Deion's phone buzzed beside him.
Aarav Reddy: Should I come to your house today for the project?
Deion's eyes grew wide. He didn't think about this at all. What to say, what to say...
Deion Brown: I can't have people over right now. Besides, my family knows nothing about my heritage and culture. We can research it together at some other place if you wish or at yours.
Aarav Reddy: Alright. Be at my house whenever you get ready.
With that, Deion quickly got ready. He just wanted this project to be over. Aarav's attitude was too much for Deion to handle. He deals with his stepmom Latanya and his father already and they piss him off enough. He couldn't wait to be the first person done with this project and away from Aarav for the rest of his life.
Deion called Quincy, knowing the early bird would be awake. With a request to get a ride, Quincy's car soon made itself known in Deion's driveway.
"Deion!" Quincy greeted, smiling wide and flashing his dimples. Deion greeted him as well, grinning at Quincy's famous smile.
Ten minutes later, Deion was in Aarav's driveway. He knocked on the door and was welcomed by Aarav's mother.
"Aarav is in his room, Deion. Go down that hall and it'll be the first door on the right." The mother said.
Deion gave her thanks and made his way toward the room. He knocked and was given a, "Come in!"
He opened the door to reveal a box-like room with a brown wooden floor and white walls. The walls consist of posters and pictures, but very few. Aarav sat on his forest green bed.
"Hey..." Aarav said monotonously.
"I brought my phone for the research," Deion announced. "I think Kenya is our best bet. My ancestry mostly consists of people from Kenya. Very insufficient heritage in Egypt to put on the project. Speaking of, what will we put the project on?"
"Oh, yeah we will put it on slides. Here is my laptop." Aarav began to hand Deion the laptop and as Deion grabbed it, their fingertips glossed over each other.
Deion's breath hitched and Aarav's eyes went wide. Deion had never felt a feeling so bizarre and alien. An unusual jolt in his chest surfaced at Aarav's touch. He, however, forced himself to ignore it. It wasn't that important. It was just a simple feeling of anxiety. Touching someone you don't know is weird anyway.
"Alright, I'll begin," Deion said, opening the laptop and seeing it was locked. "Oh, uh, password..." Deion giggled nervously. He handed it to Aarav with caution.
Aarav quickly typed on the computer and laid it down beside Deion promptly.
"Thanks..." Deion smiled awkwardly. Just forget about it! He told himself. It really didn't matter what he felt, this was an important project. No need to dwell on anxiety.
"Alright... Kenya," Deion bit his lower lip in concentration but stopped when he felt eyes on him. "The multifaceted culture of Kenya is expressed in different forms... Uh... Wait! There are many Muslims in Kenya which means those holidays are observed. You know what, I'm just going to do Africa. This multifaceted stuff is too complicated." Normally, nothing was ever too complicated for Deion. Regardless, he felt a strong need to leave that house as soon as possible. However, he kept finding long pages of African culture, making it harder to get out any quicker than he possibly could.
"You alright?" Aarav asked, taking Deion away from his engaging activity of aggressively researching as promptly as possible.
"Uh... Oh, yeah, I am." Deion once again chuckled nervously and continued on his search. Out of character, he opened slides and copied and pasted the info. I'll look over it later, he promised himself.
"Good, got it! Uh, I'll text you if I find anything else." Deion promised with a small smile. "I gotta go now, uh, bye."
With that, he walked out of Aarav's house leaving himself anxious and confused and leaving Aarav confused and a bit annoyed.
When walking out of the house, he saw someone laying on the road. A flashback began in his mind. He tried to force it down, but it came up anyway.
Brian laying on the ground, blood covering his face and a bullet right in between his eyes. His best friend since second grade, dead. Tears threatened to spill, but he killed that too. He really needed to get the fuck away from here.
The person sat up and gave Deion a dirty look. "Can't a guy just lay in the street without judgment?!" He shouted aloud to Deion.
Someone whispered behind him, making him jump, "Yeah, that's Mr. Albright. He's crazy... It's best to just leave him be." Aarav whispered with a smile. "Well, you didn't give an explanation of why you're leaving so early, so why?" Aarav asked.
"Just family things..." Deion lied. In his defense, he didn't know why he was leaving so early either.
"Well, I better not do this whole thing myself. If I am, I'll make sure to kick your ass." Aarav whispered sharply with a smile.
Deion sighed in frustration, "Fine, be a dick." He let out fiercely.
Aarav was left standing in shock as Deion walked down the street by himself. He was furious but still terrified. Brian was walking just like this down the road the day he died. He was taking his afternoon stroll and he got a bullet in his skull in reward. What a shitty reward.
Deion slowly let the tears fall as he wandered down the quiet neighborhood. He picked up his phone, dialed Quincy, and sniffed.
"Quince... Come pick me up, please. I'll send you the location in Google maps." Deion said and hung up. He didn't want Quincy to ask why his voice sounded so wobbly.
Shortly, Quincy saw right at the curb Deion sat on. He tried to cover his tear-stained face but failed.
"Di... Hey, what's wrong, man?" Quincy asks.
"Nothing is wrong." He sniffed.
"You're a terrible liar. Come on, Di, tell Quince what's up." Quincy sang. At Deion's silence, Quincy spoke again. "Is it... Brian?" Quincy asked cautiously.
At the mention of Brian, Deion sobbed in his own hands.
"Oh, Di..." Quincy said, giving Deion a side hug.
"He was fourteen!" Deion shouted.
"I know... It's terrible." Quincy comforted Deion quietly while Deion screamed and sobbed.
"I hope those bastards rot in hell! They weren't even charged!" Deion shouted. "They killed my best friend and got away with it! Fucking bastards!"
"Di... Come on, calm down. Don't give yourself a heart attack now. You gotta go home soon." Quincy reminded.
Deion hyperventilated through his attempts at calming himself down.
"Breathe, Deion... In and out slowly. In through your nose, out of your mouth." Quincy instructed. Deion obliged and shortly calmed down, leaving only tear stains remaining.
"Let's get you home," Quincy says softly before stepping hard on the gas, causing the car to strut its way down the many streets before Deion's own.
"Thanks, Quince," Deion mumbled.
"Of course. Be safe my man!" Quincy gave him a smile and Deion smiled back. Quincy just had that power of a contagious smile.