Saleem walked up the street, jacket wrapped around him, teeth chattering trying to focus on his footsteps to shut out the rain. He had to get tot the shop quickly to get stuff for mum's dinner before the shop closed. He got there frantically looking for the rice she used. Any mistake and she would send him back out. He got what he thought was the right one and told the cashier to keep the change. As he headed out he put the rice into his rucksack and crossed the road, nearly tripping at the bus stop, but charged on until he heard a familiar voice.
He turned around to see a friendly smile and cheerful eyes but he had to get home.
"I've gotta go, see ya"
Saleem didn't mean to be rude but he didn't want his mum to be asking questions-he was a bad liar. He turned away and carried on walking which prompted Daz to begin to jog to catch up with him. He tried to talk to him again, to see what he was up to.
"You eaten?" He asked.
"Nah" Saleem walked up the road and round the corner, while Daz could have caught him up, but decided to give up for now and make a move himself. Saleem got home and his mum thanked him for the rice, and went upstairs and watched some TV. He felt a little guilty for not really giving Daz the time of day. Talking to him for longer than two minutes wasn't going to kill him. The next day Saleem decided that he could never have too many friends and was going to be more open with him. As the evening set in he went to the fish and chip shop and saw some of Daz's mates. Surprised that he wasn't with them, Saleem paid for the chips and wondered up the road, wishing that the woman hadn't put so much salt on the chips, when he saw Daz with some shopping. He smiled at him, and seeing that as good signal, Daz walked over to him. Saleem put the bag of chips in front of his nose and unable to resist the smell of vinegar, he took a few.
"Yeah" Saleem nodded.
Daz wiped his hand on his trousers, swapped his bag over and looked at Saleem's Jacket, trying not to look directly in his eyes in case he saw something that he didn't want to see. He decided to try again, hoping he was going to get the right answer.
"So for ending my hunger strike, do you wanna go out later?" He asked him, folding his arms so that Saleem couldn't see that his heart was practically beating out of his chest. Saleem looked at the floor, uncertain, but wavering. "Well......"
"We're mates aren't we? Daz asked, trying to sound completely innocent.
"Yeah......" Saleem started to say.
"Drinking, getting drunk, that's what mates do, there's a pub further down the road, see you at 7.00?" Making his staement into a question, treading carefully.
Saleem nodded and Daz turned away before Saleem could see the grin breaking across his face. Saleem did coursework and grew nervous as seven approached. He dressed in comfortable casual clothes so that no-one would get the wrong idea, and told his parents he was going out. He went in the pub and ordered a lemonade and drank it at the counter knowing that if Daz didn't come in five minutes, he was leaving. He took a few sips before seeing Daz walk in. He was relived but tried not to show it. Daz ordered himself a drink and got Saleem to a table before he could change his mind. He looked at him to see if he was worried.
"This ain't so bad, is it?"
"No" saleem agreed, staring at his drink. They spoke about courses and what they were gonna do during the holidays and Daz said that he got bored most of the time, but at least he got to spend time with his mates. Saleem nodded, thinking back to seeing his mates in the chip shop. Saleem excused himself and went to the bathroom. He felt more nervous as each second ticked by. Daz expected so much of him, and Saleem didn't know how to impress him. He was worried he was making a fool out of himself. Daz was probably wishing that he was having a knees-up with his mates right now, instead of wasting his time with him. His insecurities about the whole thing made him walk out after washing his hands and stop at his chair. Daz thought he wanted another drink. " Shall I get you another?" He asked.
"Nah, I've gotta get back"
"Well, I'll walk out with ya"
"Nah it's ok" Saleem rushed out and Daz was confused, but got up to see why Saleem was ready to leave all of a sudden. He followed him gradually catching up.
"You should go back in, it's cold"
Daz couldn't care less about the weather. "I'm fine" He said with a grin.
"Call your mates, you'd have more fun"
"I didn't ask them here, I asked you"
Saleem walked away, frustated that Daz couldn't see that he was doing him a favour. Tomorrow he'd probably see Daz with someone better, male or female, but still better than him. Daz thought it was something he said, and tried to get Saleem to stay.
"Look, do you wanna go somewhere else?" He asked him patiently.
"I gotta go, get some coursework done"
"I would too, but I'm not that desperate" Daz said, looking at him in mock seriousness, trying to get saleem to smile.
"Well you're out with me aren't you, that's desperate" Said Saleem, hoping that Daz would suddenly agree and tell him to get lost. Daz didn't want to crowd saleem, but couldn't help but walk up to him, standing so close that he could see the nervous twitch in his jaw and the hidden glint of self doubt in his eyes. He just wanted to help take it away.
"I wouldn't call that desperate" Said Daz, "I'd call it decently discreet"
Saleem stared at him and wondered if pity was making him say these things, maybe he'd joke about it with his mates later, he just didn't know. The bad thing was, he didn't know if Daz was trustworthy. The good thing was that Saleem was prepared to find out.