― twenty-two: missing runaway

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[ CHAPTER 22 : MISSING RUNAWAY :i heard you crying loud, all the way across town cause you been searching for that someone and it's me out on the prowl. as you sit around feeling sorry for yourself. well, don't get lonely now, and dry your whining eyes. i'm just roaming for the moment. sleazin' my back yard so don't get so uptight you been thinking about ditching me.]


          THERE'S DEFINITELY SOMETHING DIFFERENT in the way Nico acts around Parker at school. She noticed the minute they caught each other's gazes when she entered the school's main building. He's standing with Liam, and Milk―trying his best to follow their conversation but failing miserably. His attention is purely on the fact she's still wearing his sweater and no longer Leo's hoodie. Or maybe he's paying more attention to the way she looks back at him. Her facial expression fueled with guilt and pity, translated into a cramped look of blasted confusion. All Parker does know, is that the feeling Nico gives her, is a feeling that means he thinks differently of her. Maybe in a good way. Maybe in a bad way. She can't be sure.

          After a second of further listening to Liam and Milk, Nico guides the two to walk over towards Parker, and her locker. "Hi, Parker!" Milk greets with a shy tone and a bashful smile. Parker nods back at her, her eyes moving to look at Cameron's approaching figure. Cameron who, despite being happy she finished her dare, looks displeased. Which isn't good for her.

          "Henderson," Liam grits out, making Parker snap back to the people in front of her. She looks at the way the boy looks visibly tense. The vein on the side of his neck pulsing a bright blue, while his nails dig into the skin on the palm of his hand. She's sure he'll be bleeding soon. "You're still here? I thought I was rid of you."

          Nico shoves at Liam's shoulder, and Milk harshly flicks at the boy's nose―making Liam angrily pout in the opposite direction. "Will you stop being such a jerk, Liam?" Milk begs, her fingers nestling into the sleeves of his denim jacket. "Please, for me?" The boy almost, almost looks like he'll do anything to stop Milk from looking so sad and dejected with her pout and puppy dog eyes. To the point his own pout falters, but then he's shaking his head at her. His eyes scowl in Parker's direction, before he's stalking off to God-knows-where. Milk huffs, "I'll talk to him." And the girl hurries after him.

          "Liam doesn't like new people." Nico lies, shrugging nonchalantly.

          Parker hums back with a nod as she turns toward her locker. A feeling of uneasiness sits in the bottom of her stomach. It feels suddenly awkward between them. Though, it never was truly normal. The dynamic between her and Nico was always funny but not like this. This feels suddenly real. Like they're not both faking a relationship. As if, somehow, last night or even this morning, lead to the first real step in their relationship. Solidifying the unasked question in her mind: does Nicolas Pérez actually like me?

          Yes, yes he does.

          And that's a scary thought.

          "So, uh, is everything alright?" The teenage boy tries asking as he teeters back and forth on his feet. Nervous. He's nervous. Parker thinks it's probably the first time Nico's ever acted like that around her. Not even when she was in her bedroom, five feet away from his older brother who could've caught her sleeping in his bed. But now, talking to her like he usually does, he's nervous. Go figure.

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