Aiden leapt with a spring in his step, his face beaming as all of his thoughts wondered in his head. He kept at Alison’s pace as they walked up to his door. The TV was on, playing the Match of the Day, and Andrew was sitting on the couch.
“Dad? I’m home.” Aiden said.
Andrew looked up, smiling. “Good day at school? I’ve just been shaping the place up.”
Alison laughed. “Aiden been hiding his adult magazines under the bed again?”
Andrew beamed at her. “I’d hope he’s past that stage. Have you eaten, Alison? You can stay for tea if you like.”
Alison walked around, putting her backpack near Aiden’s.
“Sure, I’d like that” Alison replied, smiling.
“What we having?” Aiden asked, taking a seat next to Alison.
“Whatever’s in the freezer than I can zap up” Andrew said, walking into the kitchen. Andrew took out 2 frozen packets of macaroni and cheese from the freezer, and popped them in the microwave for five minutes.
“Nothing too hard” he said, smiling.
Andrew came down to the sitting area with Aiden and Alison, and took a seat on the other couch next to them.
“So how was school today, you two?” he asked.
“Pretty good, Aiden...got an A on his science report” Alison said, sniggering.
“Glad to hear it.” Andrew said.
“Yeah, things are looking up” Aiden said, smiling at Alison, who smiled back.
A thud was heard. Alison yelped and grabbed her foot, sitting down. Aiden rushed to her. “You need some ice?”
She shook her head. “It’ll pass. Don’t worry.”
“You know I have something that might help, it doesn’t hurt right?” Andrew asked. Aiden was looking at Alison; her smile had almost gone back to teary eyes.
“I’ve grown to live with it.” she said.
Andrew went up to the kitchen and opened a drawer, producing a canister of deep heat spray; he then walked over to where Alison was sitting.
“Put your foot up” he said.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“It’s a little thing I use for joint pain, better than the over the counter stuff, it might get a little hot for a bit, but it should help”
“I’m not so sure, I’ve never used that kind of stuff before” Alison said, scared.
“Trust me, it’ll work” Andrew said.
Alison put her foot up on the table and rolled the top part of her socks down to show her damaged ankle. It looked fine, however you could see a slight bit of swollen flesh showing. She took off her sock and bandage to reveal some more redness beneath it. “Don’t freak out at that, that’s permanent, but it won’t do anything, kind of like my version of a scar,” she said.
Aiden looked at Alison from where he was sitting, she looked a little frightened but her smile overtook any negative emotions she might have been feeling. Andrew then shook the spray up, opened the cap and sprayed her ankle twice.
“Just be careful not to touch that for about a minute, okay darling?” he said, looking at her in the eyes.
“Is it meant to feel hot?” Alison asked.
“Yeah, it’s the relaxant.” Andrew said.
Alison moved her foot back and within a few seconds, her ankle felt freer to move around. Her shocked expression soon turned into a smile as she stood up, no longer feeling any pain.
“It’s working, I can walk on this!” she exclaimed like an excited three year old on Christmas Eve.
She then got up and started walking around the apartment, practically leaping with each step, not feeling any more pain. Alison felt so much better than she had in years; it was good to not feel pain every time she took a step. She then practically ran to Andrew, embracing him with a warm hug, which he returned.
“Thank you so much...I know this is probably pretty normal, but thank you” Alison said.
“You’re most welcome” Andrew said. He then took the canister and placed it firmly in her hand.
“Keep it,” he said. “You need it more than I do”
Aiden looked back at them, it was moments like this where he felt like he had a full family again. His dad was still there, and Alison was the female in the household he got along with perfectly. Honestly, it made him miss his mum a lot, but made him grateful that he had people like this in his life.
A ding went, indicating the dinner was ready.
“I’ll just go get those” Andrew said, turning back to the kitchen.
“I’ll be out in a second, I just need to use the bathroom” Alison said, still smiling.
“No problem, you know where it is” Andrew said.
Alison skipped along to the bathroom, shutting the door behind her, and Aiden turned to look at his dad.
“Why’d you do that?” he asked, smiling.
“She looks like she could use some of that stuff, it won’t heal her of course, but it’ll make walking a bit easier, you saw how she just skipped there” Andrew replied.
“That was cool of you, Dad” Aiden said.
“Well, I wrote the book on cool, remember?”
“Yeah, sure you did” Aiden laughed.
They both shared a quick laugh as they walked up to the table, setting out some cutlery and plates.
“You know what I don’t get, Aiden?” Andrew asked, putting the dinner out of the tray onto the plates.
“What’s that?” Aiden asked.
“How come you never went for it?”
Aiden looked up at his dad, confused but somehow still feeling he got an idea of what he was hinting at.
“Went for what? I got your chemist stuff”
“I’m not talking about that, although there is chemistry involved”
“Dad, what are you talking about?” Aiden said, sitting down and keeping his head low.
Andrew sat down next to Aiden and looked straight into his eyes.
“Do you think I don’t see that you like Alison?” he asked.
Aiden had absolutely no idea how to respond to this, he didn’t even know whether he liked Alison in that way or not. Suddenly the ‘it’s complicated’ widget on Facebook was starting to make much more sense.
“Well, I do like her” Aiden said, getting up.
He got up and went to pour himself a glass of water in the corner, Andrew turned round to see him, and Aiden seemed to be rather touchy about this whole subject. “Of course I like her, she’s my best friend”
“I’m not talking about that kind of like, Aiden”
Aiden looked at his Dad, not sure what to say, however the facial expressions they were both showing made it clear this wasn’t something Aiden wanted to talk about.
“Well, if that’s how you feel son, just forget I brought it up”
“No, it’s not that Dad”
“Yeah, then what is it?”
“It’s...it’s just that she’s been so great to me, and we’ve always clicked as just friends, and to be honest I kind of like it that way, the thing about relationships, even if they end and you go back to being friends, it’s never the same, no matter what way you look at it. I don’t ever want to lose her, we had a fight earlier this week and luckily we’re good now, but for a moment I felt like that was it”
“Oh Aiden, just because you fight doesn’t mean you’ll lose her, the greatest of friends will fight, we don’t know what happens all the time, today’s friend could be tomorrow’s enemy and all that nonsense, but bottling up how you really feel, that’s not healthy for you, or her, what if she feels the same way?”
“What’s healthy for what?” Alison said, walking out of the bathroom.
Aiden and Andrew both snapped into a secretive mode, acting as if the conversation they just had never happened.
“Umm, this meal, Alison it’s actually pretty healthy, it’s got Vitamin...ugh I don’t know, it’s tasty though” Andrew stumbled. He then turned and winked at Aiden before Alison sat down.
They all tucked into their dinner and were all enjoying each other’s company, despite not being related, Alison did feel like Aiden and his dad were truly like part of her family.
She had only said what she said to Aiden at the warehouse to prevent his ego from exploding, and in that case, it seemed like it was literal, but she’d never stop being his friend, it would take too long to train another guy to put up with her. Alison’s phone went off her in pocket. The tunes of 80s pop music were heard buzzing from her skirt.
“Sorry, do you mind if I take this?” she asked.
“Of course not, go ahead,” Andrew said, gesturing her to go to the living area.
Alison got up and went to take her call; Aiden and Andrew continued to stare at each other. It was a short phone call as Alison came back almost instantly.
“Who was that?” Aiden asked.
“Damien. They said they’re doing another practice session tonight for the contest.”
“Yeah?” Aiden said.
“At the park. You wanna go?”
Aiden smiled. “Yeah, what’s the worst that could happen?”
Aiden was heading towards the door at a fast pace; it was clear there was no stopping him.