Afterthoughts ~ The Wish

Written by Isa

Set after "The Wish" - People share as Claudia's birthday party winds down

Part One - Claudia

"Big box for a charm," I cracked before opening the box from Bailey. I noticed him cringe and shift in his chair and I realized he'd forgotten the charm. That was all right, there were still a few small boxes there. Someone had to remember, after all. I ripped the paper away and pulled out a blue 3/4 sleeve blouse and the score book to Shakespeare In Love.

"I think it's for piano only," he said. "But I figured you could either adapt it or you'd learn to play the piano."

"It's great, thanks." I got up to hug him and then added the gifts to the pile of things I'd already opened. Despite the fact that many of my friends had given me gifts, I'd waited until only my family was left to open them up. Sweaters and skirts and a dress, CDs, gift certificates, makeup. Jule got me makeup! I'm still in shock.

Griffin gave me a shirt that he had made up especially for me. It had a large wrench in a crest on the front and read "Girls Mechanics". It's the sweetest gift ever. Kirsten gave me a personalized music composition kit, and I won't tell anyone, but I intend on calling my first composition "Griffin".

Two tiny boxes remained in the pile. I opened the purple one without a tag first. It was a silver charm of a quill inside an inkwell.

"I got you that," Sarah said. "My stepsister-to-be was in a play during the Shakespearean Festival last month, and I saw that and thought it was perfect for you."

"It's so cool! Thanks!" I saw Bailey mouth a thank-you to her as I got up and gave her a hug. I noticed Charlie fidgeting in his chair as I sat down and opened the last gift, card first.

Dear Claudia,

I haven't been the best big brother as of late. I've been too busy trying to be the best father. Thank you for all your help with Diana and with Owen. We all owe you big. Enjoy this. You've more than earned it.

Love, Charlie
I opened the box. Inside was a brass violin key chain with a single key hanging from it. I held it up and looked at him. "A key?"

"Go to the window," he said, grinning.

I did. It couldn't be what I was seeing. Could it?

"See the Jeep?" he asked.

"The bright yellow one?"

"It's yours."

"Oh my God!" I squealed. Sarah and Kirsten crowded around the window with me to get a better look.

"I guess I picked a good colour." Charlie said.

I hugged him tighter than I've ever hugged anyone in my life before running downstairs with Sarah at my heels. I got in and we took that baby for a spin.

Part Two - Julia

"A car," I said when Charlie and I were alone in the kitchenette, each cutting a piece of the leftover cake to take home.

"Yeah. I couldn't think of anything else."

"Hmmm. Bailey got a car. Claudia got a car. I got a laptop."

"Your own. Everyone else shares the other computer."

"Claudia had plenty of her own time with your truck, you never go anywhere."

He sighed. "What's with you? I know it's more than the fact that I bought her a car."

"I could ask you the same thing. Flirting with Kirsten all night. I mean, totally obvious Charlie."

"You and Griffin have been acting like two horny high schoolers."

I'm quite sure I turned beet red when he said that.

"Julia? Is there something you're not telling me?"

"I'm thinking about getting back with Griffin. Don't be all critical and Charlie about it, either."

"I didn't say a word," he waved his hands in peace. "I guess we're aiming for the same goal for once."

"How ironic."

I smiled at him, and he smiled back, and I had a sense that all his animosity towards Griffin had finally faded away.

Part Three - Bailey

Get it together, man.

Turn your brain on and your groin off.

God! Why can't I stop thinking about her?

Why can't I get the image of Lauren's face out of my mind?

It's not like she's any prettier than Sarah.


I glanced up and saw Claudia, in her coat, standing in front of me.

"You leavin'?"

"Yeah, Julia's taking me home, she's gonna stay with me tonight, like a sleepover thing."

"That's great."

"So, bye," she gave me a tight hug. "Thanks for the party, and the gifts..."

"Claud, wait."

She stopped moving towards the door.

"I'm sorry about the charm."

"Why? Sarah got me one, it's okay."

"Yeah, but I forgot. I'm supposed to remember."

She smiled. "Bailey, that's what's so great about Sarah. She's like your other half, you know? She remembers everything you don't and vice versa." she blushed. "She was a big help to me tonight."

"About what?" I arched an eyebrow when I saw her ornery look.

"Nothing," she blushed redder.

"Claudia, I'll drive your Jeep off without you," Julia called from the hall. Funniest thing, her voice sounded really...out of breath.

"I gotta go. See you later." she waved and then she was gone.

I locked the door and sighed. I still couldn't get the image of Lauren and I when we came so close to doing something that we didn't do and won't ever do out of my head. Why? Why am I being such a jerk off?"

"Oh, God, I'm wiped." Sarah came out of the bathroom in a pale purple tank top and plaid pj pants. She looked beautiful, as usual. So why can't I stop thinking about Lauren? "Coming to bed?" she comes up and links her arms around one of mine, hugging her chin to my shoulder.

"Yeah, in a second. Gotta make sure all the candles are out."

"You're so mature," she smiled. She planted a quick kiss on my lips and walked into our bedroom.

I sat down on the couch and looked at the remains of the party. Burnt down candles and paper cups and nacho chips crunched into the rug.

And I saw Lauren sitting across from me.

I loathe myself.

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