"Merry Christmas." He grins, leaning the thing against the side of my house. I'm lost for words and I can't stop looking at his mouth, stretched into an achingly big smile because he's happy, and that's what I want more than anything: to be that happy, or to make him that happy. But I'm just stuck on this side of the door, with my heart still recovering from the fact that talking to people terrifies me now. I could never make him that happy, and it's not right of me to leech off him. 

Even so, 

"Thanks." I breathe out, still looking at his face but focusing the brunt of my gaze somewhere south of his eyes. "That's...thanks." 

"No problem. I don't think it'd be wise to use it in this weather, though." He makes a sweeping gesture across the plane of slush and ice that has dissolved in our neighbourhood, has sunk into the grooves of the pavement and dips of the road. I nod along, still a little unsure about Oscar and his energy so close to where Grace used to live. Still uncomfortable with the buzz of something in my stomach when I'm on this doorstep, dangling on the edge of my home which doesn't permit that feeling any more. 

"I guess, but I just don't think I have the energy to walk. It'll be fine, most of it is melted." I assure him, reaching behind me to pick up my backpack in hopes - in sad hopes that I try desperately to ignore - that he might walk some of the way with me. I'm not a hundred percent sure of my reasoning either, just that being close to Oscar usually means forgetting life is shit for a brief time. Something about the buzz that rolls off him in waves does that. 

As usual, though, he's one step further. 

"I'll drive you."

I falter slightly on the way out of the house, his offer has me staggering out of the threshold because I've got this slight infatuation with him and it's unnerving and exciting at the same time as making me guilty. So I try - I do try - to put up a fuss, but that emotional dispute means my words are half-hearted at best.

"No it's fine, you've got school haven't you? Besides, I won't have a way home." 

"I'll pick you up?" He scrunches up his face like it's the most obvious thing in the world, like kind deeds are his currency. Whilst it's all very endearing to my teenage brain, the cynical part of me (the part that occupies the majority of my mind at this point) can't help but emerge. 

"You don't have to do that...Why are you doing that?" There's a pause that follows my insistence, and I begin to worry that I've been rude. I shrug it off though, think that isn't the worst impression to have of the person I am now. 

"Have you been answering your phone?"

I think about its buzzing, think about how Oscar means too well - is too nice - to ever drop by my house without asking first -- know the calls from earlier could only have been him. 

"You know the answer to that, Oscar." I say, my voice suddenly quiet and leaving in the flat monotone that is a personal specialty now. 

"Okay, well, we were worried."


"Jenny may have got in touch." 

And I'm confused by this - wonder since when these people from different orbits of wealth and interests ever cross paths, apart from when both parties are drunk. I drop it because the disappointment discourages me from thinking too much. Their concern shrinks me down to a size even I'm not comfortable with.

"You guys don't need to form some club to look after me." My voice lowers, "I might be...you know. But I don't want you to feel that you...you know?" I trail off, raise my eyes to meet his with a look of desperation on my face because if he can't understand that I can't be someone to fix then this whole thing is a bust. Oscar being friendly, me wanting friends. 

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