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Whatever it was that Milo had to tell me, he clearly felt as awkward as I did discussing it in the middle of a hallway, even though the halls were mostly empty by this point. Class was about to start, and I wasn’t one for skipping, but curiosity won over me. Before long, we were back in our little elevator hallway, with him looking from wall to wall, thinking about where he’d begin with this.

“I’m not normally one for drama,” he began, “but I think this is important for you to hear. So, you’ve… been doing stuff with Taylor, right? No need to say what.”

I nodded, staying silent.

“So, this could be nothing, or this could be something, but Taylor’s been kind of… dropping hints that she’s gotten… ” He sighed. “How do I word this…?”

“She’s been telling you guys that she’s been having sex with me?” I offered. It was weird, thinking of her making me swear to secrecy then blabbing to her group.

Milo shook his head. “Not quite. She’s been… uh… I guess the word is ‘bragging’ to her friends that she found a guy that she can control. Sh-“

“Wait, control? What does that mean?” I asked.

“She was basically saying that – okay, so, Taylor has a thing with guys. She usually goes from guy to guy, looking for them to have sex with her. But she usually just ends up being their good little girlfriend or something. So, she wanted her own thing. A guy she had wrapped around her finger.”

“Okay…” I replied slowly. “And you all guessed that it was me?”

“No, I don’t think the others care.”

“So why do you?” I asked, in a calculated and removed tone.

He stared at me for a bit. “I guess because if that was me, I’d want to know. I’m just nervous if you give your first time to her thinking it’s special or something, and you only find out after that she – actually… Have you two had full-on sex yet?”

“What’s full-on sex?” I asked.

“Fourth base. Train in tunnel. What our Sex Ed class likes to pretend doesn’t exist.” He stared at me for a bit. “Penis in vagina.”

“Oh,” I replied dumbly. “Um, no, we haven’t. Just oral and stuff.”

“Well, congratulations I guess,” he replied. “I just kinda jumped to worst-case scenario in my head, and figured that if this was me, I’d want to know about it. If, like, the sex meant more to you or something.”

I wasn’t exactly clear on this. I mean, it was a little insulting that she was bragging about having sex with me but I wasn’t allowed to say it, but I guess if I said I had sex, it would be clear who, and if she did, it wouldn’t be as obvious.

“Also, again, I hate the drama train as much as you do, but in case she hasn’t told you… she has a boyfriend.”

“Joel, right?” I asked.

Milo looked surprised. “Oh, so she did,” he mumbled. “You know what? Good for her. I’ll be honest, I thought she would try to hide that. Love Taylor to death, but she, uh… yeah, sometimes, she just likes to hide the stuff she’s less proud of, or stuff she thinks you don’t need to know. She, uh, likes to dodge responsibility a lot.”

“Well, Joel also isn’t her boyfriend, they’ve only gone on one date, right?” I asked.

“Maybe like half a week ago. They’ve gone on two dates since. They’re really hitting it off. Facebook official and everything,” Milo replied.

I stayed silent, and Milo picked up on that. “That wasn’t disclosed, huh?” he suggested.

“I didn’t even find out about Joel through her,” I bitterly confided. “I bumped into him in the hallways.”

“Well, th-“

“Literally bumped into him.”

“…Well, that’s Taylor for you, I guess. I’m sorry. I’m not trying to drive a wedge between you two, but… In case you’re one of those types where your first time means something to you, yeah. I’d rather you have, like, caution than regret.”

I nodded. “What do you think I should do?”

“I’m one of those assholes that think you shouldn’t sleep with a girl who’s dating another guy,” he joked. “It’s not my place to judge, but that’s where I’m at.”

“So, either way, you were looking for whoever Taylor was fooling around with to stop doing stuff with her,” I concluded.

He shrugged. “Kinda, yeah. I’m not just doing this for you. You seem cool and all, but I barely know you. And I like Joel, and I want things to work out between them.”

“Hey, it wasn’t exactly my idea to be doing stuff with Taylor,” I defended myself, only realizing afterwards that in actuality, it was kind of my idea. “Especially not while she’s with another guy.”

“Right, but now you know. So, y’know, keep it professional. School year is ending soon anyway, should be a piece of cake.” As the conversation went on, it was clear through his tone that this wasn’t as much ‘friendly advice’ as it was ‘a gently worded command.’ “I’m sorry that she didn’t tell you the whole thing, or blabbed about using you, even if no one but me knows.”

There was a thought. “How do you know no one else knows? What if someone from your group pieced it together?”

Milo smiled. “Because if they mersinescort did, they’d have asked her by now. None of the girls in the group know how to keep any secrets to themselves.”

That was not a comforting thought at all, especially given everything Milo just told me about Taylor. I thought to myself about what he said, and realized, maybe that was why Morgan was acting differently towards me. Maybe she knew.

“What about Morgan?” I asked. “Do you think she knows?”

“I can’t answer if you ask about anyone other than me. I just think the group doesn’t know.” He paused. “Why Morgan specifically?”

I shrugged. “I dunno. She’s… maybe it’s stupid, but she’s been acting weird around me lately. I feel like I may have upset her, or maybe she’s angry that Taylor’s hanging out with someone like me… a bit ago, she even came to my job – I work at GameStop – and I swear, it was like she didn’t even need to buy anything. Call me paranoid, but it was like she was just there to spy on me or something.”

Milo’s grin began at the start of my rant, and by the end, it was practically ear to ear.

I hesitated. “And call me crazy, but it sure seems like you know something here.”

Milo chuckled bashfully. “Quinn, uh… I’m sorry, I honestly am, but I don’t think I have the right to be the one to tell you what’s going on there,” he told me, his grin never stopping.

“So you do know something!!” I protested loudly.

“I… have my guesses. I really shouldn’t say it though, okay?”

“No. Not okay,” I complained.

“Believe me, relax. It’s not like there’s a conspiracy against you or something. I’ll say… I’ll say that it isn’t a bad thing, okay?”

I stared at him in confusion.

“Look, we’re getting off topic here. All I’m saying is, you should probably stop doing stuff with Taylor. She has a boyfriend, like full-on official boyfriend. You don’t like drama, and… and other reasons. I’m counting on you to do the right thing here.”

“It doesn’t sound like you came here to give me a choice,” I told him.

“If you’re half as good of a person as I think you are, you’ll know there really isn’t a choice at this point,” he rebutted.

***

“How was lunch?” I asked Kevin as we started to walk out of the school together.

“Enh, it was dumb. Believe me, I would have rather spent it with you,” he replied, walking down the hall with me. He pointed at someone walking in the other direction. “Yo, my man, good work today! But remember, you got lucky.” He met my eyes and shrugged as we kept walking. “Debate club buddy.”

“I don’t even know how you remember all of these people,” I mumbled to myself.

“Not gonna lie, Quinn, I kinda envy your life sometimes,” Kevin admitted. “Sometimes, the more people you know, the more shit you get sucked into.”

“Yeah, I think I’m starting to get that,” I mumbled, holding the school door open for him.

He walked through, then looked at me for a bit. “This isn’t still about you thinking I started the school thinking you and Taylor fucked, is it?” he asked exasperatedly. “Because I even checked the grapevine for stories about Taylor, and-“

“No, no, I’m not blaming you. You’re good,” I replied, the two of us moving to the sidewalk. “Just… the smallest things suddenly mean so much. Like, Taylor and I are just hanging out to study, but suddenly, to everyone in her friend group, and I mean every single one of them, it’s like the biggest event on the planet.”

Kevin stared straight ahead to the clouds. “I bet every guy in high school feels that way. We’re getting better at talking to each other but we’re not perfect. So, we miscommunicate. We’ve never had miscommunications with such high stakes before, so we feel like this is the biggest thing. And it happens to all of us, but it feels so silly that it feels like it can’t happen to us, like we’re the only one. I bet there’s like a dozen you’s running around right now, going all, ‘Why is this being treated like such a big event? Why’s this only happening to me?'”

“Wow, Kevin. Deep,” I said, half-jokingly, half impressed. “I mean, just because it’s happening to a dozen people right now doesn’t make it any less impactful. Or any less stupid.”

“No, but it does make it more commonplace,” he retorted. “I think it’s just a part of growing up.”

“What, so this kinda stuff is happening to you?” I asked.

“Ohhhhhh yeahhhh,” he replied with an exaggerated voice. “You said it yourself. The more people you know, the more shit you get sucked into.”

“…You were the one who said that,” I pointed out.

“…Oh. Well, I was right,” he declared. We didn’t say much more for the rest of the walk home, mostly talking about small stuff like assignments and video games. My mind was somewhere else anyway. It didn’t help that shortly after I got home, I’d need to prepare for work.

When I got home, I dropped my stuff off, ate a quick snack that Mother had prepared for me, and caught her up on my life, leaving out as I always did, any yenişehir escort and all adventures with Taylor. In fact, I took lengths to make any interactions worth mentioning to her as banal as possible. The last thing I needed was for her to think the girl with a popular jock boyfriend was my girlfriend, in case Taylor had to come over for an emergency or something. That would have ended disastrously.

Taylor occupied all of my thoughts as I walked to work, and even for the first hour or so of my shift. Was I obligated to end things with her now that I knew she had a boyfriend? Wasn’t she the one that had to tell me? More importantly, if we stopped, would we stop being friends? We didn’t exactly have much common ground.

I would have kept overthinking, but after a bit longer standing around and giving people vague buying advice, who else but Morgan walked back into the store. The mood felt a lot lighter this time – it helped that it was sunny instead, but mostly it was because she was looking up instead of anywhere but at me.

She addressed me first, waving in a reserved fashion. “Hey, Quinn,” she opened casually. “So I was thinking, maybe this game wouldn’t be the best fit for him,” she held up the copy of Uncharted she bought a few days ago in her hand. “Am I allowed to return this?”

“Uh, yeah, we give you a thirty-day period,” I replied. “Did you want money back or did you want to return it for another item? Since you probably want to get your brother his gift and all.”

It was clear my choice took Morgan by surprise. “I, um, I guess I’ll exchange it for something else…” she replied slowly. She was looking at me the whole time, but only then was she looking into my eyes.

Why was my heartbeat getting faster? I instinctively looked away from her and cleared my throat. What was wrong with me? Morgan was just giving me her usual Morgan look – a blank, non-emoting face, probably getting more annoyed with me by the second.

“Okay, what would you like?” I asked, still looking in the opposite direction of her, pretending to look at a shelf or something.

“I’d like it if you could look in my direction so you’d know when I point to a game,” Morgan softly replied. “I don’t know what I’m looking for.”

“Right, yeah, of course,” I mumbled, bringing my face up to look at her, but not really wanting to.

“Are you blushing?” Morgan asked me.

Backed into a corner. “Yeah,” I admitted.

“Why?”

I shrugged, staring straight ahead at the shelf in front of me.

I felt a hand touch my arm, and instinctively shuddered. I looked from Morgan’s hand, down her arm and into her eyes. She was staring back at mine. “Are you going to be okay?” she asked, her voice reflecting slight concern.

Her face told me she was only slightly weirded out and concerned, but… she was slightly blushing too. It was the first emotion I’d seen from her in a while. I nodded and then she followed suit, letting go of my shoulder.

I had no clue where this came from. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I couldn’t even say today was the first place this feeling had started, just… the first time I had actually felt anything. I didn’t even know what it was I was feeling. Or maybe I did, but it felt too silly and dumb to say it out loud.

Morgan and I talked about video games for a little bit longer. She wasn’t kidding, she really knew nothing about them, and much like with Taylor, I discovered quickly that I had to modify how I approached the subject to even get her to begin getting the ‘language’ of what I was talking about. Weirdly enough, without those data management lessons, I doubt I could have had this talk with Morgan.

I eyed my watch after having what felt like a ten-minute talk with Morgan. “Oh my gosh,” I blurted. “It’s five minutes to the end of my shift. We probably should wrap this up.”

Morgan nodded, also looking at my watch. We had talked for over two full hours. “Yeah, I should probably get home soon. This was helpful though. Thanks for having this talk with me.” She paused and looked at my face again. “The end of the semester is coming up. Are you still tutoring Taylor?”

“Yup, probably until final dates. She’s really worried about the final,” I replied.

Morgan was probably trying to hide it, but some bitter disappointment splashed across her face for a fraction of a second.

“…Why do you not like that I am? I thought you said you were okay with me,” I replied in confusion.

“No, you’re fine. There’s just a…” she trailed off. “I probably shouldn’t tell you. So can I just return this a-“

“Tell me.”

I don’t think I ever said something more assertively in my life. I had no clue what came over me. I don’t know if it was because I had already told off Morgan once, or if I had heard ‘it’s a secret’ one too many times, but I did know that I was sick of this game of “Quinn can figure it out later.”

“Really, Quinn, I want to tell you, but it’ll really only toroslar escort complicate things. For her, and for everyone,” Morgan protested.

“If you want to tell me, tell me. You have no idea how many people have told me, ‘Oh, I can’t tell you,’ or, ‘oh, you’ll see in time.’ I’m so sick of everyone assuming I can’t be let in on things. I can keep a secret if you want, but this keeps happening to me, and I’m allowed to say that enough is enough, aren’t I?”

Morgan stared right at me and chewed her lower lip in thought. Eventually she looked around and whispered, “Just… not in here. Your shift is over, right? Meet me outside.”

That was definitely the best offer I’d gotten so far. I nodded, and returned to the desk, issuing her refund and waiting around for the next few minutes until James gave me the all-clear. I did a few quick chores then got my sweater, ready to leave.

Morgan was waiting for me outside, leaning against the wall. “You took more than five minutes,” she commented.

“Yeah, I can’t believe you’re still here,” I quipped. Morgan smiled in acknowledgement of the joke. Morgan smiled so little that her face kinda changed when she lit up. Her normally lifeless face looked vibrant when she smiled. I really liked it.

“So, what was the big thing that GameStop can’t know?” I continued.

Morgan shook her head. “It’s not that GameStop can’t know, I just thought it was kind of a can of worms. So…” She paused, looking off in another direction. “Taylor… didn’t want anything to interfere with her getting a good grade. She didn’t want your peer-tutor relationship to get complicated or anything.”

Bit late for that.

“So, she asked me to… kind of not talk to you. I know that sounds weird, but I actually get it. Things were kind of complicated between you and the group from day one. She’s had peer tutors before, but usually they kept to themselves and they didn’t really have any drama surrounding them.”

“Wait, you’re telling me that I was the dramatic one of the bunch? Me?”

“I think it can happen to anybody, and it happened to happen to you,” Morgan reasoned. “Happened to happen… there’s gotta be a better way to phrase that. Anyway, I guess because she’s aware we had a… difficult beginning, she asked me not to talk to you until you two are finished.”

“She really asked you not to talk to me until we were finished Data Management? That’s such a weird stipulation,” I commented out loud. In response, Morgan blushed again and bit her bottom lip, looking down at the ground.

Something clicked for me in that moment, after remembering my conversation with Milo. “She asked you not to talk to me at all,” I realized. “You just figured that if you needed to talk to me, she wouldn’t care about how we saw each other after she was done tutoring me.”

Morgan nodded slowly.

“But wait, why do you need to talk to me? That part I don’t get. Are you telling me you didn’t actually need to go to GameStop in the first place, or what?” I asked her.

She looked up at me with half-closed eyes. “Wow, you really aren’t going to make this easy for me, are you?”

“Make what easy?”

“You hate secrets, right?”

“More than anything!”

“Do you still not get that I have a crush on you?”

My mouth was open but nothing came out. For maybe like the next ten seconds, nothing was said. I felt myself blushing, and looking away. “…What?”

Morgan gestured around her. “We’re adults. Can I not just say that?”

“No, no, you can, I’m just…”

“Did you really not even suspect it?”

“I, uh…” I tried to find the words, but it was like my brain was all jumbled up. “I guess I’m… kind of oblivious…” I shyly replied.

“Yeah, I guess,” Morgan replied quietly.

“So, you…”

“Yup,” Morgan replied flatly, looking at me with her usual emotionless expression but clearly slightly blushing herself. “…Do I get to live long enough to know if you feel the same way or not?”

Fuck me sideways. This was such a complicated situation. Part of me was wondering if Taylor knew about Morgan’s crush and wanted to keep it from me to make sure no conflicts of interest arose. Thank the overthinking, but I was now acutely aware that I was damned if I said yes, and damned if I said no, regardless of how I really felt.

And this could be blamed on the teenage hormones, but I had absolutely no idea what I even did feel. If I asked myself if I definitely had a crush on her, the answer would be ‘I’m not sure.’ If I asked myself whether I should just say no, once again, ‘I’m not sure.’

So what the hell could I answer?

“To hell with Taylor,” a voice met my ears. “You free this weekend? I want to do something with you. It can be a movie or a walk or something.”

That voice was mine. I was nervous, but I was exhilarated. Besides, Taylor was quite literally dating someone else while all of this was going down. Why the hell would she be the only one allowed to do that?

Morgan smiled again, but a much different kind of smile. A kind of ‘I wouldn’t have expected this reply in a million years’ kind of smile. “Um, yes. I mean, I’m not, but I’ll make sure I am. I’d like that. This weekend, right?”

“Yeah. Um, I don’t have a car.”

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