Chapter 15

(Author's Note: I apologize deeply for this chapter being so late! I had a HUGE period of writer's block, plus I am so preoccupied in summer work for school, but I will do my best to update as much as possible. MY STORY WILL BE CONTINUED. Hope this chapter is worth the wait. Again, I am so sorry. Thank you to all the readers who stayed with me and enjoy the story)

"Okay, okay," said Nicky laughing, pieces of his sandwich spewing on the table in front of us, "so she really said that to you?" I nodded.

"True story!" We both laughed and I didn't even care that a piece of lettuce from Nicky's sandwich flew onto my face. Sure, it was disgusting, but I didn't want to ruin this perfect moment. The semester was almost over and I couldn't be happier. It had been weeks since Nicky's breakup with Lucille and he finally seemed like he was back to normal. It was hard seeing him heartbroken, but that phase didn't last long. I did everything I could to help keep his mind off it and because of that, we had plenty of time to bond. With the summer coming, I just knew we'd be closer than ever in no time.

"Rod," said Nicky, wiping his mouth on his sleeve, "can I ask you a question?" I handed him a napkin with a chuckle and nodded.

"Sure, what's on your mind?" Nicky wiped mayonaise off his prickly chin and sighed, his expression going from silly to serious in a moment.

"Do you...remember that night you and I were on that double date?"

"Of course!" I replied. "Why wouldn't-...well...actually..." I put my hand to my chin and thought about it for a moment. I had never really taken a second thought on the so-called date, but when I actually took the time to, I couldn't recall anything after ordering my food. "Weird," I said, "it's a little foggy." Nicky gulped and unzipped his sweatshirt a little.

"Well, uh, you had a lot to drink. That's probably why it's a blur. I guess I should remind you what happened."

"Please do," I said with intrigue and suspicion.

"Um..." Nicky hesitated. "Lucille ordered you a few whiskies, which you practically chugged down, and um...you felt dizzy so I took ya to the bathroom and..."

"And?" I asked, raising my left eyebrow at Nicky. Nicky looked down at the table and played with the end of his fork.

"You...u-um...told me that Kate wasn't really your girlfriend." My eyes widened in shock and I blushed bright red in embarassment.

"O-Oh, well, uh, there's a perfectly logical explanation for that," I said nervously, sweat dripping down my neck. "Liquor really makes a person unreliable. I mean, you can't really trust anything a drunk person says, and why would I lie about something like that? It's not like I'm hiding anything. Why would I? I'm an open book! You could read me like a Charles Dickens novel! Hahaha!" I panted from talking so fast and wiped the bit of sweat that was running across my forehead. Nicky stared at me, his expression painted with disbelief and slight disappointment.

"Rod," he said, "I know you. And I know that you tend to ramble when you're getting anxious." I sighed and looked down at my lap.

"Please don't laugh at me," I said quietly. Nicky smiled and slapped my shoulder playfully.

"C'mon buddy, you gotta stop acting like I'm some kinda jerk. I'm not mad, I just want to know why." I gulped and took a deep breath before I spoke.

"I...I lied about Kate being my girlfriend because Lucille kept saying that I was...sh-she said I was g-...g-..."

"Gay?" The word struck me like an arrow to the heart. It stung my ears just to hear it crawl out of Nicky's mouth. I nodded and turned away to look out the window. "Why does it matter to you what she thinks?"

"It's not what she thinks," I said, still keeping my focus on the window, "I could care less about what that whore thinks of me."

"Then why? If her opinion didn't matter, there was really no point, right?" Almost involuntarily, my eyes turned and I glanced at Nicky, his unshaven face sparkling in the light's reflection.

"Because..." I continued, "I-I thought that if she thinks I'm...like that...then, you would too...and...I didn't want you to see me like that...I didn't want you to hate me..." To my surprise, Nicky started laughing. I turned and looked at him completely offended. "Well I'm glad you find my desperate situation so funny!"

"It's not that!" Laughed Nicky, catching his breath as he wiped a tear from his right eye. "It's the fact that you would think I would hate you for something as little as that."

"What do you mean?" I asked, calming down.

"Rod," said Nicky, "gay or not-"

"Definitely not!" Nicky laughed lightly at my interjection, then continued.

"I couldn't hate you. I don't know how many times I'm gonna have to remind you, but you're one of the best fellas I've ever known. Lucille or anyone else could never change how I feel about you. It's something strong and I've been taught to trust feelings like that. I know, it sounds weird for me to say something like this-"

"No," I interrupted, placing my hand on his and smiling, "I understand. I-I feel it too. I'm really sorry, I should've known."

"Na," said Nicky with a smile, gently brushing my hand off of his, "I get it. I was so hung up on Lucy that I don't blame you for thinking I'd go so far as to change my point of view on my friends just to please her. I was a complete moron back then, but I promise not to be a total moron when it comes to dating in the future." I smirked with a chuckle.

"That's going to take a lot of effort, huh?"

"Shut up, Rod." Nicky and I laughed as we threw our trash into a nearby bucket and walked out of the diner. "It's a real shame about Kate, though," continued Nicky. "I really thought she was your type. Kind, pretty, studious-"

"You know what studious means? I'm impressed!" I nudged Nicky's shoulder with my own as we walked and he ruffled up my hair.

"Oh ha ha! But seriously, she seemed to really care about you when you guys were 'together'. What's holding you back from asking her out for real?" I put my hands in my pocket and kicked a pebble forward with my shoe toe as I walked.

"I don't know," I said, "I guess it's because I don't really see her that way. We've been friends for so long that we have more of a big brother and little sister relationship than a boyfriend and girlfriend relationship. I'm not really her type anyway."

"Are you kidding?" Asked Nicky, putting his arm around my shoulders. "What kinda girl wouldn't be interested in a hardworking soon-to-be millionaire with distinct ginger hair?" I blushed lightly and looked away to hide my smile.

"I-I don't know," I said with a giggle, "Guess it's her loss, right?" Nicky laughed and messed up my hair some more.

"You bet it is! Don't worry 'bout it, buddy. You and I will find the right one soon enough."

"Yeah," I said, staring longingly at Nicky's beautiful eyes. I gasped softly and shook myself out of my trance. I couldn't keep zoneing out and thinking the way I did about Nicky. It went against everything I had ever been told. In yet, when I was with Nicky, none of that really occured to me. Nicky always made me feel comfortable and...he actually made me feel like what I was told was wrong.

"Rod?" Called Nicky, who was now a few feet ahead of me. "You okay?" I shook myself out of my thoughts and nodded.

"Y-Yeah, I'm coming." I caught up to Nicky, who was focused on the sky as he walked. I always wondered how he never walked into a tree or anything as he stared at the clouds above him, but I guess that was one of the many beautiful mysteries about Nicky that didn't need to be explained. "Nicky?" I said softly.

"Yeah, bud?" He replied, still looking at the cloud.

"I-I want to tell you something." Nicky stopped and I saw his eyes widen a little.

"Sure pal, anything," he said, sounding a little uneasy.

"Uh," I said, kicking the dirt below us, "th-there's been something on my mind now for a long time that I've been keeping to myself and I think...I think I'm ready to tell you." Nicky gulped and shoved his hands in his sweatshirt pocket.

"O-Okay buddy, what is it?" I bit my bottom lip as I looked up at Nicky, hesitant to speak.

"We've been spending a lot of time together and...I know I may act like you're the most irritating thing on the earth sometimes, but that's only because I...I-I..." Nicky took a step back and I saw sweat leaking down his neck. He looked nervous and uncomfortable. "I...I've been hiding the fact that I want you...w-want to you to stay with me after college...yeah..." Nicky tilted his head in confusion and took a step forward.

"Huh?"

"I know it's weird," I continued, "but everytime I hear you talk about what you want to do with your life after college and how you have no clue what you want to study here, it makes me anxious about your future so...I've been thinking that because I know that my parents are providing me with a minimal amount of currency to get my own place after college, you could come and live with me. Just until you get on your feet, of course, nothing longterm." Nicky stared at me in shock. I blushed bright red and turned away. "It was just a weird thought, I'm sorry. You don't have-" Suddenly, Nicky's arms were wrapped around my waist tightly and he lifted me up into the air.

"Thank you thank you thank you THANK YOU, ROD!" Nicky squeezed my fragile body tightly in a warm embrace and spun me around.

"Does this mean you want to?" I asked, barely able to breathe.

"HELL YES I WANNA!" Exclaimed Nicky. "Having a place to live will totally give me enough time to get my head straight and start my own business! Plus, it'll make my folks shove all the nasty shit they said about me growing up to be a hobo up their asses! This is amazing! You're the best friend ever!"

"Okay," I said, gasping for air, "now please put me down before I pass out!"

"Oh!" Nicky rested me gently on the ground and laughed. "Sorry buddy, I forgot how strong I was for a sec."

"It's fine," I said, wiping the dirt and dust off my clothing. "I'm glad to see you happy and even more glad that you've accepted my offer. But, of course, there will be rules to follow in my house."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," said Nicky, waving his hand at me, "we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. For now, don't ruin this moment for me, okay?"

"Okay Nicky," I laughed and walked beside Nicky all the way back to our dorm. I smiled to myself as I climbed into my bed that night. I was so happy to know that I wouldn't have to spend my time out of college a lonely mess, yet I wasn't completely happy. I knew asking Nicky to be my roomate out of college wasn't really what I wanted to tell him, but I just wasn't ready to let him know my thoughts about him and I together...I was still convinced that it would ruin our friendship, no matter what he told me. Not to mention his strange reaction before I could finish my confession. I had never seen Nicky so uneasy and anxious. Perhaps he wasn't as open-minded as he said he was...perhaps the thought of someone like me liking him would have been too much for him to bare...these thoughts plagued me all night, but I did my very best to hide them away in the back of my mind, giving me just enough freedom from them to have pleasant dreams that night. Each dream an embodiement of my deepest hopes for the future with my best friend, Nicky. I knew as I dreamt that these dreams were not destined to come true, but I was certain that one day I would be sitting in a lovely and neat apartment wrapped in the muscled arms of my deepest and truest love.