Take Care of My Girlfriend
inspired by / based off of the song "take care of my girlfriend (say no)" by BEAST
summary: "Her favorite flowers are tiger-lilies, she hates horror movies, and she loves kissing in the summer heat because she says kissing in the rain is a terrible cliché." I told my best friend I was okay with him asking her out, but boy was I a liar. ONESHOT.
Dalton Wheeler had been my best friend for ten years. We did everything together – school projects, video games, joint birthday parties, girl watching…I was always there for him and he was always there for me. We made fun of each other, punched each other, and insulted each other, but it was all out of love. He was the guy I wore matching outfits with on Halloween, the guy I scheduled all my classes with, and the guy that my mom thought I was secretly gay for (which I wasn't, honestly). We never got in fights, because we knew each other's limits.
But one day, Dalton crossed the line.
"Neil, can I ask you a question?" he inquired one afternoon, a lazy Saturday filled with college apps and distracting video games.
"Sure," I mumbled. I was in the middle of writing my essay response for one of my applications when he asked, so I didn't feel the need to give him any further acknowledgement.
"It's…kind of important," he said. At this I stopped typing and looked up at my best friend, wondering what he could have to say that was more important than college applications.
"Okay," I said slowly. "What is it?"
"How would you feel if I…" he hesitated.
"If you?" I prodded.
The rest of his sentence destroyed me.
"If I asked Maggie out?"
For an instant, I felt like I was about to throw up. My entire world flipped upside-down; Dalton wanted to ask Maggie out? Maggie, the girl I dated for a year and ten months. Maggie, my first real girlfriend; my first kiss; my first EVERYTHING. Maggie, the girl who dumped me a month ago for no apparent reason and broke my heart. He was asking me how I would feel if he dated that Maggie?!
My heart pounded furiously. Was he serious?
I panicked. "I didn't know you liked her," I said, my words coming out in a jumbled rush of syllables.
Dalton shrugged nervously.
"I didn't even know you guys were friends." My head hurt; I was trying to get it to stop telling my mouth to say stupid things.
"Will you answer the question, Neil?" A pang of betrayal shot me in the heart. Did he not realize how absurd of a question it even was?
"Fine," I spat quickly. "I'd feel fine." I was lying, of course. Why, I had no idea.
He sensed my uneasiness. "Are you sure? I mean, you'd be cool with me dating her?"
"Yes," is what I said. "NO!!!!" is what my thoughts shouted.
"Oh," Dalton said with a sigh of relief. "Good. I thought for a second that maybe you'd be angry."
Gee, angry? Why would I be angry? It's not like you just totally broke the bro code or anything. Oh wait…never mind, that's EXACTLY what you did.
I wasn't quite sure how to respond to that, so instead I just went back to my application. Of course, there was no way I could focus on it after that, what with my mind reeling and blood pumping so hard I could barely breathe. The next few moments were filled with awkward silence, something that Dalton and I almost never experienced.
I pretended to type my essay response, all the while trying to keep my brain from exploding under pressure. I didn't want Dalton to ask Maggie out, I knew that much. Hell, I still loved her, so, so much. And at the time, I'd thought that Dalton knew that. How could he not know? I'd only cried about our break-up for weeks (yes, weeks – she was my first love, okay?). And besides, he was my best friend. He was supposed to care about how I felt. I cared about how he felt!
Which, I realized then, was probably why I told him to go for it. If Dalton really liked Maggie, then, well, I wanted him to be happy. I wanted them both to be happy. It was just unfortunate that in order for that to happen, I couldn't be.
"Her favorite flowers are tiger-lilies," I said suddenly.
Dalton was taken aback. I don't think he expected me to actually approve of him asking Maggie out, let alone give him tips. "Oh, thanks. I'll keep that in mind," he said.
"She hates horror movies and the color blue," I began to ramble without realizing. I was lost in my own fantasy world, one where I was still with Maggie. Smiling to myself, I continued to list off things about the girl I loved. "And she loves kissing in the hot summer heat because she says kissing in the rain is a terrible cliché."
"Oh…kay," Dalton said. I didn't realize it then, but he must've been pretty weirded-out by the way I was going off about her.
I didn't stop there. "Her favorite movie is Finding Nemo, her favorite food is hash browns, her favorite song is – "
I paused. "What?"
"Are you 100% positive that you are okay with this?" Dalton looked at me, his eyes filled with concern.
"I…yeah," I began. "I mean yes. I'm okay with it, really."
You are such a liar, Neil.
"Really? Because it doesn't seem like you are. Look, dude, I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings or anything like that, but – "
"Dalton, no. Don't say that," I interjected.
"That you're sorry! God, it's not like Maggie and I have anything to do with each other anymore. It's not like…like my heart is some big aching hole or something because she's no longer a part of my life. You don't need to apologize, because you haven't done anything wrong!"
Dalton was quiet.
"You have my blessing, Dalton. Good luck." With that, I stood up and left his house, returning to mine so I could cry my eyes out in the safety of my room.
It took me much too long to get to sleep that night. For hours, I lay in bed, thinking about my two years with Maggie and how it had all come to an end. I remembered the first time I met her, in sophomore year, when she was the new girl in my biology class and I couldn't stop staring at her because she was just so beautiful.
"Why don't you ask her to sit with us?" Dalton had asked me one day at lunch, when he caught me wistfully gazing in her direction. She sat alone, eating a peanut-butter sandwich and drinking chocolate milk.
"I can't!" I protested. "What if she says no?"
Dalton had rolled his eyes and walked right over to her. "Care to join my friend and me for lunch?" he'd asked, and she'd smiled and said, "Sure." Later that day, my best friend made fun of me for not being able to accomplish such a simple task. I ignored his jeers and smiled because she'd agreed to sit with us every day for the rest of the year.
One month later, I had shown up to school with a bouquet of roses, fully prepared to ask her to go to the homecoming dance with me. Of course, my plans were thwarted when some other guy asked her instead and I had to pretend that the roses were actually for another girl, a blonde named Bailey who I didn't even like all that much.
I finally built up the courage to ask her out on Halloween night, when we were at a party that Dalton threw. She was dressed up as Princess Leia and I was Indiana Jones; I said something lame about how we were both people from Harrison Ford movies and somehow I ended up spewing my feelings to her. Turned out she felt the same way, and we agreed to be "boyfriend and girlfriend."
Laying in bed thinking about Maggie almost made me feel better about Dalton. Key word: almost. I was still incredibly upset about the idea of my best friend dating my ex. I found myself wishing I hadn't of told Dalton all of Maggie's likes and dislikes; now he was bound to get a positive answer from her.
Why did I tell him all of those things?! I chastised myself.
Groaning, I tossed and turned, trying desperately to fall into a deep slumber so I could at least forget about the issue until morning.
At last, sleep came, but it wasn't long before the nightmares began.
I was standing by my locker. Maggie was nearby, reading a book, and Dalton was approaching her. He had a bouquet of tiger-lilies in his hands and a grin plastered on his face. The dream-me panicked, and ran in her direction, trying to warn her and hopefully get her to say no to my best friend. But I couldn't move – the ground was a constant conveyer belt, pushing me backwards so I had no choice but to stand and watch.
"Maggie," Dream-Dalton said. She closed her book to look at him, a smile arising on her face as she did so. "These are for you. I want you to be my girlfriend."
"No!" I cried. "Maggie, say no!"
Dream-Maggie seemed to contemplate her options for a while.
"Maggie, please!" I shouted at the top of my lungs. "Tell him no. Tell him you can't; say your heart still belongs to me!"
The Dream-Maggie's face twisted into one of repulsion. "Sorry, Neil," she said with a sneer. "I can't do that. Dalton is so much better looking than you. Not to mention he's smarter, sweeter, and has more money."
Dream-Dalton took Maggie's face in his hands and kissed her roughly, eagerly. I let out a yelp; those were my lips. They were tender and pink and tasted like coconuts, and they were mine. Just mine. Nobody else was allowed to touch Maggie in that way; she was MY girl.
Dalton's hands stroked Maggie's tousled dark hair.
I shrieked, all the while repeating, "No, no, no, no, no…"
"Neil, what the hell is going on in here?" I woke up with a start. My sister had turned on the lights. I blinked in confusion. Was I talking in my sleep?
"What?" I asked, disoriented. That was a horrible dream, I thought.
"I heard shouting coming from your room. You sounded like you were getting gang raped or something. What's up?"
I stared at my older sister in embarrassment. I had been talking in my sleep. Actually, worse, I'd been yelling. No wonder she thought I was crazy.
"I…" I said softly. Suddenly I felt the uncontrollable urge to cry, but I'd been doing enough of that lately so I tried to hold it in. Besides, what kind of guy cries over a girl that often?
"Is this about Maggie?" she asked. I said nothing. She sighed. "Look, Neil, it's been more than a month. You need to move on. And stop having nightmares about her; that's really creepy."
She left my room, shutting off the lights as she did so. I felt a tear fall down my face.
Easier said than done.
The next day, I woke up at noon to an empty house. My sister was out with her friends and my parents were at the grocery store. I had a terrible headache.
I made my way downstairs to the kitchen and grabbed an apple. Maggie hated apples.
Well, at least that's one good thing about not being Maggie's boyfriend anymore, I thought. I can eat apples again.
I took a bite of the red fruit and frowned. Oh, who am I kidding? I've never liked apples. That's why we were so perfect for each other.
I ventured into the other room, leaving my half-eaten apple on the counter. I was about to turn on the TV when the doorbell rang. Confused, I went to the foyer, wondering who could possibly be at my house. I wasn't expecting anyone, and as far as I knew, neither were my parents.
When I opened the door, Dalton was standing there.
"Hey, bro, can I come in?" he said with a smile. I stared at him; why was he acting as if nothing had happened? I know I told him it was alright, but did he really believe that? How stupid was he?
"Um," I said. "I guess."
Dalton pushed past me and sat down on my couch. Giving him a strange look, I closed the front door and followed him. He had brought his laptop, the same one I had been using the previous day when he asked me about Maggie.
"Did you just wake up?" He eyed my pajamas and bed-head curiously.
"Oh," I said. "Yeah, I did." I knew he thought this was strange; I was usually up early regardless of what day of the week it was.
"Okay…well, I was wondering if you could help me with something," he said as he opened up the computer.
If he asks me for more tips on Maggie, I will fucking kill him, I thought.
"You finished your essay for English, right?" he asked expectantly.
Oh, I thought. So that's what this is about.
"Yeah," I said. I had written my essay on the American Dream days ago. I had so much free time then, what with being single and all, so I'd been getting all of my homework done early. I never noticed how big a part of my life Maggie was until she dumped me.
"Cool. Do you think you could edit mine for me? You know I'm terrible at spelling."
I nodded. Why not? I had nothing better to do.
I took the computer from Dalton and started revising his essay. My best friend just sat there, twiddling his thumbs, waiting for me to finish. For a while he watched me, looking over my shoulder, but he stopped when I gave him an annoyed look. The silence was slightly awkward; our spat from the day before was still clear in my mind, but I had no idea if Dalton was still thinking about it. I didn't even know if he considered it an argument or not.
"So," he said suddenly, when I was halfway through his third body paragraph. "I was thinking of asking Maggie out tomorrow."
A jolt of pain arose in my chest. Why was he bringing that up again? I tried to look and sound indifferent. "Yeah?" I asked in my most nonchalant tone, not taking my eyes off the computer screen as I did so.
"Yeah. Like, maybe between classes, or at lunch. Does that sound alright?"
My mind flashed back to the horrific dream I'd had. Oh, God, no. I don't want to watch when you do it. "Whatever," I said. My heart beat quickened. I hoped it didn't show in my voice.
"Okay, awesome. Because I got some lilacs like you said to, and I don't know if they'll stay alive that long."
"Lilies," I corrected. "She likes tiger-lilies."
"Oh, man, you're right," he said with shocking realization. "Well, I guess I have to go back to the store then. Damn it."
"I finished," I said, referring to the essay for a change of subject. I hadn't done a very nice job, but hey, he was the one who showed up unannounced asking for my help. He was lucky I even let him into my house after what he'd done to me.
"That was fast!" Dalton said, still as upbeat as ever. I wondered why he was in such a good mood. "Thanks, man."
I didn't say anything. I just waited for him to leave.
As he opened the front door, he added, "And I don't just mean for the essay, Neil." He smiled at me. "Thanks for everything."
I couldn't bring myself to lie again and say "You're welcome."
I seriously contemplated skipping school on Monday. I figured that Dalton was going to ask Maggie out, and Maggie was going to say yes, and it was just going to be one big horrible day for me. I didn't want to go.
But then I remembered that I had a math test that day and begrudgingly dragged myself to class.
I had first period with Maggie. For the past month, she'd been ignoring me, and I'd been trying to ignore her, but occasionally I'd glance over in her direction to see how she was doing. She looked the same, just as happy, just as beautiful, and just as sweet. I noticed that she didn't have any flowers, which meant that Dalton hadn't gotten to her yet. I let myself breathe a sigh of relief – I could at least survive this class period knowing that they were both still single.
I sat through all my classes anxiously, only half-focused on my work the entire day. By lunch time I was eager for it to just happen so I could get the suffering over with. And yet every time I saw Maggie, she was flower-free, and every time I asked Dalton about it, he told me he was "working on it."
On my way to fifth period after lunch I spotted Dalton. He was laughing, a huge grin plastered on his face. I froze; he must've done it. And she must've said yes. I ran to him.
"Dalt," I said. "Did you ask her?"
"Hmm?" he looked at me with a strange expression. "What?"
"Maggie," I spoke breathlessly. "Did you ask her out?"
"Oh," he said, still grinning. "No."
"What?" I was confused. "Why? I thought you said you were going to do it today!"
"I know what I said," Dalton stated. I looked at him curiously. He shifted his eyes to look at something behind me. I turned, wondering what he was looking at, and saw Maggie coming our way.
My heart beat quickened. "Oh," I said. "I'll go." This was his chance. I didn't want to watch, so I made for an escape, but Dalton stopped me.
"No," he said. "I'll go. She wants to talk to you."
Dalton disappeared in a flash. I gulped anxiously; why did Maggie want to talk to me? Was she going to ask me to give back that Build-a-Bear she made for me for my birthday? Because I didn't want her to have that. It was special to me.
"Hi, Neil," Maggie said quietly when she reached me.
Her voice! I'd almost forgotten the sound of it.
"…Hi," I replied, my voice shaky. These were the first words we'd spoken to each other since the break-up. I was so nervous; I thought my stomach was going to drop out of my butt.
I looked at her, trying to figure out why she was talking to me, but I couldn't stare for long because her calculating gaze gave me the chills. I was ready to ask what she wanted when suddenly her arms were around me.
"What – "
Maggie was hugging me, and I didn't know what to do. The familiar scent of coconut lip gloss and flowery perfume filled my nostrils, making me want to sigh in delight. I refrained myself for the sake of my dignity.
Before I knew it, she pulled back. "I talked to Dalton," she said. She was biting her lower lip, something she always did when she had something to say but she didn't know how to say it. That hidden smile was intoxicating. She was happy about something; I could tell.
"You did?" I asked her. This only confused me further; if Dalton had spoken to her, why hadn't he asked her out?
"Yes," she admitted sheepishly. "He told me that he was planning on asking me out, but that he changed his mind."
I furrowed my eyebrows in perplexity. "Huh?"
He changed his mind?! …What?
"He said, and I quote, 'I asked Neil for permission, and he told me it was okay, but I could tell he was lying. He slept in until freaking noon on Sunday.'"
"I was tired," I said defensively.
"Neil, you're never tired. You woke me up at six on a Saturday once because you wanted to go for an early morning jog." I said nothing. She was right, of course. "Why did you tell Dalton you were okay with the idea? It seemed to be pretty clear that you weren't."
I blushed. So he had noticed that I was upset. He just hadn't said anything about it. Instead, he'd gone and told my ex-girlfriend that I was still pathetically in love with her. Bastard.
"I…" I answered. "I don't know. I guess I just I wanted him to be happy. I mean…just because I'm still not over you does not mean that he doesn't deserve a fair chance."
Maggie hugged me again. "You are the sweetest guy I know," she said into my chest.
I couldn't help it, the words just came out. "Then why'd you break up with me?"
She tensed. I instantly regretted asking such a thing. What was I thinking? Things were going so well.
"Um," she began tentatively. She removed her arms from around my body and looked down at the ground in shame. "You were too perfect."
I waited for her to continue.
Maggie sighed and looked up. "I don't deserve you. I thought for sure that you were going to break-up with me once you realized that. I just…I was selfish, Neil, and I'm so sorry. I didn't want to get my heart broken."
"So you broke mine instead?" I whispered.
"Yes," she nodded. "But I realize now that that was a huge mistake. Dalton told me about everything that happened between you two this weekend. I didn't know this was tearing you up so badly. I wish I could take it all back."
"How could you not know?" I asked incredulously. "We dated for almost two years, and yet you discarded me like I was last week's trash. You didn't even take the time to tell me why. And then you proceeded to ignore me. That hurt, you know."
"Seeing you hurt too much," she said. "I still love you, Neil."
I was silent. What was I supposed to say? I wanted to tell her that I still loved her, too, but she broke my heart. Was she really worthy of a second chance? Maybe she was right; maybe she didn't deserve me.
I looked at Maggie, whose eyes were glistening with forming tears, and my expression softened. So what if she'd broken my heart? There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love. I knew then what I had to do.
I took Maggie's face in my hands and kissed her. I kissed her forehead, her nose, her cheek. I kissed her soft, familiar lips, and they kissed me back. They were tender and pink and tasted like coconuts, and they were mine. All mine.