Leon stood still, not saying a single word. He only stood staring at Desmond as silence fell between them, because Desmond had just asked Leon that one question that Leon had hoped he would never, EVER ask. Leon’s mind was in overdrive – he was panicking and trying to think quickly of what he could say that would be a convincing lie.
“Leon… Are you still there?”
Leon pretended to snap back to awareness and widened his eyes, “Oh yeah, sorry. What did you say?”
“Are you in love with Alice?”
Leon didn’t have as long to think about it this time, so without thinking he blurted out:
“Alice?” Leon chuckled, “Des, you know I’m completely against relationships—“
“Well, people change—“
“AND,” Leon interrupted, “Alice is your girlfriend! That’s your turf and not mine. So no, I’m not in love with her; I have too much work to do.”
Desmond seemed overall unconvinced about this. He stood, surveying Leon for a moment. “And you’re absolutely sure you don’t have any kinds of feelings for her… I mean you may not realise what it feels like since you have gone seventeen years without—“
“Don’t start condescending to me, Des. Your girlfriend needs you so go to her.”
Desmond picked up his bag and slowly walked towards the door and Leon followed behind him. Desmond started to walk off but didn’t get far. “Oh, and Leon, if you ever have those feelings towards anybody you can tell me.”
“Got it,” Leon replied and Desmond resumed walking off. Leon shut the door hurriedly and sighed out of relief.
“That was close.”
The following Monday Leon got to school and walked into Music class where he saw Alice sitting at a table working on chord theory. Leon slowly walked up to her and placed his bag down and took a seat next to her.
“Hi,” he said.
“Oh, hey Leon.”
“Hey, um… Listen, I’m—I’m sorry about—about your dad. It’s just terrible.”
“Thank you, Lee. But I don’t really want to think about that right now. I’m sorry Desmond had to leave your place.”
“Eh, it’s okay. You needed him with you more than I did.”
“Thanks for understanding.”
Leon was looking around the room while he grabbed his book from his bag and received a sheet from the teacher just like Alice’s chord theory sheet. The silence was short lived when Alice stopped her work and said, “Leon, you know if you’re feeling different or upset or something, Des and I are here for you.”
Wait… WHAT?! She either just read Leon’s mind or Desmond has told her about what happened over the weekend! This was bad. Leon Had never had feelings for a girl – let alone have them know how he feels. Leon could kill Desmond.
“Oh. Thank you! But you know me, as long as I have a working computer and piano in my room I’m right as rain!” Leon finished with a nervous chuckle.
Alice smiled. “Just thought you should know.”
At that moment Desmond walked in and joined the two, much to Leon’s dismay. He greeted the pair of them and gave Alice a hug.
“Listen, I don’t mean to break up this reunion of yours but Des we really need to practice our piece for the assignment, so—“
“Oh yeah, yeah I know. Alice can do her work while she watches us play in that room.”
Sure. Why not? It’s not like Leon just wanted those two to get away from each other for once.
They ran through their song once, twice, three times and then decided to take a short break. Leon moved his fingers in a perpetual backwards and forwards motion to relieve the stiffness and then cracked his knuckles.
“That was great, boys. Which song is that anyway? It sounds familiar…”
“It’s Tallulah by the one and only Sonata Arctica! The men from the cold white north. The—“
“You know what Leon, we get it. Anyway, Alice—“
“Okay, you know what Desmond?” Leon said louder than Desmond, “You always ask me what’s wrong and that I can talk to you about anything, and you act so damn supportive, but—“
“I didn’t mean—“
“SHUT UP DESMOND! Just shut up! You can’t try to be supportive but constantly piss me off every single day! I get she’s your girlfriend but you always put Alice before me and it’s causing us to drift apart! You are treating me like I’m just some kid that hangs around you two because he has nobody better! Well screw that. I don’t need it, I don’t want it and I don’t have to put up with it!” Leon started walking quickly towards the door, sweeping up his bag. Desmond tried to swoop in and stop him. “Leon, I—“
“Fuck off!” Leon slammed the door behind him and left class.
Leon sat by himself on a staircase for about ten minutes and then Alice and Desmond must have realised he isn’t coming back because Alice found Leon and approached him and sat next to him.
“I’m sorry about that…” Leon said with regret.
“That was quite an episode. But I’m not the one who deserves an apology.”
“And Desmond does? I know I overreacted but everything I said was true.”
“Leon, I meant you. You’re the one who deserves an apology.”
Leon stared at his feet for a moment before Alice realised Leon wasn’t going to reply.
“I can understand if you don’t want to talk about it, but something seems to be bothering you; something that made you yell at something that would be better off spoken about calmly.”
Leon finally replied. “To be honest, I don’t know how I’m feeling. I’ve never had this kind of emotion before.”
“Maybe it’s love? Is there someone special in your life I don’t know about?”
A state of panic ran over Leon, similar to how he felt when Desmond asked if he felt that way about Alice.
“No, there’s nobody special. I just—“
Leon stopped himself. “I’m not really good with this touchy-feely crap. I’m not ready to talk about whatever it is. I hope you understand.”
“I do.” Alice said simply.
Leon stood up, followed by Alice. They both decided to walk back to class.
“I’m sorry. I do want to talk about it eventually; just not right now. Please don’t say anything to Desmond.” Alice agreed not to.
Leon sat down, away from Alice and Desmond. He contemplated what might have happened if he kept talking. He might have led Alice on a bit too much than he’d have hoped to.
“So, what happens next?” Leon asked himself.