Mikey was talking about whales again. He liked whales. He was sprawled across the stairs leading up the centre of the outside amphitheatre, almost falling off the edge because he was too big for the narrow steps. I was sitting beside him on one of the stone benches, watching moths circle a glowing lamp post and mostly ignoring him talking about whales.
Mikey was used to me ignoring what he was saying by now. He didn't seem to mind. His options when it came to people to talk to were sadly limited, and he'd really drawn the short straw to have ended up stuck with me.
Mikey's chocolate brown hair partially draped over the step he was laying on, mostly escaping the pigtails he'd attempted. His hair wasn't quite long enough to make it work. He didn't tend to like it much longer, though — he would probably cut it soon. He'd do it himself seeing as how he didn't like strangers touching him, I downright refused, and his mum wasn't good at cutting hair. By fourteen, he'd more or less mastered it.
I cut my own hair too, but that involved an electric razor and very little skill. Mikey called me boring and tried to get me to at least dye my hair an exciting colour. He didn't usually bother dyeing his own, but he said it was a waste for me not to since it would be so easy with blond hair.
I disagreed. We disagreed on a lot of things, but somehow we were still friends. I credited that to his sheer hardcore determination, because it definitely wasn't due to my apathy-at-best attitude.
I didn't notice the teenage boy coming down the stairs behind Mikey until he spoke. "Out of my way, princess."
Stabs at Mikey's sexuality were frequent and not exactly unprovoked, if you could considered a fondness for rainbows and showing excessive amounts of affection towards other dudes provocation. 'Other dudes' more or less meant me, because, as I said, his options were limited. Lucky me.
Anyway, I was so hypnotised by the lamp post that I hadn't noticed the guy approach, and by the time he spoke he'd already grown impatient and was lifting out a foot to jab Mikey in the ribs. Mikey squeaked loudly when the guy's foot made contact and reflexively rolled over, making a sound of pain when he landed on the next step down. Casting his eyes about, they finally settled somewhere around the teenage boy's chest as Mikey carefully scooted towards me.
"Do that again and I'll break your foot," I growled at the teenager, who seemed sufficiently intimidated by my threat. We were about the same age, but I was bigger and not exactly known for putting up with bullshit. Especially when it came to Mikey.
Mikey's determination had ultimately earned him the role of my best friend, which was perhaps not much of an achievement considering he was my only friend. Unless you counted Finn, which I usually didn't since he only hung around because he had a tragic crush on Mikey. Tragic because, like the teenage boy who'd just poked Mikey in the ribs, Mikey couldn't see him.
Mikey paused in his scooting and frowned at me. "What did I do?"
I rolled my eyes. I never quite knew if Mikey was fucking with me or if he genuinely believed that anyone he couldn't see didn't exist. "Nothing, you idiot," I mumbled as I yanked Mikey towards me so he was no longer obstructing the stairs. He took this as an invitation to drape himself face down across my thighs, leaving his legs sprawled across the seat on one side of me and his arms folded on the seat on my other side. It didn't look comfortable.
"Well then you shouldn't say you're going to break my foot," Mikey said, and then said "ow," because I pulled his hair.
I got the feeling he was telling the truth when he said he couldn't see or hear people, despite the fact that it was insane, but I was also sure there was more to it than that. After all, he walked through crowded corridors at school without bumping into people.
When Mikey started chattering again his voice was slightly muffled against my thigh, but as I wasn't really listening whether he was comprehensible or not didn't really matter. My gaze wandered back to the lamp post but was drawn away when I noticed a boy kneeling near the edge of its glow. He had taken his shirt off and was running it under the park tap, wringing it out before soaking it again, over and over. Rinse and repeat.
I guessed he was about fifteen — older than Mikey, younger than me — and was way more interesting than the lamp post. I probably should have felt worse than I did about deriving entertainment from his obvious distress. Probably.
Even though he was quite a distance away and in partial shadow, I knew I hadn't seen him before. His excessive amount of curly brown hair was rather distinctive. As I spent just about every night here, in the park, I could only assume he was new to this crowd. Not that he was interacting with anyone else there, just washing his shirt over and over.
A girl further down the amphitheatre and closer to him wolf whistled at him and, yeah, that was kind of distasteful. I shot her a glare which she didn't see as she was too busy staring at his naked torso.
"Jude?" With some effort, Mikey rolled onto his back and stared up at me, concerned. Somehow he always seemed to know when something was bothering me.
I shook my head at him dismissively and he sighed, long suffering, before starting to roll back over to drape himself on his stomach again. He froze half way. I followed the angle of his head, looking where he was looking. Looking at the boy as he soaked his shirt for the hundredth time, scratching at a spot before wetting it again.
Mikey, a guy who could count the number of people he could see on one hand, was staring at the boy.