CHAPTER XVII

Jamie and Quinn sat in silence, as they drove to Stacy's house. The only noise was a Guys2Guys song playing on the radio. Now that Quinn was alone with Jamie, she had a million things she wanted to tell him, but the weight of their recent conversations embarrassed her too much to express her feelings. Nor could she bring herself just yet to look at Jamie. But she couldn't bear the silence.

"So, um, for our study plan today," said Quinn, pulling out some of the loose notes from her bag, "since we just got the syllabus, I thought it would be good to first go over that, and check in with, uh, with Stacy about what she's covered at the community college. She wants to transfer into our program next year, so I think it would be good to see what she's covered, so we can better help her, since we know what the intro workload is like already. Plus, if you still have a copy of your application essay, or if I can find mine, we can brainstorm some essay ideas with her, after she's gotten a grasp of what the program's like, later this summer. And, um, before we finish up today, let's go over work schedules, too. I hear from everyone that this class is hard, and if we all study together every week, I think that would be most helpful. Not that I'm saying you need my help. I mean, I already know how smart you are, Jamie, but I really like working together with you, and-"

"Quinn," interrupted Jamie, "it's okay. You don't need to explain."

"I don't?" asked Quinn. The papers fell to her lap.

"Quinn, I've been thinking a lot lately about us," said Jamie. "You're one of my best friends, and I've come to realize that we're never going to be any more than… well, just that. And I need to accept it. 'Cause if I don't, then, I'm just going to be holding you back."

"But that's not how I see it at all-" said Quinn.

"Maybe not now, but how many of your Friday nights have I taken up? We already tried going out once, and it didn't work out. You were right, I wasn't listening, 'cause if I had, I would have remembered what you told me at that party when you first moved here. Quinn, I was pressuring you into something you weren't ready for."

"Jamie, I chose to keep going out with you, too," said Quinn.

"Yeah," agreed Jamie, "but you didn't keep going out with me in the hopes that we might become something more than what we are, but I did." The light turned red. Jamie turned to face Quinn. "Quinn, I had always loved you. I still do. But I know now that it's time for me to move on. I can't keep getting in your way."

"But, Jamie, you're not in the way!" declared Quinn, as the light changed, feeling teary eyed. "Jamie, where is this coming from?"

"Quinn, what if instead of me on a Friday night, some other guy came to your door?" asked Jamie, his eyes set firmly on the road. "It's really easy to fall for you, Quinn. Plenty of guys would love to go out with you and have fun, but I don't want to keep sharing you with Joey or Jeffy, or anybody else, and I'm embarrassed I thought back there," he said, referring to his reaction to Mr. Morgendorffer, "that I had any sort of claim on you."

As they pulled up to Stacy's house, Quinn asked quickly, "So what does this mean? Am I not going to see you anymore?"

Jamie waved to Stacy as she came out the front door. "What? No, of course not. You're just… gonna see a little less of me, that's all."

"But what does that mean?" asked Quinn. She silenced herself and looked out the window, when Stacy opened the car door. "Hey, guys! I'm soo excited for today! I just wanna say again thank you, thank you, thank you so much for helping me! You're such great friends, and I-" She sensed the tension between them and saw Quinn's face in the reflection of the side mirror. "I, uh, anyway, I hope we can get a lot done together. I've always thought you were a great team. I know we can get through this," she said with a sad but hopeful smile. When she was sure Jamie wouldn't look back at her, Stacy leaned forward and gave Quinn a gentle squeeze on the shoulder. She thought she heard Quinn gasp. Quinn lifted her hand and squeezed Stacy's hand back. Without a word Stacy understood, and without a word Quinn knew Stacy would always be there for her.