. Keep girls happy with the clothes, keep the boys happy with the games. It was a win/win.
“I don’t think Wentz would mind too much,” I said, chuckling. “He’d probably replace it with a Wii or something.”
“God, I’m gonna miss your rationalizations when you’re gone, Soap. Without you, we wouldn’t be here having so much fun. Hell, we wouldn’t be here, period.”
Gabe looked up at me with questioning eyes. I glanced over at Miranda, and she explained.
“You see, when Pete decided to open a store in Chicago, his prime candidate for overseer was naturally Soap. She can sell Playboys to the blind and stereos to the deaf without having to try. For the first few weeks she was working here alone, but she missed the salon too much to stay. After explaining that to Pete, she recommended that Joe and I take her place. She rationalized that if he trusted her to run the store, he should trust people that she trusted to run the store, too. It took some convincing, but Pete agreed with her decision. Before leaving, she took us under her wing and gave us some tips on dealing with rabid fans. Then as if that wasn’t enough, Soap introduced us to some friends who work at the Metro. Now on our off days we can stop by and watch shows for free.”
“Yeah,” Joseph added. “Me and Randy don’t say it enough, but thanks, Soap. For everything.”
We shared another group hug, then the pizza boy conveniently made an appearance as we pulled away.
For the remainder of the night, Peyton, Gabe, Miranda, Joseph and I bonded over funny stories and slices of pepperoni heaven. As much as I wanted it to last forever, the conversations eventually dwindled down to tired yawns and sleepy nods. Taking this as our cue to exit, the three of us said our goodbyes, then headed out to Peyton’s jeep.
As the tiny storefront disappeared from the rearview mirror, I silently realized that I’d be leaving this part of my life behind. Miranda, Joseph and Peyton. Dirty, Patrick, Andy, Joe, Pete and Hemmy. The people that shaped my everyday life would soon be miles away rather than blocks. Gabe sensed my apprehension and took my hand in his.
“Is leaving Chicago what you really want?” he asked. “I mean, you have a life here.”
“I know… But you’re part of my life, too. And I want to keep it that way,” I replied, giving his hand a reassuring squeeze. He quietly sighed.
“I still feel a little guilty about this.”
“Don’t be,” I softly said. “I know this is going to sound totally cliché, but as much as I love this city, I love you more.”
Gabe lifted my hand and kissed it, then pressed his lips against my forehead.
“I love you, too, Sophie,” he whispered. “More than you could ever know.”
Hope that satisfied your appetite for cuteness because it'll have to hold you for a while.
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(props you if you understood that reference. xp)