Tommy had trouble getting to sleep that night.
Like that was anything new as of late.
That talk he’d had with Nick earlier got him thinking... and eventually robbed him of his sleep.
Perhaps he’d been way in over his head when he’d decided he’d fallen in love with Andy.
‘I mean, it’d be really easy to confuse that with the brotherly-type of love we do have,’ he thought. ‘Nick confused it, and he hadn’t been around Andy as much as I have...’
Yeah, that was it. It had to be, didn’t it? He was just confusing things. He loved Andy, of that there was no doubt, but maybe he’d had the wrong idea. She was practically his sister, it’d be weird, to say the least, to have other kinds of feelings for her.
He looked over at the alarm clock on his nightstand. 3:49 am. He’d have to get up for school in roughly two more hours.
And then he’d go see Andy. Setting things straight, getting his friend back, and being happy were the only things on his mind.
‘Hell,’ he cursed, throwing the sheets off his body and jumping out of bed. ‘I’m not gonna sleep, why kid myself?’
He turned his comuter on and lost himself in the world wide web for the next couple of hours, forgetting everything as the addicting glow of the computer overcame his senses. Only when his alarm clock went off did he snap back into reality.
‘Figures... Andy always said I had the attention span of a turkey.’
She knew he was home. She blamed it on instinct, but she knew he was lurking around his property somewhere.
‘He’s a friggin’ hermit,’ she thought, walking to the front door. ‘He’d stay inside forever if they’d let him bring the ocean indoors.’
What she was doing there, she didn’t quite know exactly. All she knew was that Howie had opened her eyes. Sort of. Now she was on Nick’s doorstep, her finger restlessy ringing the doorbell.
He answered after what seemed to be the twenty sixth ring. His hair was messed up, clothes disheveled. Andy figured either he was asleep, or forgot what personal hygeine was.
“Andy,” his eyes grew wide. He’d never have imagined this. Tommy yesterday, Andy today. He must have done something good to have this happen.
“Hi, Nick,” she greeted. “Lost your comb?”
“What? Oh,” he ran a hand through his hair. “I wasn’t going to bother with it. I’m on vacation; I don’t have to look good right now.”
“You’re lucky I don’t scare easy,” she grinned. “So, is the hermit going to invite me in, or can we talk out here?”
“You don’t need an invitation,” he laughed, moving aside to let her in. “You know that.”
“There’s a lot I don’t know lately.”
She turned to face him once she was in his living room. Her eyes searched his, looking for a sign, something that told her she was going to find the answers she wanted. His gaze held the same blankness hers did. So much for relying on friends for answers.
“What do you want to know?”
She watched him as he spoke, looking at her intently. He was good, she admitted. Damn good.
“Anyone ever tell you you’re a good actor?”
“Where’d this come from?”
“Your blank expression, then asking me what I wanted to know,” she told him. “You’re good, Carter.”
“So I’ve been told,” he smiled warily at his friend. “So tell me, what do you wanna know?”
“How DO they make green Jell-O green?”
“Andy,” he said sternly, raising his eyebrow at her.
“Fine. Fine, fine, FINE. Nick, what have you been thinking about lately?”
“Well, more like since the last time we saw each other.”
“What a way to ask,” Nick sighed. “Andy, I’ve been thinking of us. The situation we’ve been thrown in.”
“It set me straight on a lot of things,” Nick continued, “I mean, the fear of having lost my best friend made me really look at the situation and realize things weren’t as they seemed.”
“Whoah, hold on. Not as they seemed?” Andy asked. “Explain.”
“I... don’t know how to say this,” he began, “But... I... Andy, I was wrong. About my feelings for you.”
“Come again?” She still wasn’t getting what was coming out of Nick’s mouth.
“Andy, I don’t love you. Not like AJ said, anyway.”
“Oh.” ‘Well, there goes the rehearsed speech I had to make him see things my way,’ she thought, smiling. He’d seen it all for himself.
“And that smile is for..?”
“For you,” she said, grinning wider, “For not making me beat some sense into you. Nick, I didn’t know what to do with myself after I learned what I did. I don’t want that, you know? Don’t take this the wrong way, but you two are my friends. My BEST friends, and something like that could’ve shattered our friendship. What the three of us have is the thing I guard and cherish the most. When I left your house that day, I was feeling all those years of friendship going down the drain.”
“I wouldn’t have let that happen,” Nick told her. “Never.”
“I know that now,” she smiled, “But there’s still one thing left to do.”
“Which is?” Nick asked.
“Tommy,” she reminded him, “We still have to see him.”
“I already talked to him.”
“What? When?” she was so out of the loop with these two, she suddenly figured they’d talked long ago and had carried on like the best of friends they were.
“Yesterday. He came here, and we talked.”
“So we’ve all basically not seen each other for three months?”
“Pretty much,” Nick nodded. “But you know what? That can change; it’s all up to you now. Tommy and I have settled any curiosities and doubts and whatever, and we’d actually made plans for tomorrow. If you want, you can join us.”
“I’m going to go see him today then,” she said, “When he gets home from school. Then I’ll tell you if I wanna join you tomorrow or not.”
She stood up and walked up to him. She didn’t hesitate to give her friend a big hug, or ruffle his already mussed hair, but she hesitated to tell him one last thing.
“You look like you haven’t finished talking,” Nick said, observing her. “What else is in that head of yours?”
“What if... we can’t see eye to eye on this? Tommy and I... Nick,” she sighed, “I don’t want to lose him.”
“You won’t,” he assured her. “Trust me.”
“Why I’m going to take your word for this, I’ll never know,” she laughed as Nick walked her to the door, “But I’m going to.”
“If it’s any consolation, you can beat me up if I’m wrong.”
“Carter, you’ve got yourself a deal.”
He should’ve known she wasn’t home. She had a whole new life to live, and seeing him wasn’t on her ‘To Do’ list anymore.
He dropped his textbooks on his desk and made a beeline for his bed. The lack of sleep had affected him in a big way, and right now he was more than determined to catch up on his sleep.
He was just starting to doze off when he heard a crash. Startled, his eyes popped open and he sat up in bed. He drew in a sharp breath as he registered the disturbance.
“When’d you move the TV in front of your window? This is gonna mke it hard to visit you, you know.”
That smiling face, those teasing eyes. God, how he’d missed them.
“I don’t get a glare when it’s over there,” he explained, getting off his bed and helping Andy finish crawling through his window.
Once inside, she surveyed the damage done. She’d knocked over the waterglobe Suzie had given him and her years ago. Granted, it didn’t break, but she’d knocked it over.
“At least I won’t have to get you a new one,” she laughed.
“So what brings you here?”
“Talk about getting right to the point,” she sighed. “You know why I’m here.”
“I didn’t think you’d ever show up.”
“Could I have stayed away for good?” she asked Tommy. Seeing him standing in front of her, she knew it wouldn’t be possible for her to ever leave.
“It looked like you were going to,” he said softly. “That scared me, Andy.”
“Tommy, you know I couldn’t stay away from you forever,” she said, taking a seat on the chair at his desk. “Fact is, I love you. And you know that, only... not in the way you... need me to.”
“Andy, that’s irrelevant now.”
“It is?” she asked, eyes wide. “You mean you--”
“I was mistaken,” he said, his gaze enver leaving hers. “I mean, I’ve been close to you since... well, forever, and I can see now how I could’ve mistaken the two types of love. It’s just too bad you had to be clued into this whole thing by AJ. He didn’t even have his facts straight.”
“How did he know, anyway?”
“Nick was writing a letter to BJ,” Tommy exlained, recalling nick’s tale from teh rpevious day, “And AJ was snooping around and found it, and saw that Nick was telling his sister both of us were... you know.”
“Yeah,” she sighed. “I know. But... did you know about Nick’s feelings?”
Tommy nodded, “A few weeks before that all happened. I found out. He didn’t know about me thoguh.”
“Wow. We should write this down,” Andy grinned. “It would make for a good drama in a daytime soap.”
“It would,” Tommy laughed, “But then we’d be reminded of it all over and over again. I think it’d be best if we just... forgot about it.”
“You read my mind,” she said, “I wanted to straighten things out with the both of you. I was ready to beat some sense into you both, but you’ve both shocked me. It was the easiest thing I’ve ever straightened out.”
“You saw Nick already?” Tommy asked her.
“Yeah, like about three hours ago. I don’t think he’s showered in a few days,” she giggled, “He claims he’s on vacation, and doesn’t have to look good for anyone.”
“I feel the guy,” Tommy laughed.
“Sorry, I couldn’t help it.”
“Right. So, why’d you come in through my window? You only did that when we were kids.”
“Well, it worked for Howie, so I figured ‘why not me?’ Guess I don’t have his charm,” she laughed.
“When did you see Howie?”
“A few days ago,” she explained. “He went to see me, and we talked. Turns out, he’s pretty upset at what AJ did, too.”
“Everyone is,” Tommy told her, “Only everyone’s dealing with it differently. They guys are pretty used to him doing stuff like this, so they really won’t bring it up, and Nick’s just not talking to him. He’s been using the excuse that they’re working too hard lately to keep in touch.”
“Smart boy,” Andy noted. “My excuse is gonna be that I just don’t want to.”
“That’s your excuse for everything,” Tommy pointed out.
“Well, what’s YOURS gonna be?”
“I don’t know,” Tommy sighed, “I’d really like to talk to him, actually.”
“Suit yourself,” Andy said, getting up. “Just leave me out of it, will ya? I’m through with that guy.”
She gave Tommy a hug before excusing herself. “I’m outta here. I gotta go to Suzie’s. It’s my first babysitting job for the kids, and I can’t be late.”
“Uh-oh. Auntie Andy’s gonna spoil them rotten,” Tommy laughed, “You’ll be sorry when all the chocolate you give them won’t let them sleep.”
“It was good seeing you, too,” Andy laughed, ignoring his comment. “I’ll talk to you later.”
She exited the room, and Tommy fell back onto his bed, sighing deeply.
It didn’t work. It may have worked for Nick, but it didn’t work for him in the least. Seeing his best friend just now made him realize any attempts were hopeless.
He was more in love with her now than ever before.
[chapter list | chapter nineteen]