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LIMITS // lrh


The rest of the day flew by in typical Monday fashion as my professors droned on and the minutes ticked by at a snail's pace. As I sat through my sociology class, all I could think about was my talk with Michael. Did he really expect me to go out with them tonight?

Mikey of all people should have known that I wouldn't go without putting up a fight. I was stubborn, and as much as I would like to spend time with my friends, I just had too much going on. I hadn't seen or hung out with my friends in weeks, and I knew they were starting to get fed up with my flaky behavior. Out of all of my friends, only Michael knew of my life at home.

As my grandfather's condition has been worsening, I've found it more and more difficult to come up with excuses as to why I wasn't going out with them on Friday nights and why I couldn't just crash at their apartment for the weekend because 'it was block party weekend so I just had to'. It was becoming increasingly hard to leave my grandfather home alone, and I couldn't possibly invite my friends over to my house. Michael was the only one of my friends to have ever visited my grandfather's house. It wasn't that I was embarrassed of my grandfather, not at all. I was more embarrassed with the state of his house. I was incredibly protective of my old man, and I knew how people tended to react when they finally saw his house and what they would say about him.

Every square inch of space in my grandfather's house was covered in knick knacks, chachkis, and do-dads. While the little dog sculptures and porcelain clown figurines would seem to anyone else like old thrift store junk, to my grandfather thought that they were precious works of art. He was odd, and his house reflected that. I had never minded the lack of space, I found his collecting to be rather endearing, but to people like my aunt Karen, it was strange and unnerving to be around.

Before I even knew it, the clock struck four and I was packing up my bag to head home. As I walked out of my American history lecture, I was greeted by the sight of my friends Casey and Juliet laughing and walking together as they made their way down the corridor. I cringed, hoping that I could duck back into one of the lecture halls before they saw me, but I could only wish to be so lucky.

"Em! Hey girl, long time no see!" Casey smiled, making her way over towards me. Casey's short red hair bounced enthusiastically against her shoulders as she walked over to where I was standing. It had been a few weeks since I had last seen Casey. Her usually pasty white skin was tinted pink by the fresh tattoo on her shoulder and the smattering of freckles across her skin were even more prominent than usual. The floral button down dress she wore flounced around her knees as she walked. Juliet was quick to follow Casey's lead, throwing her long blonde hair over her shoulders and bouncing on the balls of her feet to join us a few feet away. Unlike Casey who was short and slightly heavy, Juliet was tall and dangerously thin. As she bounded towards us, she hiked up the large boyfriend jeans that clung to her narrow hips. The bones in her broad chest stuck out in a rather sickeningly way, and the barbells that pierced her small nipples could be seen through the sheer red top tube top she was wearing.

"Hey, yeah sorry, I've just been really busy lately..." I nervously bit at my lip as I let out a gasp of a chuckle, trying my hardest to sound casual. I could tell Casey could see right through my fake casualty but luckily for me she chose to ignore it.

"Yeah, that's what Mikey told us," She started, and I felt a blush rise up my neck. I wonder what our dear friend Michael had said exactly... "Anyways, you're coming with us tonight, right?" Casey grinned like an excited little kid on Christmas morning as she gazed at me hopefully while Juliet glanced around uninterested.

"I, uh, I'd love to Casey, but," I trailed off as I caught Juliet roll her eyes and mutter something under her breath that sounded an awful lot like 'typical'. I coughed awkwardly and scuffed the edge of my shoe against the white linoleum tile. "I'll try to be there..." I mumbled quietly and Casey squealed, wrapping her short arms around me. I looked over to where Juliet was standing with a smirk on her face as if she didn't believe I'd actually show up.

Hell, I didn't even believe that I'd show up, but a part of me wanted to wipe that smug look off of Jules face and prove her wrong. Although Juliet was in my friend group, I had never interacted with her much one on one. I often got the feeling that she didn't care for me much, and to be completely honest, the feeling was mutual. I just kept my mouth closed around her because I knew she was best friends with Casey, and despite her snarky taste in friends, Casey was really cool.

"Aw, yay! I promise you it'll be fun, Em! And it'll be a good chance for all of us to catch up, we've really missed you, ya know." She mumbled against my body as I awkwardly patted her back. Casey had a bit of a space issue sometimes.

"Great, I can't wait." I groaned internally, not at all looking forward to a night filled with questions about why I had been MIA the last few months. Just as Casey opened her mouth to begin the barrage of questions I knew had been waiting to burst like a dam as soon as she saw me, her phone chimed and she whipped it out of her pocket. She scanned the message quickly and rolled her eyes, turning the phone towards Juliet so she could read it as well. I watched as Juliet's eyes skimmed over the text before giggling quietly.

"Well, looks like my smart-ass boyfriend is finally here," Casey tittered with another roll of her eyes at the mention of her live in boyfriend Calum. "But we'll see you tonight, yeah? Ashton and them go on at eight so we're planning to meet up outside the bar at seven thirty?" She yelled back to me as Juliet gave a half-hearted wave and began pulling her down the hall. I simply nodded, waving to my two friends as they backed away and then turned to slam my head lightly against the nearest wall. Why did I always get myself roped into these type of things? Why can't I just say no?

* * *

By the time I drove home and had made dinner, it was nearly six thirty. Mikey had already texted me earlier telling me that he'd be over to pick me up at seven ten and not a minute later. Before I could even think of an excuse to message back, he told me that he'd drag me out of the house if necessary.

As I set the table for dinner my stomach was in knots. I knew that I should go, I had become way too much of a recluse in the last few months, but I was also nervous. I wasn't ready for everyone to know the real reason why I had been missing recently, and I was nervous that if I spent too much time around them they would eventually beat it out of me. My group of friends were incredibly nosy, and I knew they would push and push until I finally break down and tell them. I was also nervous about leaving my grandfather alone so late at night. Lord only knows when Michael will decide to bring me back, and I knew my grandfather's Alzheimer's was worst during the nights.

"Well now, doesn't something smell delicious?" The smiling face of my grandfather peered around the corner of the living room and into the dining room where I had just finished setting the platters of baked ham, asparagus and scalloped potatoes on the table. I smiled and pulled out the chair for my grandfather, pushing him in to the table and helping to spoon his plate full before seating myself next to him.

"Thanks, Pops. Now," I clapped my hands together and smiled at my grandfather, "dig in before it gets cold!" He hummed in agreement, and for several minutes the only sounds that could be heard were the scraping of forks and knives against our plates.

"So," Pops started, placing his fork down on the rim of his plate. "Michael called me earlier today," I groaned, setting my own fork down and placing my head in my hands. I knew Mikey would go to extreme measures to get me out of the house tonight. "Don't act like that, Emi, he was right to call me! You take care of me all the time, but sometimes you need someone else to care for you!" I really didn't want to start an argument right now, but I just was not comfortable leaving my grandfather home alone so late at night. What if he decides to take a bath and leaves the water running? What if he falls and can't reach the phone?

"Pops, it's really not a big deal, they're just going to some show and-"

"You're going." My grandfather cut me off, giving his final word as he picked back up his fork and knife and began to cut his ham into small pieces.

"I don't think it's a good idea, I mean I don't know what time I'd be home..." I trailed off, knowing arguing was absolutely futile at this point.

"You're going. Emi, you're young. You're supposed to be staying out late and spending time with your friends, not playing nurse to your aging grandfather. What kind of life is that for a young adult? No, you're going to go and you're going to have a good time. I won't argue any more." He finalized his rant with a sip of water from his glass. I sighed, picking up my own fork and stabbing at a potato.

"Okay, but I'm coming home before midnight, and you'll call if you need anything, yeah?" My grandfather rolled his eyes like he was a teenager and I was his parent with too many rules.
"Yes, Emi, I have your number. You only stuck it to about every wall in this damn house." I smiled and we both went back to eating our meal in silence.

As I cleared the table, my grandfather picked up his reading glasses and once again began to skim over his old research papers that he had in a pile in the middle of the table. I set a cup of coffee in front of my grandfather before turning to wipe down the kitchen counters.
"Emi, it's almost seven... Shouldn't you be getting ready to go? Michael said he'd be here by seven fifteen." My grandfather looked up at me over the rim of his coffee mug and I scoffed, turning back around to finish cleaning up the kitchen.

"Isn't it a bit weird that my seventy five year old grandfather talks to my best friend more than I do?" I leaned back against the kitchen sink and crossed my arms. My grandfather let out a laugh, shaking his head and putting on his reading glasses once again.

"We worry about you, that's all." I just smiled, shaking my head and put the washrag back in the sink. "But really Emi, you should get ready. You know Michael isn't one for patience."

"Oh yeah, I remember what happened last time I made him wait." I say with a chuckle, remembering back to the time when Mikey ended up raiding our refrigerator while waiting for me to get ready for the movies and ended up eating the pie I had baked especially for my grandfather's birthday. "Pops, are you sure you don't need me to stay home?" My grandfather sighed, and stood up, walking over to me with open arms. I walked into his embrace, wrapping my arms around his waist and leaning my chin against his shoulder.

"Emi, if you ask me that one more time, you are grounded. Now go get ready, act like a teenager for once in your life." He kissed the side of my head and pushed me towards the staircase. I reluctantly agreed, walking up the steps that led to my bedroom with heavy feet. I stopped in the bathroom to splash some cold water on my face and apply a bit more makeup, opting for a slightly darker look as I swiped some brown eyeshadow across my lid and finishing it off with a thin black line across the top and bottom of my eye. I applied a bit of mascara and a little blush to my cheeks, finishing it all off with a bit of strawberry Chapstick.

When I had finished with my makeup, I rushed into my bedroom and searched for something that would be appropriate to wear to a club. I wasn't one for going out, so I was really limited on my selection. I pulled out a pair of dark blue skinny jeans and a mustard yellow tank top, throwing them on quickly and pulling my thick hair out of the elastic band that had held it up all day. I ran my hands through the thick wavy strands and attempted to make it cooperate, but with little luck. With a groan, I pulled my hair back off of my neck and braided it down my back as quickly as I could. I wasn't one to wear my hair down often anyways.

Just as I finished pulling the elastic band tight around my braid, a car horn could be heard from outside. I cursed and threw my Chapstick, phone, and wallet into my small white shoulder bag and ran down the stairs.

"Pops, I'm heading out now, remember, if you need anything at all-"

"Just call, I know, Em."

"And Karen is-"

"Just a phone call away. Stop worrying, Sweetheart, your little old grandpa will be fine on his own for one night." I smiled to him as I slipped on my old Keds and walked over to wear he was sitting at the table to lean over and kiss the top of his head. He smiled up at me over the edge of his paper and went back to reading at once.

"I'm going to lock the door behind me, okay? Don't open the door for anyone. If Aunt Karen stops by she knows where the spare is. I won't be home too late, I promise." Pops set down his paper and took off his glasses, slowly standing up to give me one last hug.

"Emi, you're going out for one night you're not leaving for a month. I'll be fine, now go have some fun!" I nodded, hesitating by the front door before finally pushing it open and closing it behind me, stopping to lock the deadbolt and shoving the keys in my small bag. Mikey honked again, and I looked over my shoulder to see him leaning over to the passenger side window of his little white Volvo.

"Emily Stevens you get your fucking ass in this car right now before I drag you to the club you boring bitch!... Oh, hi Mrs. Hyden, your garden looks lovely this spring." I stifled a laugh as I watched Michael's cheeks redden at the sight of our elderly neighbor on her front porch who was now shaking her head in disapproval at Michael's colorful language. I shook my head as I laughed, waving a quick goodbye to Mrs. Hyden and yanking open the passenger side door. With a sigh, I plopped myself in the seat and threw on my seatbelt.

"You better watch it, I think next time Mrs. Hyden might actually try to wash your mouth out with soap!" I giggled as I leaned back in my seat, and threw my legs up on the dash.

"Ha ha, Emi you're just a ray of fucking sunshine aren't you? Speaking of, what's up with the ugly ass shirt?" Mikey put the car into drive and pulled out on to the road with a honk and wave to Mrs. Hyden. I pouted, looking down at my shirt.

"What's wrong with yellow?"

"It's a disgusting color. You're lucky you're a tan goddess and can pull it off."

"That's what happens when you're part Native American ya'know." Michael snorted, pulling his sunglasses down over his eyes and brushing the green hair out of his face.

"Supposedly. For all you know your mom is Asian or some shit." I shrugged in agreement. Having never even met my mom myself, Mikey could very well be right.

Luckily the club was only a few miles from my house in the heart of downtown St. Paul. It was after rush hour, thankfully, so traffic was fairly light. As we drove, Michael was humming to the punk rock station on the radio under his breath and tapping his fingers along the steering wheel. I stared out the window, nervously playing with the hem of my shirt. It had been months since I had last been out with my friends, and I had no idea what was going to happen tonight.
"Em, chill the fuck out, I can practically smell your fear from here." Michael laughed, pulling the car into a spot a block away from the venue. I sighed, running my hand through my ponytail.
"I just... don't like not knowing what to expect." Michael leaned over, taking my hand from my hair and lacing his fingers through mine.

"That's because you're a huge control freak, Babe. Honestly, I think you just need a good lay, it's been what? Almost a year since Liam? You need to meet someone who can loosen you up, no pun intended." He sent me a wink and a toothy grin and I just grimaced, I had never been very open person, and I hated talking about my personal life. Mikey knew that.

"It's only been nine months since we broke up.." I grumbled quietly, crossing my arms over my chest and sinking back into the seat. My high school boyfriend Liam and I had called it quits nearly a year ago when he transferred to Seattle for business school. He was a sweet kid, there just wasn't any sort of fire between us. As much as I hated being alone, I hated meeting new people even more, so I hadn't really been dating much since we ended things.

Michael could sense my anxiety and he put the car into park and turned towards me.

"It's okay, I promise I won't let things get too wild. Whenever you want to leave, just give me the word and I'll drive you home, okay?" I nodded and Michael took his hand from mine, patting me lightly on the cheek. "Good, now let's get in their before Casey reams us for being late, Ashton goes on in like twenty minutes so we better hurry." Before I could even respond, Michael was out the door and opening mine. "M'lady," he mumbled with a bow as he held the door open for me, and I just rolled my eyes and punched him on the arm as I passed.

"Haven't you heard? Chivalry is dead you loser, get with the times." I smirked as I pushed open the door to the bar and let it close behind me. As I walked in to The Frequency, the air around me felt heavy and teeming with electricity, as if something big was going to happen. My eyes adjusted to the dark atmosphere and I jumped slightly as Mikey came up behind me and put a hand on my back.

"Ready, Babe?" Butterflies erupted in my stomach as I glanced around the crowded venue. I took a deep breath and looked up to meet Michael's worried eyes.

"As ready as I'll ever be."

I didn't know it yet, but I was no where near ready for the events that were about to unfold.



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