He clears his throat. "You know, it's not very nice to be on your phone during our bros night out."

I roll my eyes. "Bros night out?"

"Yeah," he chuckles. "BNO. It's like a GNO but less... saucy. Unless of course, you've got some saucy secret that you're keeping from me. Who've you been waiting for to text you back all evening?" 

My face begins to feel hot. Mario knew me too damn well...

I didn't want to have this conversation with anyone else at the table other than Mario with maybe the exception of Avi, so I told him to wait until we get back to the house.

It was tradition to go out to some fancy new restuaunt in LA every couple of weeks for a "BNO" and then head back home to play video games. Tonight would probably be all fortnite. 

"I'll tell you Mario, but you've got to promise not to be extra..."

Mario finishes off his beer, setting down his glass and giving me a long stare. "Oh honey, I ain't promising nothin'.

--

While everyone was chilling in the mancave entertained by fortnite, Mario and I descretely snuck downstairs to "make snacks for everyone."

"So, let me get this straight." Mario enterrupts me mid-ramble as I try to explain the whole Mitch situation. 

"You're all in your head because Mitch has moved on, is happy, and is moving to LA to possibly live his dream? Honestly Scott, I don't see what the problem is."

I knew there was a method to his madness, so I urged him to continue. "Please elaborate, because I don't see how that's not a problem."

"Well for one, you're being very immature. Just because you two are exes doesn't mean you can't still be friends, especially if it wasn't a super messy breakup. And to be honest, it wasn't fair of you to cut him off and pretend he never existed when you were his first... everything."

I feel disappointed in myself at Mario's words, knowing that he was right. 

"Yeah, I was his first boyfriend, love, real kiss..." I mumble.

"He gave you his heart." Mario agreed. "But Scott, he also gave you his trust. As much as you'd like to think it was a on-sided heartbreak, he was hurting just as much as you were. But you wouldn't know that, since you ignored him."

"Oh, so you still talked to Mitch after we broke up then?" I scoff, the thought leaving a bitter taste in my mouth.

"Listen man, I liked Mitch and I liked you and Mitch together. He became my friend too and I felt for the little guy. He always was nervous and shy, so I think in him making this big move away from his family and friends, he'll need me." Mario let's out a sigh. "But not just me, he'll need you too. You two weren't just lovers, you know. You were best friends as well."

I decide to ignore the last bit of Mario's words. "How has he been? Now that I know you've talked to him since he ended things."

"We." Mario corrects

"What?" I question

"You said he ended things, but you both did. It takes two. And before you cut me off and insist that i'm being unreasonable, just really think about it. You could argue that Mitch couldn've tried long distance, erm, longer... but it could just as easily be argued that you could've fought longer or harder to keep him. Both are broad assumptions, and neither are relevant... anymore."

I nod.

"Just remember Scott, you two had a special friendship. And knowing his anxiety from the past, he need needs you. Maybe even more than you need him."

Mario was right. 

"Thanks for always having my back and best interest at heart, Mario. I don't know what I would ever do without a friend like you."

"Hey man, we're brothers." Mario grins, pulling me into a very flamboyant bro-hug. 

I check my phone after Mario releases me and Mitch still hadn't replied to my text, so I figured my suspicions were correct and he'd either blocked me or gotten a new cell number. 

I let out a frustrated sigh. 

"Alright. Let's start these snacks, then." I say cheerily, putting on a fake smile so Mario wouldn't question me.

--

The next morning when I wake up the first thing I do, subconsciously, is check my phone.

My eyes widen when I read what's on my phone-screen. 

Mitchy:

Firstly, hi. This is a huge shock for me to hear from you. I'm sorry that I didn't see your messages until now, I had a lot going on yesterday. I'm happy that you felt the need to contact me after all of this time and just want to let you know that I am well and hope you are too.

I enter my passcode to get the full message in iMessage, my fingers shaking and sweating.

Also, moving to LA is undecided as of right now. I was offered a job there but don't know if I could handle the lifestyle/environment.

I immediately hop out of bed, feeling... excited? Maybe nervous? I could cry but at the same time wanted to celebrate.

I felt a mix of emotions but most of all, I felt... sadness. His response seemed sombre and it was bittersweet to finally get the long-anticipated reply from him. He didn't even have to reply at all though, which must mean at least something

Shut up, Scott. Him replying doesn't mean anything. Your friendship is ruined and it's all your fault for being an asshole when he, I mean "we", ended our relationship. 

It wasn't until I read the second message he sent 10 minutes after the first that it all hit me...

I really don't mean to sound rude, I'm happy to hear from you and all... but why are you contacting me? It's been years.

I place my phone down and frown at the message, realizing just how hurt and confused Mitch must've felt. 

Apparently he was at least somewhat pleased to learn that I was still alive. I just hoped he knew I cared about him still. So I pick up my phone after a few moments thought and simply reply, 

Because I care about you still, Mitch.

--



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