Chapter 12:

A Walk and a Talk

Fair, no Fair

The temperature outside dropped drastically as the night made its entrance and we decided to take a walk along the edge of the lake to keep ourselves warm. I was stonewalling Georgy to give him the opportunity to explain himself and after a few awkward minutes of stomping around in silence, he relented. "I'm sorry, man. I shouldn't have lost my temper, I know I sometimes do... But, being mad is no excuse for how I treated you today. I’m so sorry I hurt you, you’re one of my best friends and I don’t want to lose you."

"Friends don't call each other slurs when they have a falling out, Georgy," I bitterly remarked in response. The sharp winter cold was starting to get to me and I blew some hot air into my cupped hands before burying them deep into my pockets.

"I know," Georgy replied defeated, "and I can promise you I'll never ever do that again!" He then looked up at me with a grave expression and continued: "but that does not mean that there's no truth in what I said. Someone had to step up and say something about your weird obsession with Joey because Max and Derek sure as hell weren’t going to. Seriously, how long have you guys been fighting?"

I raised my shoulders and pushed my face deeper into my coat to hide from Georgy's burning expression. I did not like the direction that this conversation was taking and hesitantly answered: “I wouldn’t say we’ve been fighting-”

“How long has he been bullying you for?” Georgy sternly interrupted me.

“Three years,” I reluctantly sighed as I closed my eyes. This was embarrassing.

“Three years... Jesus Christ, Simon, that's since the final year of middle school!" Georgy exclaimed. "Did that happen after the Alex incident? My mum told me about that..."

I flinched.

As soon as Georgy realised he had misspoken, he tensely continued: "Um, well, anyway, three years. Three years and you're still not over him. How long is it going to take you to get it through your thick skull that he’s not interested in you, that he -in fact- is not interested in guys at all? I’m glad he seems to have stopped bullying you, but you shouldn’t just forgive him for those three years of absolute hell!" He waved his index finger at me disapprovingly. "Don't be all buddy-buddy with him now, he doesn't deserve that."

I completely ignored Georgy and slid my gaze across the dangerous, dark ice of the lake. We had made it to the side of the lake that was adjacent to the woods and from here, I could see the warm, comforting light of our hotel in the distance. It was beckoning us to return and I felt conflicted about what to do.

Georgy desperately tried to get my attention. "Come on, don’t be like this, you always get like this when you’re upset. Give me something. Anything!"

I snapped. “That’s the exact same thing Derek told me this afternoon! What does that even mean?! So I'm the one to blame here? I have ONE friendly conversation with Joey and you blow up on me. I don’t have to say A-NY-THING to you. You've never liked Joey and frankly, I think you’re projecting your problems with Joey onto me.”

“You always get like this…” Georgy softly repeated. His voice was a bit wobbly and he looked like he was about to cry. For a moment, I was worried that I had been too harsh, but then he took a deep breath and composed himself. "Listen, I know perfectly well that I shouldn't tell you what to do and I want to apologize for how I reacted in the museum. But truth is, I’m your friend and friends look after each other, whether you like it or not. I can't stand idly by as you chase after a guy who will hurt you over and over again."

Georgy dejectedly sighed: "You're a part of our team now and teammates protect each other, but that means that you have to look out for me, Max and Derek too. How are we supposed to feel when you start ignoring us all of a sudden? I don't like seeing you purposefully hurt yourself. We care about you, Simon, a lot more than you think.”

I let Georgy's rant sink in and was suddenly hit by a block of guilt. God, I had been so, so stupid. I had always thought that if Joey rejected or ignored me, I would be the only one suffering the consequences, but that was not the case anymore. If I were to withdraw from society to wallow in my own self-pity as I had often done in the past, that would impact my newfound friends too. I was not ready to let go of Joey just yet, but I promised myself that I would be more mindful of Max, Georgy and Derek in the future.

“I don’t think I’m ready to fully forgive you yet..." I carefully choose my words as I looked down at Georgy. "...but I understand where you're coming from now. I have a bad tendency to distance myself from everyone and everything whenever something is not going my way, and I had no idea I was hurting you guys in the process. You're just trying to protect me in your own, um let's say unique... way. You're a real friend, Georgy."

Georgy looked hopeful: “Does that mean you'll be my friend again?”

I smirked. “Yeah, I never stopped being your friend, you know... Think you can forgive me for being such a selfish asshole?”

Georgy eagerly nodded and moved in for a hug. “I already have, man.”

A great weight was lifted off my shoulders now that Georgy and I had officially made up, but there was something that was still bugging me. “Hey Georgy, can you please promise me you’ll get off my back when it comes to Joey?" I asked him. "I know you’re worried, but I think I can handle him.”

He moved away from me again but eventually agreed. “Yeah man, I shouldn’t have interfered in the first place. It’s your life." He scratched his neck. "But please… Do take my advice and leave him alone. He's as straight as can be. He'll only break your heart.”

As we trotted back to the hotel, one last question popped into my mind. “Okay, one last thing and then we can stop talking, I promise," I sniggered.

"Fine, spit it out!" He gave me a playful nudge.

"Who in the hell is Isabelle?” I asked.

Georgy rolled his eyes and laughed. “Why don’t you ask your prince charming? I’m sure he'll be able to answer that question for you.”