Noelani Reynolds & Elijah Miller - (Based on a true story)
(Author's note: not all events or interactions are canon. They are simply there to add drtail and to show the dynamic between the characters.)
Let me start from the beginning…
There was this boy I'd met as a kid, when I was old enough to know that my parents weren’t doing so well, but not enough to understand why they always brought over my dad’s friends’ son. I never really understood why we saw him so often yet so little. We usually had to hang out around the parents, and sometimes I would try to be nice and invite him into my room to play. Eventually, I began to notice that he usually came over when my parents were fighting, and would stop talking to each other for the rest of the week. I knew they had issues, but as a child I’d never known how bad it was. The relationship between Theo Miller and Vannessa Robinson was rocky at best.
At some point I noticed that he wasn’t around as often, and only came over around the holidays. I hadn’t thought about it much before, but I began to have feelings for him at such a young age, though I never knew what it was. At first I never really thought about it, and then at that point I felt as if we were siblings. I even called him my brother, as an 8-year-old boy. No one would have guessed that eventually those feelings would grow into a type of affection reserved only for someone you love.
At the age of 11 I’d finally recognised how I feel about him, both physically and emotionally, though I still have trouble understanding my own emotions and feelings. I hadn’t seen him in nearly four years, but suddenly he appeared at our door along with his little sister, Abbie. The boy had grown into a preteen worthy of being called handsome, on all accounts. I hadn’t expected to see him, even if I’d been waiting for him to appear. I lunged at him and embraced him in a bear hug, happy to see him, as he awkwardly returned the gesture. The adults and Abbie would be hanging out downstairs while me and him would play games upstairs. We’d often roughhouse, despite our parents’ scoldings not to. It was fun nonetheless. After a while of playing games, we began to roughhouse over the scores on our last few games, him having won several times and I only twice. He was simply too good at the game. Like always, he managed to quickly pin me down, and that’s when I finally accepted my feelings for him. Staring up into his eyes as he straddles my stomach, pinning my arms down on either side of my head by the wrists. Usually I would immediately try to escape and get back at him, but this time all I could do was stare into those beautiful eyes that looked at me like no one else ever did. The emerald meadow that gazed into my dark brown eyes like the dark dusk waiting for a chance to engulf it in its starry black sky. For once, I was frozen, unable to move. I gasped lightly when I realised that he was slowly leaning closer to me, his nose nearly touching mine…
…Before he nearly fell off the bed when we heard my mom calling from downstairs about dinner. We both awkwardly smiled at each other before we both headed down to eat. I wanted to stop him and just finish what was already started, but I had to wait.
After dinner, we went back upstairs to continue our games. We played for about ten minutes before we started talking about whatever. At some point, he looked at me and asked a question I hadn’t expected to hear.
“Do you like me?”
I froze up, trying to pretend like I didn’t hear him, but he only said my name and asked again once I looked him in the eye, on the verge of a happy squeal.
“Elijah, hey.” I looked at him with anxiety and embarrassment written all over my face. I know he knew then. “Do you like me?”
I nodded, shyly looking away and wrapping my arms around myself as if I were cold, trying to keep myself from screaming and crying happily.
I waited, unable to breathe.
“I… I like you too.”
He chuckled slightly when he heard me squeak. Then he asked me to look at him, so I did, with a nervous smile as my heart began pounding. I stared into his emerald eyes, looking for even an inch of sarcasm or a joke. I didn’t see anything but sincerity and affection.
I started to speak but my voice broke, leaving me speechless. I gulped nervously, trying not to start laughing in absolute joy. He simply gazes at me, a soft smile resting itself onto his gentle features as he tilts his head slightly. I unconsciously mirror him, making him grin and laugh while I cover my face with my hands in embarrassment.
After that we laughed it off and went back to playing our games. If I remember correctly it was Super Smash Bros and Fortnite. Well, back when Fortnite was a fun, casual game. I’d somehow decided it was a good idea to sit on top of him while he laid on his stomach, and that’s how we stayed until it became uncomfortable. Then I simply laid next to him. After a few more rounds of Super Smash Bros, we got sent to bed and were laying down, ready to sleep while Abbie slept in the other room with their parents, Tristan Mountbatten and Andrea Reynolds.
But, like it always was…
We don’t sleep.
Now, for those of you thinking, “Oh, they’re going to do something stupid. At the age of 11 no less.” Don’t worry. Nothing happened. Well, aside from more tension and awkwardness, that is. We stayed up nearly all night, talking about anything and everything, about when we’ll see each other again, about our hobbies. Anything but about what had happened not two hours before.
We began quietly roughhousing again, and yet again, he quickly pinned me down. The same way as before. I stared up at him in the dark, the dim lighting from the street lights outside illuminating him from behind, casting a shadow over me just enough so that I could still see his emerald eyes. He leaned down again, slowly, I barely even noticed. This time, our lips almost touched, barely brushing against each other as if there were some invisible force keeping him from getting any closer. I could feel his breath on my face, as we gazed into each other’s eyes. I could feel the brunt of the heavy tension between us at that moment. I couldn’t move, frozen in anticipation, waiting for him to make the move. But he moved away and laid down on his bunk. He wasn’t ready. I definitely was. He would’ve kissed me.
I would’ve let him.
He had to leave the day after. A few months later, I’d travelled with my family to see a concert for the first time together near where he lived. I asked that we visit on the way home, and so we did, for a short time. When we arrived, he seemed more awkward than usual, and I noticed this very quickly. I didn’t understand why, at the time, but I shrugged it off and we went to the backyard to hangout while the adults talked before my family and I had to go.
When we went outside, we played for a bit, running around and playing tag, and at some point we started trying to tickle each other. He started it, and I didn’t back down without a fight. Eventually, we got tired, and we decided to sit and relax. We didn’t talk much. I asked him if we could talk about what had happened just a few months earlier, since this was the only time I could talk to him, since I didn’t have a phone yet. He nodded, but as soon as we sat down somewhere away from the glass door that led into the house, he seemed even more awkward and squirmish. He never sat down for long, and when he did he didn’t answer my questions specifically. He gave me a lot of vague or otherwise half-assed answers, and I was really confused and a little hurt. A few minutes later, I had to leave, so we went back inside and said our goodbyes. I kept a smile on my face as best as I could, and I’m not sure if he knew it was fake. I was confused, panicked and hurt on the inside, but I pretended to be happy and cheerful. I suppose I’m a good actor, because none of the adults noticed our awkwardness. Soon, we left after hugging them and saying goodbye. We were on the road again.
The whole way home, I thought about him. I thought about how he seemed so awkward and distant. I was scared, confused, and hurt. I wanted so badly to cry. I hoped he didn’t hate me, or something similar. Especially not after Thanksgiving. Once I got home, I went straight to my room and cried. I cried and cried, until I couldn’t cry anymore. The next day at school, I felt numb. Like I couldn’t breathe. My heart was pounding in my ears, and felt like I wanted to simply rip it out and store it somewhere until I’m ready to feel again. To turn off my emotions until I saw him again. So that’s what I did. I stored it away somewhere in a box in my chest, never to be opened again. I turned everything off.
That was five years ago.
I went through school and life like I always had. I hung out with my friends, things happened, but it never truly affected me on a large scale. At least, until Jaxson. Jaxson, well… they messed me up. More than I’d like to admit. They pulled me in enough that I hadn’t noticed that I must’ve unintentionally turned on my true emotions again.
Long story short, they played with my emotions while they were harassing and abusing my best friend, Simon. Simon’s side of it is another story altogether. But we’re not here for that yet.
Jaxson messed me up so bad that I vowed never to love someone again so much. The closest people I’d ever let in again would be Simon and Noelani. But I didn’t know that in sophomore year of high school, I’d fall for someone again. She’s the one of the best people to exist on this planet, and I love her so much. Lily Everett is a humorous, adorable, caring person, with beautiful blue eyes and platinum blonde hair, and a quirky smile that could blind you in seconds. We’ve been partners for nearly two years now, and I couldn’t ask for a better girlfriend. But, the only problem is…
I still have strong feelings for Noelani.
Just when I think I’ve finally moved on, he appears again. I’d just come home from a sleepover at Simon’s and as soon as I got out of the shower, there’s a knock on the front door. When I quickly put on the minimum of pyjama shorts, socks, and a t-shirt, I step out of the bathroom and see him. Tristan, Andrea, Abbie, and him. At the front door. Noelani was back.
So was my heart. I’d long before given my heart to Lily, but it was still in the box. Like Pandora's box, it was yet to be opened. Until the moment I saw him. In excitement, I ran up to him and wrapped him once again into a bear hug as I’d always done before. This time, instead of being distant, he seemed happy to see me. He smiled at me, returning my hug shyly, but enough that I knew he missed me. I almost cried right then and there.
His hair had grown! It used to be so much shorter. It used to be tossed to one side, curly and shaved on the sides, and only about as long as the top of his ears. This time, his hair was much longer, and in a poofy high ponytail. But his eyes… I could barely breathe. They never changed from their beautiful emerald green colour. There were hints of amber in there, maturity. He used to be so much shorter than me too, but now he’d won me over. In more than one way, too. I’m about 5’6” now, and he’s about 5’7’. Just barely, but noticeable.
I realised I hadn’t cleaned my room, so I apologised and ran back to my room to fix up anything I could, and brought in some blankets, pillows, and an extra mattress for Abbie. Once my room was cleaned up, I heard a knock on the open door to my room and I looked up to see Noelani standing there with a soft smile.
That’s all he had to say to make my heart skip a beat. I smiled and got up, inviting him into my room and asking him which bunk he’d like to take. He says the lower bunk, so I put his stuff there and move my favourite stuffed animal to the top bunk.
He chuckles. “I remember that bear. You still have him, huh?” I smile to myself, embarrassed as I turn around to face him and laugh nervously.
“Yeah, don’t know what I’d do without him.” I confessed with a small smile. I wasn’t talking about the bear. I hadn’t realised I was staring at Noelani, and when he tilted his head to the side I mirrored him just as I had done five years ago. I squeezed my eyes shut and laughed, covering my face with my hands. God, was he beautiful. I love him so much. Abbie walks in and asks what’s going on, in which Noelani responds with, “Don’t worry about it, Abbie. Put your stuff down and talk to Aunt ‘Ness about food, will you? I think I heard them mention it, but they started talking about work and old people stuff.” I smirked at his last comment, before waving to Abbie as she walked out, closing the door behind her. I sighed and sat on the bottom bunk, smiling at Noelani.
“I missed you guys so much. How’ve you been?”
Noelani shrugs. “I’ve been fine, I guess. Girlfriend troubles, but other than that I’m alright. Just a little stressed out.” I nodded in understanding. “Sounds tough.” He sighed, sitting down next to me. “It’s fine, I guess.” He shifts his body sideways to face me. “How about you? How’ve you been?” I smile weakly, unsure of what to say. “Um… I have a girlfriend too. She’s amazing. No troubles with her, though, I guess.” Noelani looks confused at the end of my last comment, but before he can say anything, Uncle Tristan opens the door and tells us that they’ve decided on pizza for dinner.
We head out to wait for food, and we’re soon done eating. By now my hair has dried, so I head back to my room to chill out on the bottom bunk until it’s time for bed. I was playing a game on my phone when Noelani walked into the room, smiling like he knew something I didn’t.
“I missed you so much, Eli. I’m so glad we’re here.” He paused for a second to sit down next to me on the edge of the bed, reaching over to move my bangs off of my face, before chuckling a bit to himself in relief, as if he couldn’t believe he was really here. I understood what he meant. I felt shy under his gaze, so I returned my focus to the confines of my phone. He simply sat there, peering at me while I pretended not to notice. Eventually, I couldn’t stand sitting still anymore, so I sighed and plopped my phone down on the nightstand. I looked him in the eye with a smile, reaching up and lightly brushing my knuckles against his cheek. His tanned skin was so smooth.
“I missed you too, ‘Lani.”
This time his smile grew wider, before grinning and giggling. “ We really need to see each other more often. Knowing that I’m leaving at the end of the week is really making me sad.” He pouts dramatically and he flops backwards onto the bed. Crushing my stomach in the process. I let out a choked “Oof” and cough a couple times before managing to sit up on my elbows and playfully glaring down at him, his emerald green eyes peering up at me with a grin. He’s so adorable. I sigh and tilt my head at him, examining his features. “Yeah, one week is too short. Why not live here for a while? It’d be so much fun.” He groans and grips at his head for a moment as he whines before letting his arms flop onto the bed, narrowly missing my face. “I know right!? Ugh. Everything back home is just too much right now. I hate it. Like, my friends are just fine, it’s just… My girlfriend treats me more like her therapist than a boyfriend. It fucking sucks, and I can’t even focus much on school when I can barely sleep as it is. My job at the Veterinarian Office near my neighbourhood is super shady and the pay isn’t too great, so I have to work extra to get even a semi-decent paycheck as well as having to deal with rude customers and entitled customers thinking they can show up unannounced and get service within 5 minutes. I fucking wish I could live here with you. What about you? What’ve you been stressing out about lately, if I may ask?”
I sigh, knowing that I’m going to have to explain everything he’s missed since we last saw each other.
After two hours of back and forth banter, and me explaining everything to him, Tristan opens the door and tells us it’s time for bed. Noelani and I had been sitting facing each other on the bed now, with his leg hanging off the edge and I sitting cross legged. We both nod and go brush our teeth and whatnot. After we’d said goodnight to everyone, we went back into my room to lay down and sleep. But, like we always had, we stayed up to talk. I sat at the end of the bottom bunk, cross legged and shivering ever so slightly. It was cold tonight. At some point, I noticed he was beginning to stare at me, as if a blue butterfly were on my nose. I asked him,
“Are you ok? ‘Lani?” For a few moments he didn’t respond. “Noelani!” I whisper-yelled at him, eventually getting his attention. “Is something wrong?” He shakes his head.
“No, nothing. Don’t worry about it.”
I didn’t want to make him uncomfortable, so I let it go. I sat there in silence for a few moments, before turning to him again, this time, a different question in my mind.
“Hey,” He blinks and hums in curiosity. I nervously wrap my arms around my middle, entirely unsure of how he might respond next. “Um…” I take a deep breath. “Do you remember when we were just kids, that last time you stayed at my old place during Thanksgiving a few years ago?” He nods, tilting his head to the side slightly. I continue.
“Remember when we confessed that we liked each other?” He nods again, slowly, as if putting it together. “W-Well… I still like you…” I flinch at his quiet gasp, before gasping myself at his response.
“Me too! I mean, I still have feelings for you. That never changed, and I’m so happy you still feel the same way. Oh my god. This is awesome.” He flailed his arms around a little, before settling them back down as his excitement calmed.
I smiled. He’s so adorable.
We talked for a bit longer, about how things used to be. About how things are now.
At some point my eyes started to tear up, and I heard my voice beginning to break. Noelani noticed.
“Hey, are you ok? What’s going on? Elijah?”
I’d begun to cry. Everything I’d felt, everything I was feeling hit me right then and there. After a few moments, I calmed down. I sniffled again, looking up to see Noelani staring at me with worry in his eyes. “Sorry, ‘Lani. I’m okay. Just…” I paused, taking a moment to breathe. “I missed you guys so much.” I chuckle. “Well, mostly just you, anyway.”
“Oh,” he relaxed his muscles before smiling and laughing. “I missed you too, Eli. God, it’s been years… I said this earlier, but… I can’t believe I’m actually here…” He mused for a moment, before his eyes settled on mine again. I shivered under his gaze. He scoots forward, closer to me, and raises his hand, gently running his knuckles along my cheek. Suddenly, he cups my face in both hands before laughing and squeezing my cheeks. I groan in embarrassment, pushing his hands away from my face and holding him by the wrists. “Why are you like this?” I giggle. He just smirks at me, tilting his head to the side with a grin. “‘Cause I can. Aaand maybe as payback since you would always squish my cheeks when we were kids. I had such puffy cheeks back then.” I gasped, “You remember that???” I glanced to the side, recalling the times I’d mess with him by poking or squishing his cheeks. “You had such a babyface back then.” I smile at him, tilting my head like he did. “Look at you now. You’re handsome as fuck. And your eyes are still emerald as ever.”
To be continued...