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Author's Chapter Notes:
"Things aren't random - Maybe everything is inevitable"
Soundtrack: Ayumi Hamasaki - part of Me
“We’re gonna have to keep going with this tomorrow, aren’t we?”

Shane glanced across the store and frowned at the mess they’d made. Boxes and bags of pretty much everything they had in the shop were now on the floor being sorted and counted by Shane herself, Chase, their employees and Alice who volunteered to help.

“Looks like it,” Chase sighed and scribbled down some numbers on a piece of paper.

“That means we’re not going to the gym tomorrow, doesn’t it?” Alice asked from behind the counter where she was sorting through a bunch of spray-paint cans. “On a second thought, maybe we should ask Tina to come over here instead, some of these things are pretty heavy. It’ll be an even better workout just hanging out here.”

Shane laughed and carried a box of hairspray bottles over to her and nodded at her to take them. “There’s some more you can count,” she said. “You know, I really don’t want you to feel like you have to come here tomorrow, you don’t even work here but I appreciate it a lot that you’re helping out. And I somehow doubt Tina’d be up for it, but you could always ask.” She added the last part with a lopsided grin and turned to walk back over to Chase.

“That guy has fucking issues, man.” Chase told her as she helped him open one of the boxes. “He said he was gonna kill me.”

Shane froze and just stared at him, trying to figure out if he was messing with her or not. “For firing him?” she asked. She hadn’t seen much of the new guy Chase had hired because she didn’t work with him, and he hadn’t been around for long since Chase caught him pretty quickly.

“Yup.”

“Jesus Christ.” Shane raked a hand through her hair and glanced over at Alice to see if she’d heard what he’d just said, but it didn’t seem like it. “You called the cops though, right?”

Chase shook his head slowly, looking up at her. “I’m going to when I know how much is missing. I don’t think he’s to blame for everything, but still.”

“Well,” Shane chuckled, “not that it matters much, but I think that asshole stole my board.”

“Should I write that down too?”

They grinned impishly at each other for a moment, and Shane shook her head. “Hey, Al!” she hollered over her shoulder at Alice who still stood behind the counter with a puzzled expression on her face. She seemed to have no idea whatsoever what she was doing there and she probably needed a break. “I’m going out for a smoke, you wanna come with?”

“I thought you’d never ask,” she groaned in response and hurried around the counter to join her. “This is so fucking boring! Remind me to never ever even think of owning a store, will you?”

Shane let a quiet chuckle escape her lips as they headed outside and a proud smile soon spread on her face when she saw Shay showing off his skills in the half pipe to no one in particular. He probably hadn’t seen them yet, and Shane thought if possible, he did even better when he thought no one was watching.

“You really missed him, didn’t you?” Alice said quietly when she saw the look on her friend’s face. Shane had seemed a lot happier than usual lately, but that look, right now, was more than just happy. It was as though her life was somehow complete.

Shane nodded slowly, not taking her eyes off her brother, and she gave him an encouraging nod and smile when he finally noticed her. “Yeah, I just hope this time he’s here to stay.”

Alice half expected her to go on, and when she didn’t, she decided to bring up the topic she’d been dying to talk to her about the whole day. “I wanted to tell you something,” she said and bit her bottom lip.

“Yeah?” Shane replied, placed a cigarette between her lips and lit it. “You want one?”

“Sure, why not?” She took one from the pack in Shane’s hand and borrowed her lighter. “Thanks. You’re such a bad influence.”

“Right,” she chuckled. As far as she was concerned, Alice was an adult capable of making her own decisions. “So, what’s up?”

“Well, last night when I was at The Planet, when you were too busy to go with me, I ran into Tasha.”

“You did?” Shane asked, bracing herself for what was to come. “Is that—is that a good or a bad thing?”

“It’s good!” Her voice turned squeakier than usual, like it did when she was either happy or upset, and her lips formed a shy smile. “She told me she hoped she’d see me there. So we talked for a while and it turns out she… she quit.”

Shane raised an eyebrow at her and blew out a cloud of smoke. “What?”

“The whole army thing. She gave it all up.”

“But that was why you broke up in the first place, because she couldn’t be with you if…”

“Exactly!” Alice exclaimed. “But she decided that what we had was more important than that and she wants us to try again. So we’re going to give it another shot.”

“That’s great,” Shane said and shot a smile at her friend, but it soon turned into a frown. “So how come she didn’t have lunch with us today? Why were you even there?” She tilted her head to the side and peered at her in a way that made Alice feel like an idiot. “Why are you here?” she continued. “Shouldn’t you be…”

“We’re taking things slow this time, Shane, so no. We didn’t spend all night fucking each other’s brains out, even if I wanted to. You know how she is, but it’s good. I think we can make it work.”

“And this happened last night.”

“Yeah, I just said that,” Alice sighed.

“Just checking, ‘cause now it’s like, what?” Shane picked up her cell phone to look at the clock. “Almost 7 pm.” She put the phone back in her pocket and placed her hand on Alice’s forehead, looking at her concernedly. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

Alice frowned at her, taking her cigarette out of her mouth. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Well, because…” Shane chuckled and shot an amused smile her way. “It happened last night and we met for lunch. And you’ve been here for a while and you still didn’t tell me this until now.”

“Fuck you, “Alice muttered and it only made her friend laugh harder.

“Maybe you’re cured!” Shane grinned, taking a drag off her cigarette. Maybe if Alice had stopped gossiping, which she somehow doubted, she would leave her and Jenny alone for a while. Touch wood.

“So, what’s this thing going on with you and Jenny?”

Shane looked up at her, her brows furrowing. So much for that thought, she shouldn’t even be surprised at this point. “What about us?”

“Oh, come on,” Alice replied and wiggled her eyebrows at her. “You seem like you’re pretty close these days.”

“We’re close. You know that.” Shane frowned and rubbed at her nose. “We’ve always been close. It’s Jenny, come on.”

Luckily enough for Shane, Chase’s voice called out from inside the store. “Shane?” he yelled. “Can you come over here for a sec?”

“How convenient,” Alice muttered and rolled her eyes.

Shane stubbed out her cigarette; not knowing then that it was going to end up being her last. She went back inside with Alice in tow, to see what Chase was yelling about. He was standing by the counter, leafing through a binder. “What’s going on?” she asked him and looked down at the pages as he turned them.

“I’ve been looking through all of them today and I can’t find the lists that I need,” he replied. “Did you guys take any of them?”

“Um, nope,” Shane shrugged. “We wrote everything down on paper and I figured I’d put it in there when we were done. It’s not back there?” she asked, nodding toward the office in the back.

“I looked, but I could have missed it. In fact, I think we’re missing a whole binder and without it we’re pretty screwed. Give me a hand?”

“Sure,” Shane agreed and gestured for Alice to come with them. Before she followed Chase to look for the missing binder, she shot a glance at the half pipe, making sure Shay was still there. On their way toward the back of the store, Chase gathered the others and soon all five of them were in the office, looking questioningly at him while he explained what the problem was.

Shane sat down on the desk and placed her lighter and her pack of cigarettes on it. She already knew what Chase was going to say, so she let her thoughts wander away to a much more interesting topic called Jenny. If it was already 7 pm, she would probably show up soon. Shane closed her eyes, feeling Jenny’s warm skin against her own; their hours together the night before still fresh in her memory. If she could only be back in bed with her, even if it was just to sleep…

“Seriously, Shane,” Alice sighed and kicked at Shane’s right foot. She laughed when her friend opened her eyes, looking like one big question mark. “Jenny needs to get over here right this second with that coffee or you’re gonna sleepwalk through the rest of this.”

“We have coffee here, you know,” Shane mumbled crankily. “It’s just that it tastes better when Jenny makes it.”

Chase caught their attention when he raised his voice a little and raked a hand through his hair. “Are you guys sure you didn’t take it?”

“Dude,” came from one of the guys whose name was Eric. “I haven’t touched a single one of them.”

“Right,” Shane said and got up; she needed to move around for a bit or she was really going to fall asleep. “If no one touched it, it’s gotta be in here somewhere, so if you really need it we should just look through all of them until we find the right one. Right?” Unless that idiot stole that too, she added in her head.

The others agreed and they finally stopped talking and started doing something about the problem instead. Shane was beginning to think she’d really had enough, all she wanted to do was get the hell out of there and go home. Looking for a lost binder was not exactly her job or her idea of fun. If she could at least go back out there and count some bottles of shampoo, even that would be an improvement.

Just as she was about to tell Chase she was going back out into the shop to keep working on what she’d been doing before and to check on Shay, something caught her attention. A smell that in no way belonged in a skateboard shop.

“Do you smell that?” she asked Alice who stood next to her. Alice shook her head at first, but when Shane saw her eyes widening, she knew she wasn’t imagining it. “Fuck!” she exclaimed and tried to peer through the keyhole to see just how bad the news really was. She could see flames but they weren’t close enough yet, so she assumed it would be safe to open the door.

“The place is on fire, we gotta get out of here!” she yelled and dared to push the door open, slipping out into the store while covering her face with her arm. She looked back to make sure the others were following, even though she heard them uttering various profanities when they saw the flames and the billowing clouds of smoke.

The fire seemed like it had only just started and it wasn’t yet as bad as she’d imagined, but she had a feeling it would be soon. She kept close to the floor as she tried to usher her friends past her and on the fastest way back outside, and she silently thanked God that Shay hadn’t been inside with them. Unless… A frightening thought occurred to her when she got closer to the doors. If Shay had been outside and he’d seen the place catching fire, would he have stayed outside, or tried to get help? Or would he have gone inside to try to help them himself?

Her fears made her quicken her pace until she finally reached the half pipe where she’d seen her brother what couldn’t be more than fifteen minutes ago. Now all she could find was his skateboard and helmet. “Shay!” she shouted, her heart starting to hammer in her chest as she looked around in every possible direction, searching for a sign of where he might be. She picked up the skateboard she’d given him earlier that day and walked closer to the burning building. “SHAY!” she yelled again on the top of her lungs and when she heard his voice shouting back at her from inside the skateboard shop, her whole world seemed to crumble and fall. It didn’t matter why he was there. All she wanted was to get him out.

With Shay’s board in her hand, Shane turned around and ran over to Alice who was standing behind the fence waiting for her. “Take this,” she said and handed her the skateboard while digging in her pocket with her other hand. She pulled out her cell phone, putting it in Alice’s hand and her friend just stared at her.

“What?”

“And then you call 911 and get help and…” Shane continued and put the hood of her jacket over her head. It might help her keep her face covered.

Alice put her hand on her arm and stared at her in horror. “Shane, what the fuck are you doing?”

“I’m getting him out of there.”

“Are you insane?!” Alice yelled right in her face. “You’re not going back in there!”

“I don’t fucking have time for this, Alice!” Shane shouted back, her green eyes turning a darker hazel shade as she glared at her friend. “Get help and then call Jenny and tell her to not come here whatever the fuck she does. Lie if you have to, but I don’t want her anywhere near this place, tell her to stay home!”

“Shane!” Alice retorted and grabbed her arm, holding it in a firm grip and hoping she would be strong enough to hold her friend back.

Shane pulled her arm, trying to get loose. “Fucking let go of me!” she hissed through gritted teeth.

Chills ran down Alice’s spine when she saw the furious look on Shane’s face and she immediately loosened her hold on her. “What the fuck…” she mumbled as Shane headed back toward the fire.

Chase put his cell phone back in his pocket after calling 911 while he walked over to the blonde. “Al, she would never have listened to you. She’d probably have decked you if you hadn’t let her go and you know she wouldn’t have let us go with her either. He’s her brother, keeping him safe is all she cares about.”

“Well, she’s going to get herself killed,” she murmured and hoped she would be wrong. She suddenly remembered what Shane had asked her to do and flipped through the phone book in Shane’s phone until she found Jenny’s number. She didn’t have a chance to press the “Call” button before she heard the sound of something hitting the ground followed by a familiar voice behind her.

“Oh my God,” Jenny said quietly, and Alice turned around to see her standing there, her mouth covered with her hand. Her bag lay on its side by her feet. “Oh my God,” she repeated. “What happened? Where’s… SHANE!”

When Jenny saw Shane disappearing behind the flames, she tried follow, but Alice put her arms around her and swore to herself that she was not going to let go this time, no matter how much Jenny kicked and screamed. She tried to explain to her what had happened, that Shay was inside and that they’d called for help that would be there soon, but Jenny wouldn’t hear any of it.

Warm tears welled up in Jenny’s eyes as she stared at the flames, and she silently wondered if she would ever see her best friend, lover, and soulmate again.
Chapter End Notes:
"I sometimes wonder if we lived
Sharing one life long before we were born
Because I feel your heart so close to me now
Though our bodies are apart

Always, always I hear your voice
Calling my name
Please don't cry any more
I know what you are feeling

Because we desire the same happiness
We keep the same wound in our hearts

Again and again I shout
Not to forget you at any time
Please don't cry any more
I won't leave you alone

I'll protect you forever
I'll think of you
Even if time may change everything
I'll think of you

I sometimes wonder if we will live
Sharing one life if we are born again"


- "part of Me" by Ayumi Hamasaki
Translation by Masa

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