Note: This is the sequel to Fall, which was a sequel to Obvious. I don’t think I should end Nick’s story at his high school prom. I thought I should write another one to put an end to his story. Or is this the end?
It was the start of another school year. Nick had a haircut just two days before the first day of his senior year. He decided to have a clean haircut. His hair was in a small quiff and his sides were almost shaved. He felt as though the haircut was a poetic justice after what happened for the last few months of his junior year.
He and Alayne became distant. No longer best friends. Worse, they were no longer friends. They became strangers to each other. She stayed away from him as much as possible. Nick would make quick glances at her when they meet at the juniors’ corridors, just hoping, maybe, even it was a slim chance, she would look at him and smile. That smile of hers that always made Nick feel happy. He was starting to regret why he ever felt that way for Alayne. Someone from the back of his mind kept telling him he shouldn’t regret anything.
It’s not like you just decided you liked her. It just happened. That little person in his head said to him.
In the last few weeks of their junior year, after that dreadful prom, he was still hanging out with the usual people – his guy friends who enjoyed the same love for music as he did. He still lounged at his homeroom with his guitar, strumming and humming to his favorite songs. He ace his Physics and Math subjects like he always did. He played computer games and studied at night at home. He went about his hometown on his skateboard on the weekends, and did his homework. The only difference was there had been a gaping hole in his chest, a missing part of his life. No, it was removed from him, Nick decided. A friendship he valued so much was removed just because he fell for his girl best friend.
It felt strange for Nick going home earlier than the usual. But that was only because he had no reason to stay longer. Alayne didn’t need him to listen to her problems. He wasn’t needed to be anyone’s hero.
Nick stepped in front of the Announcement Board where their homeroom assignments were posted. He searched for his name. But then another name caught his attention. Alayne was in the same homeroom as he is. Nick’s head pounded, his heart beat faster.
God, this is going to be one awkward school year! Nick thought.
The morning was for the opening ceremony, welcoming back the old students and orienting the freshmen. Nick had stuck with Vince and Louie, his best buds since his grade school years. They didn’t gave their full attention on the opening ceremony. Vince was talking about his vacation in his father’s native land. Louie had talked about joining skateboard exhibitions and competitions. When it was Nick’s turn to tell about his summer vacation, he only relayed that his family had gone to Germany, and everyday they went out to see different events of merriment. He had also gone to a concert of an underground band in Germany but he left out the part where he had realized that Alayne would never hear of it. She would never hear of Nick’s vacation where everyday, he had learned quite new things he knew she would want to hear. He had went back to the hotel – where they stayed in Germany – after that concert, feeling lost. And these things he didn’t tell to his friends.
Vince saw more in Nick’s expression though.
“It’s okay, Nick,” Vince said. “Things will get better eventually. Just not now.”
Louie immediately understood and grinned, and pat Nick’s shoulder, “You still have us.”
Before they knew it, the opening ceremony was over. The three of them went to eat in the cafeteria. They talked of the recent releases of their favorite bands when Nick got a tap from the shoulder. He only knew one person who would tap his shoulder – Alayne. But it was not Alayne. It was Eliza.
She was in the same homeroom with Nick since freshman year. As a matter of fact, besides Alayne, Eliza was his closest female friend. Eliza knew about Nick liking Alayne but he never told her. She only found out because Louie had “accidentally” slipped the information to her. Nick was worried she’d tell Alayne or make it obvious to Alayne that Nick likes her but she kept the secret. Of course, like Vince and Louie, Eliza had also tried to cheer Nick up.
Eliza beamed at Nick. “Classmates!”
All four of them were in the same homeroom this year. Nick half-heartedly smiled at her enthusiasm.
“Are you going for lunch? Can I come?” Eliza said. She had a bit of an annoying high-pitched voice.
Vince scowled at her. “Where are your friends?”
Eliza widened her eyes and seemingly moving them to Nick’s direction. Vince got the message. Louie didn’t but he still said, “Yeah! Let’s go!”
They sat and ate in the cafeteria. Nick was silent as he eat. Then, Eliza asked him about Alayne.
“What’s to talk about?” he said. “She refuses to look at me, how much more to talk to me!”
Vince knitted his eyebrows. “Why is that when a girl learns that their closest male friend likes her, she gets angry? Shouldn’t she be happy, at least someone happens to like her?”
“Yeah. And Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat once sang, ‘Lucky I’m in love with my bestfriend’,” Louie added.
“It’s complicated, Vince,” Eliza said, trying to defend the female population. “The relationship between guy-girl friends is different with a couple.”
“Says the person who’s never been in a relationship,” Vince retorted.
Eliza stuck her tongue. Louie chuckled and said, “She’s a hopeless romantic.”
“Well, if you ask me personally, I’m a fan of bestfriends falling in love for each other,” Eliza said, dreamily. “Well, that is as long as they are of the opposite sexes.”
“Yeah right,” Vince said, sarcastically. “So if you’re guy best friend falls in love with you, you’ll be fine with it?”
“Of course! He’s my bestfriend after all,” said Eliza.
“So how come Alayne begs to differ?” said Louie.
“Actually, she cries to differ,” Vince said, as he and Louie chuckled.
“Because,” Eliza said, exasperated, “she’s been in a relationship where the guy just broke her heart.”
“How exactly do you break someone’s heart?” retorted Vince. He and Louie again laughed.
“Stop with the jokes, Vince!” Eliza said. This time she was really angry.
Nick nudged Vince’s shoulders to tell him to stop. Vince rolled his eyes and nodded.
“Don’t you guys get it?!” Eliza said, widening her eyes at the three boys. “Alayne had loved someone who ended up breaking her trust. And now she learns that the only other person she trusts the most – that’s you, Nick – likes her, makes her lose her trust for you. She feels insecure and wounded up, and she can’t manage another damage.”
The boys fell silent. Louie crinkled his nose and finally said, “How do you even know these things?”
“Hello? Have you seen me? I’m a girl. I can understand how she feels even if I have not experienced love and heart breaks like she has,” Eliza said.
Nick remained silent. He thought that Eliza was right. He was the only other person Alayne trusted. But she had to learn about Nick’s feelings for her that had been going on for months before Alayne even fell hard for the Senior Guy. He never even intended for he to find out about it. She just discovered it all by herself.
They finished their lunch and went to their homeroom for the introductions, as if they didn’t know each other already. Nick, Vince, and Louie sat next to each other at the back of the classroom, near the door. Eliza was two chairs in front of them. Alayne sat on the far end at the front of the class, clearly staying away from Nick and his pals. Their adviser had introduced himself, and they proceeded with elections for homeroom officers. Nick got elected Vice-President while Vince was President. After that, they were all dismissed. Vince and Louie exited the room first because they needed to use the toilet. Everyone else had also gone but Eliza, Alayne, and Nick. Eliza was talking to Alayne. Nick stared at them, happily talking to each other. He wanted to go up at Alayne and ask her if everything will be all right for the two of them. So Nick got up and walked towards them, without thinking.
“Hey,” he said.
Eliza looked at Nick, unbelievably. While, Alayne kept her stare at Eliza.
“I-I just wanted to talk to you, Alayne,” Nick said. Eliza stepped a little back. Alayne grabbed her things, got up, and looked sternly at Nick.
“I don’t want to talk to you ever. I don’t want to be friends with you anymore, Nick,” said Alayne.
She walked out of the room, leaving Eliza and Nick stunned. Eliza looked at Nick, with pity in her eyes. Nick looked back at her. They stared at each other for a while. Nick knew Eliza was waiting for him to breakdown and cry for losing a friend. But somehow, Nick didn’t felt like crying. He felt sorry for himself. He didn’t feel the need to find closure between him and Alayne because she said it clearly. She didn’t want to be friends with him anymore. And since she found out of his feelings for her, closure was the only thing he was looking for. He just needed to know what happens between them. He wanted her to know that even though she did not reciprocate his feelings, he was trying to find a reason to remove all the emotions he had. He was trying to find someone to replace her heart in his. Eliza had given him the answer, although indirectly. And sometime ago in Germany, he was already given an answer. But he refused to just let it be the result when it didn’t come from Alayne herself. But now it did.
I looked through the crowd, called your name out loud but the there’s still no way to replace you. And I looked everywhere to replace your heart.
He half-smiled at Eliza. She looked at him, half-smiling at him as well. He had his head down, and Eliza pulled him to a hug. Nick cried. He didn’t care. He didn’t care he was crying on Eliza’s shoulders. He didn’t care that Vince and Louie had arrived to see him cry.