Being More Social – Chapter 14

“If you ask me, May did it.” I snarled to myself. “That’s what I think.”

“And do you always have this hunch, or do you go back and forth?” Salvador asked me.

I grunted annoyedly. “Yeah, okay, but I think May did it the most.”

“The most?” Salvador asked me. “That creates a bit of a victim-blaming atmosphere, don’t you think?”

“How do you figure?” I asked him.

“If May is innocent, she came up to you telling you about a personal violation, that she was sexually assaulted. And you immediately cast doubt on her. It’s not very fair to her.”

“No shit it’s not fair to her, but don’t you remember what she did to me at that party?!” I waved my arms around as I asked him. “She was May enough and Phil enough for both of us that day. I think I have a valid enough reason not to trust her.”

“Yes, I remember that.” Salvador commented, taking off his glasses and cleaning them. “You really need to stop telling me things that can get me fired.” He added humorously.

“So what’s this week’s life lesson then?” I asked. “Do I read people wrong? Am I not patient enough? Or do I just ‘not get it’ and need to rethink how I approach my own life?”

“You seem tightly wound today.” Salvador remarked, putting his glasses back on. “Is it because of the party’s fallout?”

I shrugged. “I dunno. I feel frustrated.”

“Why?”

I sighed. “It’s a long story.”

Salvador didn’t blink. He just stared at me expectantly. “What?” I finally asked, a little weirded out.

“I’ve never forced you to say anything.” Salvador began to explain.

“Except the fight thing.” I interrupted. He lowered an eyebrow for a microsecond, indicating to me that I wasn’t supposed to bring it up.

“I’ve never forced you to say anything.” he calmly repeated. “It’s your choice as to whether you want to tell me or walk out. Either way is fine by me. This is for your benefit.”

“Quit being such a… teacher.” I jokingly complained. He didn’t laugh, giving me the silence I dreaded. “Nicole and I aren’t having sex anymore.”

“Oh.” Salvador simply responded with a moderate amount of happy interest in his voice. “Good.”

“Good?” I asked him.

“You’re being led down a path I wouldn’t recommend for you. Especially if you already feel the need to have these meetings.” Salvador explained. “You’ve broken down twice during these. It’s going to get to the point where I ignore your requests and sign you up for a professional counsellor if I don’t start seeing improvement.”

I chuckled sadly. “The best thing to ever happen to me is coming to an end. I’m not crying. Is that improvement?”
A flare of slight anger flashed over Salvador’s face. It wasn’t active anger, more like clear disappointment. “Getting to have sex with Nicole was the best thing to happen to you?” he asked, his voice a mix of exasperation and disappointment.

“No, of course not!” I immediately backtracked. “But it was a pretty important thing. It meant a lot to me. I’m trusting my feelings. Didn’t you tell me that?”

Salvador waved his hands in front of me, trying to collect his thoughts. “Just a second.” he told me forcefully. “Getting to have sex with Nicole was the best thing to happen to you? Getting to have sex with her? Not getting to meet her? Not the endless hours you’ve spent together? Not her helping you get over your insecurities, helping you up after your fights, caring about you?”

I nervously looked to the floor. “Okay, maybe I worded that wrong.” I awkwardly admitted.

Salvador nodded with a serious expression. “Maybe you did. I sure hope you didn’t say that because you actually believe it.”

“Of course I don’t!” I defended myself, rebutted by silence. “What, you think I just see her as, like, a convenience or a walking sex object?

“Don’t take it personally but it wouldn’t surprise me.” Salvador told me with a tired sigh. “I’ve been a teacher for a good few years now. I’m not stupid. I know teenagers have sex.” He paused. “Every teacher does. The trouble is, we need to address that with our students without grossing them out, crossing any boundaries, or making them uncomfortable. I’m sure you understand.”

I nodded.

“In your case, I can just tell you though – casual sex is not your friend.”

“Yeah, yeah, STDs and all that.” I replied for him.

He raised an eyebrow. “No, that wasn’t what I was going to say at all.” he told me. “Let me tell you first before you think for me. If you could know what I was about to say before I said it, this whole thing would be a waste of time.” I, chastised, hung my head as he cleared his throat and continued. “Casual sex is a bad thing. It devalues emotional connection. It warps your mind. It makes you emotionally hardened. Over time, you might completely separate sex and love, or find it more difficult to love. You may experience emotional extremes, like depression. You may lose your motivation.”

Still hanging my head, I scoffed.

“Go ahead and laugh but I’ve seen it happen time and time again.” he pointed out.

“Nicole sleeps around and she’s still very motivated.” I retaliated.

He laughed. “Nicole is also a Gifted Program student.” he argued.

“Oh, booga booga. So what if she was a little smarter?” I argued back, jealousy providing some fuel for a slight hint of anger in my tone.

“This isn’t just ‘a little smarter.'” he informed me. “Dr. Young’s Gifted Program isn’t just for slightly smarter kids. He hand-picks his students. All of them could show to up to your exams having read over nothing but the course outlines and outperform you.”

“So Nicole is super smart.” I concluded.

Salvador nodded. “She’s super smart and knows it. That drives her forward. She also likes the attention she gets from it.”

“Well, she is the youngest child in her family.” I remarked, mostly to myself.

Salvador’s eyebrows shot up in slight surprise. “Very good.” he murmured to me as he pointed at me, then continued. “None of the teachers here could tell you how she does it, but Nicole manages to stay motivated despite knowing more than a lot of her teachers.”

“Wouldn’t that make her a little egotistical?” I asked him.

He chuckled. “Have you met her?” he asked me. “Well, naturally, we don’t tell her that she’s smarter than us, at least academically speaking. Like I said, teachers are the authority. She also does a good job of understanding when to not be… bold.”

“She’s the boldest girl on the fucking planet.” I mumbled.

“Easy on the swearing.” Salvador ordered, then looked at me for a bit. “She means a lot to you.”

I nodded. “I feel guilty as shi- sorry, guilty as sin for saying the sex is what meant something to me.”

“Do you feel an emotional connection?” he asked me.

I nodded again. “I think so. I’m pretty sure. We held hands once. She never does that.” My tone came across as slightly flustered.

“Remember how I told you that casual sex makes you feel less?” he asked. I nodded. “Then I’ll ask you again. Do you feel an emotional connection?”

It must have taken guts for the drama teacher to ask the freshman about his sex life. “I… think so.” I answered slowly. “What, are you gonna condone my sex life as long as it has some kind of connection?”

“Well, I don’t need to. It’s over.” Salvador pointed out. “Plus, it’s a good opportunity to see whether your friendship can even still work if you don’t have sex. I still believe that casual sex could warp you, Adam. Neither you nor I want that to happen to you.”

“We didn’t have sex when she was with Phil.” I pointed out.

“You were still having sex with Megan.” he rebutted. “Most students, to my knowledge, don’t have sex until long after you did. Not to mention, Nicole is bold, as you alluded. And she can be a little…” he paused, thinking to himself. “…destructive.”

“Destructive?!” I asked incredulously.

“I remember word-for-word your original encounter with her. Did you really think that was normal in high school?” he asked me.

I thought to myself for a minute. “I guess not.” I concluded.

“It was a completely untraditional introduction to sex. You’ve managed to find three rare outliers of sexual encounters. And it’s very possible in the case of Megan that you caused one.” he explained. “One thing I hope you take from this is that you’re a special case. This isn’t how sex works in the real world.”

“But we are in the real world.” I argued. “Yeah, you can say this isn’t how sex stuff works, but that’s how it’s always worked for me. Maybe it will always work this way. What if I marry Nicole or Megan or something?”

Salvador’s eyes danced in humorous delight. “Not May?” he asked as if we were sharing a joke.

“I…” I started. I didn’t know what to think of her. She was in a limbo state of a bitch and a weird pseudo-friend in my mind at this point. I sighed. “I don’t know.”

“Do you think you’d still have a crush on her if you hadn’t had sex at this point?” he asked calmly.

“Well, probably, but…” I started without thinking, then paused in my tracks. My mouth froze as I looked over at Salvador. He was half-smiling expectantly. This whole conversation was leading up to that. Sex redefined how I saw her. Everything started to click. Sex redefined how May saw me too. How Nicole saw me. How I saw Nicole. How Megan saw me, how Megan saw Carter. I was shocked less and less every day by Carter’s actions. This whole thing, which started out as a wholly emotional crush on May, led to sex that delegitimized my feelings for her.

“Am I a bad person?” I asked Salvador in a small voice.

“No.” he answered simply. “I’m just glad you have enough self-awareness to realize what you just said.”

“Yeah, I get it. I had sex with her and the feelings were cheapened.” I looked at him to find that expectant expression, then scoffed. “Because I didn’t feel an emotional connection.”

“Good.” Salvador replied, obviously referring to my understanding and not what I did.

“But wait a sec.” I quickly followed up. “I only had a physical crush on Nicole but now I have a full crush on her. Hell, I’m sure of it. There’s an emotional connection. What does that mean?”

Salvador shrugged. “I don’t know.” he said as if it were an important point. “Perhaps it’s something significant. Maybe you two connect. Just understand that the sex didn’t cause it.”

“Well we wouldn’t have talked more than once if it weren’t for the sex.” I pointed out.

“Adam, you yourself told me she has sex with everyone.” he retorted. “Does she have a strong connection with everyone?”

“Point taken.” I admitted. “So how do I go forward from here?”

“How?” he asked. “You’re going to keep on living no matter what happens. I can’t tell you how to live.”

“I suppose but I come here for your damn advice, not for the rhetorical stuff.” I pointed out. “It doesn’t help me when you say you don’t know.”

“You’re entitled to think that.” Salvador replied. “But you don’t have my brain. You’re an individual, growing up and becoming an adult. You need to learn to make decisions, and you need to know from experience which ones are the right ones.”

“Like going to theatre school in Paris?” I asked dryly.

He chuckled, then thought to himself for a bit. “If you want advice, here’s something for you. I want you to challenge yourself. Don’t have any sex unless you feel genuine love. Go slow. Be conscious of who you’re sharing your sex with. As a teacher I need to ask you to stop having sex altogether but as a person I know you won’t, so this is the next best thing. Only have sex if you feel love. Share sex, don’t take it. Be honest with me every time it happens, and your life will turn out better, more drama-free and you’ll learn to value people better.”

“How are you single?” I joked.

With only a slight smile, he shrugged. “These meetings aren’t about my personal life, Adam.”

“Right.” My smile faded as I stood up. Hell of a note to end it on. “Thanks again.”

“You’re welcome.” he replied as he pulled out some papers from his desk, ready to go back to work.

“Oh, wait.” I snapped my fingers as I slung my backpack over my shoulder. “Quick question. Nicole’s super smart, right?”

“Yes.” Salvador agreed, half in confusion as to where this was going.

“Is she like super fast too?” I asked. His look of confusion got bigger. “Like, can she do normal tasks like reading books and cleaning rooms and dressing faster than normal people?”

His look of confusion didn’t decay. “Being smart doesn’t help with how fast you clean rooms.” he concluded as if it were obvious. “I mean maybe you’ve memorized where everything goes but your actual speed wouldn’t increase. It definitely wouldn’t impact how quickly you dress. And reading books too quickly, no matter how smart you are, just makes one retain less of the book. The smartest people read the slowest. Why?”

“Nicole is just fast at that.” I worded that one awkwardly.

“I see.” Salvador replied, somewhere between confused and uninterested.

“I realize it’s a weird question out of the blue. I just wanted to know if you could shed any light.”

Salvador was already looking down at some assignment he was marking. “I understand.” he simply replied.

Well, I wasn’t going to get any more out of him at this point. “See you later!” I tossed over my back as I left. In his signature fashion, Salvador didn’t respond.

***

“Alright, is there anything else we have to cover today?” Phil’s lifeless voice, an unusual change from past months but a fitting change from a few weeks ago, asked the room. No one responded, coating the room in a tense silence. “Great, then that’s the meeting.” Lazily, Phil extended his arm outwards and made a shooing motion. “Get outta here.”

People began to fill out of the room, one by one. I was collecting my things, eyeing Phil as I saw Jeff, his VP, walk up to him and clap a hand on his back.

“You doing alright?” he asked him, trying to play off his concern as coolly as possible.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Phil mumbled back. “Just outta energy.”

“Bro, you can’t be out of energy forever.” Jeff protested. “It’s starting to interfere with your job.”

Phil shrugged. “Then you take over.” he suggested.

“Buddy.” Jeff told him in a disappointed tone. “You can’t just shut down like this. I get May was a real bitch to ya, but come on.”

Phil waved a hand dismissively in his face. “It’s all in the past, man. Forget it.”

“No, really.” Jeff continued, making me give a concerned look Nicole’s way. “I think that decision was too rough on ya. If May was lying, they shoulda made an example out of that bitch. Expel her. Maybe threaten her with her own criminal record or some shit. Slander or something.”

“Ex-cuse me?” A short squat blonde-haired girl I still didn’t know the name of piped up, standing up. “We don’t even have any evidence she was guilty. How are you so sure Phil didn’t do it?”

“Got something to say, Tina?” Jeff challenged her. “You think your own fucking president would do that?” He hopped over a desk so he could face her without any obstructions in the way.

While this was happening, Phil raked his fingers over his face. “Jesus fuckin…” he trailed off. The duo had devolved into a shouting match as he hopped off the table and started to walk out of the room.

“You can’t leave the room before the rest of the council members.” Nicole reminded him, still seated, not looking him in the eye.

Phil groaned quietly. “I’m not leaving, I’m just going for a talk with…” His eyes scanned the room. “…Adam.”

“Huh?” I snapped to attention.

“I need to talk to you, dude.” he replied.

“What about?”

“Council stuff. Now hurry up.” he motioned to me with little patience. Wordlessly, I followed him out the door. He waited at the doorframe for me, then shut the door afterwards, following up with a large sigh as he began walking.

We walked for about ten seconds without a word, then he sighed again. “This is exactly what I was talking about man. Exactly what I was fucking talking about.” He stopped and turned to face me. “Fuckin’ reputation. To them, it doesn’t even matter if I did it. You plant the seed, you reap the fuckin’ harvest.”

I didn’t say anything. I felt like I wasn’t there to talk. After a few more seconds, we silently decided to keep walking.

“The fuck am I talking about? I didn’t plant the seed at all.” he complained, really just to himself at this point. “You know, sometimes I get called a dick for being mean, or authoritative, or whatever. But the truth is you gotta be like that. The moment I let my guard down someone fucked me up and suddenly, boom.” He motioned outwards with his hands. “Look what happened. Look what fucking happened.”

“At least you didn’t get expelled.” I quietly pointed out.

“Might as well have been.” he sadly chuckled. “This isn’t even the half of it. You see the meeting and you think, ‘Oh, that’s Phil’s life now.’ It’s fucking not. This is a taste. You go through classes assuming I go through them the same way, but now teachers talk more slowly when they talk to me, people don’t want to sit next to me, and shit, some of these cats don’t even think I did it. They just don’t want their own reputations to suffer by sitting next to the ‘rapist.’ They don’t want to be me.” He gave another sad chuckle. “I don’t want to be me either.”

I didn’t respond as he cleared his throat, trying to cover up any quivering his voice was doing. “Y’know, I wouldn’t even be fuckin’ surprised if no one actually believes I did it. But they all are so fuckin’ worried about losing their own reputations. If life were a shitty little high school movie I wouldn’t be worried because some freshman bitty with a crush on me would make a petition or a hashtag or whatever. ‘I believe in Phil Love.’ It’s not gonna fuckin’ end that way, man. It’s just not. I haven’t even gotten like half of my college applications back yet. They’re just gonna be fuckin’ ‘denied’ at this point.” He was, at this point, struggling to hold back tears, even though he was succeeding.

“Well, hopefully people will forget.” I offered in a small voice. “Give them time, and they’ll stop treating you this way.”

“Time? How much time do you think I have?” he blurted out. “It’s spring, dude. People aren’t going to forget. Even if I had years it doesn’t fucking matter. When people see this face, they’ll think of it. I’ll still be around, so people are always going to be reminded, my face, of… of what I didn’t do. The whole thing is fucked up. If this whole thing was just kept quiet and handled by the police, everything would have been fine. I fucking hate the students here.”

He angrily punched a wall weakly at just stood there for a while, drinking in the silence of the hallway. He broke it with his sigh.

“I’m sorry I got the council worked up about your blowjob thing with Megan.” he finally said. “It wasn’t cool of me.”

“It’s fine.” I said meekly, partially out of intimidation from being around a sadder Phil. “Besides, if you didn’t, I’m sure someone else would have.”

He looked away from the wall to face me, right in the eyes. Eventually he broke out into a sad smile and gave a low chuckle, the kind of chuckle you give when you can’t be bothered to care about the world anymore.

“Ain’t that the truth.” he replied in a gravelly voice. Slowly, he started to walk back towards the council room. “Come on.” he ordered.

We walked back in silence to a council room filled only with Jeff and Nicole, the latter of whom sitting with arms akimbo on a desk. “Where were you two?” she asked.

“In the hallway.” Phil answered in a tired voice.

“..Doing what?” Nicole pressured, making the ‘go on’ gesture with her hands.

Phil looked at her, clearly irritated. “Just talking.” he answered annoyedly. “C’mon, everyone. Get the fuck out of here.”

Jeff sighed loudly as he packed up his stuff and made his exit. Nicole soon followed, a look of curiosity on her face and a camera around her neck. “Bye, Phil.” she said with no emotion as she left, grabbing me by the shirt and tugging me along.

“So what the fuck crawled up Phil’s ass, laid eggs and died?” she asked me.

I really didn’t want to be directly involved more than I already was. “Don’t look at me.” I replied.

“Right. You only talked to him.” she replied, rolling her eyes. “I’m not stupid, squirt.”

“He’s just upset with the whole party thing.” I admitted in a small voice.

Nicole kept walking, determined not to let anything from her inner reaction show. “Mmm.” she lazily replied.

“You okay?” I asked.

She stopped walking to face me with half-closed eyes and one lowered eyebrow. “Not everything I do is melodramatic you big dumbo.” she told me.

“At least you admit some of it is.” I grinned.

“Nope, never. I’m perfect.” she replied nonchalantly, resuming her walking.

“Anyone at school can tell that.” I replied sincerely.

“Yeah, and anyone at school could tell you what my vagina looks like. What’s your point?” she fired back.

“Anyone except me.” I complained.

“Oh, come on.” she half-laughed. “Pitying your way to getting sex again won’t work. Get Megan to help you out or something.”

“It wasn’t the fact that it was sex, it was because it was with you.” I protested.

“I don’t buy that for an instant.” she retorted, opening the school doors to the outside. “I know I’m good at it, but sex is sex, even if some is crappier.” She paused for a second then saw the look I was giving her out of the corner of her eye. “Don’t look at me like that. If you’re getting an emotional attachment to me, that’s all the more reason it’s good that we’re not doing it. We’re still hanging out, aren’t we?”

“Why is an emotional attachment even bad?” I protested. “I can accept if it doesn’t go both ways, but it’s like I have to feel bad for my own feelings. I don’t feel like it’s fair.”

Nicole gave the horizon ahead her patented ‘losing my patience’ smile and turned to me. “I’m gonna say this gently because I’m in a good mood, squirt.” she told me, taking my hands in hers and turning her body to face me, just two teenagers in the parking lot.

“When you say you have an emotional attraction to me, or an emotional connection to me, I don’t like it. I’m not comfortable with it because I feel obligated to do something about it. Even if you don’t want me to, I’ll still have that obligation. And that will just make me push you away. It’s really clear you’ve never lost your best friend before. I know it’s a cliché to say this, but grief sucks. After I lost Mitch, I didn’t want a friend ever again. I didn’t like feeling any kind of emotional connection. It would only remind me of him, how much I want him back, and how he isn’t ever coming back.

“I’m not comfortable being open, and I’ve had to do it a shit ton this year. Hell, I’ve even accepted it. But emotional shit is too much. No offense, squirt, but sometimes you’re too much.” She paused a little to let that sink in. “I’m not mad at all, but I’m not ready to… let my guard down again like that. It’s not about you. I’m not ready to be that vulnerable. What if you’re stupid and get into an accident or something? I wouldn’t be able to take it.”

She was smiling at me – oddly calm for someone who was basically admitting she was broken (and kind of implied she didn’t want us to be friends). “Okay?” she asked expectantly.

“I think it’s stupid.” I grumbled. “So what, you’re going to live the rest of your life without friends?”

“No, stupid.” she replied, a little annoyed at this point. “But… give me time. I can’t expect you to understand what I’m going through, but that’s okay.”

“I could if you explained it!” I argued.

“I just did.” she huffed. “Who’s your best friend in the whole world?”

“You.” I replied without hesitation.

“Really?!” she laughed. “Wow. that’s sad. Okay, so if you lost me, how would you feel?”

“I’d feel-”

“Nope.” She shook her head.

“What?!”

“You didn’t even think about it.” she answered simply. “It’s so much different than what you think it’s like. You can’t give me a good answer just like that.”

Frankly, I didn’t agree with her, but I was willing to let her have her way, because God knows she wasn’t going to have it any other way. “Okay, I’ve got it.” I meekly conceded.

She gave me a big smile in thanks. “I appreciate it, squirt.” she told me softly, moving her head forward and kissing my forehead gently. “And I don’t want it to sound like I don’t like being friends with you.” she added as we started to walk again. “It’s just like… it’s hard for me to want to be friends, just in principle.”

“It’s hard for me to make friends.” I grumbled under my breath as we approached her car.

“Don’t give me that. You’ve got a lot of friends. You’re just too much of a dumbo to see how well off you are.” she rolled her eyes as she unlocked the car, then stepped inside. As I followed suit, she cleared her throat, then cleared her throat again.

“You okay?” I asked her.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” she answered as if it were dumb for me to even ask.

“Well, sheesh, I dunno.” I replied dryly. “Didn’t realize looking out for your well-being was so taboo.”

“It’s not taboo, but I already have the best girl in the force doing that job.” She looked in my direction as she started the car and winked at me. “Besides, I don’t get sick.”

“I don’t feel like that’s a thing.” I responded. “Everybody gets sick.”

“I’m not everybody.” she simply replied, smiling at me. “So what’re your plans for the night?”

“Nonexistent.” I shrugged.

She grinned. “Wrong-o. We’re hanging the fuck out.”

“More Castle Crashers?” I asked.

“If you want.”

I was going to make some petty remark about how the lack of sex would make it less fun, but then I thought of Salvador. I so desperately wanted to prove him wrong, but all I kept doing was proving him right. I shook my head. ‘I can do this,’ I thought to myself.

“Sounds like a good time.” I smiled at her as we drove.

***

“Don’t you normally have lunch with Carson? Isn’t he going to be upset?” May asked as we sat down in her familiar hallway.

“Carson doesn’t give a shit about anything.” I answered with a laugh as I opened my lunch pack. “Wouldn’t you know that more than anyone?”

I looked to May with a smile expecting her to give some sort of dry response, but instead I just saw her looking down at her lunch.”Um…” I fumbled, “sorry.”

“It’s okay.” she said quietly. “I just… I really don’t want to be thinking about boys right now, you know?”

I chuckled. “Yeah, me too.” We exchanged smiles as if we were sharing an inside joke and dived into our lunches.

“Y’know…” she began slowly after a minute of silence, her mouth full. “It’s kind of hard not to talk about it.”

“Is that because of recent events?” I asked, chewing. “Maybe it’s because of how recent they are, too…”

She shrugged. “Is it weird being in the council with Phil?”

I paused. “Well, Phil also says his story is true, keep in mind…” I began slowly.

She caught on. “You don’t know who to believe?” she asked me hesitantly.

“More like I believe both of you.” I answered her. “I’m not ready to say either of you are wrong, so I’m just believing both of you for now.”

“That’s just a nicer way of saying you don’t believe either of us.” she looked everywhere but in my eyes as she told me. “If you believed him you wouldn’t be talking to me. You’d treat me like shit. And vice versa.”

I wanted to disagree, but I couldn’t. “It’s hard.” I replied. “As soon as I choose one person to believe, I’m making a statement that I don’t believe the other person, and I’m not ready to cut either of you out of my life.”

She put her hand on mine and smiled. “I understand.”

“I feel like you knew that I haven’t chosen a side yet even when you accepted my invite to lunch.” I kept going. “I hoped you’d understand. I mean this in the best way possible but this isn’t my problem. I don’t want to be dragged into it when my opinion isn’t even important in the first place.”

“Don’t you feel like you’re going to burst though?” she inquired. “Like, I always need to tell people how I think about stuff. Do you have a diary?”

I was hesitant about telling her, but the more I thought about it, the more I figured it would benefit her. She knew Salvador. Maybe she didn’t like him, but if I knew one thing about that guy, it was that you didn’t need to like him to appreciate him. “Better. I talk to Mr. Salvador.” I practically whispered.

She gave me an incredulous look. “You what?”

“He gave me this offer after he saw my anxiety was affecting the class.”

“You have anxiety?”

I stared straight ahead for a moment. Never, until that point did I ever actually acknowledge it, let alone use the word anxiety. Did I have anxiety? Even after all of my growth I was still really stupidly nervous. Did I actually have a disorder?

“Okay, sorry, you don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want.” May’s words broke me from my trance.

“Huh?” I snapped to attention to see a concerned look on her face. “Oh, sorry. I just meant that I can be anxious sometimes. Anyway, I told him everything…”

“Everything?” she interrupted. “What do you mean by ‘everything’?”

I gave her a half-smile and a slow nod in response, watching her grow pale.

“Adam!” she practically barked. “That’s private stuff! I don’t want you gossipping about me to our old teacher!”

“It wasn’t really gossip. It was more like stuff that was weighing me down so much I was crashing. I wanted to tell it to someone. And it doesn’t look like he passed judgment on me, so why would he on you?”

“Are you suggesting I go blab to him too?” she asked me with one eyebrow raised.

“You said it yourself – you feel like you always need to tell people stuff. Is this any different?” I asked. “Plus it would be better if it was with the one person you know wouldn’t misuse the information you told them.”

“I thought that was you, but it turns out everything I tell you, you tell our teacher.” she replied bitterly.

“Come on.” I begged her. “Live in my world. I was really uncomfortable with all of the crap that was going down. Was I just supposed to suffer?”

“Am I?”

“Well, you have the same outlet, don’t you?” I asked her. “You can go ahead and tell him everything.”

“I can’t even look him in the eye now!” she barked. “I can’t even take drama next year now that my fucking drama teacher knows I cheated on my ex with you…”

“So you finally admit it.” I smugly yet stupidly interjected.

May gave me a look that could have been used to euthanize Andre the Giant and I shrank back, nervously taking another bite of my sandwich. Eventually her voice broke the silence. “I’ll think about it.”

I shrugged. That was as good a response as I was expecting. I chewed in silence for a bit before noticing that May was only slowly biting on a single apple.

“You brought more to eat than that, right?” I asked her, pointing to the apple. She didn’t respond – she just meekly looked to the floor. “Why didn’t you pack a bigger lunch? Don’t you get hungry?”

“It doesn’t really matter.” she quietly answered.

“Well, are you hungry?” I asked again.

She sighed. “I’ve just sort of lost my appetite. Food sucks now.”

“Food never sucks. It’s fucking awesome. It’s… food.” I replied. “Come on, is it really that bad?”

“It feels that bad.” she answered with a slightly sad shrug.

“Well what if you had more food, would you eat then?”

She gave a small gaze to my practically finished sandwich, which maybe had two bites left to its name. “I’ll pass.” she flatly said.

“No, come on.” I replied, standing up and taking her hand. “I’m going to buy you something.”

“No, Adam, come on…”

“It’s fine. I have money.” I gave her a reassuring smile. “I’d like to. Please?”

She huffed. “Will you take no for an answer?”

“Will you eat what I buy?” I retaliated. She gave a small smile and followed my lead as we ventured into the cafeteria and into the food serving station (at our school, it had its own room separate from the eating area).

“What would you like?” I asked her as she gazed around, clearly not familiar with the place. Neither was I, and the selection wasn’t exactly reminiscent of La Prego.

“I guess I’ll take a slice of pizza.” she hesitantly said.

“Will you eat it?” I asked her with a half-smile on my face.

“Can I eat it?” she asked in response. I gazed over to the pizza, which looked like it came from a pottery oven. “Good luck.” I mumbled to her as I paid the lunch lady and took a slice for her.

She reached over to grab it and in the attempt, accidentally bumped into a duo of people I didn’t recognize. It was an honest mistake, and with it being so, May turned around and promptly apologized.

“My bad.” she shrugged sheepishly as she looked the person in the face, no evidence in her expression telling me she had any idea who those people were.

The person on the left did a double take at May as she apologized, and nudged the girl next to her. Wordlessly, they both looked at May for about five seconds.

May got visibly creeped out. “What?” she asked finally.

The person on the left said nothing, just shook their head at her and kept walking. The person on the right followed suit, mumbling one word under her breath as she walked which was barely audible to us.

“Slut.”

May’s face was 10% shock, 30% anger, and 60% melancholy acceptance. Without a word, she snatched the pizza from my hands and without waiting for me, marched right out of the serving area, presumably back to her corner.

I suddenly understood Phil a lot more. The issue didn’t leave at what I saw. Both of these people were hurting, and the suckiest part of all was that only one of them deserved it.

***

The next day was a day unlike one Hazelwood had seen in a long time. There was a disturbance in the Force. There was a certain emptiness to the aura of the school, a certain presence absent from the hallways, a certain sarcastic know-it-all only a memory for the day.

Nicole Baker wasn’t at school.

One could tell what a central figure she was to the school when she was there, but one could tell even more when she wasn’t. The hallways were practically dead. If I hadn’t known any better, I’d think that Nicole was some kind of sex goddess that regulated the school, because there was some kind of definite palatable sexual tension lingering around the school’s populace like an unwelcome storm cloud. Even I felt it.

I would have found the circumstance a lot more hilarious had I not been so worried. Nicole hadn’t been answering her texts all day. When I had asked the school secretary about it, she said it was ‘none of my business,’ which I guess was fair, considering I could have just as easily been Nicole’s stalker to her. Then again, I suppose in the moment I really was Nicole’s stalker.

It was a Friday and Nicole wasn’t at school, so I had ample liberty to take the bus home, which I promptly did. Throughout the entire bus ride home, possibilities whirled throughout my head. She was sick, she had another family crisis, she played hooky, this was a dream, Pluto’s not a real planet, the whole overthinking shebang. Once I got home, I spent maybe two minutes putting my stuff down and saying hi-bye to mom before rushing off to Nicole’s house, cutting across the neighbor’s lawn with the grace of a newborn foal.

Within seconds Mrs. Baker responded to my rapping on her door, opening up the door with a neutral expression that soured just a tad after she registered that it was me.

“Hello, Adam.” she greeted me, admittedly flatly. “What can we do for you?”

“Hello, Mrs. Baker.” I stammered. “I couldn’t help but notice Nicole wasn’t at school today.”

“You’ve got a sharp eye for detail, don’t you?” she responded, the same level of thrill in her voice as ever.

“Well… I was…. wondering why she wasn’t…” I eventually choked out, wanting to say it like it were obvious but still uncomfortable.

“Who is it?” I heard Mr. Baker’s voice booming from the kitchen.

Mrs. Baker quietly sighed to herself. “It’s Nicole’s little friend.”

“What does he want?”

“To know why Nicole wasn’t at school today!”

“What?”

He wants to know why Nicole wasn’t at school today!

“Oh, does he go to her school?”

Mrs Baker turned fully away from me. “Why would he be asking if he didn’t go to her school?!” She turned back to me as Mr. Baker made some kind of muffled response. “Oh for heaven’s sakes, come in.” she finally conceded, closing the door after me as I walked in.

“Shoes off?” I asked.

“Yes please.”

I kicked off my shoes, passed Mr. Baker in the kitchen then started to head upstairs. I promptly stopped halfway through then retraced my steps back to the kitchen, looking at the spine of Mr. Baker’s book.

Outliers?” I asked him incredulously.

He put his book down and gave me a stubborn look. “It’s a good book!” he defended himself.

“I didn’t know you owned anything besides Dickens.” I explained.

“Well, I do.” he grumpily stated. I continued to stare until he exasperatedly sighed and put the book down again. “My daughter is upstairs, not in this book.” he remarked curmudgeonly.

Well, that was enough public relations with the Baker family for one day, I decided. I again took the pathway upstairs and without even knocking, marched right into Nicole’s room.

Nicole was in her bed, or rather, on it. Fully clothed, face fused to the pillow, completely above the covers, positioned like a Modigliani painting.

“Hey, Nicole.” I warmly greeted her as I walked up to her, caressing her back.

“I’m fucking sick.” she complained into the pillow, with as little hesitation as if we were already in a full-fledged conversation.

“I thought you don’t get sick.” I replied.

“I don’t.” She forced herself up to look at me eye-to-eye, and my God, it really showed that was was sick. She was paler than usual and her eyes had lost their natural sparkle. It didn’t help that they were half-closed.

“At least you’re still beautiful.” I half-lied.

She gave me her ‘I’m not amused’ smile in response. “Oh, shut up.” she laughed meekly as she stood up, stretching herself out.

“When’s the last time you got sick?” I asked her.

“The seventies.” She lazily reached over to her dresser and started pulling out some clothes. Not even caring that I was in the room, she got rid of her t-shirt, exposing her perfect breasts to me.

“So what the hell are you doing here?” she asked me, putting on a bra slowly, almost teasingly covering up her beautiful nipples until they were gone from my sight.

“I came to see you!” I answered as if it were obvious. “You weren’t at school and I got worried.”

“Of course you did, you lil’ wuss.” she replied, smiling warmly at me as she put a new t-shirt on.

“I have a right to worry about you.” I defended myself. “The whole school felt like it noticed you were gone.”

Nicole beamed and looked out her open window. “Damn right.” she practically whispered. “Did you have a good day, squirt?”

“Well, it wasn’t as good without you there.” I began.

“Don’t tell me things I already know.” she grinned as she took off her pants. “How’s Spanish, you still struggling?”

“Well, I got th- why are you dressing in front of me? Are you trying to tease me?” I sputtered. “Didn’t you already have clothes on?”

“These are yesterday’s clothes, you dummy.” she replied, taking off her panties at throwing them squarely at my face. I didn’t really have an underwear fetish so I just swatted them away. “You touched them last, now you have to throw them in the hamper,” she added, motioning to her hamper while simultaneously putting another pair on. Secretly, I cursed myself for not looking between her legs while I had the chance as I threw her panties in her hamper across the room.

“Kobe.” I muttered. “Why did you go to sleep in yesterday’s clothes?”

“Sleep? I wish.” she responded, slipping on a pair of black jeans. “Sickness hits me hard, squirt. I haven’t slept since before you saw me last.”

“We saw each other yesterday.” I relayed.

“I fucking know.” she replied annoyedly.

“That’s insane! Are you okay?” I asked her worriedly.

She waved me off as she sat beside me. “Don’t sweat it. I’ve lived through hell and back. Sickness doesn’t even register at this point.” she muttered. “Besides, I took the usual stuff.”

“What, like medicine?” I asked.

She gave me a distasteful look. “You know, it’s attitudes like that that allow superbacteria to carry antibiotic-resistant genes. You’ll kill us all.” She coughed into her arm. “No, not like fuckin’ medicine. I have a cold, not pneumonia. I just mean tea and stuff.”

At this point I was basically used to certain things Nicole said being in one ear and out the other. “What about soup?” I asked.

She coughed again. “I think mom made some earlier but I haven’t been downstairs since yesterday.” she conceded with a hoarser throat.

“Why not?”

“I don’t wanna be seen like this if I’m sick, okay?” she snapped. “Call it stupid or whatever, but I feel weird being seen… weak.”

I thought about the day I discovered her at Mitch’s grave, then dismissed it with a shiver. “Why don’t I go downstairs and get it for you?” I offered.

“Because I’m a lazy piece of shit that can do it herself?” she offered.

“Nuh-uh.” I shook my head. “If you’re sick, I want to help you.”

“I don’t need help.”

“I didn’t say you did.” I retaliated. “I just want you to have soup.”

“Cute, play the hero.” she playfully punched me in the arm.

I stood up. “I’m not all talk. I’m gonna do it. Got any words for me?”

“Off the top of my head?”

“Sure.”

“You make me feel guilty and I hate you.” she flopped down onto the bed, her head facing the ceiling and her hands rubbing her eyes.

“Good enough for me.” I grinned and she grinned back, still not facing me. I rushed back downstairs to see Mrs. Baker at the kitchen island (island/table, I never really decided which I should call it) reading a newspaper, and Mr. Baker still reading Outliers.

I cleared my throat, causing Mrs. Baker to lower her newspaper ever so slightly, her eyes meeting mine. “Um, hi.” I began. “Do you know where the bowls are?”

“In my own kitchen? Let me surprise you.” her disinterested tone greeted me once again as she stood up. “What do you need a bowl for?”

“Nicole would like some soup but she’s too shy about how she looks to come get it herself.”

Mr. Baker chuckled. “That sounds like her.”

“See this drawer?” Mrs. Baker pulled open a drawer for me. “Bowls galore. The spoons are in the drawer above.”

“Thank you.” I replied sincerely, and rushed to get a bowl. “Can I get some for you too?”

“Quit it with the nice guy facade.” she chuckled amusedly at my ‘cheekiness.’

“It’s not a facade, I’m honestly asking you.”

“Well then your facade is so good you’ve even fooled yourself.” she replied with a smile. “I’d love some soup. Help yourself too.”

“Thank you.” I replied. “Mr. Baker?”

“I’ll pass.” Mr. Baker replied. “Good lad.”

Them being somewhat hospitable gave me a stupid surge of confidence and I opened up my mouth once more. “Does it suck having a guy around for so long that you start being nice to them?” I asked. “Did you ever have the talk with her like you promised?”

I gave Mrs. Baker her soup as she sighed. “Look.” she began. “It’s hard. Nicole is, as you know, a very special girl. She’s not like any other girl.”

“One in a million.” I acknowledged, pouring Nicole her soup.

“If that. But that comes with disadvantages. We know you mean well, and if you don’t you’re better at hiding it than a lot of guys she brought home. But you’re young and presumptuous. It’s incredibly rude to come into our house and tell us how we should be raising our own daughter.”

“Incredibly rude.” Mr. Baker repeated.

“I doubt there’s much you can tell us that we don’t already know.” Mrs. Baker went on. “And we’re trying as hard as we can. Now I think we can admit we got off on the wrong foot.”

I nodded.

“Do you know why that was?” she asked me rhetorically.

Um…” I slowly began. “Is this the part where I say I did something wrong?”

“We’re used to guys like you using Nicole.” Mrs. Baker continued, ignoring me. “Using her. We don’t like seeing it happen and we do as much as we can to prevent it.”

“So what do I have to say to prove to you that I’m not like those guys?” I asked her. “Is there something I can do to stop us from hating each other?”

“Well, we don’t hate you.” she admitted. “We just don’t like the idea of you two going upstairs and having sex all the time. But that’s not going to change, is it?”

I laughed out loud. “Actually, about that… Nicole is worried about me being a minor and all and has decided to stop having sex with me. You don’t even need to worry on that front.”

“Wait, how old are you?” she asked me.

“I’m a freshman.”

“Good gracious, she’s with a fourteen-year-old, Duncan.” she remarked to her husband.

“Was.” I clarified. “We’re not having sex at this point. Ask her, she’ll give you the same story.”

She gave me a serious look. “Do you promise?” she asked.

“Yes.”

She looked at me in the eyes for a long time. “Okay.” she finally said. “I’d like the bedroom door to be open at all times when you’re over for security, but for now, we’ll trust you. Thank you for being open.”

“Thank you for actually giving me a chance.” I replied. “Is there a time I should be home?”

“We’re not prepared for you for supper but until then as long as you like, I suppose.” she answered. “Wait. How far away do you live?”

“Just over there.” I motioned. “I’m two houses over.”

“Good gracious Duncan, he’s the son of those Watsons! We never really pay the neighbors enough attention, do we?”

“Wait, do you guys know my parents?” I asked.

Right when Mrs. Baker was about to answer, an authoritative voice rang through the hall. “How. Long. Does. It. Take. To. Get. Me. Soup?!” Nicole’s annoyed voice yelled down the stairs.

I hesitated for a second and quickly gathered up her bowl, moving across the kitchen.

“Nothing beyond the name.” Mrs. Baker quickly answered me. “We met your parents when we came to the neighborhood but that’s about it.”

I could have known Nicole growing up. I’ll have to chalk that one up to my family’s history of being antisocial. “Please don’t tell them what Nicole and I have been doing.” I spat out as the thought hit me.

“They don’t know?”

I shook my head. “I’ll be as good as you guys want. Just please give me that one thing.”

“I see.” Mrs. Baker said just slowly enough to be ominous. Great.

I practically tripped over myself getting to Nicole’s room while powerwalking. When I opened the door, she was staring out the window.

“I could have made myself soup in the time it took you, Gonzales.” she complained, not shifting her view.

“Sorry.” I sheepishly said. “I got into a bit of a thing with your mom.”

“Yeah, she can be a handful sometimes.” Nicole admitted, looking over to me and taking the soup from my hands. She kissed me on the forehead. “Thanks, hotshot. You’re the sweetest.”

“Only for the best.” I countered.

“Don’t get cute on me right now. I’m vulnerable, remember?” she said slyly, taking the first slurp of her soup.

“I wish you were.” I grumbled stupidly.

“Oh yeah. Girls love it when you get rape-y.” She shot me a look.

I sighed. “I hate having to watch what I say around you so much. Walking on eggshells is so stupid.”

“Call it the toll of hanging out with me.” she shrugged as she slurped up more soup. “Besides, I’m sure you don’t notice it, but every single time we hang out whether I’m in the mood or not, you keep making sexual suggestions.”

“So now I should stop being open with you too? It’s how I feel.”

“I know it’s how you fucking feel.” she growled. “And that’s all my fault.”

“For what, having sex with me? So now it’s a mistake?” My tone was starting to get heated.

“I didn’t say that. God, you’re a dummy.” she retaliated. “I meant I feel like our friendship is built out of sex.”

“Well…” I was ready to rebut, but then hesitated. “…It kind of is, isn’t it?”

No one said anything for about ten seconds, then I broke the silence. “Well, is that a bad thing?”

“It’s not really a good thing. I dunno if it’s bad though.” she replied. “Life isn’t a porno, dude. I don’t like the advances you make right after I say, ‘hey, let’s stop having sex.’”

“Alright, I’ll stop.”

“It’s like you’re a kid who got their toy taken away from them, then you just try to do psychological warfare on your parents just so they give it back.” she continued.

“I said I’ll fucking stop.” I repeated a little more heatedly.

“What’s wrong? Do you not like people saying things after you indirectly ask them not to?” she giggled.

“You are such a brat.” I commented, shaking my head. “So, Castle Crashers?”

Nicole chuckled and looked down to the floor. “Y’know, normally I’d love to. But I think I should actually rest. If I’m sick that’s a bad sign.”

“Is that your subtle way of telling me to go away?” I asked.

“Sure, if you’d like.” she shrugged. “Take it that way if you’re a sissy. All I mean is that I’m fucking beat, and if sickness got the best of me in round one I want to kick its ass once my immune system kicks into high gear.”

“Well I hope you get better soon.” I mumbled as I turned to leave. I stopped when I felt a hand on my shoulder turning me around.

“I’d say the same for you hotshot, but you’re already perfect.” Nicole softly told me, wrapping me in an embrace.

“Is that why you chastised me earlier?” I asked her humorously.

“Don’t ruin the moment.” she told me, still hugging me. “You’re so immature.”

“Yet another way I’m not perfect.” I prodded further.

She didn’t say anything. She let go of me, then with her face in front of mine, leaned forward and slowly kissed my forehead.

“You’re gonna get me sick.” I complained.

“You’re already lovesick for me.” she reminded me.

“I thought you don’t like that.”

“Well I’m making the most of it, aren’t I?” she asked me. “Now skidaddle. I’m fucking tired.”

“Bye, Nicole.” I softly said, her kiss suddenly having its effect on me. The effect made the goodbye borderline painful.

“Go.” she replied emotionlessly. “It’s not like we’re gonna never see each other again. Get the fuck out of my room. Have a good night!” she grinned. The last sentence was said in a sickeningly sweet, singsong voice.

I chuckled as I left her room, closed the door behind me, and made my way downstairs. I waved to her parents to say goodbye as I entered the back room.

“So, you two were arguing?” Mrs. Baker asked me.

Fuck. They heard. “How much did you hear?” I asked, cringing.

“Well, I know that either you’re not lying or you and Nicole are putting on a very elaborate act.” she answered.

Ah, right. That’s what the argument was about. “I told you I wasn’t lying.” I replied.

“It’s always good to have proof.” She crossed her arms. “Have a good night.” She left for the kitchen, leaving me by myself for about five seconds until I left and walked back to my house, thinking all the way back. That wasn’t saying much, considering the trip was around a minute.

By the time I had gotten back home, dad was already home, relaxing in the living room watching Sanford and Son or whatever 80s show he decided was worthy this week. Lazily, I plopped down next to him. Slowly, he turned to face me.

“What?” I finally asked.

“How was your day?” he asked in his trademark dry tone.

I scanned myself for the source of his amusement. Unless I had a kiss mark on my forehead, I couldn’t find anything. “What’s so funny?” I asked him.

“Normally, you’re the first to say something. Not just sit yourself down like the human wonder lump.” Dad told me. “Maybe your day was tiring or something. That would be why I asked.”

“Oh.” I simply replied. “Nah, it was an alright day. Just… school.”

“And how’s Nicole?” Dad asked. “Mom told me you went to visit her.”

“Sick.”

“That’s unfortunate.” he replied with no change in tone. “I hope she didn’t infect you. There’s not enough cold medicine in this house for all three of us so don’t get too close to me.”

“Taking antibiotics for a cold just breeds resistant superbacteria. You’ll kill us all, dad.” I replied lazily.

My eyes widened as I realized what I just said.

***

It was flat-out strange for May to request for us to go on a walk together. Given our history, especially given our last encounter, I wasn’t really in any kind of position to say no. However, one of the more sucky parts of Nicole being sick for me was that I had no ride. Eventually, after a lot of pleading from her and a few quick trips to Google Maps, we decided on a park that was halfway between our places. I was lucky that it was spring, because as much as I loved winter, frostbite was a thing and I wasn’t too enthused with the idea of walking large distances just for someone else’s well-being. I felt awful even thinking that, but May’s problems were May’s problems, and I almost started to regret involving myself to this large an extent.

I got there first, luckily by only two minutes. May seemed chipper as ever when she greeted me, so I was glad to see this wasn’t going to be a melodramatic walk.

“Have you ever been here before?” May asked me after walking for a bit, trying to create conversation.

“Nope.” I replied. “It’s more than an hour away from my house. Kind of undesirable.”

“You should move closer to school then.” she replied.

I chuckled. “Give my parents three hundred grand and maybe they’ll consider it.” She smiled at my comment, allowing silence to fill the air. “So, how are you doing?” I finally asked.

She sighed quietly. “I decided to talk to Mr. Salvador.” she conceded.

Even when she took my damn advice, she still had to word it like it was her idea. “Oh yeah?” I asked her. “How’d that go?”

We wordlessly decided to sit down on a nearby bench as she proceeded. “I think I like it.” she concluded. “It really helps when I can tell people stuff, but I’m still not so sure about him. Every time I tell him something he gives me this expectant look. Like, if I were trying to look inside myself for the answer, I would have just gave the speech to a mirror.”

I laughed out loud. “Welcome to the world of Salvador.” I told her. “He does the same thing to me all of the time.”

“Oh my god!” May replied enthusiastically. “Like, right? I wish he’d just get off his high horse and tell me what he’s thinking.”

“I feel like if he did that as often as you hope, he’d be fired at this point.” I chuckled.

“Well, at least he’d be honest.” she replied bitterly.

“So, did you tell him everything?” I asked.

She nodded. “Everything I feel was important to my story.”

“Including when we got together at the earlier party?” I asked.

She blushed and shook her head. “That really isn’t important to my story. It’s about the more recent party. The past should be left to the past, right?”

“Right, right.” I nodded. “It’ll be interesting talking to Mr. Salvador next time. Now he has my version of the story and yours. If only he had Phil’s, he’d have the complete set.”

“I’d rather Phil not talk to him. Even if he did, he’d be able to spot the liar a mile away.” she said, half-angrily. I put my hand on hers and smiled.

“It’s okay.” I reassured her.

“Besides, knowing salvador, he’s just going to play dumb if you ever mention that I’ve gone to him.” she pointed out.

“Oh my god, that’s true.” I muttered. “So I only have your word for it that you actually went to him.”

“Well, I did.” she replied stubbornly. “How often do you go to him?”

I shrugged. “Whenever I need to. Sometimes it’s rare, but sometimes it’s like once a week.”

“Once a week?!” she asked incredulously. “How traumatic is your life that you need to go to him once a week?”

“Well, it’s for a multitude of things.” I replied defensively. “Sometimes I’m feeling like the world has ended, and sometimes I just go because I’m sexually frustrated or something.”

I didn’t mean for that last part to spill out, and immediately cringed on the inside when I did. I turned to see May had one eyebrow lowered at me.

“You go to see Mr. Salvador when you’re pent up?” she asked me.

“Well, it’s more complicated than that…”

“How?” she asked me, having to suppress her giggles.

“Well, it’s like when I’m so used to having sex and then it gets cut off at the source. Like, it changes a lot about my day-to-day life.”

“Are you saying you’re addicted?” she asked, now completely humorless.

“No, not addicted, but it’s weird. I guess I’m really used to it. Like, it was a big part of my world until recently, and now I’m trying to adapt to that. So telling him how I feel about it helps.”

“So this is a recent thing, huh?” May asked coolly.

“Yeah.” I nodded.

“Wow, I didn’t think you’d be so open to tell me that.” May admitted slowly, as if she were thinking about something.

“Well, I’ve become a lot more of an open person lately, and…” I trailed off. I could feel May’s eyes burning into mine. “…What?”

“I’m just saying.” May replied, a lot of confidence in her voice. “It just seems weird that the topic around you turned to sex so fast.”

A brief flashback of what Nicole said yesterday hit me. “Yeah, I guess, I’m sor-”

“Don’t apologize.” May’s voice was as confident as ever. “Are you trying to tell me something? No need to be shy about it.”

“Huh?” I asked. In the face of her confidence, my shyness was actually increasing by the second. “May, I didn-”

“I mean, don’t get me wrong. I can totally relate.” she admitted slyly. “Boys aren’t the only ones with urges. I get them too.”

“Yeah, I be-”

“A lot.” She was staring me right in the face now. There was no mistaking her tone. Against my wishes, I could feel myself growing hard at her sultry voice.

“May, we shouldn’t do this.” I said with withering confidence. “Every time we do it’s a whole new round of headaches for both of us.”

“Do what, Adam? I haven’t suggested we do anything at all.” May sang in a mock innocent voice. “What about you, what are you thinking about?” Her eyes went down to my crotch, which I’m sure was originally supposed to be a flirtatious flash. However, her eyes lingered as she no doubt noticed the bulge.

“May, seriously.” I protested. “Can we stop pretending?”

“Gladly.” she replied hungrily as she grabbed me by the front of my shirt, pulling me in for a long, passionate kiss. As much as I wanted to pull away, I couldn’t. May was as good a kisser as ever – maybe even better somehow. My hands were almost shaking as the softness of her full lips consumed my thoughts, made me unable to think about other, dumber things like morals and common sense.

Before I even realized it, my arms were around her and I was kissing her back. As stupid as it sounds, I missed this. I missed sex, I missed intimacy. I wanted more. I wanted her. My kisses got hungrier and hungrier as our tongues began to battle, fighting for the reigning champion of whoever was the most consumed by lust.

Eventually, we broke away from each other, and I forced myself to break eye contact with her, breaking the spell. If I knew me, I knew this moment wouldn’t last long, so I cautiously looked around us. “Y’know, let alone whether we should be doing this at all, we shouldn’t be doing this in a public place…” I remarked.

May’s spell was, unlike mine, unbroken. “I don’t see any people around, do you?” She asked rhetorically, putting one slow, sensual kiss on my lips. She grabbed my hands and placed them roughly on her clothed boobs. “Remember these?” she asked huskily.

“May, no…” I once again cautiously looked around.

May playfully pouted. “You don’t? Maybe I should give you a reminder.” With that, she grabbed her shirt by the bottom and lifted it enough to expose her bra-covered breast. I tried to protest but all that came out was a whimper. She giggled in response and, seemingly pleased by my response, pulled her bra down just enough to expose her big, beautiful, puffy nipples.

“Now, I’m sure you remember these.” she told me. “Why not give them a little greeting?” Not even waiting for my response, she grabbed my head from behind and pulled my head down, which was once again under her spell.

My lust won out and my rational brain was shut down. My tongue was swirling around her gorgeous nipples within seconds. May was some kind of animal. A part of me wondered if she planned this. It was all too quick – in a public place to boot. She couldn’t be contained. And speaking of, soon I was, not unlike her, immune to my own awareness of where we were as my hands were groping her ass and I sucked on her nipples, letting my teeth lightly graze them every so often.

“Fuck, I’ve missed this.” May muttered. “You’ve missed this too, haven’t you?” Truth was, I really did. The lack of sex just made me want it more, and May was offering herself as a series of wet holes for me to use. I couldn’t argue.

“Now are you sure you want to stop?” May’s words teased me. “Or do you want to ruin my throat with your big, beautiful cock?”

Even though my trance of lust, that shattered my delusion and I sat up immediately, realizing that I once again had the power to stop.

May, however, took it as a sign of me liking her suggestion. “I thought so.” she purred, getting on her knees in front of me and starting to play with my zipper.

I felt a surge of sobriety rock through me. I returned to my own rational self. With it, I looked upon the situation with new eyes and realized an important thing – I wasn’t comfortable with this. “May, we can’t be doing this. I think you should stop right now.” I said with confidence that surprised even me.

May was, amazingly enough, unfazed. It was like she was on something, because she only giggled naughtily. “If you think we should stop, you should stop me.”

While it was true I had freed my rational mind, it didn’t mean my lusty mind had sobered up in the slightest. They were doing battle, but I was confident. Alright, fine, I thought. I will do something about it.

May freed my dick from my pants, and my body didn’t move. Hungrily, May began to take me into her mouth, and my body didn’t move. May reached between her legs and her hand reached into her pants, and my body didn’t move. It was like trying to convince yourself you’ll go do a chore, but never actually getting up and doing it. My body just sat there, unmoving, growing less comfortable by the second as I realized that as much as my lusty mind was enjoying this, I didn’t want this. I couldn’t find the mental strength to actually remove May from me as she took my cock and determinedly pushed it as far down her mouth as possible.

Unfortunately, she was amazing at giving blowjobs. Her warm, wet mouth knew exactly how fast go go, when to lick and tease, what moans to make and when. I couldn’t do it. I just sat there as she devoured my dick as if she needed it more than she needed to breathe.

“Looks like someone is enjoying it.” May purred, a sultry grin on her face paired with a little slobber and no doubt pre-cum.

“I… do not consent.” I managed to get out slowly.

“Aw, why baby?” May pouted. “I’m pretty sure I can see for myself that you are enjoying this.” She was lazily jacking me off as she spoke.

Again, I looked around us instinctively to make sure no one was around. “May, I don’t give my consent. We need to stop.” I choked out, closing my eyes to distract from the lustful scene before me.

“Then stop me. Go ahead and stop me. If you do, I won’t bother you any more.” May said in a voice that told me she knew I wouldn’t. “Because I bet you won’t. Here’s another little thing that Salvador helped me realize – I fucking love you, Adam.”

My eyes opened in shock to see that May was in the process of taking her pants off. “What?!” I asked.

“I love you, Adam Watson. And I bet you love me too. That’s why you can’t stop me from doing this. Because you want it too. You want me too. You love me too. So go on, stop me, I dare you.” She looked me in the eyes as she removed her underwear, exposing her pussy to the world, which looked wet already. I could only gulp nervously in response.

May grinned, almost evilly, before slowly lowering herself onto me. “Thought so. Now wrap your arms around me and fuck me like the bitch in heat I am.”

I don’t know why I obeyed. I have no clue. Before I knew it, in the already uncomfortable position of the park bench, plus the uncomfortable position of not consenting, I was letting May ride me for all her worth.

Hormonally, this felt like the best thing in the world. May’s pussy was milking my cock for everything it was worth, and I felt such intense waves of pleasure rippling through me that I swear my sense of touch was enhanced. I could feel so many things. I was in pure ecstasy. I could barely see anything but stars, I felt so much pleasure.

But I also felt so dirty. So damned dirty. I wasn’t okay with this, with herself, with myself. I felt shame. I felt like this was my fault. I needed to speak up. I needed to take action. Why was I so powerless when I had ample opportunity? None of this made sense to me.

May kept bouncing on me as I felt worse and worse about myself. I was disgusting. I was subhuman. I was a mess.

***

“You sure you’re okay?” Nicole asked me, genuinely concerned, as we made our way to the council room.

“I’m fine.” I flatly answered. “Aren’t you the sick one?”

She grinned. “Beat it in two days flat. Wrestled it to the mat. you could even say it went out… cold.” I didn’t say anything and kept walking. Nicole, knowing I normally acknowledged her jokes, made a very flustered whine-sigh. “Fucking tell me.”

“I’m just having an off day. That’s all.” I lied. I had been like this since Saturday, ever since May and I met up, for obvious reasons.

“You’re going to tell me eventually, right? I don’t care if it’s stupid, squirt. I care about you, dammit.” Nicole asked in a voice full of concern.

I didn’t know. I wasn’t even sure if I could even tell Salvador. It would have been a huge conflict of interest since she was seeing him too. Plus, wouldn’t he have to report her? What would it have looked like if the girl who cried rape (whether it was true or not) was sent to the office for sexual harassment? Would anyone believe me? What kind of attention would I get from this? It just seemed to make more sense to keep this to myself.

“Thanks.” I emotionlessly told Nicole.

She was visibly upset by the time we had gotten to the council, and all things considered, I should have cared about that, but I didn’t. I just felt… lost. Distant. Nothing really seemed to faze me. I didn’t notice much. Given this, I missed the fact that Megan wasn’t present, and also the fact that everyone was speaking about it.

I was broken from my trance by Phil repeating my name over and over. I shook my head and snapped to attention.

“Huh?” I lazily murmured.

“Do you know where she is?” Phil asked me.

I shivered as I thought of May. “Who?” I asked.

“God damn, dude.” Phil uttered disappointedly. “Megan. I was asking if you and she shared fourth period class.”

“Uh, no, we don’t. Sorry.”

“Well, do you know where her locker is?” Phil gestured towards me. “Get what I’m saying? Go look for her, man.”

“Right.” I replied, practically in a daze, as I stood up and stumbled out the door, ignoring any look Nicole shot after me.

I was like a zombie as I walked through the hallway. Nothing on my mind, nothing on my face, no real motivation to my walks.

Also no Megan. She wasn’t near her lockers at all. Crap… I scanned my brain. Did she ever tell me what she had fourth period? All I had with her was geography.

I was left with scanning the halls for her. It wasn’t as painful as I had thought – despite Hazelwood having a crap-ton of classrooms, it only took two seconds to realize a classroom was empty. Room by room, floor by floor, I scanned and scanned until I wondered if Megan had just forgotten and went home or something… Nah, couldn’t have. Matt was there.

I had just about given up until reaching the third floor. I was nearing the end of rooms to check until I heard a strange noise coming from… my geography room. Familiar noises.

Oh, come the fuck on. Sex noises. I could see what Salvador was getting at now – everything sex-related was just becoming a bother at this point. Alright, fine, I knew Megan. She could… get like this. After listening a little bit longer, I could definitely match the more feminine groans to her. Which poor unsuspecting freshman had she propositioned this time?

Trying to be as subtle as possible, I tried to look through the glass of the door’s window without giving myself away, and even with all the shit that I had been through even in the last couple of days, I wasn’t steeled for the sight that met me.

Megan was getting banged by none other than my first period fucking teacher Mr. fucking MacDonald.

__________________

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