I run to Aliyah's room after the fight. I have a mind to tear all her stuff down off the walls but when I reach out to pull down a frame something catches my eye. A picture of me, Aliyah, and Meeya. We're standing at the beach with lollipops and money in our hands. I laugh as I remember how Aliyah slipped after we took it. I feel terrible. I cursed and yelled at her when all she was doing was stopping me from scaring Nico. I was all over him like some sex crazed weirdo. I give myself a face palm as I realize he probably does think that I'm some kind of sex crazed weirdo. That's what everybody thinks about me. I'm the weirdo who's always trying to get somebody in between his sheets. The weirdo that can't decide whether he wants to be with guys or girls. Why can't I just choose the obviously right answer? "Because." I think to myself. There are guys like Nico out there. Gorgeous hair, gorgeous face, gorgeous body, gorgeous voice, and a knockout smile.
"Yeah." I sigh "That's why."
I start to sob on the blanket on the bed, and then I hear a knock at the door. I get up and answer it and Aliyah and Garrett are standing in the doorway. I let them in and we all sit on the bed. Aliyah and I open our mouths simultaneously but we can't say anything, because as soon as we lock eyes we start to sob. I fall into her shoulder and she holds me. Then Garrett wraps his arms around both of us and we stay like that for a while. In a big wet ball of love. And even though I'm sad, I can't help but smile, because I'm surrounded by love. I think back on the day when Aliyah and Meeya took me into their home for good. I remember the worry and care in their voices.
"Are you sure you can eat out with us?" Aliyah said
"Yeah, we don't want your parents to worry." Meeya said
"Trust me." I said "They won't care."
We went to Olive Garden that night and had a blast. We actually have a running joke between the three of us since that night. I devoured two baskets of breadsticks all by myself. So now if we're eating bread, eating at Olive Garden, or even if we pass an Olive Garden, or someone says anything that reminds them of Olive Garden, they go nuts. They'll look at me and be all like
"DEM BREADSTICKS THOUGH!" With these crazy looks and over the top hand gestures. But honestly, they'll yell anything if you let them. I think that it kind of grew on me because I find myself doing the same now. But anyhow, when we got back to the apartment they tried to take me to my dad's floor, but I begged them to let me spend the night. That's when they realized something was seriously wrong, so they took me in. And ever since that night I've never felt safer. And this is how I repay them. By yelling, kicking, screaming, cursing? I'm disgusted with myself, so I break the hug and finally speak.
"I…I'm so…sorry." I choke out while trying to catch my breath.
"No. No honey." Aliyah says while she rocks me. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have pulled you like that. Plus I kind of embarrassed you in front of your boyfriend."
"He's not my-my boyfriend!" I scream still trying to breathe.
"Look man." I jump forgetting that Garrett was there. He turns to me and starts to talk in a serious but comforting tone.
"I can't possibly know what this feels like for you. But I do know that if this is where your heart is, if this is who you are? It doesn't make you any less of a man. Or human for that matter. In my opinion it makes you tougher because you're standing up against society. So don't beat yourself up or deny yourself love. Be what you want. Be happy."
I sit there in Aliyah's arms and say
"I don't know what makes me happy."
"And that-"Aliyah says while cupping my face "Is why I said no physical contact when you first meet someone. So you can get to know, them, before you get to know their body."
"But he's so hot I couldn't help it." I say with a goofy grin and a slight blush. It's the same look I had on my face when Nico said he liked my name at lunch. I've always hated my name because my dad named me and it's lame. I mean come on, Jeremiah. No. But coming out of Nico's mouth it sounds…well…good. Really, really good. My blush deepens and Aliyah notices.
"Hey." She says "Whatever you're thinking. Stop thinking it."
"Huh?" I start as I come back to reality. "Oh. Yeah. Sorry."
"Huh." Sighs Aliyah as she puts her head in her hands "This boy will be the death of me."
"Hey don't say that. I don't want Nico to make that happen. Can he make that happen? "
"He doesn't have those kinds of powers. Honestly, you should really talk to him. He's really attractive on the inside."
She nudges me in the arm with her elbow. There's a knock at the door and we all jump and look at the door.
"Yeah? Come in." says Aliyah
Meeya comes in and walks towards the bed.
"Hey." She starts "Is everybody okay?"
She looks specifically at me with one of her rare sympathy looks. She is loving, but not in the way Aliyah is. Unless, of course, it comes to me.
"Yeah. It's good. It's great."
We all kind of mumble at the same time.
"Well then come out here and participate. Our guest is bored."
She turns around and leaves. We all rise off of the bed at the same time. I stretch and so does Aliyah. We both look back at Garrett and see that he took this opportunity of having an empty bed to sprawl out on it and sleep. We both shake our heads and leave. I lock the door on our way out. Aliyah walks towards the kitchen and starts to put the food away. I walk up behind her and give her a huge hug. I burry my face in her back.
"I love you. Thank you. I don't know where I'd be without you guys."
She leans her head back on mine and says
"We love you too honey."
Then she slips out of my grip, turns around, and looks me in my eyes.
"Now go and make a friend. Nico just woke up."
I nervously looked over to the couch where Meeya was with Nico. My heart started beating faster when he started stretching. Woo! Friends is going to be hard. I start to scratch the back of my neck and Aliyah notices my discomfort.
"Hey. It's cool just go. And for Hades' sake be nice." She whisper/yelled the last sentence to me.
I started walking toward the couch very cautiously. When I got there Meeya and Nico stopped talking and stared at me.
"Uhhh…hi." I whisper
"Hi." Nico says with a bit of an edge in his voice.
"Um Meeya could you…"
I jerk my head toward the kitchen. She smirks and slowly walks away.
"Hey Nico…" I start
He blinks and stares at me with a neutral look on his face.
"I'm sorry. I can be an over compulsive freak sometimes-"
"It's fine. I forgive you."
"-and I didn't mean to offend you or hurt you and-"
"Hey. I said I forgive you."
"-I really do want to get to know you and-"
"HEY! Shut up! I forgive you." He was looking me in the eye and I knew he was telling me the truth.
"So we can start over? I really would love to get to know you Nico. I would."
I look into his eyes and I see a flash of disbelief and then joy. He smiles and says
"Yeah? Yeah. Yeah, that'd be great. We can do that."
"Great." I say with a smile
He blushes and averts his eyes. Yeah, friends was definitely going to be hard.