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He's So Tall and Handsome as Hell; Enter Mr. and Mrs. Harte-Reyes
Topic Started: Mar 2 2016, 04:37 PM (1,266 Views)
Rorick Skyve
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Why had he even bothered coming here? It was all exactly as he had expected, nothing but lovesick couples prancing around the hall like they had no other worries in the world, music echoing that he was less than fond of and to top it all off, all the tables had been taken already. Sure, it would have been less than polite of him to take up an entire table only for himself, but he still preferred that to standing around all dressed up and with nowhere to go.

He sighed and buried his face in his hands for a moment. He should have ignored his godmother Joan's advice, should have ignored her urging him to take up this rare opportunity to go out and mingle with his schoolmates.

'You're still young, Maxim, too young to be sitting around at home each day. Believe me, you'll regret letting this chance pass.' What did she know? For all he could say, he regretted being at the damned dance more than anything else at this point. He had spotted only a handful of familiar faces, all busy with some other person they had brought along. Nothing to do for him. Not that the minded being alone, but he did mind being alone at a place he absolutely did not want to be at.

That stupid conscience of mine...All because I wanted to do Joan a favor, make her feel proud. I sure hope she's enjoying herself at home, at least.

He looked around himself again, saw another pair passing him and screwed up his nose when he perceived the overly excessive amount of perfume the girl wore. Who was she trying to impress with that? Certainly not the guy she was with, he either had no sense of smell or he really wanted to get on her good side, no matter the hardship.

Maxim turned away and tried to think of something less negative, something that didn't encourage his grouchiness even further. There had to be something he could do with his time, something productive even. Reading was out of the question, he had no book with him and even if he had brought one, he couldn't have gotten through one single page, thanks to the blaring sounds of music and chatter.

As his eyes wandered around the room, scanning each and every nook and cranny for something worthwhile, he spotted another familiar face at one of the tables. Tall, short black hair, slightly bent nose. Yup - that was Brendan, no doubt. Nice enough guy, enjoyed reading almost as much as Maxim did. Certainly one of the people he'd be content to spend his time with, although it seemed that he, too, was already accompanied by a girl of his choosing. Bummer.

Maxim had already given up on finding someone to converse with, when he saw Brendan waving at him. So he had noticed him after all and even wanted him to come over, judging from his expression. The German was surprised that Brendan willingly let another boy join him while he was already in the company of what seemed to be his date for the dance. Then again, Maxim wasn't really all too familiar with social matters and was all too happy to be disabused from his misconception. Smiling weakly, he waved back and trudged towards the other two.
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Maxim came to a halt two steps away from the other two's table, trying his best to keep the perpetual frown off his face. Brendan was looking quite appealing in his white dress, but then again, he did look good in almost everything he wore, Maxim himself thought so, at least. He did like him quite a lot. The guy was no braggart, good at heart, a very down to earth and genuinely caring kind of person. Yes, the German was glad to have crossed paths with him.

He looked over at the girl, who did not seem familiar at all to him. Could be that she had passed him in the hallways of Cochise a few times, he couldn't quite remember. Probably of Hispanic descent, given her appearance. Looked like a nice person at first glance, but who was Maxim to say that? After all, he didn't really have all that much experience with people. She, too, was pretty to watch, he had to admit, the burgundy dress did fit her well, especially since she was partnered with the white-clad Brendan.

Now, let's see if those two harmonize as well as the colors of their clothes.

He patiently waited for Brendan to finish his greeting words, brushing away a strand of his hair gone rogue. Friend date, huh? Funny term, he hadn't heard that one before. Maybe it was yet another thing teenagers used to say that he wasn't aware of, had been the case more than enough times in the past. Maxim decided to simply smile and nod at his friend. "I see. Have to return the compliment, Bren, you are sporting quite a sprite outfit yourself."

That had gone well. Strange, but it seemed to him that he was less nervous talking to people when Brendan was around. He figured it was because the other boy was rather shy himself, therefore giving a boost to Maxim's own confidence. Another reason to like him. Having paid his friend his due respect, as he liked to put it, he now reached out a hand to the girl who had just been introduced to him as Alba.

"Pleasure to meet you, Alba. Name's Maxim. I am glad to see the two of you are having a pleasant time this evening." He held his hand outstretched for another brief moment or so, then pulled it back again.

Handshakes are far too old-fashioned, that's how you'd great a business partner, not a schoolmate! Gott, only five seconds in and I'm already embarrassing myself in front of them.

Slightly abashed, Maxim casually caressed the back of his head with one hand, then put his other one on the backrest of the chair in front of him. "May I sit?", he asked, still looking at Alba.

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"Thanks." Nothing else he needed to say, really. Carefully, Maxim shifted the chair around, so he could take a seat. Only now did he notice how tired out his legs felt, unsurprising, considering that he had been standing around on the same spot since the beginning of the festivity. He probably wouldn't leave his chair too soon.

He cast a side glance towards the dancing floor and immediately felt uncomfortable at the mere idea of mingling with the crowd there. Far too hectic for his taste. He really was glad to have found one of his friends, who knew how to maintain a low profile, take it easy. Maybe the evening was going to turn out worthwhile after all. Best to start it off by finding something suitable to talk about in the presence of Brendan's "friend date."

One possibility was for him to ask how the two of them had met. Yes, that didn't seem to shabby and it would also divert the attention from himself, at least for a bit. Just then, he overheard his friend asking him if he wanted some punch. Though he was initially tempted to decline, he figured it wouldn't do wonders for Brendan's confidence if he did so, maybe even make him think he had done something wrong and that was something he really wished to avoid at all costs.

So he simply smiled in response and gave a brief nod. "Oh, that'd be lovely - really nice of you. I am really thirsty, in fact. Wouldn't even have noticed it if you hadn't made the offer. Thank you, Bren." Maxim was content with the way he had phrased it, surely it would reassure his friend a good deal. He knew that Brendan tended to be a nervous fella, even more so than himself. Probably why he liked him so much.

"You don't have to get me the punch yourself, though. I can do that myself, no problem." Though having said that, Maxim was still expecting Brendan to insist that he would get it for him. Well, not only expecting, he was hoping it, really. He had just gotten comfortable in his chair and getting up again was on the very bottom on the list of things he would have liked to do next.
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There she went. He didn't even have time to thank Alba before she was gone from the table. Blink and you'll miss it. On the plus side, he was now alone at the table with Brendan, a guy who he was both familiar with and found to be quite pleasant. The other boy's "friend date" was a nice enough person, sure, but the prospect of having to initiate a conversation with someone he knew next to nothing about didn't seem all too endearing to him. Maybe Alba would come up with a topic herself once she returned, that would be preferable.

Maxim shifted his focus back to his friend, who appeared to be distressed in some way. Was it because he had interrupted his sort-of-maybe date with that girl? No, that was unlikely, Brendan himself had waved him over to their table. Something else had to be the cause.

The other boy picked up his cup. Was he imagining things or was Bren's hand slightly shaking? No, he was quite certain now. His pal was nervous, anxious, tensed, whatever one might call it. Now if he only he knew the reason for it. Sure, Maxim wasn't the most confident person himself and even that was an understatement. But Brendan, he had always been something else. Maybe delicate was the right word for it, he wasn't quite sure.

The other boy opened his mouth to talk. Huh, now with the stuttering as well. Maybe he himself was the reason for it? Was he making his friend feel uncomfortable in some way? Maxim almost raised one arm to get a whiff of his own armpit, in the event of him having a bad case of sweating and not realizing it. But no, the idea was ridiculous, he had applied plenty of deodorant before leaving the house. Hell, he had no idea what was bothering his friend, then.

Poor guy. He was starting to feel bad for him, more so with every second that passed without either one of them saying a word. Seemed like he had to take the helm and release Brendan from his plight.

"So, you and Alba, yes? You make quite the lovely couple, no doubt about it. How'd the two of you meet up?" Yes, that ought to work. Maybe his friend would grow more confident over the course of an actual conversation.

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Brendan seemed to already have gotten a firmer grip on himself, judging from that smile he showed, at least. He had made a good call for once, predicted what would be suited to help his friend out. He, Maxim, the epitome of awkwardness had showcased a hint of social skills. Awesome.

Just had to keep the ball rolling now, just listen and nod every once in a while. That was about all he was good at, when it came to socializing. Kind of lame, relying on the same technique over and over, sure, but it worked, so he couldn't really give a damn about anyone judging him. Wait, judging him? What was he even thinking, who could possibly call him out on something like that? Who would even bother to, better question.

Maxim gave himself a light slap on the forehead, hoping it was subtle enough for his pal not to notice. Mind trailing off again. Happened way too often recently, not a good sign. He had to focus on Brendan and Brendan only. Not listening to the one he was having a conversation with sort of defeated the purpose of having a conversation in the first place.

Bren was getting to his relationship with Alba now. Huh, funny way to meet someone, while jogging nonetheless. Right, that was a thing Brendan did, he had almost forgotten. Speaking of forgotten, he couldn't really remember how he himself had first met the guy. Must have been the library, right? Most people Maxim knew had made first contact with him there. Didn't matter now, just had to keep listening.

What a question, asking if he had watched the two of them while dancing. Code red, potential for awkward dialogue ahead. Then again, he had nothing to worry about here, really. Just say no, that was the truth, after all. Would have been more slippery if he had actually been watching them, what with him being a piss-poor liar and all.

He wouldn't have minded watching Brendan, really. The guy certainly was a looker, with his toned muscles and tall build. Nice view to glance at, but that was it, really. His looks weren't the reason why he was friends with him, he wouldn't repeat the same mistake again, ever. He could care less about anything related to romance. Waste of his time. But hey, he didn't judge if others were into it. With others obviously meaning every other individual on the entire planet.

Right, he still had to answer Brendan's question, almost forgot. Or did he? Seemed like the other guy wasn't finished talking yet.

Whoa. They had barely sat together for two minutes and Brendan was dropping bombs already. So much for him and Alba being a lovely match. Made sense though, really, every first impression Maxim had of anything love-related had to be amiss. Showed how little he knew of anything.

Really though, he had to stop thinking about himself so much. His friend was obviously feeling anxious again, even he could see that. Body language, stuttering getting out of hand - Jesus, Brendan really needed his help here.

But how was he of all people supposed to aid him with this sort-of-kinda relationship trouble? Whatever advice he'd give him was only bound to make things worse. So approaching the problem on that sort of level was already out of the question. What if he just...?

Suddenly, Maxim's right hand was on his friend's shoulder. One second passed. Then he realized.

Oof. Awkward. Not what he had wanted, not at all. He hated touching people, even his own father. It was completely against his instinct, made him feel all uncomfortable, so why he had done it now, in a public space to boot? He could only think of one reason, namely that he had chosen to act, to not watch like a passive waste while his friend was having a panic attack in front of him. Maybe some sort of heroic alter ego underneath all those fleshy geek tiles. Or maybe, and that was the more likely explanation, he had simply acted without thinking. Probably that. Long time since the last time that had happened.

In any case, it was too late to go back on it now. The situation wouldn't get less weird if he pulled his hand back, he had to roll with it. Pretend like he knew what he was doing. It was hopeless, basically.

"Hey, Bren, listen." Nice and easy. Try to sound compassionate. "It's...uh, it's going to be alright, yes? I mean, it isn't really that big of a deal."

Maxim winced. Bad choice of words there. "No, I mean, it is! But, not like you think it is - if that makes sense. Which it probably doesn't." Only making it worse. Try something with honesty.

"Alright, look. I won't pretend like I know anything about this sort of thing, okay? I have never been in a relationship myself, you know that." Seemed like that could get them somewhere. Good track to follow. "All I can do, is say this, I guess: Don't work yourself up over this so much, yeah? You and Alba, you'll figure it out and she seems like a nice girl, so I'm sure she'll understand. Just my two cents. Might be worth nothing, but it's all I got."

Edited by Rorick Skyve, Apr 2 2016, 07:00 PM.
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Huh, it actually worked. Again. Seemed he was either more socially competent than he would have given himself credit for, or he simply knew how to cheer up Brendan specifically. Either way, he was content.

There ya go, Bren. Smile a little, shake off the anxiousness. He recognized the state that his friend was apparently in or going through, he had been there himself, more times than he could count or care to remember. Not that he would have had it any other way, he was fairly happy with who he was, how he was. Brendan, on the other hand, he didn't seem happy at all. And being his friend, he couldn't just let that be, of course. An unfamiliar feeling, people relying on him for something. He wasn't quite sure how he liked it.

Maxim pulled his hand back from his pal's shoulder, just in time, it seemed, as he spotted Alba approaching the table a split second later, punch in hand. She sure was an energetic one, no doubt about it. Bren and her really were a somewhat odd couple, now that he thought about it. But at the same time, it was also kind of...cute? Was that the appropriate term?

Not really important now. What was of utmost importance now, however, was coming up with a suitable response to her question. Awkwardness potential: Dangerously high.

He gave Alba a somewhat nervous smile, before glancing at his friend, who seemed to have just as much trouble as him coming up with an answer. Could he really trust Brendan on this one? The guy looked just as anxious as he had been seconds ago, all that work for naught, it seemed. Though "work" was really kinda exaggerating things.

In any case, he did fear what his pal would tell his "friend date". An elaborate white lie? The likelihood of that was beyond negative. Damn, what he if he told her the truth? Sure, he himself had advised Brendan to discuss things with her, but now was certainly not the time, nor the place to do so. Especially not with Maxim still around. Witnessing potentially intimate relationship talk was at the very bottom of things he hoped to do this evening.

"We were just talking about..."

Brendan was gonna say it, he was absolutely going to say it. Say that they were talking about his relationship with Alba, which would inevitably lead to exactly what he was hoping to avoid. Time to intervene, then.

"About some book stuff, new volume of a series we both read. Nothing too special." He turned his head slightly towards Brendan, trying to indicate to him to go along with it. He then shifted his gaze back towards Alba, still wearing a slightly strained smile.

"Anyway, thank you for getting us the drinks!" He reached out and carefully took one of the cups into his hand, trying his best to act completely casual. "Hope you don't mind us men letting the woman do all the work." Ouch. Painful joke right there, but all he could come up with, in order to change the subject. Just had to hope that she wouldn't see right through him.
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Maxim silently nodded as Brendan spoke. Good job, Bren, following up on his little lie. He had feared that his friend would go for the truth instead, but he had been overly paranoid. He could relax now, more so that the conversation had shifted to a topic he was all too comfortable with.

"Yeah, Skulduggery Pleasant. Really good read, I just finished the seventh one. The humor is excellent too, quite witty. Though I suppose you have to enjoy fantasy as a genre to be able to appreciate it. The books, not the humor."

Maxim took another sip of the punch, as Brendan had before him. He hoped that there was no alcohol in it. He had heard of jokesters pouring in unsavory amounts of it into drinks on occasions like this and Cochise certainly wasn't short on jokesters. Though again, he was probably being too paranoid about it; the drink was simply tasty and there were no traces of alcohol in it, as far as he could tell. Then again, he didn't know too much about that subject, save for...that one time, but he really didn't want to think about that now. Avoid anything that could make him feel anxious at any costs.

He glanced back at Alba, scratching his chin. He hadn't bothered shaving, not even on an occasion such as this. Wasn't too much stubble anyway, nothing he'd have considered scruffy. But again, opinions could differ.

"So, in any case, since we are speaking about reading: Do you like reading as well, Alba? And if yes, then what genres do you prefer? I mostly read fantasy myself, ever since I was little." He did not feel nervous keeping the conversation going, not at all. Cool. It was most likely due to him speaking about something he actually knew stuff about, something he enjoyed doing, had genuine interest in. Maybe he should join a book club after all?
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Captain Underpants, huh? Well, that certainly sounded like a title to stay away from. Maxim didn't mean to be condescending, but he couldn't help but think that way. It was just as Brendan said, sounded like some sort of comedy - all too obviously at that. In other words, not to his liking, most definitely not. Humor was fine and all, but only paired with good story-telling. And this book certainly did not contain that, he could judge from the cover alone, in the figurative sense. That famous saying advised to refrain from such actions, but who was he to be limited by sayings?

Maxim had clenched his fist absent mindedly and upon realizing, he quickly took another sip of punch. Hell, what had gotten into him? To become so agitated and appalled by a mere petty book title alone, like a first class stickler. Or maybe it had been something else entirely, something else that had irritated him and said book had only been an excuse for his brain to get him triggered?

The location, yes, that must have been it. Even in rather pleasant company, he still didn't feel comfortable at all, not even discussing his favorite topic. Had he been alone with Brendan and Alba, at some isolated spot, surely that would have been to his liking. But not like this. He wasn't nervous. no. Not anxious either. Just...somehow, he really just didn't want to be there anymore.He had to leave, as soon as possible, find some sort of excuse. He'd certainly feel bad having to leave the other two behind like this, but it was how it was, he could not change it, as much as he wanted to.

Wait, what? Had he heard that right? Brendan asked him to accompany him to the restroom? Now that was a strange idea if he had ever heard one. As far as he knew, couples normally sought a moment in private on an occasion like that, not buddies. Either that, or everything he believed to know about social behavior was a lie and that really would have been ridiculous, even for him.

Still, though. Brendan didn't look good at all, he had completely forgotten to pay attention to him during his mad ramblings. Poor guy looked as anxious as ever again, like all his attempts to calm him down had been for nothing. To be expected, really. But even so, he couldn't just leave his friend hanging now, could he? Rejecting that request, that would have been a real "dick move", as his peers would say. He had to comply here, no choice. Couldn't leave a comrade during the peak of battle. Besides, if this would get the two of them somewhere less...crowded, all the better. Kill two birds with one stone.

What about Alba, though? She would certainly be all but pleased with this, would she? Her "friend date" running off with some guy she barely even knew, leaving her all alone at that. As bad as he felt for her though, it was not his responsibility, was it? Bren had asked him to come with him, plain and simple, no way Maxim was to blame here. The two of them would have to discuss that later, right now, he had to focus on getting his pal back to a relaxed state. Somehow.

Clearing his throat, he slowly got off his chair, almost knocking over his drink in the process. "I - well...I suppose I'll accompany you, then. Lead the way, Bren."
Edited by Rorick Skyve, Apr 24 2016, 08:10 PM.
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Maxim tried his best to avoid eye contact with his friend as they walked alongside each other, heading to the restroom in silence. There it was again, that feeling of anxiety. But not like usual, it wasn't about himself this time, about him feeling awkward, uncomfortable with his surroundings. It was that kind of nagging gut instinct, a fear of what was to come. He had no idea what he was going to say to Brendan, how he was supposed to be of any help. He had tried before, even thought he had made good progress. A false conclusion, obviously.

At least he was still able to keep his cool, at least somewhat. Brendan, he looked like a was about to suffer a nervous breakdown. His expression, voice, demeanor, everything practically screamed that he was in over his head here. Though he did hit the nail on the head. The two of them about to have a talk in private in the restroom, especially on an occasion like this, it certainly was...well, weird, exactly. As far as he knew, girls did this all the time - or was that just some stereotype? Either way, it wouldn't help him out here. He couldn't even think of anything to answer Brendan's sort of apology with, simply keeping his trap shut instead. More silence followed. This wasn't going to get any less awkward any time soon, was it?

Finally, they both entered the men's room, still cloaked in silence. No one else was here at the moment. Good. Something to be sort of happy about, at least. Brendan immediately rushed to the sinks, obviously to get some cold water on his face. Maybe that helped. He certainly hoped it would, or at least not make things even worse, somehow.

Brendan turned around, facing him now. Maxim wished he could have procrastinated it all some way. His friend was depending on him, expecting him to support him, contribute helpful advice related to whatever it was that plagued him now. Too much pressure, too much goddamn pressure. He hated having to be responsible for anyone else beside himself. Hell, he had enough troubles with trying to keep himself in a happy place. But he had already agreed to this and the only other option was leaving his friend all by himself, on the edge of despairing. No, this here was the right thing to do. Uncomfortable or not.

Maxim chewed at his bottom lip as he listened to Bren's plight. So it really was about him and Alba after all. He wasn't really sure what else he had expected, but he still felt relieved in a way. At least it wasn't about something much worse, some other more serious trouble in Brendan's life. Still, this also meant that Maxim had no clue what in the world he was supposed to tell the other boy. He knew about as much about relationships as he knew about quantum physics, not to mention that the latter subject was decidedly more comfortable to discuss.

Oh, there was more? Something else Brendan wanted to tell him? He figured. The way he behaved, there had to be more on his mind, clear as day. He had suspected it and now he had confirmation on the matter. Whatever it was, he had to try and not think about all the terrible possibilities that it could have been, at least until he had come up with something to answer Brendan's first question with. How he would have told someone that he just wanted to be friends? Hell if he knew! He didn't even know how to properly ask someone to be friends in the first place.

"Geez...I really don't know how I would do it, I'm sorry. I mean, I would really like to help you here, Bren, don't get me wrong. But like...it's hard for me to judge, you know? I never was in a relationship myself, never really cared for it either."

Maxim ruffled his own hair with one hand, his eyes nervously darting across the room. "I'm really, really sorry. I can only tell you again what I said earlier. Alba does seem like a nice, understanding person and all, you and her will be able to work something out, I'm sure. How, I have no idea. Sorry." That would have to do. Nothing else he could say. Nothing else he could think of.

"So...what was that other thing you wanted to talk to me about?"
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Silence was golden, they said. Not now, not like this. Uncomfortable staring, unspoken words, a lingering feeling of unease...what was supposed to be golden about that? Was it on him to say something to pierce this insufferable state? Maxim wanted the moment to be over, certainly so. But what to say that didn't make it even more awkward?

Thank god, Brendan was going to say something, at last. Simple words, a hint of confidence in his voice. Maybe he did feel better now, due to Maxim's assistance or not, didn't really matter. Still, did he have to be so close? Bren even took another step forward, why'd he do that? He was taller than his friend and yet he felt so insignificant and small all of a sudden, like the other boy was towering over him. He had to shake that feeling off, he was being absurd. Brendan was all but intimidating, this sentiment of his made no goddamn sense!

What was he up to now? He saw him reaching for something, something down there...his hand. What...?

The second he felt the other boy's hand on his, a cold chill ran down his spine, his every muscle tensed. What was Brendan doing, why was he...? No sense, it made no sense, no sense at all!

He didn't know what to do, had absolutely no clue at all. He felt lost, frozen, afraid. Still, he could not bring himself to react to his friend's move in any way, his reaction consisted of a total and utter lack of a reaction. He didn't move an inch, even his expression barely changed. His jowls and lips were trembling, he felt it and he hated it, hated having no control over himself. Why couldn't he just...let go already?

And then more words came from Brendan's mouth, indications, suggestive hints and finally, a truth. So much meaning put behind so few words and yet, he dreaded every last syllable. It could not be, just couldn't be true, it had to be a nightmare or something, a chimera haunting his sleep! But he could feel the cold touch on his skin, the scent of the other boy's breath impregnating the air, this was real, too real, way, way too goddamn real!

Brendan leaned forward. Maxim knew exactly what was about to happen. He had read about it in his books more times than he could count, seen it in movies, even in games...experienced it only once before in his life. He regretted all of it now, everything that had led him to this moment. Not because of Brendan, no. It was not the other boy's fault. It was his own. Because he couldn't bear the thought of being loved. Because he was simply not worth it, didn't deserve it.

Brendan thought otherwise, was trying to prove that Maxim had it wrong, that he was worth more than he would ever want to admit. That was what he was afraid of. Scared to death.

He felt a stranger pair of lips on his and all his thoughts evaporated into puffs of meaningless smoke. Soft, but raw, somehow salty and sweet and bitter and sour, he could not describe the foreign taste with words nor sentiments, it was just there, locked onto his own lips, numbing the rest of his emotions like opium.

It was so easy. He could just pull back, push Brendan off him, somehow voice protest. But he didn't. Not because he did not want to, but because he lacked the will. As always. So he let it happen. Keeping his eyes open throughout the entire duration of it, holding the air in his lungs like they were going to explode if he dared to breathe.
Edited by Rorick Skyve, May 3 2016, 06:10 AM.
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They were gone. The touch, the sensation of pressure was gone. But the taste, it was still there, lingering on his lips, like it had been forcefully attached to them, clinging onto him. Maxim exhaled. It was over.

No, it was not. The kiss, yes, that instance of uncomfortable physical intimacy, that was now only a mere moment in the past, nothing else. But the situation, it had not changed. They were still there, in the restroom, all by themselves, though he was thankful for the latter.

He only then noticed that Brendan was still holding his hand. The kiss seemed to have numbed his senses to any other outer exposure, but now he could feel the heat on his hand's skin, the gentle yet to him so rough clasp, it felt like a terrible itch he could not possibly be rid of.

Well, of course he could. Pull back the hand or slap his away. Again, he would not do that. That would have been a sign of anger, of condemnation. He wasn't angry at Brendan, he had no right to be. He of all people, who had done the same in the past and had rightfully gotten rejected. It would have been an act of pure hypocrisy to deliver cold judgment on his friend, poor Bren, who was not at fault here. He didn't blame him. No way he could.

Shaking, quivering, he tried to regain his composure. Brendan had let go of him, removed his hand and his gaze from him for the moment. God knew that Maxim did not know much about people, but he did know one thing or another about misery. And that was exactly what he recognized in his friend. Yes, his friend. He still was his friend, his buddy, someone he liked being around. Not Bren's fault that Maxim was the way he was, aloof, timid and shying away from any feelings that crossed the border of comradeship.

Still, he didn't feel well, not at all. Like he wanted to sink into the ground, something of that sort, disappear from the scene. He had to leave, now more than ever. He needed to be alone with his guilt. Brendan did not deserve being dragged down by the likes of him, he deserved spending Sadies in a happy mood, like he had before Maxim showed up. He would have to ditch him, for his own good. But only for the evening. Only for now.

"Hey...hey, look..." His accent was coming through. He hated it, but he had no other choice but to endure it for now, tolerate his own shortcomings just a little longer. For Brendan's sake. "Look, I..uh...I don't really know how to react here, do you understand? This is a little weird...no, I didn't mean weird in that sense, but more like...surprising? Yes, maybe that, overwhelming, something like that." Voice was shaking, couldn't have that. Brendan couldn't get the impression that he was scared, which he was. He needed to play it off somehow, pretend it was no big deal. Make his friend feel a little better about himself. Maybe it would make Maxim feel better as well, who could know?

"I just...I need time to think, I guess? Like, I'm not...not mad or anything, okay? Don't worry about me, or you or - just don't worry, yes? This is fine. It's fine, really. I wanted to leave the dance anyway. Not because of you, I swear! I am just exhausted, physically. I did enjoy your company, believe me."

Did he mean those words? He wanted to believe he did. He thought he was sure, certain that he wasn't just telling white lies to encourage Brendan. He was still standing there like a statue, frozen on the spot, but his mind was beginning to defrost, at least.

"I just need some time for myself now. Need to think about...stuff. Think about what to say later, yes? I am not really able to handle - I mean, to put my thoughts into words right now, you see? Just give me some time, and maybe tomorrow or so, I can call you or...somehow contact you and talk about this, okay?" Was he trying to buy himself time? Escape this and procrastinate the inevitable? Hell, he didn't know anymore.

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He should have said something more now, correct Brendan, tell him he didn't need to feel bad. He knew he should have, it's what one would have done in this situation, how a real friend would have behaved. It didn't sound that hard. Just had to get one more phrase together.

"Look, it's not-"

Yes? Not what? He had no idea how to finish that sentence; hated that feeling, not being in control of his own thoughts. So now there he was, mouth opened and not getting a singly syllable over his lips, like a worthless dunce. Verdammter Mist
Maxim clenched his fist, only to ease his hand muscles again a second later. Brendan would get the wrong idea. He wasn't angry, not in that way, not at him. Had he woken up now, had it all just been some sort of bizarre dream, day dream even, he would have probably even shrugged it off with a chuckle. That notion was idiotic though, not only because this all was clearly real, but because he damn well knew he could never remember one of his dreams. Not that that was inconveniencing him much, certainly not as much as this entire situation was.

To his own surprise, he did not feel the urge to look away from the other boy, could actually maintain eye contact, though one could hardly call it that, with Brendan frantically trying to evade his gaze. Was he being selfish barely wasting a thought pondering about how the other boy must have felt? Probably. Yeah, definitely. But that wasn't new to him, he had always only thought of himself. Even when he pretended to care, he had probably only wanted to appease his own conscience, try to convince himself he was hanging out with people for a different reason other than that they were comfortable with him. Or maybe it was the other way around, maybe he was only tolerating them as much as they were him. He was too tired to continue that line of thought.

Maxim's facial features straightened somewhat, he was looking a lot calmer now. Or maybe colder was a more fitting word. "You should do that, yes. Go home, I mean. I will do the same thing."

He had regained control of himself, no more useless stammering. What he needed now was some air and a good night's sleep. No more reason for him to stay around. Brendan would be okay, surely he would. Alba would be able to console the other boy, somewhat at least. Maxim wouldn't be capable of doing that himself.

"Just try and don't think too much about this, okay? As far as I'm concerned, this never happened. Granted you are okay with that. Either way, goodbye for now. I'll see you around."

He turned away, chapter closed. Temporary loss of control aside, maybe the evening had brought some merit with it after all. It had been insightful, in a certain way, though certainly not something he would insist on repeating. He barely registered the irritatingly bright silhouettes of his peers as he passed through the hall and the hallways, none of that was his concern anymore, at least not for that evening. And despite the fact that he really didn't want to acknowledge it, there was an ever so faint sentiment of pride throbbing in a remote corner of his mind.

((Maxim Kehlenbrink, end of Sadies pregame))

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