Leon spent his night on his computer and listening to music while he studied about computing. This was a pastime he enjoyed, and he was trying to take his mind off of things. He spent about ninety minutes Googling ‘Advanced Computer Software Coding,’ but by 10:30, he found himself Googling if what he felt was what he thought it might be. He turned it over constantly in his head that he should call Desmond and confess to him – but after remembering that even Desmond, his best friend, seems to also be interested in her, he thought it best to leave it alone. The last thing he wanted was for him to be in competition with his own best friend; he didn’t want to end up hating him for it.
Not much had transpired in the next few weeks. Suddenly it was week 4 in the first term already. Leon was by himself in the spot he usually hung around Desmond at. As usual, he had his earphones in. He had his eyes closed so as to better focus on and appreciate the music. He opened his eyes slightly and saw Alice walking towards him. His heart had begun racing and he entered a state of complete panic: why was she coming over here? What was she going to say? Why hasn’t she brought Desmond with her? Where WAS Desmond? He felt dizzy and like he was going to pass out.
“Hi,” exclaimed Alice. Leon paused for about five seconds, when he finally gathered his words. “H-Hi, Alice. How are you?”
“Quite well. How are you? You seem ailed.”
A quick look of surprised dashed across Leon’s face. “Oh, no! No, I’m not ailed. Just tired, really; and I haven’t seen Desmond all day.”
“I see. Well, I have five dollars. Why don’t I buy us both some iced coffee?”
Leon smiled and nodded. They didn’t return to the spot, they decided to walk around for a bit. They finally chose to sit down on the grass in the sun, about a minute or so from their usual spot.
“So,” Leon had begun, “what do you think of Desmond?” he questioned, desperate to know what she thinks of him.
“He seems cool, but I don’t know what to think of him. It’s obvious that he has a thing for me; either that or he’s being very misleading. I don’t like that. Any guy I ever talk to always has feelings for me – more people need to be more like you, Leon.”
He couldn’t describe how he felt at those words: despair, and disappointment. But then Leon quickly remembered that one thing he had often forgotten the past month: he doesn’t want a relationship. He wants to stay single and focus on his schoolwork.
“Well, they shouldn’t be like that. I can understand why that would be annoying.”
Leon smiled, looking her directly in her eyes.
“But can you blame them? You’re terrific.”
Leon wanted to bash his head on the wall as he mentally shouted to himself: “You should have said that to her! Why the hell didn’t you?!”
“Leon!” Desmond yelled, as Leon’s train of thought was shattered. “Oh, yeah, yeah, sorry. What’s up?”
“For fuck sake. Do you want to hang out after school?” said Desmond with exasperation in his voice. “You never listen to me, and never tell me why you’re lost in thought.”
“Sorry, sorry. Yeah, I do want to hang out.”
“Great! It’ll be me, you and Alice.”
“Alice is coming, too?”
“Yeah… Do you not want her to?”
How should Leon reply to this? If he says he does want her to come with them, would that lead him on? If he said no, it will mislead Alice and maybe make her hate him. If he said he doesn’t care, that is practically just telling Desmond that he doesn’t think much of Alice.
“Nah, it’s cool. She can come too, ” Leon blurted out, but maybe sounded a bit too excited… He continued, “I mean, if she wants,” he said, a little more calmly.
“Lee, are you positive you’re okay? Is something the matter?”
“Nah, nah, nothing is the matter. I just didn’t—“
“Get enough sleep last night, save it,” said Desmond, dominating Leon’s voice and cutting him off, “it’s the excuse you use all of the time to avoid telling me something. What’s been going on with you this term?”
“Nothing! I swear. Nothing is the matter. I’m just trying to wrap my head around learning binary code flawlessly. You know how complex it is; I mean all the ones and zeroes! Wow, I’ve pulled a LOT of late-nighters trying to understand it all completely.”
“Umm, yeah. Sure,” said Desmond, looking taken aback. He didn’t really understand any of this fancy computer talk. “But wait, weren’t you studying ben-airy code like, back in November?”
“Oh,” Leon said suddenly, realising he had slipped up. “Did I really say ‘binary?’ Wow, that goes to show how tired I am. I meant to say to wrap my brain around software coding.”
“Mhmm. Whatever you say.”
Desmond stared down at his math work for about thirty seconds when he suddenly looked up with an, “Ohh!” and he looked quickly at Leon. Leon looked puzzled.
“Lee, does this whole new behavior of yours, have anything to do at all with Alice?”
Leon entered yet another state of panic. What should he say now? Should he lie? Should he be truthful? Is he going to contradict himself? Make himself seem stupid?
“Alice? Why—Why would it be about her? I mean, she’s great and all, but…”
“What is it?”
“It isn’t about Alice. I don’t know why I have been acting this way, but it’s not about her. Really.”
“Does it bother you that I plan on asking her out?”
Leon knew that his future with Alice might depend on his very answer to this. If he said yes, would Desmond still ask her out, or would he push her towards Leon instead? If he said no, then nothing would change.”
“No, it doesn’t.”