Five

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"He started it mom!"

"Liam, Asher is your best friend. Is your pride worth his friendship?"

"Not when you put it like that, but I'm still mad!"

"You can be angry Liam, what you can't be is mean to others."

"But he promised we'd spend this summer doing fun stuff together."

"Sometimes people say things that aren't true because they think it will protect our feelings."

"Oh."

"You can still call and write Asher while he's in Austria."

"Okay."

"So do you think maybe you can forgive him?"

"Yeah. Is that grown up of me?"

"Very. Didn't I tell you you'd get wiser once you turned eleven?"

She tickled him until she got a yes.

***

[Liam]

"Calm down, honey." Lucy clucks her tongue. At 7:30 her office is a ghost town.

"I just want to hit something! Fucking hell. There I was fully prepared to beg for her to be mine again." I pace and sit and stand and growl.

"That Evie is certainly a character. You aren't exactly the easiest to deal with either, Liam. It takes two to tango. . . I think that's the expression." She peels off.

"Women." I slump onto the rollie stool.

"Watch it mister. I can hear your mother rolling in her grave." Lucy scoffs.

"I want to go home." I moan.

"Don't you dream of it Liam Davis. You've had perfect attendance this month. Don't let me catch you skipping."

"Fine." I mumble. I glance up when the bell rings and head to my locker. I only have to make it through gov now.

***

"How'd it go this morning?" Sam asks when he sees me sitting at our table in fourth period. I don't answer. "That bad huh?"

"Hey Sam, Ollie told us you went on a date last night." A junior girl says, prodding.

Vultures, the lot of them.

"Did he now? Did he tell you what we did after the date?" He wiggles his eyebrows and allows the girls to drag him to the back corner.

Worksheets are passed out and I put my head down determined to finish it before class ends. I pretend to not notice Evie come in and talk to the teacher. She looks a little green, not that I'm looking.

Pursing her lips she sniffs and turns away from me, going to sit as far away as possible.

"That sucks man." Sam claps my shoulders after twenty minutes of gossiping. "I'm totally on your side, but do you care if I go over there?"

"Knock yourself out." I'm neck deep in the history of immigration laws.

[Sam]

"I've missed you, E. I was too morally distraught to visit, but that giant stuffed duck toy was from moi." I sit on a backwards chair and greet her.

"Hey Sam."

"You're awfully quiet today, and looking a bit sick."

"I can't imagine why." Sarcastic today I see.

"I know what'll cheer you up."

"What?"

I dig in her bag for a sharpie and snatch her cast up. It's a garishly bright green, and I tell her so.

"It's also heavy, so I'd watch it if I were you." She grumbles.

I scrawl my name out and raise my hands in surrender.

"There."

"You write like a kindergartner."

"Hey now, some people think it's cute."

"Ollie thinks it's cute. No one else." She laughs.

"Well I don't care if anyone else does now do I."

"Sam, you've always been good at cheering me up, but I have to ask. Does he hate me?"

I lean back a bit and consider her. It's definitely not my place, Liam has always been my best friend, my family. Yet, Ollie and I were talking the other day about how they just needed a nudge in the right direction.

It would certainly make things simpler for the rest of the group.

"Hate is a strong word." I toe the line, only saying things that Liam will eventually say himself. "You certainly fucked him up good though."

"I never meant to, I was just scared." She sighs. "You can understand that?"

I can. Fear is an understatement for what I felt those months leading up to coming out. It was the not knowing how he'd react that always tore at me.

"Liam would rather you rip his heart out than lie to him. That's how he's always been I suppose. At least since I've known him."

"Right." She mumbles. Evie turns away and I feel like something is off. "I really don't feel good Sam. Can you walk with me to the nurse?"

"Uh. . . Yeah, yes." I stand quickly and help her. Liam looks up concerned and I shrug just as confused.

When I turn to walk with her we only make it a few halls before she moans and runs to the nearest trash can.

"Okay— um." I hold her hair. "Please tell me the though of talking to him isn't what's making you physically ill."

"It definitely i—" She hurls.

Thank god I have no gag reflex, or I'd be right next to her.

"We're gonna run to the nurse alright? It'll be fun." I panic.

I only wanted to sign her cast honestly.

I wasn't expecting a whole conversation or to escort her vomiting self. Her arm just looked really cool.

"Um so yeah." I gesture awkwardly to Evie once we get to the nurse.

"I see. I'll put some ice on it."

My heart drops to my feet and I'm unsure if I should laugh or fret.

"Joking, I'm only joking honey." She clarifies. I laugh a little. "You can go back to class now."

I give Evie a pat and make my way to the bathroom to wash my hands. What? Germs. Back in class I'm assaulted by questioning eyeballs, but it's Liam who drags me back into the hall.

"Hey—."

"Is she okay?" He worries.

"Get off me." I playfully slap his hands away. "She'll be okay I guess."

"What happened?"

"Do not drag me into this. Come on man, I just wanted to sign her cast."

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