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Countdown To Midnight
Season Two, Episode Twelve
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First Aired August 1, 2016
Writer(s) Lily
Episode Guide
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PlotEdit

It's the day of New Year's Eve and everyone has different plans for the occasion, but when multiple ironic coincidences lead to a fall-through of all individual plans, the Note-Worthy find themselves forced to spend the meaningful event together. Alex and Lily's relationship hits the six-month mark and for one of them, that's a big deal, while the other one doesn't even realize it. Meanwhile, as word travels fast, the party has a few more attendees than expected... and then a couple dozen more, some of them very unexpected, which leaves some of the Note-Worthy in awkward positions.

CastEdit

Main CastEdit

Recurring CastEdit

Special Guest StarsEdit

  • Famke Janssen as Jessica Sweeting
  • Penélope Cruz as Anita Rodriguez

EpisodeEdit

December 31st, 9:35 am...

Lily was rolled up in her blanket, fast asleep on her bed, when suddenly her door burst open. "Wake up, sis, we need a headstart on this day!" Joe exclaimed. Lily only groaned and covered her head with her pillow.

"Ey, none of that. You need to get up and take a shower and get dressed in a fabulous fashion," he explained.

"I'm always dressed in a fabulous fashion," Lily's muffled voice came from under the pillow. "Sure, sis.." Joe lied, under his breath. "Anyways, come on, get up," he repeated.

Lily rolled around to face Joe. "We have, like, eight hours left before we even have to leave for New York. We're all packed. Stop stressing me out," she said, annoyed.

Joe frowned at her. "Is everything okay with you?"

Lily sighed. "Yeah, I'm fine, it's just..." she trailed off, unsure how to explain. Joe laid down next to her. "Lily, it's me. You know you can tell me anything," he told her. Lily smiled.

"I used to hate New Year's Eve, growing up," she explained. "Everyone around me was always super excited about it and I never understood why. I mean, the next day, everything would be the same. Nothing ever changed. It was us kids in that big, stale, white room with people ordering us around. I didn't get why the end of one year was any cause for celebration. So, I don't know... last year wasn't as bad because at least I had Kyle around, but he was pretty drunk, so I don't exactly wanna use that as the norm," she sighed again.

"I guess I'm just a little scared?" she looked at Joe. "I don't wanna get my hopes up too high is all."

Joe gave her a symathetic look. "Well, this year, you have me. I'm not gonna order you around and I'm not gonna get drunk. This year, you have people around you who genuinely love you. So, it's okay that you need to get used to that, but it's also okay to get your hopes up at least a little bit," he said, pinching her cheek. They both laughed as Lily swatted his hand away.

"Thanks," Lily told him. Joe smiled. "Anytime, sis," he said, before laying his head down next to hers. "I guess we can sleep for another hour or so," he mumbled, already falling back asleep. Lily giggled, when suddenly her phone beeped, signaling a new text message. She grabbed her phone and unlocked the screen.

Alex hey babe, have u decided what u wanna do tonight? xx

Lily sighed, once again, and looked over at Joe, torn.




10:47 am...

"Okay, so," Ang spoke into her phone, "I'm having a late lunch with my family, as usual on this day, and then I'mma head over to my grandparents for a while and after that you can come get me."

Zach, who was on the other side of the call, hummed his agreement. "Then we can go have dinner. Wait, do you think you'll even be hungry that soon after lunch?" he asked.

"Mh, probably not. But we can walk instead of having your brother take us there. It'll take a while but at least we'll be alone. And a good, long walk always helps me digest food, so."

Zach chuckled. "Sounds like a plan. And then after, we can go back home to my place," he said.

"And you're sure that Brandon will be gone by then?" Ang asked her boyfriend.

"Positive. His friend's party starts at 7 so even if he decides to show up fashionably late, we'll still get home long after he's gone."

"Alright, then," Ang mumbled.

"You don't need to be worried, by the way," Zach said, soothingly.

"Worried, why would I be worried?" Ang lied.

"Because it'll be the first time we'll be alone together in my house for more than ten minutes. And I know what that makes you think but I want you to know that there's absolutely no pressure. I don't think I'm even ready myself, yet, so. No need to worry, like I said," he explained.

Ang sighed. "Thank you. For knowing me so well," she smiled into the phone.

"Well, that's my job as the best boyfriend ever," Zach replied cheekily. They both laughed into their phones.




11:22 am...

"No, you know what, YOU can go fuck yourself!" Becca yelled at Jackie, who was standing in front of her. The two were out in the Marshall's back garden. "I wasn't the one who fucking stabbed everyone in the back and just up and left!" she yelled some more.

Jackie let out an exasperated sigh. "I didn't stab anyone in the back, Bec, I just decided to go in another direction with-" she tried to explain, but was interrupted once again.

"That's a lame fucking excuse and you know it! You joined another club while you still pretended to be a part of ours! That's fucking backstabbing. Turning your back on us. We were your team! Even more so, your friends! I was your friend! More than that, even. And you just left me!" Becca screamed.

"I didn't leave you, for fuck's sake. Can't I be part of another team and still be with you?" Jackie asked, annoyed.

Becca took a deep breath and crossed her arms. "Well maybe that could work, yes," she sighed. Jackie started to look hopeful but Becca shook her head. "But you didn't just join another team. You joined a different team. You quit our team and joined a different one. And you switched schools. Not even locally. You go to a school two hours away from mine. You're about to move closer to your new school, too. And maybe, if this had been amicable, I'd really wanna try and make it work. But you betrayed me and so I don't think it's worth it," Becca finished.

Jackie hung her head. "But I don't wanna lose you," she whispered.

"Well, you should've thought of that before you slept with the enemy," Becca said, coldly. "And now I think it's high time you leave," she finished as she walked past her, back into her house.

Jackie sighed, whiped the tears from her cheek and turned around to leave.




11:59 am...

Maya was lying on the porch swing, eyes closed, listening to music via headphones, just bathing in the sun, when suddenly someone tapped her food.

"ASDFGHJK!!" she shrieked, sitting up and kicking the intruder away.

"Ouch, fuck's sake, what was that for," Matt groaned.

"Oh my god, sorry!" Maya said. "I thought you were a rapist or something," she explained.

"Well, I'm not," Matt said, annoyed.

Maya sighed. "Sorry, you just scared me," she apologized again.

"Yeah, sorry about that," he said, lamely. "Anyway, I just came by to drop off these," he continued, dropping an envelope down next to Maya, who took it and looked inside.

"Oh.. the tickets for the Ocala New Year's Rockin' Eve Party," she said. "I totally forgot about that, I guess."

"Yeah, me, too," Matt answered. "Until they arrived in the mail today. But I didn't wanna just throw them away and since I don't have anyone to give the other ticket to, I thought I'd just give them to you."

"No, no-no-no, I can't take them. You paid for them, you should get to go. Besides, I don't have anyone I could take there, either, so.." she trailed off.

They both smiled shily. Even though their break up wasn't all clean and amicable, it still felt good to know neither one had moved on yet.

"Here's an idea," Maya said. "Why don't we just go together, as friends? It'd be a shame to waste the tickets, they weren't cheap, and I don't know about you but I miss spending time with you", she explained.

Matt smiled. "Me, too. But that's exactly why I don't think it's a good idea. We're both still in the detox phase and I don't think it'll get better if we keep on being around each other all the time," he told her, frowning.

Maya sighed and nodded. "So, what about the tickets, then?" she asked.

"I'mma try and sell them to Alex. He said he doesn't know what he and Lily are gonna do, anyways, so maybe they can use them," he mused.

"Uhm, that can't be. Lily's flying to New York with Joe for New Year's," she told Matt.

Matt frowned. "Alex told me they're spending it together.."

Maya frowned, too. "Okay, well, that's weird. But also, none of our business. Or problem. What about Ang and Zach?" she suggested.

"Nah, they're having dinner at that fancy new place on West End and Zach said getting reservations there is fucking hard," Matt told her.

"Okay, then..?" Maya asked, again.

"Y'know what, I'll just take them and ask around, I'm sure someone will wanna buy them," Matt said, plastering on a fake smile. He knew exactly what he was gonna do. "And if not, then we'll just keep them as a memory, alright?" he asked.

Maya nodded her agreement. "Sounds like a plan," she said.

"Alright, see you around, then, okay?" Matt said, smiling at her before turning around and leaving.

"Yeah, see you around," Maya whispered sadly.



12:29 pm...

Becca was walking across the Ocala town square, where the New Year's Rockin' Eve party was held, working herself through the crowds of pedestrians and workers who built up the stage and lights and all that jazz. As she stepped over a barrier tape with a sign attached to it that read "ONLY PARTY PERSONNEL ALLOWED!", a guy in a suit, who was busy on the phone, looked at her all bewildered and followed her.

"Hey, miss, you can't walk in there, you're not allow-" he started, but Becca waved him off. "I'll let that slide, but only cause you're cute as hell," she called as she walked away, around a corner, leaving the guy all confused.

Alison and Sydney were standing on the edge of their cheerleading squad, doing stretches and warm-ups, when Becca approached them.

"Remember how I said I had plans and couldn't participate in the dance routine?" she called towards her best friends. "Well, change of plans, count me in," she said as Alison and Sydney came rushing towards her, hugging her.

"So it's really over?" Sydney asked her, sympathetically. Becca nodded, removing her sunglasses. "Yeah. But I'm not sad about it, so don't go and pity me," she explained. "I'm just glad I finally got some actual closure. So, anyway, can I still join or is it too late?" she asked Alison.

"Sure thing," Alison answered, before turning around and looking at her squad. "Ellen?" she called out. The girl looked at her, hopeful to get a dance solo. "You're out!" Alison told her with a cutthroat motion. Ellen looked at her in shock and started bawling. "Stop crying or you're off the team, fuck's sake," she said before turning back around towards Becca. "There ya go!" she said, smiling. Becca chuckled. "Classic Alison."

"You know it," Alison said. "Go and get changed, rehearsal starts in five," she told her.




13:14 pm...

"Okay. Yes, yes, of course I understand, Oma. I'm sure, yes. I'll be fine, just get some rest and get better, okay? I'll see you in two weeks, alright? I'm coming to visit you and I'm not taking no for an answer. Okay. Yeah, I love you, too, Oma. Alright, bye."

Kyle hung up the phone and sighed deeply just as Jessica walked by the living room. She stopped when she saw Kyle's discouraged figure.

"Sweetie, is everything alright?" she asked him.

Kyle looked up at her and shrugged. "That was my Oma. She called to say that she won't make it for New Year's Eve. She's spiked a fever and the doctors won't allow her to travel," he explained sadly.

"Aw, sweetie, I'm so sorry," Jessica said as she sat down next to him and hugged him. "I know how much you were looking forward to seeing her again."

"Yeah. I mean, with how little time she has left, every time I see her counts and now this time isn't happening.. sort of gives me a panicky feeling," he said.

Jessica rubbed his back soothingly. "I wish there was something I could say or do that would make you feel better but I don't think there is. All I know is that, whatever happens and whenever it happens, I'll be there for you. And I know your friends will, too. You're not alone, you'll never be alone again, do you hear me?" she said. Kyle laid his head on her shoulder and nodded. "Thank you," he whispered.




13:46 pm...

"Okay, so, we have firecrackers, grand fireworks, two six-packs of coke, a load of snacks that could feed China for a year and, thanks to my brother's ID and the fact that we basically look like twins, enough booze to get China drunk for a year," Andrés summed up sardonically as he and a couple friends were loading everything into his Range Rover. "Did we forget anything?" he asked.

A friend of his smirked and started rolling his hips in a groce douche-baggy fashion. "A big box of big condoms, if you ask me," he slurred. Andrés rolled his eyes as hard as he could and went to return the shopping cart.

"They're all so dumb. So simple minded and just focused on sex and getting wasted.. it's starting to really disgust me. We used to be close friends but they've all developed into titty-crazed alcoholics... wow, I must sound really arrogant. I like titties, too. But in a more mature way, I guess.. oh, well..."

While he was walking back towards the car, the clear sky started blasting a booming crack of thunder. Out of reflex, Andrés ducked his head. "Wow, that was fucking loud.." he whispered.

"Don't be such a whiney baby, Herrera," his friend slurred. Again, Andrés just rolled his eyes and climbed into the driver's seat.




14:10 pm...

Matt walked up the stairs to the Rodriguez residency. It was a pretty huge property and the house itself wasn't small, either. He rang the doorbell and mere seconds later, a woman in her late thirties opened the door.

"Hello, can I help you?" she asked Matt kindly.

"Uhm, yes, I'm looking for Alex. This is where he lives, right?" Matt asked shily.

The woman smiled and nodded. "Yes, it is," she replied before turning around. "Alexander, sweetheart, there's someone here for you!" she called back into the house. She turned back towards Matt. "Would you like to come in? Maybe something to drink?" she asked him with the smile everpresent on her lips.

Fascinated by this lifestyle, Matt nodded dumbfoundedly. "Sure, yeah," he drooled and followed the woman, who seemed to be Alex' mother, back into the house and into the kitchen. Just as she was about to pour him a glass of iced lemon water, Alex walked in.

"Hey, Matt, what are you doing here?" he asked.

"Uhm, I have something for you, if you want it," Matt began, fishing the envelope with the tickets out of his messenger bag and handing it to Alex. "Maya and I bought these back when we were still dating but they only arrived in the mail today. We have no use for them, for obvious reasons, so I thought you could take Lily, if you'd like?" he suggested.

"Who's Lily?" Alex' mom asked, looking at her son.

Matt frowned at her, then looked over at Alex, who looked like a deer caught in the headlights.

"Oops.. sorry," Matt whispered.

"Alexander?" his mother prompted, smiling.

"Uhm, well. I've been meaning to tell you, I promise, but somehow it just never felt like the right time," he stammered.

"Well, now's your chance then," his mother prodded, amused with the situation.

"Lily's my girlfriend," Alex told her. "And she's lovely and very polite and well-behaved and talented. She's good to me. And I'm good to her," he rambled.

"So that's why you've been so different the past couple months," his mother mused. "I was wondering what brought it on. How long have you been dating, then?" she asked.

"Well, we decided to make it official mid-November, but we've actually been seeing each other for exactly six months today," he said, proud with himself.

"What? Six months?" Matt gasped. Alex' mother chuckled. "Yeah, I second that," she added.

Alex glared at them. "Why does this come as such a shock to you? I'm a great catch," he argued.

"I just never pegged you for the kind of guy to stick with a girl for more than two weeks, to be honest," Matt said quietly.

"What?" Alex' mother cut in before zeroing in on her son. "Alexander, have you been whoring around?" she asked, seriously.

"Oh my god, no, mom. I swear. Lily's the only girl I've actually been with," he said without thinking.

"WHAT? You've actually had sex already?" his mother screamed. Alex' eyes bulged out. "Well, uhm, I, I mean, we, uhm," he stammered.

Matt turned towards his mother. "They've only done it once, don't worry," he told her.

"MATT!" Alex screeched at him.

"What?" Matt looked at him, unworried. "Girls talk, a lot, and Alison tells me pretty much everything, you don't even wanna know what I've had to listen to, I swear," he ranted.

"Well, this day just keeps getting better and better," Alex' mom chuckled, pouring herself a large glass of white wine. "So you love her?" she asked her son again.

Alex smiled and nodded. "Yeah, very much. And she loves me, too," he explained.

"Okay, well, just make sure to be safe, if you know what I mean," she told him.

"Gross, mom, but yes. We're being safe," Alex said.

"And make sure to please her, too! It's not just about your penis, you know," she said.

"GROSS, MOTHER!" he screamed before grabbing Matt by the arm and dragging him out of the kitchen with him.

The two of them were walking up the stairs and into Alex' room. "So, this is where you live," Matt stated. Alex gave him a curt look. "Yes. Let's not talk about it," he said.

"Sooo.. you and Lily, tonight?" Matt asked.

Alex smiled. "Yeah. But I was gonna try and make it real special for her, seeing as it's our six months anniversary and I don't know whether the Ocala New Year's Rockin' Eve Party screams special..." he trailed off.

Matt nodded. "Yeah, I get that. But you're set to do something together, yeah?" Matt kept on asking.

Alex gave him a weird look. "Yes.." he trailed off. "Wait, is this you asking me to spend New Year's with you? Cause I mean, dude, I like you but I have a girlfriend and-"

"No, no, oh god, no!" Matt interrupted. "I mean, I don't have any plans anymore, true, but I was just curious about you and Lily," he explained.

Alex narrowed his eyes at him. "Why?" he asked.

"Uhm, well," Matt stammered. "It's just that.. I spoke to Maya earlier and she said that Joe and Lily were gonna fly to New York together tonight? So I was just wondering, I guess," Matt said.

"What? No, she told me we'd spend it together," Alex wondered.

"Okay, then why did she tell Maya something different?" Matt asked.

Alex sighed. "That's what I'm gonna find out," he said, grabbing his phone and wallet from the nightstand and rushing out of his room and down the stairs. "Make yourself feel at home," he called back out to Matt.

Matt just stood there, gaping. "Alright, then," he said, plopping down on the bed.




14:40 pm...

"Okay, one more time from the top!" Alison instructed her squad.

The girls all got into position when there was another loud crack of thunder. The girls all looked up at the sky. "Well, that's weird," Sydney said. "How is there thunder in a clear sky?" she asked around.

"Don't know, don't care. Go!" Alison yelled as the music started and the girls are started dancing their routine.

The thunder continued throughout the song and suddenly, there was a strong blast of air, throwing half the squad off their game.

"Ow, fuck's sake," Alison screamed as she was lying on the ground. Becca and Sydney were by her side instantly. "What happened? What's wrong?" Sydney asked her.

"I think I twisted my ankle. Stupid wind, I swear to god," Alison cursed, clutching her ankle. Becca looked around. "Someone get her something to cool her ankle with, NOW!" she yelled.

"It's no use," Alison said. "It's already swollen, there's no way I can dance on it in three hours. Crap, I was really looking forward to this," she murmered. Becca and Sydney looked at each other, worried.




15:22 pm...

"So, what? You were just gonna fly to New York without telling me?" Alex asked.

Lily threw her hands up in the air. "I don't know what I was gonna do. I don't even know what I was thinking. All I know is that Joe started planning this entire thing months ago before you and I were even official and when he asked me about it again two weeks ago, he was looking at me with those puppy eyes and I couldn't say no. And then an hour later that same day you asked me to spend tonight with you and you had those same freaking puppy eyes and, I just, I didn't know what to do so I said yes to both of you!" Lily told them frantically.

Joe, who was sat at the kitchen table next to them, raised his eyebrows. "Well, that was stupid," he said bluntly.

"YOU DON'T SAY!" Lily screeched. "You guys don't get. I've never had this before. Multiple people asking ME to spend New Year's Eve with them. I've never had that and now I also have to say no to someone and I've never learnt how to do that, I didn't know what to do, I didn't wanna hurt anyone's feelings, it's really, really new and complicated for me," Lily ranted.

Alex looked at her, sympathetically, but sighed. "So, what now?" he asked her.

Joe cleared his throat. "I'mma leave you two alone for this," he said, getting up and walking over into the living room.

Lily slumped down in her chair. "I don't know. I wanna spend it with both of you but I know that you wouldn't want that," she said.

Alex frowned. "Why do you think I wouldn't want that? You know I really like Joe. We're getting along great."

"Yes but I imagine you've got some things planned for tonight that don't include my brother sitting next to me," Lily chuckled. Alex smirked and nodded.

"And he already bought plane tickets weeks ago," Lily said. "I don't think we can refund them, either. But we can still get you another ticket, so you can join us?" she suggested, hopeful.

Alex smiled. "Nah, it's okay. You two go and fly to New York, I'll be fine," he said. "Besides, Matt doesn't have anything to do, too, so I might spend some time with him then."

"Ooh, are you gonna cheat on me?" Lily asked suggestively, wiggling her eyebrows. They both laughed.

"There's always next year," Alex continued. "We can celebrate 18 months, then."

"What?" Lily asked. Alex frowned. "Today's our six months anniversary, didn't... didn't you know?" he asked.

Lily gasped. "Oh my god. Six months? We've started this thing six months ago?" she asked, perplexed. "That's a really fucking long time..." she trailed off. Alex chuckled.

"Sorry I forgot," Lily whispered apologetic. "Like I said, I'm not used to these kinds of things. Attention and unconditional affection and all that shit."

Alex laughed. "I know. And it's okay. I love you. And you wouldn't be you if you weren't emotionally handicapped that way," he told her.

Lily blushed. "Aww.. I love you, too, Alex," she answered before they leaned in to kiss each other. When they parted, Lily sighed. "Looks like I'm flying to New York," she squealed.

"Don't think so, chica," Joe said, coming back into the dining room, smartphone in hand. "The weather forecast lady said there's a huge low coming from the Gulf, the biggest and apparently most dangerous one in decades. All means of transportation are cancelled," he told them.

"What?" Alex and Lily both asked, worried about the situation.

"The government strongly advises the people to hide out in an air-raid shelter," Joe read from his smartphone.

"What the fuck?" Alex murmured as he went over to the window. "The sky is clear as day, there's not a single tiny cloud there. How is this even possible?" he asked into the room. Joe shrugged sadly.

Lily smiled. "Looks like we'll all be spending New Year's together, after all," she told them.

Joe frowned. "Yeah, but we don't have an air-raid shelter.." he said.

"But I do," Alex confessed. Both Joe and Lily looked at him, impressed. Then they smiled at each other.




16:14 pm...

Becca and Sydney were both sat on Alison's bed, with Alison lying down, her ankle packed in ice.

"So, what are we gonna do now?" Sydney asked them.

Alison sighed. "You guys can still do it, you shouldn't have to pass up on this opportunity just because I'm incapable of withholding a slight breeze," she saidl, foul-mouthed.

Becca chuckled. "No, it's okay. I don't really wanna do it without you and I'm guessing Sydney feels the same way."

Sydney nodded. "Yes. So, since we're not participating and we can't really join the party anymore, either, we have to come up with another plan. Doing nothing on New Year's Eve sucks," she said.

"Well," Alison started. "Seeing as the two of you are being very kind and loyal towards me, I think we should just keep it in the family, right? Let's just spend a nice evening in?" she suggested.

Becca and Sydney smiled at her. "Sounds like a plan," Sydney said. "Let me just rush back home to gather a sleepover bag, I'll be back in, like, ten minutes," she told them.

Becca nodded. "Yeah, me too," she said as they both got up, waved Alison goodbye and went to go home.




16:24 pm...

Nathan was sitting on the couch in the living room of his house, wearing tight, grey jeans and a comfy hoodie, lazily zapping through the TV's channels without even acknowledging the programme, when his dad approached him, all dressed up in a suit, and cleared his throat.

"So, I'm gonna go now, if it's alright," he said.

Nathan merely nodded.

"You could still come with us, if you want?" his dad offered.

"Tag along with you and your girlfriend? No, thanks," Nathan replied flatly.

His dad let out a pathetic chuckle. "Yeah, makes sense. Isn't anyone you know throwing a party? If you have a tiny bit of alcohol, I won't even know," he said jokingly.

Nathan scoffed. "No one I like is throwing a party."

Nathan's dad nodded. "Okay, well. I'll see you next year then, I guess," he said.

"See ya," Nathan said, apathetically.

After the front door clicked shut, Nathan took a deep breath and sighed heavily. He shut off the television and turnes his head around to look outside the window. The sky was still clear as day, but it was a darker shade of blue and the wind was blowing heavily.

Nathan scoffed, again. "Just like my mood," he whispered.




16:31 pm...

Matt was still sat on Alex' bed, playing on his phone, when Alex' mom knocked at the door and stuck her head into the room. "Hey, do you need anything?" she asked him kindly.

Matt smiled at her. "No, thanks, ma'am, I'm good," he replied politely.

"Oh, please don't call me 'ma'am'," she chuckled, stepping further into the room. "Makes me feel ancient. Just call me Anita, alright?" she offered.

Matt nodded. "Alright, then. Anita." They smiled at each other.

"So, did you hear about the weather?" Anita asked, sitting down next to him. "It's supposed to get really crazy out there."

Matt nodded. "Yeah, people on Facebook are going nuts over it. The news say you should hide in a bunker and all," he trailed off.

"Yeah, I heard. Do you have one, at home? A bunker, I mean," Anita asked. "Cause if not, you know, you could always stay in ours," she offered, putting a hand on his thigh.

Matt looked up at her and swallowed. "Uhm, yeah, that's very kind of you. Let me just call my parents, alright?" he asked, rushing out the door and down the hall, in search of the bathroom.




16:38 pm...

"Well, if you hate them so much, then why are you spending so much time with them?" Sydney asked into her phone. She was sat in her car, parked in front of Ali's house, her sleepover bag on the passenger seat.

On the other end of the conversation, Andrés sighed into his phone. "Because I don't really have any other friends. And I refuse to spend New Year's Eve alone," he told her.

Sydney chuckled. "Well, you have me. I'm your friend," she offered.

Silence. Then, "Really?" Andrés asked her, shily. "You-- you'd consider us friends?"

"Well," Sydney said, "We have been talking a lot lately. And you've apologized.. a lot. So, yes. I'd say we're friends," she explained.

Andrés smiled. "Thanks, Syd. It means a lot to me, your forgiveness."

"I'm just glad this entire thing is now in the past," Sydney said, to which Andrés hummed his agreement. "Anyway, I gotta get back now or Alison's gonna rip me a new one for being tardy," she said, chuckling. "Talk to you soon, yeah?"

"Yeah, let's do that," Andrés replied. "Oh, and Syd?" he asked before she could end the call.

"Happy New Year," he told her.

Sydney smiled. "You, too," she answered before ending the call.

She opened the door of her car and stepped out when Alison suddenly called out for her. "Get back in, honey, we're on a mission," Ali said, limping over towards Sydney's car, with Becca next to her.

"What, why? What's going on?" Sydney asked, as Ali got into the passenger seat and Becca into the back. She sat back down in the driver's seat.

"Matt just called me. He's at Alex' house and Alex' mother seems to be a wildlife cougar and he's scared shitless that she'll devour him whole," Ali explained as they started driving.

Sydney laughed out loud. "Oh, god. Sounds like a situation only Matt could get himself in," she said.




16:45 pm...

Cass was standing at the entrance of the botanical garden, dressed up nice, phone clutched in her hand, as she kept looking from one side to the other, waiting for someone. She unlocked her phone, again, and went to her text messages.

i'm here (: where r u? 16:33
where r u?? 16:38
jason, ur coming right? 16:43

Cass sighed. The blue ticks at the bottom of each text message showed that he had read them. But he won't answer. Cass tapped the dial button. After a couple beeps, the call went to voice-mail.

"Jason, I swear to god, if you're not gonna show up, at least have the balls to tell me!" she yelled into the phone before ending the call.

Cass took a deep breath and sniffed once, wiping a stray tear away.




16:59 pm...

Zach was stood in front of his floor-length mirror, checking himself over one more time. He smiled at his reflection, grabbed his phone, wallet and keys and left his room, shutting the door behind himself. He skipped down the flight of stairs into the living area.

"Brandon, I'm out now, have fun at the party!" he called out towards his brother, while putting on a light coat and his sneakers. "Don't forget to at least text Mum and Dad, otherwise they'll get worried sick!" he yelled before slamming the house door shut behind himself and heading off towards Ang's grandparents' house.

Halfway there, he took of his coat, feeling it was still too warm for it, despite all the catastrophic weather warnings. When he arrived, he rang the doorbell.

Mere seconds later, Ang opened the door and immediately burped.

Zach laughed. "Well, hello to you, too," he joked.

"Oh, god, sorry!" Ang said. "It's just, we had soo much food, for lunch, and then here, and I'm just.. this close to exploding," she confessed.

"Soo.. we skip dinner, maybe?" Zach suggested, smiling. "I'd like for you to not explode and leave me alone on New Year's."

"We can still go, you can still eat!" Ang rushed out. "I know how hard it was to get reservations and that place."

"Yeah, but I don't wanna eat alone," Zach told her. "No worries, I'll get us a table for Valentine's," he said, kissing her on the cheek. "We can just go back to my place?" he said.

Ang smiled and nodded. "Let me just grab my stuff, then we can go.. or you can go and I roll alongside you," she joked.

Zach chuckled. "Hey, I wanna say hello to your granfolks, though, if it's okay?" he asked.

Ang raised her eyebrows. "Ooh, so dapper today?" she asked, fake-impressed.

"Well, I am trying to be the perfect boyfriend, after all," he said as they walked inside.




17:17 pm...

"Okay, here we are," Sydney said as they pulled up in front of the Rodriguez mansion. "At least I think so?" she asked.

"Yeah, this looks more like a V.I.P. palace?" Becca gushed.

"No, it's his place. I was here once last year, for the freshmen party, and believe me, it's even bigger inside than it looks from the outside," Ali told them.

"What freshmen party?" Syd asked as they all got out of the car.

"Oh, you guys weren't invited, you weren't cool back then," Ali said, nonchalantly, taking off her shades. "Let's go, girls," she told them, before all three of them strutted towards the gate in a choreographied fashion, except for Ali's limp. Ali pressed the bell like a morse code, then took a step back and waited.

"Okay, this is taking too long," she said after two seconds, and took a bobby pin out of her hair, bended it straight and put it in the gate's lock, unlocking it within a couple seconds.

"How the fuck did you learn to do that so quickly?" Becca asked, astounded.

"You learn your way around picking a lock when your daddy decides to lock away your new Balenciaga for throwing a vase at the neighbour's kid," Ali told her, limp-strutting inside. When they approached the front door, Anita was already standing there, exasperated at Ali's tactics.

"I'm about five seconds away from calling the cops so you better tell me who you girls are and why you thought it necessary to pick my gate's lock," she told them sternly.

"We're here to stop you from eating our friend for breakfast," Ali said before limping past Anita, inside the house.

"MATT WHERE THE FUCK IS SHE KEEPING YOU?" she yelled loudly.

"What? I'm not keeping him anywhere," Anita said, confused.

"I'M HERE!" Matt yelled from the top of the staircase, rushing downstairs and hiding behind Alison.

"What, Matt, what's going on?" Anita asked him, stepping closer, but Alison steped in between. "Get yo paws off my man!" she growled.

Becca and Sydney looked at each other, intrigued by that statement.

"Stop hitting on him, he's a minor." Ali said. "I'm pretty sure the cougar thing only works if it's actually legal."

"WHAT?" Anita exclaimed. "Is that what you think is happening?" she looked at Matt, who just shrugged, confused.

"Ew, gross," Anita said. "That's disgusting, I wasn't flirting with you," she defended herself. "I was just trying to be nice."

"Yeah, well, you rubbed my thigh," Matt whispered. Alison, Becca and Sydney gasped.

"I did no such thing! I put my hand on your knee, to put emphasis on my words. I was trying to comfort you!" Anita screeched.

"A hand on a thigh might be a little too comforting," Ali said.

"On a knee! A hand on a knee!" Anita repeated. "And, yeah, well, Alex doesn't make many friends. Not decent ones, like Matt," Anita said, throwing her hands up in the air. "He's only ever around idiot douchebag footballers. And so I thought if I'm nice to you, you'll stick around. Keep on being a good influence on him," she explained.

"Oh," Ali and Matt said, in unison.

Sydney couldn't surpress a chuckle. Ali glared at her.

"Sorry," Sydney murmured, but exchanged a smile with Becca when Ali looked away again.

"So, no," Anita continued. "I wasn't hitting on your boyfriend," she said.

"He's not my boyfriend!" "I'm not her boyfriend!" Ali and Matt said, in unison again.

Anita frowned. "Then why did you go all lionesse on me?" she asked Ali, who just gaped at her.

"Yes, Alison. Why did you go all lionesse on her?" Sydney asked her, mischievously. Becca smiled at her.

"Uhm.." Alison stammered.

Suddenly, the sound of the door unlocking was heard and someone slammed straight into Sydney from behind.




17:20 pm...

"So, are y'all ready?" Jessica asked the kids. Alex, Joe and Lily nodded. Kyle's eyes were unfocused, just staring blankly ahead.

"Kyle?" Jessica asked. Kyle blinked, then, turning his attention towards Jessica. "What?" he asked.

"Are you ready?" Joe asked him, annoyed. "Cause we'd really like to get a move-on."

"Uhm," Kyle stammered. "Is it okay if I go see someone else first?" he asked the others.

Joe huffed in annoyance, but Lily slapped him across the arm. Then, she looked at Kyle.

"D'you wanna go see Maya?" she asked, sympathetically. Kyle nodded.

"I just don't wanna end this year not having finally made up with her," he confessed.

"You can bring her, if you want," Alex offered, smiling.

Kyle nodded gratefully. "Thanks. I'll meet you guys there, okay?" he asked.

Jessica smiled and nodded, handing him the keys for the Mini Cooper.

"Okay," she announced. "Then we'll just go there now with the SUV, let's go!"

Alex, Joe and Lily followed her outside, Kyle went after them, shutting the door behind him and they each got in their seperate cars.

As soon as they hit the road, though, Lily's phone buzzed with an incoming text. She fished it out of her purse and unlocked it. The text was from Cass.

he didn't show.. :( 17:22

Lily sighed, sadly.

"Is everything okay?" Joe, who sat next to her on the backseat, asked her.

Lily looked up at him. "It's Cass," she said. Then, "Can we make one more stop?" she asked Jessica, who just smiled.

A couple minutes later, the car stopped in front of the botanical garden and Lily jumped out of the car, surprising Cass, who was still sat on a bench in front of the entrace.

The two girls smiled at each other and Lily waved her over towards the car.




17:23 pm...

Angelika and Zach arrived back home at Zach's house. When he saw his parents' car back in the driveway, Zach frowned. "What the..?" he whispered.

They walked up towards the door and went inside, where Zach's parents were just un-packing all their stuff.

"Mom, Dad? What are you doing here, shouldn't you be halfway in Tampa by now?" Zach asked them.

"Oh, sweetie, didn't your hear?" his mother asked. "All flights got cancelled due to the invisible storm coming up. So no Tampa for us this year," she said.

His dad chuckled. "But it'll be fun to spend New Year's Eve with you two!" he exclaimed.

Ang and Zach looked at each other, forcing on a tortured smile.




17:28 pm...

Kyle walked up the pathway to Maya's house, swallowing once before ringing the bell. He fidgeted nervously with his button-up until the door swung open.

"Oh, hey, Kyle," Maya greeted him. "What are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be with your oma?" she asked.

Kyle shrugged, "That was the plan, but it didn't work out," he told her.

"What, why? Did something happen to her?" Maya asked.

Kyle nodded. "Yeah, she- uhm, she has cancer," he confessed.

Maya gasped. "Oh my god, I'm so sorry, Kyle," she cooed, throwing her arms around him. They hugged for a while and when they broke apart, Kyle took Maya's hands in his.

"I miss this. Us. I'm not Will without you as Grace by my side, it just doesn't work," he told her.

Maya nodded sadly. "I know, I feel the same way. But I don't know how to fix it," she said.

"I think I do, though," Kyle said. "I realized something today. When I told Jessica about how my oma couldn't come today, she was comforting me and she said that I'll never be alone again. And that's when it hit me. I legit won't. Ever be alone again, that is. I have a family now, an actual family. Not just a mother, a father and a sister wo all don't appreciate me or are never there. An actual family. I have a sister who loves me and who I love, who lives right down the hall from me, who asks me about my day and who gets me. I know I'm not technically related to them, but it feels like Jessica is my mom and Joe my brother. They care about me, even if Joe can't always show it appropriately," he said and Maya and him both chuckled.

"It feels solid," Kyle continued. "Like, this is it. My family. The people I'll be spending Christmas and Easter with for the next ten years until I find a gorgeous guy, make him my husband and celebrate it with him and our three beautiful daughters," he mused.

"And it made me think about how different from last year it felt and that's when I realized it, that one of the main reasons why it feels so different from last year is because I am so, so different from last year. I'm not the same person anymore. And neither are you," Kyle stated.

Maya smiled.

"We grew up a bit and changed some. We're not the same people who befriended each other in pre-school. We're different. And I think that's why, for the past couple months, it's been so hard to be friends without it feeling wrong or weird. Like, we got so used to being friends with that person we met back then that at some point, when we realized that person doesn't exist anymore, it just.. dented our friendship and it hasn't felt the same ever since."

Maya frowned. "I get that, all of it, but you're not painting a very rosy picture here and it's making me worry," she said.

"No, it's a good thing," Kyle assured her quickly. "Not, like, good that our friendship is dented but good that it's just dented, not broken. All we have to do is get to know each other again. Get to know the person we've become, for better or worse."

Maya chuckled. "All we have to do.. You know, that's gonna be a lot of work, Will. Are you up for it?" she asked, smugly.

Kyle laughed. "Always, Grace," he said and they hugged again.

"Now, pack your stuff, we're going over to Alex' house to hide out from the big, bad storm in his bunker," Kyle told her.

Maya raised her eyebrows and laughed, but tugged him inside with her to go pack her things.




17:34 pm...

"And now you can just park in front of the gate, no problem," Alex instructed Jessica, who parked their car where she was told to. "This isn't where we had those steamy make-out sessions," Lily whispered to Alex, who just mouthed the word poolhouse at her.

They all got out of the car, backpacks in hand. Everyone but Alex was stood there, gaping at the mansion in front of them.

"No wonder you're such a spoiled brat," Joe murmured. Lily looked at him, shocked, and slapped him across the arm.

"Fine. No wonder you were such a spoiled brat," Joe corrected himself. Lily rolled her eyes but smiled.

"It's okay, he's right," Alex chuckled. "I used to think that living in a big house like this, with a gate and a huge garden and a pool and all, that it somehow made me better and that I didn't have to work for the things I wanted," he explained as he led them all inside the gate. "But as I got older I realized that I did, indeed, have to earn things and my parents made sure I knew that. They never pampered me and they never gave me any gifts that weren't, like, birthday or Christmas gifts, or, y'know, just small gifts, not like a TV or a car. I bought my flatscreen with my own money and I help out in the household a lot. Like, mowing the lawn, washing the dishes and stuff," he finished as he took out his keys to unlock the front door.

"Well, you're certainly very mature for your age," Jessica told him, fondly. Alex smiled at her. "Thanks," he replied, opening the door and running straight into Sydney.

"What- what the?" he spluttered as he took in the scene. Sydney, Becca and Alison were standing in the foyer, Matt hiding behind Alison, with his mother stood facing them, frowning.

"What's going on here?" he asked them.

Anita chuckled. "Your friend, Matt, thought I was flirting with him so he called Charlie's Angels to protect him," she explained. Matt went beet red.

"This day just keeps getting weirder and weirder," Alex murmured.

"Speaking of weird," Anite continued, "I know it can't be her, because she's got the hots for Matt," she said, pointing at Alison, who also went beet red now, "but which one of these girls is the one you've been dating for half a year before finally telling me today?" she asked her son.

"What?" Lily shrieked. "You said you told your mum, like, two months ago!"

Once again, Alex looked like a deer caught in the headlights. "Uhm..."

Anita smiled at her and put out her hand for Lily to shake. "Hi, I'm Anita, you must be Lily," she said.

Lily sighed, eyebrows knit together. "This is so not how I wanted to meet you," she told Anita, shaking her hand.

"Oh, sweetie, don't worry," Anita said. "Me supposedly hitting on one of your friends wasn't the first thing I wanted you to hear about me, either, but I think we'll make it past that, we've got enough time for that," she reassured her.

Lily smiled at that, but then looked at Alex, pissed off. "I'm not so sure about that," she said, slamming her backpack at him and walking past the crowd and up the stairs in search of the bathroom.

"Okay, so," Anita went on, "we've established why these girls are here, but who is all this and what are they doing here?" she asked her son, waving at the Sweetings and Cass.

"Oh, uhm, I thought we could all crash in the bunker tonight? Because of the storm?" Alex asked her.

"Oh, sure thing, go ahead," Anita allowed. "You girls can stay, too, if you'd like," she told Alison, Becca and Sydney. "And you, too, of course, Matt, but I don't want you to think I'm hitting on you," she said, fake worried, before laughing and locking eyes with Jessica.

"Did you want a glass of wine, maybe, to match the teenage drama?" she asked her, smiling,

Jessica laughed and nodded. "An invite to drink alcohol before names are even exchanged, that's my kind of mother-to-mother understanding," she answered.

The two of them left the kids behind and walked towards the kitchen, exchanging names on the way.

"Okay, so, we're all staying here tonight?" Sydney asked everyone else.

"Looks like it," Alex answered. "Excuse me," he said before walking up the stairs.

"Where's Kyle?" Becca asked Joe. "Oh, he's getting Maya and then coming here," he explained.

"We can bring people?" Alison asked. Suddenly she snatched Sydney's car keys right out of her hand and started limping out the door. "I'll be right back," she announced. They all watched her hobbling mere inches in slow motion. Sydney rolled her eyes and walked after her, catching up with her in two steps. "Where are we going?" she asked as she took back her keys and helped Alison walk.

Becca, Cass and Joe turned back towards each other, awkwardness heavy in the air.

"Sooo..." Becca tried. Now Joe rolled his eyes.

"Let's go look for that bunker," he said, grabbing all of the backpacks and just walking further into the house, with Becca and Cass tagging along.




17:47 pm...

Alex slowly pushed the door to his bedroom open, which was at the very end of the hall.

"There you are," he said, looking at Lily.

"Sort of stupid of me to think I could hide in a house you've been living in your entire life," she said, letting out a pathetic chuckle.

Alex smiled and sat down next to her. "I've, uhm.. I've never introduced a girlfriend to my mother. I've actually never had a girlfriend to introduce to my mother. I've also never brought a girl home," he confessed.

Lily looked at him, surprised.

"I was afraid that if I brought you here, you'd think less of me. Or you'd expect more from me. Like, picking you up in a Maserati. And I didn't wanna do anything to disturb our relationship."

Lily smiled. "I would've never judged you. Or focused on your money. I love you because of you, silly."

Alex smiled, too, and they kissed.

"Also, I was hella scared that my mom would freak you out and you'd run away screaming," he added.

"What, why? She's lovely," Lily argued.

"Well, wait til she starts talking about sex to you," Alex said, still shocked to the core by the earlier events. Lily laughed.




17:50 pm...

Nathan was sat at the kitchen counter, aimlessly picking around a bowl of pasta, when the doorbell rang. He looked up and frowned.

"Who the fuck..." he silently asked himself. He got up and went to open the door.

"Hey, Anderson," Perry said, walking past him inside the house. She was dressed in black leggins, a long, yellow shirt and - surprisingly - no hijab, which left her long, black hair flowing over her shoulder.

"What the fuck are you doing here and.. what are you wearing? Or rather, what aren't you wearing?" he asked her.

"I only wear the hij' to school because my parents want me to hide my hair from all the boys' stares," she explained. "Apparently they're all very eager to rip it off my head and create wigs out of it to sell them to all the drag queens on the black market," she scoffed. "And I'm here because I figured you'd just be sulking around, alone, as usual and even though I don't believe in this sort of crap, I don't think you should be alone when your new year begins, so," she told him.

Nathan stood there, eyebrows raised, not only at the nice gesture but also at how stereotypically pretty she was without all the cloth hiding her hair, face and skin.

"So, what do you wanna do?" she asked him. Suddenly the doorbell rang again.

Nathan opened the door to reveal Ali. He frowned. "Ali, what the fuck are you doing here?"he asked.

"Well, I figured you'd just be sulking around, alone, as usual and even though I don't fucking care, I don't think you should be alone when the new year begins, so," she explained.

Perry laughed.

"Ooh, who's the hot chick, Nathan?" she asked as she checked out the other girls. "Are you finally moving on from that second hand boy toy?"

"Uhm," Nathan began, unsure what to say. He looked at Perry, who just looked at Alison, waiting.

Alison frowned, scrutinizing her. "Wait..." she began.

"Here it comes," Perry whispered.

"Wait, fucking wait, is that Peregrine Dahir?!" Alison screeched.

"There it is," Perry said. "But don't ever call me by my full name again or I will cut out your tongue and burn it as a sacrifice to Jesus," she threatened, coldly.

Alison was shocked at the change of events. "What the hell? Have you been hiding all your sass under your oversized bandana?" she asked.

Perry scoffed and rolled her eyes, but smiled.

"What did you have in mind for New Year's?" Nathan asked Alison.

Alison just smiled at him, wickedly.




17:58 pm...

Kyle and Maya stood in front of Alex' house.

"Are you ready?" Kyle asked her.

Maya shrugged. "Not sure. I mean, Alison is gonna be in there. And Matt.. I mean, I did wanna spend New Year's with him, but under entirely different circumstances."

Kyle took her hand in his. "You'll be fine. By my side, the entire time, and then come midnight, it'll be a new year and a new Maya!" he proclaimed.

Then, he began singing. "This could be the start of something new..."

Maya giggled. "It feels so right to be here with you... And now I'm looking in your eyes, I feel in my heart"

"Feel in my heart" Kyle belted dramatically.

Then they sang together "The start of something new..." as they walked towards the house.

Inside, Alex and Lily were just coming down the stairs when the doorbell rang. Alex went to open it, with Kyle and Maya standing in front of them, then.

"Hey guys," Maya said, awkwardly.

"Hey, sweetie," Lily said, hugging her, much to Maya's surprise.

"Come in," Alex invited them, smiling.

Just as they were about to walk towards the bunker, the doorbell rang again.

Alex went back to open it and immediately Alison came in, half-strutting, half-limping past him.

"I brought a friend. And some Chicken Tandoori.. though, at this point she's more like some baked version of Chicken Alfredo, what without the bedsheet around her head," she said, walking towards the bunker with Sydney.

Nathan and Perry stood awkwardly in the door. Alex smiled at them. "Hey guys. Come in," he repeated and they all walked towards the bunker together. When they entered, they were all in awe. The bunker was huge, with rows of beds against one wall, a flatscreen on the other, an enormous couch, a stage, a bar, a kitchenette and an en-suite bathroom.

"This isn't a bunker," Nathan murmured. Sydney nodded. "It's a fucking five-star subterranean resort," she finished.




10...

Alex, Alison, Becca, Cass, Joe, Kyle, Lily, Matt, Maya, Nathan, Perry and Sydney were all sat on the giant couch, snacking on fruits and potatoe chips, idly talking among themselves. Anita and Jessica were sat at the bar, their huge glasses of wine almost empty.

"So," Alison spoke up, "what are we gonna do now?" she asked the group. Everyone just shrugged, at a loss of what to do in a situation like this.

"We should live it up a little," Anita said. "We store all our decorations in that closet over there and there's an entire box dedicated to New Year's, even with some costumes. You kids shouldn't be spending this night just sitting around, bored."

Every seemed pleased with the idea, so Anita and Jessica got up and opened the closet, putting out the box for New Year's Eve.

"Oooh, and what's better to celebrate the last couple hours of the year than some old school New Year's Eve tune?" Jessica asked rethorically, picking up a small treasure music box. As she opened the box, it started to play a lovely melody.

Jessica:
Should old acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot
For auld lang syne?

Anita:
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For auld lang syne

As they all joined the song, the kids began to decorate the room with lots of silver and black balloons, garlands, confetti and paper streamers.

Matt with the Note-Worthy harmonizing:
And surely you'll buy your pint cup
And surely I'll buy mine
And we'll take a cup of kindness yet
For auld lang syne

Alison with the Note-Worthy harmonizing:
We two have run about the slopes
And picked the daisies fine
And we've wandered many a weary foot
Since auld lang syne

Sydney with the Note-Worthy:
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For auld lang syne

Lily:
We two have paddled in the stream
From morning sun till night
But the seas between us broad have roared
From auld lang syne

Joe with the Note-Worthy:
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For auld lang syne

Cass:
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For auld lang syne




9...

A couple hours later, almost all the kids were well on their way to being a little tipsy. Anita and Jessica had long gone upstairs, ignoring the acute weather warning in favor of drinking more wine.

Loud music blasting in the background, Joe sat at the bar, staring at his phone.

Lily sat down next to him and gave him a smile. "Hey bro, whaddup?" she asked.

Joe sighed. "Nothing, really. I've just.. I don't know, reminisced a lot the past couple days," he told her.

"Zach?" Lily asked. Joe nodded.

"Not in a nostalgic kind of way, it's not romantic, it's just.. my relationship with Rick is so secretive and complicated and it's exhausting, to be honest."

"Yeah, I get that. It felt a bit like that for me, too, before Alex and I became public," Lily said.

"Exactly. And it's just, I don't know, it's been bothering me that I didn't appreciate how open and regular my relationship with Zach was until now. And I'm starting to really miss him--IT! I'm starting to miss it!" Joe said, blushing over his slip.

Lily gasped and threw a hand over her mouth.

"Don't-- I, I didn't mean it like that, I-- That's not what I meant," Joe stammered.

Lily wiped the smug smile off her face and put her hand over Joe's. "It's okay," she soothed him. "I've been feeling this coming ever since you guys broke up. You were just meant to be," she said.

Joe smiled, saddened. "This makes tonight even more depressing. Last year we were rock solid together, spending New Year's Eve with each other... and you. And this year, he's not even here," Joe murmured, looking around the room.

Lily grabbed Joe's phone and unlocked it. "We can change that," she said as she dialed Zach's number.

"Oh my god, Lily, no!" Joe yelled, but it was too late.

"Hey Zach," Lily said, keeping Joe at bay with her outstretched hand. "Yeah, it's his phone, couldn't find my own, like usual. Say, what are you doing right now? Cause there's a party going on at Alex' place and, we're sort of all here, you know, the glee club, which was caused by a very weird set of circumstances, but whatever. Aha. Oh, yay, okay, great. Yeah, love you, too, bye!"

Lily gently put Joe's phone back down in front of him and gave him a cheeky grin with wiggled eyebrows.

"What are you doing?" Joe hissed at her. "He's in a relationship. And so am I!"

"Oh, yada, yada, all you two need is a little spark to ignite the flame. Me, spark. You, flame. Gotcha?" she flicked his forehead and jumped up to get on stage with Cass and Becca, dancing around all carefree.




8...

Meanwhile, in the other corner of the room, Syd was sat on a bed next to Alison, who was moaning in pain over her ankle and "wasted youth." Suddenly, her phone rang. It was Andrés.

"Hey?" she asked into the phone.

"Hey, Syd," Andrés said, his voice sounding sad.

"Is everything okay?" Syd asked.

"Yeah, yeah, it's all great," Andrés waved off.

"Only that it's not?" Syd guessed, her voice sympathetic.

"Yeah.. my stupid friends just drugged a girl and wanted to feel her up and I was just so fed up that I shoved them all off of her, carried her to my car and drove her home. And now I'm just.. walking around aimlessly," he explained.

"Oh, god," Sydney whispered. "But that was very courageous of you. I'm very proud of you."

"Yeah, thanks. I know I did the right thing. I need to get me some better friends, though," he sighed.

"True. For now, you have me. Where are you, exactly?" she asked.

"Uhm... I don't know, somewhere along Benjamin Street. Why?"

"Okay, you're not that far away, d'you know where Alex lives?"

Andrés chuckled. "Do I know where my ex best friend lives?"

Now Sydney chuckled. "Year, sorry. Just come here, we're having sort of a party, I guess."

Andrés sighed. "Do you think I'm welcome?"

"Honestly? I don't know. But, either way you need new friends and these are some amazing people, so. We'll make it work, promise," Sydney reassured him.

"Okay, then, I'll be there in 10," Andrés said.

"Yay, see you then!" Sydney answered before hanging up her phone.

"-and you know, what if I never, never, ever get to dance again? It would be the end of my career!" Alison moaned. Sydney just chuckled.




7...

Joe and Sydney were stood on stage a couple minutes later when the music started.

Joe:
Baby, this is what you came for
Lightning strikes every time she moves
And everybody's watching her
But she's looking at

You, oh, oh, you, oh, oh
You, oh, oh, you, oh, oh
You, oh, oh, you, oh, oh, oh

Sydney with Joe:
Baby, this is what you came for
Lightning strikes every time she moves
And everybody's watching her
But she's looking at

Sydney:
You, oh, oh, you, oh, oh
You, oh, oh, you, oh, oh
You, oh, oh, you, oh, oh, oh

Joe (with Sydney):
You, oh, oh, you, oh, oh
You, oh, oh, you, oh, oh
You, oh, oh, you, oh, oh, oh

We go fast with the game we play (Sydney: Game we play)
Who knows why it's gotta be this way (Sydney: Be this way)
(We say nothing more than we need) (Sydney: Than we need)
I say, "Your place," when we leave (Sydney: When we leave)

From behind the crowd, Andrés, Angelika and Zach were walking into the room. Jessica closed the door behind them, having let them into the house in the first place. None of the kids noticed the new addition to the group, but Andrés and Zach certainly did notice the performance, especially because they locked eyes with Sydney and Joe during their parts.

Sydney with Joe:
Baby, this is what you came for
Lightning strikes every time she moves
And everybody's watching her
But she's looking at

Sydney:
You, oh, oh, you, oh, oh
You, oh, oh, you, oh, oh
You, oh, oh, you, oh, oh, oh

Joe:
You, oh, oh, you, oh, oh
You, oh, oh, you, oh, oh
You, oh, oh, you, oh, oh, oh

Baby, this is what you came for
Lightning strikes every time she moves
Yeah-eah

Sydney with Joe:
Baby, this is what you came for
Lightning strikes every time she moves
And everybody's watching her
But she's looking at

You, oh, oh, you, oh, oh
You, oh, oh, you, oh, oh
You, oh, oh, you, oh, oh, oh

Joe with Sydney:
You, oh, oh, you, oh, oh
You, oh, oh, you, oh, oh
You, oh, oh, you, oh, oh, oh

After the music stopped, Sydney hopped off the stage and walked towards Andrés, embracing him in a hug. "You came," she whispered into his ear.

The rest of the group was rather shocked.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Alison shrieked at him, before looking at Sydney. "What the hell is he doing here?" she asked her.

"I invited him," Sydney said, then looked at Alex. "I hope that's okay."

"Uhm.. sure, why not," Alex said, a little overwhelmed with the situation.

"No, it's not okay," Becca interrupted. "The guy drove you straight into a rehab center, Sydney!"

"Yes and he's owned up to that and apologized for it a thousand times already!" Sydney yelled at them.

"And that's supposed to be enough?" Alison asked sarcastically.

"Yes! Yes it is!" Sydney screamed, shocking the others into silence. Silence which went on for a couple moments. Then Sydney took a deep breath.

"What else is he supposed to do?" she asked, rethorically. "He can't go back in time and undo it. He can't make me forget that it happened, and he can't make himself forget it happened, either, which may be even worse. All he can do is feel truly sorry for it and apologize. And you guys can't see it because you don't know him, but that's what he's been doing for the past couple months. And he's tried very hard to make it up to me. Not that any of you know what that looks like," she spat.

"I do," Alex said, quietly, before looking over at Lily, who smiled at the statement.

"Yeah, I get it," Lily said, looking back at Sydney. "Your situation.. I get it. It's not easy. And it's not gonna get any easier without your friends' support. So you have it. Our support," she spoke for the rest of them all, most of whom nodded. Then she shoved at Alison and Becca.

"Amirite, ladies?" she asked, forcefully.

Alison and Becca both sighed. "Yeah, you have our support," Ali said lamely. "Yes," Becca agreed.

Sydney smiled at them all. Then she locked eyes with Lily. "Thank you," she mouthed at her, to which Lily smiled.




6...

Matt was sat on the couch, alone, playing with his phone, when Alison limped over to him and flopped down next to him.

"So, about earlier," she started, but Matt shook his head.

"We don't have to talk about it," he said.

"I think we do. Cause it was ridiculous," Alison laughed. "I don't have feelings for you. And you don't have feelings for me. We're just.. best friends. We protect each other. And that's normal, and not a reason for anyone to think there's more between us than platonic feelings. So we can't let it be weird, okay?" she explained.

Matt smiled and nodded. "I'm your best friend, eh?" he asked, cockily.

Alison laughed and shoved at him. "Shut up," she said.

Meanwhile, Zach went to go use the bathroom. When he opened the door, he saw Joe sat on the edge of the bathtub, playing on his phone.

"Occupied," Joe said before looking up at Zach. "Oh, uhm, hey" he said, blushing a bit.

Zach chuckled. "Why is it occupied when all you're doing is playing Candy Crush on your phone?" he asked, sitting down opposite him on the closed toilet.

"It's nice and quiet in here, so.." he trailed off.

Zach frowned. "Is everything okay?" he asked. "You've been kinda quiet and reserved all evening."

"Yeah, I'm fine," Joe said. "It's just.. I don't know, I've been having so many thoughts lately," he explained, lamely.

"Okay. Cryptic," Zach chuckled,

"Yeah, it's just.. stuff I can't talk to you about," Joe said.

"Why? Because, what, we used to date?" he asked. Before Joe could say that, no, that wasn't the reason, Zach continued.

"Look, I'm sorry. I'm still so, so sorry that I hurt you like that and broke your heart. I've regretted doing it every day since then. And I know that I don't exactly deserve your forgiveness, or anything after that, but.. we could be friends. I know we never tried, but I could be your friend. And you could tell me what troubles you so deeply," Zach said. He didn't notice he'd taken Joe's hand in his during his little speech.

Joe was in awe at the sincere apology and regret in Zach's voice. "Friends," he murmured. The romantic tension was palpable in the room, so much so that even Zach started noticing it, now.

"Friends," he repeated, quietly, before sneaking a look at Joe's lips, and licking his own as a result. Joe started breathing heavily.

Suddenly, the door swung open and Lily stumbled in before noticing the two boys and the thique tension in the room.

"Oooh, ocupado," she drawled, wiggling her eyebrows vigorously before retreating and slamming the door shut behind her.

The moment was clearly over and Joe and Zach were now awkwardly avoiding each other's eyes and swallowing their feelings.

"I- I should, uhm, go.. Ang wanted me to.. serenade her," Zach said, pathetically.

Joe nodded and looked down at his feet, obviously hurt.

Zach looked at him and bit his lip. Before he could reach out and do anything, Joe got up and fled from the room.

Zach was left sat on the toilet, looking after him and sighing.




5...

Alex, Matt and Zach were standing on the stage, waiting for the music to start.

Zach:
I love it when you just don't care
I love it when you dance like there's nobody there
So when it gets hard, don't be afraid
We don't care what them people say

He was supposed to look at Ang, he knew it, but he couldn't really tear his eyes away from Joe, who was stood right behind her.

Alex:
I love it when you don't take no
I love it when you do what you want cause you just said so
Let them all go home, we out late
We don't care what them people say

Matt:
We don't have to be ordinary
Make our best mistakes
Cause we don't have the time to be sorry
So, baby, be the life of the party
I'm telling you to take your shot, it might be scary
Hearts are gonna break
Cause we don't have the time to be sorry
So, baby, be the life of the party

Together we can just let go
Pretending like there's no one else here that we know
Slow dance, fall in love as the club track plays
We don't care what them people say

While singing, Matt managed to lock eyes with Alison.

Alex, Matt and Zach (Matt):
We don't have to be ordinary
Make our best mistakes
Cause we don't have the time to be sorry
So, baby, be the life of the party
(I'm telling you to) take your shot, it might be scary
Hearts are gonna break
Cause we don't have the time to be sorry
So, baby, be the life of the party

Alex and Matt (Zach):
Come out tonight, come out tonight
(There's no one standing in your way)
Come out tonight, come out tonight
We don't care what them people say
(We don't care what them people say)

Alex, Matt and Zach:
We don't have to be ordinary
Make your best mistakes
Cause we don't have the time to be sorry
So, baby, be the life of the party
I'm telling you to take your shot, it might be scary
Hearts are gonna break
Cause we don't have the time to be sorry
So, baby, be the life of the party

Alex, Matt and Zach:
Yeah, yeah, yeah

Alex:
Life of the party

Matt:
So don't let them keep you down
Oh, you know you can't give up

Zach:
Cause we don't have the time to be sorry
So, baby, be the life of the party

After the song ended, the kids cheered for them, especially Ang, who hadn't noticed that Zach wasn't really looking at her.




4...

Alison was sat on a stool at the kitchenette, changing the ice pack on her swollen ankle, when Maya sat down next to her.

"Okay, so, uhm, here's the thing. You're the it-girl, not me. I tried to be the it-girl and it didn't work, I'm just not cut out for it. And I pissed you off when I tried to be the it-girl, and I knew what would happen, but I did it anyway, because I thought it'd all be okay. And it's not. And, uhm, I regret that. Not that it hurt you, because we're not friends and, frankly, I don't really care all that much about you, but because it came with some great personal loss for me. But I did wanna apologize for doing it because it was stupid and unnecessary. And also because I don't wanna fight with you. Or be your enemy. I know you hate me. And I don't need you to be my friend but I do need you not to be my enemy, so I hope we can do that. In the spirit of starting a new year."

Alison looked at her, eyebrows raised.

"Alright," she said, then, and held out her hand for Maya to shake. "Truce," she offered, a faint smile on her lips.

Maya smiled and shook her hand. "Truce," she answered, and got up to walk away.

"Just for the record, though," Alison said before she could leave. "I don't hate you."

Maya nodded, turning around and walking away.




3...

Ang and Zach were standing on the dancefloor - they had shoved the couch towards the back - along with some other kids and slow-dancing to some 90's rock ballad. Zach was looking over her shoulder, constantly looking at Joe and looking away when Joe looked at him.

Suddenly, Lily was standing next to them, taking Zach's hand and dragging him away. "Let's sing something together," she suggested.

Zach laughed and followed her onto the stage, waiting for Lily to find the song she wanted to sing on the laptop connected to the sound system. Then the music started.

Zach (Lily):
You are to me (You are to me)
A part of me just like anatomy (Just like anatomy)
Ooh, you're pulling me (You're pulling me)
You're pulling me in like you're gravity (Like you're gravity)
Ooh

I'm notorious for thinking you're
Full of beautiful instead of hollow, hollow (Hollow)

Zach with Lily (Lily):
Sugar on your lips, it's hard to kill
Jagged like a pill, so hard to swallow (Swallow)

Lily and Zach (Zach):
Am I in love with you? (Lily: Am I in love with you?)
(Or) am I in love with the feeling?
Trying to find the truth (Lily: Trying to find the truth)
(Sometimes) a heart is deceiving

Lily:
Can't get out of my head and I need you to save me
If I am delusional then maybe I'm crazy in love with you
Am I in love with you?

Lily and Zach (Zach):
(Or) am I in love with the feeling?

Lily:
Oh-ooh, oh-oh-oh
Oh-ooh, oh-oh-oh

Zach (Lily):
Mmmhh
You give to me (You give to me)
Everything, anything that I could dream (That I could dream)
At least that's what it seems (That's what it seems)
(with Lily: Could it be I don't know what's good for me? Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh)

I'm notorious for thinking you're
Full of beautiful instead of hollow, hollow (Hollow)

Zach with Lily (Lily):
Sugar on your lips, it's hard to kill
Jagged like a pill, so hard to swallow (Swallow)

Lily and Zach (Zach):
Am I in love with you? (Lily: Am I in love with you?)
(Or) am I in love with the feeling?
Trying to find the truth (Lily: Trying to find the truth)
(Sometimes) a heart is deceiving

Lily:
Can't get out of my head and I need you to save me
If I am delusional then maybe I'm crazy in love with you
Am I in love with you?

Lily and Zach (Zach):
(Or) am I in love with the feeling?

Lily:
Oh-ooh, oh-oh-oh
Oh-ooh, oh-oh-oh

Lily and Zach (Zach):
I'm sinking faster and faster (Oh-oh, ooh)
Between heaven and disaster (Oh-oh, ooh)
Sorry if I made you feel like
I'm standing on the borderline

Zach (Lily):
Oh-ooh, oh-ooh

Am I in love with you? (Am I in love with you?)
Or am I in love with the feeling?

Lily and Zach (Lily):
Trying to find the truth (Zach: Trying to find the truth)
(Sometimes) a heart is deceiving

Lily (Zach):
(Can't get out of) Can't get out of my head and I need you to save me (Save me)
If I am delusional then maybe I'm crazy in love with you

Lily and Zach:
Or am I in love with the feeling?

Lily:
Oh-ooh, oh-oh-oh

Lily and Zach:
Oh-ooh, oh-oh-oh

Ang was stood among the other kids, frowning at the meaning of the song. Lily noticed and smirked.




2...

Nathan was lying on one of the beds, aimlessly staring at the ceiling, when Sydney plopped down next to him. Nathan looked at her expectantly. Sydney sighed.

"I don't know what to say to you. I'm not gonna pretend like I know how you feel, none of us do, but I do think I get you the best at the moment," Sydney said.

Nathan looked away from her again. "Don't know what you're talking about," he murmured.

"You went through something horrible. Something horrible happened to you and now you feel... stuck. Stuck in a body, stuck with a brain that won't let you forget. Stuck in your life. There's no going forward, at least that's what it feels like," Sydney sighed. "And that won't change- none of that will change if you don't want it to. If you don't do something about it."

Nathan closed his eyes and sighed.

"I know that it hurts. But I also know what it won't stop hurting until you do something about it," Sydney said.

Nathan scoffed.

"Wanna know how I know that?" Sydney asked, annoyed. "I went to therapy and talked about it. And now, it doesn't hurt anymore."

Nathan opened his eyes and looked at her. "Does it really help?" he asked. "Talking about it?"

Sydney smiled and nodded. "It does. Talking to someone with a professional opinion, it helps. Talking to someone who's close to you helps even more."

Nathan averted his eyes again. "I'm not close to anyone," he said.

"I don't believe that's true," Sydney said.

Nathan scoffed again. "What do you know," he murmured.

Sydney chuckled. "That sweater you're wearing, that you got for Secret Santa? That's from Lily. She knew your favorite color and that you like sweaters without a hoodie," she told him. Nathan looked surprised at that. "I know that Perry only visited your place without the hijab on because she trusts you not tell her parents. I know that nine out of ten times, Cass requests you to be her duet and dancing partner. I know that Zach still wears that bracelet that you gave him for his birthday. I know that the first thing Alison thought of when she heard that Kyle brought Maya, is to bring you. I know that Matt's not that well off but he refused to charge you for those drumming lessons because he likes spending time with you. I know that you're number four on Kyle's speed dial list. I know that she would never say it to your face, but Ang digs the way you dress and she once told me she's impressed with your boldness. And I know that I really wanna help you because.. I do like you."

Nathan was left speechless with all of this.

"You know, you may be right. Maybe you're not particularly close with anyone. But it's not because no one wants to be close to you," Sydney said. "So, whenever you're ready. You can talk to me, about what happened to you. Because I care, and I know the others do, too. Okay?" she asked.

Nathan nodded and smiled a bit.

"Okay, so, let's finish off this year with a song togeher, shall we?" she asked.

Nathan chuckled. "Alright. Let me just do something first," he said, getting off the bed and walking across the room to where Alex and Lily were standing at the bar.

"Lily?" he asked shily.

Lily turned around, surprised. "Hey, Nathan. What's up?" she asked.

"Uhm," Nathan stuttered, glancing at Alex, who got the hint.

"I'm gonna go talk to Andrés," he said, smiling and leaving the other two to talk.

Lily smiled. "What's going on?" she asked, worried.

"I'm sorry," Nathan said.

Lily frowned. "What for?"

Nathan swallowed. "For the texts I sent you last year. I'm sorry."

Lily raised her eyebrows, surprised at the apology. "Uhm.. thanks," she said.

Nathan cleared his throat. "And thank you for the sweater," he said.

Lily laughed. "You're welcome," she said.

They stood there in awkward silence.

"Uhm, do you wanna sing with Sydney and me?" he asked her.

Lily smiled. "Sure," she said.

A couple minutes later, Lily, Nathan and Sydney were sat on bar-stools on stage, an acoustic guitar in Nathan's hands.

Lily:
I think I've had enough
I might get a little drunk
I say what's on my mind
I might do a little time
Cause all of my kindness
Is taken for weakness

Lily (with Nathan and Sydney):
Now I'm (four five seconds from wilding)
And we got (three more days til Friday)
I'm just tryna (make it back home by Monday morning)
(I swear) I wish somebody would (tell me)
(Ooh, that's all I want)

Nathan:
Woke up an optimist
Sun was shining, I'm positive
Then I heard you was talking trash
Hold me back, I'm bout to spaz

Nathan (with Lily and Sydney):
Yeah, I'm bout (four five seconds from wilding)
And we got (three more days til Friday)
I'm tryna (make it back home by Monday morning)
(I swear) I wish somebody would (drive me)
(Ooh, that's all I want)

Sydney (with Lily):
And I know that you're out tonight
Thinking how could I be so selfish?
But you called bout a thousand times
(Wondering where I've been)

Now I know that you're out tonight
Thinking how could I be so reckless?
But I just can't apologize
(I hope you can understand)
Yeah

Nathan:
If I go to jail tonight
Promise you'll pay my bail
See they want to buy my pride
But that just ain't up for sale

Nathan with Lily (Nathan):
See all of my kindness, (mmhh)
Is taken for weakness

Lily, Nathan and Sydney:
Now I'm four five seconds from wilding
And we got three more days til Friday
I'm tryna make it back home by Monday morning

Sydney:
I swear I wish somebody would tell me
Ooh, that's all I want

Lily, Nathan and Sydney:
Four five seconds from wilding
And we got three more days til Friday
I'm tryna make it back home by Monday morning

Lily:
I swear I wish somebody would tell me
Ooh, that's all I want




1...

"Okay, guys, only a couple more seconds to midnight, find someone to kiss or hug!" Alex yelled over the music the kids were currently dancing to.

Everyone was starting to pair up.

"3... 2... 1!!!" they all cheered.

Alex kissed Lily. Cass hugged Becca. Kyle hugged Maya. Perry kissed Nathan on the cheek and then hugged him. Andrés hugged Sydney.

Alison and Matt also hugged. After they broke apart, they smiled at each other. And a little longer. Then Alison glanced at Matt's lips. And before they knew it, they were kissing passionately, for several seconds. When they broke apart, they both looked shocked.

"Oh shit," they said at the same time.

Ang jumped up and kissed Zach, but Zach's eyes were glued to Joe, even throughout the kiss.

Joe was stood there. Lily came over to kiss him on the cheek and hug him, but he kept looking at Zach. When Lily let go, he fled from the room, leaving a confused Lily behind.

Zach broke the kiss with Ang and looked after Joe, shocked.

"What?" Ang asked, confused.

Without explanation, Zach ran after Joe. He ran through the bunker door, upstairs, into the foyer, where he heard the front door slam open. He followed Joe outside, where it was pouring rain, blasting lightning and cracking thunder without seconds inbetween. The road was flooded with water, earth and broken off branches.

"JOE, WAIT!" Zach yelled, barely audible over the loud weather.

Joe stopped in his tracks, whipping around towards Zach, who was now in front of him.

"What do you want?" Joe yelled.

"I wanna know what's going on! Why did you run away?"

Joe sighed heavily. "Because I didn't wanna stand there ogling you while you're making out with your girlfriend, alright?"

Zach sighed, too. "Joe, where is this coming from?"

"I DON'T KNOW!" Joe screamed. "One day I'm fine and then the next day I remember I can't even hold hands with my boyfriend in public!"

"What? What boyfriend?" Zach asked.

"And then I remember how easy that stuff was with you. How I could just hold your hand and kiss you wherever I wanted. And then I can't stop thinking about that and-"

"Wait, what?" Zach yelled.

"I MISS YOU!" Joe yelled, shocking Zach into silence.

They both stood there, drenched to the bone, hair wet and messed up by the strong rain and wind, unable to speak, but looking into each others eyes.

"I miss you so much that it hurts," Joe said, tears spilling over. He covered his face in his hands, ashamed of what he had confessed.

Zach bit his lip. "If I'd known you still.. I had no idea you still felt about me that way," he said.

"I didn't know either!" Joe yelled, throwing his hands up in the air.

Suddenly, Zach closed the space between them and cradled his face in both hands, kissing him passionately. After a moment of surprise, Joe started kissing him back, grabbing him by the waist.

"I've missed you so much," Zach whispered before going back in for another kiss.




MusicEdit

Song Title Original Artist Performer(s)
Auld Lang Syne Mairi Campbell Anita Rodriguez, Jessica Sweeting and the Note-Worthy
This Is What You Came For Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna Joe and Sydney
Life Of The Party Shawn Mendes Alex, Matt and Zach
The Feeling Justin Bieber feat. Halsey Lily and Zach
FourFive Seconds Rihanna feat. Kanye West and Paul McCartney Lily, Nathan and Sydney

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