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All The Wrong Words

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"Ugh!" I collapsed on the couch next to Thea.

"Let me guess. Isaac?" she asked without even closing her notebook or looking over at me. 

"Am I that obvious?"

"You could have a glowing sign above your head saying 'I have boy problems' and it'd still be more subtle."

"Ouch," I said, only half meaning it. Thea teased me about my crushes and my inability to deal with them, that was how our friendship worked and I wouldn't have it any other way. "But seriously, what am I supposed to say? Every time I try to tell him how I feel, it comes out all... blargh," I said, flailing my hands to illustrate my point. "I'm just... I'm not good at this."

"Jefferey," she said with a sigh. "Just walk up to him and say 'Isaac, I really like you.' That's it. Five words. Not hard."

"It's not that simple. What if he doesn't like me back? I've already been rejected by someone I really liked once, I don't know if I can go through that again." I shuddered at the memory. Max was always either dating Thea, obsessing over Lena, or both, so I didn't really believe I ever had a chance with him. But that didn't mean there weren't moments I let myself get my hopes up. And although my crush on Max was long over, and to be completely honest, I couldn't remember what I ever liked about him besides the fact he was cute, it still hurt remembering putting my heart out there and getting crushed. Even if I acted like it didn't hurt, it did.

But that's the thing with Isaac; the moments I let myself get my hopes up were more frequent than the moments I forgot to stop myself. And in a lot of ways, if Isaac didn't feel the same way, it would be much, much worse than it had been with Max.

"You know, there's a real easy way to find out whether or not he likes you back," Thea said, completely missing the point. "Just ask him. Trust me." Before I could interject, Thea was up and around the corner. I sighed and laid back on the couch, covering my head with my hands. What was wrong with me? Maybe Thea was right. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Maybe I'd even have a chance with him.

"Hey Jeff." I jumped up at the familiar voice, standing face to face with Isaac.

"Isaac! Hey, how's, uh, how's life?" I asked, rubbing the back of my neck. He chuckled.

"It's been good. Sorry to interupt your brooding session."

"Hey, I do not brood, okay? I overthink. There's a difference."

"Alright then, sorry to interrupt your overthinking session."

"Thank you," I said, and we both laughed. I could honestly listen to Isaac laugh forever, it was one of the most beautiful things about him.

"So, if you don't mind me asking, what were you overthinking about?" he asked as we both sat down. My heart stopped. My lungs probably stopped too. I let out a series of unintelligible noises; huffs, ums, and chuckles, but nothing even approximating words. I made the mistake of glancing over to see his eyes locked on me. With a breath and a sigh, I tried to tame the ruckus in my stomach. If there was ever going to be a chance to say it, this would be the chance. It was now or never.

Never seemed like a pretty good option, if I was being honest. But Thea's voice was stuck in the back of my head, and the fact was, if I chickened out now, it would be the same charade day after day, and I'd never get the courage. It shouldn't be hard to say it, right? Just say it.

"Um, actually, it was..." I was running out of filler words, out of time to back out, out of focus to come up with a fallback. "...you."

"Me?" he asked. "What about me?" He had to know, right? There was no other possibility for what "overthinking about you" could mean, right? Did he just want to hear me say it, was he just trying to confirm he was right, or was the thought of me liking him such a non-option in his mind that he assumed it couldn't be that? And if that was the case, was it because he liked me too and was convincing himself he didn't have a chance, or had he simply never considered us together because he would never in a million years like me?

Was it too late to change my answer?

"Okay, look, Isaac, I..." My voice was soft and cracking. I was bouncing my knees and playing with my fingers, looking back and forth from the ground to him. "I like you. Like, more than just as a friend. And I've been trying to tell you for a long time now, but I always said all the wrong words and I kept backing out because I wasn't sure if I'd be able to handle hearing you say that you don't feel the same way."

"Jeff-"

"Not that I'm saying you need to feel the same way, because if you don't I'd never want to pressure you into something you wouldn't want."

"Jeff..."

"And no matter what, I hope we can still be friends at least, because I really do value our friendship and you're a great guy and a great friend-"

"Jeff!" he called out. 

"Sorry..." I mumbled.

"Of course I like you too," he said. It took me a moment to process what he said.

"Wait, really?"

"Yeah." He smiled and looked down, licking his lips before looking back up at me. "Remember when we came back from the European Choreographer's Grand Prix?" I nodded. "That's when I realized it. Though it was probably there for a lot longer."

"I think the moment I knew I had feelings for you was when we were doing that dance demonstration for Lena's social dance idea. When I turned to look back at you, it just sort of hit me." We looked at each other and smiled. My heart was pounding so hard I could hear it. "So... what now? I'm not used to getting this far."

"Maybe we could get dinner sometime? Say, tomorrow night at seven?" he asked, standing up and looking down at me.

"I'd love to."

"Perfect. It's a date," he said, before walking away. I stood up and bit my bit, waiting for him to be out of view.

"Yes!" I cheered quietly, jumping around. I let out a "woo!" louder than I had intended before falling back on the couch with a happy sigh. In that moment, nothing else mattered. Isaac liked me back. I had a date with Isaac.

Oh god, I had a date with Isaac.

"Thea!" I called out, and rushed to find her.