Artwork: AndiTitle: Right Where I Belong
Fandom: Tower Prep
Word Count: 1337
Prompt: "Stockings.” from Dandiandi22
It was Christmas Eve and the school approved festivities had ended two hours ago. Classes had been suspended that day and Tower Prep students were given the rest of the weekend to themselves to participate in school sanctioned activities and spend time with other students.
Ian moved through the familiar path of tunnels, turning left and winding right as he made his way to the end of the hall before climbing up the ladder to the girl’s floor. It had been a couple of weeks since their botched attempt at escaping and the gnome attack in The Broken’s lair and Ian had spent weeks trying to come up with something that would fix things between him and CJ
Sure he’d told her they were okay, but he still felt bad about the way he had treated her. The strain in there ‘sort-of-relationship’ was causing tension between their small group of friends and Ian knew he was to blame.
So after coming up with an idea to make things right, he’d enlisted Gabe and Suki’s help to get everything together, now all that was left was to get CJ back to the Observatory for the surprise. He made his way down the familiar route and when he got to the section of wall that led to her room he knocked lightly, almost hesitantly.
Ian knew she’d been hanging out with Cal since he came back, and he wasn’t sure if she was alone now or not. When he heard a small scuffling sound before the piece of wall was removed, light from her room falling into the tunnel as she glanced down.
He gave her a small smile and waved, voice soft, “Hey.” She returned the smile hesitantly before speaking. “Hey Ian…” He cleared his throat before glancing behind him and then back at her. “Are you busy?”
She shrugged and stepped aside to give him room to come in, “Not really…do you want to come in?” He grinned, eyes lighting up briefly. “Actually I was hoping maybe you’d come with me to the Observatory…I have something I want to show you.”
She gave him a questioning look, but held up her finger signaling him to wait a second while she grabbed her sweater and made her way through the wall. He held out a hand to help her out and she only paused a second before taking it. He pushed the cover back into place before pulling her gently to his side.
CJ swallowed hard when he didn’t release her hand as he guided her down the darkened tunnel even though she knew the way by heart. The past few weeks things had been somewhat strained between them and she felt horrible for her part in it.
She knew how Ian felt about Cal, but he was the first person to really take the time to get to know her when she was brought to Tower Prep. He showed her the ropes and made sure that she fit in. After everything he’d done in his power to make sure she felt like she wasn’t alone, she just didn’t have the heart to turn him away now.
She wished there was a way she could explain that to Ian without him getting upset. She cared about Cal, but not the same way she cared about Ian. The first day she’s seen him…it was as if something had awakened inside of her.
The sound of his voice startled her from her thoughts and she turned her head in his direction, eyebrow raised. “I’m sorry…what?” Ian gave her a warm smile and chuckled lightly. “Where’d you go? For a minute there it looked like you were a million miles away.”
She laughed lightly and he watched her eyes brighten. He swallowed heavily and hoped his hands weren’t as sweaty as he thought they were. There weren’t many things that made him nervous, but CJ…well there was just something about her.
“I was just thinking about the past few weeks…Ian…I really am sorry about what happened.” Her voice trailed off and he stopped causing CJ to practically bump into him, but he turned and caught her arms before she could.
He frowned at her and shook his head, “No…I’m sorry. I know Cal isn’t my favorite person and I don’t trust him, but…I shouldn’t have gotten so upset. You’ve known him longer than you’ve known me…and even if I don’t trust him…I should have trusted you.”
CJ gave him a bright smile nudging him with her shoulder lightly as they starting walking again. “Well, you’re forgiven…so why exactly are we going to the Observatory?” Ian smirked as they turned left and climbed another section of stairs.
“Well I know you’ve been upset lately about not being able to remember your life outside of Tower Prep…and I know you were worried about not having anywhere to go…no place to really call home.” He paused briefly and when he saw her face fall slightly he moved quickly in front of her walking backwards as he spoke not giving her a chance to dwell on the sadness he saw in her eyes.
“So, the guys and I decided to prove you wrong.” CJ’s brows furrowed as they made their way to the last set of steps leading to their secret room. She could hear the distance sound of music as Ian made his way up the first four steps before turning and holding out his hand to her.
She smiled and took it letting him pull her up the stairs and into the room. When they pushed the door open and made their way inside CJ gasped softly, eyes widening as she looked around the room. There were lights, garland and tinsel decorating every inch of the room.
Christmas carols wafted softly throughout the room and there was a small plastic tree on the table with a few small packages under it. But that wasn’t even the best part. Hanging from the open railing were stockings decorated with each of their names all lined in a row.
Tears glistened in her eyes as she looked over at Ian, half a smile gracing his lips. “We know the school celebration is over, but it’s still Christmas Eve and we thought it would be nice if we did something together…like a family.”
Gabe and Suki grinned as they leaned against the table happy to see their friends getting along again. CJ reached up and pulled Ian into a hug. He wrapped his arms around her and held on tight. “Thanks you.” the words were whispered to him and he responded in kind with a whispered ‘you’re welcome.’
When they didn’t pull away right away Gabe rolled his eyes and cleared his throat. “Okay guys…less hugging more eating. We’ve got candy canes…chocolate…cupcakes…I also managed to steal a slice of pie…”
Ian and CJ broke apart and they chuckled. She moved over to Suki pulling the other girl into a hug. “I was wondering where you were when you didn’t come back to the room.” Suki smiled at her friend and shrugged, “We thought it would be a nice surprise…and look we’ve got presents!”
The girls giggled and Ian smiled as he watched them move toward the small Christmas tree while talking a mile a minute. Gabe slid up next to him, eyes on the girls as well, voice low. “This was a nice thing you did for her Ian…”
He glanced at Gabe and patted his friends shoulder. “It was a nice thing we did. Besides…we’re a team…the closest thing to family we have at the moment. We’ve gotta look out for each other…right?” Gabe grinned. “Right you are Ian my man…right you are.”
CJ caught Ian’s eyes from across the room and warmth filled her face. Should could read the affection on his face as he gazed at her and she blushed lightly. For the past few weeks she had been lost…wondering where she fit in and now she knew. She was right where she belonged.