Three Years Later
I pulled my phone from my pocket as I felt it vibrating against my leg, the unmistakeable sound of Fall Out Boy ringing out. The display on the front caused a small smile to appear as the caller's name flashed up.
"I'll catch you later, Gerard. I have to take this." He smiled at me and walked away with his friends from his next class.
It had taken a while but he had eventually forgiven me for the appalling way I had treated him once everything had begun with Dart and Tyler while still at Blue River. When we both realised we were attending New York University, it made sense to forget the grudges because as he had put it 'If Dougie and Rose can, there's no excuse for us.'
Mary, however, was a little more stubborn even three years later. She had decided to forget college and instead found work with her mom at some company in the nearby city. Gerard still spoke to her and often kept me updated, told me she was happy and successful and making more money than all of us put together. The greatest news was when he told me that she had found someone and was pregnant. I wasn't expecting an invite to the christening but Gerard was cheeky and told me he'd take me as his plus one.
Flipping my phone open to answer it I couldn't help but put on a strong American accent and giggle as I did so.
"Why hello mister and why might you be calling on a fine day like today?"
"Good day chap, I was just calling to inquire as to the wellbeing of my favourite Brit." His terrible faux-British accent came across the line. "How you doing, London?"
"I'm fantastic, Troy. How's Berkeley? Everything still well?" I sat on a nearby bench and attempted to stop my folders from slipping off of my lap.
"Yeah everything is grand, my beautiful. I finally have a job, was going to come and visit you when I've saved up enough. See you and that Jeremy kid."
"Gerard." I corrected as I did every time we spoke. "But that would be amazing, give you a tour of the city. It's so amazing here; I can't believe my mom ever moved away she was insane."
"Has your dad been to visit you?" He asked quietly knowing that it was a slightly touchy subject.
My dad who was situated in New Jersey as he had been for the past four years kept sending messages through Dougie that he would come and see me soon, with the distance being nothing in comparison to between Blue River and New Jersey. But the promises kept coming every year and he never showed. It had got to the point where I couldn't remember what he looked like and was getting really bitter about having him there.
"No, of course not. But I saw Dougie the other day so that was good. Showed me a postcard mom sent him from Rome, she's having a great time. How are the wedding plans coming along?"
"Fine, Rachel is being as picky as ever. Whoever told her she needed a colour scheme to follow deserves to be shot but otherwise its okay, she's stopped being the bride from hell now and is actually letting me make some decisions. Which reminds me, she asked me to get term dates from you so that she can arrange a fitting for when you're home, make sure you look perfect in your pretty, little dress, London!" He laughed and I couldn't help but smirk at his incessant teasing.
Rachel and Troy had been engaged for over a year now, their brief relationship during high school apparently being much deeper than any of us expected. It didn't take long after our graduation for them to get back together and set up home in Berkeley where Rachel was studying and before we knew it two years had passed, Troy had finally ditched the awful nickname and popped the question to which Rachel gleefully accepted and immediately screeched at me, asking me to be her maid of honour. I couldn't really say no.
"Oh be quiet, I'm sure it'll be the most per…"
I was stunned. It was not possible. Three years had passed and it just wasn't right.
"Call you back, Troy." I pushed my phone away and gathered up my belongings and set on a straight path in front of me, shock taking over my whole body. I was in total denial all the way to my destination until the object I was trying to reach discreetly, turned and looked straight at me.
Blue eyes pierced through me and my breath immediately caught. I was utterly helpless and didn't know what to do, more importantly though, what the hell was he doing here?
He looked so different, baggy jeans and a t-shirt topped off with a rucksack bigger than maybe he would need and an mp3 player hung from his neck. Pulling his ear phones out his ears and letting them rest on his shoulders, he smirked and ran his hand back through his hair whilst exhaling.
It was then I noticed the major difference, his hair was shorter. No longer did his hair fall into his face hiding him from the world, it was pushed back and messy and let anyone see into his eyes, see his beautiful face. He had grown up in the past few years, that much was evident but I couldn't dwell on that for too long because he had begun to walk towards me.
"Alicia Jameson, well I never." He was smiling properly now and I was still in shock. This was all too much. I was confused; was I angry with him for going, was I impressed with his ability to get into NYU and to sort himself out or was I ecstatic that I had the chance to see him again? The overwhelming sensation of butterflies in my stomach causing me to feel extremely nauseous wasn't a concern at that point in time.
"Tyler. It's…why…what…I'm so lost right now." I eventually managed to say, sounding breathless as I struggled to find the words.
He just laughed and gestured to a wall surrounding a statue to sit down on. He seemed so happy now and settled within himself. Looking at him now it was so hard to imagine the lost, broken boy I fell in love with. My line of thought was distracted by a stubborn beeping from my phone as I received a text message.
Are you okay? Call me back when you can : - ) XXX.
"Boyfriend?" He asked. I had to laugh, how wrong he was.
"It's Troy. I was just talking to him when I saw you." I smiled glad to have the conversation on a neutral level, putting me at ease.
"Troy? Since when was he Troy?" He chuckled and it was only then I realised just how much he had missed out on.
"Since he got engaged to Rachel. He ditched Dart, told us all at his engagement party which gave us all a good laugh. Really was the most absurd nickname."
He nodded and looked away around campus and it was clear he was feeling slightly left out so I offered to fill him in on the rest which he gratefully accepted.
"Well Damien and Ollie are now living together in Blue River, but I think we all saw that coming. Rachel and Troy moved to Berkeley where she is studying, they got back together after we graduated. Rose is still in Blue River I think, drives to the local college everyday and Billy took over the coffee shop from his uncle. He got really ill and couldn't run it anymore. As for me, I came here. Dougie is living here now, got a real good job offer after working with my dad so he never went to college and turns out Gerard got in here too so we're friends again."
"How about that Mary girl and David? Heard anything about Amaris?" He was so eager to learn what everyone had been up to and I couldn't help but wonder why he didn't just stick around to find out himself.
"Why did you leave Blue River? Were we really that awful?" I asked quietly, having had enough of telling other people's life stories. There were questions I had and needed him to answer.
He laughed nervously before sighing and brushing his hair back once again, a trait I was beginning to recognise as a sign of insecurity.
"It was that place, Alicia. Never you, please don't think that. I never wanted to stop talking to you but I thought it would be easier for the both of us. It's hard being in love with someone who is so far away and so unattainable." He said quietly, playing with a piece of my hair as he did so.
"You loved me…I was never sure, you know? But then we did waste so much time dallying around, caused so much drama and pain for no good reason. All I did was fall in love with you, Ty but that managed to turn into the biggest catastrophe of the year."
We both laughed because we knew it was true. He still hadn't let go of my hair and was now looking at me directly, a silence settling between us but it wasn't uncomfortable. I saw his head jerk towards mine as his eyes rested on my lips but he then took a deep breath and looked away; dropping the hair he was playing with. I suddenly felt alone again without him touching me or feeling as close. "Oh for the love of…"
I surprised myself though. The boy I was in love with, had a nonsensical connection with and hadn't seen for three years made me do something I had never done in my twenty one years of life. I just kissed him. I reached up, grabbed his face and kissed him on impulse. I was one of those girls who never initiated a kiss or anything with a guy but Tyler was, as per, the exception.
"Oh shit. God, I'm such an idiot. I'm sorry, Ty. You probably have some girlfriend or something, or you just plain don't like me. I'm like repulsive to you or something and I just invaded your face! I mouth-raped you! Jesus, such an idiot." I scolded myself but all he could do was laugh at my panic. The one thing I failed to mention and told myself not to acknowledge was the spark between us when I kissed him. It really was true that you never forgot your first love; the feelings never went away because they were sure as hell coming back pretty fast.
"Write your number down." He instructed handing me a scrap of paper and a pen and explained that his phone was out of battery.
"Okay, why?" I asked when I was done.
"Do you want to go to dinner tonight? We can have a real date. This might be crazy, Alicia but hey, we won't know unless we try. Something we never did the first time. Feel free to say no, but I think it would be really great." He asked outright and suddenly I found that acting on my impulse wasn't such a bad thing after all.
I grinned at him and knew he was right. No harm in trying.
"Sure, why not?"