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“Can we talk?”
Milo extended his bedroom door open and shut it after both of us had entered.
“We’ve been back from camp for four hours. I’ve napped, showered, and eaten. None of that should warrant a break-up.” He leaned on the edge of his desk.
I made myself comfortable on the foot of his bed. I folded my hands in my lap and looked down at them.
“I can’t stop thinking about what you said –er—admitted. I’m far away from where I was this time last year, but I need to make sure you are.”
“You can’t even look at me as I explain myself?” Sadness resonated in his voice.
I shifted my eyes upward to meet his.
“Yes, I relapsed when I first got here. It’s not something I’m proud of. I was screwing up my opportunity to start over in true Milo fashion. I wanted to get better. I confided in Ry. He helped me avoid triggers.”
I patted a spot on the bed beside me. He took a seat. I held his hand.
“What’d he do?”
“At the beginning, he skipped parties with me. We usually played video games. When I felt more in control, he’d have my back at parties to make sure I stayed straight. He always served as my excuse to get off the phone when Anna called while she was high.”
“I didn’t know he was so considerate.”
“He’s a master of concealment. It takes a while to gain the ability to see past his tricks.” He caressed my thumb with his.
“Are we okay? I didn’t mean to rehash—“
“It’s fine. You were scared, rightfully so. I’m glad you felt comfortable enough to talk to me about it. It’s not like I’ve never ensured you’re eating. It’s somewhat invasive, but it means we care.”
“But I hate it when you do that.”
“And this hasn’t been my favorite conversation to date.” He whipped back.
I exhaled sharply and narrowed my eyes at him.
“It hasn’t been. I’ve done plenty in the way of getting better, but I still get asked the same questions. I know you’ve been here too. Have some faith in me, Iz. I have plenty in you.”
I rolled my eyes.
“Say it.” He coaxed.
“I don’t feel like playing this game right now.”
“It has never been one.”
“Why’d you say everything was okay if you were secretly mad!?” I dropped his hand.
“I am not mad. I am frustrated, but I was willing to disregard it because you mean more to me.”
“Don’t do that.” I snapped.
“Act like I’m the one blowing everything out of proportion. I’m not!”
“It happened a long time ago, before I met you. I did not do it to hurt you!”
“No one ever does.” Tears prickled in the back of my eyes as I rose to my feet.
“Don’t leave upset.” He barricaded the door with his body.
“You’re not saying anything and you’re making me feel crazy. Maybe we shouldn’t have started–“
“I told you the truth, but that doesn’t mean I am doing it with her to this day. We both know I’m clean.” He interrupted.
“Drugs are the reason I don’t have a mom. I don’t want to think about you–” I clamped my hand to my mouth and clenched my eyes shut when the dam of flashbacks was broken.
He wrapped his arms around me. He guided me to his bed. He held me close as we sat on the edge, stroking my hair as I buried my face in his chest.
“Baby, you’re trembling so hard. Please breathe.”
I tried to sputter a response, but it was nonsensical.
“I will never be the reason you do this. I’m not going to let you down. I promise.” He kissed the top of my head.
I dried my eyes with the back of my hand when I had a firm grasp on my emotions.
“I should not have pushed you like that. You had every right to be upset with me.” He rubbed my back.
“You’re not the only one at fault. I said that I trusted you, but didn’t act like it. I’m sure that stung.”
“My complaints seem petty in comparison.”
“You said it, not me.” I half-smiled to myself.
“Are you cross with me?”
“I want to let it go – just focus on what we have instead of what you did with her.”
“I would appreciate that.” He kissed the top of my head.
“Cuddle with me?” I laid down on his bed.
He spooned me from behind, holding the hand I was clasping to my chest.
“Did you mean to call me ‘baby’?”
“It was not intentional. We’ve yet to discuss whether or not pet names are acceptable.”
“Oh, they are. I shall call you Super Prince Charming Man.”
“That’s quite a mouthful.” He chuckled.
“But fitting. I couldn’t choose between a comic book and a fairy tale, so I’ll take it all. Well, all of it minus the damsel in distress thing present in both. I want more of a substantial role. Thoughts?” I turned my head to see his face.
“I love you.”
I moved in and captured his lips with mine.
“You’re okay, I guess.” I rested my head on his pillow.
I wiggled my behind on his groin. He groaned and grasped my hip to keep me in place. I dozed off with a tiny grin.
“Wakey wakey, it’s time for class.” I jolted awake at the sound of Ryan’s voice.
“What?!” I scrambled for my phone to confirm the time.
He casually leaned against the doorway of their bathroom, brushing his teeth.
“Shoot! I already have too many tardies–“I flung back the covers. “When did I take my pants off!?” I shrieked, covering myself.
“When you went to the bathroom. You said, ‘I sleep hot. You’re making it hotter. No pants, make it work’. You really don’t remember that?” Milo reached over to his nightstand to retrieve his glasses.
Ryan chuckled as he returned to the bathroom.
I groaned and buried my face in my hands. “I sleepwalk and talk sometimes. I did this to Elle the other night. This day keeps getting better.”
“It’s going to be fine. I have clothes you can wear. Elle can bring your backpack to the great hall.” Ry offered as he dried off his mouth.
In his absence, I got out of bed and put on my sweatpants.
“She’s not wearing one of your hook ups’ clothes.”
“She’s not. They’re Elle’s. She does some of her laundry here when the washers and dryers in her dorm are full. She can’t take it home unless she has time to fold it, so I have a basket of her things chillin’ in my room.”
“That’s questionable.” Milo noted as he laid out his uniform.
“Yes, Miles, I’m so desperate for companionship that I stockpile girls’ clothing.” He recited,unamused.
I used my fingers to comb my hair and quickly put it into two braids. “Can I borrow one of your hats?”
“Sure, whatever you’d like. I also have a spare toothbrush you can use.” Milo bypassed me to get to their restroom.
I situated one of his beanies onto my head. I took one of his cardigans and tossed it onto his bed.
I went through their bathroom, grabbing the toothbrush Milo offered me. I tended to my teeth as Ryan showed me the clothes Elle had left in his care. I returned to Milo’s room to get dressed.
Elle had key assets that I was missing in both the north and south hemispheres. I got away with wearing one of her shirts and a pair of tights, but her skirt wouldn’t stay up.
“Does Finn have anything of Sami’s?” I gargled through toothpaste.
“I’m sure of it.” Milo spritzed cologne onto his white undershirt.
I took a beat to rinse out my mouth before charging across the hall. I knocked incessantly on his door.
“IT’S OPEN!” He called, instead of answering it himself.
I tiptoed in, unsure of what I’d find in there.
Finn was a walking enigma. He was a man of very few words. The ones he did say were saturated in sarcasm and irony. His face never gave away what he was thinking. The only time he didn’t look chronically bored was when he was with Sami; a small smirk was always plastered onto his face when they were together. I had heard tales of his superior intellect, but I’d never witnessed them up close or stepped into his domain.
It was surprisingly clean aside from his unmade bed and a few random garments lying across the floor. Three of his walls served as space to keep his ongoing projects and ideas. The thing that stuck out the most, however, was the wall he converted into a chalkboard. There was no telling how he did it, but on it, he had drawn an elaborate city skyline.
“Are you just going to stand there or are you going to ask for something?” He rapidly wrote lines of code on his computer, not stopping on my account.
I shook myself out of my thoughts. “Right, did Sami leave one of her skirts here by chance?”
“Bottom drawer.” He kept his back to me, not ceasing to code.
I was surprised to find that the entire drawer was dedicated to her things. There was even a box of toiletries.
I took the longest skirt she owned to counteract our height difference. I slid it on as quickly as possible.
“Thanks.” I shut the drawer with my foot and turned to the door.
“Listen: we’re insomniacs. We get sleep when and where we can. She has a thing for my futon. That’s it.” He looked over his shoulder at me.
“I figured as much. See you at breakfast.” I scurried back to Milo’s room.
I put on his cardigan and slipped on my shoes. I texted Elle and Sami about the situation as Milo packed up his backpack.
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