August 15, 1994
Making Up for the Lost Summer
When I got back two days ago, I was still a little disoriented and a lot confused but mostly happy. That summer music camp thing in Vienna was really fun, and it really gave me the opportunity to widen my music circle and improve on my technique. I really liked it there. I also got to spend some time with Alex, and it was a nice change from hanging out with Nathan all the time. We talked about music and piano and all the things we wanted to do with it. I really liked exchanging opinions with him, and he helped me with my piano a lot.
Since Nathan was the one who drove to the airport to get me, I had to say goodbye to Alex rather hastily. I never really got why Nathan didn't like him. He was a nice guy, and as far as I knew, he never did anything to piss Nathan off so I didn't think there was any valid reason for my best friend to not like Alex. That was one of the main reasons why I was very confused when I arrived. Add to that, the fact that I had been sporting a sort of come-and-go headache ever since I left for Vienna. So it wouldn't really be an exaggeration if I said that everything was kind of making my head spin.
One of the main reasons for my disorientation though was the girl hanging off of Nathan's arm when I saw him at the airport. At first he only introduced her as his friend Ellen, but when I tried to get into the passenger seat of Nathan's car, she only shot me a look that said "back off" before she slid in there, leaving me to grumble in the backseat because fuck it, Nathan was dating the bitch.
I knew it wasn't fair to Ellen at all. I didn't actually know her. I had no idea what she was like. She might have been a really nice girl, but there was just this irrational feeling within me that would probably always hate Nathan's girlfriends. That thought led to another, and by the end of our short journey toward my house, I was already blaming Nathan in my head for ruining my homecoming.
I shot him a glare before pushing the door open and stepping out. He rushed out to help me gather my suitcase from the trunk and, in the process, shot me an apologetic look. He knew he was screwing up, which was good. I just didn't know why he was still doing what he was doing if he knew he wasn't supposed to.
"Amy—" he began, but I cut him off immediately.
"I'm tired and I have a headache, dude. Don't start with me." I said wearily. For a moment he just looked at me with this awful, pleading look on his face, like he was begging. He looked like a lost little puppy, and that did me in. "What the hell do you want this time?" I said resignedly, hauling my last suitcase from the trunk and it slamming it shut.
He seemed to hesitate for a moment before saying, "A favor."
Turned out, he was going to break up with Ellen. So after I got my bags settled in the house, changed into some decent clothes that didn't look slept on and left a note for my mom who would be back soon, probably, the phone rang and sure enough, it was Nathan, telling me that it was done.
Fucker didn't even let me rest for a bit. Had to go and break someone's heart already and let me pick up the fucking pieces. I had never come close to wanting to kill Nathan than at that moment. I supposed it would be much easier for me to tell him to just screw himself and fall into bed and probably not wake up for the next couple of years, but, well apart from the fact that I was majorly in love with him, he was also my best friend.
And that meant that I had to look out for him.
So Nathan dropped me off at Ellen's house and I invited her out casually for drinks, under the pretense of wanting to know more about her. It was clear at first that she didn't want to go out. Her eyes were red, and it was obvious that she had been crying. But when I told her that she could tell me all about "it", she took me up on my offer almost immediately.
Girl talk. Girls loved that shit.
When she told me the story over drinks, I was surprised it even lasted a month. She was crying and gulping down as much tea as she could all throughout her story while I patiently listened. Well, not so patiently. I was kind of dozing off. I was really tired and the light throbbing in my head was getting more and more pronounced. I gulped down some tea as well, because, hey, chamomile helps in headaches, I heard.
Truth be told, before I left for Prague, I was afraid of this. Hell, the moment Carlie broke up with Nathan, I was afraid of this. I was afraid that he'd go back to that—that Nathan. Well, it turned out I didn't have to worry that he would sulk and brood for a long time. When he was given the chance to get back into the game, he took it without hesitation. The bastard.
"So how was Prague?" Nathan asked me the moment I got back home. That was actually surprising. I walked Ellen home first because she was still crying a little and was rambling on about how "guys sucked". When I checked the living room clock, I was surprised to see that it was already two o'clock in the morning. What was Nathan still doing in my living room? Where was my mom? But shrugged it off and rubbed my bleary eyes, too fucking tired for anything else.
"Ancient," I said tiredly, still giving him a small smile. It was kind of an inside joke for us because he often remarked on how "ancient" the structures in all the European countries we had visited were.
"And how was Ellen?" He added rather sheepishly.
I sat down beside him on the couch and leaned against it, uttering a small groan of satisfaction. I wanted nothing more than to just get up to my room and flop down on my bed and sleep at that very moment. "Completely heartbroken but otherwise fine," I muttered, closing my eyes. "You jerk." I added for good measure.
"I'm sorry," I heard him say faintly, but I thought I heard some sincerity there as well. I was too exhausted to actually care. I didn't even want to hear his apologies. I wanted to tell him to save it all for tomorrow but all that came out was a jaw-cracking yawn. "Thanks Amy," I heard him say slowly, or my brain was probably just working really slowly.
Then, I felt arms around me. Nathan pulled me close to him so I ended up leaning against him. If I were a little sober and not completely exhausted, I would've found this embarrassing 'cause we were so close and I smelled of all the grit and grime of travel. I hadn't had the time to wash up yet. However, before I could actually think about it fully, everything went black.
I felt it even before I opened my eyes, and I stifled the groan that was threatening to come out of my mouth. I turned over my soft, fluffy bed (how did I get up here?) and shielded my eyes from the sunlight. The dull pounding in my head was getting stronger and stronger. It was an effort to even hold in my cry of pain. I must have been making some noise though, however slight, because I heard footsteps coming nearer and then a gentle hand on the small of my back.
"Mom," I groaned, not even masking the pain I felt. "Tylenol, mom." I mumbled.
But it wasn't my mother's voice I heard answering me. "What's wrong, Amy?" Nathan asked, obviously worried. The bed dipped a little and I felt him move closer to me. "Headache?" He said timidly.
I tried to nod my head, but discovered that it hurt too much so I just groaned out a "no".
He disappeared for a couple of minutes but when he came back, he had a glass of water for me and Tylenol. At that moment, I was a little bit inclined to think of him as my savior. It was a little disconcerting.
After drinking my the medicine and tucking me back in, he said, "Did you get checked out after that, well…" he trailed off, unsure of what to say.
"What?" I asked, confused.
"That time when I found you in the girls' bathroom that we're not talking about?" He said, rolling his eyes.
I began to shake my head, but stopped immediately. "No. I'm fine, dude, 's just a headache. It'll pass. I just need some sleep. Rest up, or something. It's your fault for making me deal with Ellen, you know." I said lightheartedly.
There was silence for a moment, then he said, all seriousness and everything, "I know. I'm sorry, Amy. I really am."
"I was kidding," I said quietly. It would have been nice if I could've rolled my eyes, but he would just have to wait for when I was feeling better for that.
I felt something brush my forehead lightly then, and it was a little bit too late when I realized that it was his lips. I willed myself not to fucking blush at that gesture, because that—that was a friendly kiss. Purely platonic. Nothing more, nothing less. Not like that other-thing-that-we-were-absolutely-not-talking-about. That thing that happened before I left for Prague.
He didn't say anything for a long time, then, "Aunt Gracie's downstairs. She got back late last night, kinda worried about you. Told her you were just tired." He explained.
So mom was back. She probably fell asleep on the couch. We were both exhausted, apparently. But the bigger surprise here was that— "You stayed the night?" I asked, rather astonished.
He smiled like he was so proud of himself. "Yep. Someone had to take care of you and your mom. She didn't seem to hate the idea so I just had to overstay my welcome." He joked.
"Bastard," I mumbled and he just laughed.
"When you're feeling better, maybe we could do something for the remainder of summer? Aunt Gracie asked if we could volunteer at the hospital for a bit, you know, just generally keeping the peace. What do you think?" He asked rather eagerly. Then I remembered that he used to call summer Nathan-Amy time.
I smiled. "Sure Nathan. Sounds like fun," was what I remembered was the last thing I said before I drifted back to sleep again.