Lucas and Mike were on the couch, moaning and groaning about their girlfriends. Or ex-girlfriends.
They didn't even notice Will at the table, setting up his D&D campaign.
The campaign was probably one of his best ones in a while, and he hoped that this was enough to snap his friends out of their girl-induced funk.
When he finally finished, he started to explain the rules to Mike and Lucas, but they weren't listening. Then the phone rung, and they both jumped up, tripping over themselves to answer it.
“Hello?” asked Mike into the receiver. His face was hopeful, then it fell. “No thank you,” he spat out into the phone, slamming it back down. “Stupid telemarketer.”
And there they went again, talking about how they could get their girlfriends back.
Will felt anger bubbling up in stomach. He spent so long perfecting that campaign, and all his friends wanted to do was sit around and mope about their girlfriends.
He had hoped that since his both Lucas and Mike had been dumped they would want to hang out like the old times, but no. They'd rather sit around, acting crabby and snapping at Will.
They barely payed any attention to him.
Until he stormed out on them, that is.
He heard his so-called friends calling after him, but he didn't bother listening as he went to grab his bike from the garage. He just wanted to get away.
A swear slipped softly from his lips. It was raining hard, and Will wasn't thrilled at the prospect of biking back home in that weather, but he wanted to stay even less.
“Will! You can't leave, it's raining. Look, I'm sorry,” yelled Mike from inside the house. He followed Will out into the garage.
Will whipped around at the sound of Mike's voice. “Are you? Are you really? I don't think you really care!” he says accusingly. His brown eyes were starting to shine over with tears. He was so desperate for Mike to pay attention to him. He used to feel Mike's gaze on him all the time, but once El came back, Mike had no time for him now. He used to feel Mike's smiles like a golden sunrise, but now he cherished his time with him, hoarding his attention like a dragon hoarding jewels. He feels selfish and wicked, knowing that normal boys don't feel like this when their best friend has a girlfriend, but right now he doesn't care. “You're destroying everything! And for what? So you can swap spit with some stupid girl?”
Mike's face, which was previously worried and soft, turned hard once Will spoke those words. “El's not stupid! It's not my fault you don't like girls!” he shouts, gesturing angrily.
Will felt his heart stop and his throat close up. Something in his chest had just shattered, sending spikes all through his body. He couldn't even look at Mike's face anymore. The shame burns at his inside, and he feels the tears starting to fall uninhibited down his cheeks. All the air seems to have disappeared. What did Mike know? Did he suspect that Will was... Did he know that Will liked him more than he should? Oh God, what if he told someone? What if the rest of the Party knew? Will was panicking and he couldn't stop his own downward spiral.
Mike seemed mostly oblivious to Will's predicament. He sighs. “Look, I'm not trying to be a jerk, okay. But we're not kids anymore.”
Will was going to answer, to say that he knew he wasn't a kid anymore, that he had known he wasn't a kid anymore ever since he had gone to That Place, but his tongue felt heavy as lead in his mouth. Every word out of Mike's mouth seemed to shove the shards of the broken thing in his chest deeper.
Mike, as oblivious as ever, continues, “I mean what did you think, really? That we were never going to get girlfriends? We were gonna just sit in my basement all day playing games for the rest of our lives?” Mike's voice gets harder with every word.
Will finally looked up. The broken feeling is still there, still cutting at his insides, but there's a bitter, cold emptiness to the pain now. All the fear he had before disappeared, replaced by a slow, bitter anger. He could feel it clawing at him, stinging, but he didn't care.
“I guess I did,” he said simply, looking Mike in the eyes. “I mean, sure, it might not be your fault that I don't like girls. Not your fault that I'm messed up. Not your fault that my life went to shit.”
Mike opens his mouth to say something, but Will cuts him off.
“And don't start. I know what you're thinking. You pity me. You pity me, just like every other person. You think I'm weak. And pathetic. You think I can't do anything on my own. You think that being in the Upside Down for so long broke me. And you know what? It didn't.”
Mike looked at him questioningly. He had no idea what Will was talking about.
Will leans in close to Mike, face inches from his own. Before, Will would have blushed at the closeness, and stared at Mike's chocolate brown eyes and count the freckles on his nose.
Now, as he looked at him, he could only feel the bitter shards in his chest. “The Upside Down didn't break me, Michael Wheeler. I was fucked up long before that. I was fucked up long before you.”
He leans even closer, closer than he would have ever dared. “You don't know a thing about me anymore,” Will whispers in his ear. “So stop pretending to.”
He steps away, smile reflecting the bitterness he felt. “Good bye.”
He climbs onto his bike, pedaling away into the rain.
He doesn't know where he's going, and he doesn't care.