“Star; please open up!”
There was no response from behind the closed door.
“Go away!” was the muffled, weak reply that barely managed to get past the thin wooden door.
Marco sighed in frustration, why did she have to make things difficult? He felt a pang of guilt and immediately regretted that thought. It wasn’t Star’s fault she was feeling miserable and didn’t want to see anyone. No that was that Britney’s fault, and considering what she’d done to her today, it was normal she’d want some alone time. But Marco had learned recently that the worst thing he could do right now to Star was to do what she said.
So he took a key out of his hoodie’s pocket and opened the door.
“Star I’m coming in!” He announced just as he turned the key.
There was some frantic noise from the other side of the door, but he turned the knob and pushed the door open, slowly but assuredly, the moment he opened the door enough to look into the room, a pillow hit him square in the face.
“I told you to stay out!”
Marco thought it was a good thing that the pillow was so fluffy because it had been thrown with quite a bit of strength. He caught it in his hand as it fell off his face and looked at the teary eyed, gray skinned, lizard princess from another dimension looking at him defiantly, from behind her bed.
“You should have known by now I wasn’t going to do that.” He said calmly as he walked towards the bed. Star turned around looking away from him, but just before she turned her back on him, Marco thought he saw the slightest hind of a smile beginning to form on her lips.
He sat down on the edge of her bed and waited. Marco looked at the alien princess looking out the window, with her back turned towards him. Her hands were grabbing her arms on each side of her body. Marco thought about how hurt she looked.
“I’m not going anywhere Star, I’m here for you, no matter what.”
She turned slowly towards him, her eyes were red and puffy and tear marks ran down her cheeks. It contrasted with the tiny but genuine smile that had just appeared on her face, she wiped a tear from her eye and asked him.
“Do you mean that?”
She walked sluggishly towards the foot end of the bed and sat next to him on it.
“Why did they do it Marco?”
Marco thought about it, a few months ago, he’d simply answered ‘because they’re idiots Star, don’t think about it.’ But now, after what had happened a few weeks ago, ever since she came to live with him, he wasn’t so sure. He remembered that one talk about bullies he’d had with his mom a year ago and how recent events had given it a new perspective.
The silence grew uncomfortably long and Marco could feel Star grow restless. She’d asked for emotional support from him and now she was afraid that none was forthcoming. Finally Marco spoke.
“Because they’re scared Star.”
Star was surprised, and not in a good way, to hear that. Britney hadn’t certainly looked scared while she was throwing the contents of her bag in the dumpster. Neither had any of the other cheerleaders who were laughing at her expense. She was about to call bullshit on Marco when he spoke again.
“Not of you, well maybe a tiny bit of you, but that’s really unimportant. Negligible, I think is the word. Anyway, what they’re really scared of is themselves, of not being good enough. I mean… they… they’re insecure, because they think they have to be some way, and; they’re afraid they don’t measure up. So they deal with it by… by making someone else the focus of attention, negative attention of course, so no one will notice their own shortcomings. And they do that by lashing out. And… and when they do, they feel better about themselves by comparison. I think they might think, ‘I might not be all that, but I’m better than this loser spic ki… ’ ”
Marco stopped to catch his breath and only then noticed Star’s tight grip around her arm. He looked down at it and saw both of her silky smooth gray hands wrapped around his left arm just above his elbow. Then he looked at Star’s face, looked directly at her twinkling eyes. He couldn’t quite decipher her expression. Was she sad, happy, expectant, maybe anxious? The only thing he could tell for sure is that she was waiting for him to finish.
“Or maybe they really are just asswipes Star.” He said with a tired smile, not caring at all about the use of a swear word as he moved his hand towards her cheek. “Some people are just mean, for the sake of being mean.” He cupped her left cheek and rubbed some wetness from Star’s cheek with his thumb as he marvelled at the cool silky feeling of her skin under his hand. “The important thing to remember Star is that; it’s only some people who are like that, never everyone.”
She held his hand there and without letting go of it, she leaned into him, resting her head on his shoulder.
“I know that, I should know that.” she said “But promise me, that you’ll always be there to remind me?” She asked softly, without looking at his face.
“Always.” he said smiling.
Star let go of his hand and tried to get as comfortable as possible while keeping her head on his shoulder. Marco smiled, and looked at Star. From the awkward angle he could just see her closed eyes and the contented expression on her face as his body’s warmth flowed into her. He twisted his neck a little more to get a better look. Then his nose was in her hair, and it smelled of sun and freshly cut grass.
Without thinking he leaned closer and kissed her head.
When realization of what had just happened hit both of them they froze.
Marco was the first to recover as he stood up from the bed in a sudden jerk.
“Ah, uh… well, will you look at the time, and I have all this stuff to do… like; homework yes homework and chores, yes chores too. Lots to do… I guess I’d... better get… going?”
Star said nothing, she hadn’t moved yet, she was facing straight ahead, staring at nothing.
“Uh, well I’ll be leaving now…” But just before he left the room he said. “Star, if you need me, for anything, you know where to find me.”
And with that Marco left her room and the moment the door closed Star let out a breath she hadn’t noticed she’d been holding.
What happened, what on Mewni did just happen?! Did Marco just?
She noticed a slight breeze flowing right under her hindquarters, she turned around to look behind herself and practically jumped off the bed as she blushed furiously.
Her tail was standing up.
She ran to the vanity mirror to get a better look at her backside. Holy Saurian Kings, her tail was standing gloriously UP. In fact she couldn’t remember it ever being this high before, not even during that time in the bounce lounge when… She brushed the embarrassing memory aside, that was unimportant what was important right now was whether Marco had noticed. Please, please by the Slann lords don’t let him have noticed!
The whole thing was ridiculous anyway, she thought as with some difficulty she tried to bring her tail back down. It stubbornly refused to do so, so she tried it moving it around a bit, which only made her more embarrassed once she realized how sinuously her movement was. This didn’t even make any sense, Marco wasn’t even her type. He was human for one, and he was this pinkish colour, totally not gray. And he was so gentle, and adorable, and had beautiful brown eyes, and that cute little mole of his. And he felt so very very warm…
Okay this wasn’t working.
Star looked back at her raised tail. Well, she had to admit that Marco was kind of cute.
And so very waaarm…
She blushed again as she fell backwards on the bed, smothering her own face with the pillow as she screamed silently into it.
He was her best friend.
Her only friend!
She was terrified of screwing things up. What if he thought it was weird? What if he didn’t feel the same… Not that she felt anything, mind you, but what if…?
But he’d kissed her. Although it had only been her head.
And she’d felt… she’d felt like...
She kicked her legs in the air as she screamed more into the pillow.
She had no idea how much time had passed when she heard a gentle knocking on her door.
“Come in.” she said as she tried to straighten her hair and sat properly on her bed.
It was Marco and as he came into her room Star noticed that he was pointedly looking at anywhere but her.
“Yeah, so it turns out that most of the stuff I had to do was already done or can wait…” he said sheepishly. “Anyway, mom and dad are out for the evening, and they’ve left us alone so I’ve thought that… well if you want… we could maybe eat some junk food and watch a movie; together?”
He looked up from the floor to look directly into Star’s intense gaze. And she noticed the slight blush on his cheeks. She thought about the implications of what he had just said a moment earlier. They were both alone in the house right now, and she was in her room with a boy, with no one else around. And not just any boy, but Marco. Her mind broke down then, unable to follow through any of the multitude of scenarios that suddenly seemed to open up before her.
This time it was Marco’s turn to feel uncomfortable at Star’s silence.
“I’ll make us some nachos.” He said trying to sweeten the deal.
The promise of homemade food seemed to break Star out of her trance.
“Wha.. Oh yes, yeah, of course, dinner and a movie. Sounds great. Yes, absolutely great!” She said trying to keep her smile inside her face.
“Ok.” replied Marco blushing a little. Come down when you’re ready, I’m going to get started on the food.”
“Sure, sure, I’ll be down in a minute.”
He walked out and Star let out a slight squeal of delight she muffled with the pillow, which was getting more use as a silencer than as anything else today.
Forty minutes later they were both sitting on the couch, wrapped in a blanket and munching on Marco’s super-awesome nachos (Star had to admit that yes they really were all that). Star had crawled up to Marco without thinking, and Marco had simply allowed himself to be cuddled by the lizard princess, throwing his arm around her shoulders. The movie was some sort of generic rom-com that she was having a hard time following because Marco’s gentle breathing seemed so much more interesting right now.
“Marco.” she said softly.
“Did you mean what you said earlier? About being there. For me?”
“Yes” And he realized that he really meant it.
Star’s response was to snuggle even closer to Marco and tighten her arms around him. She forgot about the movie, it didn’t seem important now, not when her head was on his chest and could rather listen to his rapid heartbeat.
A couple of hours later, that’s how Marco’s parents found them, snoring gently together on the couch with the movie’s main menu screen on a loop and Star’s arms gently but firmly surrounding Marco’s waist.
“Awwww, aren’t they just adorable?”