Being More Social – Chapter 20

In-the-moment actions can feel startlingly different than actions in retrospect. It’s easy to look back at one’s actions and say, ‘Wow. I sure overreacted to that.’ or ‘I never had it that rough. What was I thinking?’

As Mitchell’s note slowly burned in front of me, I wondered if this was going to be one of those instances. I looked around the park again in a paranoid fashion to make sure no one was looking at me – if I had done this in the house someone most assuredly would have smelled the smoke or something. It was burning. I had set fire to someone’s property – what’s more, something not meant for me to ever read at all.

Even ripping up the note was too good for it. It had to be completely destroyed, no two ways about it. I couldn’t help but feel like I had learned a weird lesson that I wasn’t supposed to learn yet – I had to lie. I knew now that Nicole was… well, delusional. She lived with a brother who tried to shake her away with increasing desperation, but according to her, he thought the world of her. And when reality is too grim to share, tuck it away and repress it. I had to burn the note.

I thought back to what May said a long time ago. There was her, and then there was the mask she put on. Nicole clearly made a mask, but not for her – for her brother, perhaps before he died, perhaps after. It wasn’t my place to say when. The version of her brother she adored was perfect. Why should I ruin that perfection with reality? What right did I have? If it meant her happiness, I was content with hanging this skeleton up in my closet.

Once the embers were out, I stood up and looked at the large rock where the ash of the note lay. I made my hand into a fist and pounded down on the ash, if nothing else to symbolically destroy what was left of this note. It wasn’t as hot as I thought it was going to be, luckily.

I looked over my work, admiring it. Now I was the only one who knew. The secret would be safe with me. Smiling to myself, I stood up and put the lighter I carried with me away in my pocket, before starting to walk out of the park.

Suddenly, I stopped in my tracks. I wasn’t the only one who knew. Someone I had purposefully avoided talking to, but there was something on my mind for the last while now. Something huge, too huge for me to even admit to myself, let alone others. I needed to talk to that other person, as soon as possible… but not today. Tomorrow, after dinner.

 

***

 

I chewed slowly, looking off into the distance, head in the clouds. Less than 24 hours ago, I was burning what could have been the most important thing for Nicole to see this year. Did I make the right choice? I didn’t know.

I did know I couldn’t dawdle with dinner. I asked Dad if we could have it early tonight specifically. I needed to see him while there was still daylight outside. It felt wrong otherwise. And I needed to talk to him. He didn’t need to talk to me, but that was his problem.

“Do you want more of anything?” Mom softly asked.

“Hm?” I snapped out of my daze. “Wuh?”

“Would you like more of anything” she repeated herself.

“Oh, no thanks.” I replied. “Sorry, thinking about stuff for next year.”

“Student council things and all that?” she asked.

“Once again, way to go.” Dad commented. “I always wanted to be the dad of a politician.”

“Yeah, because student council does so much.” I lamely commented.

“You’re elected, so that means you’re at least not the most hated guy of the school.” Dad rebutted.

“Yeah, I’m definitely happy with how this year went.” I smiled.

“That’s good to hear.” Mom told me supportively.

“So, uh, I won’t be sent back to the local school then?” I half-joked towards mom.

“Oh, of course not.” she immediately dismissed. “You seem to be doing very well at school, and making a lot of new friends.”

“More than before, yeah.” I replied, looking down at the table and thinking. Not just of Nicole, but of Megan, Carson, Paul, Jenna… hell, even Phil and May. This year was one hell of a roller coaster, that was for sure.

“Speaking of, you should have Nicole over for supper sometime.” Mom continued. “After yesterday, we owe her that much.”

“Plus, even without the owing, it’s good manners to have your own girlfriend over to meet with your parents. I’d be more comfortable being more sure you’re not dating a serial killer.” He gestured around the table. “A femme fatale.”

I opened my mouth to correct Dad, and hesitated. Girlfriend. Was Nicole my girlfriend? It felt weird to even ponder. Even just a few weeks ago, I would have corrected him immediately, but now? Now, I wasn’t so sure. Whether Nicole wanted to admit it to my face or not, something was happening. I mean, fuck, she admitted it to Phil’s, even if it was just to get some higher ground in the conversation.

Before I could think further, Mom cut in. “Oh, she’s not his girlfriend, Tim.” she mock-scolded him. “Adam told me that she has a boyfriend, in fact.”

“I hope he’s not the jealous type.” he muttered, almost to himself, concealing a smile ineffectively.

“Oh, they broke up.” I blurted out before realizing. “It, uh, didn’t work out.”

“Oh.” Mom replied blandly. “Poor thing. I hope she’s okay.”

“It took her a bit, but I think she’s over it.” I couldn’t even tell if I was lying anymore, or if I was just trying to make a metaphor out of her and Phil. Maybe that’s just the excuse I was making to myself.

“Good, good.” Mom replied meekly. All of us knew the conversation was going nowhere, and my parents knew pretty well that I had a huge crush on her. I didn’t know if I was trying to hide it or anything. Maybe I should have just stopped. After all, it’s possible something was about to happen. But if it didn’t…

Dad cleared his throat. “Well, if you’re finished, why don’t I handle the dishes?” he offered. “I know you wanted us to eat early so you could see your friend.

Oh, he wasn’t my friend. “I appreciate it, thanks.” I replied quickly as I got up and gathered my shoes, bolting out the door with little more than an apathetic ‘love you’ tossed behind my back.

I ran the whole way there. It’s not like he was going anywhere, but I wanted as much time with him as possible. I knew the way off by heart now, and soon I was going under the gateway and greeted with a familiar sight. Scanning the path, I eventually found him, amongst some grass. As soon as my eyes locked onto him, I deliberately slowed my pace. The sunlight hit my face, almost blinding me as I walked painfully slowly towards him. I didn’t care. I wanted him to feel my presence.

I sat down calmly on the grass, never taking my eyes off of him. The stone just stared back at me. If Nicole was allowed to talk to her brother, so was I, and I had a hell of a lot to say.

“You recognize me, Mitch?” I asked, my voice smouldering. “It’s Adam. Adam Watson.” Go figure, there was no response. I didn’t need a response. I just wanted, on the off chance that he was listening, for him to sit down and listen to me.

I stood up and began pacing, never taking my eyes off of him. Silent. Never speaking. A good minute passed before I worked up the anger to finally talk. “How dare you.” I started. “How fucking dare you. She thought the world of you, and you fucking knew it. Then you pissed in her face, didn’t you? Where do you fucking get off, buddy?”

I knelt down and got real close to the stone. “You’re lucky I value her happiness. If I were someone else, I would have showed her the note. Is that what you would have wanted? Losing you was bad enough, she’d have to lose the you she treasured most.” I shook my head in disapproval. “The you that you never were.”

“What the fuck would it have taken to give a crap about her? Yeah, she’s a fucking clingy unstable mess. Anyone can see that. And you were thinking of leaving her?” I started pacing again. “I don’t care if you’re dead. I don’t care how you died. Because I bet you anything, if you lived, and you gave her that note, there would be a different grave here, but it would still say ‘Baker’ on it. You get me?”

Tears started to form in my eyes. Speaking of repression… I didn’t ever want to say this out loud. I didn’t ever want to acknowledge it to myself. In a way, this was never real until I revealed it to him out loud. “I’m not an idiot, Mitch. I’ve seen the marks on her arms. I know what it means.” My nose curled in anger. “You’d better fucking hope those began after you died. If you saw those and still wanted to ran away from her… I… fuck.” I sat down. “Mitch, I’m fucking scared. I’m scared not only of what’ll happen, but of you and what kind of damage you caused. I get the plan wasn’t to, like, you know…” I gestured to the grave. “I’m sorry things happened the way they did. But I don’t know how to talk to anyone about that. I don’t know how to talk to Nicole. I know she likes to close her eyes and pretend everything bad is all a bad dream, but it just isn’t my style, okay?! I don’t know what to tell her. ‘Everything will be okay’? Yeah, that’ll help her. I…”

I breathed in and out. “The first time I saw it, it fucking terrified me. It was just after sex, though. What the fuck could I say? ‘Hey, nice tits, they match your cuts’?” I got back up again. “How the fuck do you talk to the person you love most about suicide? Clearly you were too much of a fucking coward to. You’re her brother, for fuck’s sake. Couldn’t you have just noticed? Couldn’t you have been there for her, you selfish prick?!”

I sat back down and remained there for about a minute. “I don’t know why I’m blaming you.” I quietly told him. “Maybe I’m just making you a scapegoat because you’re dead. If you’re not cool with that, just say something.” I paused. “Cool, thanks.” I chuckled aloud. “I’m sure you’re not, like, the reason any of this is happening, but if I want to be her boyfriend, I need to address it sooner or later. We can’t just pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s like… I understand why she visits here so often. It’s like I begin to understand how she feels. If she were ever to leave, my whole world would be shattered. Everything would stop making sense.” I looked back at the grave. “I’m sorry you’re gone, Mitch. I’m sure you had your own life ahead of you, and it would have been great. But where the fuck does it leave me, man? It’s unfair.”

I blinked quickly to hold back tears. “But it’s worse. Like, not trying to undermine you, but your death… Complete accident. Are overdoses accidents, or…? You know what, it doesn’t matter. Nicole is doing this to herself. And your letter, man… It cuts really deep. It’s not cool what you did. You could have pushed her over the edge. You were the one person she could trust, and you were about to just give her the finger and walk away.” I pictured Nicole lying in a bed, peacefully in a most ominous way, not sleeping, drenched in a sea of red. I shivered. I don’t know what death feels like to witness. I never want to. Mitch, help me.”

I stared back at him, expecting, for some reason, something. Movement. A promise. Anything. What I got, unfortunately, was confirmation that he was gone. It was eerie before, now… it was just cruel.

“You know what, fuck you.” I huffed. “I bet her parents don’t know. I bet she even thinks I don’t know. Or she doesn’t care. But I care. I’m not just gonna sit around and let this happen. But I gotta know how to do it, Mitch. What if I, like… what if I…” my fist hit the ground. “Fuck.”

I sighed for another minute solid. Darkness was starting to eat away at the atmosphere. I had to get home soon.

“I wanted to say this to someone for a long time. I don’t know what the fuck made me think saying it to you would be a good idea.” I stood up, and chuckled again to myself. “Because you won’t judge, I guess. You literally can’t. Salvador – fuck. He’d put Nicole on some sort of therapy shit through the school. She’d never talk to me again. Carson? He’d probably tell her to get over it or something. Megan’s volatile enough.” I was looking down at the grass at this point. I looked back up to him. “None of those named probably mean anything to you, but they’re… they’re people, you know? And somewhere out there is someone I can talk to who will make all this shit go away. God didn’t spare you, why the fuck should I believe He’s looking out for Nicole?” I sighed.

My head slowly turned back to the grave. Talking to Mitch… well, ‘talking to Mitch’ put an idea in my head. “What if it was you?” I said with a menacing slowness. “You’d better hope to fuck you didn’t do this. I’m almost sad you’re gone purely because you don’t get to see what you’ve done to your own sister. IF you truly cared, you’d have been more careful. Then you could have fucking understood the stuff you’re doing to her.” I was silent for a good ten seconds. “Something sure as hell is doing something to her. Maybe it was you. Or Jeff, or even his brother. There’s stuff about Nicole I just don’t get. You meet someone, you spend maybe 20 hours with them, you go, ‘Okay, yeah, I know how this person acts.’ Nicole keeps making no sense. I just wanna… “ I cleared my throat. “I just wanna shake her sometimes, you know? Grab her by the arms and just ask her to be normal for once, for me. Be straight with me. Tell me everything she feels without needing to hide behind her sarcasm. I bet Salvador would call that postmodernism.” I smiled slightly. “I don’t even know what the fuck postmodernism is. And I need someone to do that. I need, more than ever, to… for… core Nicole. You know? I need to see her raw form. I feel liked even though I’ve seen her with no clothes on, I’ve never really seen her naked. I need someone to tell me what to do or how to act. I need someone to help her. A therapist or something.”

I smiled. “You know, maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m that guy. I don’t think I am, but you know who I’ll be if I don’t try to make sure Nicole has the best life she can?” I got really close to the gravestone. “You.” I whispered.

“Yeah. Yeah, you know what?” I stood back up, feeling an adrenaline rush. “I’m going to do it for her. She’s been through some shit, huh? Sexually assaulted by one guy, then his brother. Made to feel like she had to give everyone sex to feel like she has value. What do you do? You tell her to go ahead with it. See, I get it now. She sees you as a hero for that. I bet you just saw it as the easy way out of actually caring for her. She fucking reveres you for what you did, but what did you actually do? Fucking nothing. I’m going to do what you couldn’t, Mitch. I’m going to give it my all, and make her feel whole, not like she has to present herself to feel validated. You’re the fucking reason she has those cuts, give or take a few Love brothers, but I’m going to be those reasons those cuts will never reappear on her skin again. I may not be able to have the guts to reveal to her just what a shitty brother you’ve been, but I can love her, and I will. Every day. I’m going to m-”

I stopped. A presence. I whirled around and saw an older woman, looking at me with a weirded out expression on her face.

I turned pink. I guess paying attention may have been smart. I was completely embarrassed. So much so that, as much as I would have liked to prove to Mitch that I wasn’t a coward like him, I ran. I fucking bolted. I peaced it. I wasn’t even able to look that woman in the eyes, let alone finish that conversation.

Whatever. Mitch got the message. I may not have been the biggest smooth operator on the planet, but I was enough for Nicole. And I was going to make sure that, somehow, someway, I would solve her problems. Nicole was not going to feel lonely anymore. I meant what I said – I was going to do what Mitch couldn’t, and truly make her feel whole.

 

***

 

“I heard that you won the Student Council election with Nicole,” Salvador commented as I put my bag down in his office. “Congratulations.”

“You and I both know that she won the election and I was along for the ride.” I retorted, sitting down in the chair facing him. “No need to be polite.”

“If I didn’t mean to congratulate you, I wouldn’t have said it.” he replied meaningfully.

“Of course,” I laughed, throwing my hands up. “I should have guessed.”

“You seem cheerful.” he observed. “Is something important happening?”

I paused. “Not really cheerful. I guess I just feel a lot of… anticipation.”

“Anticipation?”

“Summer’s coming.” I answered. “I feel like a lot of my life is changing. Like I’m closing a chapter or something. I mean, I barely knew how to do Student Council stuff this year, and now I’m expected to be the VP?”

Salvador nodded slowly. “People have large expectations of you now.” He wrote something down on a piece of paper and looked back up at me. “Is that it?”

“Huh?”

“I don’t think you would just come to me for that.” he answered simply. “You know that I know you won the election.”

“Nicole won t-”

He waved a hand around to signal he understood. “You asked me for this meeting just because you’re feeling anticipation?”

“I can’t meet with you to tell you I’m having a good time for once?” I retorted.

“It’s nothing you couldn’t have told me in the hallways.” he coolly responded. He may have been right, had he not had the tendency to never speak when walking by someone, and only wink at people who said hello to him in those circumstances.

I sighed. “Maybe.” I conceded.

“I’m listening.”

“I’m still trying to figure out what it is.” I confessed. “So… you know how I want to be with Nicole?”

“Yes.” he replied simply, looking at me. Wow. No ‘this ought to be good’ or any other quip. Maybe this is why I liked him.

“Let’s say… Okay, first of all, can this be off the record?”

“You’re going to need to put a lid on the number of ‘off the record’ things you tell me, Adam.” he replied seriously. “I only need to get fired once for serious consequences to happen.” He stared at me for a bit. “Be vague. Go.”

That was fair enough, I thought to myself as I shrugged. “Okay. Vague.” I said to myself, formulating the story. “So, there’s this girl. I’m totally not mentioning her name. Just a girl, you don’t know her. And she has… she’s cute. I think things are going well between her and I. I’m gonna try asking her out soon.”

“Would this girl’s past suggest you shouldn’t?” Salvador asked me, with just the slightest twinkle in his eye, suggesting he enjoyed the ambiguity of the situation.

“A week ago, I would have said yes. But some information has come up. I never would have thought it, but this girl digs me. I heard her talking to a… talking to a friend about asking me out. So I figured she may be a little shy, and thought that I’ll just ask her out myself instead.”

“Sounds like an open-and-shut case.” Salvador observed.

I nodded. “It’s just that there’s been a few more complications that have come up. She’s… she has a problem.”

“What kind of problem?”

“The kind that would rank second-highest in the country for people fifteen to twenty-four.” I said, relieved I knew the statistic well enough to remain ambiguous and not have to say the word out loud.

Salvador’s eyes focused and he leaned forward. “Are we talking about suicidal tendencies?”

“Well, there goes ‘ambiguous.’” I muttered.

“Adam, I’m disappointed in you.” Salvador said with a cold voice. “I was being ambiguous for your sake. I didn’t realize someone’s life was on the line. This is more than my obligation as a person, this is my obligation as a human being.”

I stared down at the floor. “I mean… I just…” I muttered.

“I can’t make any exceptions here. I’m going to phone the school counsellor when you’re gone, and inform her that Nicole Baker is expressing suicidal tendencies. Is this information true? If not, correct me immediately.” He started busily writing something down on a separate sheet.

“No one, even a school counsellor – hell, especially a school counsellor, could make Nicole comfortable with that. She clams up when I bring up anything remotely sincere. What makes you think this won’t make things worse?” I piped up.

He stopped writing. “Adam, I understand your frustration. In your attempt to make things as comfortable as possible for Nicole, you’re seeing things through her perspective. Normally, that would be mature of you. However, Nicole is very disproportionately anti-establishment. Why do you think we have a counsellor employed here?”

“Well, I’m sure the counsellor helps most people, but Nicole…” I trailed off.

“She’s a human being with psychiatric problems. You admitted that yourself. Not even just here. She has difficulty at making and maintaining social relationships as a result of abandonment issues.” I opened my mouth to talk, but Salvador pointed his pencil at me with a surprising amount of force. “You told me that yourself. Don’t try to back out of this just because you don’t understand what she needs.”

“I…” I started lamely. “I thought…”

“You thought what?” Salvador responded, finishing his write-up and looking at me.

“I thought that maybe if she had someone, a shoulder to cry on… she’d get better…”

Salvador sighed and gave me a sad smile, the likes of which I had never seen from him. “Adam, I know you care deeply about her, but you can not even think about being her savior. Do you understand?”

I blinked rapidly to hold back tears. “I just don’t want to risk something that may not make her feel better.”

“I understand that. Truly, I do.” He took off his glasses and wiped them absentmindedly. “I’ve seen couples come in and out of my office that didn’t have a tenth of the commitment and feeling you two have. If your stories are true.”

“They are, I promise.”

“Not the point. But you don’t know how to fix her. Blind support can only get some people so far. The reason they call depression a mental illness is because only some perceived ‘cures’ can truly cure it. Our school counsellor has received training for years on the subject, and has helped dozens of students with surviving through their depression. Do you have any training or experience like that?”

I stayed silent.

“You don’t. I understand that you want to be the one to help her through it. She means a lot to you. You mean a lot to her. She trusts you more than anyone you know. It should be you, if anyone, that can help her. That’s what you think, isn’t it?”

I nodded meekly.

“But you don’t know how to do it. You worry if the counsellor can’t help her, but the fact of the matter is, the counsellor has a better chance than you do. Imagine you try to help her, and you screw up, and make things worse for her. Let alone what she would do, would you be able to live with yourself?

My mouth was dry. “Okay, I get it.” I croaked.

“Again, I understand why you want to help her. That’s noble. But if you truly want to help, pass the torch onto someone who can. Summer is starting so we may have to defer to someone, but we need to do something. It’s not just my job as a teacher that’s on the line here. I don’t think you’d want to see this handled less than professionally.”

“I understand.” I admitted. “Go ahead, do what you need to do.” Salvador returned to his paper, and after a few seconds of silence, a thought popped into my head. “Nicole… she’s going to hate me, isn’t she? She’s very inward. Information about her like this getting out… she’ll never forgive me.”

Salvador looked up at me and nodded gravely. “I’m afraid if you’re the only person she’s told, even if we don’t expressly say why, you’re going to be implicated in this. I’m sorry, but those are the only words of comfort I can say.”

“Oh, she didn’t actually say anything.” I clarified.

“What?”

“I noticed. Marks. Like, on her arms.” I pointed at my arms to demonstrate.

“I see.” he slowly replied. “And you’re sure they can only be one thing?”

“Yeah.” I quietly replied. “It was more than one time. They were always in slightly different places so they were always new. And they were, uh, y’know, vertical.” It was hard not to choke on my words.

“Okay. There may be a way we can talk to her where you don’t have to be directly implicated, if you so wish.” Salvador absentmindedly said as he jotted down some notes, before looking at me. “Are you okay?”

“Of course I’m not fucking okay, what kind of question is that?!” I lashed out before tears began to stream down my face. “I’m scared, Mr. Salvador. I don’t want to lose her.”

“And now that you’ve told me about this and I’m enlisting professional help, that will become less of a possibility.” he calmly retorted. He reached forward and grabbed a hand of mine on the table. “It will be okay.”

I shook his hand away. “I hope.” I muttered, trying to get the tears out of my eyes.

“It doesn’t matter if Nicole is anti-establishment. This will help her.” Salvador responded. “Students get this idea that adults don’t know how things work. They think that they could teach better than teachers, that counsellors can’t help students, and yet here we are.” He gestured around him. “We were teenagers once too. We take this into account. iPhones and Facebook don’t change the fundamentals of human nature. Nicole can pretend no one understands her all she likes, but… I’m sure I don’t need to tell you she sometimes gets wrapped up in her own emotional walls and becomes hypocritical or self-deprecating.”

I shrugged. “I guess,” I flatly said, not wanting to admit to him just how right he was.

“This very meeting shows that. If she was open about her feelings, it’s possible you wouldn’t need to come here at all. It’s why being honest about yourself helps you in the end.”

“I didn’t realize I was going to get a rant about how to be a good person.” I retorted.

“If you already knew this, I wouldn’t be telling you.” Salvador responded, staring daggers at me. “The good news is, she will get the help she needs.” He clasped his hands together in front of him. “What about you?”

“What about me what?” I asked, my face blank, the evidence of tears almost invisible at this point.

“I didn’t start meeting with you with the intention of doing this until you graduated.” he told me. “Are you in a stable place right now?”

I thought about it for a second, and began to nod slowly. “I think so.” I replied.

“Do these meetings need to continue?”

I was so used to these meetings, I think I began to depend on them. That said, I knew that was the opposite of what was supposed to happen. Salvador was trying to get me back on my feet, not cut me off at the knees. I knew as well as he did that if I showed I was getting attached or anything, he would stop the meetings in an uncomfortable way. I would have liked to have a few more meetings…

But that was just it. I would have liked it. Not ‘I needed it,’ not ‘I couldn’t function without it.’ They were becoming a comfort to me. And here we were, the culmination. I still didn’t like it, but I guess Nicole was getting professional help now. Maybe Salvador was right, maybe this would help her. I guess if I was going to be VP of the Student Council, I needed to put a little more faith in my school. Maybe they would help her. Hell, maybe they could cure her. The more I thought about it, the more I understood what Salvador was saying. I didn’t know the first thing about talking to someone with depression. And yet I talked to one all this time, and didn’t know it. Then, after I knew it, I just denied it, all this time…

“Do these meetings need to continue?” Salvador repeated with purpose.

I looked up suddenly at him, snapping out of my thoughts. “No.” I responded. “They don’t.”

“Adam?”

“Yeah?”

“I’m genuinely glad to hear that.” he flashed me a small smile. “Do you feel better overall?”

“Yes.”

“Do you feel able to carry on by yourself?”

“I’m the VP now. I gotta carry the school, let alone myself. Yeah, I feel able to do that.”

Alright.” Salvador stood up from his desk and extended a hand to me. I got up myself and shook his hand. He had one hell of a firm grip.

Salvador looked my face over. “I sincerely hope you’re thinking of taking drama next year.” he commented emotionlessly. “I think you have what it takes.”

“What does it take?” I asked him.

“What you have.” he simply replied, sitting back down. “Is there anything else you need?”

I chuckled internally. “No, nothing.” I replied, picking up my bag. “I’ll see you next year, I guess.”

“Goodbye.” Salvador replied, looking me in the eye. Finally hearing him say it hit me harder than expected. It was amazing the power a single word had if it was withheld for long enough. I didn’t say anything more, I just left. It didn’t feel right to stay any longer than that.

***

 

Nicole had promised she’d meet me in the main hallway. It didn’t make sense. She was never late. If anything, she had a tendency to be annoyingly early. If I had known she would be this late, I would have skipped the meeting with Salvador and just went home on the bus.

I shivered I remained sitting on the main hallway bench. If I had skipped the meeting… Salvador’s words sunk into me. Maybe I was just really naive and fell for whoever presented their case the best, but I had gone from agreeing with Nicole’s ‘fuck the system’ attitude to being fully on Salvador’s side within a split second. Maybe I was just being naive. I shrugged to myself – as long as Nicole got better, I would be happy.

Although a ride wouldn’t hurt. I glanced at the clock. 4:30pm. My meeting with Salvador couldn’t have possible gone past 4. Where could she have been? My inability to sit still was getting to me. Over the next five minutes I went from fidgety to pacing around the hallway to deciding to walk up and down the halls.

I walked up and down the 100 hallway first (the basement, where every room had a 1 in front of it), then the 300 hallway, and finally the 200 hallway.

I came upon a familiar room – Room 203. I gave the room a sad, strange smile as I approached it – there were a lot of memories caused by that place. Sex, violence, angst, sadness… What a weird year. What a weird place. Did politics make students do this?

“Looking back on fond memories?” came an ominously familiar voice. I whipped around to see the face of pure evil, Phil Love, with a surprisingly soft facial expression.

“You.” I barely choked out.

“Or are you just thinking of next year as VP?” he continued as if I said nothing.

“What are you doing here?” I asked him quietly and defensively.

“I was looking for you. Nicole said you’d be around here. I got her to get you somewhere alone where we could talk.”

“I don’t want to talk to you.” I replied coldly.

“Tough.” Phil said, walking towards me. Instinctively, I got out of the way, watching him as he unlocked the door to the student council room. He gestured with a hand, inviting me in. I shook my head no.

“I don’t want to talk to you. You need help.”

“Adam, I’m not going to ask you again. This conversation is important. I have other shit I could be doing right now.” Phil insisted.

“I don’t want to talk to you.” I stood my ground.

“And you think I do?!” he all but shouted. We remained silent for a few seconds. “This whole situation is… soup. It’s a soup of stupid shit and… stuff. Look, Nicole isn’t going to come back until I summon her. It’s either wait in the hallway for a girl that is not coming, or have a small chat with me.”

“Or call my mom and get a ride home.”

“Yeah, if you wanna take the undiplomatic bitch route.” he countered.

“Yeah, like you know anything about being diplomatic.” I spat back.

“See? We’re having a conversation.” he gestured between us. “I dunno about you, but I’ve had a siht day. If we’re gonna talk it out, it may as well be on chairs.” He walked in after finishing his sentence. Sighing, I followed, more out of feeling trapped than anything.

He sat down on the main desk, with me taking a seat in front of him. “So,” he began, “Do you wanna begin by saying anything?”

“Yeah, fine. I do. I used to trust you. I used to look up to you. I don’t get how you can do what you did and feel okay with it. The way you treat Nicole is inhuman. Especially knowing how your own brother treated her, I don’t get how you can look at yourself in the mirror without wanting to smash it. You’ve taken a mistreated girl and made her into your own nubile bitch just because you could. That’s not just being a douche-canoe, that’s being morally fucking bankrupt. I could forgive everything you did to me if it weren’t for how you also treat Nicole. I cry, I complain, I get jealous, but I carry on. Nicole is going to need counseling now for the shit people like you put her through. Imagine if she-”

I cut myself off. I couldn’t mention her suicidal tendencies, not to Phil. He’d do something. Something. Anything. Anything that Phil would do, armed with that information, was something I didn’t want to see if I was alive. I looked up at Phil to see that he was intently listening, arms crossed while sitting on the desk.

“Imagine if she did this to you. You hate her, but you obey her every word. You feel trapped by her. You feel bound to her, but every second you want to escape. You’ve made her life empty to make yours just a little bit more overflowing with fucking nice things and privilege and shit.”

“You had me until ‘nice things.’” Phil mumbled to himself. “Great. I’m glad you got that off your chest.”

“Did you even listen to me?!”

“I listened to you, man.” Phil replied, surprisingly coolly. “It’s nice to know that’s what you think, since after all, I mean, you’re on the outside. Do you think I’m bad? Did you ever hear about last year’s President?”

“I don’t care about last year’s president. You’re the one preaching about representing the school well. You shouldn’t be justifying your own terrible behavior because some dude may have been worse.”

Phil chuckled. “Fair point.” He sighed, and uncrossed his arms. “Hey, listen. It gets worse. I didn’t just drive Nicole to try to get you to resign, I ordered it. I got her to start that fight with you.” He stood up. “Yeah, I know about the fight. I know how she asked you to resign as VP. The initial plan was to get you to quit on your own, but, you being you, you just wouldn’t. Kudos, by the way.”

At this point he was pacing in front of me. I said nothing, just stared him down. I guess he took this as some kind of surprise.

“Look, I know. I just wanted to get back at those punk bitches who voted me out. All I wanted was to be the President, bring integrity back to the student council office.”

“You fucking think ‘bringing integrity back’ means stabbing fellow council members in the back when things don’t go your way?! That’s the opposite of integrity!” I shouted.

“Do you think making decisions like that is easy?” he yelled back in my face. “Welcome to the game, move your pieces across the board and obey the rules or you’re out of the game. You can’t avoid shit like that. Ding-dong. That’s the real world waiting for you. Wait until next year when you’re VP. You’re going to see just how fucking bad it can get. One little slip and boom, suddenly, you’re off the council, everyone hates you, God knows what’s going to happen to my scholarship.”

“I wouldn’t call raping a girl ‘one little slip.’”

“Oh, just shut up.” Phil dismissed me annoyedly. We stood in silence for a bit before he piped up again. “I just wanted to say congratulations. You’re a good guy, I’m glad you’re staying as VP. I’m sorry I tried to have you booted and all that.”

“You can make it up to me.” I found myself saying.

“Huh?”

My voice was small, but powerful. “I have no reason to trust you on this, but you could give me your word. Give me your word that you won’t boss around Nicole even once more, and we’ll call it even.”

Phil found his way back to the desk and sat back down. “I don’t see what I get from this transaction.”

“You don’t.” I simply said. “You’ve been taking a lot lately, Mr. President. It sure would be nice to give back to the school for once.”

Phil laughed and crossed his arms. “You’re wrong on so many levels. First of all, you are not the school. Secondly, you’re no angel yourself. You’ve been involved in more scandals for a freshman than the rest of the council at your age combined. Thirdly, I’ve been an amazing fucking president. It just had to end on a shitty note because the rest of the council has been conditioned to vote me out.”

“Conditioned?!” I asked incredulously. “In what way were they conditioned?”

“They were. Believe me, they were.” Phil replied, staring off into space.

I could see that Phil had history with this place. I’m sure if he were anything other than the world’s biggest slimeball, I may have even felt sorry for him.

“Listen.” he said after a period of silence, leaning in to face me. “You think I like this? You think I like chopping my balls off in front of somebody I’m never even gonna see again? This is the fucking worst for me. I get you’re not comfortable, but I’m not either.”

“Then leave, why do you gotta stay here?” I rebutted.

“Because I feel bad, okay? I feel bad for you, I feel bad for Nicole. I don’t need you to tell me I’m a bad person.” He was clearly getting flustered at this point. “Look, you and Megan, yeah? You guys were together under the guise of a relationship.”

“What does Mega-”

“Just shut up for a bit, and listen. Just shu- just shut up, alright?” He was rapidly moving from ‘flustered’ to ‘unhinged.’ “It wasn’t quite a relationship, was it?”

Silence filled the air. “Do I still have to shut up?”

“No.”

“No, of course it wasn’t.”

“Then that blowjob happened. She forgave you, but there was some kind of imbalance. Did you ever feel bad? Like you were turning her into a slut or something?”

Ouch. Bullseye. “Maybe.” I cautiously replied.

“Don’t bullshit me with that ‘maybe’ crap. Okay? Yes or no. Cards on the table.”

“Yes.”

“Yes. Yes, okay? Nicole and I – same way. Again, you don’t need to tell me shit. I already know. I am already fully aware of what I did. Thing is – once I started, I couldn’t stop. Once you figure out you have the most powerful girl in the school at your command, you’ll have the answer to fucking everything. And once you do, you’re gonna get tempted to use that answer for everything.”

“So you’re saying the fact that you had Nicole at your command justifies what you did?” I asked, for some reason adopting a softer tone.

“Not justifies.” Phil said, pausing. “Explains. Look, dude. We could talk in circle, re-explain that I’m a bad guy, but I get it. I don’t see anyone else here. Who are you trying to convince?”

“So what’s the point of telling me this?” I asked him.

“I just want you to understand. Go ahead and preach from your ivory tower, but when your life as going as shitty as mine, and you have an easy way out, you’d take it. I bet you anything you’d take it. Have you never taken advantage of Nicole’s nature before? Bet you have.”

“Don’t paint me into a corner here. The only times I have done anything even close is because she offered or suggested I could use her or-”

I’m not sure whether I stopped first or couldn’t get another word out because Phil interrupted me. “And if she did that with someone else, to a bigger degree, could you understand why they said yes?”

We sat in silence. Phil had changed his expression to a patient smile.

“You’re telling me that Nicole offered you this subservience?”

“Back when we were still a thing. We kinda organically discovered the whole master-servant thing. And boy, did Nicole ever like it. I found out even after it ended that she still couldn’t resist. And I was still mad at her for breaking up with me, so…”

“So you too couldn’t resist?” I offered.

Phil grinned. “We were equal parts the creator. Suddenly I had a girl telling me she’d do anything for me. The only time she didn’t was at the party itself.”

“Gee, I wonder why.” I muttered.

“You know what, fuck you. Say what you want, I’ll defend ‘til I die that I didn’t rape her.” Phil proudly replied. “Anyway, even after the party’s fallout, she agreed to try her hardest to overturn the voting process. When that doesn’t work, my mind clouded and I went to revenge.”

“Why me though?!” I asked in disbelief. “I voted to keep you on!”

“Yeah? Well… I wasn’t informed of that.” Phil admitted defeatedly. “I only found that out after.”

“Cool.” I threw up my hands. “Great, as you would say. So you just went around willy-nilly in a blind rage, not caring who you took down with you. All because you had Nicole doing your every will.”

He shrugged. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

I sighed and shook my head.

“Look Adam, fuck you. At least I’m being honest with this shit. I have the balls to look you in the face and tell you. You think it doesn’t kill me inside that I know you and Nicole will end up together after all this is finished?!”

“So in turn, you decide to kill me on the inside by making her blow you while you know I’m watching?!”

“Yeah, I fucking do!” he exploded. “How does it fucking feel? Good thing didn’t spend an extra whole year trying to win her over, only to have some geek who’s three years younger than you with no social skills get picked up by her just because he’s ‘little brother’ cute. I bet that would have felt like complete shit.”

“I couldn’t control that. You absolutely could control making me feel like shit.”

“I stopped giving a shit about your feelings when Megan blew you, dude. You clearly didn’t care about me since you kept doing things that made me look awful for just keeping you on the team. I fucking stood up for you because it was right. You know where that got me? Jeff had a discussion about taking that decision up with Mr. Scott. How would that have gone?” He sniffed the air. “Smell that? Smells like impeachment. Every fucking time, I try to be the good guy, and every fucking time, it bites me in the ass.” Tears were in his eyes now. “Like, just bear with me here. Imagine if I was just talking with May, thinking that I would be the one older guy she trusts. Imagine if she sees an in and fucking cries wolf. What fucking then, man?! What then?!” He wiped his eyes with his sleeve. “Fuck, the only time I got to have my way was when I bent the rules. Maybe that’s why so many politicians do. It’s the only way out. I’ve seen the light, man. I’ve seen the fucking light.”

He wiped his eyes again. “I just didn’t want you to get caught up in this. You’ve been through enough shit. I’m just… sorry. You’ve been weird, and kind of a dick in your own right, but I’m sorry.”

I hated Phil for winning me over, but part of me felt genuinely sorry for him. He was a dick, but dick or not, he didn’t seem like he was having the best time for it. “I’m sorry for my part in it too.” I replied reluctantly.

“Don’t apologize. It was just fate. I get…” he cleared his throat. “Well, fuck, you already know. So like, on my end it’s my fault. You, you’re just a geek who seems to be everywhere. Either you’re way craftier than you look, no offense, or it’s just because you and Nicole are a thing.”

I shrugged. It was kind of true. Everything weird that happened this year could be traced back to Nicole in one way or another.

“This isn’t high school. I just want you to know that.”

“Huh?” I didn’t get what the heck he was on about.

“Like, this.” he gestured around him. “All of this. What’s happening every day around you. It’s not normal high school. You kind of got a shitty grade nine year. It happens. And hey, maybe it’s more common in student council. But not in regular high school. This whole year was really weird. If you’re going to say as VP, especially with Nicole, it’s probably going to get more weird.”

“Yeah, especially since she’ll be ‘thinking of you’ the whole time she’ll be with me.” I shot back at him bitterly.

He sighed. “Look, I’m sorry for that too. You and I both know it’s not true. I just said it because of the hotheaded thing. Deep down, I know she’ll forget me within a few months. Probably to be replaced by you.” He suddenly got up and grabbed me by the shoulders. “If nothing else, understand how fucking shitty that is for me. I fucking love her, man.”

Jeez, Nicole was one hell of a heartbreaker.

“And I get that it’s impossible to stop you two now. I literally ordered her to break things off with you, and she obeys my every word, and she couldn’t do that.”

Things started to dawn on me. “So once the illusion of your power was broken, that’s when you could see what you did and wanted to apologize.”

Phil shrugged with a sad smile. “Sorta, yeah.” He straightened himself up. “Look, dude. In a couple days you won’t even be seeing me around anymore. I’ll be gone. It just wouldn’t be right to leave things as they are.”

“So what are you asking?” I asked him.

He shrugged. “You know what, I don’t even know anymore. A truce?”

“I didn’t realize we were fighting.”

Phil chuckled to himself. “When have we not been fighting in some way?”

I chuckled too. “Yeah, true.”

“So, how about it? We leave each other on a good note?”

I chewed my upper lip and let time pass us, then sighed. “No.” I finally concluded. “I just can’t. Not after the shit you pulled. I know you want to erase the past and act like it never happened, but it’s not my style. I appreciate you being honest and having this talk with me, but you took things a bit too far.”

Phil didn’t say anything for a long time. “Okay then.” he finally said quietly. “Have it your way. I won’t lose any sleep for this. I’m gonna go text Nicole, and you can be on your way then. Sound good?” He hopped up off the desk and started to walk out of the room.

“Remember my earlier deal?” I asked him just before he walked out of the room.

“To leave Nicole alone?”

“Yeah.”

“Is that what you’re asking of me in return for this truce?”

I trailed my eyes up from the floor to meet his. “No. I’m asking you to do this so that you can be a kind human being again.”

A smile slowly spread its way across Phil’s lips. “You talk like you’re anybody but you, you know that?” he asked me.

“It’s the only way I’ve found to get shit done.” I replied.

“Condescending tone aside, maybe I’ll do that. Guess I can’t ask for respect – I gotta earn it. But you remember this – Phil Love was a damn good president. And maybe it took him until the end of the year to do it, but he was a good person too.” He disappeared from the doorway into the hallway. “In five minutes Nicole will be in the main hallway.” his voice echoed, getting quieter and quieter as he walked farther away. “She’ll find it’s the last thing I ever ask of her. Treat her right, man.”

I could do nothing but shake my head as I tried to wrap my head around the conversation. It wasn’t too much of Phil to ask me to think of him as a good person, but… well, as he said, he was leaving soon. How I thought of him wouldn’t really impact him down the line, so in the end, it was okay to see him as I did.

 

***

 

“I’m not entirely sure we should be doing this.” I said cautiously as Nicole worked her shirt over her head.

“Oh, relax, will you? It’s the last day of school. No one’s gonna even check the school.” Nicole purred in response, grinding her topless body against mine. “Now where were we?”

I grinned at her as I undid the button on my pants. “What’s gotten into you?”

“I’m just excited,” she simply answered as she sank down to her knees in front of me, undoing the zipper. I leaned back against the workout machine, smiling in excitement. “Summer’s here. No more school, no more responsibilities for a whole season. Just you and me. And I would say we’ve earned some alone time, wouldn’t you, hotshot?”

I wasn’t in any kind of position to say no. I couldn’t help but stroke her hair and she slowly, sensually pulled down my pants. I know that she was trying to pull off the spontaneous horny vixen act, but even amongst all that, I coudn’t think about anything but how cute she was. Her hair, reaching the floor given her current position, perfectly framed her cute face in every way, from every angle. It seemed impossible. The whole situation seemed impossible. Why me? I was a geek, if not something of a reformed geek that had some muscle and style. Was that all it took? Hell, she liked me from the beginning. And it wasn’t my looks, it wasn’t my dick or anything… I didn’t get it.

Nicole was about to fish my cokc out of my underwear when she stopped. “Something wrong, squirt?” she asked playfully as she started rubbing me through my underwear.

“Why me?” I asked. “Why did you decide to go after me? I’m not good-looking, I was awkward, I was shy. I was clearly a virgin. What made you think to yourself, ‘yeah, I want that guy’?”

“Ah, is this what we’re doing today?” Nicole grinned as she took my underwear off. She caressed my shaft lovingly with her free hand. “Great timing.”

“I just want to know. There must have been something there.” I replied, trying to ignore the sensations going through me as Nicole took me into her mouth for the first time. I looked down to see her beautiful blue eyes drinking in my enjoyment, sparkling. I bet she was enjoying watching me try to downplay the sensations I was feeling, trying to look impervious to her efforts as she wore down my resolve.

She took me out of her mouth and chuckled to herself. “You want the truth?”

“That’s why I asked.” I replied, as coolly as I could.

Nicole smiled slyly at me and placed a hand on my shaft, beginning to jack me off at a painfully slow rate. “I wanted to scare you.”

“Huh?”

“Think about it.” She increased her pace slightly. “You were blazing ‘clueless freshman’ in neon lights. After snapping you for the school paper, I was frankly about to leave. The only reason I stayed around was because you needed a ride.”

I winced. She was increasing her pace more. Nicole noticed my wince and her smile got larger. She stopped her motions to spit on my shaft, then kept rubbing, making the handjob more wet and slippery.

“When I pulled out my tits, it was only because you were so bewildered with everything.” Nicole continued smugly.

“So you were trying to scare me away?” I asked her, trying to keep my breathing under control.

She gave a single chuckle. “I didn’t quite know what you’d do. I wasn’t counting on you being brave enough to actually go for it.”

“Have you done it before?”

She thought to herself for a second. “I sure never got that far with a freshman in the car before. There were a few I’ve driven home that immediately touched my tits or something. One even pulled his dick out and told me to suck it. Cheeky lil’ dude. Emphasis on lil’.” She stopped jacking me off for a second. “It definitely was a good idea to wait for me to demand it. You may notice, I get horny pretty easily.” At that, she took me back into her mouth and gave me a wink. “Any more questions?” she asked in between sucks.

She was definitely weakening my resolve, but I was determined to keep my cool. “You still never answered me. Why me? That was just a one-time thing. But I feel like I became your personal pet after that. What made you… know… keep me?”

Keep me. Wowee. How’s it going, Captain Beta? It felt good to know I had so many ways of saying, ‘I feel inferior to you.’ Luckily, Nicole just smiled, a smile I could feel given I was in her mouth.

“You like making me say stuff, don’t you?” she asked with a playful lilt in her voice. “Because you’re attractive, you jackass. Because I want you. I don’t think it’s something you can explain.”

A surge of adrenaline bolted through me. “Like love?” I asked.

Nicole looked up at me fiercely, then her eyes immediately softened. “We’re not talking about that here, do you understand?” she asked me. “I would have thought that this would be enough to distract you.” She returned her hand to my shaft and kept pumping.

“It only makes it more prominent in my mind.” I playfully retorted.

Nicole grinned. “What a sucker. Get a crush on Nicole, why don’t you? It’s just gonna mean heartbreak for you.” She replied, staring at my dick. “Have I ever mentioned what a great cock you have? I fucking love it.”

“Get a crush on my dick, why don’t you?” I replied slyly.

Nicole gave me that cute little smile girls give where they stick out their tongue slightly. “If I could fucking marry your dick, I would, dude. I’m super glad that you happened to be so attractive to me. To think, I almost missed out on this dick…”

“How did you almost miss out on it? We’re here now.”

“There have been so many incidents this year where we almost stopped having sex. Do I need to list them?” she replied dryly.

“I wouldn’t have given up on you though.” I told her sincerely. “Not in a million years. I would never forget you, and I would never stop chasing you.”

She stopped jacking me off and stood up, standing in front of me, staring me right in the eyes. Suddenly, she gave me a kiss.

“You’re cute.” she told me simply, with just too little emotion for me to not believe she was hiding her true tone. She sank back down to her knees. “By the way, if that kiss tasted weird, that would probably be your own dick.” She winked at me as she popped my dick back into her mouth. With her free hand, she started saying something in what looked like sign language.

“I don’t understand, are you saying something?” I asked.

She rolled her eyes and took her mouth off my dick. “I was trying to tell you to stop talking, at this rate I’ll have graduated before I finish sucking you off. Quit asking about our history and just enjoy yourself.”

As she finished her sentence, she took my dick, yet again, back into her mouth and seemed to seal the deal by applying a little extra suction than usual. It hurt a tad, but it also felt weirdly good. I sighed and gripped the machine behind me tighter as I closed my eyes. Nicole’s blowjobs were always something else. It’s like she had this psychic link to me, always knowing exactly what buttons to push and when. She’d pick up speed when I wanted her to go faster, slow down when I got more sensitive, and accommodate anything I could have asked for. I never had to say ‘faster’ or ‘slower’ or anything. In fact, usually the only thing that came out of my mouth was something like…

“Oh my God, Nicole.” I panted. “This is fucking amazing.”

She simply giggled onto my dick in response as her hands started affectionately playing with my thighs. Her eyes closed in concentration as she focused all of her efforts into making me feel good. She tapped into my psyche and knew exactly what I wanted, delivering with every swift action. It wasn’t too much of a stretch to say that her mouth was heavenly, and soon my panting turned into slight squirms and little mouth noises, each one no doubt very much enjoyed by Nicole.

“F-fuck…” I muttered as I felt my orgasm approaching. Nicole, as clairvoyant as ever, sensed this and doubled her efforts, to the point where I was audibly repeating ‘oh’ over and over.

“Nicole, this is-!!” I barely got out. In response, she gave me a thumbs-up, not even opening her eyes as she coaxed the last little bit of resistance out of me, seducing my whole being with her mouth. Like a proverbial succubus, she reduced me to absolutely nothing as my long-awaited orgasm hit me like a train, washing over my entire body like a euphoric wave. I couldn’t control the things coming from my mouth, though I heard, “Nicole, I love you so much” flowing out of there amongst the various sounds. Cum erupted from my cock after shooting its way through my dick, which of course Nicole took without breaking her stride. If she wanted to suck my soul out through my dick she could have right there – as a matter of fact, shortly after, my legs couldn’t help but give out.

Nicole quickly swallowed what I gave her before helping me to the ground. “Woah, you okay?” she asked, her voice full of concern.

I panted heavily. “Next time… if we’re… if we’re gonna… gonna fuck… we should… not do it… after a full workout.” I wheezed. Nicole grinned and got to her feet.

“Maybe next time you could return the favor then.” she offered playfully. “It’s been too long since I’ve been eaten out.”

“H-hey, I mean… I’d be glad…” I weakly panted, not even fully conscious at this point. Given the lack of consciousness, my pants hitting me in the face sent me to the floor.

“Wow, you are weak. I think my blowjobs have biblical power.” Nicole commented after throwing my pants at me, putting her shirt back on. “Now come on, you baby. Unless you plan on returning the favor, let’s go home. I got chores and shit to do.”

“Yeh…” I mumbled. “Greh…”

“Boy, I really did a number on you.” she shook her head. “You normally can at least speak. I’m going to the washroom for a bit. When I come out, I want you on the school’s front steps, fully awake. Unless you need something now.”

“Nah, I’ll be good…” I mumbled, beginning to snap back to reality. I raised my head back up. There we go, gravity.

“Cool, see you in a bit then, squirt.” Nicole tossed behind her as she left. “Good job today.”

“You too…” I mumbled as I slowly stood up. I shook my head a couple of times and blinked. There we go. Unobstructed sight, was I glad to have you back. I picked up my underwear, slipping it on, followed by my pants. Taking my school bag and slinging it over my shoulder, I left the room, turning off the lights and shutting the door behind me. I took a few seconds to look at the room, smiling at the varied memories Nicole and I shared in that weights room. I had to say, I had really good body image now. When the year had started, I hated looking at myself in the mirror. I looked – no, felt like a failure. Now, I wasn’t a failure. I was a process. A constant goal. A reason to get up tomorrow. I loved seeing my progress for myself, and I loved bonding with Nicole over it. It was scary how powerful she was, though. My muscles may have looked bigger thanks to my semester-long training, but she must have had more muscles… somewhere. She didn’t really look muscular, but that didn’t stop her from being weirdly strong.

My strong girl. I found myself grinning like an idiot again as I walked through the main hallway. I stopped in front of the counsellor’s office and my smile vanished.

My strong girl… I sure hoped so. I shivered. I wonder when Salvador’s words would come to fruition. Maybe she would have to come to the school over the summer. Maybe she’d know it was me, and hate me. I shook my head. Whatever, she was going to get help. She was strong, but there was no shame in asking for help up if you’ve been knocked down, right?

I opened the school’s front door and breathed in the spring air. I was in heaven. Winter was my favorite season, but spring smelled so amazing. Flowers, cut grass, pollen, fresh air, sometimes you could even smell the sunlight. It smelled like life. Smiling to myself, I watched a breeze carry some sort of flower’s spore or something cross the sky.

The spore travelled past a telephone pole or something. I glanced up at the wires. I didn’t even fully recognize this was here. I guess I got used to it. I looked the pole up and down. There were a couple of posters, one or two talking about electrical safety or someth-

I froze. A ‘missing’ poster. I couldn’t see any of the words besides ‘missing,’ but the person on the poster looked familiar. I found myself forgetting my weakness as I ran up to the poster. I didn’t like recognizing someone on a ‘missing’ poster of all things.

‘Pierce Jennett.’ It was Pierce. It was fucking Pierce. Pierce was missing. My old high school bully, the guy I got to see once again before he all but vanished again. He said in time I would come to like him again or some shit. I wasn’t exactly his biggest fan, needless to say, especially given he made my life up until this point hell. Hell, I didn’t like him. But I wouldn’t want him to go missing.

“You okay?” came the voice of Nicole behind me. I heard footsteps approach me, and saw a shadow of Nicole’s head appear next to mine.

“The missing poster.” I croaked. My throat was dry, but I didn’t really have any hint of sadness or anything to my voice. Just… numb.

“Ah, Pierce, huh? Yeah, he went to our school for like two weeks. Beat the shit out of someone and got expelled. Apparently he was a problem kid.”

Looks like old habits died hard. “So what, do you think he ran away from home or something?”

Nicole studied the poster. “Not recently. Looks like the poster is from a few weeks after he got expelled. So this baby is a few months old.”

A few months. He was gone for a few months? “Was he found?” I asked. I was floored I didn’t hear about this in my school.

Nicole shrugged. “Probably not. Usually posters don’t stick around after someone gets found. I guess he’s still out there somewhere. Or like, dead or something.”

My mouth went dry again. Dead. I hadn’t even considered that. I felt myself going dizzy with confusion. Pierce. Such an important guy in my life for all the wrong reasons, was missing for several months and maybe dead, and I didn’t even know.

“Hey, sorry. Relax.” Nicole piped up, noting my silence. “I just think out loud a lot. He’s probably not dead. Just ran away or something. You know, problem kid. Happens all the time.” She looked back to the poster. “Is he a friend of yours?”

I stared at the poster for a bit longer. “No.” I answered honestly. “I just don’t like the idea of him not ever getting to return home.”

“Yeah, I know that feeling.” Nicole quietly added. Snapping out of my own feelings, I realized I was beginning to hurt hers. I slowly grabbed her hand and held it, stroking supportively. She looked at me and smiled shyly in response.

“Would you like to get out of here?” I asked.

“Thought you’d never ask.” she replied softly. I gave one last glance to the poster before turning with her as we walked, hand in hand, to her car.

If I thought my mind was clouded before, it was ready for a storm now. I just hoped Pierce was okay. He was only slightly older than me. Nobody around my age deserved to die. Not Mitch, not Pierce, and…

And not Nicole.

 

***

 

The front doors swung open violently. I’m sure no one in the entire history of Hazelwood flung them open with the force of Carson Carter when he felt on top of the world until this day. Megan and I hesitantly followed. Carson strutted until all three of us were in front of the front steps, and whirled around.

“Boom, bitch.” he proudly spat, making finger guns towards the school.

“Real impressive, dude. You survived first-year exams.” I replied dryly, not bothering to stop as I walked by him. “Like every other student here.”

“We haven’t gotten a report on the fatalities yet, don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” Carson replied, whirling back around and putting an arm around Megan as he walked. Megan immediately brushed his arm off.

“So what’s the plan?” Megan asked.

“Pizza.” Carson replied confidently, pointing at the pizza parlor about a block or two away from the school. It was a popular place among the students at Hazelwood for lunch, as long as they didn’t mind the commute. “I’m buying.”

“Damn.” I muttered aloud. “You’re in a really good mood. I’m in.”

“How could I say no?” Megan cheerfully added, giving us a small smile.

“You can’t. Don’t worry, I’m used to it.” Carson interjected smugly. At that, Megan turned to face me and her smile waned a tad.

The walk there was pretty eventless – a quip about the exams we shared, excitement for the summer, the occasional word or two from Megan – before we arrived. Before long, we were cheerfully chomping down on some slices, enjoying both our time together and our time enjoying the first taste of true freedom we had tasted in a year. And it tasted good, like happiness with a side of pepperoni.

“Seriously? Black olives?” Carson asked incredulously.

Megan shrugged. “My tastes are unusual.” she replied simply, a smile on her face.

Carson shook his head. “Cheese and pep is where it’s at.” He put his slice down and made a motion to fist-bump me. I hastily put down my slice so I could bump his fist before things got awkward from too much waiting.

“It wouldn’t kill you to try some new things in life, Carson.” Megan replied flatly. “You could surprise yourself.”

“Ha!” Carson smiled and lowered an eyebrow. “I’m always trying new things. I’m a never-stopping adventurer.” At that, he slid his arm around Megan. “Or have you forgotten?”

“Remember what I said.” Megan said with an ominous calmness, like a dormant volcano.

“Right, right.” Carson immediately retracted his hand and slid back to his side. “So… buddy, how are we gonna see you this summer if you live so far away?”

“I’m not sure what I can promise.” I replied. “Obviously my parents still have to work, but it’s possible Nicole could give me rides. I just don’t want to ask too much of her, obviously, especially since I can’t pay her back or anything.”

Carson grinned. “Ah, so the creepy VP used his peepee to get some freebies?” He started laughing at his own joke, and Megan couldn’t help but join in.

“Shut up, jackass.” I replied, sporting a grin of my own. “I’ll find out, alright?”

“Alright, cool. In the meantime, if you can’t, we may as well treat this as the last time. You wanna come over for a few matches? Grand tournament or something. Winner takes all.”

My grin got bigger at his request. “Sure, I’m down.” I gave a glance towards Megan, who was absentmindedly chewing. “What about Megan? Is she in on the tourney as well?”

Carson’s head turned to Megan as if he forgot she was there. “Oh, right, crap, sorry. You want in as well?”

Megan slowly swallowed. “Sure, why not? She shrugged. “I could try.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll go easy on you.” Carson assured her. “Fuck it, can we eat on the way? I don’t wanna wait.”

How very Carson of him. Within a minute at most we were walking back in the direction of the school, then past it as we neared his place. By the time we got there, Carson had engaged turbo mode. He practically threw his pizza at the counter before firing up the console.

“Dude, calm down.” I joked. “We’ll probably see each other this summer.”

“It’s not that. I’ve been practicing and I just know I’m gonna cream ya. Just wait until I show you what’s up my sleeve.”

“You guys sure talk up the game.” Megan replied from the doorway, still taking her shoes off.

“In a bit you’ll see why.” Carson retorted. “Just watch. I’ll take out Adam first so you can see what I’m talking about but then I’m coming for you. You sure you don’t want to back out?”

Megan smiled innocently. “Nah, it’ll be fun.” she chipped. She walked over to the couch and I scooted over to make room for her. Once we all had controllers and were fully prepped, Carson prepared the match and the game began.

All of us took off like a bat out of hell. I was surprised to see no trace of nervousness from Megan – calm and collected, completely unlike the creature she was even a few months ago. I guess for one reason or another, odds are the reason that had to do with genitals and teenage drama, she really came out of her shell this year. Although I expected the unfamiliar territory of Halo to be enough to make her at least a bit more bashful.

I turned my attention back to the screen after just giving a sideways glance at her to find that I was being attacked. Shit, I thought to myself. Carson really was getting better. I didn’t even see him coming, and his accuracy improved.

It wasn’t Carson. It was Megan. I sat in stunned silence as I witnessed sweet, innocent Megan teabagging my corpse. This wasn’t a fluke, either – it was clear Megan had stupidly high levels of experienced. I gave a glance towards Carson, who either didn’t register what happened or didn’t care – until about 20 seconds later when Megan did the same thing to him. The rest of the Slayer match played out like a broken record player – the exact same thing again and again, and the persistent feeling that that wasn’t supposed to happen. When the match was over, Megan gently put the controller down on the floor and started giggling.

The giggle grew and grew until it turned into a full-blown laugh. Red Team, three kills. Blue team, one kill. Gold team, fifteen. Three guesses which team Megan was playing. I turned slowly towards Carson, who appeared to turn towards me at the exact same time. Both of us then turned to Megan in disbelief, still laughing.

“What? Didn’t I tell you?” she managed to say between laughs. “I love Halo. I play it all the time.”

Carson shook his head, eyeing the floor in disgust. “Fuckin’…” he began ominously. Both of us turned to face him just in time for him to break out into a shit-eating grin. “…Nice!” he finished, fist-bumping Megan. “That was awesome. You gotta show me how you did that. You free next week?” We took turns celebrating Megan’s victory and trying to hide how surprised we were until Carson left for the washroom.

“So are you actually gonna teach him next week, or are you just gonna keep kicking his ass for fun?”

Megan smiled. “Little bit of column A, little bit of column B.” she replied matter-of-factly. “You should come as well. It’ll be fun to watch.”

I gave a single chuckle uneasily. “I don’t know if I can.” I replied. “Now that school’s out, I can’t get rides out here like I used to. Like, it’s easy for you guys but I don’t live around here.”

Megan pouted, appearing to just remember that fact now. “I’m not going to get to see you that much this summer, am I?”

After all we were through together, I had something of an aversion to lying to Megan of all people. “Probably not, no. Like, I can try once or twice, but my parents are too busy, and I would feel too guilty asking Nicole to keep driving me places.”

Megan nodded. “That makes sense. Carson is going to be disappointed too.”

I shot a gaze down the hall, then back to her. “Carson? I don’t think so. It doesn’t seem to affect him whether I’m there or not. He seems cool with hanging out and stuff but I feel like if it weren’t me it would be someone else.”

Megan’s smile waxed slightly. “I know that’s not true.” she replied softly. “He misses you when you’re not around. A few weeks ago he was asking if he did something to offend you because you were too busy to hang out.”

“But I was.” I protested.

“I know that. Just trust me, he’ll miss you too.” Megan told me, her smile now gone at this point. “And so will I.” She advanced forward to give me a hug. “Thank you for being there for me this year.”

I huffed. “If it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t have had such a stressful time to begin with.” I admitted.

“Well, it happened, and you’re still here by my side. It means a lot.” she answered me.

“And I always will be, I can promise you that.” I added. Megan smiled and kissed my cheek.

“I’m looking forward to sharing my time in high school with you two.” Megan told me sweetly. I smiled in response, feeling like I didn’t even need to say the same. All in all, I was pretty lucky. With all of the shit that happened this year, the odds that Megan, Carson and I were all still friends were about one in a billion.

I sure was a lucky little squirt.

 

***

 

Nicole sighed in deep bliss as my tongue first entered her.

“Now this is what I’m talking about.” she moaned, clutching her breasts in her hands, finishing off by giving her nipples a little squeeze. “Fuck, you need to do this more often.”

I moved my head back. “Well, now that I have some time this sum-”

“No no no no no.” Nicole swiftly and hastily replied, putting her hand on the back of my head and moving it back. “Don’t stop. We can talk later, just keep going.” With that, her eyes closed again and she was whisked back to her own little world.

I smiled internally, knowing this would be the first of many, many times this summer that Nicole and I would get to hang out and… well, hang out and fuck this summer. I had an emotional attachment to her but it was so easy to make sex a routine thing when other shit like school was on your mind, especially with Nicole’s insatiable nature.

I went right back to work, alternating from lazily lapping at her slit and swirling my tongue around her large clit, making her moan in approval.

“Fuck, I needed this.” Nicole breathed out in ecstasy, grasping my head and messing up my hair as I dived in further, eventually getting a good rhythm with her clit and getting a hand free so I could slip a finger inside. At the first touch, she gasped, and then purred as she felt my finger slide inside her.

After a few testing-the-water pumps of my finger, one quickly became two, then three. I alternated between feeling around her g-spot and furiously pumping the trio of fingers in and out, all the while continuing my efforts on her clit, looking up at her angelic face every so often to enjoy the effects of her enrapturement.

Once or twice she opened her eyes, allowing me to see the lust she was accumulating. At one point she even noticed me. Without the lust leaving her eyes, she simply chuckled almost lifelessly and said, “Keep going, hotshot,” weakly. She then closed her eyes and began lightly moaning again, now pushing her pelvis forward to meet my face. It made keeping contact with her clitoris difficult, but I was determined to make Nicole cum.

And it was working. Soon, Nicole began to arch her back and her breaths became shorter. “Harder, Adam, please.” she begged me. “Harder.”

It was interesting. Most of the time she was animalistic when she fucked – I was almost nostalgic for that. This time, she seemed more tender and gentle – dare I say it, loving. I didn’t really mind it, though – there was an invisible connection we now shared, and whenever she was more tender, I could feel why. I could never articulate it myself though – it just felt right, it felt like we were in the same universe, our little universe, with no one else around. She didn’t need to ever tell me she was going to climax, I knew.

And I knew exactly how to respond. Three fingers went back to two and I went straight for her g-spot, giving it as much attention as my fingers could muster. Meanwhile, my tongue switched directions, darted back and forth, even went upside down (a personal talent of mine) and then, right at the point of the dam breaking, my tongue went gentle and delicate, barely even making contact with Nicole’s clit as it danced around.

The effect was immediate. Nicole couldn’t even make coherent words at this teasing gesture – just a series of high-pitched whines and incoherent begs for me to continue. In my head I counted down: five, four, three, two, one, then resumed the assault on her clit just in time for the dam to break.

And what a break it was. I don’t think Nicole ever came so hard from oral before – her body went all stiff , twitching ever so slightly, then starting spasming a little bit. I could feel the electricity coming off of her body as she writhed on the bed, allowing the shock enter her system before a wave of blissful pleasure crested overtop of her body. You could see it impacting every part of her body from her pussy outwards – her hips, her arms and legs, her hands and feet, her chest (which caused her to push her beautiful breasts out, something I could never object to), then finally her beautiful face, contorted with every single feeling she felt in the moment.

I stayed there for a few seconds before she let out her all-clear siren in the form of a long sigh, then I moved quickly. I rushed to her dresser, grabbing her water bottle and taking a big swig, then set it down as I ditched my clothes like they were on fire. Quickly, while she was still recovering from her intense orgasm, I got on the bed right beside her and kissed her back to consciousness.

She slowly opened her eyes, then blinked twice and adjusted to her surroundings. “Oh my God.” she murmured as she saw me, naked and fully hgar,d waiting for her.

“I know how much you like riding me immediately afterwards.” I said with a smile.

“You’re too good to me.” she replied, grinning, as she slowly rose up. She quickly fell back. “Woah! Jesus. You did a number on me.”

“You okay?”

“Yeah. Feel proud of yourself though, can’t say I’ve been this weak after cumming before.”

“I’ve been taking notes.” I admitted half-proudly, half-bashfully.

She lowered one eyebrow. “Hoping to eliminate the competition or something?”

“Hoping to satisfy you.” I replied, a little too honestly.

She looked at me for a little bit, then squinted a little at me as if in thought. “You’re cute.” she said finally, getting back up and straddling me. “Now, how about we get to work on this little problem?” she asked, taking her index finger and resting her fingertip on my dick.

“It’s all yours.” I told her, and she smiled to herself in response.

“Fuckin’A.” she almost whispered as she lifted herself up, lined herself up with me, and slowly sank down on top of me.

I could believe other people if they say that sex could get a little mundane, or always feel the same, but with Nicole, it always felt like a new experience each and every time. Just… a new yet familiar experience. An experience I could never imagine, yet one I craved. And now I got the release I was seeking, as I felt her warm, heavenly grip on my cock enveloping me inch by inch until finally her hips rested on top of mine. Nicole practically squeaked in temporary pain, then began rocking back and forth on top of me as she got accustomed to having me fully inside her. I groaned once or twice to signify that she was going a bit too far and bending me, but before long she scoped out the limits and knew exactly what movements to make.

Almost out of pure instinct, I reached around her and grabbed her ass, savoring the feeling of her full yet firm ass cheeks in my hands. She moaned slightly at the touch and eyed me, biting her lip seductively as she flipped her hair and put on a little shy act for me.

“You ready, sexy?” she asked me, playing with a lock of her hair.

“Give me all you got.” I responded, grinning.

She grinned herself and started moving up and down, milking me for all of both of our worth. It began in slow, awkward movements, but gradually, we both felt each other’s natural tempos and began to turn improvisation into coordination. Before long, Nicole was slamming into me at full force, every movement of hers tailored for my pleasure, every movement of mine tailored to her’s. We spent a good amount of time either with our eyes closed or looking away, but occasionally we would lock eyes and in amongst the moaning, start smiling at each other, even laughing. We had no idea why, we just would. After one spurt of laughter, Nicole leaned down and, doing her best not to make the angle awkward, kissed me on the lips. I would kiss her back, and before either of us would realize it, our tongues would be intertwined in a battle rivalling that of the Seven Years’ War. Both of us brought our highest-class warfare to the table – while making out, I would suddenly spank her ass before going back to grope it, making her almost squeal into my mouth. In response, she would grip the back of my neck and massage it while still trying to keep herself balanced – she could multitask like a pro. The sensations on my neck, combined with the rest of my body – practically set me on fire. No part of me wasn’t tingling. Nicole was magic, no two ways about it.

While the two of us didn’t need to exchange any words, occasionally a few would fly, and when we began to feel the tingling come to a crescendo, Nicole voiced it to me, though perhaps not in the words she would have meant had she not been drunk on her lust.

“I love you, Adam.” she moaned as she began to feel her sensations reach a high.

I didn’t even find it puzzling at this point. “I love you too, Nicole.” I practically shouted, so proud and happy to be with her, to be hers, to have her be mine.

“T-together?” she asked, ready to blow any second.

“Gimme a bit…” I barely choked out, focussing on ramming her from the bottom position so we could climax together. When it was coming, I couldn’t even find the strength to tell her in normal English that I was there. I just pant-screamed out a few “Aah!”s, but I think she got the message and with one final thrust, we had achieved the mythical simultaneous cum.

It felt out-of-this-world to cum with Nicole. To be there with her, to be inside her, closer than anyone else could be with her at that moment. It was a moment locked in time where the two of us became one, shared the same mindspace and combined our bodies. The sensations overwhelmed me as they did her – soon she collapsed on top of me as we lay there panting, bringing ourselves back to reality from the euphoria we experienced from pleasing each other.

Our breathing got less pronounced until we both had clearly recovered. Nicole found the strength to once again push herself up from the bed and kissed me deeply.

“You’re amazing.” she purred.

“As long as you’re happy.” I replied, smiling.

She slowly pulled out of me and plopped down beside me, nuzzling into my neck and cuddling into me. “I’m so happy.”

My smile remained there for a long time, though it temporarily went away when I stroked her arm and felt a bumpy patch. A scar. I shivered, though I hoped I didn’t let her know. I went back to stroking as nonchalantly as possible. The silence in the room had taken on a more sinister nature.

“Are you scared?” Nicole asked, in a surprisingly warm tone.

I chewed my lip. She had noticed. “Yeah, a little.” I replied. “Did you know I knew?”

“When do I not know… anything?” she asked, and we shared a small laugh. Silence took us again and she moved her head slightly, nuzzling my neck again. “Does it change anything?”

I emitted a small smile. Whether it was happy or sad, I couldn’t say. “No, Nicole. It changes nothing. You’re still you.”

I could feel Nicole smile into my neck. “Thank you.” she said in a small voice. “I don’t want it to be a burden on you.”

“It’s not.” I replied. “You’re not.”

“Do you wanna talk about how you feel?” she asked me, her voice as small as ever.

I laughed out loud. “You know what, no. It’s all I ever do. Do you already know how I feel?”

“I think so.” Nicole laughed too, kissing my neck. “Thank you.”

“Hey Nicole…”

“Yeah?”

“Would you… would you be my girlfriend?” I asked in a shy voice.

Nicole removed her head from my neck so she could stare me in the eyes. “Huh?”

“I’m willing to do it. Would you be my girlfriend?”

She looked at me, weirded out. “You know I didn’t backtrack on that whole ‘sleeping with other guys’ thing, right? Did I misinform you?”

My smile didn’t wane. “You didn’t.”

“And you don’t care?”

“I want to learn not to. I want to be with you. I want these feelings to be natural and open, not a joke. We’re more than a joke, Nicole. I want to be your boyfriend.”

Nicole shook her head. “You’re a dumbass.” She leaned in and gave me a soft kiss. “But a cute one.”

She studied my face again, and gave that same squinty expression, eventually breaking into a soft smile. I could swear I even saw her eyes start to water. “Let’s do it.”

“For real?!” I sprung up. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

Nicole threw up her arms. “I might as well. Otherwise you’re never gonna get off my ass about it, are you?” She grinned at me. “And you’re right. The feelings are real.” Her hand snaked across the bed and found mine, and they clasped together. “I’ll be your girlfriend, Adam.”

Both of our eyes were probably watery now. I practically leapt into her embrace as we had our first kiss as a couple, a true couple, and yet nothing truly had changed. It was just a title, but it was real. We were real. We were finally together.

We collapsed down on the bed, still kissing, and settled into a spooning position with me grabbing her boobs from behind, feeling close, feeling together, feeling right.

“I love you.” I said as tenderly and honestly as I could.

I heard Nicole’s tongue click. “I’m not quite there yet, squirt. I’m sorry.” She turned back around, and kissed my nose. “But gimme time. I’ll be there eventually.”

“I’ll gladly wait for you.” I replied, smiling at her, absolutely smitten. She couldn’t help not smiling back. We were such a couple of teenagers, and we loved it.

“I guess this means we have a conflict of interest on our hands, Vice President.” Nicole giggled.

“We’re totally in bed with each other, President.” I giggled back. We went back to snuggling and being high as a cloud on each other’s company until we both drifted off into a nap together. It was the perfect way to end the day, and the year. That day was the last day of exams, and it felt right to end the year on that note.

They say that good things come to those who wait, but I think the quote is wrong. Had I just waited for Nicole, I would have lost her at least ten times by now. My year may have been filled with unnecessary drama, but if it weren’t for every single event that had happened up until then, I never would have gotten to this moment I had been hoping for all year. The sadness, the heartbreak, the shock, the anger, the lust, all of it culminated to a single moment, an event, me. I was the result of an entire year of shenanigans, and after a childhood of bitterness and wishing I could turn back the clock, I finally understood why people told me they would never change a thing if given the chance. It wasn’t that every moment in life was supposed to be perfect, it was that every moment in life had its purpose. With where I had ended up, as cheesy as it was to say, I never would have done anything differently either. Perhaps I was only beginning a single chapter of a new adventurous life and would never get to have my old boring life back, and perhaps maybe I would even miss that life from time to time, but if you ask me, that’s just one of the consequences of being more social.

__________________________

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