The 2nd Kiss - Part 4

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Feeling my heart wrench, I stopped reading and snapped the notebook closed then shoved it into Liam's arms. "What? So we were great friends in the past so we should just go back? It doesn't work like that, Liam."

"Why can't it? I know you're still you. We haven't changed."

"Do you even know me?"

"Of course I do! You're still you, Alex. You're still funny and smart and you still love Harry Potter and other nerdy stuff and―"

"I'm also gay," I interrupted, hand on my hip. "I call people hun and dear, not bro and dude. I'm a low-key LGBTQ rights activist. And if you put me in a locker room with hot guys, I'll probably sneak a look."

"So? I mean, that's you, yeah." Liam furrowed his brow softly. "But it doesn't change anything. I... I avoided you... I told you... You..." he stammered.

"Figure out what you need to say, Liam," I cut.

Liam paused and closed his eyes. "I... I've seen your social media... So, I know personality-wise, you haven't really changed. And your personality is why we became friends. I just... I miss you. I want to talk to you again. I want the old Alex and the new Alex in my life. Can we please?"

I gazed at Liam wondering why on Earth he begging so desperately for me back. What was I to him?

As if reading my mind, he said, "You're my brother, Alex. When your cousins―Ever since we were kids, whenever someone said something mean to you, it felt like they were saying it to me. You're... You were a part of me. I just want my brother back."

I recalled what my mom had said some years ago. That Liam and I were like brothers. He was my costilla. But things had changed for a reason. "Liam, do you even remember what you said to me that day? After you ignored me all Summer?"

"I'm sorry! I shouldn't have blamed it on you. I regretted it as soon as I said it."

That had been shitty but was not what I meant. "You said you knew! That I was in love with you since we were kids!"

"I said I realized! When we were kids, I didn't know!" As he made excuses, Liam shook his head slightly.

"But the fact that you realized, did you really realize? What that meant?"

Liam's voice lowered again as he replied, "You had a hard time, right? I'm sorry. I'm sorry I wasn't a smart enough kid to just hug you and say, 'It's cool if you're gay, you don't have to try so hard.' I'm sorry I let you force yourself to say bro and dude. You don't have to do that anymore. I accept you as you are."

"That's great, Liam. But no." I sighed and was able to say part of what I was thinking deep down. "I don't make friends with straight guys. All my friends are on the spectrum and the very few that are straight are girls." I felt safest that way. Straight guys were scary for many reasons.

"You won't be friends with me because I'm straight?" Liam asked, looking appalled. His expression turned to one of confusion. "You can trust me, right? I'd never say anything hurtful to you, and I wouldn't let anyone I know do it either."

He wasn't getting it. I needed Liam to give up. A crazy idea popped into my head, and I began to dismiss it before considering it just might work. I looked him in the eye. It might also get me hated or knocked on my ass, but whether it scared him away or made him realize why we couldn't be friends, it'd put an end to things. Steeling myself, I took a step towards Liam, grasped both sides of his face, and pushed my lips into his.

Three seconds passed before I pulled away and took a step back to see Liam looking at me completely dumbfounded. "...You still like me?"

"No!" I rolled my eyes and huffed. Liam could be so dense, but at least he hadn't knocked my head into a wall again. "I've been over you for years. That's not the point I'm making. Things are different now. I'm gay and openly gay. Do you know what that means?"

"Alex, I don't know," Liam whined. He covered his face with his hands and hung his head as he rattled off, "I just know that I love you like a brother, and I want to be a part of your life, and I want you to be a part of mine. And for the past six and a half years, it's felt like a piece of me has been missing, and I only sense it when I see your face."

I felt a buzz course through my body identical to the one that had passed through me during our kiss six and a half years ago. As tears welled up in my eyes, I realized I was doomed. I was a part of Liam. He was a part of me. Fate had dealt us a bad hand and was now making up for it. We were each other's ribs. And Liam needed me to feel whole again.

"Alex, please tell me what I have to do―" Liam stopped talking as he uncovered his face and realized I was teary. He awkwardly moved his hands around, close to my face, away from my face, scratching his head, not knowing what to do with my tears. "A-Alex?"

When I had come to him after the kiss, even after he told me he knew I was in love with him, all I ever wanted was to be together as friends. Just to be by Liam's side as close as we always were. I sniffled and then swallowed the lump in my throat. "Liam... you better keep your promise. Don't let me get hurt."

Liam blinked his hazel eyes and a crooked smile slowly crept onto his face. He nodded. "Can I hug you?"

"Fucking idiot." This was exactly what I meant. Regardless, I relented, "Yes."

Liam wrapped his arms around my shoulders. "I'm so happy. Thank you. I promise I'll be the best friend you've ever had."

I sobbed again and nodded, knowing he would be and that was the biggest problem. I knew that there was a large chance that, eventually, I would fall in love with Liam, my best friend, again. And that even if I ignored it and fell in love with someone else, Liam would always be a part of my body and have a piece of my heart.

Still, I hugged him back and succumbed to my fate.

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