Chapter 23:

Tomorrow Will Be Better

Fair, no Fair

Joey did not say a word to me on the way back to our room. He was not mad at me -that I was sure of- but his dismay and exhaustion were palpable and they ruined my mood in turn. I have never understood the appeal of thrill rides, greasy junk foods full of sugar and having to wait in long, clammy queues, so I genuinely did not care that I would not be able to go to the theme park tomorrow. However, I did genuinely care for Joey and seeing him disappointed broke my heart.

When we arrived, he threw himself onto the bed with a soft groan.

In an attempt to cheer him up, I weakly snickered: “What we did today may have been even more reckless than headbutting a brick. D'you think they’ll use us as an example of what not to do for next year's students?"

Joey did not respond.

I sat down cross-legged next to him on the bed after kicking off my shoes and tried a different approach. “I’m sorry for dragging you into this. I know you were looking forward to that theme park.”

“It’s not your fault,” he groaned into the pillow. “Ms Applebloom is right, it was my choice to follow you into the forest. It's as much my fault as it is yours, so… If you could stop blaming yourself for a second that would be great, it doesn’t make this situation less shitty.”

“You’re right,” I answered with a sigh. "I'm sorry."

He sat up again and made an honourable attempt at producing a smile. "At least we'll get to spend the day together," he reasoned. "I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I were alone here. All I can think of is exercise, annoy Mr Khan and jerk off."

"Ew, Joey! Gross!" I laughed and threw my pillow in his direction.

He caught it with one hand. "But it's true!" A genuine smile broke through on his face. "What would you have done if you were alone?” His laughter was like the first rays of sunshine appearing from behind the dark, gloomy clouds on a rainy day. Joey always managed to put a positive spin on an unfortunate situation.

I smiled triumphantly; this was a question I knew how to answer. “Easy, I would find an abandoned room and dance all day." Then I added: "I would probably go outside and take some pictures as well.”

"I would love to see you dance." Joey's eyes sparkled with curiosity and there was a hint of dreaminess in his voice. "Aren't you like... super good?"

"Hell yeah, I am!" I huffed. I would have been offended by Joey's ignorance if he had not seemed to be taking a genuine interest in me. "I'm a professional dancer, Joey. Do you think I do this for shits and giggles? If you want to see me dance, you better buy a ticket for my upcoming show!”

“Well, that depends on what choreography you will be doing," he smirked and I felt my heart do a loop de loop. I was sure he was just teasing me and had no actual plans to come to see my show, but anything was better than having to deal with a sulking Joey.

“We will be enacting Coppélia,” I answered without an explanation, hoping that would stop him from asking any further questions.

My plan backfired spectacularly. He smirked: "Well if you won't go into detail, I have no choice but to look it up." Before I could stop him, Joey was already scrolling through the wiki page. "Yo, this is mad interesting. I might go if my parents let me but I'm sure my mum won't mind. She loves anything elitist; it makes her feel important. She'll probably want to come with."

I was absolutely baffled. "Are you serious?"

"Yeah, why not?" Joey blessed me with another lovely smile. "My mum's always complaining that I'm not interested in anything fancy and that I watch too many garbage shows so this might get her off my back for a while. Besides, I already told you I would like to see you dance, so how is this surprising to you?”

“I don’t know,” I answered truthfully. “I've always thought you were the type of guy to never, ever set foot in a theatre.”

He rolled over onto his back and put his hands on the back of his head. “You're not far off. My mum and dad used to take me to the theatre a lot when I was younger but it’s never been my thing. If it wasn’t for you I probably wouldn’t go.”

My poor heart. Did Joey even have the slightest idea of what he was doing to me? If only he had been less sweet... Then I might not have fallen for him so easily. I cleared my throat to calm my nerves and answered courageously: "You've changed since we stopped being friends. I hardly recognize you anymore, but -if you're up for it- I would like to get to know you better... so we can become friends again."

Joey looked at me with a pained expression but that expression soon faded away. "Of course, I wouldn't have offered to go to your show if I did not want to patch things up with you." He shrugged casually. "Though I used to think you were a stuck-up nerd, to be honest."

I frowned. “Rude!”

"Hey, I wasn't finished yet!" He exclaimed. "I always thought you were a stuck-up nerd, but… I had a lot of fun today and I was proven wrong. We can get to know each other better tomorrow. Sure, it will not be as fun as hanging out with my mates at a theme park but if today has proven me anything, it's that you’re fun to hang out with too."

He seemed to hesitate, but then added: "If you're genuine about wanting to reconnect, I would like for us to be friends again too.”

“Great, let's hang out tomorrow," I answered excitedly. My heart swelled at the thought of Joey giving me a second chance. I could not resist adding one last taunt to my promise: “But only because I fear you’ll otherwise spend the day jerking off and I do not want to find odd stains in our duvet!”

Joey smiled at me again. “Hey, I never said I would ONLY jerk off. That's unfair, Fisher.”

“I guess we’ll never know now," I responded. "Goodnight Joey.”