"You can't hide in here forever, you know?" Dylan tells me, gesturing around his ice cream store. "Mostly because this store is closing down soon."
"Let me wallow in peace, dude," I complain, not in the mood for lectures.
"You haven't ordered anything," he points out knowingly. "I'm losing everything. Let me wallow in peace."
We're more alike than I care to admit to.
"I'll take the cheapest thing you have," I answer casually.
Dylan nods before walking off to Simo. He soon comes back with a chocolate ice cream. "On the house," he tells me, placing the ice cream cup down before me.
I grin in surprise. "Thanks, bud."
He nods and sits down before me. "Who are you hiding from anyway?"
"Life." I sigh. "Also, Troy. He keeps begging me to watch him participate in the figure skating competition. There are some things a guy never wants to see in his lifetime; Troy in a tight-fitted tutu is definitely one of them."
Dylan chuckles. "Remind me why he was even let into this world to begin with?"
I shrug. "I dunno man. He serves no purpose."
"Kind of like you then."
I shake my head and stare out at the window, refusing to look at him. "You following me now, Oliver?"
"I'm allowed to be here," he states, not answering the question.
Dylan rolls his eyes at him before returning to the front counter where Simo is standing, clearly not wanting to be in this doofus' presence – can't blame him.
Oliver doesn't hesitate to take Dylan's seat. "When you gonna let this hatred of yours go, Ben? If you were in my position, you would have done the exact same thing."
I scoff in disbelief. "Are you retarded? Don't compare me to you. I would have never have done that to you." I shake my head in disgust. "You know what, I really question why haven't you turned into a bat yet."
He smirks condescendingly, once again showing no signs of remorse. "I didn't think it was possible but you've gotten lamer, Ben. You've lost all your street cred."
I grit my teeth angrily. "You want to take this outside?"
Oliver immediately stands up. "Let's go, man."
He's never valued friendship the way I do.
"Then get outside. I'll meet you there," I lie.
He raises a skeptical eyebrow at me as he heads for the exit of the store.
"I'm serious. I'm coming," I assure him with a wave of my hand, still seated.
He pauses for a second before nodding and leaving like the idiot he is.
You'd think he'd know me by now...but he never really bothered.
I stand up and quickly turn around before clicking my fingers at Dylan. He catches on, giving his approval, and tosses me the keys to his store. I catch them with one hand, not hesitating to lock the door, thereby locking Oliver out.
"Enjoy the cold, dumbass! You should do well out there!" I shout out from behind the glass doors.
"Hey!" Oliver shouts back at me, angrily banging on the door. "Get out here! Or let me back in! It's freezing!"
It's my turn to smirk. "Nah, I don't want you to make my body your next home. If it gets too cold for you, just shed your human form and find another living vessel to take over and live in." I wave 'goodbye' to the moron I once believed was my friend.
Dylan approaches the glass door and holds up a 'closed' sign to him, siding with me.
For once, I feel like I have the upper hand. It's about time I give my old pal a taste of his own medicine.
Simo claps his hands and lets out a squeal of joy at seeing Oliver out of the store and in the icy weather where he belongs. "Simo so happy! Oliver bully Simo. He call Simo 'stupid' and make Simo cry."
I pat Simo, a real friend, on the back and send him a casual grin. "You don't gotta deal with him today."
Simo returns my grin. He then sticks a tongue out at Oliver before dancing in front of him, boasting about being inside where it's warm and cozy.
For the first time this week, I laugh. But, unfortunately, I realize what Simo doesn't seem to realize, that being that tomorrow is another day.
"I gotta say, Benjy," AJ smiles up at me as if truly happy, "I'm really surprised that you finally plucked up the courage and called me for that date you've been going on and on about."
"I got home and you were standing on my doorstep," I remind her of the facts. I could kill Bell for giving her my address.
"Still classifies as a date. I mean, I'm still here. You didn't turn me away," she makes an attempt to defend herself.
"I did but you tried to claw out my flesh." I frown, staring down at the scratches on my arm.
"Let's just go on our date and leave the past in the past," she suggests in spite of the 'past' being five minutes ago.
I give her a flat look. "What did I say?"
She giggles, the sound making my heart pump a little faster. "That this is just a friendly get together, some garbage like that."
I sigh and stare down into her blue eyes. "Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?"
She falls silent, a blush creeping up onto her cheeks.
"I'm being serious, do you?" I repeat. "You can literally have any guy you want."
"I only want you," she mumbles softly, shyly breaking eye contact.
"Why?!" I raise my voice, confused.
"Why are you so insecure about relationships?" She asks, in turn. "What happened in your last relationship? Why are you so scared, bitter, and distrusting of most people?" She fishes for answers, having noticed my weaknesses.
"I got hurt," I say quietly.
"What?" She asks, having genuinely not heard.
"I got hurt, okay." I lift a hand to my pounding head. "I got hurt and I don't want to feel that pain again. I don't want to feel that worthlessness again."
I flinch under her touch when she lifts her hand to my cheek. "You're not worthless, Ben. You never were. You were just made to believe you were. Don't let her win. Don't let her hold you back anymore. Don't let her ruin your life."
I shake my head. "You don't understand, AJ–"
"Maybe not and maybe I never will," she cuts me off, admitting to it, "but, at least, I'm trying to. I'm trying to prove to you that you're worth way more than you think you are. Stop discrediting yourself. Don't believe the negative thoughts. You're a treasure, Benley. Don't let anyone else tell you any different."
If she keeps this up, I might just really fall on my knees and marry this girl.