It seemed that Aaron could not be trusted to have even one week of contentment. He shouldn't really be surprised, all things considered: his main hobby sometimes seemed to be inadvertently ruining his own happiness. Ever since he was little, he'd had a tendency to screw things up just so things were interesting again. It was if he was afraid of boredom, and in order to avoid it, he wrecked things.
He'd come to terms with this a long time ago, but every now and again, he remembered what a trainwreck he was, and it got him down.
He couldn't even go to Coby for a quick mood lift anymore.
He was getting very tired of his constant moping, and so were the people around him. One of his professors even pulled him aside to inquire about the sudden maudlin that had infected his writing style. When he refused to give her more than a vague explanation, she referred him to one of the campus counselors. Aaron never bothered visiting the guy. He'd never really believed in shrinks, and anyway, if he couldn't fix himself, nobody could. There just wasn't any point to it.
It did occur to him that he was only making things worse by sitting around and feeling sorry for himself. It also occurred to him that he didn't really care.
He started constantly speeding again, always at the same time, on the same highway, so Lucas and Quinn were always the ones that caught him. Quinn was unsympathetic to his plight, and Lucas was very obviously getting tired of covering for him, but Aaron kept on speeding, if only for the attention. He was fully aware of how completely pathetic this was, but he was to the point where he just couldn't quite muster up the energy to care.
As he kept sulking, the weather started getting warmer, spring finally catching up. May came and went, and with it, Aaron's birthday. It had been a long time since Aaron truly cared about his birthday, but he usually at least treated himself to dinner or something. This year, he just noted that he was only one year away from being able to buy booze for himself, and went on with his day. Despite his insistence that he didn't want to do anything, Lucas bought him a stupid birthday card and another bottle of pinot grigio, which was still sitting, untouched, in Aaron's fridge. He'd have to do something about it soon, or his parents would notice it next time they visited and give him one hell of a lecture. For Italians, they were surprisingly unforgiving when it came to him drinking wine.
He had to cheer up eventually. It was inevitable. Even the most terrible of things couldn't keep him down for longer than a few months, and slowly, this proved true. By the very beginning of June, he was smiling and laughing again, getting ready to move on with his life.
Things were looking up, but the problems weren't gone. They'd just gone underground, gearing up for their grand return.
The only class Aaron had ever dropped was that ill considered cooking class back in March. Other than that, he was too stubborn to give up, even if he wasn't really enjoying something. This was what had happened with an HTML class he'd picked up after Jenna dumped him.
Aaron wasn't really a computer guy. He could handle a simple PC, as long as he didn't have to do anything fancy with it. He was the master of word processing software, had a good understanding of Powerpoint and Excel, and could do some basic things in Photoshop. He often lurked around the internet, researching things or starting arguments in forums, but that was about all he did on computers. He didn't have a clue about much else about them, so it was natural to try to learn more. For this reason, he took this dreadful HTML course.
Aaron did not care about websites. He never planned to have one of his own, so he had no need to know how to make them pretty and effective. In retrospect, this class was simply a waste of time and money, and a blight to his GPA, but he refused to give up on it just on principle.
This class was boring, difficult, and often nonsensical. Aaron had a hard time focusing on it, which led to him missing most of the important information he was trying to learn, thus, only barely earning a passing grade on every single exam. He was lucky if he managed to even finish most of his assignments, and blessed if he got a good grade on any of them. He wasn't even allowed to use his own, familiar laptop in class, instead kept confined to one of the school's old, slow desktops that he had quickly learned to despise.
As far as he was concerned, this class was a clusterfuck, but he kept at it anyway. That probably didn't speak well for his intelligence.
Today, it was his last class, and the day had been exhausting enough that he'd given himself a free pass for screwing off. For this reason, as he waited for class to begin, he blocked out the world with his headphones, drowning everything out with the lyrical genius of Freddie Mercury.
He never gave his iPod enough attention, or enough credit. He really did love the little thing, even though it was temperamental and outdated. It held all of his favorite music, and the maximum volume really was quite impressive. It was the perfect little distraction, a silver lining on an otherwise terrible day. He shut his eyes and leaned back, letting the music engulf him.
His favorite band, one of his favorite possessions, and one of his favorite things to do. It was marvelous, but, much to his disdain, some incredibly rude person decided he did not deserve it.
Someone tapped urgently on his shoulder, and Aaron let his eyes slide open, glaring lazily at the intruder.
A man with dark, shoulder length hair and a wide, bright grin sat next to him. The man was saying something, or at least trying to, and for some ungodly reason, this was enough for Aaron to pause his music and pull out an earphone.
"Oh, sorry, you couldn't hear me, could you?" The man cocked his head, eyes tracking Aaron's abandoned earphone as it swayed from his fingers. "I just wanted to know if that was Queen you were listening to. I could've sworn it sounded like 'Killer Queen'." He laughed. "Kind of pathetic to recognize it so quick, I guess, but they are my favorite band."
All of Aaron's anger was instantly forgotten. He never passed up the chance to babble about his favorite music, or any of his favorite things, really. If he got to talk incessantly about something he liked, it was a good day, especially if someone actually wanted to listen to him.
"Yeah, exactly. 'Killer Queen'." Aaron smiled, and pulled out the other earphone, powering off the iPod. "That's pretty impressive."
Even after three months of this class, Aaron had never seen this guy before. This was probably because Aaron's brain just sort of shut off when he was in here, and he wouldn't have noticed this guy if he'd punched him in the face. If the rest of the people in the class were as quality as this guy, he'd have to start paying more attention.
The guy laughed, looking embarrassed, but kept smiling, an earnest little curve of his lips that had Aaron captivated. "Uh, thanks. My mother sort of raised me on classic rock. Been listening to it since I was in utero, so I'd be more surprised if I didn't recognize it. Queen's always been my favorite."
"Mine too. What's your favorite song?"
The man frowned for a split second, brow furrowing as he thought. "It's gotta be 'One Vision'. I just love the message behind it, and how happy the music is. It's just fun to listen to."
Aaron nodded. "That's a good one. My favorite is 'Don't Stop Me Now'. I know it's sort of overrated, but I don't care. It can always motivate me, no matter what. It's incredible."
"I don't think there's really such a thing as overrated music, especially not when it's Queen," the guy reasoned.
"Huh. Most people think I'm not a true fan when I tell them my favorite song's one of their most popular ones."
"Well, it's got to be one of the most popular ones for a reason. Why would people like it so much if it wasn't a good representation of the band?"
"That is an excellent point," Aaron said after a pause. "I like that. It's a good way to think of it."
"Thanks." The guy looked away awkwardly before glancing back at Aaron. Apparently heartened by Aaron's calm expression, he held out his hand. "I'm Miles."
Aaron took it eagerly, giving it a firm shake. "Aaron. Nice to meet you."
"You too." Miles grinned again, and his cheer was infectious.
As it turned out, Miles was a computer science major. This was his first year of college, and he was enjoying it, even though it had proved easy for him so far. Aaron knew how that felt. He'd been in advanced English classes even as a kindergartener. Writing was just what he did, and since he had an English professor for a mother, by the time he entered college, he already knew most everything he could be taught on the subject, or, at least, that was what he convinced himself. His first couple years of college had bordered on boring, saved only by the few math and science classes he'd taken.
It was much the same for Miles. He'd been tinkering with computers since he figured out how to take things apart. He'd built his own computer in high school, just for the fun of it, and had even written a few programs, just to see if he could do it. Computers were his first love, and he wanted to know everything about them.
This, Aaron couldn't really understand. Having never been a tech guy, it didn't make much sense to him, but when he equated it to his love of writing, it clicked. When you're born to do something, you knew it. It's the one constant in your life, through the thick and thin, this one thing was there for you, giving you an outlet for your frustrations or a way to celebrate. You sought to learn everything you could about it, and when the things other people told you ceased to cut it, you learned for yourself, through experimentation and risks. This was the one thing you never thought of giving up on, and the one thing you could imagine doing until you died. You understood that you wouldn't love every second of it, but you knew you'd be forever thankful for it, and that was enough.
The way he loved writing, Miles loved computers, and Aaron could respect that.
They hit it off almost immediately, wasting most of the class whispering to each other. Aaron realized with a jolt that he'd just missed even more information for the class he was already failing, but then Miles offered to tutor him, and he found that he'd never been happier for not paying attention in his life.
It never occurred to him that this could head in exactly the direction he was trying to avoid, but even if it had, it wouldn't have made a difference. Miles intrigued him, and if befriending him meant complicating himself further, so be it.
"You haven't even realized what's happening, have you?" Lucas asked dryly.
Aaron scrunched up his eyebrows. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"You've been going on and on about this guy for half an hour," Lucas pointed out. "You never even did that when you started dating Jenna. You said 'hey, I'm dating someone again, and she's way hotter than your girlfriend', and then you laughed at me like the smug little bastard you are. After that, you rarely even mentioned her in passing, except to complain about her."
Aaron tossed his hair, looking down his nose at Lucas. "Your point?"
"You've known this guy for what, a week? And you're already in this deep. You're totally fucked."
Aaron frowned. "What exactly are you getting at?"
Lucas glared at him. "Oh, come on, I know you aren't this stupid. You've got the biggest crush ever on this 'Miles' guy. You know if I can see it, it must be pretty damn obvious!"
Aaron scoffed. "That's ridiculous. It takes me way longer than a week to start crushing on someone, and if I was getting a crush, it wouldn't be on Miles. There's no way I could date a comp sci major. Too complicated for a simpleton like me. This is a man crush, at most."
"Yeah, right. I think you might've swooned when you told me that Queen was his favorite band. Why did I need to know that, anyway?"
"Because it's important! That is the main indication of a truly awesome person."
Lucas shook his head. "You're insane."
"That statement loses all its impact when almost everyone says it to me. Seriously. Every other person. Miles hasn't told me I'm insane."
"He hasn't known you long enough. Give him time," Lucas promised. "I actually believed you were on the level when I met you. I learned pretty quick that I was wrong."
"You are a liar!" Aaron declared. "First you try to tell me I'm in love with Miles, now you're telling me I'm crazy. What's it gonna be next?"
"I am going to have so much fun watching you lose it." Lucas smirked. "Maybe I won't even try to help. I'll just sit back and watch as you eventually lose more and more of your mind. Perhaps I'll even record it!"
"You're a dick, you know that?" Aaron growled. "Why am I friends with you, again?"
"Because I'm the only expert in your specific brand of crazy. No one else has ever handled such an advanced case. You are lucky to have me around!"
"Bullshit," Aaron sneered. "The only reason you can keep up with me is because you're just as messed up as I am."
Lucas's grin finally lost his malice. "Pretty much. I just hide it better than you do."