Chapter Forty-Five: “Shove it, I’m being nice”

Miles had been seeing Iggy for about a month. They spent a lot of time together, mostly trying to avoid her exceedingly bizarre roommates and his mopey one. He thought things were going well. They hadn’t been invited back to Melly and David’s for games night, which was a definite plus. Granted it was slightly unfortunate that it was because Melly and David were upset with them for ruining their New Year’s party. Or more accurately, as Iggy pointed out at every opportunity, since Miles had ruined their New Year’s party. As Iggy claimed, she had done nothing wrong, but take Melly’s advice, or nagging, to date Miles in the first place. She was a very charming woman.

Despite the fact that things were going well, Miles was having a hard time trying to discern precisely how well they were going. Were they in a relationship? Was she telling people he was her boyfriend? Should he tell his mother that he was dating the mean girl from high school who told everybody he was in love with the hairy librarian? He asked Oscar and Ramsay about it at work one afternoon.

“Do you guys think Iggy is my girlfriend?” He asked, swivelling back and forth in his desk chair.

“Buddy, I don’t think about you and Iggy at all,” Ramsay returned, which was kind of mean and largely unhelpful, but most likely true.

“Is this going to be a thing then?” Oscar asked, turning in his seat to face Miles. “Are we going to have to walk you through your budding romance now?”

“Yes,” Miles answered matter-of-factly. He felt Oscar owed him a debt of gratitude for defending him in front of David, Melly, and their horrible couple friends Danielle and Jake. Of course, Oscar wasn’t actually aware that Miles had done that because Miles hadn’t told him about it so Oscar had no idea he was supposed to be grateful for Miles doing anything.

“Just talk to her about it, you dork,” Oscar said. It was incredibly unhelpful. Despite popular belief, Miles wasn’t actually an idiot. He had considered simply asking Iggy what she thought was happening in their mutual relationship, but she was a very skittish woman. Talking to her about anything serious was like approaching a baby deer in the wild. There was no guarantee that she wouldn’t scamper off into the forest, abandoning her foraged berries, never to be seen again.

While Miles was trying to work out how to have a feelings-centric conversation about his relationship with Iggy, David was doing the same to him. David felt hurt by the way Miles had casually disregarded his feelings and his New Year’s Eve games night. He said as much in a Facebook message that Miles was ignoring for two reasons, the first being that he simply did not give a shit, and the second being that he didn’t think he’d done anything wrong. Objectively, he understood where David was coming from. He had quite blatantly ruined his party. That wasn’t such a cool thing for him to have done, even if it had been shaping up to be the world’s most boring New Year’s party. Honestly, Miles could’ve stayed in a dark room by himself for the evening and it probably would’ve been more fun than playing Pictionary with Melly, who was notoriously bad at drawing and equally as competitive. That aside, David and Melly had undoubtedly put a lot of work into hosting their party and had clearly been looking forward to playing dumb games with even numbers. Miles could appreciate that.

On the other hand, he did feel weirdly strongly about supporting Oscar. In high school, he had definitely been closer friends with David. They had grown up together from kindergarten. David’s father called him “son” and his mother always made extra chocolate chip cookies to send home with him. They had met Oscar in grade nine and, for the first four months of their grudging friendship triangle, Miles had referred to Oscar solely as “David’s other friend”. He was bitter and jealous about David’s new friendship, constantly worried that David liked Oscar better than him. He managed to get over it, but it was a feeling that always kind of lingered in the back of Miles’ mind until David had started dating Melly in grade twelve. Ultimately, it was that that had pushed Oscar and Miles closer together. And now David still had Melly, but he also had Madison and their house and their other shrill, faintly cruel couple friends. David had once again kind of left Miles behind, not that he was doing it on purpose. Beyond all that, Miles understood what it felt like to be dumped. That had literally never happened to David.

In the end, both of Miles’ tough relationship talks happened on the same day. Actually, more precisely, they happened at the same time. Melly and David hosted a dinner for their friends, all of them and not just the ones happily in relationships. Miles had been surprised to be invited given that he’d been ignoring David’s Facebook message for weeks. He got the impression that Melly had wanted to invite Iggy though and they seemed to think it would be too obvious to only invite her. In any case, he turned up to Melly and David’s townhouse with Oscar and made his way up to the nursery to look at Madison for a bit. Then they wandered back downstairs, finding Iggy in the living room loading a paper plate full of appetizers.

“Are we exclusive?” Miles blurted out when he saw her. It wasn’t what he’d meant to say. He wasn’t actually sure what he had meant to say, but it wasn’t that. He’d been worrying about so many things at one time and something eventually had to give. She looked over at him, clearly startled.

“Jesus,” Oscar muttered beside Miles. “Do I really need to be here for this?”

“I don’t know. Do you want to be exclusive?” Iggy returned, clutching her paper plate of meatballs. She looked like she was ready to back into the wall and slip away to safety. Miles opened his mouth to answer, trying to think of something suitable to say. But then David wandered into the living room as well, caught sight of Miles, and marched over to him with purpose. It was concerning.

“There you are,” he said, as if he’d been searching for him for hours despite the fact that Miles had arrived only ten minutes previously. “We need to talk. I know you’ve been ignoring my Facebook message. I can see that you’ve read it.”

“Jesus,” Oscar said again. “Do I need to be here for this as well?”

Miles actually would’ve preferred if he wasn’t there for whatever David was about to say because he still hadn’t told Oscar the reason he’d left the New Year’s party in the first place. He was definitely going to find out now. Miles wasn’t sure Oscar would take it well. More likely, he would assume it was a reaction bourn of pity and there were few things that Oscar hated more than pity, aside from fruit flies. It would inevitably end poorly and Miles would ruin yet another one of David and Melly’s parties.

“Can we talk about this somewhere else?” Miles asked David. “Or, like, another time?”

“No, I think we better do it now because God knows you’ll probably end up ignoring me until we both die,” David replied, which was more than a little unnecessarily dramatic in Miles’ opinion. Iggy really had started backing toward the wall.

“Okay, sure, but just give me a minute,” Miles said, turning away from David, who scoffed loud enough to let them all know he was affronted. “Iggy, for fuck’s sake, you look like Bambi after that hunter shoots his mom.”

“Grim,” Oscar remarked unhelpfully.

“What? No, I’m fine,” Iggy returned, clearly aiming for dismissive. She even waved a hand, but it was shaking so it wasn’t nearly as convincing as it could’ve been.

“I would like us to be exclusive,” he told her, hoping that directness would be the best route. It honestly probably wouldn’t, but David was huffing at increasingly loud intervals to make his annoyance known.

“Seriously, could this not have waited until I wasn’t here?” Oscar asked a little louder.

“Then leave,” Miles rounded on him.

“I can’t,” Oscar retorted. “I literally can’t.”

Miles looked around and found he wasn’t wrong.  David was blocking the exit to the kitchen and the card table that had been set up to hold the appetizers had been put in front of the entryway that lead to the front lobby.

“For fuck’s sake,” Miles sighed.

“Okay, we can be exclusive,” Iggy interjected, smiling at him sheepishly. Her plate of meatballs had stopped trembling, which was a good sign.

“I’m really happy for you guys and all,” David cut in. “But, Miles, we really need to talk about how you disrespected me at New Year’s.”

Miles got the impression he was about to be treated to a speech that had been prepared well in advance. David had probably practiced it on Melly many times before this point. He could picture her nodding along supportively at the dinner table, taking breaks to stare their child into comfort. Oscar snorted derisively, which was so very, very unhelpful.

“Look, man, I’m sorry I upset you and ruined your New Year’s party,” Miles told David. “But I really don’t think I was totally in the wrong.”

Now that she wasn’t being directly addressed, Iggy had settled considerably. She had begun eating her meatballs, apparently more than content to watch the whole thing unfold. She even held her plate out in offer to Oscar.

“You don’t think you were in the wrong?” David repeated incredulously. His face was turning red. It was weird because Miles didn’t think he’d ever been mad at him once in the entire friendship, apart from the New Year’s Eve in question. 

“Not totally,” Miles held his ground. “I get that I shouldn’t have been so rude or whatever—”

“Or whatever?!” David bellowed.

“But Danielle was being an ass and you know it,” Miles finished.

“What the hell happened at this fucking party?” Oscar asked. “Weren’t you guys just playing charades? What the fuck did you mime?”

“She didn’t even say anything that mean!” David protested. Technically, it was true. Danielle had said way worse things in her lifetime. It was more her total disregard for Oscar’s feelings and emotionally well-being that had burned Miles up.

“Okay, fine, I guess that’s true!” Miles returned, yelling for no reason other than David was doing it.

“So then you had no right to be so mean to her!” David accused. Iggy reached for more meatballs.

“How can you say that?!” Miles demanded.

“Because it’s true!”

“You just sat there while she made stupid jerkface comments about even charades teams!” Miles retorted.

“This is about even charades teams?” Oscar interrupted. “Good fucking Lord.”

“I don’t understand what your problem is!” David shouted back. All things considered, it was fair. Miles hadn’t actually said what his problem was, too concerned with how Oscar would interpret it.

“My problem is that she was talking about Oscar like he’d ruined her life because his girlfriend dumped him and it was all over fucking charades teams!” Miles yelled, raising his voice even louder than before, loud enough that Madison began crying in her crib upstairs. “But it’s not Oscar’s fault and charades are stupid anyway! He’s upset, David, and if you really were his fucking friend, you would actually care about him and not how badly some shrill bitch wants to play charades!”

The silence that followed Miles’ outburst was deafening and suffocating. Even Iggy stopped eating meatballs. Miles’ chest heaved, David looked like he’d been slapped across the face, and Melly had gone rushing past on her way upstairs to sooth Madison. She had vaulted over the snack table.

“What?” Oscar asked weakly from behind him. Miles didn’t answer him. He didn’t actually know what to say.

“Remember when I told you to warn me before you go all Nuclear Happy Days?” Iggy hissed to him out of the side of her mouth. Miles didn’t respond to her either.

“I’m going to go,” he said to David, who didn’t respond. “Thanks for having me.”

It was a dumb thing to say, but as he was already on something of a roll, Miles figured it would be alright. He wasn’t even spared from an undignified exit because David was still standing dumbstruck in front of one of the two exits so he had to crawl over the back of the couch to get past the snack table. It wasn’t until he had reached the bottom of the front walk that he realized Oscar had followed behind him. He was rushing to catch up so he had probably said his proper good-byes before leaving the house like a madman. He may have even walked around through the kitchen instead of hurling himself over the couch like a weirdo.

“Hey, man,” Oscar said, catching up and throwing an arm over Miles’ shoulder. “You sure know how to make one hell of an exit.”

Miles had been expecting anger so ridicule was a nice surprise.

“I’m very dramatic,” he replied, nodding.

“Yes, very,” Oscar agreed. “I especially liked how you crawled over that couch like a deranged, misshapen chimpanzee.”

“Thank you, that’s very kind,” Miles nodded again. “I was hoping people would notice.”

“Hard not to,” Oscar returned.

“I suppose so,” Miles replied, a sigh betraying his true feelings. Oscar squeezed his shoulders.

“I’m a real dick sometimes,” he informed Miles, as if Miles was somehow unaware of this fact.

“Yes,” Miles agreed.

“Shove it, I’m being nice,” Oscar said, pushing him a little, but not taking his arm away. Miles stumbled off the sidewalk curb and back again.

“Are you?” He questioned suspiciously.

“Yes,” Oscar nodded. “As I was saying, I’m a real dick sometimes, but you’re real nice to me. You’re a good guy and I’m lucky to have you as a friend.”

Miles was touched.

“Also, if you ever tell anybody I was this sappy, I’ll push you into oncoming traffic.”

Miles was less touched.

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