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Thorson, Episode 4 — Choices
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“You didn’t have to laugh.” I said, peevishly. I knew it was peevish, but the tips of my ears were still warm, and probably just as red as I was afraid they were.

“I know, and I’m sorry,” said Lucy, the bubble of laughter still there under the sweet sound of her voice. “But it was so unexpected. And…cute.”

Gah! Cute! Nobody wants their girlfriend thinking they’re cute! Which reminded me.

“I heard you telling Robert that I was your boyfriend.” I said, not sure how to ask the questions I wanted to ask. Or even if I wanted them answered.

“Well, what did you want me to say? ‘The boy who brought me to the movie and bought me popcorn and water and sat with his arm around me but who definitely _isn’t_ my boyfriend’? By the time I got all that out, you could have been dead! Since you heard it, I guess you’re just stuck with being my boyfriend now, Gardner. Suck it up. And what was that bit about trying to send me home, and then telling me stay behind you? Who do you think you are, Hercules?”

“Wrong pantheon,” I said, under my breath, as I opened the door to my house.

“Mmmooommmm! I’m home! Gonna watch some TV!” I yelled, so she wouldn’t be confused by the sound of the door opening this early.

“Boyfrie…,” I started to say, but was interrupted by another shout, this one from the living room.

“Thorson! Get your butt in here so I can kick it from one end of the field to the other in Rocket League!”

I couldn’t help it. I winced, just a little bit. It was Luca. What was he doing here?

“Thor…son?” asked Lucy, raising one eyebrow at me. I hadn’t known she could do that, and I probably would have thought it was wonderful if it hadn’t been aimed directly at me.

“Uh, Luca thinks he’s being funny,” I said as my treacherous best friend walked into the hallway, grinning evilly at me. “It’s my middle name.”

“Hunh. And I thought the T. always stood for ‘The’, you know, Sean The Gardner, like Kermit The Frog.” and there was that bubble of laughter under her voice again. “Thorson. Hunh again. I like it. Suits you. And I guess that explains the Avengers underwear.” her smile was fleeting, but warm, a ray of sunlight through the clouds. “Anyway, I should go, you’ve got company. Catch you later, Thorson.” She leaned over, kissed me on the cheek, and slipped out the door before I could say anything.

“My, my, my,” said Luca, leering at me. “I see there’s something you haven’t been telling me.”

Now, before I go on, I should tell you a little about Luca. Although he’s kind of hard to explain.

Luca is tall, and handsome, and quick, and graceful, and funny, and charming, and everything I should hate in another guy my age. He was the kind of guy who succeeded at everything, and so easily it looked like he wasn’t even trying. As far as I could tell, he wasn’t. He’s smarter than I am, and better at video games, and sports, and classes, and talking to girls.

But, the thing is, to me he’s just Luca, my best friend. We’d met in kindergarten and been together ever since. Why he hung with me, I don’t know. Maybe he enjoyed my reactions to his constantly getting us into trouble, and then back out again. He liked to tease me about things, like ‘Thorson’, but this was the first time it’d ever happened in front of anyone but the two of us.

“What?” I asked, and it came out peevish as well. I was going to have to work on that.

Luca’s grin just got a little wider. “Little miss kissy-face,” he said. “Your girlfriend.”

Girlfriend? Was I the only one who hadn’t known?

“It was just the movies. They’re playing the Thor double feature at the Hamilton.” Searching for a way to drag the conversation away from Lucy and girlfriends.

“While we were at the theater, there was some excitement. It was probably just some dopehead who’d slipped in somehow, but from the stench it was almost like it was a zombie.”

“What kind?” asked Luca, as we moved back to the living room. “Fast, or slow? Caribbean? Resident Evil? 28 Days Later? Walker? WWZ?”

“Draugar.” I said, smugly.

“So what, you chopped his head off with an iron sword and burnt the remains?”

“Nope, just dumped him over the seats and belted his ankles together. Like I said, he was probably just stoned and looking for money. But, boy, that smell…”

“Dude, you’ve got to stop having adventures without me,” Luca said, smiling. Then the smile faded and he looked at me a moment. “Seriously. I haven’t seen much of you lately.”

I squirmed slightly. He wasn’t wrong. But Lucy…

“I know, man, sorry.” I punched him lightly in the shoulder. “But we can hang tonight. Rocket League, right?”

“Wish I could, Thorson, but I’ve gotta run, places to go, people to see. It’s date night, right? Call me tomorrow if you wanna hang with me instead of Lips.” and then he was the same Luca again, grinning at some private joke only he knew, and heading out the door.

And there I was, on NOT-a-date (or maybe it had been?) night, without a date or a best friend to do anything with. If I didn’t know better, I’d think someone with a malicious sense of humor had it in for me.
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