"You did what?!" Shock creased Chase's face as Xavier explained what had happened so vividly. Xavier sat there and shrugged. He didn't frown nor chastise his brother for his actions. He was on a cloud, floating about with no hope of falling back to earth.
"Do you need me to say it slower? Sorry, I didn't realize, I was talking so fast." And that wasn't an insult. He was plainly suggesting that he was talking too fast. His voice was happier and gentler. As if lip-locking with Rainey Bowman had given him the rights to sainthood. He sighed deeply and ran a hand through his face. How could she kiss him with such fervor when she had Parker? Easy. She didn't want Parker the way she wanted him. Parker was never meant to handle such an enigmatic woman.
A smile formed on his face and he turned to his brother. Chase was even more shocked than before, if that was even possible. He was in awe of the grin, his brother easily gave him. It had been quite a while since there was a real smile on his face.
"No, I got it, man. It's just a bit odd. Are you sure she wasn't drugged?" To add to Chase's surprise, his brother didn't glare at him or throw back a sarcastic comment. Instead, he laughed. A deep, throaty laugh that came from within him. It wasn't constrained by his anger or his lack of interest. He was breaking from his cocoon. The cocoon that strangled him from being human again. From moving on. If he had known just one encounter with Rainey would uplift his soul, he would have done it sooner. Then again, this didn't have to happen in the first place. It was her who made him feel life to its fullest. But he knew better than to act on this new detail. He was the guy that could show her what true passion was about.
He could make her feel the highest high and let adrenaline pump through her veins like crazy. He could make her even forget her name and just run away as if it were the easiest thing to do. Yet, he couldn't make her happy. That was Parker's job. He was the one who could make her laugh, smile, be calm. And he didn't have it in him to take her away. As much as he despised his nemesis, Parker didn't deserve the way Xavier was blatantly ruining his relationship.
"Not that I know of. Maybe she was coming down with something?" His tone was teasing. Chase couldn't believe any minute of this and swore that he must've been the one who was drugged. He stared at his brother and examined all the difference. His face wasn't tensed or set in his everlasting frown. His eyes were bright, bluer than the sky on a summer day. His body language screamed composed and nonchalant.
Changes were happening and Chase felt a bit queasy at the thought of it reaching the highest high then crashing deep into the depths of the earth, never to come back to how it was. What were the chances that the old Xavier, the one that made its debut appearance suddenly, would go back to its shell? And if he had to go back to his shell, would he ever escape again? Xavier noticed the look on his brother's face and patted him on the back.
"It's cool, bro. I've accepted what's going on. She's with him. I would be even more of an asshole than I've been for the last couple years if I swooped in and just pulled her away." Xavier's voice was knowing and sympathetic. He didn't want Chase to worry about him. He had all the bases covered.
"Xavier, you can't be too sure of that. You kissed her, man. Do you realize what that could be going through her head right now? Especially knowing Rainey, she overthinks." Xavier contemplated that and shrugged once again.
"Well, it's all up to her. I couldn't help myself Chase. I've tried to bottle up everything that concerns her, but somehow, it burst onto the surface. I needed to show her how I felt, and the quickest way I could - was by kissing her." He knew he sounded like a whiny kid who wanted the moon and stars. But Rainey was more than that. She had been his everything. Their conversation started from the beginning, when Xavier had managed to throw a side hook at Parker's face. Chase listened with an open heart, weighing all the pros and cons while possibly finding out what the heck was going on.
"So ... he basically just let you hit him. And then, he walked out of your room like your best buds? What the hell?" Chase decided it was time to give up. His brother's life was officially a case of too much to handle. "Basically." His answer was cryptic and immediately, Chase picked up the lie.
"That's not how the two of you roll. Something was said that left an impression on you enough that you kissed Rainey. He said something that made you pull out your feelings and made you act on impulse today. Impulse actions only happen to you when someone digs a hole in your head and leaves an inkling of a thought." Damn. Chase was spot on. And everyone thought he was the lesser of the two of them. No, Chase was definitely a mind reader, a prodigy. He knew the emotions on his face gave him away and soon, he told his brother the end of their raw conversation.
The air between the two teenage boys was thick and tension-ridden. They were reaching territory that wasn't meant to be touched on yet. Xavier didn't want to tell Parker the truth. That would give him full reign of the thing that made him the most vulnerable. Yet this time, he knew better. This was honesty hour, and he was going to make it known why he was scared to jump back to her. His head was buried in his hands while Parker stood in front of the door like a statue.
"By the time school ends, I won't be around anymore. I'm going to find who I am. Not who the town wants me to be. If I think about Rainey now out of all the times that I could have, it's end game. I won't be able to stop thinking about her. I could make myself known to her, but in the end, we'll have to go back to how we are now. Enemies. We won't ever be able to think about becoming anything more than enemies. I left her once. Leaving her another time around would kill me." His head pounded and his heart ached.
… That was his deep secret. He was leaving the town that believed him to stick around until the earth decayed. It suffocated him to be around such people that had high expectations of him. He wanted to be something more than a legacy. He wanted to be a kid, not a man yet. Parker stood in his same spot but twitched visibly. He was equally shocked. Everyone apparently knew what Xavier was going to do after high school. None of what he heard was anything near what came from the guy himself. He chuckled inwardly at how the small town worked. They tore apart friendships and a person to shreds. Xavier held the world of the town's academic legacy on his shoulders. And not once until that second did it seem that he complained out loud. But why didn't he think about the fact that he was losing a part of himself?
Rainey was every bit of Xavier as he was her. They were connected in ways that no one would even put words to. Now, he was planning to leave the girl who was destined for him behind.
"Why not fight to make it work?" Parker knew the answer. It was simple. Xavier scoffed and shook his head.
"Are you trying to hand her off to me or something? I don't understand if you're trying to help me out or find a way to destroy me." Xavier looked out the window toward the Bowman's house. She was probably tucked into her bed by now, wishing that the next day didn't have a huge workload or trivial things that only she would worry about. Parker was silent. He didn't even know what he was doing.
"I don't get it either, Xavier. I've been gone long enough to know only Rainey's side of the story. I need closure about you. With dating her, I just want to make her happy." If only he hadn't mentioned the dating part. Xavier could have lived his whole life without another thought that she was romantically involved with another guy. He rubbed a hand across his face again and turned to face the back of Parker.
"Well stop it. This case is long overdue. Rainey Bowman and I are meant to play keep away from each other for the rest of our lives. Just leave it alone, Parker. And make sure to not send me an invitation to your wedding." He pulled out his icy tone once again, pushing all his walls back up and stronger around his heart.
Parker shook his head and turned back to him also. His eyes were ablaze and hands clenched into fists. "Do you realize what you're doing? You're suppressing love, Xavier. You're stopping someone from being around you just so you don't get hurt again. Do you realize how stupid you sound? Who cares if it won't turn into anything? If you really did love her, as a friend or as a love interest, then you would try to make this better. I might always be second place when it comes to Rainey, but for now, I'm making the most of it. And that's all that matters to me. Now find a way to get her back. I won't ever hand her over to you without a fight, but I do welcome a challenge." His chest was heaving, his face red.
Xavier's eyes widened at the confession. Shit. The words Gingy were saying were really hitting home. With that, he snorted and looked up at Parker. "You did good, Gingy. Now run along home and fix that face of yours." Parker cracked a grin and shook his head. "I was kinda thinking that the least you could do is fix it for me. Now that I think about it, you'd probably put acid on me." With a wave, he exited Xavier's room and walked to the staircase. He stopped midway and looked back at Xavier.
"You know I'm right! Stop cowering away, man. Grab your balls-existent or not - and get it together!" Yup.
Another shiner would have done Gingy some good.