Chapter 61: The Sidekick and Some Philosophy
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“Don’t take too long. I can’t hold off this aerial fleet forever on my own.”

I smirked. “I’ll hurry back. Wouldn’t want you to strain yourself fighting off plastic soldiers.”

Ethan groaned, covering his face in his hand. “You really are a buzzkill.”

I shrugged my shoulders and walked around the four girls sitting around the dining room table. Nora and me exchanged a glance, but I shook my head. There wasn’t anything I was upset about, simply wanting some fresh air because I’d been stuck in a chair for so long. Ethan had randomly invited us over to play Battlefront, and while I was enjoying myself, I could also only take so much of the game at once. In the hallway I avoided the slumbering form of his sleeping cat. No need to rouse her and incur her wrath.

I slid open the glass door and stepped onto the patio. The crisp night air slapped my skin like an icy hand, but I ignored it. The air conditioner had been going full blast, pumping cool air into the house to counteract the sticky, hot May day. Compared to the light breeze out here, Ethan's house might as well have been an igloo. 

Breathing in deeply, I walked over to the railing and pressed my forearms against it. It had been about two months since Rika and me had our little discussion in the student council room. Things had been tense for awhile, awkward even, after Rika had confessed her feelings to me. She told me she was slowly moving on, but she had agreed to bare everything–secrets big or small. So, in typical Rika fashion, she invited Nora and me over to her house a few days later to play video games while she described in vivid detail the provocative fantasies she had of me and her. 

Needless to say, Nora and me left her place, blushing and stuttering out our plans, as we rushed to Nora’s house to try out some new fantasies of our own.

The door slid open before closing again with an almost inaudible thud. Turning my head slightly to Nora, I smiled. "I haven't been out here that long, have I?"

"No, I just decided to get some fresh air while Ethan makes some more popcorn."

"Really?" I chuckled. "That's a funny way of saying you missed me."

Her fist connected with my shoulder blade, nothing more than a light tap. "And that's an even funnier way of saying you're a riot."

"I do what I can," I replied.

Rika strode out onto the patio, and suddenly we were starting to get a bit crowded. Nora pushed into my side as Rika pressed against her other side, effectively closing the distance between us to nothing. She planted her hands firmly on the wooden railing and grinned, having successfully made us into a human sandwich. "Sorry about interrupting, but it looked like those three could use a moment to themselves."

Nora didn't look pleased at her reasoning or at having to be the filling of the sandwich. "So happy you could join us, Rika. I was just thinking, 'I really hope Rika comes out here and makes sure nobody can be comfortable. That would be super cool'!"

Her grin became brighter. "I do what I can."

"You two are absolutely infuriating," Nora seethed.

I gave Rika a thumb-up, and she boisterously returned the gesture, much to Nora's chagrin. She began berating our very existences, but I had already tuned her out. We'd been around each other long enough that I'd gotten pretty good at doing so. The only downside was when she asked me a question, and I didn’t have a clue what the answer was. Then, all hell would break loose.

But right now, I was content to simply enjoy this break with my friends. And wasn't that a funny thing to consider? We were almost at the end of the school year, yet thinking back to the beginning, this would have been an impossible scene. If someone came up to me and told me this was my future, I would have told them to head to the nearest psych ward for an evaluation. And even this was beyond my wildest imagination. I managed to become friends with all of them–Rika, Nora, Amelia, and Chloe. I even managed to somehow convince Nora to be my girlfriend, something I thanked my lucky stars for every day.

I let out a sigh, truly happy with how everything had turned out. I took the chance to express these feelings aloud. "It really is funny how much things can change."

Nora blinked at me, tilting her head slightly. "Are you trying to be deep or something right now?"

"Seriously, that was weird. We didn't come out here for your philosophical mumbo-jumbo. That was kind of..." Rika seemed to struggle finding the word for a moment before her eyes lit up and her hands clenched into fists, excitedly. "Disgusting. It was disgusting."

And as much as some things changed, I guess other things would always stay the same. I stole Nora's hand in mine, listening to them wane of their own philosophies about everything from school, to AC, to capitalism. There was no way that their ideas were any less stupid than mine, yet they carried on without a care in the world. I could only chuckle in bemusement. 

This was my life now, and I wouldn't change it for anything.

Epilogue tonight! Thank you all so much for the support!