The past month has been rough for Roxy; her closest friend Rio was pressuring her to bring in a stranger named Claire and share their adventures with her, but she was afraid Rio was falling in love with Claire. She was so much like Roxy but didn't seem nearly as shy, a bit more hostile perhaps, but definitely not shy. She didn't know what to do, she didn't want to lose the only real friend she had to someone she barely knew. It's gotten to the point that she had to take a hiatus from fighting criminals because her focus was slipping.
One day, she was home alone in her room when Rio came by looking for her.
"What do you want?" she bitterly asked when she was in front of her bedroom door.
"You haven't come over to my house in six weeks. Are you sick?"
"Get a nasty injury?"
"Well, why have you been ignoring me, your own friend? I mean it's not like Claire's involved or any--"
"Macario, shut up. Just shut up." She coldly interrupted. "You think you can spend all that time with her and come back like we're best pals again?"
"Roxanne, what's wrong with you? You're acting weird."
"Oh, good! You finally caught on. Look, I didn't want to tell you this, but you're a real pain!" She began to feel rage from some unknown source; possibly pent up from the stress she's had in the past weeks. "You do nothing but spend time with her without even being considerate of my feelings! You know what, I will just be as sincere as possible right now: I detest the idea of you and Claire hanging out together. I detest the idea of you hanging out with anyone, because it would mean you would eventually abandon me just like you did 5 years ago. Not to mention all the times when we're fighting criminals together and I always have to save your stupid hide from some kind of stupid thing you end up doing! I guess I was right, people are nothing but trouble and they only serve to make you weak."
"No... you're wrong." He muttered.
"What was that, you jerk?" She shot back at him.
He gripped his fist and scowled. "I said, 'you're wrong'! You're too busy being an indifferent, wisecracking pain-in-the-ass..." her eyes widened in amazement. It was the first time she saw him genuinely angry. "...to everybody that you don't even see I was trying to help you two get along. I didn't mind too much, but now that you say all this..." He put his hand to his head, Roxy was on the verge of tears, feeling awful about deceiving him. The more he talked, the worse she felt. "I can't believe I didn't catch it earlier, since you always seemed to show contempt for people who can match you in wit. But I know you alright, you only resort on sarcasm to hide your own flaws and insecurities! You're just afraid that if you try to get warm, you'll get burned! Well, guess what? I'm done. If you don't want to change, if you really feel like our friendship burdens you, then fine. I won't bother coming by to visit anymore, so you can be happy in solitude for the rest of your life."
It was at that moment when Roxanne's enduring security mask had finally shattered. She covered her eyes, dropped to the ground, and started sobbing. Macario turned back, immediately showing concern.
"Roxy, I...didn't mean to-"
"No," she sniveled "You're right. I had a lot of friends when I was in gifted classes back on Celestas, but I got too lazy to do the more laborious projects. I was moved to the regular classes in middle school, shortly before we left to go here. The people in the class seemed stupider to me. I ended up using sarcasm and cold remarks to amuse myself and feel less scared. Then you came along that one day in class..."
"Hi, are you new here? You look funny." You energetically said to me.
"You have a funny sense of what's 'funny'." I calmly replied.
"You're right." You depressingly responded, "I'm a big weirdo. That's why I'm here with you."
We saw a guy swinging across desks, only to fall and land with his crotch on top of a chair. Everyone wondered if he was alright. I just laughed.
"Hey, that's mean!" You told me.
"Well, an intelligent person would have never done such a thing. It's stunts like these that only prove which of us have evolved and which of us are still trying to start fires."
"I once started a fire in my living room. My dad arrested me" I looked at you rather puzzled. "He's a cop." he smiled, then frowned "Well...he was."
"Did he have to retire or something?" I was hoping you were going somewhere else besides the obvious.
"No." You shook your head. "It was an attack on a college campus that he took alone. The other officers told him to step down and wait for the SWAT team to arrive, but he insisted taking them down on his own. By the time they rounded up all the criminals he captured, they found him wounded and bleeding; he took ten bullets, three cuts, and was stabbed twice." you began to cry a little "…even then, he wasn't dead until they got to the hospital."
"Wow, that's incredible." I was amazed by the story "Is that really true?"
"Yep" you perked up incredibly fast "My family's had a long past of stubborn yet noble deaths. "
"I assume given you started a fire in your own home, you'll die before you're 20." People were usually turned off by my sarcasm, so I expected you to have just stopped talking to me. You just laughed at my joke, making me realize you were different from the others.
"You know I like you, funny girl. What's your name?"
"Roxanne." I quietly responded.
"Eh, sounds boring. I'm gonna call you Roxy, okay?"
"Oookay?" I looked oddly at you.
"My name's Macario, but you can call me Rio. Nice to meet you, Roxy."
I was trying to look unimpressed, but I still felt the urge to smile "Likewise, Rio."
"Hey, you know you're kinda cute when you smile"
I couldn't help but blush "Y-you think so?"
"Well, I also think you could probably benefit from some company..."
He grinned, "You really do remember the day we met, I was afraid I was the only one."
"Ever since then, you were the only real friend I ever had. When I saw you with Claire and noticing how she was just as witty as me, but not as shy as I was, I... I just... I just felt like you would pick her over me. I feared you would stop being my friend and I'd have to face the world alone again. I'm sorry for every bad thing I said about you earlier. You want the truth? I admire you... I respect you... I-I love you..." Holding back to tell the story and now feeling the urge again, she broke into uncontrollable sobbing. In all the years he knew her, Roxy never cried. Not even if she got hurt. But seeing her so frail, he walked up to her, grabbed her, and held her tight. She stopped crying, but he insisted she continue.
"No, don't stop. Take as long as you need. I'll wait."
She sniffled, let out a hoarse "thank you" and continued to weep for a little longer. He also cried a little to make her feel better.
"You done?" She nodded as he tried to be more clear about what he meant to say. "You know, if you go out of the way to avoid having your heart broken, you won't be able to experience happiness. It's a risk that I'm willing to take, but why not you?"
He gave her a tissue, which she used to wipe her tears. After she blew her nose, she began to wonder why he knew so much about her. "Rio?"
"Can you... read minds?"
"Nah, don't think so. Why?"
"Because it feels like you understand me more than even I understand me."
He sighed. "I was afraid it'd come to this but I guess I'll come out with it. Promise you won't hate or fear me after I tell you the reason."
"Okay?" she tilted her head in confusion.
"Well, here goes." He paused. "It's this weird vibe you give. Ever since we met again, it's like I could feel the pain and suffering you felt without me. What I know about you can be summed up as 'you like being low-key about your presence in public', but I also know you want at least somebody with you so you don't die..." he noticed her eyes widen in awe. He hesitated to finish, but she nodded, wanting him to continue. "so that you don't die alone."
Her voice went soft. "I never told anybody about my greatest phobia. Not even you. You really do know me better than I do."
He assumed what was surfacing at this very moment was his own fear. "If it makes you feel any better, I don't even know myself that well." He closed his eyes, knowing that remark couldn't possibly be enough to make her feel better.
"Well, who the hell could understand you? Your mind would be considered scrambled even by mental patient standards." He opened his eyes, widened by surprise at her typical sarcastic remark.
"You... don't hate me?"
"How could I hate you?" She smiled, wiping her eyes one last time with a tissue. "I may not know you better than you know me, but I know for a fact you wouldn't dare take advantage of me. Mostly 'cause you're kinda dumb," He frowned, "but also because you're really nice." he smiled back and blushed.
"Phew! That's a relief. I was afraid if I told you about this, you would feel even worse. It's great to finally drop the facade."
"Well, if you even fooled me, I'd say the act worked." she chuckled, making him laugh as well. She grew serious for a moment, turning to him and saying, "Sorry what I said to you earlier. I think it's important for you to know that I... that I would give damn near anything to be you for even one day." The look in her eyes made him know she was sincere about that statement.
"Roxy...for what it's worth, I would do the same."
"Really?" She asked, cracking a small grin.
"Yeah" he smiled back. "Come here." He opened his arms, ready to embrace her as she forced herself on him. He rubbed his hand against her smooth, mid-length blond hair, then patted her on the back.
"I'm sorry for being so weak right now. Even I have my limits."
"Don't ever apologize for being weak, Roxy!" He unwaveringly assured her. "It only means you're human...ish. You get the picture" Roxy, feeling more self-conscious after their talk, decided to open up and talk with Rio some more.
"So you thought Claire and I..." he just laughed "Yeah right. I'm not her type."
"You...already asked her out?" she blushed
"Well, we were talking hypothetically."
"Come to think of it, why didn't you tell me that you wanted us to be friends?"
"Well, I know how you work. If you were aware of what I was trying to do, I thought you'd maybe get defensive and push her away."
"You're probably right. I guess I never saw myself as the jealous type."
"No. You're not jealous, just... over-protective. I kinda figured that when you wouldn't let me tag along to fight crime, even after I got kinetic powers."
"Well I was thinking of asking you out..."
"I figured that when you said you loved me."
She blushed, not expecting him to remember that part. "...but I'm starting to think it may be a bad time to start a relationship. What with me being a huge prick while you've only been doing your best to help me, I might not be ready just yet for something beyond being just friends with y--"
Before she could finish, Rio grabbed her and pressed his lips against hers. Though caught off guard, Roxy found herself enjoying this. However, she soon realized what was going on and backed away. "No, no, no! I told you I don't think I'm ready! "
"But something tells me you liked it." He smirked, then looked away. "Well, I don't want you to think I'm trying to force myself on you, so I guess we could wait until you feel more comfortable w--"
It was her turn to interrupt him. She grabbed his arms and kissed him with all the passion she could muster. "Okay seriously? We have to deal with this indecisive thing of yours."
She sighed "I'm sorry, just had to get it out of my system. Now I'm certain I don't want to start anything." she stood silent then added, "For the moment." With that, she gave a coy grin.
"That was the best day-before-birthday gift ever."
"Oh, yeah!" How could she have forgotten her dearest friend's birthday was tomorrow? She felt bad, not having bought him anything. "You want me to get you something, or...?"
"You already did." He kissed her once more, this time on the cheek. This made her grin from ear to ear. "You know you really are cute when you smile."
They both moved to the living room, sat on the couch, and watched TV. About an hour later, Star Lass' alarm rang."Well, do you want me to go with you or do you think you can handle it?"
She checked the report "Eh, it's just Brutus again. I got this. Something cool comes on, record it, okay?"
"But what if I get a call from the morgue? Do I just delete it?" She froze and turned around, amazed with what came out of his mouth.
"Did... did you just use sarcasm?"
He shrugged "What can I say? You must be growing on me."
She laughed as she went into the other room to put on her Star outfit, "Well, I'm off."
Roxy flew out the door, no longer worried about a thing.