bowl of ___________

When he stepped into my room with two bowls of ice cream, I knew he wanted to ask me something. Usually, when he’s feeling like ice cream, he asks me if I want some before bringing two bowls over, mine, almost overflowing to the top while his is only half filled. The image of it always amuses me. Today’s visit doesn’t. I’m not sure what to make of it but I know he’s not likely to waste his time before he asks me about whatever he came to ask me.

I take the bowl he offers me as I sit up on my bed. I’d just been lounging, relaxing, really. He settles next to me but he looks small, his shoulders are curved inward as if he’s trying to almost be invisible. He sighs, looks down into his bowl of dessert then back up to me. “I know you probably don’t want to talk about this, Agni but I feel like it’s still bothering you because you never come up to the desk anymore when she’s around and it’s just not like you. Want to tell me what happened with what’s her face on that date she invited you out to? You came back looking like you’d been hit with something smelly and you never told me about it.”

His voice is soft and uncertain but there is a gentle begging note beneath it all, I know he’s not trying to pry, he’s just worried about me and I suppose I can’t blame him. I don’t know that I want to talk about this thing though. It still feels painfully fresh in my memory and I know I avoid the front desk when I spot her in the library. She’s hard to miss. I wish she’d just stop coming altogether. Finally, it’s my turn to sigh as I look down to the cold bowl in my hands. I don’t know if I feel like eating it right now.

“Switch?” The single word is not unusual in our conversation and he nods, he straightens slightly and I move to sit with my back to his. We pretty much just lean back against one another. We’ve done this since we were little kids and it stuck, really.

I breathe in deeply, trying to will my mind to think back to that ‘date’ that went absolutely to hell because either she misjudged me or I just misjudged her to no end.

“I got to the coffee place, she was there, waiting. I admit she’s pretty and I thought it’d be nice to just talk to her. I go inside to get a coffee, I come back out to settle in front of her, I mean, that’s where you settle when you want to talk to someone face to face, right?” He makes a little noise in the back of his throat and I know he’s agreeing to the thought, to the idea that sitting face to face is easier, at least for still mostly-strangers.

“So I sit down and just like that she moves and she sits next to me. I’m like, okay, sure, a little in my personal space but I’ll leave it be for now. A second later she has her hand on my thigh, she’s moving it up higher still and she whispers in my ear about how we should find somewhere more private!” I know I’m getting angry now, angry or hurt, I’m not sure. I feel my chest tighten and I know my cheeks are wet. Behind me, Mira stiffens and a sort of growl escapes from his throat. I laugh softly and the hurt fades away. “Mira, stop that.”

His shoulders drop and he mumbles a soft apology. I lean my head back against his for a moment and I know we’re still on good terms and we’re fine.

“So I just got up and I told her-” I blink and I frown for a moment, my mind is blank, “well I can’t recall what I told her but I just left, I walked back to the bus and I came home and that’s it. I thought she’d be nice, I thought we could have things in common but she just wanted sex out of me.” The hurt wells up again though it is dim and after a few moments of silence, it fades back to nothing.

Before I can really register what’s going on, Mira has moved away from me, he’s put his bowl on the night stand and without his back to lean on and without any warning that he was going to move, I topple backward. Thankfully, I’d already set my own bowl down though I don’t remember when I did. I crane my neck to look up to him and he looks absolutely upset. I know why though and I shake my head as I get up and round the bed to pull him closer, to just hug him fiercely to my chest.

“That is not your fault. We didn’t know what she’d be like and we gave it a chance. You didn’t twist my arm and you didn’t force me to go. We both thought it’d be just friendly chatting over coffee and she turned out to be more of a sexual predator of sorts than anything else. You are not going to be blaming yourself for this, do I make myself clear, Mira?”

I suppose that my need to protect him is good in helping me forget about my hurt about the whole situation. I feel him nod feebly against my shoulder where he’s resting his head and I hear him sniffle softly. “Looks like our ice cream is seconds away from a meltdown, how about a smoothie instead?”

Smoothies are a lot less common than ice cream as a treat to us because it’s such a new discovery. We found out about them after Eoghan had walked with us near downtown and we’d stopped at an ice cream shop, of course both we’d decided on soft ice cream in a cone but Eoghan had asked for a smoothie and we were curious so we asked him what he was and instead of just explaining, we each had ourselves a sip.

Now we’re just sitting up on the roof, I think it’s our spot. Sitting on the edge, sipping from our smoothies. The sun is bright, almost blinding but I don’t mind. It keeps me from looking anywhere or focusing at much of anything other than Mira’s presence at my side, so close we could touch if we just shifted half an inch closer and the coolness of the smoothie between my fingers.

We’ve left behind the discussion we had while in my room and he hasn’t mentioned doing anything to her since we prepared the smoothies. I think that’s mostly what I was hoping for. I need to stop being a coward and I need to stop hiding away when I see her. I’ve done nothing wrong but I think that if I’d given her just a single chance she might very well have had her way with me. I’m not ready for that and I honestly don’t even want to do that kind of thing yet, let alone with a stranger.

I want to believe I’m not wrong in believing I was wronged. I suppose I should talk to an adult about it. Talking to Zora is a bad idea, she’s not even around lately and she’d just freak out. I don’t really want to bother Armin with that kind of thing so I guess it mostly leaves Alexis and Eoghan. If I can find the courage in my veins to bring it up to them I will. Maybe it’ll help me overcome this need to hide from her. I shouldn’t be hiding, after all. I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong. I just went out to meet with someone who visited the library, who borrowed sensible books and who looked like she couldn’t hurt a single fly. I suppose looks can be misleading.

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