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Ten - Little Promise

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Xavier

It's been a while since I was so at ease.

Haley seems quiet, talking less ever since she came here. She doesn't laugh as much as she usually does, but her wide eyes watch me just the same. It used to make me self-conscious when we first started interacting. Now, though, I know she doesn't judge me. I can be myself with Haley. 

If I'm quiet, she keeps trying to talk. If I'm talking, she listens and giggles and blushes and her eyes do weird things. It's cute and funny and I have a hard time fighting my smile sometimes. It's never happened before, but I kind of like it.

I kind of like Haley.

She squats down on the ground and I join her, leaning against the wall and staring off into the distance. The place is quiet and peaceful and I like being here, mostly because I don't have to worry about anyone seeing me and asking me dumb questions. The only time I was caught here was when a teacher saw me climbing the stairs. Mr. Robinson and I had a chat afterward about whether or not I was smoking or doing a drug. I told him I'm clean and he believed me.

At least someone does.

"How was Christmas break?" Haley asks.

I glance at her. She sits next to me with her legs folded under her, turned fully towards me. Her eyes are wide and curious, a cute smile set on her face.

"It was okay," I answer.

"Did you go somewhere or stay at home?"

I hesitate. 

I'm being honest, yes, Christmas break was okay. I stayed out of the house most of the time, asking for overtime at work. My boss didn't think working over Christmas was the best thing but we sat together, a bunch of us, and just had some drinks. Being underage, I didn't drink alcohol. My colleagues and boss are nice enough to let me stick around even if they don't approve of my lifestyle. One of them once saw me talking to a guy who smokes weed and they got into a massive fight. 

While I did feel bad about it, I'm glad I have someone to look out for me.

So yeah, that was nice, I guess. I had a little break for Christmas, spent some time with people, and felt normal for a while.

I kind of miss it; feeling normal.

Home isn't the best these days, hasn't been in years. Christmas was slightly better than the past several years, though, I assume because Dad was gone out of Texas to see his ex-wife and kids. I haven't been with Mom on my own in so long. It was nice having some time with her without any fear of an outburst.

"Xavier?"

I blink when the sound of Haley's voice reaches me. Looking up at her, I see her peeking at my face with concern.

"Haley?" I say.

Color rises up her face and she lowers her gaze, smiling sheepishly. I can't help but smile too, noting how cute she is. I've noticed how much she notices the little things and just glows with joy at them. She likes me, sometimes I feel like she does. Other times, I just wonder if she's being nice to me because of the night she found me sitting in the rain outside my house. Maybe she just feels bad for me and wants to help me. She doesn't know much, though, so even if this is true, there's only so much she can sympathize with me for.

"I forgot what I was going to say," she mumbles.

I almost laugh. "Tell me when you remember."

She looks up again, her smile widening as she tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. I notice the waves floating back onto her face and have half an urge to reach out and romantically push it back. It seems too cheesy, though, and I swallow, shaking the thought out of my head.

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