A/N Um, yay for fast updates?! Yeah wow I don't know I guess I have been INSPIRED TO WRITE this week! Or something! We'll see how long that lasts! I can't promise quick updates forever and ever but hey, take it while you can, right? Except for how this writing stuff is ruining my sleep schedule and my productivity - you know, when it comes to school stuff, which is totally not important. Also, I definitely wrote/rewrote this stupid chapter like a hundred times and I still don't really like it but there is nothing more I can do/nothing I can think of to do so I figured I might as well stop letting it rot in my documents and post it. But um yeah, thank you for alerts/faves/reviews/etc :) Hugs for everyone!

Emerson hasn't spoken to me all day, which I happen to think is extraordinarily stupid. He kind of runs out of a room every time I step into it, muttering some excuse or the other about something he has to do which is dumb because nobody has anything to do right now. Over the course of the day, though, I've managed to take a shower, eat some food, do a load of laundry, watch a little TV, shoot some hoops with Nico and his friends at a nearby park (which Emerson opted out of because he was "tired" or something equally as ridiculous), and stop by this record store on the way back from the park, and Nico and I are currently walking home from this aforementioned store.

He's telling me some ridiculous story about how he and his friends were at that park "after hours" a while ago (I've never actually paid attention to whether parks legitimately close or not) and there were some "sketchy-looking people hanging around" and then eventually those "sketchy-looking people" tried to "kill them" but as usual I'm only half-listening to him. He never seems to mind, though; I think he just likes hearing the sound of his own voice, which is kind of dickish. Therefore Nico is kind of dickish. I glance over at him and he doesn't look like a particularly dickish human being, though—he looks like a sweet, if slightly obnoxious, teenage guy, and he looks at me and he's saying, "So, obviously, I threw the Frisbee at his crotch, but you know I have really bad aim so—what?"

"What, what?" I say, taking the basketball out from underneath my arm and starting to dribble it like a complete tool while I walk.

He shrugs and says, "Were you even listening to my story?" and I shake my head, grinning a little, and he says, "Figured. Your loss."

I chuck the basketball at him and he catches it and falls over, clutching it to his chest as though he's dying, and I squat down next to him, my arms on my knees, and he's just lying there with his eyes closed and I say, "What the fuck are you doing?"

I don't get any reply, so I say, "Do you need me to do CPR or something?" at which point he opens one eye and says, "Ew," and I roll my eyes.

"You'd like it," I say, pushing myself up again and reaching down to grab his hand. He takes mine and I pull him up and he's actually not as light as I would have expected, so I guess he must have some muscle hidden somewhere in there.

He brushes himself off and says, "Nah, I mean," and he stares at me for a moment as though he's contemplating something and then he continues, "You're a good kisser and all but then when I think about it you're more like that douchebaggy older brother I never had."

I decide that I will ignore the incestuous subtext as well as the douchebag comment in that statement and take it as a compliment, so I ruffle his hair and say dryly, "Thanks, I think."

"That doesn't give you the right to be a condescending piece of shit and go all—" He reaches up and ruffles my hair back, and I slap his hand, and he just laughs.

I give him a slightly curious look and ask, "Okay, but what was that all about anyway? When you suddenly decided you wanted to make out with me?"

"We-ell," he says slowly, dragging the word out into two syllables, "I mean, you know, alcohol." And then he's speaking at eighty miles per hour again. "Plus it's not like you're ugly." Yeah, Nico, I'm hot is what I am. "And I was bored." These sound like the exact reasons that I tend to hook up with people, so I guess I understand, but he's still talking: "And anyway you didn't seem like you minded. Also, sorry, I totally wanted to see how jealous Emerson would get."

I raise my eyebrows at the last one and he throws the basketball back at me and says, "I mean, just saying!"

"From the amount of people that Emerson has seen me hook up with—I don't think he gets jealous." Nico just shrugs, and then I say, "Why would he be jealous anyway?"

"Whatever," is all Nico says, and then we turn the corner and we're on his street and at his house. He skips up the front steps and glances back at me and I'm still standing there and then I open my mouth to talk but before I can say anything he says, "If you are going to whine at me one more time about how Emerson is not talking to you or what the fuck ever, Ivan, honestly. The amount of times you've told me this over the past few days is ridiculous." I think my mouth is hanging open right now, so I shut it in order to keep myself from looking as idiotic, and Nico is saying, "I am not some kind of messenger pigeon or—just go talk to him yourself, for God's sake."

I'm just staring at him and then he breaks into a grin and winks and says, "Love you," and then he's disappeared inside.

I'm beginning to wonder how much longer we're going to be staying here, because as chummy as we are with Nico now—and as much as I'm enjoying staying in an actual house—and, whatever, Nico is cool—this isn't exactly what I had in mind when I was thinking of a summer road trip. It had started out perfectly fine, but then I had decided that I needed to go and crash the fucking car, so now we're stranded here.

Which is a complete lie. We're not stranded; we can easily just rent a car and be on our way. We're just fucking lazy, is all.

Nico's yelling from the kitchen, asking whether we want Chinese or Mexican or McDonalds or pizza or something else for dinner, and I yell from the TV room (where I'm doing some stupid ab-cruncher workout video that Nico owns for God knows what reason)—at the same time as Emerson yells from wherever the fuck he happens to be—"Chinese!"

So I guess we're getting Chinese.

Nico yells (again) that he'll "be back soon" and then I hear the door close and he's gone and I guess he doesn't want any company.

I sit up, staring at the TV for a moment, and the video's still running but I feel like my abs have been worked out enough for the day, so I stand up and walk into the kitchen to get myself a glass of water. I drink it while I look out the window and I see Nico's car backing out and zooming off in the road and I sigh, put the cup on the counter, walk out up the stairs where I pass Emerson and I say completely nonchalantly, as though he hasn't been fucking ignoring me for the entire day, "Hey."

He gives me an easy "Hey" back and then I just stop and grab his wrist and he jumps like I fucking electrocuted him with my hand and I say, "Seriously?"

He looks at me like what and I just say, "Jesus Christ," and then he looks slightly guilty. Yeah, Emerson, that's better.

"Um," he says, and he rubs the back of his head. He flexes his hand like he wants me to let go so I just let go and fold my arms like I'm his mom or something and stare at him and he says, "Okay, God, sorry. I just needed—some time."

"Some time for what?" I say, letting my hands fall to my sides again. "It's not like—okay, well. I mean. This isn't, like—" except then I just stop, because I'm not even making any sense to myself, and that's a bad way to go about this. Although, really, I don't even know what "this" is. I just know that "this" is Stupid with a Capital S. Emerson's still not saying anything, so I just say, "You don't have to pretend like I don't fucking exist all day just because we jerked each other off."

He actually flinches when I say it, and then I give him this exasperated look and say, "Whatever, you liked it."

And then he looks kind of annoyed and I wish I could just blue-skidoo into his brain so I could understand what the fuck he's thinking, but that only happens in kids' TV shows that don't even air anymore and this whole situation would be way too R-rated for it anyway.

"That's not really relevant," is what he says, and then I stare at him blankly, because it's actually completely relevant. But he says, "Okay, look." And I look, Jesus, Emerson, are you happy now? And he says, "One, we can't stay at Nico's house forever, because as nice as he and his parents and everyone are being about this I'd be pissed off if some random college students crashed at my place for, like, a week—" and while I'm wondering where this even came from because it's not in the least relevant to the conversation, he's saying, "Why are we standing on the stairs?" And then he's going downstairs and I was going upstairs for a shower because I'm sweaty and disgusting right now but I guess Emerson has stopped giving a fuck about hygiene, so I just follow him, and then we're standing in the kitchen.

Emerson says, then, "So I think tomorrow or day after or something I'll rent us a car and we should head back, or somewhere else, because, yeah." Because, yeah, I think. What the fuck is wrong with him? He continues, and he's speaking so fast I can barely even understand him, "Two, I'm not going to be your booty call whenever you want now just because this morning happened, so—"

And then I cut him off and say, "Jesus fuck, Emerson, when did I even say that I wanted that?"

At which point he stares at me (as though I'm a fucking alien, and I had thought we'd established that I am not), and then I begin to wonder if that's the kind of air I give off. If I just radiate I want sex all the time or something. Then again—it wouldn't be entirely inaccurate, but—still.

I can hear the workout video still running in the next room, and it's only then that I realize that I didn't even turn it off, but then Emerson is saying kind of meekly, "Sorry," and I just lean back against the fridge, resting the back of my head on it and looking up at the ceiling. "I just thought—I mean, you act like it's the only thing you want, so I figured that since—I don't know."

My head drops back down and I'm looking at him again and he looks kind of embarrassed and it's kind of cute, actually, and I'm struck with this urge to just go over there and give him a kiss (which, what the fuck?), which, what the fuck? So I clench my fists and focus on a spot on the cupboard behind him and say, "No, I, uh. Sorry I'm a slut."

I see him shrug out of the corner of my eye, and I hear him say, "Well. I'm an idiot, so I guess that's a bad combination."

"Seeing as were both completely sober this time, I guess we only have ourselves to blame," I say, letting my eyes flicker to him again, and probably that entire morning escapade or whatever the fuck it was had been a terrible idea because I can't really stop thinking about the way he looked all flushed underneath me and then my eyes snap back to the cupboard behind him again as I say, "It's whatever. We can just forget it ever happened." And I'm hoping he's going to tell me that that is an extremely unintelligent idea and then maul me against Nico's stupid fridge or something because, hell, if he was that good with his hands I wonder how good he is with his mouth—

I think he says, "Oh," and then I can't help but look at him again and he's saying quickly, "Okay."

"Um." I realize that my hands are still curled into fists and I release them, stretching my fingers out gently. "Is that—um. Not what you want?"

"No, that's fine," he says, and I see him shrug again.

I blink and say, "Okay."

He nods and gives me a thumbs up, but I don't really feel like thumbs-upping anybody right now. He says, "You okay?"

And I nod, because I'm fine. I'm fucking great. I am perfect, because the only thing that happened last night was the goddamn aliens stole our clothes and then we woke up and took separate showers and then I ate food and did laundry and watched TV and played basketball and went to a record store and came home and told Nico that I want Chinese for dinner. That's all that happened, and I am fucking fantastic.

I start to walk past him to go upstairs again and finally take a shower (because I'm still sweaty from the stupid ab-cruncher video) (which, incidentally, is still going on, but it's just music without anyone saying anything so maybe it's on the credits or something) but I hear him say when my back is turned (and his tone is purely business), "Wait, Ivan, hold on a sec—" but I don't even hear anything he says after my name because all I'm thinking of is how he was saying it while he came earlier and I can't even fucking deal with this.

"No," I say as I turn around, and he looks kind of confused, and I just say again, "No."

"No what?"

"You can't just—" I step towards him and he puts a hand on my chest and says evenly, "We are forgetting it ever happened." But, Jesus, Emerson, I can't, can I? And then he says, "You—have you taken a shower yet?"

I'm not even listening to anything he's saying anymore, just letting my eyes roam over his face and his dark eyebrows and his eyes and they're hazel and I've never really noticed that before and I really like the way his nose is so straight and sharp and his defined jawline and he's got cheekbones sculpted by the gods or something and then I hear him saying in a low voice, "You need to stop looking at me like that."

He's pushing against me a little more now, and I look down at his hand on my chest and say, "You're just."

"Look," he says softly, and he takes me by the shoulders and stands me arm's length away from him before he drops his hands. "Just because we—yeah, okay, jerked each other off this morning it doesn't mean you're suddenly in love with me, because—" he shakes his head, cutting himself off, and he says, "I'm sorry I didn't talk to you all day. I just—you know I need space sometimes, right, when I need to think. Clear my head a little." I'm staring fixedly at my feet now, and I feel ridiculously embarrassed and I don't even know why (only I do), but he's continuing, "Because, I mean, best friends don't just randomly do this, and I'm not—you know I'm not a fuck buddy, friends with benefits kind of guy, so if that's—I mean, there are loads of other people out there who would be up for that, if you—"

"Why do you keep acting like that's the only thing I want?" I say, finally looking back up at him.

He just says, "Isn't it?"

And I don't really have an answer to that.

I am just standing here and shifting from one foot to the other with no idea of what to say, and Emerson says, "I mean, it's okay. I figured. Because you're just that kind of guy. And that's completely fine."

I'm starting to wonder if he's alluding to something else and this is all really dumb because I hate talking about feelings and things because I always sound either like a complete idiot or like a complete douchebag whenever I try, but I say anyway, "What do you want?"

And he says, "What?"

"You're just—making this all about me," I say, glancing at him. "But you're not telling me what you want."

"I don't want anything," he says after a pause, but it sounds kind of evasive.

I blink, and he shakes his head, and then I ask, "Wait, you know, earlier, when we were—whatever? You kind of stopped for a moment, but then you were like, it's nothing. But it wasn't nothing, right?"

He has this look on his face, like, why the fuck do you even remember that, and Jesus, Emerson, I don't know. Maybe because it wasn't nothing?

He says finally, "It was nothing."

That's complete bullshit, and I feel the need to call him out on it, so I do. "Bullshit," I say firmly, and he shakes his head.

"We're forgetting it ever happened," is all he says, and I'm mentally kicking myself for even saying that now because it's giving him a perfect excuse to fucking avoid everything which is kind of stupid considering we live together and we're not going to be able to avoid everything forever.

"But I don't want to," I hear myself saying stupidly, and he just frowns, and this is completely ridiculous. "Why don't you just—chill out?" And it's the absolute dumbest thing to say right now, which I can immediately see by the way his face hardens, and I say quickly, "I mean, come on, just give it a try."

"Give what a try?" he says, raising his eyebrows. "Being your fuck buddy? Because we know how well that always works out."

"It's not like the movies where the stupid girl always falls for the guy, okay?" I say, and he's starting to look annoyed, but I keep plugging on. "We're just—whatever. We live together, we're friends, we're attractive, we might as well—"

"Jesus, Ivan, that's not how life works," he snaps. "You always think of things like—I don't know, you put everyone into categories of hot or not-hot, and then in your Hot Box you have I'd hit that or I wouldn't hit that, and that's it. But that's not the only thing."

I happen to think that it makes life a whole lot simpler, but Emerson apparently completely disagrees, because he's saying now, "And I don't even really want to think about how long I've been in the I'd-hit-that-hot box for you, because, I just." He stops talking and shakes his head, and now I feel even more stupid than before.

"You're not just I'd-hit-that-hot, okay?" I tell him, and he just gives me a look.

He says, "I'm almost starting to wonder—I mean, it's ridiculous, but this isn't all you kept me around for, is it?"

And I say, "What?"

And he says, "It just—all you're thinking about is getting back into bed with me again and if I don't really just want that, are you willing to—put up with it?"

"Is that actually what you think of me?" I'm actually kind of offended right now. "I don't—I don't just have this stupid immature one-track mind, okay? You are—you're Emerson, my best friend, and I don't really give a shit whether you want to fuck me or not. It was just a suggestion."

"Which I already declined."

"Okay, Jesus."

He looks at me carefully, but he doesn't look like he's entirely calm. He says, "Sorry. Are you pissed at me now?"

"A little, yeah," I say truthfully, because I'm slightly hurt that he assumed that's all there is to me. I mean, I figure that it's how I put myself out there, but I would've thought that at least Emerson would know that Sex Isn't Everything to me, but apparently not.

"I'm—sorry. Really. My mind is just all over the place right now," he tells me, and then he says, "At least I didn't crash your car."

And I think he means it as a joke, but it's still a little too soon and I still feel really shitty about the fact that that even happened and my annoyance automatically dissolves into shame or something and I just stare down at my feet again.

He says, "Wait, Ivan?" and I don't look up, and he says, "Hey, I was just—I was kidding," and I don't look up, and he says, "Sorry, come on, that was—I didn't mean anything. You know it's okay."

And I don't look up and I just feel like I want to cry or something (which is stupid, because I don't cry, especially not over ridiculous things like this) but I feel Emerson reach over and grab my wrist and he pulls me over to him and makes me look at him and he says, "Hey. I'm sorry. That was a dumb thing to say and I really don't—it's fine. Everything's fine. We're fine."

I just nod, because I don't really trust myself to speak right now, and he pulls me into a hug and we haven't ever really been the hugging type but I guess this situation calls for it. Or it just makes everything worse because I let him hug me and I hug him, too, and my nose brushes his cheek when I pull away and I still really just want to kiss him for no reason at all.

Which, what the fuck?

He's saying sorry again now, this time about "—saying all of that crap earlier. I don't think that sex is all you care about. I know you're more than that." And then he says sorry again, and I just nod again, and I'm beginning to wish that I wasn't such a fucking impulsive, stupid, horny drunk because then none of this would be happening and we would be fine.

Which—even though he keeps saying we are—we're not, really, and he keeps saying sorry and I just want to tell him that he has nothing to fucking be sorry about because, honestly, I've pulled way worse shit than this and I've never even had to say sorry for him to get over it.

So I swallow the stupid lump in my throat (Jesus, why the fuck is that even there?) and finally say, "It's okay," cutting him off in the middle of one of his "sorry"s, and he smiles a little and he has a nice smile and I can't really stand to look at it right now or at him right now so I glance out the window and I think I see Nico's car there and—what the fuck is he still doing outside?

Emerson follows my gaze, and he says, "Oh. How long has he been there?"

"Um," is all I say, because I have no idea, and then I just disappear out of the kitchen and open the front door and Nico's still sitting in his fucking car, drumming along to some song on his steering wheel like a complete idiot. I walk over and tap on the window and he jumps about ten feet into the air and then looks at me and grins and waves and finally gets out.

"What the fuck?" I say.

Nico's picking up the bags of food and it smells really good and I hadn't realized how hungry I was (because I'd been a little distracted—just a little) and he says, "Sorry. I just saw you guys through the window and you looked kind of serious business so I decided to give you some time."

"Whatever, it wasn't serious business," I mumble, and I grab one of the bags from him and make my way inside. He's right behind me and he's saying as I set the bag on the table, "God, Ivan, go take a shower. You can't eat if you're that disgusting," and I flip him off but I really do need to shower so I decide that I can spare five minutes to do so before I indulge myself with the Chinese takeout.

Now that Nico's here the mood lightens a little bit, and by a little bit I mean a little bit, as in not a lot (as in not at all) but it doesn't matter because I'm drowning my noodles in chili sauce and I haven't eaten Chinese in a while so it tastes good.

"Can you pass me the chicken?" My mouth is still full and I'm leaning over the counter, waving my fork around as though there are bugs everywhere and Nico shoves the box towards me and I just pick out a piece straight from it because I'm hungry.

I'm staring down at my food as I eat it and I manage to finish it all in record time, and when I look up Emerson and Nico are both staring at me and I say, "What?"

Nico says, "Have you ever done, like, a pie-eating contest or something? Because you'd totally win."

"Actually, he threw up," Emerson says before I can even answer, and Nico starts laughing and I glare at both of them, because this is not funny.

"It was two years ago at some stupid fall Halloween thing," I say, pulling my drink towards me and frowning. "I guess I wasn't as hungry as I'd thought."

"So he lost," Emerson is saying. Jesus, thanks, Emerson. As though we hadn't all already figured that out. He's still talking: "It looked like he was making out with the goddamn pie but then after like ten minutes he almost fell off his chair and there was puke all over the poor girl—"

"Shut the fuck up, you guys eat too slow and talk about dumb things and I'm bored so I'm going to leave—"

"Wait!" Nico says, and he almost jumps on top of me when I try to push myself away from the counter, but I'm so used to his ridiculous antics by now that I don't even raise an eyebrow. He says, "There are fortune cookies!"

Right, because Nico's five years old.

I have to admit, though, I kind of like fortune cookies, even if they're always unbearably stupid. So I reach into the bag and grab one of them and Nico and Emerson take their own and Nico's already cracked his open by the time I even manage to get mine out of the little plastic wrapper. He's reading it out now as though he's announcing the second coming of Christ: "'If you want the rainbow,'" he's saying in a profound-sounding voice, "'you have to tolerate the rain.'"

"Is that a nice way of saying 'it gets worse before it gets better' or something?" I say, grinning a little, and Nico shrugs, popping one half of the cookie into his mouth. He says, "That was anticlimactic. It has a smiley face, though."

Emerson starts laughing, then, and I'm not sure why because nobody said anything particularly funny but when I look at him he's reading his fortune and then he says, "Wait, this is good. 'Always borrow money from a pessimist because he'll never expect it back.'"

I think I fucking snort at that because it's stupid but then, it is actually funny, and Nico's laughing, too, saying, "Why do you get the good one?"

"Mine might be good," I say, and I pull it out and read it and it has two smiley faces (fuck you, Nico), but it's not particularly good. It's stupid. "Just kidding."

"What's it say?"

"Um, 'stop searching forever, happiness is just next to you.'" I glance at the counter (refusing to look at Emerson, standing there, next to me) and then I say, "I mean, all of this food is right next to me, and food is basically happiness, so—"

"Shut up," Nico says, shaking his head. "You know it's talking about us. Me and Emerson. We are the happiness just next to you."

I glance from him to Emerson and then back again and I know that at any other fucking point in my entire existence—even twenty-four hours ago, hell, even right when I was born—I would have said, no, I am the happiness in your life, but the words don't make it out of my mouth and I just glance back down at my broken cookie and I shrug. Say instead, "I don't really need life advice from a fucking biscuit."

I break one of the halves into more pieces and put one of them into my mouth and then I hear Emerson say, "Hey, Nico, by the way, we were wondering—should we leave soon, or—?"

And my head snaps up, but Nico's just whining, "No, you guys should stay. Forever or something. I don't even remember what it's like to be alone in this house anymore, I'll be so lonely."

"Just invite your party of twenty best friends over every day," I say, flicking a fortune cookie piece at him. "You'll be fine."

"Yeah, okay, Ivan, I'll miss you too," he says in a mock-injured tone, and then he gathers up our trash and walks over to the garbage can, dropping it all in. He says, "But seriously, you guys can leave whenever. Hell, go now if you're that sick of me—"

"We don't have a car," Emerson reminds him, and I wince but nobody sees it so it's okay and Nico's just laughing, saying something about how we're stuck here so it sucks to be us and then I abruptly inform them that I'm going to bed and they both stare at me as though I've just announced that I'm pregnant. (Which I'm not.)

(If anything I'm on my period right now.)

(So—not pregnant.)

Emerson finally says, "But it's just—" and then he looks at the time on the microwave, and he informs me that it is "—8:30."

"Well," I say, rubbing the back of my neck. "I'm. Tired."

He looks like he wants to say something else, but then he just shakes his head and says, "Okay, get your rest," and Nico says something about me being crazy and that I am going to miss out on his and Emerson's Fun 9 p.m. Adventures (which I don't even bother asking about) (and I just escape before he can drag me into whatever these "adventures" happen to be).

It'll probably just be a stupid chick flick marathon, when I think about it.

I'm lying on the Tiny Futon Bed then (which, yes, has gotten a change of sheets) and I wasn't lying about being tired, but I'm not sleepy at all. I'm wondering if Emerson is going to avoid sleeping in here or something and then I'm wondering what being with him alone in a car is going to be like now and it's really fucking stupid that it even has to be any different because we've been in a car alone, together millions of times before.

And it's also really fucking stupid that I think with my dick instead of my brain.

I allow myself a few brief seconds to mull over the fact that Emerson doesn't want to be fuck buddies with me (even though that was fucking good last night or this morning or whenever the hell it happened) (and, hell, I would definitely be my own fuck buddy) (which isn't really as weird as it sounds), and then I remember that he never actually told me what he wanted, not even when I asked. So then I allow myself to think for a few moments about What Emerson Wants.

I manage to come up with three potential Emersonian Desires.

1. He just wants to be platonic best friends forever.

2. He wants to be more than fuck buddies, a.k.a in a relationship.

3. He doesn't give a shit because he is an alien.

I figure that the first two are more likely than the third, and the first one is okay (although I am definitely both fuckable and dateable, so really, I don't know why that is even an option) but I'm slightly weirded out by the second option because—it's not that I don't like him. There's nothing really to not like about him. He's a perfectly likeable human being, even if he doesn't pepper his fries or cook anything remotely tasty and even if he's more in love with his family than with anyone else in the world and even if he's OCD about making his bed and even if he looks at me like I'm an idiot every day and even if he likes baseball and the color orange and even if he barely ever comes out with me when I ask him to and even if he likes to not talk to me whenever I do something to piss him off. The thing is, he's still perfectly likeable. But the second thing is, I don't even know what the fuck a relationship is.

Which isn't entirely true.

I had this kind-of girlfriend back in high school, but she was really fucking clingy and irritating so I decided to decide that relationships are Not My Thing. I've dated people before and I've hooked up with people before, but the whole commitment thing—as cliché as it is—kind of terrifies me.

When I think about it, I don't know if I've ever actually had honest-to-God feelings for someone before, so I don't even really know what that would feel like, and then I think that it's a really stupid thing to be thinking about so I stop thinking about it and grab my phone and there's actually a text there from one of my friends from school, asking "when the fuck I'm going to be back," but I don't really feel like explaining about the car or about the Nico or about the anything right now so I just ignore it and play shitty phone games for what seems like hours.

I think I drift off to sleep in the middle of it, but I'm awake again when I hear the door opening and then there are some voices but it doesn't sound like teenage voices so I'm guessing that Nico's parents are back from wherever the hell it was they went. I check the time and it's gotten pretty late so I must have dozed off for a while.

My phone's lying face down on my chest so I grab it and push it over to the corner of the bed and fidget a little, attempting to find a comfortable position, and as soon as I manage to do so the door opens and a sliver of light makes it through the cracks and I'm fucking blinded. (Only I'm not, because he closes the door barely even a second after he's slipped inside.)

I think he thinks I'm asleep because he's just carefully grabbing a pillow, which I can see out of my half-closed eyes, and I think I hear him drop it on the ground but then I say blearily, "What the fuck are you doing?"

I see him jump and then he stares at me and then he says, "You're still awake?"

"Well, you guys were being really fucking loud down there," I mutter, and then I sit up, rub my eyes, raise my eyebrows at him. "No, but really, what the fuck are you doing?"

"Um," he says. I yawn (and it's not out of discourtesy—just sleepiness) and I wait for him to continue and then he just says, "Well, I thought."

"Well, you're stupid," I say flatly, falling back down on my back and closing my eyes. "You are perfectly entitled to sleep on the stupid bed."

He doesn't say anything, but a few seconds later I feel a weight on the bed and there's a really annoying foot of space between us but at least he's here. I guess.