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“So that’s it?” Kenji says. “You just like him for his personality, huh?”


“All of this,” Kenji says, waving a hand in the air, “has nothing to do with him being all sexy and shit and him being able to touch you all the time?”

“You think Warner is sexy?”

“That is not what I said.”

I laugh. “I do like his face.”

“And the touching?”

“What touching?”

Kenji looks at me, eyes wide, eyebrows up. “I am not Adam, okay? You can’t bullshit me with your innocent act. You tell me this guy can touch you, and that he’s into you, and you’re clearly into him, and you spent the night in his bed last night, and then I walk in on the two of you in a freaking closet—no wait, I’m sorry, not a closet—a child’s bedroom—and you’re telling me there has been zero touching?” He stares at me. “Is that what you’re telling me?”

“No,” I whisper, face on fire.

“You’re just growing up so quickly. You’re getting all excited about being able to touch shit for the first time, and I just want to be sure you are observing sanitary regulations—”

“Stop being so disgusting.”

“Hey—I’m just looking out for y—”



I take a deep breath. Try to count the stars. “What am I going to do?”

“About what?”

I hesitate. “About everything.”

Kenji makes a strange sound. “Shit if I know.”

“I don’t want to do this without you,” I whisper.

He leans back. “Who said you’re going to do anything without me?”

My heart skips a few beats. I stare at him.

“What?” he asks. Raises his eyebrows. “You’re surprised?”

“You’ll fight with me?” I ask him, hardly breathing. “Fight back with me? Even if it’s with Warner?”

Kenji smiles. Looks up at the sky. “Hell yeah,” he says.


“I’m here for you, kid. That’s what friends are for.”


When we make it back to the house, Castle is standing in the far corner, talking to Winston.

Kenji freezes in the doorframe.

I’d forgotten Kenji hadn’t had a chance to see Castle on his feet yet, and I feel a true ache as I look at him. I’m a terrible friend. All I do is dump my problems on him, never thinking to ask him about his own. He must have so much on his mind.

Kenji moves across the room in a daze, not stopping until he reaches Castle. He puts a hand on his shoulder. Castle turns around. The whole room stops to watch.

Castle smiles. Nods, just once.

Kenji pulls him into a fierce hug, holding on for only a few seconds before breaking away. The two stare at each other with some kind of silent recognition. Castle rests a hand on Kenji’s arm.

Kenji grins.

And then he spins around and smiles at me, and I’m suddenly so happy, so relieved and thrilled and overjoyed that Kenji gets to sleep with a lighter heart tonight. I feel like I might burst from happiness.

The door slams open.

I turn around.

Adam steps inside.

My heart deflates.

Adam doesn’t even look at me as he walks in. “James,” he says, crossing the room. “Let’s go, buddy. It’s time for bed.”

James nods and darts into his bedroom. Adam follows him in. The door closes behind them.

“He’s home,” Castle says. He looks relieved.

No one says anything for a second.

“All right, we should get ready for bed, too,” Kenji says, looking around. He walks over to the corner and grabs a stack of blankets. Passes them out.

“Does everyone sleep on the floor?” I ask.

Kenji nods. “Yeah,” he says. “Warner wasn’t wrong. It really is like a slumber party.”

I try to laugh.


Everyone gets busy setting up blankets on the ground. Winston, Brendan, and Ian take over one side of the room, Alia and Lily the other. Castle sleeps on the couch.

Kenji points to the middle. “You and me go there.”


“You wish.”

“Where does Adam sleep?” I ask, lowering my voice.

Kenji stops midway through tossing down a blanket. Looks up. “Kent’s not coming back out,” he says to me. “He sleeps with James. Poor kid has really bad nightmares every night.”

“Oh,” I say, surprised and ashamed of myself for not remembering this. “Of course.” Of course he does. Kenji must know this firsthand, too. They all used to room together at Omega Point.

Winston hits a switch. The lights go out. There’s a rustle of blankets. “If I hear any of you talk,” Winston says, “I will personally send Brendan over to kick you in the face.”

“I am not going to kick anyone in the face.”

“Kick yourself in the face, Brendan.”

“I don’t even know why we’re friends.”

“Please shut up,” Lily shouts from her corner.

“You heard the lady,” Winston says. “Everyone shut up.”

“You’re the one talking, dumbass,” Ian says.

“Brendan, kick him in the face, please.”

“Shut up, mate, I am not kicking any—”

“Good night,” Castle says.

Everyone stops breathing.

“Good night, sir,” Kenji whispers.

I roll over so I’m face-to-face with Kenji. He grins at me in the dark. I grin back.

“Good night,” I mouth.

He winks at me.

My eyes fall shut.


Adam is ignoring me.

He hasn’t said a word about yesterday; doesn’t betray even a hint of anger or frustration. He talks to everyone, laughs with James, helps get breakfast together. He also pretends I don’t exist.

I tried saying good morning to him and he pretended not to hear me. Or maybe he really didn’t hear me. Maybe he’s managed to train his brain not to hear or see me at all anymore.

I feel like I’m being punched in the heart.


“So what do you guys do all day?” I ask, trying desperately to make conversation. We’re all sitting on the floor, eating bowls of granola. We woke up late, ate breakfast late. No one has bothered to clean up the blankets yet, and Warner is supposed to be here in about an hour.