The following morning, I woke up first and slipped out of the room, taking my hoodie and setting it to the washer like I did every morning, I took the time to look at myself in the mirror, the hickey Kenzie had given me had formed into a light purple mark on my neck. Went to my room and I put on a new shirt before heading back into the kitchen, making myself some breakfast with some extra for Kenzie.
After a few minutes she came out of the room, ruining any hope of surprising her with breakfast in bed, it was silly but it was now Valentine’s day and I wanted to do it. She was wearing one of my baggier tees.
“Morning.” I said.
“G’morning. I hope you don’t mind but I took the liberty of borrowing a little something.”
There was a few seconds of silence before she spoke again.
“So, about last night, is everything okay? Not just you but, I mean, between us?”
“Yeah, I just got a little stressed out. But I’m okay now, sorry for being a buzzkill...”
“Hey, don’t apologize. Just because we’re dating it doesn’t mean that I’m entitled to your affection and I think that what I did was a little too far from your comfort zone, which I’m sorry for. Can I make it up to you?”
I nodded and she came closer, pushed me lightly against the countertop and kissed me, I let the spatula down on the stove. We shared an intimate moment and I felt the tip of her tongue intrude so I met it with mine, we had the kitchen to ourselves.
“The eggs are going to overcook.” I protested as she started kissing my neck where the hickey was, sending little shocks through my body and making me shiver.
“Let me handle that.” She activated her power and levitated the spatula and the frying pan, moving the eggs to the plates. “See?”
“Say, Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I just woke up feeling a little...“ She didn’t specify but it was obvious. She moved her finger around my throat and going down to my chest. “And you weren’t there.” She pouted.
“Good morning girls.” My dad said sleepily as he came out of his room.
“Hey dad…” Kenzie and I stopped and she moved away.
“Don’t stop for me, I’m just passing through to the shower.”
He locked himself in the shower and we felt a little awkward. My dad was an early bird and light sleeper. Rather than continue, we started eating and I made some more for my dad who came out not long after.
“Thank you, Pumpkin.” My dad kissed my hair before sitting down with us. “By the way, Happy Valentine’s day girls. Do you have any plans?”
“We haven’t really talked about it. I’ve never done anything on Valentine’s…”
“I’m sure we’ll find something.” Kenzie said.
“Well, you two will have the house to yourselves if you need, I’m taking your mother out for dinner and some fun on the town.”
We ate for about half a minute before my dad asked something.
“Paige, can you turn around for a second?” I did. “Is that a hickey?”
“I can explain…”
He rolled his eyes. “Just cover it up before you go out.”
“Want to go watch TV?” I asked Kenzie as we finished out breakfast.
“That sounds nice.”
We went to the living room and cuddled up on the couch waiting for school time to hit. As we watched, I played with my phone, finishing up the configuration and transferring my data from the old one onto a cloud and into the new one. Sometime during that, my mom came out of her room and went into the kitchen with my dad.
I saw the pile of messages my mom had left for me during my self imposed exile, I hadn’t read any of them, I hadn’t had the courage to before. I opened that window and read the last one she had sent me several days ago.
> Paige, I’m so sorry, I want you to know that still love you. Kimberly said to give you some time and space and I will, please come back home when you’re ready.
I went out of the living room, with Kenzie giving me a questioning look. My mom was in the kitchen, eating the breakfast my dad had made for her, I went toward her and wrapped my arms around her shoulders.
“Well, that’s a rare sight.” My dad commented.
“Are you okay, Paige?”
“I am. I saw the texts you sent me… I should have given you a chance to explain yourself, I’m sorry.”
My mom turned around and a hugged me back.
“Well, I want to apologize too.”
“Now that I know about your orientation, I realize that all these times I prodded you about you getting a boyfriend or if you liked a boy were probably awful for you. I wanted to try to be supportive and make it clear it was okay for you to have a budding love life but I did the contrary, I made you think I wanted you to be straight because I didn’t think about the fact that maybe you weren’t.”
“I forgive you.”
“Alright, from now on, I’ll only annoy you about cute girls.” She joked.
“I can live with that.”
I left her to her breakfast and put my hoodie in the drier and went back to sit with Kenzie, who dragged me close before giving me a peck on the lips. We watched some more tv before it was time to prepare for school.
“So, we’ll have to go in a few.” I said going into the kitchen.
“Paige, can I talk with you in private for a minute?” My dad asked.
We went into my room and he closed my door, we both sat on my bed.
“So, I think it’s time we have a talk.” He declared.
“I’ve had ‘the talk’ already, both from you and mom. Several times in fact.”
“Well, today I want to talk about something a little different. I just want to talk to you about safety, and I don’t mean the STI and pregnancy type of safety.”
“Okay…” It doesn’t matter how close you are or how open your parents have been about sexuality, reproduction and anatomy, ‘the talk’ is always an awkward experience.
“Sex is a complicated thing, and it can make relationships much more difficult, especially when those involved are at a different place in term of readiness, sometimes a partner might ask you to do something you aren’t ready for and this can hurt you. You’re young, inexperienced and I think you’re very attached to Kenzie and want to please her above all else.
Which is why I want you to promise me something; I don’t want you to promise me you won’t have sex, or anything like that, because that’s for you to decide in your own heart. What I want you to promise me is to be careful, I’m not accusing Kenzie of anything, but if and when you do something with her, you should only do so when you feel that you’re ready to do it and I want you to do it because you want to, not because you feel pressured or obligated into doing it. Can you promise that to me?”
“I promise, dad.”
“Alright, have a good day.”
I kissed him on the cheek, left the room and put my clean hoodie on. Thankfully I didn’t have any homework due that day, my school bag had been left at the headquarter.
“Hey, mom. I’m about to go. Would you mind if I maybe come back later?”
“Paige, this is your house, you can come, go and stay as you please.”
“Of course.” She gave me a hug and I returned it. “Water under the bridge.”
I put my shoes on as Kenzie was putting on all of her winter gears.
“Before you go.” My mom said, searching around her bag. “Here’s some money. I want you and Kenzie to enjoy your first Valentine’s day together, go out or just stay in and watch a movie cuddled up and order some takeout.” She hugged me. “I love you Paige.”
“Thanks mom. I love you too.”
School went along pretty swimmingly, homeroom teachers all gave us chocolates to give and Kenzie and I shared ours, a few people noticed but nobody said anything. Somewhere during the day, I received a message saying training was called off for the day.
“Before we decide what we do tonight, do you mind if we go by the headquarter?” Kenzie asked when we walked out. “I need to get something to change.”
The HQ car was already waiting for us, like it did every day and it drove us to the headquarter. Once we were there, Kenzie went into her room to change and I noticed that there was an envelope taped to the door of my room.
I came closer and picked it up. It had writing on it ‘Happy B-day from Travis’ I opened the envelope and it contained a good restaurant reservation ticket for two as well as a generous gift card.
I went to the security panel and called security.
“Security, is Travis or Hedron still in the building?”
There was a pause as they checked their tracking.
“He checked into the armory six minutes ago and has not left.” It was a human voice this time.
“Thank you, have a good day.”
I went down the stairs and walked into the armory, using my ID card to open the door. A robotic voice informed me I was not allowed to take anything out of the armory without consent from my supervising officer.
Travis was there, tinkering with one of the weapons. I knocked on the nearest table to get his attention.
“Hey Travis, sorry to bother you, I just I wanted to thank you for the gift, even if I’m a little surprised.”
“Don’t mention it.”
“It’s just that I thought you hated me.”
“I don’t hate you. Actually, I don’t hate anyone on the team, even Chuan and Victoria who sometimes gets on my nerves I don’t hate them. But at the same time, I don’t want to be your friend, it’s nothing personal, it’s just pointless.”
“I don’t think it’s pointless.”
“Maybe for you, but I’m dying, Paige.” He confessed. “Slowly, but surely. I have wolfram syndrome and that means I have maybe ten years left, maybe four or five of those will be comfortable.”
“Oh… I didn’t know.”
“I stopped being able to produce insulin when I was six. When I was eleven my vision started deteriorating, first color perception and peripheral vision, soon followed by my hearing. They almost took me off the guardians program but I volunteered for experimental implants. In the next two years, I’ll lose what’s left of my hearing. By my early twenties I’ll lose control of my breathing, my balance and coordination. Then I can look forward to muscle spasms and seizures. Provided a miracle happens, I might make it to my thirtieth birthday.” There was detachment in his tone, he wasn’t looking for sympathy, he was merely stating the facts.
“Don’t be, I’ve had time to get used to the eventuality. I’m sorry we can’t be friends, but the time I have left, I want to spend it on something important to me and that’s my family. Being a guardian is already enough of a distraction but it means I get to leave something behind for my family and I get to keep experiencing sight for a few more years, even if it means I could die tomorrow. It’s an acceptable trade off.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“Then don’t say anything, go to Kenzie and enjoy the time you have together. Remember that; the most important thing you can give to someone is your time.”
“Do you mind if I give you a hug?”
He sighed but still gave a smile. We shared a short and gentle hug.