Chapter Twenty-Two: What We Know-

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    I don't know how long we stood there, Tyler's arms around me while I cried into the leather of his jacket. It didn't even matter. What mattered was that I was there and he was there and we were together and he cared enough to stay.

    That was my slice of hope, and I'd definitely chase it as long as I could see it.

    At some point, my tears came to a stop and my face emerged from where it was buried in his jacket. I didn't dare look at him, so I turned away, eyes fixated on the street sign at the end of the path ahead of us.

    We'd been stood there for so long that Tyler had leaned back against the wall for support. I was still close enough to feel his warmth. I didn't want to move out of it. I just couldn't stand the thought of looking at him and seeing something in his expression that would ruin me.

    “You're an asshole,” I whispered, eyes blurred from the tears still. I couldn't read the words on the sign and it was getting frustrating.

    I'd never paid any attention to it on the countless passings when I'd walked the street from flat to town and town to flat, but now there was something inside me that desperately wanted to know what it said.

    It was just for distraction. To keep me from falling into Tyler's gaze. That was it. I licked away the tears from my lips that had settled there and my cheeks felt stiff and restrained from where they'd dried on my skin.

    “I've always been an asshole,” Tyler muttered distantly. I almost broke my concentration on the signpost to look at him. Almost. “You still thinkin' bou' leavin'?” he asked a moment later and I felt like being spiteful and saying yes.

    Instead the words, “You know I was never really going to leave,” came out. It was the truth. I wasn't brave enough to pull an Ash, and I definitely didn't have some rich guy to fall back on. The flat and the lads were all I had.

    Tyler dropped to the floor, back against the wall and his legs crossed beneath him. He pulled out a bag of tobacco and began rolling a cigarette. I realised then, that I'd broken my staring contest with the street sign. I wanted to be angry at myself, but I didn't have the energy.

    So I sat beside him, wiping away the last remnants of tears clinging to my cheeks. I took out a cigarette from my pocket and lit it. Tyler smirked at me, saying, “Wanna go twos?” nodding at the cigarette, meaning did I want to smoke half and give him the rest.

    I gave in, nodding once.

    He put away his things and took the lighter that I held loosely in my hand. I tried not to notice the way his index finger hooked over mine for all of a few seconds as he took it, before idly twirling it between his fingers as he waited for me to pass him the cigarette.

    As I handed him the half-smoked cig, I said, “So you kissed Ash,” but it wasn't a question and Tyler knew it. There was a flash of something dark in his eyes as he registered my words. He bit the filter between his teeth and glanced away.

    I wondered if he was looking at the street sign for the same reason I had. He blew out three puffs of smoke before turning back to me and saying, “Ye addin' to tha' or ye wannin' me t' jus' read your mind?”

    I shrugged. “I don't know, why did you do it? I thought you weren't a fag and all that,”

    Tyler scoffed, looking away again. “Do we 'ave t' talk abou' this?”

    “I want to know. I want to know why you treat me the way you did, knowing full well you had feelings for a guy and god damn it, I think you owe me a bloody explanation,”

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