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i remember, i remember

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When Cyrus was eleven, he'd been convinced that superstitions were true. Which, now, is pretty freaking stupid, but he'd avoided black cats and the number thirteen like his life depended on it. He'd also broken his ankle dodging a sidewalk crack, which Buffy and Andi don’t hesitate to tell every single person they've ever met.

 

Buffy tells TJ at the Spoon after a game and Cyrus pretends like he doesn't want to sink into the ground and die. He’s still not sure if they're all friends now, after Buffy and TJ’s rivalry and the whole gun issue. Even so, Buffy embarrassing him kind of qualifies TJ as one anyway.

 

Cyrus wonders if he sips his milkshake fast enough, he’ll get a brain freeze and pretend it never happened.

 

TJ grins at him over baby taters. “Sidewalk cracks, underdog?”

 

He shrugs. “My mom’s already divorced. And I like my stepmom. I don't need them breaking their backs.” Andi half chokes on her iced tea and Cyrus is pretty sure his face is tomato red.

 

“It's dorky, I know,” he says, stirring the milkshake. “I, uh, broke my mom’s mirror and spent a week freaking out over it.”

 

Which is exactly the opposite of what he wants to say, because Buffy is giggling and Andi is saying, shocked, “Cyrus!” It reminds him of when he'd first told her liked Jonah Beck.

 

TJ is grinning ever wider and Cyrus thinks, that maybe a few months ago, he wouldn't even have looked at Cyrus twice. It's a little weird how things are moving so fast - Bex and Bowie are getting married, Andi’s broken up with Jonah, Buffy has Walker. It's kind of like he's tripped on his own laces and can't keep up. But that's okay, he thinks, smiling back at TJ. It's fine.


It's not fine.

 

It's not fine when TJ shows up in a white t-shirt with dribble scrawled across it and Kira tells him to keep up. It's not fine when TJ brushes him off, like way back when, forgetting about muffins and swings and somersaults and everything.

 

Cyrus sits down on one of the benches. His eyes sting.

 

He scrubs a hand across them and thinks about unlucky number thirteen and TJ saying of course i came.

 

He thinks about it as he says “Thomas Jefferson” to Andi, Buffy, and Marty and pretends it’s okay when he says he’ll do Mount Rushmore with them.

 

It burns. 


Buffy finds him outside the boys’ bathroom, scrubbing the last of the paint off his chin. She says, “What happened to doing somersault with TJ?”

 

He doesn't look at her when he answers. She’s known him since second grade and that's given her some crazy power to know exactly what he means. “TJ and Kira did something instead. Double dribble, like basketball, I think?”

 

When Cyrus looks back up at her, Buffy looks pissed. “Kira? Epic jerk Kira? Like I-kicked-her-off-the-basketball-team Kira?

 

Cyrus shrugs again. “I don't know. Maybe TJ liked her idea more.” Or her more.

 

Buffy’s eyes narrow and she says, “Cyrus, that's crap, and we both know it. I am so going after TJ-”

 

Cyrus catches her wrist before she turns away. “No, okay?”

 

Her eyes are bright with anger. “Cyrus-”

 

Buffy,” he says, and it's only then she shuts up. “If-if TJ didn't want to do a costume with me, it's fine, okay? I mean, he should’ve told me so I wouldn't have wasted three hours looking for a colander that fits, but please. Just - don't, please?”

 

Buffy’s eyes have gotten wider and softer and it's usually the part where she'd say fine and start grumbling. But she doesn’t.

 

They both sink down onto the hallway tiles. There's still gray paint on Cyrus’ palms. It's quiet before Buffy whispers, “It’s still a way lamer costume than yours anyway.”

 

Cyrus sighs, tired and asks, “Why?”

 

She turns to him, deadpan. “Double dribbling isn't even allowed in basketball. It's an illegal move.”

 

He really shouldn't laugh. He really shouldn’t. But he does, and Buffy giggles, their laughter echoing in the empty school hallway.


Cyrus’ phone buzzes in his pocket as Andi sinks down in her seat.

 

He sighs and switches it to do not disturb, just as Buffy says, “Bex and Bowie broke up?!”

 

Andi sighs and sinks even further. She looks almost as bad as Cyrus feels. “No. They're just not getting married. And I understand why, I do - I mean, I’m the first person who would know what getting your world turned upside down feels like. And I get everything's going to change. But - I was so excited. They’re my parents.”

 

Cyrus sips his milkshake and thinks about the times Andi had obsessed over buttercream flowers and the time they looked up pictures of wedding dresses. He remembers wondering if he should ask TJ if he was going.

 

He thinks about how he hasn't looked at his phone for days, because the first message had been from TJ. It sits in his jacket pocket, like a weight.

 

“Well,” Buffy says, leaning forward. “Your parents really aren't getting married. You must be heartbroken.”

 

Andi throws her hands up in the air and there it is - the classic Andi ramble. “I- I just - we’ve - I’ve all waited so long for this. I planned a whole proposal with my mom to get married to my dad and now when it's right around the corner, it's just over. Done. Gone. Totaled. What am I supposed to do with this ball of rage? There's nowhere to put it!”

 

Amber has slid in next to Andi with a knowing grin. With a quirk on her lips, she says, “I do.”

 

“You've still got all those invitations, right? And you know that the wedding isn't going to happen, so…”

 

Andi leans forward in interest. “So…?”

 

“So, it's easy! Shredding party!”

 

There's a silence that hangs in the air between all of them before Amber rolls her eyes and says, “Look, it works, okay? I promise, you’ll feel a thousand percent better after it.”’

 

Cyrus can't control the next thing that comes out of his mouth. He needs to feel normal again - not like he's falling or tripping or trying to catch up.

 

“Can I go too?”

 

Buffy turns to look at him, a little cautious, and Andi gives him a confused look.

 

“What's up, Cyrus?”

 

The words are suddenly thick in his throat, and he can't say anything, so he stirs his milkshake again.

 

Andi’s giving him a concerned look. “Cyrus, what happened? Is it-”

 

She pauses and her eyes widen. “You had a costume for costume day, didn't you? You were wearing it when we saw you.”

 

“Yeah,” he says, and before he can stop, he says, “Thomas Jefferson.”

 

Something is blocking him from saying the actual words. He looks at Buffy and nods.

 

She sighs. “He and TJ were going to do one. He and Kira did one instead.”

 

It hurts a lot more in the open now, but Andi is staring at him sharply.

 

“What the heck? That's awful,” she says, indignant. “Why would TJ even do that - I didn't even know they were friends!”

 

“I didn't, either,” he says and she sighs.

 

There's a little bit of quiet and then Amber breaks the silence and says, “TJ Kippen?”

 

“Yeah?” Buffy answers, focused on her tater tots.

 

Amber starts talking, and it's angry. “He’s my cousin.”

 

Cyrus’ heart skips a beat, and someone’s fork clatters on the table. Andi’s mouth is in a wide o and she clears her voice and says, “When were you ever going to tell us?”

 

Amber holds her hands up in defense. “Hey, wait. I had no clue you guys were even hanging out! But-” A bell rings in the background and she stops, looking toward it.

 

Amber looks at Cyrus and says, “This isn't done, okay?” Then she gets up and leaves to get her next order.

 

Another silence.

 

Then Andi mutters, “And I thought I had family problems,” which only leads to Buffy rolling her eyes. Cyrus gives her a little grin, but the idea comes back to him.

 

“I don't think we should shred all those invitations. I'm pretty sure all that gold trim and cream paper cost a lot of money - it’d be a bad idea.”

 

Andi leans back. “You're right. Cece’d flip if we clogged up her shredder.”

 

“You know,” Buffy says, pointedly. “You two should deal with your issues in healthy ways. Like talking.”

 

Andi is going to say something, but Buffy holds up a hand. “I know what you're going to say. But being angry and destroying wedding RSVPs isn't going to help, either.”

 

She's right. But the thought of facing TJ after that makes his insides twist up in knots.

 

Buffy has gotten the picture, because she sighs and says. “ Fine. Maybe not now, but at some point.”

 

Andi looks at her and says, “Well, if we aren't shredding, there's still a lot of other stuff we can do.” There's a glint in her eye. “Turns out when you're having cold feet, you leave a lot of stuff lying around.”

 

Cyrus looks at her. “Andi. No.”

 

Andi’s grinning and her whole face is bright. “Yes.”  

 

And Buffy mutters, “Seriously?” But they're all grinning and it's making Cyrus feel lighter than he has in days. He almost forgets that his phone sits heavy and weighty in his pocket as he gets up, possibly embarrassing secrets and best friends on his mind instead.