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Game of Love

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Okay, so there’s two things that Cyrus is nervous about (which is sort of a miracle considering there’s usually a million and two things he’s nervous about). One of these things is his parents reuniting after being divorced for so long. Now, while he hadn’t exactly loved the idea of having four psychiatrists as parents, he had gotten used to it. In fact, having a bit of a dysfunctional family had strangely made him feel edgy, like he was the main character in one of those complex teen dramas on The CW or something. The main reason he’s so uneasy about the out-of-nowhere reconciliation is because once again, he’s got to move, which leads into the second thing he’s nervous about; starting over at a new school. 

It’s not as if he’d had a grand ole time at his last high school. For one, it was in a much bigger town, which always sent him into a sweaty panic because for one, there were just too many people. It had taken him quite a while to get used to not seeing the same thirty faces every day. Another downside was that it didn’t have a Buffy Driscoll or an Andi Mack. So upsetting!

Obviously, he had known before his first move that there would never be anyone who could dare replace them, but still, he had thought there would have been at least someone with the potential to. His luck hadn’t been all bad at the school, though. Fortunately, he hadn’t been picked on. He did for a second think he might have been on this one bully’s radar, but he must have found Cyrus a little too weak to get much enjoyment out of it, which Cyrus had been a little offended by at first, but on second thought, he’d been grateful. That guy had been unnecessarily bad to the point Cyrus considered having a conversation with him about why he felt the need to torment his peers. Of course, like with everything else, Cyrus had chickened out and left it at that.

Plus, it had been around the time that his parents got back together and told him they were moving back to Shadyside. Which leads to the one reunion that actually makes sense: his with his best friends in the entire world.

*

Cyrus barely gets his front door open before he’s thrown to the ground by the mere force of Buffy and Andi tackling him. Eventually their excited screaming and pleasantly violent displays of affection for him come to a stop and he’s able to breathe again.

“I missed you guys, too,” he manages to say, almost choking on the words. Honestly, he’s pretty sure that if he stays in this position any longer, he’ll legit die. Like, for serious. “Andi, your elbow is becoming a part of my spleen, and Buffy, your knee is definitely trying to marry my liver.”

“Sorry!” both girls say in unison. They help him up to his feet, their smiles lighting up their faces. Oh, my God, Cyrus thinks, they’ve really changed since seventh grade.

“You guys look… so… so…”

“Not thirteen?” Buffy quips. “Oh, what a difference three years can make.”

“We only look different because to you because we’ve been apart for so long,” Andi says. “Although, we have been seeing each other on social media, like, all the time, so it shouldn’t be this shocking, should it?”

“Well, true, but like looks, cameras can be deceiving,” Cyrus says. “People tend to look different in person than on a screen.”

“That and Andi loves a good Facetune,” Buffy says. “I swear she’s on that app more than she’s in Andi Shack these days.”

“Hey!” Andi says, pouting. “I just think it’s good to present your best self online.”

“The internet does live forever,” Cyrus agrees. His face drops as a sudden realization comes to him. “Oh, God.”

“What’s wrong?” Buffy asks.

“I should probably start Facetuning, right? I mean, if the internet lives forever, that means all the bad selfies I’ve taken – even the ones that I’ve deleted – are still out there somewhere. That means I’ve got to start editing whatever selfies I take in the future, so that they drown out the crappy ones, you know?”

“Cy, you have exactly zero bad selfies,” Buffy says. “And I’m not just saying that because I love you.”

Cyrus is inclined to believe that. Buffy’s always been straight-up with him about everything.

“Have you seen yourself?” Andi chimes in. “Not only have you gotten, like, four inches taller, but you’ve even got that sharp jawline that all those really successful models have.”

Cyrus scoffs and looks down at his feet before letting their compliments sink in. He touches this supposed ‘sharp jawline’ and does his best impersonation of a model posing. “You think so?”

Andi and Buffy share a look. “Well, your modelling could use some work, but yeah, you’re a classic case of the glow-up,” Andi replies. Buffy nods in agreement before colliding her hands loudly.

“So, are we gonna just stand around here with your parents’ creepy therapeutic figurines everywhere or are we gonna go to your room and fill you in on everything you need to know about Shadyside Academy?”

*

“I can’t believe they turned Shadyside High into an academy,” Cyrus says, plopping down onto the small corner of his bed that’s left since Buffy and Andi have taken over the majority of it.

“They want this small town to be seen as prestigious so bad,” Buffy says, absent-mindedly spinning one of Cyrus’s mini globes as she lays her head on Andi’s torso. “Tell him the worst part about that school, Andi.”

“I don’t think I’m ready,” Cyrus says. Honestly, he’s starting to get that sinking feeling in his gut and his palms are getting sweaty. He hates getting sweaty. “Is it bad?”

“Yup,” Andi says a little too enthusiastically. “It’s bad.”

“Like really, really bad?”

“Mm-hmm.”

“Lovely,” Cyrus croaks. “Good thing I’m sitting down.”

“We have to wear uniforms,” Andi says, eyes rolling to the ceiling.

“Oh,” Cyrus blinks. No wonder the school had asked for his measurements last week. “That’s not so bad.”

Buffy scowls. “It is if you want to have your own identity. It’s unjust having all of us walking around like robots looking exactly the same. It’s even more ridiculous since the school’s got all these posters around saying things like ‘embrace your differences’ and ‘express yourself.’ It’s like we’re being trolled.”

“Me and Buffy have broken the dress codes tons of times, though,” Andi says. “You know how we can’t resist standing up for what we believe in. Like wearing leggings under those hideous plaid skirts.”

“Wait, are you two, like, rebellious now? Am I about to go up in rep by being associated with bad girls?” Cyrus asks. “Because I’m totally down. I’m sixteen. It’s definitely the right time for a rebellious stage.”

“The last time we did it, we got Saturday detention for a month,” Buffy says. “Not worth it.”

Yikes.

“Okay, so, becoming a rebel is off the table. Anything else I should know about? Any new friends? Enemies?” Cyrus really hopes they don’t have any new friends. It’s selfish, he knows, but he hadn’t been able to really connect with anyone at his old school, and yeah, it was mainly because his heart hadn’t been in it (he had decided to go with the keep your head down, get good grades, and graduate approach), but the reason it wasn’t in his heart is because the only friends he could ever want, he already had. Honestly, once you’re friends with Buffy Driscoll and Andi Mack, there’s really no going back.

A cheeky grin makes its way onto Andi’s face. Uh-oh. “Well, Buffy has a new friend. Jury’s still out on if that’s even the right word for what he is.”

Buffy stops spinning the globe and sits up quickly. “Andi…” she warns.

Cyrus takes the opportunity of space on his bed finally being available and stretches his legs out. So. Much. Better.

“What?” Andi asks, her tone teasing. “Cyrus asked if we’ve got any new friends, and I’m just answering his question. You and Marty aren’t friends?”

“Yes, we are friends. But the way you said it implies that there’s something else going on,” Buffy retorts. She looks over at Cyrus, who’s got an eyebrow raised in curiosity. “Don’t listen to her, Cyrus.”

“Why does that name sound so familiar?” Cyrus asks. He swears he’s known at least one person named Marty in his life… Oh! “Wait! Marty as in ‘Marty from the party?’”

“Ding-ding-ding! We have a winner,” Andi says gleefully. “The fact that you remember him at all says a lot.” 

Buffy rolls her eyes. “Nobody calls him that anymore.”

“Which is weird considering how much he’s at parties these days,” Andi says thoughtfully.

“Ugh. Please, can we not talk about those stupid parties?” Buffy whines.

“What parties? You guys go to parties?” Cyrus asks, part hyped, part envious. He’s really missed out on all the things he’s meant to be doing as a teenager, hasn’t he? He’s really got a lot of catching up to do. “Wait. I’ve never seen you guys post about being at any parties.”

“That’s because we’re never at them. Every time the boys’ basketball team wins a game, the douchebag captain throws a massive party that literally neither of us get invited to,” Buffy explains.

Andi snickers. “What are you talking about? Marty’s on the team and he always invites you.”

“As if I’d go without you,” Buffy says disdainfully. 

“The captain of the boys’ basketball team is a douchebag?” Cyrus asks. “Isn’t that too much of a cliché? Also, why is this the first time we’re talking about this? Is the GHC group chat literally just meant for us to share memes?” 

“Memes are more important than he is, yeah,” Buffy retorts. “Anyway, he’s only one-half of the problem. The other is his twin sister.”

“TJ and Amber Kippen, or as we like to call them, the twins from hell,” Andi says. “You know how there’s always a good and evil twin? Yeah, they’re both the evil twin.”

“Technically, there’s really no such thing as an evil twin or a good twin. That’s just one of the many misconceptions of them. Plus, in this case, since they’re fraternal, it makes it even less likely,” Cyrus says. Wow, he really has been around too many therapists in his life.

“Defending them already and you haven’t even met them?” Buffy shakes her head. “You really love to see the good in everyone, don’t you?” 

“Classic Cyrus,” Andi says. 

Cyrus shrugs. “‘Tis both a gift and a curse.” 

Andi sits up and brings her knees to her chest. “While we’re on the topic of love lives–” 

“I thought we already got off that topic,” Buffy says. 

“How has yours been, Cyrus?” Andi goes on.

Cyrus smiles to hide his pain. Well, this is an embarrassing turn of events. Love life? His love life? What love life? “You mean the one that’s non-existent?” 

Andi cocks her head to the side with a look on her face like she doesn’t believe him. “Come on, Cyrus, you’ve been really quiet about that stuff. You’re a total catch. I doubt that there’s been no guy who’s caught your eye.” 

Cyrus puts a hand over his heart, touched. “Aww, Andi. I’m really flattered that you think that, but believe me, but really, there hasn’t been a guy on my radar since… you know.” 

“Since Jonah?” Buffy asks, her and Andi sharing a stunned look. “Your crush on him was so long ago. Like, middle school long ago.” 

Andi begins frowning. “You don’t still…” 

Like him?” Cyrus laughs, on the way to putting them out of their misery. Do they really think he’s spent the past three years pining for Jonah Beck? “Guys, much like my so-called love life, all romantic feelings I had for JB don’t exist anymore! I know he’s your boyfriend, Andi, and I ship you two big time.” 

Andi lets out a sound of relief. “Glad we, uh, cleared that up!”

“So, is that it for your friends and enemies?” Cyrus asks, happy to change the subject once again.

“There’s always Kira,” Andi mumbles. “Another bane of our existence.”

“What’s even worse is that she’s the captain of the girls’ basketball team and because of her and, well my disrespect of the school dress code, I got kicked off the team, which was the original captain of, by the way,” Buffy says. “But you already knew that.”

Cyrus nods. “I did. Didn’t you say she got what was coming to her once, though? I forget. Something about being humiliated in front of everyone?”

“Oh, yeah. Freshman year, she had a thing for TJ – which, can’t relate – and I guess she kept stalking him or something and he dissed her in front of the whole school. He made a whole show of it, too, and for a second I felt bad for her.”

“Keywords: for-a-second,” Andi says. “TJ rejecting Kira made her personality even worse, which I didn’t think was possible. And, please, Cyrus, don’t tell us something like all of them have personal issues and that’s why they’re acting this way.”

Cyrus is tempted, but the time on his clock catches his eye and suddenly explaining why the twins from hell and Kira aren’t so nice isn’t a main priority. “Hey, the enemies of my friends are also my enemies. Besides, I’ve got to go and pick up what I’m assuming is my uniform and student I.D.”

 

“Here we are,” Buffy says as they pull up to Shadyside Academy in her sixteenth birthday present, which just happens to be the smoothest SUV Cyrus has ever had the pleasure of riding in. He can’t believe he’s got a best friend who’s got a car and is ready, willing, and able to drive him to places to do things. 

Even lame things like visiting his new school on a Saturday.

“Can’t believe we’re back here on a Saturday,” Andi says from the backseat. “I’m getting triggered.”

“Also, can’t believe this is the second to last day we get to be our own people before we’re back to uniformed hell,” Buffy says, putting the car in park and turning off the ignition.

Cyrus doesn’t understand why he’s so excited when he’d been so uneasy about starting at a new high school in the middle of Sophomore year exactly yesterday. Maybe it’s because he’s got his real friends back. And also, student parking! They legit just parked in a reserved area just for students! If he was athletic, he’d be doing all kinds of backflips and somersaults right now, but he isn’t, so he settles for hopping around instead.

He watches as Buffy and Andi get a few feet ahead of him before they realize he’s not behind them. “Why are you jumping up and down?” Andi laughs. 

“Am I?” Cyrus asks, jumping up and down. “No wonder I’m so short of breath!”

*

After getting the official tour of a basically empty Shadyside Academy from his besties, Cyrus has to admit, he’s beyond impressed. Like beyond beyond. The school is humungous. So much that Cyrus really wonders just how much of Shadyside got sacrificed so that the Academy could be so huge.

Cyrus thinks back to earlier when Buffy had said how the town is determined to look prestigious and honestly, with how basic Shadyside High looked before, its transformation into this boarding school-like academy has improved it for the better. It’s definitely not like Hogwarts, but it also isn’t not like Hogwarts. All the students live there. There are elevators and floors just for the students organized by grade!

Andi had also said it pretty much had started out as a risky experiment Shadyside decided to take three years ago, and it just so happened to turn out fine. It works. There’s not an overwhelming number of students based on the population of the town, so the behavior among them is quite tolerable; all the students have to remain at the Academy during the school days but are free to do what they please on the weekends, hence why Buffy and Andi were able to visit Cyrus at his house today.

Cyrus is so into his own thoughts about the Academy that by the time he hears the man taking his student I.D. picture count to three, it’s too late. He blinks as soon as the camera flashes and by the time his vision returns to normal, he’s being shoved out the door and told to wait until his I.D. card is done printing.

He sits down on the bench behind him and takes his phone out of his blazer pocket, bringing up the GHC group chat. Buffy and Andi had gotten occupied, or more accurately, forced into a conversation about the importance of ‘keeping up’ their ‘improved behavior’ by wearing their uniforms unaltered with the principal. Cyrus had gone off to take his I.D. picture, but not before Andi had told him to text them if he just so happened to need help.

He just so happens to need help. Or, well, comfort.

Cyrus:

Guys! I already messed up. I was so excited thinking about how cool this school looks, and I blinked when my photo got taken! :(

 

Buffy:

Of course
This would only happen to you

 

Cyrus:

Thanks, Buff, that really makes me feel better.

 

Andi:

Just retake the picture.
It’s a $5 fee, but if it’s that important to you, you should do it.

And face the possibility of accidentally blinking again? Or perhaps next time he’ll sneeze, and the picture will look even worse than the original! Not happening.

Cyrus:

You know what? I’m good. This is totally on brand for me.

 

Buffy:

Our demon principal seems to be wrapping up this pointless lecture
We’ll meet you in 5!

 

Cyrus sighs, putting his phone away. He knows his friends well enough that when they say they’ll be five minutes, they really mean fifteen. He considers texting Jonah, but he figures that would be a little out of the blue seeing how he’s barely texted him since middle school. Plus, he feels bad that the only reason he’s thought to contact Jonah is because he’s got nothing else to do while he waits.

He decides to sulk instead. He makes an attempt to slouch into the bench like all broody teenage boys do, but the slippery material of his slacks causes him to almost slide off of it entirely. He manages to catch himself in time but not before his eyes catch sight of some blue high tops that are on feet that are attached to legs that are attached to a person sitting on the bench across from him.

Well done, Cyrus. Someone’s been here the whole time and definitely witnessed you almost break your coccyx.

He slowly sits himself back on the bench, all the way this time, because he can’t risk a repeat performance of whatever that just was. Onlyhe would fall while already sitting down. He’s never really been one for eye contact, but there really is no harm in taking a peek at the person who saw all of that.

Cyrus begins lifting his head and tries to subtly let his eyes catch everything. Okay, the blue high-top sneakers, the dark blue jeans, the plain black hoodie – wait, not so plain, it’s got the word ‘WINNER’ on it in big, bold white letters, so, uh, that’s… unrelatable for him – and, great… the face belonging to the person. And he’s staring right at Cyrus with some curious look in his eyes. And of course, he’s good looking!

This just gets worse and worse. Cyrus really isn’t exaggerating when he thinks he might have a heart attack, what with how harshly it’s pounding. 

“You didn’t… see that,” Cyrus laughs painfully, feeling all the blood rush to his face. “Did you?”

“See what?” the boy asks, his eyes full of amusement and the corner of his mouth twitching.

Cyrus can see that this boy is trying his hardest not to laugh, and honestly, even though Cyrus is so, sothoroughly embarrassed, he can appreciate the consideration the boy seems to have. But still, he saw Cyrus almost fall and now Cyrus can’t stop replaying it over and over in his head and he really needs Andi and Buffy to get here now.

He clears his throat and tries to naturally look off to the side, but he’s never been a good actor, and also, he can still feel those eyes on him, which is causing his hands to get about as slippery as his slacks are, so this situation is just not getting any better. Now would be a really great time for his I.D. to be ready.

“Is there a reason you’re wearing the uniform on a Saturday?”

Cyrus looks up and realizes this guy’s initiating a conversation with him. Right, okay, he can do this. Maybe. Possibly. He gets the urge to clear his throat mainly out of fear that his voice might crack when he speaks, but then decides against it because he’s only just cleared his throat a second ago and he’s already come off weird enough, thank you very much.

He clears it anyway. “Um, apparently it’s required to take your I.D. picture while in your uniform. It’s the rule here, which makes sense, I guess, just in case some random person pretends they go here.”

The boy’s forehead creases in confusion as he plays with the strings on his hoodie, causing the hood to scrunch around his face. “Who would pretend to go here?” he asks. “Like… why would anyone do that?”

Because this school is awesome?

“You know, I wondered the same thing,” Cyrus lies. “I still haven’t come to a conclusion that makes any sense.”

The guy nods, but still looks confused. He does what Cyrus tried and failed to do earlier; slouches down in the bench, only he doesn’t slip off because he’s wearing jeans, and even if he had been wearing slacks like Cyrus, he definitely wouldn’t have fallen off. Cyrus has a feeling being clumsy is not on brand for this guy.

“So, are you just sitting out here for fun?” Cyrus asks, mainly trying to fill the increasingly loud silence between them.

“Nah, I’m just waiting for someone,” the boy replies. He unties the strings of his hoodie and swiftly removes the hood from his head, revealing stylish blonde hair that’s seriously got Cyrus considering giving up his membership in the Good Hair Crew. “You know how girls are. They say they won’t be long, and they end up taking an entire day to do… whatever it is that girls do.”

Cyrus nods. He knows all too well. “Tell me about it,” he sighs. “My two best friends are girls and they keep me waiting all the time. Sometimes I’m convinced I’m their personal parking meter.”

That elicits a giggle out of the boy. An adorable giggle. Why does Cyrus feel such an uplifting sense of satisfaction from making him laugh? It’s because he’s attractive, isn’t it? Oh, God, has he become shallow?

“You’re funny,” the boy says, grinning from ear to ear. He narrows his eyes. “I’ve never seen you around here before. What are you, a Freshman?”

Cyrus has to physically hold himself back from saying he’s a ‘Goodman.’ “Don’t let this baby face fool you,” he says instead. “I’m actually a Sophomore.”

“But I know every Sophomore and I’ve never seen you. Like, ever.”

“Well, I just moved back here literally last night,” Cyrus starts. “My divorced parents randomly decided they wanted each other again and decided to bring their practice back to Shadyside – they’re psychiatrists by the way, and their relationship is really complicated, it’s a long story – and I come back and suddenly Shadyside High School is now this really huge and nearly high-class Academy and there’s like elevators here and student parking and we’ve got dorms and stuff as if this is college and you know, I was just beginning to like the idea but I just remembered I’ve got to share a room with someone from my grade and I have no idea who it’s going to be and suddenly I’m not so ready for this, and oh God I’ve got to start moving my things into my new place of living and wow, this is a lot and I’m rambling and you’re looking at me like I’ve got three heads and I’ll stop now.”

“Has anyone ever told you that you talk really fast?” the boy asks him. “If I wasn’t such a genius, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with you.” He gives Cyrus that big smile again that just lights up his entire face and Cyrus is starting to get antsy. Uh-oh. It feels as if he’s heading into crush territory.

But that’s ridiculous, right? There’s no way he’s developing a crush on this guy, he doesn’t even know him! Still, though, he’s feeling a lot similar to the way he did when he liked Jonah.

Please stop smiling at me, please stop smiling at me, please stop smiling at –

The door of the main office next to the boy opens and Cyrus closes his eyes for a moment, relief flooding through him. The first thing he sees is a huge half-opened box being pushed out the door, then the pusher; a really pretty girl with long, wavy blonde hair wearing a scowl on her face as she looks down at the boy on the bench. The door closes behind her with a clack and she crosses her arms. “You gonna help me or not?” she says to him, clearly annoyed.

This must be the girl the boy’s been waiting for. Cyrus frowns, unsure of why he’s feeling disappointed.

The boy makes no show of getting up. He peeks inside the box and then lifts one of the flaps. Cyrus watches as the boy raises what appears to be a sky-blue pleated skirt with the Academy’s logo on it. “Only took you twenty-five years,” the boy gripes at the girl. He takes out what looks to be car keys from his hoodie’s pouch and starts shuffling them back and forth in his hands. “What took you so long? Some of us have places to be.”

She snatches the skirt from him and shoves it back into the box. “Oh, please. You don’t really care what I was doing.”

“You’re right. I don’t,” he says, the cheerful tone of his voice not matching the scathing look on his face. He doesn’t look as friendly as he did a minute ago, Cyrus notes. “Like this school really needs to waste more money on new cheerleading uniforms.”

“Our old uniforms were disgusting. The material was cheap and itchy,” she says, her face contorting. “As captain of the spirit squad, I have a reputation to uphold. And since you asked so nicely, the reason I took a while is because my coach was hassling me about holding try outs for a replacement mascot since that idiot Gus broke his leg,” she says.

She looks over and notices Cyrus, who feels like a fool just sitting there, having no choice but to listen to their conversation. The girl glares at him and then asks, “Who are you?” 

Cyrus feels like he should be cowering in her presence. The way she’s burning a hole through his head with her eyes is really something. “Uh, I’m Cy – Cyrus?” he replies meekly.

The boy’s attention is back on Cyrus and yeah, two pairs of eyes on him is definitely more intimidating than one.

“How uninteresting,” the girl deadpans. 

“Ignore her. She doesn’t mean that,” the boy assures him.

The door of the main office opens again and out comes a tired looking woman with glasses and what Cyrus hopes is his I.D. card in her hand. She looks up at the boy and girl and then at Cyrus. “Cyrus Goodman, I presume?” she inquires.

Cyrus stands up and makes his way to grab his I.D. but the boy grabs it before he can. The boy and the girl both look at his I.D. and Cyrus remembers how awful his photo must be. And they’re both looking at it. His potentially new crush and whoever this not-so-nice girl is are staring right at it.

The girl chuckles and then covers her mouth. The boy knocks his shoulder into hers before giving the card to Cyrus. “Nice picture,” he says with a smile that’s so gleaming and natural that Cyrus actually has no choice except to believe the compliment.

“Cyrus!”

Cyrus turns around to the sound of Andi calling him and sees her and Buffy striding towards him with concerned looks on their faces. The girl and the boy both throw matching glares in Andi and Buffy’s direction before the boy lifts the box of cheerleading uniforms and walks off with the girl without a look back.

“Uh, did we just see you talking…?” Buffy starts.

“…to Amber and TJ?” Andi finishes. “Our top two out of three enemies?”

So, they were the dubbed ‘twins from hell?’ “That was them?!” Cyrus gapes. Amber definitely didn’t make the best first impression on him. But TJ? He had been so radiant, and he’d smiled at Cyrus a lot and… was he really the alleged douchebag Buffy had been going on about earlier? “Amber was definitely giving off some Mean Girls vibes. TJ said I my picture was nice, though,” he tries to reason. He hands his I.D. to Andi and she gives it a once over before handing it to Buffy.

“You definitely blinked,” Andi nods.

“You’re so lucky you have us, Cyrus,” Buffy sighs. “I’m gonna kill that jock for being sarcastic with you.” She holds it up in front of him and… well, it’s not the worst picture in the world but it’s also not the best.

Cyrus holds his hands up. “No killing will be necessary.” Besides, he wants to tell her that there’s no way TJ was being sarcastic when he said the picture was nice, but Cyrus knows he can’t do that without coming off like he’s got a thing for TJ (which he doesn’t because one; he’s only just met him – if that was even a proper meeting – and two; because the ‘thing’ would be one-sided and he’s already gone down that dark, lonely road before with Jonah), and he so doesn’t need that ever again.

“Oh!” Andi says, fishing something out of her jacket pocket. “I guess now’s a good time to give you this since you’ll be needing one. I made it myself, of course.” She reveals a custom-made lanyard with the initials ‘GHC’ repeatedly sewn into it in thick rainbow threading and sticks his I.D. in the laminated card pouch.

“An-di,” Cyrus sing-songs joyfully as she puts it around his neck. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Just that I’m the best and you love me,” Andi suggests.

Cyrus smiles. He’s suddenly feeling very affectionate. “You are, and I do love you,” he gushes. He grabs her and Buffy and brings them both into a tight embrace. “Both of you.”

Cyrus feels like he’s dreaming, but enough embarrassment has happened to him today that lets him know this is real. He’s really here, back where he belongs; with his best friends, in the same small town that he loves, only it’s better. And if this is only the beginning, he can’t even imagine how amazing the ending must be.