Light was just coming through the blinds when I woke up and judging by the light it was still pretty early and I figured there was no way the boys were up yet even if they had to be up in another hour or two.
Quietly I slipped down the hallway, the apartment was quiet as you would expect it to be at 6 AM. Tyler's door was shut but Nathan's once again was slightly ajar. Without really thinking I crept up to it and slipped inside. Under normal circumstances I never would've done such a thing particularly concerning my best friend, but the attraction was continuing to pull at me in a way I couldn't quite explain.
So I stood in his room just watching him, watching him sleep and concluded it was really the only time I ever saw him relax where his face wasn't in some form of stress. Smiling to myself crept back to the living room and took my iPhone from my purse then crept back into his room snapping a few pictures of his serene face, hoping the click of the camera wasn't too loud.
Then I left the room, and returned to my bed on the couch waiting for the boys to wake up.
Nathan appeared an hour and a half later. He looked disheveled and groggy still in pajama pants and a T-shirt.
I looked up from where I was working on my laptop.
"Good morning." I said pleasantly, and it was as if the conversation of the day before hadn't taken place.
Nathan stretched and my eyes momentarily flickered over his muscles, he wasn't athletic by any stretch of the imagination but he wasn't scrawny either, he looked like your average 26-year-old.
"Morning, you've had breakfast yet?"
I shook my head and shrugged.
"I don't know where anything in that kitchen is, so no."
Nathan pointed to the corner cupboard on the far side of the kitchen.
"Cereal and stuff is in there, milk is in the fridge." He began rummaging around in the refrigerator and returned a few minutes later with bacon and eggs which he proceeded to cook on the stovetop.
I dug around in the cupboard for a few minutes and found what I was looking for before sitting down to pour myself a bowl of cereal and the milk that went along with it. A few minutes later Nathan sat down across from me and for the next few minutes we ate in silence.
"You're okay with what I told you yesterday?" He asked, concern immediately filling his blue eyes.
"As okay as you can expect me to be," I replied, "I'm just a little shocked that's all."
I wanted to say how sad and disappointed I was but I wasn't quite sure how to word it, particularly to him without it sounding like a criticism, which was the last thing I wanted to do.
We lapsed into silence again before I continued speaking.
"When did you know?" I asked the question coming out in an undertone and right then I wasn't quite sure what else to ask.
"I don't know, I suppose it was always there…" He gave a wry smile, "and you wonder why I never had a girlfriend."
"No," I countered, "I knew you didn't have a girlfriend because you're so busy you didn't have any time." And I wanted you to be with me. I added silently, but of course I didn't say that out loud.
We smiled at each other across the table, but I could still feel the tension, a tension I didn't want to be there.
"At least you're honest with yourself." I added absently when I didn't know what else to say. I couldn't formulate my next sentence and what came out was the truth without sounding like I was justifying any actions Nathan may take in the future. "That's my viewpoint on the gay lesbian thing… God loves everybody and that's that, I'm not justifying that it's "okay" but you can't change how you are."
Nathan gave me that soft smile, the look I always imagined he would give me if he ever told me he loved me, really told me he loved me.
"No, I can't. It's like you being attracted to guys."
Or me being attracted to you. I thought.
"You can't help it."
We stared at each other again for another beat before my next sentence was out of my mouth before I could stop it.
"Nathan," I stared at the tabletop as I spoke, I couldn't meet his eyes not yet, "do you think I'm pretty?"
I saw his eyes widen and I almost laughed, his expression was almost comical.
He chuckled uncomfortably.
"Well… Way to put me on the spot."
"Sorry." I mumbled sheepishly unsure of what else to say.
He was quiet for a moment before he responded, his answer slow and careful as if he were giving it a great deal of thought.
"Well you're not ugly."
I had to smile at that, that was very much a Nathan answer anything out of his comfort zone he didn't answer directly.
"Of course not," I replied, "no."
"I mean, I didn't mean-" Nathan started again and I could tell he had no idea how to respond and I didn't really blame him but I couldn't figure out how to pin down if he found me attractive or not.
"I know, I knew what you meant." I replied, automatically sliding back into my comfortable role as the best friend instantly deducing his mood without ruffling any more feathers. We were staring at each other again as if trying to figure out how to get our equilibrium back that had been upended by Nathan's revelation. I found myself leaning forward, almost unconsciously and then everything else ceased to exist except me and Nathan… Nathan and me.
"Oh good, you're up."
My eyes sprang open and I pulled away from Nathan as quickly as I could and whirled around to see Tyler in the doorway up the kitchen praying he hadn't seen us and when I was about to do. I couldn't even processed Nathan's reaction, the gesture had been instinctual leaning on that pull I had been feeling around Nathan for months.
The spell was broken after that and I watched almost dreamlike as Tyler moved around the kitchen preparing his breakfast seemingly oblivious to what was going on between Nathan and me. Certainly he knew how I felt like I had been hit by a sledgehammer, but the impact that was having on our friendship at the moment he had no idea and that wasn't even something I could explain to Nathan.
I watched in a daze as Nathan and Tyler left for work where they were doing their research at UNC. The apartment was eerily quiet after that to the point of making me almost uncomfortable. Usually I relished in the quiet because it was a good environment for my writing, but today I couldn't even focus on that my conversation with Nathan kept running around in my head like an endless broken record to which I couldn't find the off button.