All The Words For Red (Slow Updates)

Red Laurens is used to being the new kid. Used to making friends and losing them just as fast, used to having her heart broken and trampled on, used to having a plan for making friends in the vain hopes that one day it might make it easier.

She thinks Greenwood High will be the same. She is wrong.

With a notorious school wide gossip blog, a whole school full of theatre kids, and friends who attract drama like mrtal attracts, well, magnets, Red has a feeling that her senior year won't stick to the plan either. She is right.

(Cover by Lily Anna)

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4. Sangria

Red had been to lots of parties before, but she'd never been to a party at Haydyn Smith's house. Clearly, she had been missing out.

The Smith household was massive, wide open for guests to wander in and mingle and run around like they were kids. Facing the house in her short brown floral dress, Red felt suddenly very small. Shaking her ginger hair out across her shoulders, Red grinned and made her way up the steps to Haydyn's front door.

Almost immediately, she was greeted by the host, a tall senior in her math class with soft blonde hair and cool blue eyes. "Hey, Red!" Haydyn shouted over the pulsing music. "Nice dress!"

"Thanks, Haydyn!" Red yelled back, noting Haydyn's pale pink, skintight dress. "You too!"

A wide smile spread over the girl's face. "You can hang your coat up just in the cloakroom over there. There's drinks in the kitchen, let me know if you need anything. 'Kay?" Haydyn finished by pressing a light kiss to Red's cheek and dancing away, giggling.

After hanging up her coat, Red scoured the room for any sign of her friends, for Hana's pastel pink hair or Maya's mane of golden curls. "Red!" a voice shouted from behind her, and Red was relieved when she turned around and saw Sakura and Hana, grinning as they walked towards her.

"Sakura! Hana! I couldn't find anyone!"

The pair giggled. "Yeah, Autumn, Celine, and Maya are being 'fashionably late'," Hana told her, laughing.

"Which," Sakura added, "probably means that Autumn and Maya are being fashionably late, and Celine's struggling to force Cyrus to come."

"And Zoya and Yasmine?"

The Ito sisters exchanged anxious glances, Hana's eyes begging her older sister to speak. "We're uh... We're not sure if they're coming or not. According to Zoya, Yasmine thinks it's one of us - our group - who um..."

"Who helped Jason cheat?"

The sisters nodded, confirming Red's suspicions. "We don't know who though. It might not be one of us at all - God knows Jason'll never tell - but... I don't think she really feels like coming out tonight."

That was understandable, Red decided. When it was her, she hadn't wanted to do anything, talk to anyone. Poor Yasmine.

"I get it." After a brief moment of silence, Red said, "You two look nice."

The sisters smiled, which lit up their faces like the rising sun. "Watch," Hana murmured, fixing her eyes somewhere behind Red's right shoulder. "Celine and Autumn are coming over here. Doesn't look like Maya or Cyrus are with them. Autumn looks pissed about something."

"Hey, guys!" Autumn squealed from just behind Red, hugging her around the shoulders. "Aw, you all look so cute!" Red smiled gingerly, as Autumn let go of her. "I see you wore that dress we got, Red." She nodded tentatively. "It's nice. Suits you."

"You guys want drinks?" Celine asked suddenly, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. "Haydyn says that there's beer and stuff in the kitchen, but Cyrus and I brought cider, too."

Celine gestured for Red to follow her into the kitchen, and she left the comfort of Hana and Sakura's company, trailing along behind Celine. "You know," Celine said, getting a can of cider for her and Hana, "Autumn told me that you have a crush on her."

Red almost spat out her drink. How the fuck did Autumn know that? Red hadn't even hinted to anyone that she liked Autumn - hell, no one even knew she was bi. Not even Kayleigh. "Sorry?"

Celine shrugged. "That's just what she told me - you know Autumn's the most observant out of all us." She cocked her head, frowning a little. "Is it true?"

If her cheeks weren't already red from the heat and the drink, they sure we're now. Thing was, she didn't even know the answer to that question herself. Sure, Autumn was beautiful - really beautiful, in fact - but the butterflies Red used to feel had somewhat dissipated since they'd started speaking. Something about Autumn had always seemed so unattainable, so out of reach - but now she was there. Now they were friends, and Autumn wasn't quite so... Magical.

"No," she said at last, surprising herself. "No, I don't." At least she didn't have to lie. If lying was an Olympic sport, Red Lauren's wouldn't even qualify.

A soft smile spread across Celine's lips, lingered for a moment before it was pushed away, discarded like last season's dress. "Good." Why good? Red wondered. "I mean, um.... Maya ... Wanted to know. You know how they're talking, and... I think she sees you as a bit of a threat."

Red? A threat? The possibility almost made her laugh. "You're messing with me."

With a laugh, Celine shook her head. "Not even. But that's good... That you don't like Autumn. I mean, not that there's anything wrong with it, of course... But you gotta admit, her and Maya would be a great couple."

"Yeah. Yeah, they really would."

A smile broke out over Celine's face as she closed the fridge door with the heel of her boot. "Let's go get back to the others, okay?"

---

The others, as Celine had said, were strewn across two sofas in Haydyn Smith's lounge, laughing and giggling and shouting mocked up insults over the music blaring like a war siren. Autumn was huddled next to Maya in an armchair, whispering sweet secrets in her ear. Hana sat smiling in Jiu's lap, giggling every few seconds before glancing over at the other girls, as though looking for something, checking for something. With a fleeting word in her brother's ear, Celine led Red to a quiet corner of the sofa where they managed to sit down, Red wedged between Celine and Lucas.

"Did you guys hear about Simon Grove and Gloria di Rollo?" Lucas asked, raising his voice to speak over the music. Red shook her head no, but Lucas was continuing regardless. "Apparently they hooked up at the Red Moon last night?"

"The shabby little diner on Merchiston Street?" Autumn asked, eyes wide.

"That's the one."

She let out a low whistle, wrinkling her nose. "You'd think he could find somewhere a little more romantic than that shithole. Then again, he and Hayley Greene started off behind the dumpsters, so maybe that's a step up for him."

"I assume Hayley knows by now?" Celine asked, frowning. "She doesn't still think he's you know... Loyal?"

Autumn laughed sweetly - perhaps too sweetly. "She's not quite as stupid as Yasmine, no, if that's what you're meaning, Cel. Besides," she adjusted her dress, "if she doesn't know by now, she will soon. It's already queued for the blog." She smirked and there were a few tentative smiles, as Red frowned, clueless as usual.

"What blog?"

All thirteen pairs of eyes swivelled round to stare at her. "You don't know?" Autumn asked, voice cool. She raised one eyebrow. "Huh." Autumn looped a tight black curl round her finger, twiddling it in her hand. Her eyes slid over the other kids on the sofa, landing firmly on Red. "Have you ever heard of the blog 'Green Girls'?" She shook her head. "No? Well, essentially... We all like to be in the loop about things going on in our school, don't we?" Everyone nodded, as Autumn left Maya's side, moving closer to Red.

"Green Girls does that. Let's everyone know what's going on, through an 'anonymous forum'." She put quotation marks in the air around those last words, and Red quickly cottoned on. "Rumours get put up once they're approved. That's what I do."

"You approve them?"

"I create them." Autumn was just inches away from Red now, her brown eyes still wide, innocent. "Of course, I approve them too, if I like them. Everyone thinks that they're only approved if they're true, if they're turned away they must be a lie." She walked a couple paces backwards, leaning against the coffee table. "'Course, I never really know that for sure." She flashed a wicked grin, fiddling with the hem of her skirt.

Autumn turned to Maya sharply. "Come with me to get a drink, would'ya, Maya?"

"Sure." Maya followed Autumn away from the lounge, and Red sighed in something like relief when they were gone.

"I can't tell if that was a bluff or not," Red murmured to Lucas, who eyed her with confusion before his face cleared in understanding.

"You don't get it," he said, with a small smile. "Autumn James never lies."

"Never?"

"Never, ever. Not in person, rarely on Green Girls. I wouldn't trust her, per se... But I would never call her a liar."

It struck Red as interesting, how someone who as far as she could tell didn't even like Autumn, would almost defend her from any attack, because he just... Didn't think she would lie. And of course, now it made sense to Red - she'd never known Autumn to lie personally. "Oh."

"Hey, Red," Celine whispered from beside her. "D'you wanna come play truth or dare? We're all going down to Haydyn's basement."

"Uh, sure," Red said, nerves coiling in her stomach. With a grin, Celine led her down to the basement, where a few of the others had also moved to. In a circle on the floor sat Jiu, Sakura, Autumn, Jason, Cyrus, and Lucas, shuffling away to make room for Red and Celine.

"Is there anyone else coming?" Jason asked, and Red didn't fail to notice his close proximity to Autumn.

"Nope," Celine said with a smile. "Just us."

Jason grinned a wicked grin that set Red's nerves on edge. "Let's start. Sakura first?"

"Nothing leaves this room, right?" she asked, voice tentative.

"Not a single word," Jason promised, though Autumn looked downwards, shielding her face a little.

"Okay..." She deliberated for a while, before deciding. "Truth."

Autumn grinned. "Have you ever actually had a boyfriend?"

Sakura blushed. "No," she mumbled. Autumn tilted her head to the side, as though asking her to speak louder. "No. I've uh - I've never actually had a boyfriend."

Autumn seemed satisfied with this answer, as she sat back on her heels, a faint smile on her lips. "Okay. I'm next." A wicked smile flickered over her face. "I choose dare."

Jason grinned, running a hand through his hair. "I dare you," he drawled, wearing a lazy grin like it was a blanket. "To go make out with Harry Pinter."

Autumn wrinkled her perfect button nose. "That specky nerd? Ew!"

"You chose dare," Jason said with a smirk, and an uneasy feeling settled in Red's stomach. "Now do it."

With a roll of her eyes, Autumn stood up. "Fine," she huffed. "Cy, you come with me, as a witness." As she sashayed away, she stopped at the door. "This is gonna be so gross."

It didn't take long for Autumn to return, smiling in triumph as Cyrus strolled in behind her, jaw tight and eyes flecked with irritation. "Done. Jason, you're next."

She smiled lazily at him as she sat down. "Truth or dare?"

He barely even hesitated. "Truth."

"Why did you cheat on Yasmine?" Her eyes weren't cold like Red may have expected, instead they were warm with concern, her red painted lips pulled down into an almost frown.

Jason shrugged. "She was boring. Too pink, too dumb, too ugly." He laughed a shallow laugh. "I wanted something a little more... interesting." He winked at Celine, who looked away with a stoic expression, shoulders tensed. What had happened there?

"Good enough reason as any." Autumn shrugged. "Cyrus. Truth or dare?"

Cyrus grinned. "Truth."

"If you could fuck any one in this room, who would you?"

Cyrus threw back his head and laughed. "Geez, Autumn, that one isn't even fun." He smirked, lost a little in thought. "Probably Lucas."

"Thanks, man," Lucas laughed, grinning. "Glad to know I've got something going for me."

"Now, Luc," Autumn said. "What about you?"

"Dare," he said. "Always choose dare when Autumn's around," he whispered in Red's ear, deathly serious.

"I dare you," Autumn said, grinning like a sadistic clown. "To go make out with Red here."

"Um..." The pair exchanged awkward glances, and Red felt her cheeks grow hot.

"This counts for both of you, by the way," Autumn said. "As long as you do it." She smiled. "There's a closet over there if you'd be more comfortable."

"No," Lucas said, bold grin on his face like war paint. "We'll do it right here."

With an awkward chuckle, Lucas leaned in towards Red and she tried not to grimace as their lips made contact. Sure, Lucas was nice, and not the worst kisser in the world, but he was far from being someone Red wanted to kiss. Besides, she could tell that Sakura liked Lucas just from the way she looked at him, and it was with a glance at her friend that Red eventually pulled away from Lucas, cheeks burning scarlet.

Autumn wrinkled her nose. "You two are boring kissers. Remind me never to try it with either of you, 'kay?"

Before Autumn could ask Celine, however, the door to the basement creaked open. "You guys had better go upstairs," someone said, poking their head round the door. "Haydyn says there shouldn't be anyone down here."

Autumn rolled her eyes. "Whatever. Come on, guys."

---

Upstairs, Red and Sakura joined Hana, who was just about asleep on a sofa, babbling to a girl they didn't recognise about star signs and horoscopes. "She's so pissed," Sakura groaned, placing her head on her hands. "Come on, Hana. We're going home."

Hana turned around, pouting. "Why? It's still early."

"Yeah, and you're drunk. We're leaving."

"No, Sakura!" Hana whined, as Sakura hailed her to her feet. "I promise, I'm not drunk."

She wobbled as she tried to walk, crashing down on to the hardwood floor. "Ow!" she cried, landing with a bang. "Sakura!"

"Come on, Hana," Sakura groaned, pulling Hana back up onto her feet, after taking off her heels. "We're going home."

"What about Jiu? I need to say goodbye to Jiu!"

"I'm right here, Han," Jiu said from behind Red, rushing over to her and placing a hand on her back. "It's alright, babe."

"Are you coming home with us?" Hana giggled, resting her head on Jiu's shoulder.

"If you want me to, Han. Your sister and I'll make sure you're okay, alright?"

Hana seemed to accept this, as she mumbled something incoherent and stumbled into Jiu, clinging to him for dear life. "She looks pretty out of it," said Lucas, eyebrows raised.

"Yeah." Red turned around, questions burning in her mind. "Hey, that kiss..."

"Was weird." The pair smiled.

"Just a bit. We're um... We're okay though, aren't we?"

"Sure we are," Lucas asked. "But let's just agree to never do that again ."

To her surprise, Red laughed. "Good plan."

Lucas raised his hand for a high five and Red slapped it, grabbing his hand in the process. "Now, because I'm not dumb, what question were you trying to avoid from Autumn?"

Lucas blushed. "Well, um... It's um..." He ran a hand through his hair. "I thought she might ask about a crush?"

"Oh, yes?" Red knew it. "On whom?"

Lucas looked around, then lowered his voice to a hush. "No one else knows, Red, so you can't tell anyone, okay?"

"Promise."

"You know Ariel Hart?"

Red nodded. She was pretty sure Ariel was on yearbook, just like Red and the rest of Greenwood High. "Her?" Okay, that one was a bit of a surprise. Ariel was a bit more gossipy than Red thought would be Lucas' type, but then again she was very attractive. "Neat. Do you speak a lot?"

He shook his head. "I'm too nervous, honestly. It's lame."

Yeah, it kind of was. "No it's not, Luc. But I'm sure if you talk to her, it'll get way easier. Plus, how else are you gonna get her attention?"

He shrugged. "I figured it might just... Work itself out?"

Red rolled her eyes. "Well, it won't. Now, I'm pretty sure I saw Ariel in the kitchen. See if you can strike up a conversation."

"Really?" She nodded. "Okay." He shook his head like a dog. "Okay. I can do this. Let's go." And he disappeared off to the kitchen where Ariel Hart would hopefully be waiting.

After a few minutes of lonesomeness, Red made to go and find Celine or Autumn, but just as she turned around she saw Cyrus Lyon in front of her. But not before she started walking and crashed into him, sending them both sprawling to the floor. "Shit!" she cried, knocking over a small table. "I'm so sorry, Cyrus! Ah, shit!"

"It's fine," Cyrus groaned, clutching the side of his head. "No harm done," he said, wincing as he sat up. "You're a bit clumsy though, aren't you?"

Red's cheeks flamed. "Maybe if you hadn't been so close to me."

"Hey, I was just going to ask if you wanted a drink!" He held his hands up behind his head, defensive. "Clearly, you don't need one."

"Hey, I - " She stopped speaking as she saw the red on Cyrus' forehead. "Shit, Cyrus! You're bleeding. Oh, shit, shit, shit!"

"Calm down, would you?" he laughed, as if his forehead wasn't half covered in blood. "I'll be fine. Just... Get me to a sink or something so I can wash this blood off."

She stared at him. "Are you sure you're alright? That could have given you a concussion! Oh my God, should I call 911? Shit!"

Cyrus just laughed, though he did stumble a bit as Red stood up. "Calm, Red. I feel fine. Just a bit... Bloodied up."

"Are you sure?" She was really starting to panic now, and it was more Cyrus guiding up the stairs than she guiding him.

---

"I'm fine," Cyrus assured her again, pushing open the bathroom door and crossing over to the sink. "Relax, Red."

He leaned over the sink, running the cold water. "Could you get me a towel or something?"

"Sure," Red said, scurrying. Over to the towel rack and throwing a smaller one t Cyrus. He caught it pretty well for someone who looked like he'd just lost a fight with a ketchup bottle.

"Can you do it?" Cyrus asked in a whisper. "I um... I'm not a fan of touching my own blood."

And she was supposed to be fine with it? Red held back a sigh, but complied. After all, it was kind of her fault that he was in this state in the first place, anyway. "Sorry if this stings," she said, earning a small smile. "I'm not very... Good with medical stuff. Are you sure this is all you need?"

"If it's really bad, maybe a plaster, but it just feels like a small cut." He winced as Red pressed the cold towel to his head.

"Sorry," she cringed, but he waved it off.

"It's fine."

He leant down a little so Red could get the right top of his forehead, where the blood matted his hair together. "You might wanna wash your hair when you get home," she said, looking down as he laughed. "It's a bit... Kind of covered in blood."

"I know," he laughed, though not maliciously, thank goodness. "There is a mirror."

"I am sorry, you know," Red said after a moment of silence, still dabbing at the blood coating Cyrus' forehead. "This is kinda my fault."

"Nah," Cyrus laughed. "I was the one who was right behind you. It might not have been the best idea ever, for me to stand that close to you."

"Still. If I wasn't so clumsy-"

He cut her off by placing a finger over her lips. "Chill, Red. It's both our faults, alright? Besides, I'm fine. We haven't even checked if you're injured or not."

Red rolled her eyes. Her arm was a little sore, but not exactly an injury. "Please, I'm fine. It's you we should be worried about. Are you sure you haven't got a concussion? You did hit your head pretty hard, plus you've lost some blood which could make it a lot worse."

"You forget I want to be a doctor, Red," he laughed. "I know if I'm in danger or not. But it's sweet of you to be worried." Red hadn't noticed how close they'd gotten to each other while she was wiping away his injuries.

"You want to be a doctor?" she asked politely, remembering Hana's words from last Sunday. Don't get attached to him. She shut her thoughts out.

"Yeah." He smiled a little, cheeks tinted pink. "I mean, when I was younger I used to want to be a dancer, an actor, a singer - and yes, before you ask, I still take ballet lessons." No wonder he looked so toned. "But I like helping people, you know? Giving people hope, making them better." He smiled again. "Celine says it's a stupid idea, but I'd like to run my own practice some day. Make it affordable for everyone. But then she pointed out that I've got my self to care for too, which put a bit of a damper on it." His smile faded a little, his warm brown eyes cooling into harsh bronze plates. "But it's just an idea."

"I think it's a lovely idea," Red said, surprising herself. "It's sweet."

Cyrus visibly blushed. "Y-yeah, well... It's probably never gonna happen." He looked up at her, brown eyes warm again as he met Red's eyes, and she noticed those beautiful golden flecks in his irises, lighting up his whole persona. "What about you?" he asked. "What do you want to do?"

Anything but 'freelance photography'. "I don't know," Red admitted, taking the cloth away from Cyrus' forehead. The wound was clean now - nothing more than a light scar, with any luck. "Sometimes I think about acting, or maybe dancing for a living, but they're not always the most practical, I don't know what else I could do, though, truthfully." Maybe she'd said too much - Cyrus looked at her with curiosity, and butterflies fluttered in her stomach. "I mean, I'm good in school, good at learning and taking tests - but I've no idea what I actually want to do with my life."

Cyrus was still staring. "You dance?" he asked. Really, was that all he had to say?

"Yes," Red said, prickled. "Why?"

"What style? Do you do ballet, too?"

"Would that surprise you?"

Cyrus shrugged. "Dunno. You seem more of a commercial kinda girl."

She threw her head back and laughed. "Hell, no. When I try commercial, I just look an uncoordinated clown. It's not a good look." Cyrus snorted. "So no, I'm not. I'm ballet, too, though I do lyrical and stuff too."

"What studio are you at?" Cyrus asked, running a hand through his hair.

"None, yet. I'm struggling to find one I like out here."

That seemed to make Cyrus smile. "You should consider GDA. Greenwood Dance Academy. That's the one I go to."

Red wrinkled her nose. She'd looked them up before, but they didn't really catch her attention much. "I might," she assured Cyrus. "Just depends. It's senior year, so I might just concentrate on my studies instead of dancing, especially if I can't find a studio."

"Hm." She felt Cyrus' gaze flicker over her, softening as he smiled a little. "Just give it a thought. We're always looking for new kids to join us."

"Really? Why don't you show me?"

"What?"

"Show me... Show my why I should join. Let's see your dancing."

He stared at her like she'd just started to do the futterwacken. "We're in a bathroom."

"And?" Even Red didn't know she could be this bold in front of someone she barely knew. Maybe she'd had more to drink than she thought. "I'll lock the door - no one'll see if you embarrass yourself."

He flushed scarlet. "That wasn't exactly my concern, Red. This place is tiny."

"And? Still room for a few jump variations. And you could even use the sink as a barre!"

"No way," he said, but Red could tell he was coming around. "Not in your wildest dreams."

"Oh, really?" She stood closer to him, smiled as she reached out a trembling hand and placed it on his shoulder. "Why not?"

A reluctant smile cracked his face. "Okay. But you better lock that door. And if I get injured again, it's totally on you."

"I guess that's fair," Red giggled, as Cyrus gestured for her to lock the door.

After doing so, she leant against it with a content smile as he blushed in front of her. "This is so weird," Cyrus laughed, shaking his head.

"Yet you're still doing it?"

His smile told her the answer. "Okay."

For someone who hadn't even warmed up or stretched yet, he was pretty good. He jumped higher than any of the boys at Red's old studio could, and every movement was so full of energy and light, he could have been flying. As he finished up, slightly sweating in his jeans and shirt, Red clapped. "Not too bad," she said, laughing.

Cyrus crossed the bathroom towards her, not even noticing the wound on his forehead, which had reopened a little and was now allowing more blood to leak out. "Well I should hope you liked it, Red," he chuckled, placing a carefree hand on the wall beside her and thrumming on the wooden doorframe.

Red couldn't even think of anything to say, and neither it seemed could Cyrus. The pair simply looked at each other for a moment, contemplating their next move, formulating plans and next steps.

Then there was a scream from downstairs.

---

Autumn James was screaming. She hadn't expected Yasmine to turn up to this party, yet here she was. Making out with Jason like nothing had ever happened.

And then Yasmine had turned around with a smile and said, "We're back together now," and Autumn saw red.

With a scream she lunged towards Yasmine, who shrieked and jumped back, falling into a table and stumbling. "What the hell, Autumn!" she screamed, scrambling away.

"He cheated on you!" Autumn screamed. "He cheated on you and you're just... Getting back together?"

She could see the tears stinging Yasmine's eyes. "We're sorting it out!" she yelled back, and Autumn was somewhat surprised by the ferocity in her voice.

In a blind rage at Yasmine's stupidity, Autumn flung an arm out towards her, but it was met by a harsh hold. "Sober up, Autumn," Yasmine scoffed. "Sort yourself out."

She thrust Autumn's arm towards the ground and stalked away, swinging her hips as she went. In the doorway, Autumn spied Cyrus, Celine, and Red Laurens, looking shell shocked. In front of her, Jason stood, face sheepish.

She tightened her jaw. "Bitch."

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