I’d never spent this much time with a group of people I didn’t like. And if it weren’t for watching Nox I probably would have left when I got there. And the girls all sort of ignored me, the guys looked at me like I was carrying the plague, except for Nox. He looked at me with big brown eyes that screamed falling in love. And that was probably the most scary thing in the room.
Defending him with that girl who’d asked him to the dance was easy, but the fact that I even had to left a bad taste in my mouth. He lied. Because he didn’t want to say no. How many more times was I going to have to do that?
The bell rang and we all went to Home room and then Nox and I were back in science class. He must have felt my growing tension because he didn’t sit as close as he had been the prior days. Maybe he saw my need for space? Or maybe he was mad at me again. It wouldn’t be the first time I did something I didn’t know I’d done. Ignored something he said? Or god knew what I fucked up this time.
I napped again in science, and not because it was boring, but because I was just that tied. Nox provided me the notes on the way home from school. He just handed them to me and we kept walking.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
He shook his head. “Nothing.”
He pulled out his phone and showed me a text message. I’m going to tell your dad. And there was a video attached. I watched as he pressed play and the video started of me pushing him up against a wall and kissing him. The memory was vivid in my mind as it happened that morning. And it still had the same reaction as before when I had been kissing him. “Who sent it?” I asked.
“I’ll fucking kill him.”
“It’s already too late.” He said and opened up another text message. We need to talk when you get home. Meet me in my office. The last was from his father.
“You think Jace already showed him.”
He nodded. “He did. Mia and Ryan were asked not to come home with me. They wanted to know what I’d done.”
“Let me talk to him.”
“Alex, that’s not a good idea. As it stands now you probably won’t be allowed in my house to see Max.” Nox sighed.
And the rest of the walk home was done in silence. Mrs Durante met me at the door, “Alex, why don’t you help take Max for a walk.” Max was already sitting in a wheel chair and she was waiting for me.
“I should go talk to Mr. Durante.”
She shook her head, “Nox go on in honey, Alex, it’s better if you don’t.”
I growled and grabbed the handles of Max’s chair and started pushing him. Max sighed, “What’s going on?”
“Jace recorded me and Nox kissing and sent it to his father.” I said then looked at Mrs. Durante. “Jace is just being an asshole.”
She nodded, “I know, but Kai isn’t the most receptive to the changes in his life right now. And Nox is easier to be mad at then his situation.”
“So he’s not just a homophobic prick.” I growled.
She dropped her head, “He’s still that, but he loves Nox. He doesn’t understand where he went wrong. And he doesn’t comprehend that Nox was always like this. Even when he was young. He always had a fascination with dressing up, and attention to details that no guy ever does. But Kai focused that into more manly things. He never saw it as being gay. All the girls he’s been friends with over the years, the fact that he and Mia were together for so long. Mia played my son like a fiddle and Nox let it happen because it made his dad happy.”
We walked on to the park in silence.
Max laughed, “Mr. Durante should be glad Nox is who he is. He wouldn’t be the most popular boy in school if he wasn’t as charming and charismatic, and good looking. The girls adore him, the guys want to be him.” Max laughed, “Some of them even want to be with him. He’s played football, wrestled, he’s got straight As. If that were me my Dad would be going ape shit over it.”
I laughed, “Mine too.”
Mrs Durante smiled, “What’s stopping either of you from all those things.”
Max chuckled, “Have you seen us?”
“I have every day for the past week, and you are both smart boys, some of you could rival Nox as top of the class if you did half the work he says you don’t do.”
I shrugged, “I need to stay with Max.”
“Is that what you tell yourself?” Mrs. Durante asked.
“It’s what I’ve been doing. And my parents are okay with that.”
“I think they accept it, because you aren’t doing it out of laziness. From what Nox says you actually work hard at failing.”
“He talks too much.”
Mrs. Durante laughed, “You don’t even know the half of it. His therapist says he probably doesn’t need her anymore, just someone to talk to and get all those raging thoughts out. He talks for one hour. She barely has to say anything.”
“And you pay someone to listen to him?”
“She helped him get to where he is, and change is brutal on him. So he keeps going. I expect that we’ll have to up his anti-depressants after talking with his father.”
“You think he’ll get bad.”
Mrs. Durante nodded, “Yeah, I do. And I think he’ll do what he always does and push people away. If this is more than just a fling for you remember that.”
I laughed, “You sound like Drew.”
“Drew knows Nox well, he’s been comforting Nox since they met. And if they weren’t like brothers…” Her sentence trailed off in a wishful thinking. Maybe she expected me to do the same thing. I wasn’t sure I wanted to deal with all this work.