We’d been walking for a while and Caleb had gotten bored and started skipping along in front of me and Maxxie. "Hey, we should go see if that tree house is still there!" he said happily, causing Maxxie to raise an eyebrow curiously. "Yeah, ever since we were like seven there's been this shabby old tree house around here somewhere. Apparently some bum built it to live in but the kids got hold of it and he went somewhere else"
"Aren't tree houses usually at a height?"
"Yeah but this one was like the width of the tree. It was like an actual house in the tree"
Maxxie looked vaguely amused at that for some reason.
"C'mon, it'll be fun"
He shrugged and went along with it, following Caleb in no apparent direction whatsoever.
"Caleb, how are you still like nine years old?" I asked.
"His mum dropped him on his head." Maxxie stage whispered.
"Your mom dropped you on your head" Caleb sulked.
"No... that was my dad."
Caleb’s jaw dropped. "Like for serious?"
Maxxie half smiled. "I guess. He blamed it for my sexuality. Said it knocked all the sense out of me."
I frowned a little as he kept on walking, trying not to laugh.
"What's so funny, hotshot?" Caleb asked, raising one eyebrow.
"I was joking, and you believed me," Maxxie grinned.
"I don't like you so much anymore. You're welcome to him, Hadley" he said and sped up his skipping a little, still searching for the tree house.
Maxxie giggled slightly and I stared at my feet. I wasn’t sure why but something felt weird.
"You okay?" Maxxie asked.
"Yeah, just... You know that guy from Starbucks?"
He nodded. Of course he did, he fucking went there to meet him, idiot.
"You know he's been following us for the past five minutes, right?"
"Has he?" Maxxie asked, looking round.
He spotted the guy and half shouted "Y'know, being stalked is bad enough. Now you're following me?"
"I love you too, man," the guy scowled as he caught up to us.
I frowned, not entirely sure of what I should do. Part of me wanted to stay here and make sure this guy, whose name I think was Alex, didn’t do anything to fuck up our plan but another part of me wanted to get the fuck out of there and find Caleb.
Alex joined us and put his arm around Maxxie. "How's things with Cayden?" he asked and Maxxie shrugged.
"Probably not the best topic" I muttered under my breath.
"Oh?" he ruffled Maxxie’s hair, "you do choose some, don't you?"
"I hope you're including yourself in that." He put an arm around Alex’s waist and I felt my frown creeping back.
"Do you want me to go catch up to Gayleb? He's never gonna find that thing on his own"
"I don't mind, Hadley."
"So this is Hadley. Hey, cheers for looking after him," Alex said with a smile.
I smiled back a little, hiding my frown. "No problem". No one spoke for a while and I found myself staring at my shoes again. "Well this is awkward"
"Sorry man, just wanted to see how Max was doing. Didn't mean to interrupt," Alex smiled and let go of Maxxie.
I shrugged. "You hardly interrupted anything"
"Didn't mean to make you feel awkward then. Same thing, really."
At that point, Caleb ran back to us, red in the face and out of breath. He actually looked quite cute, no wonder he always skipped out on gym class. "I told you it was still there! The ladder's still there and everything"
"I'll leave you guys to it, then," Alex smiled and went to walk off but Maxxie grabbed his shirt, pulling him back.
"Where the fuck do you think you're going? 'Let's stay friends' does not mean fucking off when your friend needs you. Gimme a piggyback, asshole." He said, climbing on Alex’s back.
Caleb laughed and looked expectantly at me. Give him a piggyback? Sure, if I want to get fucking molested. "I'm not giving you a piggyback, asshole"
"I'll give you a piggyback on the way back." Alex said and Caleb smiled, though something told me he’d prefer it if me or Maxxie gave him a piggyback.
Maxxie laughed. "Brave face Maxxie, coming through. Giddy up"
I felt myself smile and Caleb leant over and whispered "Look at that, maybe I'll get to keep you to myself after all"
I shook my head. Oh, how wrong you are, buddy. "Fuck off, Gayleb"
"Hands off my Hadley back there," Maxxie looked round and winked.
"Nuh uh, he's mine now"
"I'm not anybody's!"
"Correction. You're temporarily mine, whenever Cayden can see."
Caleb suddenly wrapped his arms around me possessively. I really do hate him sometimes. Really. "And mine when he can't"
I flashed him an annoyed looked "Gayleb, get off me"
Maxxie giggled and Alex just said "Don't make me come and sort you two out."
Caleb’s jaw dropped again. "No! We're like Romeo and Juliet. This is where we're s'posed to run off and get married in secret"
"Something tells me Hadley wouldn't appreciate that so much." Alex said.
"Someone who finally gets it" I said, throwing my hands in the air.
Alex laughed and I smiled a little. "So what's this about you being Max's when Cayden's around? I feel left out."
"Ask him, I'm s'posed to be getting married" I laughed and walked off with Caleb towards the tree house. I still had that weird feeling but shrugged it off. I might as well have some fun, right?