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Tongue Tied

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In all reality, Julie should have known it was a bad idea to have answered Reggie’s phone call just as she was getting comfortable in her bed. The guys only call this late if something was going on or they had a crazy late-night urge to do something that would get them all in trouble with their parents. After spending the past three years being friends and bandmates with the guys, Julie has noticed its typically the latter.

She glanced at her alarm clock and groaned when the tiny red numbers read 1:30AM.

When she answered Reggie’s phone call and immediately told him she was comfortable in bed and wasn’t getting up, Luke snatched the phone out of his friend’s hand. Of course, being the evil, manipulative guy he was, he went straight for guilt-tripping.

“C’mon, Jules. Alex needs us. Now. Think of all the times he has been there for you. Remember that time you had to perform in Harrison’s class, and you had those white pants on, and you started your—”

“Okay! Fine, I’m coming. Just don’t finish that sentence,” Julie snapped at him. Her cheeks flushed at the memory.

“Good. We’re already outside,” Luke said smugly.

“I hate you,” she mumbled before hanging up the phone.

Sighing, Julie had slid out of her bed and arranged the pillows to make it look like she was actually asleep under her covers in case her father came to check on her. She quickly changed out of her pajamas and into a pair of jean shorts and a t-shirt. She was sliding her sneakers on when her phone lit up with a text from Luke.

Let’s gooooo, Molina.

Julie narrowed her eyes at the text. She pointedly left him on read and slid the phone into her back pocket.

She snatched the hoodie off her desk chair and quietly opened her window. Julie glanced at her bedroom door nervously before easing out onto the tree branch closest to the house. She pushed her window enough to where it would appear closed, but the latch wouldn’t catch.

As she began climbing down the tree with the hoodie thrown over her shoulder, Julie looked to see her three friends standing under a streetlight across the street. They must have noticed her because one of them—probably Reggie—waved enthusiastically at her.

It was either a good thing or a very bad thing that she didn’t feel guilty when she snuck out of the house anymore. The first time she snuck out with the guys was when they played their first actual gig as Julie and the Phantoms at an open mic night. Of course, it ended with her father catching her because that was just her luck. Any sane teenager would have learned her lesson, but her friends liked to stress her out. There were so many nights of sneaking around to catch some more open mic nights to “build a following” (Luke’s words, not hers) or to satisfy their late-night McDonalds cravings. Then, there were the nights when Reggie’s parents fought too much, or Luke got into an argument with his mom or Alex’s parents hiked his anxiety up too many notches. Julie understood and she loved them. That’s the only reason why she would always come running when they asked. She’s done the same thing with Flynn for years, but, of course, Flynn preferred to get a full night of sleep and didn’t encourage bad decision-making.

Julie reached the ground and sprinted across the street to her friends.

“Hey J!” Reggie said happily. He pulled her into an enthusiastic hug, squeezing her tightly.

“What’s up?” Julie asked when the boy released her, slightly out of breath.

Luke grinned at her. “Well, Alex here,” he nodded to the blonde who was leaning against the lamp post with a pout, “got into an argument with his lover, so we’re going to head over there.”

“Uh oh, what was the argument about?” Julie asked Alex.

He pushed off the lamp post and ran a hand through his blonde waves. “Willie was upset about some argument he got into with his boss, Caleb, at work, and I had literally just finished arguing with my parents about the whole college thing again. So, long story short, we snapped at each other and things were said. Now Willie won’t answer my calls or texts and I’m too anxious about the whole thing to sleep.”

Julie accepted the explanation and nodded. She pulled the hoodie over her head “Okay, let’s just hurry up and go. I would like to get home before the sun comes up.”

Reggie grabbed his skateboard from where it had been laying in the grass. Luke and Alex pulled their bikes upright. Julie grabbed Luke’s shoulders and carefully stepped onto the back pegs.

“Isn’t that my hoodie?” Luke asked her.

“You know the rules. You leave a piece of clothing in my room for more than a week, it’s mine now. Besides, I told you to get it after band rehearsal the other day. It’s your own fault, Patterson.”

Luke scoffed but didn’t argue.

“You good?” he asked as she adjusted her weight.

“Yup. Onward, my noble steed.”

Reggie made a suspiciously on point horse noise before he pushed off down the street. Alex let out a small laugh before following the other boy into the empty road. Luke began pedaling after his friends as Julie balanced behind him.

The ride to Willie’s house was a short one. The four of them were hidden in the shadows underneath his window in a matter of twenty minutes.

“Now what? If he isn’t answering Alex, he’s definitely not going to answer one of us,” Julie whispered.

Luke licked his lips as he stared up at the window. Alex nervously shuffled his feet as he glanced from his boyfriend’s bedroom window and the street. Reggie was preoccupied watching a trail of ants crawling on the side of the house.

“I got it. Alex, dude, hop on my shoulders. Reggie and Julie will help boost you up, and you should be able to reach the window. After that, you’re on your own,” Luke told the group.

“There’s so many things wrong with that plan,” Alex said drily.

“Well do you have a better one? Or did we all just sneak out for nothing?”

Alex expectantly looked at Julie, hoping for the girl to dish out a better idea. She shrugged. “I mean, Alex, would you rather wait until morning and hope he responds? Or would you rather just take a risk and try now? We’re already here, so you might as well try.”

“Life is a risk, but I will take it. Close my eyes and jump,” Reggie sang softly. They all recognized the lyrics from the first song they ever performed together when they were trying to get Julie back into the music program.

Luke and Julie both nodded as if that decided their next move.

“Stop being a wuss, Al. Come on,” Luke whispered.

“I love you, but I did not get out of bed for nothing,” Julie told him sweetly, “So get it together and make up with your boyfriend.”

Alex fluttered his hands anxiously. “Okay, okay. If I fall and break my neck because of this, I’m coming back to haunt all of you.”

“Oh, we should be so lucky,” Luke muttered as he crouched into a squat.

Julie swatted the back of Luke’s head before offering Alex her hands. Reggie moved to offer Alex his hands on the other side. The blonde boy slowly shifted his legs over Luke’s shoulders as Reggie and Julie supported his weight. Once he was stable, Alex whispered, “Okay, Luke. Let’s get this over with.”

Luke stood using the side of the house to brace himself. Reggie moved to push against Alex’s back to keep him steady. Julie was surprised that Luke had actually been right. With the added height, Alex could reach Willie’s bedroom window perfectly.

Alex peeked into the window and knocked softly.

They all held their breath as they waited. Julie looked around the yard and out to the street.

“Knock again,” Reggie hissed.

Alex mumbled something under his breath and knocked again. This time, a light flicked on in the dark window and Julie saw the window open.

“Alex? What are you doing here?” Willie whispered. He leaned his head out the window and caught sight of the three teenagers under his window. He blinked the sleep out of his eyes as he stared down at them before focusing back on his boyfriend.

“You weren’t answering your phone.”

“Well, yeah. We argued and I was pissed. Of course, I didn’t answer. That’s usually what people do when they’re angry,” Willie said with a small frown.

“You’re right. About everything. I’m so sorry about how I acted earlier. I was just frustrated after that talk with my parents about college and took it out on you. That wasn’t okay, especially when you were just as upset about the whole Caleb thing,” Alex said apologetically.

Willie’s frown softened into an affectionate smile. “You were so sorry that you dragged your friends over here to help you talk to me? At,” he glanced back into the room to check the time, “two in the morning?”

Alex shrugged. “I couldn’t sleep knowing that we argued and you were upset with me.”

“You’re crazy, Alex. It’s a good thing I like crazy because then this relationship wouldn’t work,” Willie laughed. “I’m sorry, too. I shouldn’t have been so ugly with you earlier.”

Julie could practically see all the tension leave Alex’s body at his boyfriend’s forgiving words. Alex and Willie were so good to each other. Their personalities complimented each other so well that Julie could only hope to have a love like theirs one day. Although, it was almost a tooth-rotting kind of sweet sometimes.

“Hey, buddy. I know you two are kind of having a moment, but can you just kiss and make up already? You aren’t the lightest person in the world,” Luke choked out.

She glanced down to see Luke’s legs were trembling slightly. When she looked back up, Willie was leaning further out of his window to pull Alex into a kiss. It was such a ridiculous moment that Julie couldn’t miss the picture-perfect opportunity.

Julie quickly pulled her phone from her shorts and opened the camera function. She stepped back and whispered, “Smile!”

Luke turned his head to stick his tongue out at the camera and make a peace sign with his fingers. Reggie smiled from where he was leaning up against Alex’s butt to keep the boy in place. Willie and Alex were still kissing through the open window.

Just as she took the picture, a light flicked on to illuminate Willie’s porch.

“Oh shit.”

“Alex, we gotta go. Now!”

“Hurry!”

“I’ll call you tomorrow,” Willie said as Alex slipped off Luke’s shoulders.

“I love you!” Alex whispered back. Reggie tugged on his sleeve to go before someone came outside.

They ran to where they had hidden their stuff and quickly hopped on their bikes and skateboard.

The four teenagers were already racing down the street when Alex suddenly slammed on the brakes to his bike.

“Holy shit. That was the first time I told him I loved him!” he shouted. Julie and the other two boys stared at him before they broke into a fit of giggles.

“Leave it to you to tell your boyfriend you loved him after dramatically showing up at his house to beg for forgiveness,” Reggie laughed.

Luke and Julie started laughing harder.

“Guys! No, wait! What if he starts freaking out? Shit, I have to call and tell him I’m sorry. We’ve only been going out for a few months and,” Alex trailed off as he stared down at his phone.

Julie stopped laughing when she noticed his shocked expression. “What is it?”

Luke and Reggie immediately stopped laughing.

When Alex didn’t respond, Julie slipped off the pegs and moved towards Alex. She glanced at his phone and read the text on his lock screen.

I love you too <3

Next time you tell me I expect you to stick around long enough for me to kiss you, hotdog. Let me know when you get home okay??

“Alex! He said it back!” Julie shouted. She shook the boy out of his shocked daze and grinned up at him.

“He said it back. He loves me. Guys, Willie loves me!” Alex cried happily. He grinned back at Julie and hugged her. Luke and Reggie quickly joined in.

The four teenagers embraced in the middle of the street. Their laughter echoed off the houses and the stars shone brightly down on them. It was nights like this when Julie was beyond happy to have met the guys and let them convince her to sneak out. These memories would be something she would cherish forever.

“Come on, let’s go home.”