Darren Gantz - the riot club
“I couldn’t reach Becky status. Annoying fake wife maybe. I think I remember playing that role before,” she mused, thinking about to their academy days when they used tease each other about their fake marriage after Darren had line dropped Romeo’s exit, alluding to an impending marriage. Or to a dinner they had a little more recently, when she pretended to be the intelligent trophy wife to his politician façade. The slightest remark could set her brain off, reminding her of a time she hadn’t dwelled on in years, only to remind herself of how much time had passed and how different things were now.
But this was good, healthy in way, the playful banter seemingly more friendly than anything else. There was no arguing and while the pair being caught out in public having a more than polite conversation wouldn’t make for the best press, or help his situation with his girlfriend, she wasn’t too keen about parting ways just yet. “A lot more confidence? I wasn’t sure that was even possible with the size of your ego. How could it have even grown?” she asked playfully, a grin lingering on her lips. “But what I meant was that if you had a list, I could just work off it while you slept or avoided sunlight. I’ll make sure to pick up some coconut milk as well. Apparently, that’s the better alternative for vampires these days.”
"You could reach it, I have faith in you, Spenny. You could reach the my mom level of everything with a little practice. You just don’t want to try, do you?" he asked her, restarting his walk around the market with the expectation that Spencer would follow him close behind. He barely remembered their fake marriage, fake kids, and fake life they had together, but he did remember it. "I can’t even remember if you were good at being a fake wife. You have the annoying part down, don’t worry about that, but the rest I’m not sure about how good you’ll be."
"I don’t have a list, I just know what we need and what I’m planning on buying," he waved off her offer, stopping at one stand to look at the fresh fruit. Darren picked up an apple and turned it over a few times before exchanging a few words with the man selling them, handing over a few dollars in change and collecting several apples. One of Zoe’s favourite dishes involved apples and he planned on making her dinner tonight, despite her rude awakening. "And for your information," he turned to face Spencer. "My ego didn’t get bigger, I just grew more confident with my driving skills."
She pressed her lips together as he defended his relationship with the other girl, choosing not to comment. It had been so long ago that it hardly should have mattered at all now. Casey Hayward was a name she hadn’t heard in years and reminiscing on their high school past was juvenile, considering how far she had come. As a firm believer that you are the sum of your experiences, maybe she should have even thanked the younger girl for helping the blonde get to where she was now. Rolling her eyes playfully at his behavior, she tried to keep the smile off her lips, sure that someone would come around and infringe upon their conversation soon enough. “I get that you’re an actor, but you’re overly dramatic,” she said with an air of amusement, putting on his sunglasses and pushing the pair off her nose to the top of her hair. “Do you need to go sit outside I our car while I finish up your shopping for you or do you think you can hold off on the ash turning for a little while longer?”
Darren couldn’t help the laugh that escaped his lips after Spencer spoke. Their rhythm was off. Something different from how things used to be and he wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad one. “You won’t know what to get, Spence. I’ll be good. You don’t need to become my mother. And you’re taking those steps. Next you’ll be telling me a night of binge drinking isn’t what I should do as I near thirty years old,” he gently shook his head, pushing the hood down to reveal his messy hair and turning his head slightly towards where there was more shadows and less glare of the sun against the sidewalk. This… friendship was weird between the two. They had to be friends, he was in a happy relationship and his feelings for Zoe out shined any feelings he might have that hadn’t died off for Spencer. “I am a fully functioning adult now. I can drive and everything. I still don’t often do the driving, but I could if I wanted to. With a lot more confidence than when I was in my early twenties. I’m practically a master chef/brilliant driver/genius/world ruler. I can get the groceries.”
“I think it’d help if she was the kind of person you didn’t want to be around or cooked horribly, but Becky’s a sweetheart and it’s difficult to say no to her.” She hadn’t met the woman on too many occasions, but there was nothing but positive comments that came to mind at the thought of his mother, something she admired about her, wondering and hoping that she’d be considered the same way by someone in the future. “No one’s going to notice the weight gain in the getup you’re wearing, Gantz,” she added playfully, reaching forward to remove his sunglasses from his face, giving him a smile.
“Senior year was messy in a lot of ways. I dumped you via grape vine, you took my arch nemesis to Prom, which I’m still slightly bitter about, by the way,” she tacked on, hoping he understood she was joking, though her expression completely changed the moment he continued, the apology causing her to fall silent and study him for a moment before letting out a short laugh under her breath. “It’s like I don’t even know you anymore.”
"I guess that’s the curse of my mother," he shrugged. "She’s too nice for everyone’s good, fattening them up until they finally burst. Kind of like a kinder version of the witch from Hansel and Gretel." He brought his free hand up to his chest, squinting after the removal of his sunglasses. "The light. I’ve changed in more ways than you know, I’m a vampire now. Sunlight’s bad for me. It’s awful. I think I’m turning into ash as we speak, Michaels and it’s all your fault."
He nodded as she spoke before defending himself. “To be fair, your arch nemesis, my best friend. We had very different views about Case.” He ignrored the rest of what was said, deciding to ignore most of what happened senior year. It wasn’t exactly a highlight of his life aside from a few good things. “As I said, vampirism has changed me in so many ways. Dislike of sunlight is just one of the many things that I’ve had to deal with since my transformation.”
There it was again: friends.
She wasn’t sure why he used to, especially considering when they had been anything, despite the numerous things they would argue about, the status of their lack of friendship was one thing they usually agreed on, and that wasn’t said about much. They were slowly, or could potentially be inching towards friendship now had the situation hadn’t been so complicated. If they were both single, had his girlfriend understood there was nothing between them anymore, or if his mother hadn’t insisted on her staying for dinner and intruding about the couple’s evening, maybe things could have gone a little smoother.
“I should have talked my way out of dinner. I mean, really, what kind of attorney will I be if I can’t even convince my ex-boyfriend’s mother into letting me out with food if it meant keeping the peace within the household?” she posed, gently eyeing the basket in his hands wondering if she ought to offer to help him find everything he needed to, but realizing he was probably more familiar with the market than she was.
The next words to have slipped passed her lips hadn’t been thought out in the slightest, said so nonchalantly as she shrugged her shoulders. “I get where she’s coming from, but our track record isn’t something to be jealous over.”
He waved her off, keeping his head steady having learnt his lesson the first time. “Nonsense, Spence. There’s no way the best attorney could convince my mother to let them leave the house without at least staying for one meal. She convinces you you want to be there,” he paused, a grin on his lips. “Believe me I know. Do you understand how many times I’ve wanted to leave but found myself eating two times my weight in home cooking instead?” he looked up at Spencer, the full effect of his gaze lost on her with the majority of his face covered someway or another. “Way to many times is the answer to that one.”
The look changed at her next words. “No? You don’t think senior year was what all relationships should look like?” he adjusted his hold on his basket, shifting it between his hands before actually resting it against his knee. “I don’t see where she’s coming from. It’s been what? Almost ten years since we dated? There’s nothing to act that way about. So I apologize for her behaviour.”
The weather was one of the things she had appreciated the most about her transition to California living. It was unpredictable at times, but for the most part, it was a lot better than Connecticut’s, the forecast accounting for more sunshine than she could have ever imagine, leaving her usually pale skin glowing under the summer sun.
Because it was so nice out, though the dwindling amount of food in her fridge was probably higher on her list of reasons for the trip, she headed on over to the grocery store, making her way through the aisles, getting what it was she needed, mindlessly rounding a corner to bump into a larger figure. Had she not heard his voice, she might not have recognized him in his ridiculous attire, though she couldn’t help but chuckle when the pieces fit together, shaking her head. “Did you just call me dove?” she asked incredulously, a little smug at the pet name. “What has that girlfriend done to you?”
Her tone was teasing, but it wasn’t too long before her expression turned somber, asking politely, “how is she, by the way, after the whole dinner fiasco?”
"Bad habits I’ve picked up over time. They’ve just been encouraged, it’s not from her," he said, shaking his head before letting out a groan and raising his hand to his forehead. "She’s still a little bitter. Hence why I’m doing the shopping for the week and why I was woken up to the bright sunshine and not a dark room."
The dinner had been awful. Not that he hadn’t enjoyed it, but Zoe was the jealous type and the fact that her boyfriend’s mother had spent the majority of the evening talking to Spencer instead of Zoe had made her angry to the point of causing a small scene which Darren tried to hide by taking her to another room in his old home and calming her down, but to no avail. She’d been rude for most of the evening, getting angrier when Darren defended and then complimented Spencer. Zoe ended the night by becoming a mute, keeping to herself until it was time to say goodbye.
"It wasn’t exactly the evening I was expecting, but she doesn’t understand staying close with someone you used to date. She knew we’d dated before, but not really that we’d been friends and our families were friends for longer than we were together."
The sun beat down on Darren as he made his way down the street, trying to avoid looking directly at the sun from below his sunglasses. He’d been up late the night before, bar hoping with a few of his friends but it had been far too long since nights like this had been his norm. The morning after was much worse than he’d remembered and Zoe’s wake up call in the morning hadn’t helped.
She’d ripped open the curtains and spoke as loudly as she could before sending him out to pick up the groceries. He felt it was a cruel task, but went along with it anyway, putting on sunglasses and pulling up the hood of his sweater to cover his face as he looked towards the ground to avoid the sun. His ensemble didn’t do much in terms of protecting his eyes from the sun, but instead made him appear suspicious and left him unable to see much past a small area around his feat, leading him to bump into a small figure.
"Oh, shit, I’m sorry, dove. Blame me," he said, looking up and squinting while he looked up. "Oh, Spenny, hey."
Darren Gantz on set of “The Devil’s Harvest”