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There was one step left

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"I knew this would happen,I knew the time would come,I totally knew all along! I was dreading it for so long!"

A very visibly anguished and distressed Parker Dinkleman was in the middle of his bed,fists bawled,feet up the wall beside it,head by the edge of it,almost upside down.The 15-year-old somewhat childish teen was looking up at the ceiling,tears forming on his big,usuallly joyful brown eyes,threatening to fall.

He had been best friends with Josh Redgrove for nearly 10 years by now.Or so he liked to believe.

The 16-year-old in question was in a small spare mattress in the opposite side of Parker's room.Sitting by the wall,looking down,feeling a hundred shades of sorry and guilty.He was in the wrong and he knew what his best friend for all these years was about to say.

He admits he'd genuinely wanted this at some point.But that's not a reality anymore.

It's not what the older teen's actions have been showing these days though.


"We've been drifting apart and I've been trying to save this friendship for years! But I'm clearly the only one who's trying and I'm obviously weighing you down,so...."

"Parker,please,I,like,already apologized and everything,okay? Remember?-"

Josh was getting closer to the bed,he really messed up this time,and he just didn't know how to fix this.Them.

"What I remember is seeing you crying! Because I ruined your day exactly how you said I would! I'll get out of your way,you'll be free from me."

The younger teen was openly sobbing,that was the hardest decision of his life,one he took the liberty of deciding for both of them.

Josh was kneeling on the floor by the bed,hands on the younger's shoulders,trying to get him to look in his eyes,he was on the verge of tears too.

"It's evident what's more important to you here,we just haven't been on the same page for years and you probably regret even meeting me,so I'll finally let you go.We're not friends anymore,Josh,we have no compromise to each other anymore.I'm finally stepping away from ruining your life and your dreams."

Josh held Parker's head to his chest,silent tears falling from his one bright caramel eye into flaming unruly red hair.This hurt way more than he'd ever anticipated.

"That's not what you do,Parker,that's not what I want."

When they finally made eye contact,Parker's melancholy browns bore into his very soul.The nerdy teen is stubborn and determinate.This was over.

"That's not what it looks like,I know you wanted to do this for awhile now but you were afraid of hurting my feelings.Well,I loved you and I still love you,Josh.I just can't pretend you'd remotely feel the same."

Their hands linked above the young cook's chest,their faces upside down to each other but so close,Parker felt like if he moved up an inch,he could kiss those big,full,inviting lips above who also happened to belong to a beautiful slender teen who already brought him so much misery.

Josh was closing the space between them even more,shutting his eyes,intending to kiss the geek's forehead,but got a swift kick to the face in the process instead.

"You've already caused enough damage.I can't let you hurt me even more than you already did."

Josh bolted upright from his uncomfortable seat by a hospital bed in the middle of the night.He had that nightmare again.

It has been 5 days.

Parker Dinkleman,a lovable short teen with round cheeks and a childish wonder that never seemed to go away,was in a coma for 5 days.Hooked up in wires in the town's hospital.

7 days since their last real conversation.A bittersweet farewell that keeps playing over and over in Josh's head even when he's asleep.

Josh Redgrove,a lanky,pale teen who likes to believe his childish days had been gone for years,was probably going insane.

Josh doesn't know exactly how it came to this,it all seemed to have happened so fast.

One day,they were in Parker's room saying their dreaded goodbyes,after the party at the blond's house that wasn't supposed to happen,terrorized by a short vengeful teen who wasn't suppose to be there.

The next,he's here.

It's 3am,Margaret Dinkleman is asleep on the couch,she barely left the boy's side,neither did Josh,really.

She is a short,round,strong woman,a pre-school teacher who was going through that parent-phase where she's just having a hard time believing her baby boy is growing up and letting him go.

She'd come around.Josh knew it.

Brittany visits often,she has been very supportive,Josh shouldn't be surprised by that.

But he is,mostly because she was furious at him,after he told the current status of his friendship with the chubby teen,she had seen the boys have nasty fights before,she knew they were friends way before she ever met Josh at the mall and later on developped feelings for him.She saw them fight but always make up,this time though,it felt crucial,it felt final.If Parker doesn't come back,then that's it.

Brittany was one of the few girls who didn't dismiss Parker's existence completely,she actually seemed to get along with the short redhead well enough (even after his stupid power trip as security guard recently,he DID save Josh that day),if anything,Parker was the one to pretty much get them together.Who knows,Josh could be marrying Ashley 2 right now if it wasn't for him.

When those old versions of him and Parker went back to their 'fixed' future.Who did they marry? How many movies did they do together? Did they remain friends at all?

Did...Old Josh go back only to find out his Parker had died at age 15?

Josh shook his head,frustrated withh everything around him.

Parker had gone through embarassment his whole life,Josh was there first seat in most of them,come oooon,this is ridiculous!

"Come on,Parker,you're stronger than this!" Josh shouted,pounding his fists on the bed.Startling Miss Dinkleman awake in the process.

Josh had cried for the first time in years,the party was ruined,his social life was ruined,hell with social life,his parents were back with Ken,his LIFE was ruined.

Both teens were walking silently to Parker's apartment building a few blocks away.They didn't live too far from each other,but Josh's neighboorhood was clearly more humble compared to Parker's.

They entered the building,went up the elevator to the 5th floor in awkward tense silence,Parker in a normal day would be rambling endlessly about videogames or comic books and superheroes,Josh didn't really find the boy's habit annoying by this point,it was just conforting,endearing...and familiar.

Josh would give everything for their regular,easy dynamic to be in place right now.All he knew was Parker was still upset with him over the whole party thing and had something on his mind.

The cashier can't blame him.

They got to the young cook's place.Parker shouted to his mom that he was home and Josh was sleeping over.She greeted both,kissed each on the forehead goodnight and they went up to Parker's room.

Parker did all their usual sleepover procedures,he got the spare mattress from under his bed,a few clothes which belonged to Josh that were always here in his walk-in closet in cases like this,this IS a very familiar room to Josh,just as much as his own,his is just way smaller and less messy.But this was his second home.

He took it for granted.

Parker had a forced stoic expression on his face the whole time,it was...intriguing to say the least,to see someone he knew so well,who always wore his heart on his sleeve,to be trying so hard to hide his true feelings.

That's just not his Parker.

"Parker,would you please,say what's on your mind already,okay? This silent tretatment is kinda freaking me out,buddy."

Josh said when the shorter teen came back from the bathroom in his orange Star Raiders pajamas.The usually optimistic teen still had a forced reserved but genuinely determined expression on his face,which...could have made the situation comical,but this was anything but.

"This conversation's long overdue."

It was a Saturday,so they had work but no school.

Josh woke up first,actually he barely slept,took a shower,dressed in last night's clothes,took one last glance at the short,round body tangled in a mess of sheets.It belonged to someone he claimed to care deeply about,but somehow....he just keeps proving otherwise.Judging by the redhead's pained expression,the boy didn't have the best of slumbers either.

Josh couldn't help but be impressed,this was a kid Josh SOLD to a demon in exchange for a beefy body at some point and not getting invited to a PARTY is what turned out to be the last straw.

The blond finally had what he thought he wanted.He was finally invited to be one of the most popular,cool kids in Scaunchboro,but right now,it just didn't seem worth it.

He went downstairs,refused Miss Dinkleman's elaborate breakfast and walked home to get his work uniform.

Yes,he was grounded,yes,he could get nowhere near his phone or his dad's car.And he'd go to Military Summer School,if he tried anything funny.

But Josh didn't realize until he had to experience it himself that the worst punishment was having to work with someone all day without being able to exchange a single word with them.

When Parker got to Mr. Meaty 30 or so minutes later,the only words he said to Josh were about his dad's camera that he forgot to give back before.

Yes,the same camera that ended up on Ken and Darryl's hands later,that had an embarassing private video of Parker's that got viral on NetViralTubeFeed.

It was an innocent little video,Josh had seen the young cook do embarassing stuff like this all the time,it wasn't that funny,again,it was just...expected.

Monday at school and at the mall people were all over him,mocking mercilessly.

Come on,people,we've gone through this before! Haven't you learned,like,anything? Go target someone else or something! He had enough!

Looking back,Josh felt even more guilty,he was compliant,contrary to last time when he told those people off for mocking someone who literally did nothing to them to deserve it.

This time,he was distant and silent.

When the accident happened,he wasn't even there.He was at the restaurant's counter talking to Ashley when a panicked Brittany ran to him and told him Parker was running from the overwhelming crowd when he didn't see the car going fast in his direction in the exit of the mall's parking lot.The younger teen hit his head hard on the ground and now everyone was there,emergency was on it's way.

Brittany obviously wasn't willing to hear about how they weren't friends anymore or whatever.It didn't fucking matter,it only made it worse.

Friday afternoom,he wished he had never met Parker.

Friday Night and he wished he could erase all the stupid shit he ever made the shorter teen go through because of him.

Monday evening,Josh's terrified of losing one of the few real friends he's ever had,whose he probably even more feelings for.

5 days later,Parker might never wake up and Josh thinks he's getting sick.

"If you don't come back,I won't ever forgive myself..."

Josh was laying on the bed beside his sleeping ex-friend,careful of the wires,Parker looked unnaturaly pale,lifeless and cold to the touch.

Josh put his warm hand against a cold,pale round cheek."I never told you I loved you.You deserve better anyway."

"I keep having these....weird dreams,you know?"

Josh was in the spare mattress in the corner of the large,overly decorated room (it still very much looked like a little kid's room).But now he was laying down,with an icepack to his forehead.

Parker hadn't spoken a word in the past 1 and half hours,the older teen presumed he had gone to sleep already.

The room was completely dark,but the blond could very much still sense his younger ex-friend now nervously fidgeting in the bed.

"'re in them.And it's like....the worst timing ever because....the last person I wanna see in the world right now is you and even less....looking like that."

Josh stiffled a chuckle.The kid's brilliant,he has found a way to deal with everything life threw their way like he's just collecting the morning paper and yet,good ol' late overdue puberty it's what's getting to him.

Josh already knew the boy was VERY resistant about changing who he is,god knows the blond cashier tried several times to persuade him,the shorter teen just doesn't take criticism well either.He's as stubborn as they come.

So the older teen had given up,he loved Parker just the way he was anyway.He just wishes other people would see it that way.

"I assume I looked good in those then?"

The answer was a Star Raiders pillow heading in his general direction.