"Just tell me the truth." She begged, barely above a whisper.
Justin stared at her. What is going on?
"I don't know what you—"
"And please save the whole 'sparing my feelings' crap. Just tell me the truth."
What am I supposed to say? Just moments ago she runs out of the classroom. We were all laughing, having a good time. What happened to you?
He looked down at his crying best friend. She had her arms wrapped around her legs as if this position was the only thing holding her together physically and mentally. He slowly sat down next to her, careful to make his movements obvious in case he were to upset her.
"What happened to you?" He repeated out loud.
"Nothing—" she mumbled and was soon overcome with another wave of some stored grief that had burst and was spilling out of her. He had never seen her so overcome emotion before, he wasn't sure what to do. It was always happy with Elise, what happened?
He carefully wrapped his arms around her, letting her cry in the crook of his neck. Her entire body was vibrating. It seemed like hours until her heartbeat had become steady again.
She pulled herself away without looking at him and stared down at her lap, wiping her tears on her sleeve. The worst of it was over, he concluded.
"You want to talk about it?" He offered.
"No." She sniffled.
He let her in silence for a few moments while he replayed the day's events.
He sighed. Why does she have to be so damn stubborn?
"Do you want me to leave?" He whispered.
Silence. He tried to look at her straight in the face but she hid it with her bushy hair.
"Would you like to leave?"
Anger rushed through him. "Why the hell would I want to leave, Elise? Obviously something very bad happened to you and I'm not going to leave you alone like this!"
"Oh! So something bad has to happen to me to make me emotional?" She turned to look at him face to face now, tears flowing again. "Girls are emotional, Justin! I'm not just another one of the guys like I seem to be! I have feelings. And, sometimes, pretending that you don't can really get to you!"
They stared at each other for another immeasurable moment. Elise had never yelled at him like this before. It wasn't long before she had to take her eyes from his gaze, something that he learned about her long ago: she feels uncomfortable looking at someone in the eyes for too long.
But Justin had had enough. He swiftly tilted her chin to face him. "Please, El."
He let his finger go and was surprised when she didn't turn away.
"Justin," she whispered, dropping her gaze. But not out of habit—for shame? "I need you to tell me something."
A beat. "Anything," he encouraged.
She spoke under her breath but it was audible enough for Justin to hear. "Why is it that nobody loves me?"
A few seconds past. Gusts of wind spilled leaves throughout the air, but he could still hear her shallow breaths come and go.
He whispered into her ear. "Is that what this is about?"
She nodded. Her body was still tense, still waiting for an answer.
Without thinking about it, he turned her face to his once more. He left his hand cupping the side of her cheek as insurance that she would not look away for once. This was needed to be said and needed to be done right.
"Elise," he sighed and stared straight into her gorgeous spring orbs. "You are the most beautiful, fantastic person I have ever met. And if you are worried that you will never find your special someone, then the rest of the world has got some major problems." He took another breath and finished with his eyes closed. "Any man would be lucky to have you. So whatever you're feeling, forget about it. You are worth it, and that's the truth."
By the end of his speech, everything seemed to have frozen. The daily wind, the rustling of the leaves, the setting sun, and her heartbeat; all were frozen, silent. He was afraid to open his eyes, to see what his words had caused him. Had he said too much? Did he not say enough?
The suspense was killing him and he opened his eyes. He never wanted to blink again.
The image before him was the most perfect thing in the world, his best friend happy, content, and—dare he say, admiring? He didn't have time to think, for before he knew it by some magnetic force, their lips met with a soft, lingering kiss.