How To Live Without Dying

Tinsley was always loped in with the popular crowd in one way or another. It was just what her mother wanted. But, Tinsley couldn't stand it.

Ian was an indie skater kid with an undeserved bad reputation.

Sparks fly when they meet, but things quickly turn dangerous.

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Sort of happened by chance, and I just kept on with it, but all of the chapter titles are taken from songs by Land of Talk.

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2. Yuppy Flu

Mandy's brother looked familiar, but I wasn't entirely sure why.

At least now I'd found an excuse for staying in the house for so long.

"So, what kind of sandwich are you making?" I asked, to which he chuckled.

"An avocado, tomato, and bacon sandwich," he told me and grabbed me by the shoulders, taking me completely by surprise, then moved me out of his way to the fridge. "Aren't you missing out on your party out there? I'm sure they're waiting on you to begin some odd ritual, or whatever it is you kids do these days."

I scoffed, "As if you're old enough to pass that kind of judgement."

He gave me an incredulous look, so I decided to try another angle.

"Why, am I a bother?" I asked.

"You're alright to look at," he said and I tightened my arms around my waist under his gaze, which wasn't altogether unpleasant. Not creepy like that of Preston. Ian's eyes shifted away from me as he continued to rummage through the fridge, "But, so far you've threatened my life with a dull instrument and stood between me and sustenance. I'm not sure of how long I'll survive if you stick around."

I pouted.

"Oh, there it is," he smiled and took the jar he'd found over to the counter, leaving the refrigerator door to swing itself shut.

It didn't, so I gave it a nudge to finish the job and asked, "There what is?"

"Up until you made that face, I wasn't quite sure how you fit with my sister and her crowd," he smiled condescendingly.

"I still do not see where you get the right to pass judgement on them," I frowned.

"I'm not passing judgement," he said. "I'm only being observant. You're obviously trying to keep from having to spend time with your friends and you say 'them' rather than the inclusive 'us'. You separate yourself from them by your words and actions. And, yet, you belong with them. I could see that very clearly in your little pout."

"What are you, then, some kind of soothsayer?" I asked.

"Ooh," he said and picked his finished sandwich up from its plate. "If you must know, I'm a writer. Are you some kind of curmudgeonly swimsuit model? Maybe a cheerleader like the other two?"

"I'm not a cheerleader," I said a little too quickly.

"I wasn't accusing you of murder," he raised an eyebrow at me and took a bite of his sandwich. "There isn't anything wrong with cheerleading. It's just about the only thing I've seen my sister be passionate about. Anything that can inspire passion like that can't be bad, right?"

I shook my head. What was I doing, arguing with this guy? I wasn't accomplishing anything. I was letting him rattle me and I was spazzing out because I couldn't seem to say anything honest, but I worried about his opinion of me. Why did I care what he thought? I didn't even know him. He didn't even know me. And, why was he making me feel guilty about how I managed my friendships.

"You came in here for a reason, right? To get food," he said, changing his tone. "Want me to make one of these sandwiches for you? I've gotta use the other half of this avocado somehow."

"No, thanks, I'm just going to grab some- "

"Tinsley!" Mandy's voice whined as she came into the kitchen. "Who are you talk- wait. Ian?! When did you get in?"

"I drove up a few minutes ago," he smiled and welcomed her in a warm hug. "How are you, sis?"

"I'm good, but you really shouldn't be here," she scolded him. "Jack and Preston are here. They won't be happy to see you."

"This is my home," he sounded tired when he said it. "Why can't I ever stay in my own home?"

"We'll be gone in a week," she said. "Just come back, then, okay?"

"No, that isn't fair," he said. "We all spoke and made peace with each other a few months ago. Let them know I'm here and ask them if they'll kick me out of my own home."

"Why would Jack kick you out?" I asked.

Ian was about to answer, when Jack came into the kitchen asking, "Who would I kick out of where?"

Then, he saw Ian and pushed me behind him as if he had to protect me.

"What are you doing here, Ian?" Jack asked.

"I came to stay at my parents' home for the summer," Ian answered. "Is that a crime?"

Jack relaxed his shoulders a bit and let go of me, "No, man, it's not. But, look, Preston's here, too. If he finds out that you're back, he'll lose it."

"Well, I drove here from out of state. I didn't realize you all were going to be here and I didn't make plans to go back," Ian said. "This house is huge. I'm sure there's a way we can all manage to live here without killing each other for the next week. I promise, I won't ruin your party. Just let me hole up in the attic and come down for food when I need it."

"That sounds reasonable to me," Mandy said quietly and looked up at Jack with pleading eyes.

"Fine," Jack said. "I'm warning you now that I'm letting Preston know you're here so that he doesn't just spot you and attack. I'll do what I can to keep him calm. Just, do something for me."

"What's that?" he asked.

"Stay away from my sister," Jack demanded.

"Are you Jack's sister?" Ian asked me and I nodded. "Alright. I'll be upstairs."

He took his sandwich and left the kitchen.

"What is going on, guys?" I stepped away from my brother and Mandy walked toward him and he put his arm around her.

"What's going on is you're going home," he told me. "Go pack your stuff back up. I'll drive you."

"No!" I nearly shouted. "I'm not staying in that house alone with dad."

Jack's eyes dropped to the floor and he nodded, "Okay. But, just... wear more clothes for the rest of the week."

"The point of this trip was to spend the week in the pool and on the lake," I said. "I packed for the occasion."

"Fine," Jack sighed. "Be careful, then."

"Ian's harmless," Mandy said. "You know he didn't..."

"I know plenty," Jack huffed and left the kitchen.

"Mandy, what is the deal between Jack and Ian?" I asked.

She shook her head, "It's complicated. Maybe I'll tell you later. What were you doing in here, anyway?"

"I came in to get a snack," I said and went to the fridge to take out a cup of pudding.

"Well, the burgers are ready."

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