Mutual Benefits – Chap 13 by BashfulScribe..,
Whatever Morgan and I had planned to do that night, it was thrown away. Swiftly, it was replaced with the both of us gathered around Morgan’s phone, FaceTiming with a blubbering, panicked Taylor.
“I don’t know what he’s going to do,” Taylor cried over the phone. “I’m such a fucking wreck.”
“We’ll get through this. Being as calm as you can will help you so much,” Morgan instructed in her stern tone she took when she was taking control. “Take deep breaths.”
Taylor nodded, her jittery face coming through our video feed. “This is so fucked. Why the fuck did Milo have to do this?”
Morgan and I exchanged looks. Morgan turned back to the phone and sighed. “Earlier at the party, he gave us an ultimatum,” she began. “He told us to tell Joel ourselves or he would. He gave us twenty-four hours.”
“So… so it was your fault?!” Taylor’s voice gathered heat.
“Stop that right now,” Morgan ordered with a flat voice. “Don’t piss off your only allies. He went back on his word and told Joel within eight hours.”
“Don’t fucking talk down to me!” Taylor rasped from the other end. “You should have told me immediately!”
Morgan turned to me. “Grab my pointer finger if she ever gets too much. I’ll hang up on her,” she dryly and emotionlessly whispered to me. She turned back to the phone and cleared her throat. “You were always at his side at the party. We never had the chance. We would have told you when we had a plan. Remember Milo caused this shit, not us.”
“Can I ask… why Milo caused this shit?” I interrupted. “Like, yeah, there are shades of grey happening here, but what we did really doesn’t affect Milo.”
Taylor sobbed for a bit but Morgan remained silent, letting Taylor speak. “Milo just fucking does this,” she exasperatedly replied. “Do you need an explanation for every little thing, Quinn?”
“This time, yes, I’d like one. We’re in the weeds because… what? He wanted to play vigilante?”
“Honestly, that’s basically it,” Morgan answered. “Milo just likes getting involved. He always wants to be the main character. He gets to decide what’s right and wrong.”
“I don’t get why a person would do that when it doesn’t affect them,” I replied.
“Then, sorry, you don’t understand drama yet,” Morgan flatly replied. “So maybe you should take notes. People do this. He implicates his friends, he feels superior, he also gets ahead because his friends got taken down a peg. It’s not that hard to understand, and you’re slowing us down by asking why.”
I looked at Morgan, a little hurt. She sighed and said, “This is a stressful time. I need you to just nod when stuff happens. Asking why and trying to pretend it shouldn’t have happened doesn’t help.”
I looked to the screen to see Taylor wasn’t saying anything, agreeing with Morgan through her use of silence. Frowning, I sat back as Morgan continued.
“What has Joel said to you?”
“He hasn’t said anything,” Taylor replied. “Like, nothing. Milo just let me know that he talked to him. I’m too fucking scared to say anything to Joel right now.”
Morgan sighed stressedly. “Okay,” she conceded.
“I’m thinking, like, I shouldn’t say anything until Joel talks to me. I do not want to bring it up first. Maybe he’ll just want this whole thing to go away.”
“I agree,” Morgan replied emotionlessly. “I don’t think it’ll just go away though. It never just goes away. So, Milo told you? How’d that go down?”
“If I could punch him in his stupid fucking face, I would,” Taylor growled.
“I know the feeling,” Morgan replied. “We can’t let him think he can just get away with this shit. Let Crystal and Lexi know.”
“Okay,” Taylor agreed.
“Just the important stuff,” Morgan insisted. “Anything that will make them get on our side. Leave out the dumb shit, lie if you have to. Last thing we need is for them to take his side.”
“Um, duh, I fucking know,” Taylor replied with an annoyed tone. “Then what? Wait for Joel to blow up?”
“Wait to see what he does, either to you or in public. Damage control mode, Taylor,” Morgan seemed to remind her, as if that was a phrase they practiced time and time again. I still said nothing. “And no more seducing Quinn. Even if I’m in the room.”
“Um, I didn’t want to have sex with him anymore anyways,” Taylor replied in a weirded out voice.
In response, Morgan just shifted the camera to just show me on screen. I was already in a foul mood, and Taylor’s reply didn’t help. “Oh, go away,” I bitterly told the camera, not sure which girl I was talking to.
“Keep me in the loop, Taylor,” Morgan said in a quiet voice. “I love you but I want to stop talking.”
“Love you too, girl,” Taylor replied. “Thank you so fucking much for having my back on this.”
With that, Morgan turned off the call, headed for the bed, and faceplanted on top of it. Still feeling upset at a few things that happened there, I remained in my corner, scowling away. Neither of us spoke for what felt like minutes.
“You were out of line,” I finally said to her.
She took her face off of her pillow. “You were asking pointless questions and being naive,” she replied. “We didn’t need that.”
“I’m not a child,” I replied.
“Children keep asking ‘why’ over and over. Milo’s a dick, Milo did a dick move, you don’t need to know why.”
“I’d like to!” I protested. “It concerns me. This is literally a rumor or whatever about me.”
“What would it solve knowing every little intricacy?” Morgan challenged me, now sitting on her bed. I was sitting on her floor. She had the high ground. “Like, actually, what would it solve? Are you planning on mapping him out? Figuring out the magic thing to say that’ll make all this go away? You’re so… obsessive, Quinn. You don’t need to be.”
“You keep obsessing over weird things. You obsess over this idea that I can’t possibly like you. You obsess over why a thing happens when the rest of us are trying to figure out where to go from here. You obsess and overthink and it just gets so old so fast,” Morgan complained.
My breathing quickened. “I… well… that’s not fair,” I weakly replied.
“That’s another thing children always say,” Morgan noted.
“Stop! Just stop it!” I almost shouted. “Stop calling me a child!”
Morgan stared at me for a while. “I’m really stressed with all this. I’m probably going to get caught up in this too, you know. Just because I’m dating you. You and Taylor are reaping what you sow. I have to deal with this too when I didn’t actually do anything wrong.”
“You just told Taylor to lie to her friends. You can’t say you’re doing nothing wrong,” I countered.
“To cover up a mistake you two made, I told Taylor to do what she was going to do anyway,” Morgan replied with a huff. “And I’m doing it to help her, and you. It’s so tiring.”
“If I’m not worth it, then break up with me, why don’t you?” I replied angrily, feeling my cheeks getting hot.
“Don’t be dramatic,” Morgan replied calmly. “If this is you breaking up with me, just say that. But I’m not breaking up with you just because you aren’t immune to drama and cheating.”
It felt weird for her to say that. I really wanted to fight her on that last point; it felt like I wasn’t involved in cheating at all and happened to be sucked into that world. But in a weird, unfair way, what Morgan was saying wasn’t untrue. I just stared at her, my chest rising and falling in anger.
“Are you breaking up with me?” Morgan asked.
“No,” I grumbled.
“Good. That would be a really dumb way for this to end,” she replied.
“Do you have to do that?” I asked.
“The ‘I know everything and will explain to you how it all works’ thing,” I replied, standing up and walking over to the bed.
She scooted over to give me some room, eyeing the floor. “What are you talking about?” she asked quietly.
“You say these, like, absolute statements. It’s not like you’ll say you think I’m not helping, I’m just ‘not helping.’ You’ll even explain how dumb a certain method of breaking up would be.”
“It was a joke. I was trying to lighten the mood. I’m just not very funny, I guess,” Morgan replied in a defensive voice. “I’ve always talked like this.”
“I’ve always wanted to find out why people do what they do.”
“Yes, but that was exhausting me.”
“Well, the way you talk down to me is exhausting me,” I reasoned.
She huffed. “I’ll try to stop myself if I see myself doing it,” she replied quietly.
I nodded. “I’ll try to save the backstory questions until after we’ve solved stuff.”
She nodded, and we didn’t say anything for a long time. After a bit, Morgan slowly lowered herself onto me, her head ending up on my chest. Neither of us said anything, but eventually, she looked up at me right as I looked down at her. We both chuckled softly, and before we knew it, we were shyly kissing each other.
Our lips parted and our eyes fluttered open. She slowly removed her head from my chest and grabbed her phone, groaning to herself. “This fucking sucks,” she grumbled.
I sighed in response, checking my watch. “I should probably talk to Doug soon,” I told her. “I think we both could do with some alone time anyways.”
“Yeah, probably,” Morgan replied, looking at me and giving me a hesitant smile.
“So you two understand our situation?” Morgan asked Crystal and Lexi.
“Maybe if you get me a McChicken, yes,” Lexi joked.
“Lexi, can you focus for one minute?” Morgan all but barked.
“Yeah, yeah, we get it,” Lexi dejectedly mumbled.
“It’s gonna be hard to get the group together after this one,” Crystal whined. “And summer just started! Whatever the fuck happened, it better have been worth it.”
“The best way to beat it is to let Milo know it hasn’t affected us,” Morgan reasoned, looking around the McDonald’s we were in, as if he could be there. “The sooner he sees how little power he has, the sooner he’ll stop his little games.”
Crystal’s eyes lit up with an idea. “We could just go back to calling him Sadie, just for a week, see if-”
“Absolutely not,” Morgan immediately replied. “Crystal, I’m disappointed in you.”
“It was just an idea,” Crystal mumbled, sitting back in her seat.
“Where’s Taylor, anyway?” Lexi asked.
“With Joel,” Morgan clarified. “She’s barely left his side for the past twenty-four hours.”