by Leo Gillard
Arin realised, now, that things were going to be okay in the end. Maybe they would have always been fine. Maybe Kieran was always going to pull through and come out the other side. Maybe it only seemed like that now, when he had a different perspective.
It did seem sort of inevitable, sort of funny that they’d ever worried, when he saw the way everything had ended up now. Laughter filled the room; it was the end of the year, and for the first time in weeks they’d all managed to get together in one place.
Laila sat at the edge, on the arm of the too-small sofa (it was for two people, bought at a time when Orion clearly wasn’t optimistic about company). That left three of them to fit on something that was far, far too small, so Orion kept pushing Kieran onto the floor.
“It’s cold down here,” he said, letting out a short groan and pulling himself to his feet again, trying to find a seat once more.
“Tough,” Orion said, The harshness to his words didn’t reach his voice or his face. He was smiling in that strange way that Arin had only ever seen when Kieran was involved.
Kieran got a thoughtful look on his face and his eyes flicked from Laila, to Orion, to Arin, and then back to Orion. There was a little glint in his eyes that Arin didn’t trust, and he suddenly felt like maybe he shouldn’t be sat on this sofa if he wanted to remain unbruised.
He was right. Just as he hurriedly vacated his seat, Kieran practically launched himself onto it, clearly planning on the force knocking Orion out of his chair and onto the floor. Unfortunately, that wasn’t how physics worked, and all three of them let out a cry as the sofa toppled backwards and hit the floor.
Arin, for one, wasn’t going to help any of those idiots. Nope, he was just going to laugh at them from a distance, maybe send a photo to their one mutual friend. Well, that was, until he saw how they’d landed.
While Laila had fallen sideways as the sofa fell backwards, Kieran and Orion had… not. And they were quite close. Yeah, maybe that was the slightest bit too intimate for the one coworker they’d had at their first summer job.
But hey, it was funny what perspective could do, because Kieran didn’t seem at all aware of what this looked like. It was funny that he didn’t quite seem to grasp exactly how Orion felt about that.
The evening together was good, despite all the mishaps that bordered on violence, and when the person from the floor above came by at two in the morning to ask them to maybe be just a little quieter? (Apparently Orion thought that savoury ice-cream would be a good idea. Arin and Laila had very, very strong feelings about this).
Good was the best way to describe it, honestly. But it also wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to describe the warmth of his feelings, the relief at seeing everything turn out okay. It wasn’t enough to cover the faint feeling of regret over everything they’d missed out on as they’d all drifted apart, if only for a while.
So it was mixed, but it was also good. Far better and far worse than just that one simple word, but good nonetheless.
And looking back on the night with a little bit of perspective, no more than a year later, Arin should have seen that things wouldn’t be smooth from there. They didn’t always understand each other, didn’t always say the right things or make the right motions. Sometimes they hit a snag and realised that even after knowing each other their whole lives, they didn’t actually know everything about each other.
Sometimes things would be hard, and they’d get in each others’ way. They’d shout, followed by a sullen, shocked silence that couldn’t quite believe what had been said (because if there was anything that came from knowing each other well, it was knowing exactly how to hurt each other).
But equally, sometimes things would be good. Better than good. And if there was one thing perspective could give Arin a year later, watching two of his childhood best friends move into a life truly together, it was the knowledge that they’d come through the worst of it, and out the other side.