When I've calmed down again, I dry my face, put my shades back on and walk back out into the canteen. Mickey's gone, and Aidan is sat there on his own, waiting for me to come back out. Nice to know I have at least one friend in the team I can trust not to be a total dick.
"Mickey went to help Connor out," he tells me as I sit back down. I don't say anything; I just stare at the tray of food in front of me. "You gonna eat that?" he asks, pointing at my salad box. I blink and look at it before scooping it into my bag.
"Later," I mutter and he sighs.
"Why don't you go home? You look like you could do with a break," he suggests and, though I understand he's trying to be nice, I find myself snapping at him anyway.
"No! I'm fine!"
"Okay, okay!" he leans back in his chair, holding his hands up in surrender, "Just a suggestion, Joey." I nod and give myself a mental slap. C'mon. Pull yourself together woman.
"I know. Sorry, I'm just..." I trail off, trying not to let my voice crack.
"Finding it hard, I know. It's not a weakness to admit that," the fact that he's right makes me want to slap him. "C'mon. Let's sit outside." He stands up and walks off for the door that leads outside into the street. I follow, ignoring the eyes that watch me go. There's this little park nearby that some of us go to in our breaks for a smoke or some peace and quiet. There's a bench under a large oak tree that I sit on sometimes. Alex would come with me, but he would sit in the tree instead, on a branch above me. He'd just lie down on it and talk to me, sunbathing or clearing his head or whatever it was he did up there.
Aidan sits down on the bench and pats the seat beside him. I'm about to protest and say I can't, the memories of Alex here are so fresh in my head, but then I realize; that's the whole point. He smiles as I sit beside him and puts an arm around me. I go to shrug him off, but it's kinda comforting, I guess.
Urgh. What is wrong with me?
Tomorrow, I'm going to get through the day without accepting a hug or crying.
We sit like that for a full ten minutes, remembering Alex together. I'm sure I hear Aidan sniffing and trying not to cry, but I don't look around. I don't want him to set me off again.
I'm remembering a recent lunch break with Alex, right now. He was in the tree, lying on his usual branch, staring up at the sky. "Dude, why is the sky never green?" he asked, "it goes every other color, red, blue, purple, orange, yellow... but never green." The question had surprised me, to say the least. Alex didn't usually ask random questions, and I hadn't had an answer for it. As I vaguely consider looking up the answer online, Aidan's phone rings and the silence between us is broken.
He pulls his arm from around me and answers it, just listening with a dark look on his face.
"Well is he not there? Right, okay," he mutters into the phone, hanging up again, "ah crap." He closes his eyes for a moment, apparently trying to get his head around what was just said to him.
"What's crap?" I ask impatiently.
"Mickey just called to say they got there too late. He's already been and taken all he needs and gone again." I feel my face drop as he tells me and I'm frozen to the spot as he gets up. "C'mon. We need to get a move on. I know we're all putting it off ‘cause he's a friend... well apart from Mickey, he just doesn't care, but we need to just get it over." I might as well be made out of ice. He offers his hand to pull me up, but I just stare at it and slap it away.
"No," I hiss.
"Joey," he says warningly, "he's already dead. Come on."
"No. I'm not going to kill my friend," I shake my head stubbornly and scoot down the bench away from him, so I can get up and walk around him without him being able to stop me.