Last Young Renegade Heartache
Chapter 2: It's about time!
Soon, we arrived to Alex and Luna’s house, and I was quick to park the car and climb out, a colorfully wrapped box in tow. The car made a familiar beeping sound when I locked it, and I smiled to myself, knowing all too well what was to come. “Can you hold this for me, Will?”
He took the present from me, a look of confusion crossing his features. “Wait, why?”
I grinned even wider, prepping myself to speed across the lawn. “Because Luna will come running in T minus 3...2...1.”
“NORA!!” Perfectly on cue, there she was, excitedly bounding across the lawn, leaving everyone else to stand at the doorway in confusion. At least, anyone who didn’t already know what was happening.
I shouted her name in return, running to meet her in the middle, arms outstretched. It had only been a few months since I had last seen her, but no matter how long it had been, this was how we always greeted each other. Frankly, that had been the highlight of the last 12 years: reuniting with my best friend.
After clinging to each other in a tight hug for a moment, we pulled apart, both smiling widely. I could hear Will cautiously approaching behind me, and Luna’s attention quickly shifted to him. “Oh! You must be Will! Hi! Come on in, the party’s just getting started!”
As fast as she appeared, she was gone, excitedly bouncing back up to the house. After all of these years, she was still full of boundless energy. I shook my head, but laughed, taking Will’s hand before joining her.
Almost immediately, Alex was there to greet us with a smile, shaking Will’s hand and wrapping me in a hug. “Nora! We missed you, dude! But, you know we always do.”
“Hey, I missed you nerds too! That’s a given. You guys gotta stop leaving me for months on end. I need my nerd fix,” I laughed, moving to hug Zack and Rian as well.
When I got to Jack, I paused, as I always did. The worst part about these reunions was always trying to figure out what to do with him. We usually did an awkward sort of dance before a brief side hug, but I was surprised to see him open his arms up wide for me almost immediately. Without hesitating, I hugged him back, breathing in a familiar scent from so long ago, and perhaps lingering too long, but I didn’t care for the moment. “Shit, sorry,” I cut in, quickly pulling away. “Everybody, this is Will. You already met Luna, but this is Alex, Zack, Rian, and Jack. The whole gang, in the flesh.”
Will and the other boys had an awkward exchange of hellos before Alex gestured for everyone to move to the living room. There were already a few others there, mainly members of All Time Low’s crew and close friends from other bands, but it wasn’t crowded by any means.
I found myself sitting across from Jack, and my eyes naturally seemed to drift toward him. I hated it, but everytime the gang hung out, I would gravitate toward him. We barely spoke to each other beyond polite exchanges, but I always gazed at him, trying to find the person I knew in the man he had become. I had a million questions about what he was doing now, if he was happy, and more, but mostly, I had just relied on tour stories from Luna. Sitting across from him was a painful reminder that someone so familiar was now a stranger, but I tried to ignore it.
Thankfully, a distraction soon came. While the others were trying to get to know Will, I noticed Alex’s leg bouncing up and down rapidly, and that he was heavily nursing a large glass of wine, like he was nervous. But why?
I saw him take a deep breath, slowly standing up and setting his glass down, and I looked at him curiously and with slight concern. He looked like he was having a panic attack, but I couldn’t figure out the reason. Was he making an announcement? For what?
He cleared his throat, drawing the attention of everyone in the small group to him. He took another deep breath before speaking, trying to smile through the anxiety. “Hey, guys. Uh, not everyone’s here yet. The party’s gonna get a lot bigger, but...I wanted to make a speech. For the birthday girl. Come on, get up here, Luna.”
Confused, but still smiling, she stood up taking one of Alex’s shaking hands in his own. “You don’t have to give a speech, baby. I’m only turning 30. It’s really not a big deal.”
A small smile crossed his features, and I saw a calm wash over him as soon as she had touched him. “Well, I don’t have to, but I want to,” he smiled more genuinely now, kissing the top of her head. He turned back to us, still holding onto her hand for dear life. “So, you guys are our best friends in the world. Luna and I’s lives would be incomplete without you, and I wanted you to be here for this. I’m speaking now because these are all the people I want around for the rest of our lives. Or you’re here as a date, and that’s cool too.” he paused, glancing toward Will. Slowly, he was gaining confidence again, and I smiled to myself. Just what was he doing?
“You see,” he continued. “I love this girl more than I can put into words. I met her 14 fuckin’ years ago, and I’ve fallen more in love with her in every moment since then. I don’t even want to think what I would be if I hadn’t met her that first day in Geometry class.” He turned fully to Luna, taking her other hand in his as well. “I want to make your birthday special, because you’re the most special person to me. Bear with me okay? And just let me blabber on for a sec?”
Luna nodded, still giving him a confused but happy expression. With a grin, Alex got down on one knee, taking in a shaky breath. I could see tears start to well up in my best friend’s eyes, and soon I couldn’t help but tear up too, which only got worse when he spoke again.
“Luna, I’m sure there’s some universe out there where I never met you and I went off and did whatever, but I don’t care about that. My heart lives in this universe with you, and you’re my home. There is absolutely no one that I have ever loved more than you and you have made me the happiest person in the world for almost a decade and a half. It’s taken me way too long to get off my ass and do this, but trust me when I say I’ve been thinking of this moment since we started dating. And I hope it goes how I dreamed, too.”
Jack reached into his pocket and handed Alex a small box. I could see now that Alex’s face was stained with tears too, like many in the room, and he slowly opened the box, smiling up at Luna. “Luna, I know it took me far too long to ask, but will you marry me? And be my best friend for the rest of ever?”
Quickly wiping away tears, Luna tried to compose herself enough to speak. “Of course I’ll marry you. There’s nothing I’ve ever wanted more.”
Alex sprung to his feet in joy, wrapping his now fiancée in a bear hug, cradling her for a moment. As onlookers, we began applauding, and I couldn’t seem to stop crying. I felt like an obnoxious mother watching my babies get engaged, but I was so happy for them. I always knew they were meant to be, and now it seemed to be culminating into one moment. Everyone was in high spirits.
After slipping the ring on, Luna immediately came to me, sobbing hysterically in joy. I hugged her tight, crying with her until we could both stop squealing. We laughed, wiping each other’s tears away before moving over to Alex. The boys were crowded around him, and everyone else remained sitting. For a moment, it was as if it was just the 6 of us in the world, and I was content.
“Excuse me. I have a bone to pick with you, Gaskarth. How the fuck could you tell Jack about this, but not me?! I feel cheated,” everyone joined me in laughing, including Jack, to my surprise. It felt like for the first time in years, we were breaking down walls, seemingly just for our best friends, but I didn’t mind. It was nice to see some of the old him, even briefly.
“Listen, I’ve had his ring on the bus. Jack was just the only one to find out, so I blackmailed him to keep his mouth shut for once in his life,” Alex laughed, shaking his head slightly. “No, in all seriousness, I thought Jack would be a good best man. Keeping this a secret was his test, and he passed. You down, bud?”
“Fuck yeah I am! I’m going to give the most killer toast and the whole nine yards. Just you wait!” Jack beamed, his familiar look of utter happiness making my heart skip a beat for some reason. My eyes lingered on him, and I found myself smiling too. His gaze locked to mine, and I felt like a teenager again, but quickly glanced away. What was I doing?
“Don’t worry, Nora. Alex might not have kept you in the loop, but you’re going to be sick of weddings by the time we’re done! How’s about being my maid of honor?” She grinned, looking back at me expectantly.
I was a little surprised, but I wasn’t sure why. “Me? Are you sure?”
She rolled her eyes, throwing an arm around my shoulders happily. “Of course, you weirdo! No one else is worthy of it.”
I smiled, leaning my head against hers. “I’d be honored to be your maid of honor.”
She gave an over dramatic, exasperated sigh at my pun before quickly attaching herself to her new fiancé, and I couldn’t help but laugh. Ever since high school, few things made me happier than seeing my best friend so happy, and Alex had always been it. I loved them both, and seeing how much they loved each other was a gift to me, no matter what day it was.
More guests slowly trickled into the party, and the news of the engagement quickly spread as Luna showed off her ring. She and Alex drifted in and out as they tried to greet everyone, but it was comforting that the original group was seemingly the most important. I couldn’t remember the last time I was so happy around all of them, including Jack, but it was refreshing. I felt like I truly had my friends back, or was at least starting to get back to a point with no hard feelings. I hoped we were.
At some point, while Alex and Luna were absent, Zack and Rian disappeared to get drinks, leaving just Jack and I. There was a brief pause of awkwardness, but both of us quickly tried to cover it.
“Nora, c—“ he started.
“Jack, I—“ I said almost simultaneously. We both laughed, albeit nervously at our mix up. “You go first.”
Jack cleared his throat, trying to play off the nervousness we were sharing. “Look, uh, I think we should really work together on this wedding. The maid of honor and the best man need to do their best, or something like that. And I know the last couple or ten or so years have been weird, but...I wanna make them unweird. You know, for Alex and Luna. Yeah.”
I couldn’t help but chuckle again at his awkwardness, as it almost made me feel better about my own. “I agree, Jack. We should totally work together. And for the record, I never wanted for things to be weird between us, but it was just...hard. But things are different now. We’re different people, you know? There’s no reason we can’t be friends, for the bride and groom’s sake and our own.”
The genuine smile he gave me made my heart flutter and smile in return, but I tried to ignore it. “I’d like that. I’d really like that. And hey, maybe sometime soon, you and I can—“
“Nora,” Will’s voice cut in, and I felt my heart sink almost immediately. I had almost completely forgotten he was even there. Things were going great; what was with the sudden interruption? “I think we should get going.”
“Why? I’d really like to stay. I mean, we’re celebrating. What’s the rush to get home?” I questioned, a little annoyance in my tone.
“I have an early shift at the hospital tomorrow. I need to be in the best shape when dealing with people’s lives.” He looked back at me expectantly, and I noticed him trying to keep a calm composure.
I suddenly felt bad. I hadn’t meant to abandon him at the party, but I had gotten carried away in all the good news. “Oh. That’s right. Dr. Jarvis needs his beauty sleep. Yeah, maybe we should get going.” I turned back to Jack, communicating an apology with a facial expression. “Jack, let’s talk wedding stuff soon, okay? I’ll see you later.”
Will took my hand again, pulling me in the direction of the front door. I couldn’t help but drag my feet a little, reluctant to leave. I knew my boyfriend was mad, and I didn’t want to leave my friends. I felt like I was being punished by a parent. I saw Zack and Rian on our way out and stopped to say my goodbyes, but Will was eager to leave and made them brief.
Before we could make a full escape, Luna and Alex stopped us, a look of concern on both of their faces. “Hey, are you guys leaving already? Is everything okay?”
I sighed. “Yeah, Will just has work tomorrow, so it’s probably best we go.”
Luna looked between Will and I, trying to discern whatever was going on, her eyes asking a barrage of questions toward me. “You don’t have to go. If you need to go, Will, you can take Nora’s car, and she can stay here tonight. We’ll take her back to her apartment tomorrow.”
Will was visibly displeased. “Well, I appreciate the offer, but I think it’s best and the most convenient for everyone if we go now.”
Alex and Luna shared a look, then both looked at me, a silent communication skill we had developed over the years. I was sure they could tell I wanted to stay, but I felt like I had to go and settle things with Will. “Nonsense,” Luna cut in, ever the defensive one. “We can make it work. We definitely wouldn’t mind having Nora stay.”
“Look, guys, I think I should go,” I said, smiling sadly. “Call me soon, okay? We have a wedding to start planning. I love you both, and congratulations!”
With some final goodbyes and hugs, Will and I left the party. He was silent until we got to the car, and I knew I had to be the one to break it. “Will, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to leave you out tonight. I’m sure it would have been fine for you to join the conversation at any point, though. Or any conversation.”
He sighed, running his fingers through his hair. “Hon, I didn’t mean to drag you away from your friends. I really do have a shift tomorrow, I just...I felt like I was supposed to get to know your friends and instead I was just left to my own devices. If I had known it was supposed to be such a tight knit event, I wouldn’t have tried to go.”
“I’m sorry you feel that I made you feel that way. That’s not how I intended tonight to go, I just...” I paused, trying to choose my words carefully. I didn’t want to be a bitch, but I hadn’t seen him talk to anyone the whole night, and I didn’t think I deserved all the blame. “I know you were out of your element, but I’m sure anyone, including the gang, would have been welcoming if you wanted to talk. You talk to strangers every day, so you could have easily made friends there. They’re nice people.”
He looked like he was about to argue that point but paused, obviously trying to tread lightly. It was silent for a moment, so I put the car into drive and began the trek back to my apartment, silently hoping the conversation was over. Sadly, I couldn’t get that lucky. “And what about your ex?”
I was so caught off guard, I almost stepped on the breaks, but quickly composed myself. “Jack? What exactly are you asking about him?”
“You guys just seemed awful chummy. I was expecting you to be more awkward with the stories you’ve told me,” he mentioned, feigning an innocent look.
I was growing more and more frustrated by the second, and it was getting harder to stay calm. “What, am I not allowed to try to make amends with someone who I dated twelve years ago? God, Will, is that why you interrupted when you did?” I glanced over at him, but he wouldn’t look at me. Why was he being a child? The man was a doctor for Christ’s sake. “Un-fucking-believable. Look, Will, I don’t know what’s gotten into you, but can you stop? I know you’re a nice guy, and I’d rather see him than whatever you are right now. If we can both be mature adults, we can work this out, okay?”
He sighed somewhat sadly, reaching for one of my hands, which I reluctantly allowed. “I’m sorry, Nora. I know I’m being an idiot, and I don’t mean to be. I guess...I guess I just didn’t know how to act when things didn’t go exactly as planned. I’ll make it up to you, though. You can kick my ass if you’d like, or, even better, I’ll treat you to whatever you want after work tomorrow, and we can sort through all of this more. Does that work?”
I couldn’t help but smile a little at that. “That sounds good. Thank you.”
With that, we finished the ride in comfortable silence, and for the moment, I was content.
Two chapters back to back already? Holy shit, dudes! I hope I can start working on chapter 3 now that finals are over for me (hell YEA), and I'm planning on outlining the chapters so I have something to work with and maybe I'll finally finish this damn story. Anyway, thanks again for reading! :)