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A dark blur moved closer and closer, drawing my attention away from the conversation. "Uh, what?" I raised my eyebrows, turning to my friends.

"I asked you..." someone started to say.

I tuned them out again, glancing down the long hallway. A black unzipped hoodie, a loose t-shirt, a large book bag... Yep. Definitely him. I returned to the conversation, pretending to not notice my best friend, while desperately hoping that he'd come say hi, or even look at me as a sign of acknowledgement. Nothing. He walked past me with a blank look, not a glance in my direction. I sighed. How did it turn out like this? We were so close before. What the hell happened?

"We can still be friends, right? Best friends," I added, feeling a need to make our relationship more special, to make him more special.

"But I don't want to be friends," he mumbled stubbornly, as a fresh stream of tears cascaded down his face.

"I know, J-, I know." I reached up to wipe his cheeks with a sleeve, well aware that my face, too, was glistening. "But we can't go on like this. I'm sorry." I adjusted my jacket, shifting uncomfortably on one of the cold, hard chairs around the ice rink.

"But why?" he asked again, looking especially pathetic, as he sat shivering in the cool breeze.

I sighed and began to zip up his favorite black hoodie before he could stop me. "Because. I just don't want a relationship right now," I recited the usual excuses, "and I hate lying to my parents about it."

"But, but..." he started to protest. The holiday lights lit up his damp face, revealing his pained expression, as he searched for anything to change my mind. "Fine," he pouted. "But I still get privileges, right?" he joked, trying to lighten up the mood. He smiled weakly and playfully moved his hand farther up my leg. I managed a small chuckle as I leaned over to hug him. He held me tightly, sobbing quietly into my hair. "I love you," his voice broke as his thin frame shook with overwhelming emotion.

An older couple sitting nearby peered at us curiously, unable to understand why two teenagers are so unhappy on such a perfect evening. At that moment, they didn't matter. I was trapped in my own world with my "new best friend". I smiled through my tears and whispered into his neck, "I love you too... always have, always will. I promise."

The humid air clung to my sweaty skin as I pushed open the door with the glittery "BEDROOM" sign I had hastily doodled the night before. A rush of cool air greeted me as my eyes searched for my target. As expected, he was lying on top of my bed frame, eyes flickering at the ceiling, an expression of bored annoyance. I sighed and pulled on his arm in an attempt to drag him up. No luck. "J-," I whined, "get up and come outside with me. Please?" I pouted with my usual puppy dog face. "You're not even supposed to be on my bed. It has no mattress."

He turned to me with a frown, knitting his eyebrows tight together. "It's loud," he said in a small voice, "I don't like the noise. It's so hot out there too."

I rolled my eyes, "It's a birthday party J-. It's not supposed to be quiet. Stop being a loser and come outside already." I yanked on his arm as hard as I could, but only succeeded in dragging him sideways by two inches. His arm flopped down like a giant piece of cooked noodle. "Stop pouting!" I ordered playfully and stuck out my tongue at him. "I'm not staying here. I gotta check on them so they don't burn down my apartment."

He pulled his hood over his face and curled away from me, pretending to sleep. Huddled in his furry extra-large hoodie, he looked especially fragile and lonely. "Oh come on J-," I nudged him lightly, "Kitty? Best friend?" Sighing, I walked around to the other side of the bed and leaned down to hug him. Instead of accepting my hug, he took this chance to drag me down beside him. I face-planted with a thud, causing my headboard and mirror to shake. Annoyed, I turned to him, "Come on J-, just come outside with me for a minute. Please? You can play B- at Twister again?" I smiled at him, playfully poking his stomach and tickling him.

He bit his lip, trying to hold back his laughter and keep on his "depressed" face. Too bad I knew all his ticklish spots. He burst out laughing and tried to tickle me back, "Okay. Fine!" he shouted, somewhat mollified, "I'll go outside!" I gave him a huge toothy smile and dragged him up and out the door before he could protest, triumphant that I've succeeded in getting what I want from him yet again.

I grinned widely at my calculus quiz, 49 out of 50! "Thank you J-!" I mumbled to myself, thinking back to the night before.

It's 2:30 in the morning, and I'm still studying for calc. Ugh, I don't even get this! I gave up on the problem and went to the next. Damn, I don't know how to do this one either. I frowned, spamming J- for the hundredth time that night. "J-, I NEED CALC HELP! AHHHH!" I typed with unusual speed, smashing the keys in frustration.

"?" he replied.

"Integral of x^4/ x^10+16? cosx / 1+sin^2x? sin^6x? (x^3-1)^4?" I rattled on.

"u=x^5," he started to explain patiently, " arc tan..."

I ran up to his Spanish class, stopping a few feet away from the door to catch my breath. There! I spotted him easily in the crowds of students blocking the hallway. He was wearing his favorite black hoodie, a book bag weighed down heavily on his back as he slowly made his way to the door.

"J-!" I shouted excitedly as I shoved the green paper in his face. "Thank you sooo much!" I gave him a quick hug that knocked him into the wall. "But look at my mistake," I frowned, "that was so stupid of me, I could've gotten a perfect score on a calc quiz."

He glanced down at my quiz as he regained his balance. "HAHAHAHAHA," he laughed as I stuck out my tongue at him like a little kid.

He tackled me onto his bed, pain clear in his longing eyes. I stared back, slightly uneasy in the familiar room and under his familiar touch. "I guess that's about all I can do now," he whispered as he hugged me tightly.

"I know," I hugged him back, "I'm sorry. Maybe I should've waited 'til after your birthday." I pulled away, getting back on my feet.

He observed me in the dim light. The framed artwork of the Joker glared down evilly from the bright orange walls. "What's that around your eyes?" he suddenly asked, interrupting my staring contest with the sadistic lunatic.

"Er, what? Oh that, eyeliner?" I replied, wondering why he noticed such a small detail.

"You wore eyeliner for me?" he smiled, "Thanks."

I raised my eyebrows, "Uh, sure? I'm gonna use the bathroom, okay?" I glanced out his bedroom door into the darkness nervously. "Um, come with me? Please?"

"Sure," he sighed and got up to follow me, offering a hand of comfort, knowing I was afraid of the dark. My heartbeat sped up as we carefully made our way through the basement.

Click. He flicked on the light and a thin white ray shot out the half-open door. "There," he said flatly. I turned and jumped into his protective arms, unwilling to let go. He tensed but returned the hug, swaying gently against the wall. I rested my head on his chest, enjoying this peaceful moment. "Do you still like me?" he whispered softly.

I stared up into his eyes and smiled nervously, fighting the rush of emotions that struggled to break loose. "I'm going to use the bathroom..."

I bolted out of my physics class right after the bell, determined to catch him before his next class. It was only the second day of the term, but I already figured out and memorized his schedule. Screw him for ignoring and avoiding me. I jumped off the last few stairs and turned the corner as the familiar sting of hurt and irritation crept in. Finally, I reached his Spanish class only to find the room almost empty. Damn it. I spotted a familiar looking book bag down the hall and hurried towards it. "J-!" I grabbed onto his arm, "Will you please stop and talk to me?"

"What?" he replied in annoyance, quickening his footsteps.

"Why are you avoiding me?" I demanded, not caring that I was causing a scene in the sea of students.

"I'm not!"


"I'll talk to you later, okay? I'm gonna be late for Precal."

"No! Screw Precal!" I yelled stubbornly, unwilling to let go.

He shook me off, giving me one more death glare before heading down the escalator, leaving me to stare after him. I shook with rage and frustration. Not again! I'm not giving up this easily! I stomped down the stairs to the cafeteria, although I had no appetite after what had happened. In my mind, I was already planning on how to catch him between the remaining classes of his day.

"Anything else you need help with? I have to go home. Thanks to you, I'm late by 30 minutes. I'm sure my friends already left. Now I have no one to go home with," he grumbled, irritation clear into his voice. I sat numbly beside him on the cold floor next to his locker, my locker from last year, silent, waiting for him to finish getting the necessary books to take home. J- got pissed off and impatient explaining calc stuff to me. I thought to myself in disbelief, fighting the tears. Damn it, why is it so easy for me to lose control around him? I took a deep breath and covered my face, forcing myself to stay still. "Are you okay?" he asked as he turned to look at me, slightly concerned.

"Fine," I let out, hoping he didn't notice my voice cracking as I continued to take slow breaths. He didn't.

"Okay," he shrugged, "well I'm gonna go." He leaned down to give me an awkward one-armed hug. I tensed and covered my eyes, afraid to look at him. He lingered for a little while longer before walking down the empty hallway.

I listened to his fading footsteps. As soon as I knew he was gone, I let my tears fall. Damn it, why am I crying again? What is there to cry for? I sat back against the rows of lockers, traveling down my memory lane as images of us filled my mind. J- and me in the library, getting yelled at by the security guard for PDA. J- and me at his house, baking a coffee cake for my dad's birthday, J- and me in prep school, dressed in oversized matching white T-shirts for Twins Day... I snapped out of my head as a fresh wave of tears rolled down my face. I need to calm down. I started to take deep breaths again, trying to gain control.

Taking out a clean napkin and a red glitter pen, I began a message to J-. "Thank you for helping me with calc..." I wrote carefully, then started to fill up the remaining white space. "I love you..." I hid in the random lines and shapes I doodled across the napkin, knowing that he wouldn't find it in the mess.

Satisfied, I opened his locker and stuck the crumpled napkin inside, taking another deep breath before gathering my belongings and heading out to face the rest of the world.


Just a girl, confused about a boy. World traveler and New Yorker at heart. Dancer, singer, and organic gardener. Let me pick your brain?


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