You can't decide whether money changes things or not; it does. You can decide, however, whether it changes things for better or worse.


40. Forty

Alex sneaks into my room that night when I'm already asleep. I figure that out because I wake up at about three in.the morning and he's there next to me, scrolling through his phone and I pretty much have to stop myself from screaming. 

"What the..." I stare at him, wide eyed. "When did you get here?" 

He doesn't answer at first. He just kisses me softly for a long time before saying "A while ago."

Now that my heart has started beating again, I can finally appreciate the fact that he's here. I drape an arm over his stomach and rest my head on his shoulder. 

"Why are you here?" I ask. "It's not even like I was awake, you were just there on your phone."

He shrugs, kissing my head. "I just wanted to be around you I guess."

I frown, looking at him. "What's wrong?" 

He looks back at me. "Nothing's wrong."

"I don't believe that." I say softly, stroking some hair out of his eyes. "Tell me what's wrong."

His eyes start glistening and I kiss his neck, his jawline, his cheek, his lips and I rest my forehead on his. It was mostly to try and make him feel better but honestly I just didn't want to see him cry. There are just some people I can't see cry. My dad is one of them, and Johanna and now Alex. I think it's because they're all the people who are usually fine and are usually helping me when I'm sad so it's hard to see them cry. But part of me likes the fact that Alex was feeling vulnerable and came straight here.

"What's the matter?" I whisper, holding him close to me. It feels good to take care of somebody like this, even if I hate that he has to be taken care of in the first place.

"I love you." he murmurs, still really crying, and I'm shocked but I try to just stay calm and normal because when you're upset like he is, you just need somebody neutral.

"I love you too." I say and I think I'm just saying it as something to say but I realise as I say it that I'm telling the truth. "Now tell me what's wrong."

He hugs me tight for a moment and then takes a deep breath, pulling away and wiping his eyes. He looks at me, shaking his head. 

"Nothing." he shrugs. "I'm fine. I just wanna be around you, okay?" 

I frown but decide to just let it go for now and I nod, wrapping my arms around him. Maybe it's not my place to pry and find out what's wrong, maybe it's just my place to try and make sure everything ends up okay.

I can't let it go for too long though because at the end of the day I care about him and I want to know what's happened to make him so upset because I couldn't have ever even imagined him so sad before so something must have happened. 

He must know that I'm going to pry because he manages to avoid me for most of the time at school the next day. I manage to catch him alone at his locker before last period though. He looks at me and raises his eyebrows, smiling the slightest smile. 

"Oh hey." he says, his voice sounding flat. He kisses my cheek as if to try and convince me everything's fine. It's going to take more than that. 

"We have to talk about last night." I say gently, not wanting to sound like I'm having a go at him. 

"I don't know what you mean." he says nonchalantly. 

"Shut up." I nudge him. "I'm coming to your house straight after school and we're talking about it."

He shrugs. "Nothing to talk about."

"Well good because we have to practice our music thing so I'll come by anyway and maybe we'll just so happen to have a little chat." I press. 

He sighs, glancing over my shoulder and then looks back at me with one eyebrow raised. "Fine. Meet me in the parking lot then, I'm in the red car today."

And with that, he walks briskly away and my friends approach me. 

"What's wrong with him today?" Johanna asks, frowning. 

I shrug, not wanting to get into it even though I don't know what's wrong so I couldn't tell them anyway. I worry about it for the rest of the school day and when I'm approaching Alex's car in the parking lot, I'm expecting him to be cold and nonchalant with me again but as soon as I get into the car, he leans over and kisses me quickly and then laughs at how shocked I look and kisses my cheek. 

"Don't look so surprised." he smiles at me, squeezing my hand before he starts driving out of the parking lot. 

"You confuse the shit out of me." I tell him honestly. 

He smiles sheepishly, squeezing my hand again. "Look, I'm sorry about earlier and last night. My parents and I got into a huge fight about my future and what college I'm going to and how I'm living my life and it just really upset me. I'm cool now though. I've decided to stop being such a miserable asshole now and I'm sorry for taking it out on you."

"I'm glad you're okay." I say, honestly relieved. But then I start to worry about whether he really meant the whole 'I love you' thing if he was in such a state. But then he takes one hand off the steering wheel and rests it on my knee. 

"Love you." he says. 

I smile, relieved. "Love you."

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