Chapter 16: Questions
Both Mike and Lucy spent the next several minutes locked in a hug. Neither of them wanted to let go, but they knew they couldn't stand in the center of the bathroom forever, and Lucy being a girl in a boy's bathroom didn't help the matter. It's not as though it was the most romantic place in the world anyway.
"We should get going." Mike said as he took a deep breath, taking in as much of Lucy's unique scent as he could. He hated to admit it to himself because he felt it was extremely odd, but he couldn't deny he loved the way she smelled. He could never really put the scent into words either… It was so subtle and almost teased him whenever he was close enough to her to smell it. Even when they were younger she seemed to smell so… refreshing.
"Yeah… I suppose." She said with a sniffle.
"Are you okay?" Mike asked her as he broke the hug and looked into her eyes. They were blood shot and seemed almost vulnerable.
"Yeah, I'm alright." She said as their hands slid off of each other's bodies and feel to their sides. "Are you? You look exhausted." She asked him.
"I'll be okay; I just want to get home. It's been a long day." Mike responded.
"Okay, let's get going then."
They both walked out of the bathroom, surprised by the fresh air in the hallway. They had almost gotten used to the constant smell of stale urine. They both took a quick look around the hallway. Neither of them really expected to see a crowd or anything, but they couldn't help it. While there was definitely no crowd, Lucy did spot one individual. It was David, and he seemed to be leaning against some lockers looking down at the ground, unsurprisingly with an expression that went to show there was little on his mind.
"David? Is that you?" Lucy asked aloud, causing Mike to look over at the brown dog.
"Huh? Oh hey!" David said with a smile as he walked over. When he gotten closer, he noticed that they had been crying. While David had pretty much assumed they had been from the start, it still seemed rather disturbing to see them in the shape they were.
"Hey, what are you doing here?" Mike asked, hiding the annoyance he felt for seeing David at such an inopportune time. It also made him wonder if Paulo was around, since they always seemed to be together.
"I, uh, was actually waiting on you." David said with an awkward laugh.
"Waiting on me…?" Mike asked confused.
"Yeah, see, it's about what Paulo said to you today."
"Oh." Mike responded.
"Yeah… I just wanted to uh… say sorry for what he said to you." David said scratching the back of his head and looking at the ground.
"Why are you saying it?" Mike asked him still confused.
"I… um… I don't… really know. I guess I just felt like I could have, I don't know, prevented him from doing it… I mean he really didn't mean those things." David said, obviously very bad at this kind of thing.
"Oh, I… uh… I appreciate it." Mike said, unsure of how to respond.
"Yeah!" David said with enthusiasm. "No problem. You just tell me if you need anything. I can help deal with Paulo for you too." David said with a grin as he placed his hand on Mike's shoulder. Mike couldn't help but look over at the hand, and then up at David.
"Oh, uh, I'm not really too good at this kind of thing!" David said with a nervous laugh and a slight blush as he took his hand off of Mike's shoulder.
Mike had to admit he was genuinely confused. He had never seen David act like this, and was surprised he even cared. Mike had always kind of looked at David as more of a friend of Paulo's then of his, since in reality they knew very little about each other. Honestly, Mike had figured if Paulo ever left for some reason, David would probably disappear, since he barely fit in with them. Then again, he didn't exactly 'fit in' with anyone.
They stood in an awkward silence for a few moments, both parties waiting for someone else to say something.
"Uh, would you like to walk with us, David?" Mike asked him almost nervously.
"Oh, sure! I'll walk with you guys for a little while." David answered eagerly.
The more Mike watched David and the more he thought about what David had said, the more it seemed to dawn on him. Maybe he was a closer friend then he had once thought. Mike hadn't the slightest idea why David was being so… friendly. Could it have simply been a kind gesture? This whole time had David really been this nice of a person? Sure, they had known each other for years, but had they ever really known each other? Would Mike have been willing to walk up to David, swallow his pride, and do something painful entirely for David's sake, although Mike was at no obligation?
At first, this only made Mike feel worse. It made him feel inferior. It reminded him of how insignificant he had been in helping his friends. And while this feeling did remain, he was able to get something else out of the event as well. He knew his friends cared about him. He knew that if something happened they would be there for him, that he wasn't alone, and that he wasn't on his own. He had Lucy, Abbey, David, Daisy, Sue, Tess, and even McCain; there were people he could talk too.
As they walked down the hallway in relative silence, Mike couldn't help but think about Paulo. He thought about what Paulo had said to him, and about what he had said to Paulo. He couldn't help but wonder if Paulo was even still his friend after all of that. Mike didn't want to think the friendship they had maintained for so many years could be ended so quickly, but he also couldn't get over what Paulo had done to him. Even if Paulo was still willing to be friends, was Mike? If it had just been for the words, just for the truth, then Mike probably would have been able to say yes. He probably would have been able to say sorry, and to say apology accepted, but it was more then what Paulo said.
Mike knew that every day he was going to have to walk down the halls of the school and put up with people looking at him, people laughing at him, and even certain individuals making his life harder than is already was. Mike knew that it wasn't Paulo's intention to do what he did; he knew that Paulo didn't mean to embarrass him like that, but the fact of the matter was that he had. Regardless of intention, Paulo had done it, and nothing could take it back. Mike would forever be a social outcast, someone who could never be taken seriously again.
It was all too much for Mike to take. Maybe he could forgive Paulo one day, but it sure wasn't going to be anytime soon. Not after that, not after what was to come. Mike didn't want to say he had lost a friend, because it hurt too much to admit. All he knew was that he needed some time away from Paulo, some time to get over what he had said and done. Some time to come to terms with being a horrible friend, and a horrible person. Some time to betray Lucy. Some time for him to call his skank.
Mike felt hot blood flow through his veins as they walked. He had a sudden urge to hit Paulo, to make him feel pain. To make Paulo feel the same pain he did. Mike wanted Paulo to wake up with every muscle in his body hurting, for him to feel no hope, for him to feel his entire life be called into question. He wanted him to know what it was like to have to choose, so maybe than he would have some kind of idea of how hard it was. So that maybe Paulo could finally grasp that Mike didn't live in some little, perfect world. That his life wasn't that great, that he felt pain just everyone else. He wasn't immune to this world and its malcontent, he wasn't immune to depression. If anything, he had it worse. He had nowhere to go. He had great grades, a loving mom, even a variety of girls he could go out with, and yet somehow he wasn't happy.
What else could he possibly do? What else could he possibly get? There was nothing, he was doomed to be unhappy until the day he died. Not to mention the cancer, the very thing that had shown him the error of his ways, yet had also made them impossible to fix. Almost like God showing someone everything they were doing wrong and everything they had done wrong, only to kill them with lighting moments later. Just so their last moments would be horrendous. Paulo didn't have a right to say the things he did, because they weren't true.