I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who's read this book, commented, and/or favorited! This is the last and final chapter.
No, there will not be an epilogue. Hopefully I ended this at a decent place...
Life is filled with unexpected twists and turns, or at least that's what I've learned since I've moved to Arcade. You can never truly foresee what, or who, is about to come in your life. That's how this new chapter I've created in my life had started out. I definitely learned more than I thought I would for not starting college yet. One lesson that stands out is that it is a given fact that you can change someone and I'll argue against anyone who disagrees for the rest of my life. Emily, the foundation of my life in Arcade, is the perfect example and she always will be.
She's the unexpected and the person who's changed. Granted she had changed me, she went through an even bigger change. When I first saw her, she was a cold and dark person. She didn't care or give a single thought to another person but herself. How I've managed to tame her is beyond me. She went from yelling her heart out, to somewhat calmly walking away from an intense argument. Yes, she still has her quirks and black clothing- not to mention that shiny, studded nose piercing- but her personality has changed for the better. She's less bitter for sure.
But I still feel like she doesn't want to accept or think about it. She's trying to hide the fact she has changed, but she's going to have to come to terms with it. I still haven't talked to her since we... kissed. No, I still haven't gotten over it but I have come to terms with the fact that nothing will ever come from it. I know her beliefs on love and all things about it. I kinda wish she'd accept everything instead of running away and shutting people out. I guess some things never change.
At least I can say that the person she is now is because of me. I can say that I figured her out, maybe not everything, but I found out what I was searching for. And I can say that just for a moment, she loved me whether she said it or thought it because I felt it. The girl who doesn't believe in love, loved me. That will forever be my proudest achievement, besides playing varsity football in high school.
I still wish she'd stop ignoring me, but it's so much like Emily to keep to herself. Who knew a kiss could have such an impact on a person? I've kissed a few girls before and, hell, I used to kiss both my dads' cheeks when I was a kid. Everyone has different reactions, though, so I focused my attention back on Ben and Hailee who sat in my apartment instead of my life thus far and Emily.
"I'm really not looking forward to school starting up again. I swear, you're lucky, Niall." I smirked, but I didn't feel so lucky. I lost Emily.
"At least you're just starting JC, I'm actually starting at a credited college. High school did not prepare me for this." Hailee sighed.
"Whatever, after a week you're never going to want to leave. You'll be partying it up with frat boys and sorority girls." Ben teased.
"That's so overrated. People are blowing it out of proportion way too much. Besides, Hailee would most likely be sitting in some quiet place while she focuses on studying so she can get her degree and start living her life. She has a goal and she isn't going to screw it up." I gave Hailee a smile when I finished and watched as her smile brightened.
"Way to take a joke literal, Niall. But we should all go- wait, what is that?" Ben asked as he started looking around my apartment, searching for something.
"What?" Hailee and I asked, giving him a weird but worried look.
"You guys don't hear Californication playing?"
"No." I answered. Ben motioned us to be quiet, so I tried listening and sighed when I heard the soft murmur.
"It's just Philly. He does that." I explained.
"It must suck being neighbors." Ben said.
"He's not too bad. I think he's a jerk, but that's based on personal experience."
"Oh yeah, his idiot friends messed with you." Hailee nodded, recalling the memory of me telling Ben and her. I hate thinking about all the stupid crap that's happened to me.
"Have you seen him around since?" Ben asked. I sat there trying to remember the last time I saw him and furrowed my brows when it started to take me a couple of minutes. For the longest time, I had been hanging out with Emily and hadn't paid attention to anything else.
"Uh, no, I haven't. I almost forgot we're neighbors, to be honest."
"You couldn't have been that busy. You don't hang out with us much." Hailee pointed out. She's right, but I don't think she knows I became good friends with Emily.
"I've been spending too much time with Emily, but that will not be a problem anymore."
"Are you serious?" Ben asked.
"Yes, I even took her back home a couple of weekends ago to visit my parents. A lot has happened these past two weeks, but I don't think we'll be spending much time together anymore."
"Why?" Ben asked, still confused. As soon as the reason came to me, I became uncomfortable around them.
"I don't want to talk about it."
"Did she try to kill you?" Hailee and I both laughed.
"Of course she didn't. I just don't think she's going to want to talk to me ever again."
"What happened?" This time Hailee asked and sighed. How do I tell them I fell in love with the girl they don't like and we kissed, but she ran away and is avoiding me?
"Something. It's nothing, but it's everything. It's fine."
"Are you sure she didn't try to kill you?"
"Yes, Ben. It's the total opposite, actually."
"She hugged you and that little bit of affection drove her away?"
"No and yes. Don't worry about it. So, what do you guys have planned before school starts? There's only, like, one more week left."
"Don't change the subject. Emily is a serious subject, especially when you're the only psycho who decides to hang out with her." Ben pushed.
"Yeah, what did happen? You've been acting weird... I don't know."
I looked at Ben and then Hailee before I slumped in my seat and stared at the floor. I told them I didn't want to talk, but they can't seem to drop it. How did we even get to this point? It's not a big deal at all and besides, if I thought long and hard enough, I could still feel Emily's lips on mine. Yes, I was over it, but not the feeling. A few moments passed and they seemed to catch on that I wasn't going to respond to them. I don't want to talk about her ever again to someone, actually. If I'm being completely honest, it hurts knowing you lost someone you care about by a simple act.
"Well, there's going to be a chill party at Hailee's before she leaves on Saturday to Davis." Ben started talking again, answering the question I had asked. Thankfully, too, because I needed to get my mind off of her.
"Where's Davis?" I asked curiously. This is what sucks about living your entire life in another state and not bothering to educate yourself before moving. I should already know from the months I've been here, but I was.. preoccupied.
"It's near Sacramento." Hailee answered for me.
"And how far is that?" I asked while I began to think of her moving far away and leaving me here alone. What if she's hours away like I am from home? I don't think I'll be able to drive down for only a day to see her.
"It's like an hour long drive, give or take, from here. Don't worry, we'll be visiting her often." Ben comforted and that made me smile.
"I'd like that. I really need to go out more." Hailee and Ben both laughed.
"Yeah, I'll take care of that." Ben assured.
"Wait, oh god. Hailee, are you sure you want to go away to college? I mean, maybe JC is the better option and then you can transfer in like a year."
"Ben isn't that bad. You guys can bond while I'm away."
"But... damn, this is your last week here." I said when it finally freaking sank in. There was only one time I've felt like the worst friend ever, and that was with Dennis. Now I feel like it again.
"Hey, don't worry about it. It's not like you're never going to see me again." Hailee smiled, noticing my face had faltered as I thought.
"No, I'm sorry. I have been really distant and that wasn't fair or right. I'm sorry, Hailee."
"Really Niall, you're making it-"
"Stop, you know I've been a bad friend. The only times we've hung out were at work when we had to."
"Why are you taking it so personlly for?"
"Because, I know I'm a horrible friend. I.. just am, okay. My friends from high school don't even stay in touch with me and it's like.. all of my best friends seem to leave me in some way and it sucks." I immeidately thought of Dennis and even Emily. If I were better at undestanding and being there, maybe they would've stayed, right?
"Niall, I'm sorry you had horrible friends. Trust me, I'm not leaving for good. Arcade is home and always will be. I'll be back and you'll see me again with Ben." I took in a deep breath and let it go. She's right, I'm overrreacting. But I'm still right, though.
"Okay." I nodded.
"Hey Niall, you always have me." Ben grinned and I frowned.
"Not helping, Ben. That makes it worse."
"You love me and you know it." He teased, but it stung worse than salt on a cut. I love Emily, but she doesn't love me.
"Sure Ben, keep telling yourself that."
"Okay, I'm sorry, but I'm about to go over to Philly's and shut off his music. Who listens to Hoobastank anymore or Switchfoot? And seriously, Audioslave is so old." Hailee complained.
"How do you put up with it?" Ben asked.
"I haven't been spending too much time here." I admitted.
"Really? Let me guess, you've been trying to figure out Emily and I'm guessing you got pretty far." Ben hit the nail on the head. Well, there's no escaping her.
"Yeah." I nodded my head.
"So, are you going to tell us what happened?" Hailee asked so sincerely and delicately, but it didn't help. You'd think after all Emily put me through, she'd stick around.
"She just left, okay? She literally ran away and it pissed me off and I can't let it go. She's ignored me since last week and I've rarely seen her. Even then, she never gave a glance once. It sucks. But if you think about it, it's funny because it's almost an elementary thing to do."
"What did you do or what happened?" Ben asked and I had mentally prayed that question wouldn't be announced out loud.
"I don't really want to talk about that... I'd like for it to stay personal."
"Niall, we're your friends. You can talk to us. We won't judge you. No promises for the best reaction, but we're here." Hailee comforted and if Ben had said it, it wouldn't have worked and gotten me to speak up.
"We, uh, we were just talking and I hadn't really planned it, but she started and was going for it... we kissed. That's all, it was nothing. Really it's not a big deal."
The silence that followed was only natural and of course they didn't believe me- it was a big deal. I kissed her, I exchanged something more that rude and hateful words with her. I went further than any other person would have dared to. I did something that's probably idiotic to anyone else, but extraordinary to me. But she reacted childishly. We could've talked or she could've just told me she doesn't like me. I waited for them to say something, and they finally did.
"Damn, Niall. I told you to stay away. She won't talk to you ever again. Same thing happened to Hailee."
"I'm surprised. But that's who she is, that's how she is like. She'll run, but she won't look back. Sorry, Niall. I didn't know you liked her."
"Yeah, but it makes sense now. I think you're weird and have an awful taste in girls, though. But have you ever tried to talk to her yourself?"
I swear, I didn't like where Ben was going with his words, but his question got me- I never even thought about it. There I was, moping and trying to move on from Emily. I thought she hated me and the distance was excruciating, but k never thought that I, myself, could change that. I was letting her slip away from me, while I watched with the control in my hand all along. I was doing the same thing I did with Dennis, but I'll be damned if I let the same mistake repeat itself. Obviously Emily wouldn't... commit, but she'd just shun herself from society, absolutely hating it.
"You okay, Niall?" Hailee asked while I lost myself in my thoughts.
"Yes, Hailee, I'm perfect." I hadn't realized, but the biggest smile was smothered across my face. I quickly stood up and started straightening out my clothes and fixing my hair.
"What's happening?" Ben asked, confused and probably wondering if he said the wrong thing.
"Did I mention that I love you, Ben?"
After that, I just blocked out everything they said as I walked out of my door with the most determination and confidence I have ever carried. Everything I said before? Yeah, fuck it and forget it. This new chapter in my life? It's a damn book that's still only begun and I will literally be damned if I let it end now. What I said about changing people and Emily? She once told me that you can never change anyone- people only evolve as time progresses or when society sets new standards. She won't admit she's reconsidering this theory of hers now. But she will before I die, and that's a fact.
Oh shit, I could already feel my lips tingling.