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“Alright, Guerin, shut your fuckin’ mouth and sit the fuck down.”

Guerin didn’t have to look up, he knew the voice well enough even if it had been a decade since it talked to him like that. Rosa Ortecho stood with her arms crossed over her chest and that angsty teen look on her face that felt like a force to be reckoned with because it was. With a sigh, he sat down in front of the fire pit and she sat across from him.

“So, listen, I know it’s been ten years for you guys and, like, a week and a half for me, but that just tells me I have a much better perspective of the dumb shit happening,” Rosa said. He didn’t respond. “I don’t know all the little details, but I do know that a week and a half ago my baby Alex was happy as can be with you paying attention to him, Maria was happily getting her liquor license, and you were happily opening acceptance letters.”

“Rosa, what’s the p–”

“Now my little angel baby is fucking heartbroken and feeling betrayed on every level, Maria feels like she’s been hit with a guilt bomb, and you are suspiciously at the spearhead of it all,” she said, an all too cocky look on her face. They used to be friends. She had taken him under her wing as a fellow freak. This wasn’t a friendly speech.

“Rosa, I just watched my mom die and my brother die and I figured out my sister had been being fucked over by her husband for over a decade,” he snapped. She rolled her eyes like she didn’t care.

“I know you have your shit and I’m not saying they’re completely innocent and I totally plan to go give them a talk too,” she said in a tone two steps away from condescending, “I am saying that you have no right to make their lives worse because you’re upset.”

“I’m not doing it on purpose,” Michael said, his eyes still narrowed at her.

“Yeah, nor are you taking responsibility for what you did,” she scoffed, leaning back, “You aren’t allowed to be reckless with other people and just not care.”

“I do care!” he argued, “I just have a million other things to care about!”

“The people you love should be first priority, I learned that the hard way.”

“They are!” He was yelling loudly now, but she didn’t seem phased.

“If they are, then why are they both at home crying because of shit you did and you haven’t apologized to either of them?” Rosa asked him. He sunk in his chair. “Again, they aren’t innocent. Alex should’ve been more forward with his feelings, Maria shouldn’t have gone after you when she knew what you meant to Alex. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to fix the part you played in the disaster.”

He looked up at the sky and tried not to hate her too much for being right.

“I know you’re hurting, but so are they. If you guys stop hurting each other, then maybe you can heal together,” Rosa said. He sighed long and loud.

“When the fuck did you get so wise? Two weeks ago for you, you were trying to smoke a blunt with your nose,” he said. She grinned like she was proud and he didn’t know if it was because of the advice or the nose blunt.

“Ten years in a pod gives you a lot of time to think.”

“You were dead!”

“We can’t all be perfect.”

Michael let out a soft, disbelieving laugh as he shook his head. She was smiling at him still and it made him question if the pride was for him.

“You’re a man now, Papi. Act like it.”

Michael gulped.

“I will.”