A true friend is the most precious of all possessions and one we take the least thought about acquiring.

-La Rochefoucauld

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I've always been a bit of a loner. I guess it comes with moving around so much and being home-schooled. I've never had a human best friend though I've had plenty of animal ones. Unfortunately I've never really understood the needs of animals and they all died.

I got my first fish when I was five years old. His name was Cassidy Jr. and I loved him with all my heart. I guess I could blame my parents for his death, but I won't. I was five and frankly didn't know that fish needed to eat just like humans. I found him floating on the top of the water one morning. I thought he was just sleeping, but mom said he had gone to heaven. I buried that fish in the backyard of my old house in Portland, Oregon. I think I cried, but I'm not sure.

I went through seven fish, each of them either dying of hunger or over-eating. I could never find a perfect balance. Then my parents decided that they had had enough of dead fish and bought me a hamster. He died the first day. I stepped on him.

They then bought me a turtle of which I left out in the sun too long. After the turtle came a guinea pig that died of unknown causes. I think Reed accidentally knocked his cage over and killed him, but I don't really like to blame Reed. Then came a lizard that lost his tail when I grabbed him to hard. Mom didn't like him anyway though.

After all the pet deaths in my family, Mom decided that we didn't need anymore. I guess she was right in her decision because I wasn't a fit pet owner anyway; however I still miss having something to take care of. And as pathetic as it sounds, I miss having something that needs me to survive. I don't usually think about my past pets, but today is different. Well, everyday has been different since I met Corey.

It's been two weeks since Reed left for college and it's two weeks until I start high school for my senior year. My dad thinks it's best that I complete my last year in a private school so that it'll be easier for me to get scholarships. I guess he's right, but I'm scared shitless when I think about it.

Anyway, ever since the day Reed left Corey has been coming over to talk to me while I work in my garden. Usually we talk about anything that comes to his scatterbrained mind, but not today. Today Corey brought a surprise and I can honestly say is the weirdest thing I've ever seen.

"Meet Maximillian Bartholomew O'Donnel." He states simply, walking up my driveway with a leash in his hand.

I was expecting a dog, as most people do when they see leashes, but it was anything but. It was tiny, extremely tiny, and had three stripes running down its tiny back.

"Corey…is that a…chipmunk?"

"Yep, ain't he adorable?" He says kneeling down to pat the little rodents back. I just stare. It's just so…weird. But I should've expected this from Corey who has to be the strangest person I've ever met.

"Corey…why is it on a leash?" I ask after a moment. "It looks a little strange."

"Oh. Because Maxy likes to run…jeez, you should see him in action. I lost him once in the park. He came back with another white stripe….weird. It took me so long to find him though."

I can't help but giggle a little. Corey is such an idiot. "Corey, I think you got a new chipmunk if he has a new stripe…"

Corey looks at me like I'm crazy. "Cassidy, I think I know my own pet thank you."

"Whatever…I'm just saying." I shrug, turning back to my garden only to stop suddenly and nearly snap my neck in the process.

'Maxy' is currently taking a dump in my garden. Hell. No.

"Corey, get your rat out of my garden." I say turning to face the red-headed teen who is currently…touching my hair?!

Corey sighs and tugs on his pets leash absentmindedly. "Your so lucky Cass, you have natural curls."

My face is suddenly on fire.

"Um…" I start to say awkwardly. "Well they're really just…waves…not really curls…"

"Waves, curls…they're the same to me." Corey says, playing with the ends of my hair. "I'd die to have your kind of hair…" He says dreamily. I am in shock. Major shock.

"Corey, you have nice hair yourself." I say after a moment. Well, not really. It's rather messy in my opinion.

"Really?" Corey says, staring up at me with those gorgeous green eyes of his. I really wish he would stop looking at me like I'm some sort of angel on earth. He's making me feel as if I really am…and that's just stupid.

"Yeaah…" I drawl out slowly. "The red is…nice."

"Red-heads are dying out you know." He states matter-of-factly, finally letting go of my shoulder length hair.

"Uh? I think there just aren't as many as there used to be…they aren't dying." I say, turning back to my garden where Maxy is currently devouring one of my tulips.

"Why?" Corey asks stupidly.

I shrug. "Don't ask me, I'm not the one who brought it up."

We sit in silence for a few minutes, both of us trying to think of something to say. Just as I am reaching for my watering can, Corey tackles me to the ground and pins my arms above my head.

What the hell…?

"Corey! What the-"

"I'm bored, let's play tag." He says simply.

"No, I can't." I say, struggling to free my hands. "Would you let me up you dumbass?"

"No, not until you agree to play tag."

"Corey I'm not five and neither are you. Act your age." I say angrily, still struggling against his hold. Damn, he's strong. He wasn't kidding when he said he wrestles.

Corey smirks and tickles the sides of my stomach. "You don't know how old I am."

I giggle and then frown. What an annoying little prick. "Well I'm making an educated guess."

Corey frowns and furrows his eyebrows. "What's an educated guess?"

I blink and then roll my eyes. "Corey just get off of me."

"Nooo…" He whines pathetically. "I want to play tag…now…"

Corey looks at me as if I'm his only friend in the world. And right now I'm beginning to think I am. "Fine…" I sigh. "One game though."

Corey smiles his cheeky little adorable grin and I suddenly want to hug him. Badly. Which is really scary. Very, very scary.

"Alright, I'll chase you first." He says getting off of me. "Can I tie Maxy to one of your tulips?"

One of my tulips? How long did he think that going to hold? From the looks of it this chipmunk is desperate to be back in the wild.

"Uh, how about I tie him to this little statue?" I say, motioning towards a little statue of an angel that my mother demands be planted right in the middle of my garden. It's tacky, cheap and ugly and I hate it. For the past few weeks I've been chipping away at the angel's concrete neck with a knife hoping for it to finally fall off. Hopefully Maxy will eat or at least shit on it like he did my garden. Then maybe mom would get rid of it. Maybe.

"Oh okay, that's fine." He says, hopping around.

I slowly grab the little rodent and carefully step into the middle of my garden. Maxy looks up at me with his beady little eyes and opens his mouth in an obvious attempt to bite me.

"Corey, this thing had better not have rabies!" I call out over my shoulder as I quickly pick the chipmunk up by its tail so that he can't reach my precious fingers.

"Oh no, he already had that so you're fine." My deluded red-haired friend says from behind me.

What the fuck?! I hurriedly drop the little rat near the statue and quickly tie the leash around the angel's neck. It looks quite fitting for the ugly sculptured piece of concrete.

"Alright now…" I say stepping out. "One game, Corey. I mean it."

"Cool, cool. I know. Now run." He says, getting into a running stance. Shit. He's a runner too.

"Yeah okay." I gulp, stepping back. "One…two…three…go!" I yell, taking off as if my life depended on it. Honestly, I'm quite scared and I don't know why. I think it's the anticipation of a likely tackle from behind.

I run around to the back of my yard, panting, but pushing myself forward. I'm actually running pretty fast seeing as Corey hasn't caught me yet. It isn't till I reach the middle of my backyard do I realize I've been duped as I see Corey coming out from the other side headed straight towards me. Before I can stop myself we run straight into each other and tumble to the ground.

And god does my ass hurt like hell right now.

"I got you!" He yells rolling over on me. He doesn't appear to be hurt in any way which makes me mad.

"Damn you…" I get out before I start gasping for breath. I should've expected this to happen, but of course I wasn't thinking. I just wish I could live one day without an asthma attack. Just one day.

"Hey…are you…okay?" Corey asks softly, touching my forehead with his left hand. Despite being in a full-blown battle for air, I can't help but blush at the rather tender action.

"My…m-my pocket…" I gasp out, clutching at my hoodie pocket but not being able to unzip it.

"Your pocket…?" He says slowly, rubbing my arm. "What about your pocket…?"

"I-in…my pocket…my pocket." I gasp clutching at my throat. I can't accurately describe what an asthma attack feels like. I can only tell you that not being able to breathe is one of the worst feelings to endure. It's scary, terrifying.

"Okay, hold on." He says quickly, reaching for my pocket and unzipping it. He then pulls out my inhaler and looks at it in confusion. "Is this what you need?" He asks me. I nod frantically, desperate for some air to reach my lungs.

"Alright." He says, "I'm guessing you put this to your face…" He says to himself before pressing it up to my face. I'm surprised he has it placed correctly. "Do I press this button?" He asks looking in my eyes. I nod again and then thank a god I don't believe in as I get my first puff of air.

"How many of these…?" He says looking at the inhaler to try and read the instructions on the side. I hold up seven fingers. "Oh okay."

Several moments later I can finally breathe on my own and Corey pulls the inhaler away. I close my eyes and just lay in the grass for a moment focusing on breathing in and out. In and out. In and out…

"What was that…?" Corey asks after a minute.

"Asthma." I say quietly, keeping my eyes closed.

"Oh."

"Yeah…"

"Your asthma makes you sexy."

My eyes snap open immediately. What the shit.

"Corey…are you…hitting on me?" I ask slowly, trying to sit up and then wincing at the sudden headache. I quickly lay back down.

"No…well maybe." He says, grinning naughtily. He grabs my arm and then starts rubbing it again. I hate to admit it but it actually feels pretty good.

"Corey are you gay?"

"No."

"Are you bi then?"

"No."

"Then why are you hitting on me?"

Corey shrugs at this. "I like you." He says simply. "I don't have to label myself to like you."

"Do you like girls?" I ask, trying to get to the bottom of this weird explanation.

"Yeah, I have a girlfriend." He says, smiling at me. "I also have ADD."

I roll my eyes and slowly lift myself up, despite my headache. "Figures."

"So if you have a girlfriend, why are hitting on me." I ask after a moment. "I'm quite sure she wouldn't like you hitting on another boy."

"She hits on girls." He quips smiling at me again with that adorable grin. I frown.

"You guys are strange then." I say, standing up slowly. "Anyway…thanks for helping me out with that…"

"No problem." He says, jumping to his feet. "Hey, you wanna come over to my house tomorrow?" He asks as we head back to the front yard. "I'll make bread."

I smile softly at this. Turns out, Corey has a knack for baking. Not that he is good or anything, how would I know that. "Yeah…sure, if your parents don't mind."

"Oh no, they'd be fine with it. You have to meet my siblings though, they'll love you."

"Siblings?"

"Yeah, I got 13 of 'em. I'm the baby."

Thirteen?! I'm scared to even think about what Corey's house is like with thirteen kids. Especially if they are all like Corey….god.

"My oldest sister is 27…she's getting married in a few weeks so she'll be leaving. But the rest of them just like living at home even though they all have jobs and stuff. It's cool." Corey says rambling. I nod, though my mind is reeling. I couldn't wait till I turned 18. That was the day I could get the hell out of my parent's house and never have to see them again if I didn't want to. Which I would…but you get my point.

"Well I'll be seeing you…" I said, as Corey struggled to untie Maxy's leash.

"Yeah, bye bye Cassy-Cass." He says, finally freeing his pet and walking down my driveway to the street.

Cassy-Cass? I actually like it…as gay as it may sound.

Picking up my watering can, I turn to enter the house but stop when I notice that the little statue in the middle of my garden no longer has a head.

I smile.

--

R&R Peace.