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The sound of Nash's alarm pierced through the silence of dawn, startling me awake.

I blinked, my eyes burning from sleep, as I tried to decipher my surroundings in my disoriented state.

I heard a loud, sleepy sigh next to me, and arms that had been tucking me close to the warmth of a body pulled away.

Shifting, Nash groped for his phone and quickly shut off the alarm.

I was too frozen in that spot to think about anything else or move a muscle.

He'd been holding me? We'd slept in his bed together?

How did that happen?

"Casper?" Nash called in a groggy, hushed tone.

I acted quickly, sliding off of his bed and turning to him. To see his face, I could only use the crack of the morning light peering through the window blinds.

"I'm so sorry! I–I don't know why I—"

"Cas, stop it."

Cas? He called me Cas... Cas.

"I..." I couldn't gather my thoughts. I started to blush.

He sighed and swung his legs off his bed, sitting there shirtless.

"I wanted you to," he informed. "I kinda poured my heart out to you, I couldn't not want to hold you as well... I needed somebody and you were there. You were there for me because you wanted to be. So I..." He pondered over that last statement. "It's complicated."

"Poured your heart out?" I whispered.

"Don't you remember?" His face pinched up in curiosity and confusion.

"Um... I just woke up..." I pressed my palm to my forehead. I didn't want him to think that I wasn't a good listener— I was a great listener, in fact, because I kept my mouth shut more than I spoke.

How awful would it be if he told me his about all his troubles and heartbreak only for me to forget them?

Besides, I hadn't forgotten. I simply just needed to wake up a little more.

"I heard what you had to say, Nash, I promise. Just... Give me a few minutes to wake up."

He slowly nodded, pain filling his eyes again. How sad was it that I could notice the hurt in them even in the dim light of the morning?

"Just... Don't forget," he pleaded. "Someone has to know what I'm going through. Not even Ava has a clue because quite frankly, she talks a lot. You... You don't."

"You only told me because I have no friends to tell? Am I... I'm really that much of a loser to you, aren't I?" My eyes watered as that truth stung my heart.

Nash's eyes widened with regret for a moment, but before he could explain himself, I snatched my lanyard and darted out of the room.


The door slammed.

I entered the bathroom, not understanding where all this anger was coming from.

I never overreacted to things. Hell, I never even reacted.

I walked over to the sink and put my lanyard down before turning on the water. I cupped my hands and brought some water up to my face, rinsing it and repeating the process three more times.

I slept right next to Nash.

I slept in his arms.

He was holding me. Me.

I wiped my face with paper towels, finally awake.

"Ugh, you have a ten o'clock class today, too?"

I turned to see Lucas entering the bathroom with a towel over his shoulder and a basket of shower/facial products in his hand. He set the basket on the sink counter and sighed, looking back at me with bright eyes.

"How'd you sleep?"

How did I sleep? Well...

I slept in Nash's arms.

"Good. You?"

"Oh, it was great. I didn't wanna wake up." He smiled, averting his eyes. "I never wanna wake up."

He huffed, grabbing a facial cleanser from his basket. "But life's what you make it. I try to make every day worthwhile, you know." He turned to me and I just watched him. I figured I'd let him rant because it was obvious that his life wasn't so crystal clear either.

"Life's the art of drawing without an eraser. I wish... I wish I had an eraser. Or at least some kind of editing app."

My lips tugged into a smile at his last sentence.

"I'm sorry. Whatever it is," I apologized.

"It's nothing, really." He faced the mirror, staring at himself as he out down the cleanser. "No, I'm wonderful — everything is... great!" He continued staring at himself. "I do have an eraser..." He whispered.

"What's that?" I quietly asked.

"Think about it, Casper." He picked up the cleanser and squirted some onto his hand. "If life is the art of drawing, what's the art of... erasing?" He rubbed the substance onto his cheeks. "And to think I had it figured out a long time ago."

"Lucas, is there something going on? You're my friend; I'm worried about you."

"Nope, I'm good. Seriously. Another day to be gay, and I couldn't be more proud of it. Ooh, today, I'm wearing a pride shirt that says Straight Outta the Closet, then tomorrow, I'll wear... Um... Maybe the black one that says I didn't choose to be gay, I just got lucky. Actually, I'll wear that today. I love that one!"

"Why do you wear so many pride shirts?" I wondered.

"Because I'm proud?" He laughed as if it were obvious.

But I was observant. I'd made an assumption yesterday, one that I knew now was so clearly wrong.

"You're not proud of being gay, Lucas. You only want to appear like you are."

He stared at himself in the mirror.

"I... I started to look up to you, you know," I confessed.

"I know," he whispered back, casting his gaze down to the sink.

"Why aren't you proud of it?"

"Because, Casper! If I weren't gay, my parents would think that it's worth the effort of putting me through college. If I weren't gay, I wouldn't be working two jobs or applying for all sorts of financial aid under the sun to get my ass into school and keep it here. If I weren't gay, I'd have a place to go home to and a grandmother who actually gave a shit about me."

I swallowed, my heart speeding up in sympathy for him.

"I know what you're gonna say. Yes, I lied about my grandma accepting me. I lied about her giving me that shirt for fucking Christmas. I had no Christmas. Sat in the corner with my blanket around me, watching everyone else get showered with love, praise, and gifts. I just wanna be... normal. I just wanna go to bed and..." He shrugged, "well, hope to God that He gives me an eraser."


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