Characters: Zac Hanson, Taylor Hanson, OCs
Word Count: 2,769
Warnings: Language, violence
Summary: When a series of gruesome murders begins, everyone on campus is stunned, leaving the student body shaken and community anxious, but when those close to Zac Hanson realize he once dated all of the victims, they're left wondering about the connection and who might be next.
Disclaimer: This story is purely fictional. I do not know Hanson or any of their associates. All original characters belong to me. Do not use anything from this story without my permission.
Author's Note: This is the unedited version. Sorry about any errors! Finally, a chapter that doesn't skip around to different scenes! I think the next chapter will be like that too. I'm about half finished with it right now. Hopefully, I'll finish it tomorrow during sprints and have it up sometime midweek. :)
October 17, 2008 10:03 a.m.
“I’ve heard that if they don’t catch the killer before the end of the week that they’re going to shut down campus,” Brooke commented.
“Where’d you hear that?” Lux wondered. She and Novi had saved the table, and when Sophie showed up, Lux had braved the long line to get their coffee. Novi had been correct, and Sophie had turned skittish when she saw the state of the coffee shop, so while Lux stood in line for a good ten minutes, Sophie had sat hunched over at the table – much like she was now, hoping her boss was too busy to notice her presence.
While Lux was in line, Rory had arrived with Brooke in tow. Rory had been kind enough join Lux in line to help fetch everyone’s coffee orders. There had been a small uproar from the people behind Lux in line, murmuring about line jumpers and the injustice of it all, which just went to show how on edge everyone was feeling these days.
After everyone’s coffee was ready, they had finally settled down at their table to enjoy the source of caffeine, only to have Zac and Taylor arrive unexpectedly. While Taylor made a beeline for them and made short work of inviting himself to join them, Zac had trailed behind.
Novi had waved off Zac’s offer to find another table and commandeered some empty chairs from another table, so Taylor and Zac could sit with them. Lux could have done without Taylor’s presence, but from the looks he and Rory were sharing, it seemed he wasn’t going to be too antagonistic today.
Zac had taken a seat on the other side of Lux, who was seated next to Novi with Sophie on her other side while Taylor was to Zac’s left with Rory beside him and Brooke on her other side next to Sophie. While Zac and Sophie had exchanged pleasantries, the awkwardness between the two was tangible. Naturally, Novi chose to ignore it and jumped right into conversation, which had led to the hot topic of the campus murders.
“I heard some professors talking in the library,” Brooke explained. “One of the benefits of working at the most boring place on campus,” she mused. “I guess the dean called a meeting with them and everything. It sounded like he’s reluctant to shut down the place even though that’s what the police suggested might need to happen.”
“So sounds like they’re not any closer to finding the killer than they were at the beginning of the week,” Rory commented.
“That’s encouraging,” Taylor snarked. His words were on the conversation, but his eyes were locked on Rory, or rather the cleavage her v-neck sweater presented. Both Lux and Brooke noticed and rolled their eyes while Novi smirked a little, wondering when her sister’s best friend and her best friend’s brother would finally drop the flirting and hook up already.
“Would it do any good to close the campus?” Sophie wondered, oblivious to Taylor’s wondering eyes. “Wouldn’t the killer just go somewhere else?”
“Maybe,” Lux shrugged, looking away from Taylor and Rory’s disgusting display. “I mean, unless the victims aren’t being picked at random.”
“True,” Rory commented. She glanced at Taylor out of the corner of her eyes, and he grinned at her, his blue eyes electric with want. Her cheeks flushed a little, and she looked away as she went on, “But what do Jacinda, Melissa and Katya have in common? Other than going to the same university, I mean. Wouldn’t the police have figured it out if there was a pattern?”
Rory was slightly impressed with herself, and half expected Taylor to jump in with another snarky remark, as was his usual MO, but Taylor was surprisingly quiet. He and Zac shared a significant look that only Lux seemed to catch. Before she could ask, though, Brooke spoke, “They’re probably cross referencing all of them, looking for a pattern or some kind of connection. I mean, maybe living on the same campus is the connection.”
“Yeah, it’s not like most serial killers are the most sane people, after all,” Novi pointed out. “Some have killed for less.”
“Maybe not, but this one has got away with murder twice since Jacinda was killed,” Lux commented. She glanced around, catching Zac’s eyes on her only for him to look away quickly as she went on. “Sane or not, he’s smart, which probably only makes him more dangerous.”
This seemed to sober everyone’s thoughts, and there was an awkward pause in the conversation until Zac stood. “I’m going go grab some coffee now that the line has gotten shorter.”
“I’ll go with you,” Taylor agreed. He glanced at Rory, and asked, “You need anything?”
Wide-eyed and shocked, Rory shook her head. It took a moment to utter a soft, “Thanks for asking.”
He grinned that cocky grin that he was best known for and winked at her before following Zac’s lead to the end of the line.
Though she was still curious about the weird look Zac and Taylor had shared, Lux couldn’t help but roll her eyes at her best friend. Rory noticed and stuck her tongue at her. “Very mature,” Lux muttered as Brooke nudged Rory in the side and drew her attention away.
Lux turned to Novi, but found her watching as Zac and Taylor headed toward the line. Then when she seemed to be sure they were out of earshot, she turned to Sophie. “Okay, so tell me,” she said with wide eyes.
“Tell you what?” Sophie asked, and Lux smirked slightly at the confused look on Sophie’s face. She had no idea how the girl didn’t know what Novi was asking about. It was obvious to Lux. Or maybe it was only obvious because she was so eager to hear the answers for herself. Somewhere in the deep recesses of her mind, she felt bad about that, but she was blaming Novi wholly and completely for turning her into such a gossip-whore. She’d escaped the melodrama during their middle school and high school days because they ran in different circles. However, since coming to college, their social circles were spheres that seemed to overlap frequently. Now instead of tuning her sister out when she started to divulge the latest going-ons, Lux found herself tuning in with interest.
“About what you and Zac talked about the other night when you came over while he was studying with Lux,” Novi replied. Exasperation colored her tone, but she and Sophie both turned to glance at Lux before Lux had the chance to look away. Lux had the decency to look embarrassed at being caught eavesdropping. She looked away, hoping to jump into whatever Rory and Brooke were discussing, but their heads were down and they were speaking too lowly for Lux to hear what they were saying. Knowing Rory, she was probably gushing over Taylor and the looks he’d been giving her moments ago. She fought to keep the grimace from her face. That was one attraction that would never make any sense to her.
Feeling Novi and Sophie’s gaze still on her, Lux looked back at them. She smiled sheepishly and stood, realizing there was no way Sophie was going to dish with an audience listening. “I’m just going to go get a refill,” Lux said awkwardly, gesturing to her empty coffee cup.
“Great, you do that,” Novi agreed.
It was a bit insulting to be turned away by her little sister, but Lux figured she could pry the tale from Novi later without much effort. She grimaced, glancing to the end of the line. The good news was that the line wasn’t nearly as bad now as it had been when they arrived. The bad news was Zac and Taylor were the last ones in line. Zac being there wasn’t so bad, but Taylor was a different story; although, she had to admit, other than his wondering eye, Taylor hadn’t been so bad today.
It was so hard to pinpoint what it was about him that annoyed her most, but he always just seemed so arrogant. He was attractive, yes. She couldn’t ignore that. She’d tired, but Rory wouldn’t let her. His attitude often left something to be desired. While Zac always seemed polite and self-conscious, Taylor was often rude and self-assured, as if having a pretty face was all he needed in this world. The only time his charisma came out to shine was when it benefited him. It really did seem impossible at times that he and Zac could possibly be related.
Reluctantly, Lux made her way to the end of the line. Zac and Taylor’s backs were to her, and they didn’t seem to hear her approach. She was about to clear her throat and make her presence known, in hopes that she wouldn’t have to suffer the silence of waiting in line alone, but as she drew closer, she caught the end of Taylor’s sentence.
“… never would have guessed she’d end up being so smokin’ hot, ya know?”
Zac scoffed, and Lux couldn’t help but wonder who Taylor was talking about. “You act like looks are all that matters.”
“Well, they’re a big factor,” Taylor replied. “I mean, come on, don’t tell me every girl you’ve gone out with has been because you were attracted to her brain because, really, you’ve dated some real morons.”
“Need I remind you of your dating history?” Zac snorted a little.
“See, the difference there, little brother, is that most of the girls I’ve gone out with were just to have a good time, and you don’t need to have brains to be good in the sack.”
“Taylor,” Zac groaned. Lux thought he sounded annoyed, which was something she could easily understand.
“No, listen,” Taylor went on. “You’re always looking for the next long term relationship. Maybe if you just cut loose and went looking for a good time instead of something serious, you’d have a better luck. I mean, shit, it’s not like you need to be looking to settle down.”
“I’m not saying I’m looking to settle down and get married or anything,” Zac murmured. “But I’m just not like you.”
Zac ignored him and went on. “I’m just not interested in hooking up with the first pretty face that comes along.”
“Obviously,” Taylor remarked. “Maybe that’s the problem. You aren’t making a bold enough move with the girls you have gone out with. They may not act like it, but chicks can be just as horny as any guy. Believe me, I’ve met some freaky chicks who liked to get down and dirty.”
“Can you not call them chicks?” Zac sighed. “It makes them sound like they’re baby chickens or something.”
“Fine, girls,” Taylor replied, and Lux could feel him rolling his eyes at his brother. “Honestly, though, I don’t know why you don’t just go after the girl you really want.”
Zac glanced at Taylor and Lux shrunk back. She knew the right thing to do would have been to step forward and make herself known, but she was curious about who Taylor was referring to. Surely Zac hadn’t met someone new already. He and Sophie hadn’t even been broken up for a week. It seemed a little soon to jump into another relationship. Of course, it had been over two years since Lux herself had dated anyone, so perhaps she wasn’t the best gage for moving on.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Zac said.
Taylor chuckled and clapped him on the back. “Sure you don’t,” he said. “Just like you weren’t totally eye-fucking her back at the table.”
Lux’s brows furrowed. She glanced back at the table, where Sophie and Novi were now speaking with their heads bent close together. Obviously, Novi was getting the newest scoop. Rory and Brooke were still talking, but now one of their books was spread out between them. Maybe Rory hadn’t been gushing over Taylor, after all, and they had been discussing class the whole time. That was surprising.
Of the four at the table, Taylor’s words really didn’t make much sense. She hadn’t noticed Zac eyeing anyone in a way that suggested a desire to fuck. Again, though, it had been quite some time since she’d seen any action that wasn’t fueled by a battery-powered apparatus. Maybe she was losing it.
“Taylor,” Zac hissed, obviously affronted by his brother’s words. “I was doing no such thing.”
“Yeah, right,” Taylor laughed. “Why don’t you just make your move already? I mean, sure, the attraction there is beyond me, but you’ve been skirting the issue since you met her. Why not just ask her out?”
“I can’t,” he mumbled.
Now, Lux was truly perplexed. Though he denied any eye fucking, it seemed there was actually someone he was interested in, after all. She leaned forward, as if expecting a closer location to somehow help to make sense of this conversation.
“Sure you can,” Taylor shrugged. “You just go up and ask her if she’d like to go out. Hell, you could even start with coffee. You know she likes it.”
“Tay, it’s not that simple,” Zac sighed. He sounded a bit tired, or maybe he was just tired of running around in circles.
“Why isn’t it?” Taylor asked.
Zac laughed a little, as if the answer to Taylor’s question was completely obvious. Lux was just perplexed, and mostly just wanted to know who one earth they were discussing that Zac liked but felt was unattainable.
“Okay, one, Sophie just dumped me. How much of a douche would that make me? Asking someone else out right now? Plus, hello, psycho killer on campus. Much bigger problem than my love life.”
“Or lack thereof,” Taylor muttered. Zac punched him in the arm, but there was no heat behind the gesture.
Lux had to bite her lip to keep from laughing. It wasn’t funny, of course, but Zac was usually so quiet and restrained that hearing him being sarcastic, and also saying the word ‘douche,’ was somehow amusing to her.
“Well, all the more reason to seize the day,” Taylor shrugged “You never know who Mr. Creeptactular might go after next. And as for Sophie, it’s like you said she dumped you. Obviously, she’s not going to be hung up over the fact you’re moving on.”
Lux watched and Zac shook his head and ran a hand through his hair. “Okay, maybe that’s true, but it’s just weird. I mean, I went out with Sophie. Even Novi and I had that ridiculous almost-date that was just too awkward,” Zac said. “I just feel like . . . I don’t know. I mean, Sophie and I didn’t work out. It got weird after breaking up.”
“I thought you two talked that out,” Taylor commented.
Lux’s ears perked up. Maybe she could get the story from the actual source instead of second hand from Novi. She waited with baited breath for Zac to elaborate. “We did,” he nodded. “And I think we’ll be okay, eventually, but I was kind of ass to her. She said I scared her.”
“You? Scary?” Taylor laughed outright.
“What? You think I couldn’t be scary?” Zac sounded slightly offended.
“Hell no, dude. You’re a fucking marshmallow. I’m half surprised Novi doesn’t have you over for sleepovers to braid her hair and shit.”
“Fuck you,” Zac spat. For once, there was actually some venom behind the words. This only seemed to amuse Taylor more.
“Listen, I’m just saying that you should at least try,” he said. Though the humor was still evident in his tone, his words were serious. “I mean, you’ve been pining over her pretty much since you met her. I don’t see why you’re so reluctant to just ask her out. I mean, the worst she can say is no, but at least you’ll have an answer.”
“Yeah, I guess,” Zac shrugged.
“And if she does turn you down, then it just proves Lux is an uptight bitch, like I always claimed.”
Lux had to bite her bottom to lip to keep from gasping aloud. Her eyes seemed to grow to the size of saucers. They were talking about her? Zac wanted to ask her out. She wracked her mind, going back over the conversation, trying to make it make sense, but she was at a loss. Zac wanted to ask her out? He’d liked her since he first met her? How was that possible? How could she not be aware of something like this? Furthermore, how did Novi not know?