Old friends abandon me, it's just the routine politics of jealousy
 
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 Chapter 44: In

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Kell
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Join date : 2008-10-05

PostSubject: Chapter 44: In   Mon May 06, 2013 12:46 am

"Hey, you wanna see a movie later?" I asked Jade on our way home from school.

He looked over at me & smiled. "Yeah sure. What do you wanna see?"

"I dunno. Lemme see what's playing," I said as I took out my phone.

It was a relatively bold move on my part. In some ways, it almost felt like asking him out for the first time. Granted, we had never "asked out" the other. But I felt the same familiar speckle of hope. Other than our friendship rapidly repairing itself by the small chats we had at lunch, Jaden Parker & I hadn't done anything together in a while. Not to mention, the last MAJOR interaction we had did not exactly go very smoothly when we were in the library at school. So I was happy he said yes; I'd give a kidney to have that friendship back. As it turned out though, it didn't take a major surgical operation to do the trick. Rather, a casually-put reach-out.

It had been several days since the party where I had called out Jade's name in the middle of having sex with Jared. I was still unsure at this point if it was really a mere slip of the tongue, but admittedly, it most likely wasn't. I could only hope that that wouldn't come back to bite me in the butt someday. Even if my feelings for Jade were complicated, I really DID care for Jared. To hurt him by what I did would break my heart.

In unrelated news, the baby would be coming soon. VERY soon. In a weird way, I was very excited. I knew it wasn't exactly...planned. And I knew were putting it up for adoption, but the sheer aspect of MY baby being born soon was, well, unbelievable. But with every thought I had of the baby, came thoughts about Shannon. I would never understand how a seemingly nice, mature young woman could be so psychotic. I hadn't even known her that well or that long before something in her mind told her it was ok to violently assault someone in ways that would give a hopeless director some catchy ideas for the next mediocre horror movie he or she could crock out. I remember my dad explaining to me what had been wrong with her, but I didn't remember at this point. It didn't matter. To me, she was just nuts.

And yet, even after everything she put me through...I felt bad for her. What she did to me was undoubtedly inhumane & inexcusable, but somewhere deep in my forever-repairing conscience was an odd feeling of pity for her. I wasn't a doctor. At least not yet anyway. But while I didn't know the complexities of human behavior & actions, what I did know is that maybe she really wasn't...I don't know, aware, of what she had done. I couldn't help but feel sorry for her, knowing that maybe what she had done was something she didn't truly 'intend' on doing. Did she MEAN to hurt someone, get pregnant in the process, go to jail, have a kid, never see it again & spend years learning how to correct herself? Probably not. For me, logic had pragmatically & rightfully been the verdict. But my conscience seemed to have staked its claim in there somewhere. I was trying to get rid of this "new Noah," as Jade had once called it; so was a mild feeling of Stockholm more like the "new" me...or the "old" me? I couldn't tell you.

Suddenly, I heard Jade gasp & as I snapped out of my thoughts & looked around hurriedly, I heard him snicker.

"What'd you gasp for?" I asked.

"Well I said your name three times & you didn't respond," he smiled. "Where'd you go?"

"Oh," I said dumbly, looking at my phone. "Couldn't get a signal."

Aside from glancing at the road to keep us alive, Jade kept an eye on me longer than I expected.

"You all right?" he asked.

"Yeah, why?"

"Just askin'."

When we got home, I turned to Jade just as I was about to get out of the car. "Hey, you wanna go out in the row boat?"

He gave me a funny look. "It's so windy out though, it's kinda chilly."

"Welcome to Maine," I grinned.

He shrugged. "Yeah ok. But I'm getting something warm to wear first."

I shut the door & let him go to park in his driveway. I ran inside, dropped my stuff in my room & headed out the back to uncover the rowboat from the backyard. As I was pulling the tarp off, I realized I hadn't been in the rowboat since Jade & I had broken up. A montage quickly went through my head of everything since then. It was...

"Hey!"

I looked up. Jade was walking over from his yard with a fleece sweater & two hat in his hand.

"You're gonna lose those in the wind ya know," I said.

"Nah, they're our good-luck hats," he said, tossing me one. When I looked at it, I saw that it was my hat with "Noahy" on the front. His sporting "Jade."

"How did you have mine?" I smiled as I put it on.

"I dunno. Must have gotten mixed up in the luggage when we left California," he smiled gently.

"Must have," I smiled back, knowing better.

We finished uncovering the boat & then carried it down to the water. As we stood on the dock & lowered it onto the surface, I realized how much windier it was out in the open on the water. Ok, so MAYBE it wasn't the ideal rowing time but hey, whatever. We tossed two life jackets into the boat, climbed down into & soon enough, Jade started rowing us out from the dock. It was even windier out here than it was on the dock. Jade gave up & we laughed as the boat started drifting away.

"It's gonna be a bitch to row all the way back," he said as he swiped his winded bangs from his eyes.

"Probably," I laughed as I bent down to tie my shoe.

"So how's Jared?" he asked me. I looked up at him. "Collin told me you guys were at a party recently."

"Oh, yeah we were. Turned out not only was Collin there, but so was Mark."

"Wow, small world."

"Yeah."

"So I take it you guys are still together then?"

"Yup," I nodded. I bit my tongue a bit as I asked, "How's Nina?"

"She's good. We actually went out on a date a few nights ago," he gave me a cautious look.

"Oh yeah? How was it?" I tried to be interested, I really did.

"It was great. We had loads of fun, we went out to the movies & then took a walk through a park in her town. We ended up sharing a lot about each other. Plus, as it turns out, she's very kind, gentle, she's really smart I guess by how she told me she does in school & she told me she wants to go into teaching someday. She always tries to do the right thing, too, since she called herself the moral center of her group of friends," he smiled.

I nodded.

"And I realized that I already had a history with her," he added.

"She sounds...perfect," I admitted.

"Can I ask you something?" he said.

"Sure.." I said nervously.

"What was your problem with me liking her?" he asked more sincerely than accusingly.

I looked off to the side, watching the land move aside like a conveyer belt. "I dunno. The whole part of you not telling me at all about her hurt a little, considering we had that 'look-don't-touch' rule & that any guys we found hot, we usually told each other about & both talked about fantasizing about him. You didn't tell me about this other person in the first place, but in addition to that, that it was a girl. It just...makes me feel like you couldn't really be honest with me, which hurts more considering we're best friends on top of everything."

"And I owe you an apology for that," he nodded in agreement. "I'm sorry I never told you. Really."

"It's all right now."

"But...that sounds like more of a reason to be angry at ME, not her."

I shrugged. "I guess I don't really have a real reason. She actually did seem pretty nice when we were at Dade's that day."

"Just nice?" he giggled.

"Well, I didn't know her for THAT long. But yeah, I guess I could see her as always being a good person with a good heart. A real..."

"Goody-two-shoes?" he raised an eyebrow with a smile.

"Well, yeah, kind of," I said, scratching my ear.

"She's you."

I looked back at him & paused my scratching.

"She's what?"

"She's you."

I put my hands up. "Wait, what do you mean she's 'me'?"

"Noah," he leaned forward, "she's exactly like you. Only, in girl form."

"What are you talking about?" I said, still confused.

"I realized when I went on my date with her that she was almost identical to you. That's why I said I already had a history with her. Because the two of you are so similar. You both had a good head on your shoulders. It felt like I was on a date with you almost."

"Oh," I leaned back.

"She made me realize that what I had with you was what I needed."

"What exactly is it that you needed?" I asked.

"I thought that if you & me took a break, I'd be able to figure out if I wanted to keep going with a gay, high school fling, or if I wanted to be serious about being with you. When I met Nina, I started to think maybe what I had with you was nothing more than two friends 'experimenting' with me, or even both of us, being confused, or SOMETHING like that. And I really didn't want that to be the case."

"Then why go for her at all if you liked what we had?"

"Well, I mean if it DID turn out that I'm really straight & had something with her, then I'm not gonna pass up a chance to be happy. But that doesn't mean what you & me had WASN'T happy. Do you get what I'm saying?"

I closed my eyes & tried to say back what it was I believed he really felt without any of my own bias. "You didn't want to keep going with me if you thought it would eventually turn out to be nothing & instead, you could go try to have something easily longer-lasting."

"Basically. I guess," he said. "And I'm so sorry for doing that to you."

"I'm sorry too, for the way I've been—"

"You've apologized plenty," he held up a finger at me & chuckled.

"So...that's why we broke up? Because you wanted to try something else? I thought it was because we were fighting a lot."

"Well, those fights made it easier," he laughed awkwardly. "I'm sorry for those too. I know we fought a lot about whether or not to be more open about us to the school & our families, whether to start being a bit more active locally, including the GSA...I guess what I'm sorry for overall is trying to expand past 'just us' without considering what you wanted, both for our relationship & for who else we might have wanted to date."

"When you put it like that, it makes it sound like I didn't want you to control your own life," I sighed.

"Well that's what I originally felt, yeah. But since then I've come to realized that in a lot of ways...you keep me grounded. In a good way though. I LIKED what we had. And I regret wanting to change that."

"So does that mean..." I was afraid to say it out loud like this in case I was reading him the wrong way, "you wanna get back together?"

He sighed as he looked away from me, his bangs blowing into his eyes again. He stared off for a few moments longer than I felt comfortable with. Then he spoke.

"Do you?" he asked, wanting to hear me admit it first.

I nodded.

"Then yeah, I wanna get back together, too," he smiled. Gosh how I missed that smile, that smile I knew was reserved only for me.

I smiled too. But it went soooo much deeper than just that.

I was no longer confused about who I wanted to be with. I couldn't just BE with Jared anymore simply because I would feel bad for breaking up with him. It pained me to know that I could so quickly decide to end it with him now that I knew Jade wanted me back just as much as I wanted him. But I had to think logically & not based on pure guilt. I had to go with what I REALLY wanted, & that was to have Jade as my boyfriend again.

As happy as I was, I was also anxious. I had been through so much. We both had. Jade sounded convinced that after seeing what Nina was like, he was sure he wanted me back. But I wondered how well we'd be able to function the second time around. Would things be awkward? When or if we fight, would old problems be brought up? What new things WOULD we have to fight about? Should we bury the hatchet as they say? Or keep everything out in the open? Would it be worth it?

As I lurched forward & pulled Jaden in to kiss him passionately on the lips, my heart cried yes. Yes, yes, yes.

At first, he was certainly surprised. But as we eased into our familiar love, I felt his hands lay on my arms, his fingers playing with my skin. I missed his lips. I missed his touch. I missed his face being so close to mine. I missed our bodies being entwined. I missed his warmth. I missed us. I held his face as I squeezed my eyes tight to keep a few stray tears from dripping out. I wanted to cry, how I missed him sooo much it hurt. As I leaned more into him, he leaned farther back until I was lying right on top of his body. Whatever nanoseconds I was away from his lips I took to breathe. Air was a backseat priority to him right now.

We kissed forever. I felt his arms reach up & hold me close to him, his hand wrapped around my back under my arms & placed on my shoulders. I twist my legs with his. I could feel his hardness pressing against mine, but even though I was aroused, I wasn't interested in anything sexual right now. It was pure contact that brought my body into its long-lost feelings of being touched by him. It was beyond magical at this point.

Just then, the boat came to an instant stop, jolting us from our embrace. The sharp sound of metal clashing with something harder made us look up. We had been kissing so long that the boat had made it all the way to the north end of the lake & had collided with a large rock sitting the mud embankment.

"Heh, I guess that means it's time to stop I guess," Jade said from under me.

"Yeah I guess."

"Probably also means that we shouldn't do anything as long as you & Jared are still technically together."

"Oh, right..." I felt sad again. "I feel terrible about this. This is now technically cheating on him AND I'm gonna be breaking up with him? What if he hates me?"

"Do you think he will? I mean, I don't know him."

I thought about how Jared would react. With a heavy heart, I knew that I would essentially be dumping him to run back to my ex. I knew Jared had a care-free attitude about a lot of things, but would this be one of them? What if this turned out to be the one exception to his personal rules? Was it selfish to put my own potential future happiness above his?

"I don't know," I answered.

"Well, whatever happens, I'm always here for you, ok?" he caressed my cheek.

"Thanks," I kissed his palm.

As he lifted the brim of his hat, he looked up around me. "So since coming out here was YOUR idea, I hope you realize it'll be YOU rowing us all the way back up the shore to the dock."

I stared down at him in disbelief. "WHAT?! It's like, a category 5 hurricane!"

"Nice exaggeration," he laughed & pushed up against my chest so he could sit up. Just as he did, a gust of wind streamed us & lifted his hat right off. Almost instantly, before it flew far past me, I was able to snatch it with my fingers, almost leaning over & out of the boat completely. I carefully pulled myself back into the boat without rocking it too much & handed him his hat. He had a shocked expression on his face, his mouth making an O in surprise of what could have been. "Good catch," he said.

"You can thank me," I said, handing him an oar, "by helping me get us back home."

**********

"Oh hello there," I felt a pat on my back as I turned around to see Jared. It had been a few days since Jade & I wound up admitting we wanted to be back together. After all, it had been a while since our fight in the library but since then, our friendship had slowly grown back & lead to whatever it was we were at this point. But to finally be back with him required me to break up with Jared, which, in some ways, I really didn't want to do. I was sitting in a seat at a Panera that was at a mall equally close to our homes.

"Hey," I smiled sadly.

"So how goes it? I've only talked to you like once or twice since the party. That was fun, huh?" he was smiling as he sat down across from me.

"Yeah, it was. So listen, I think we should talk..." I looked him in the eye.

"Sure, about what?"

I sighed as I looked down into my lap. "Look, Jared...you're one of the greatest people I've ever known. You take the carefree attitude to levels I'd never heard of before I met you," I gave him a meek smile. "You're so much fun, between the parties, the clubs, the drinks, the fireside sex..." He laughed at that one. "But...I just..."

He stopped me before I could finish. "Are you breaking up with me?" he asked with a very neutral expression on his face.

"I..." I struggled to find words as I shifted uncomfortably in my seat.

All of a sudden, as I was looking at him...he gave me a small smile.

"It's ok," he said. "It's a hard thing to do."

"Jared," I shook my head, feeling choked up. "I don't know what to say other than I'm so sorry."

He smiled again as he reached over & held my hands in his. "It's fine, really. You know me, I don't like being upset by things. No hard feelings, I promise."

"It's just that...I couldn't get over my ex & it'd be unfair to you if I still had feelings for him. I like you a lot...but I'm still in love with him. And I would hate myself to no end knowing that if I stayed with you, but was still in love with him, that it would feel like I wasn't giving you what you deserve. God, I feel so awful..."

"Noah, really, it's fine," he smiled more. "Besides," he leaned back in his chair, "I figured that was true anyway. Not only did you tell me a few times you were still a bit confused about him, but I seem to recall hearing his name when we were messing around at Suzie's party."

I sighed in shame & dropped my head. "You remember that?" I asked quietly.

"Yeah. I might have been shit faced but I definitely remember THAT hahaha," he laughed.

"I hate myself."

"Look," he said, getting up, walking to me & sitting on the table to face me sideways, "just because I choose to always look at the positive things in life doesn't mean I'm not aware of the negatives. I had a feeling for a while now that you weren't totally over him. You seemed distracted at times & my only guess was that you either didn't like me, which you claim you did, or that you weren't over him yet. And at the party, not only did it kind of confirm that, but I realized that I probably shouldn't expect something really long term. I just wanted to wait for you to make the first move to say something since it's your issue, not mine."

I held my head in my hands. "I'm so sorry Jared..."

"Ok, you better make sure you never ever break up with anyone ever again. 'Cause if you do, you're gonna be a wreck every time. And those times, it won't be with someone as cool as me," he patted my head.

"You're the best," I sighed with a nervous laugh.

"Yeah well, now that I'm single, pass the word along," he winked at me.

I laughed, comfortably this time, at his amazingness. I stood up, hugged him around the neck & kissed his cheek. "I will."

With that settled, Jared & I sat back down & had a "dump-lunch" as he called it later. I had a feeling not only was he ok with the breakup, he'd tease me about it until the end of time. Hey, better that than an eternity of guilt, right?

Afterwards, I was about to call the taxi to take me back home when Jared suggested I come over & hang out for a little while & then he could take me home.

"Really? Are you sure?" I asked.

"Yeah, definitely. So it won't come with sex on the side, but we have some movies to finish," he laughed.

"Ok hahaha sure," I replied as I started following him out of the mall. While we were in the parking lot, I heard my phone in my pocket beep, signaling a new text. Taking it out, I saw who it was. Just then, I got a crazy idea in my head. Maybe it would be a little awkward at first, but then again, breaking up with Jared hadn't turned out like I expected. So why not try this?

"Hey, is there room for three?" I asked Jared.

"Yeah, the more the merrier," he turned his head as we kept walking.

Smiling, I replied to my new text.

'Hey Jade, what are you doing right now?'.
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Chapter 44: In
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