vanilla

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Keith

"Why do we have to make these cookies again?" Max complained while staring down at the bowl of flour.

"Because I'm lazy and I forgot to." I walked over carrying the carton of milk.

"But why did you have to? Why even have cookies in the first place?"

"Because we do, Max. It's a celebration! You just got discharged and you have people who miss you, believe it or not. And planning that celebration is my responsibility."

Max arched an eyebrow.

"Sounds almost like you care."

My face grew hot.

"You know I do, idiot..."

Max grinned before leaning in and planting a kiss on my lips.

I wrapped my arms around him, pulling him close as I instantly kissed him back.

"I missed you," he muttered against my forehead before he left a small kiss.

I didn't know what we were, or what our 'plan' was. The thought of having a boyfriend scared me. It's always been girls, I'd never liked another... boy before. I like Max, I really do, and I'd be stupid to think anything differently.

I brushed away a section of charcoal hair that had fallen in front of his eye.

"You need a haircut."

"Leave me and my hair alone." Max backed away.

"Just a trim!"

"Nope."

"It's grown very long," I frowned.

Max grew a suggestive grin.

"You know what else is-"

My eyes grew wide, realizing what he was about to say.

"Oh my god- W- NO!"

Max bursted out in laughter.

His bright, beautiful smile filled his face as his eyes shut, savoring the moment as his body shook with each chuckle. His cheeks were a rosy pink. And his laugh...

His laugh...

It filled the room, so full I could almost feel it myself.

I was dumbstruck. My eyes were fixed on him, not knowing how to look away. I could feel my heart leap from chest.

"Beautiful..." I heard myself mutter.

"What...?" Max questioned with an amused tone.

The words had slipped out without warning. My face began to burn with embarrassment.

"I've... i've just never heard you laugh like that, is all. You seem...happy." My gaze was off to the side, too shy to look at him.

But Max moved in front of me, forcing me to look at him.

Stubborn bastard.

"I am happy... for the first time in a long, long time," his face grew soft. I knew his words were genuine.

Part of me hoped that was my doing. That me being in his life, lifted him in some way.

But another part of me blamed myself.

I had known that he was troubled, that he wasn't happy, that he was angry. I didn't have to date him, but maybe if I had at least been his friend, he wouldn't have tried to...

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