|« Last Girls, Chapter Twenty-one||Last Girls, Chapter Nineteen »|
“I get the feeling that could have gone better,” Kelly said.
“Yeah,” Alan admitted. “I think most of us always had an inkling, or at least a suspicion. But he's never really understood it, and even these last couple of weeks, when he couldn't hide it from himself anymore, he's not to a place he can accept it, let alone accept the idea that anyone else could.”
“Not really what I meant. I never thought I'd see your cock in anyone else's mouth, let alone one of our male friends.”
“I'm sorry for that, too,” he said.
“Don't. Be sorry for the cheating, and that it was with someone I've known most of my life. But those photos? We're a hundred miles from home. Do you think he really stalked us all this way? Do you think that anything that's happened since we woke up was normal and natural? I”m not giving you any kind of a pass- but there's something fucked up happening here, and I'm not going to feed into it by blaming you for it.
“And it sucks. Because I'd like to be able to be there for Denny right now. But I'd also like to kick his ass. Because I know you. You didn't even initiate with me, because you were afraid of the way I'd look at you if I rejected you. He made the move. I'd know better how to react to the whole thing if he had a weave I could tear out.
“But I'd like to be there for you, too. I don't know how well I could be, right now. I think if we hadn't spent most of our night fighting off monsters I'd probably slap the living shit out of you. But this drama feels like something I can handle, something normal enough that I don't have to worry about figuring out firing a gun on the fly or trying to figure out how to treat a gunshot wound. But you just got pretty forcefully outed in front of your closest friends.”
“I'm not sure I did,” Alan said. “God,” he said, his voice breaking, “I'm so fucking weak. I froze. He kissed me, and touched me, and I froze. Like, I knew what was happening, and what to say to stop it if I wanted. And I told myself I would, that the moment I needed to actively participate, then I'd shut it down, but that moment never came, and before I even realized it was happening he was going down on me.
“And I thought of every moment of our friendship; I met him in Kindergarten, and we've been best friends ever since. And I could count the times I've disappointed him on one hand; and rejecting him, then... it would have devastated him. And I told myself... it felt okay. And guys give each other bro-jobs nowadays. It only had to be a thing if we made it one.
“Then you found out. And I went to his place to commiserate... and he comforted me.”
“It's okay,” Kelly said. “You know your friends, and me, we love the both of you whatever you or whoever you love, asterisk, I may not be able to be personally okay with it after this momentary calm inside what feels like right now is the shitstorm of a lifetime.”
“That's... I think the other thing that's made me feel trapped. Denny is needy, but he was also terrified about anyone finding out. Even the little judgment that would come from a rejection seemed like more than he would be able to bear. But I'm not sure I'm like that- even a little. It felt good, but I don't think I'm actually attracted to Denny.”
Kelly glanced behind her, and Alan gave her a strange look. “Oh, it's just usually when someone says something like that, you turn around and the person they said it about is there, and you can watch their heart break, almost in slow motion.”
“Please don't tell him.”
“I wouldn't for all the tea in China. But you are going to have to make a decision. If you're not into Denny, you can't just fake it. He's your best friend, and eventually he's going to demand more from your relationship than you can give. And if you drag that out long enough, not only will you kill any budding romance, but you'll lose your best friend, too.”
“I don't know what I want to do.”
“Are you sure? Because Denny loves you. And he'd love you even if you didn't want to keep mashing squishy parts together.”
“Not fishing for details.”
“But if you have any reservations, you have to be honest with him, now. Because otherwise it'll be worse than if you told him in the cruelest way possible.” Kelly turned to go.
“Wait,” he said, and when she turned around he wrapped his arms around her and squeezed. “I wanted to thank you. For being this cool about everything. I deserved... actually, I deserved this night. I don't think the rest of you have done anything anywhere near so monumentally crappy to each other, but... thank you for being kind to me, even though I know I haven't deserved it.”
She smiled. “I do reserve the right to treat you like the jackass you've been once we're not being hunted, though.”
“That's only fair.”
“You coming back?” she asked.
“I think... I think I want to stand by the shore a little longer. Usually, I'm so wrapped up in feeling insignificant, that I lose parts of myself- trade them away, just to feel relevant. I think more than anything, that's what happened with Denny. Maybe you're right. I don't feel like I know who I am, when I'm not bending myself to fit what I think will make other people happy. But I think even that's answer, isn't it? If I can't know what I want or what I need, maybe for now I just need to be alone. But for right now... it's good to feel small. To feel like there's so much more out there than just me- even if it is just a man-made lake.”