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“I’m already getting mad—”

“They were going to die out there. I couldn’t just let them stay in that crappy little space all by themselves—especially not James—and especially not now that we’ve got a solid plan in place—”

“What did you tell him, Kenji?” My patience is wearing thin.

“Maybe,” he says, backing away now, “maybe I told him how you were a calm, rational, very nice person who does not like to hurt people, especially not her very good-looking friend Kenji—”

“Dammit, Kenji, tell me what you did—”

“I need five feet,” he says.


“Five feet. Of space,” he says. “Between us.”

“I will give you five inches.”

Kenji swallows, hard. “Okay, well, maybe,” he says, “maybe I told him . . . that . . . um, you missed him. A lot.”

I nearly rock backward, reeling from the impact of his words.

“You did what?” My voice drops to a whisper.

“It was the only way I could get him here, okay? He thought you were in love with Warner, and his pride is such a freaking issue with him—”

“What the hell is wrong with you?” I shout. “They’re going to kill each other!”

“This could be their chance to make up,” Kenji says. “And then we can all be friends, just like you wanted—”

“Oh my God,” I say, running a hand over my eyes. “Are you insane? Why would you do that? I’ll have to break his heart all over again!”

“Yeah, you know, I was thinking maybe you could pretend to be, like, not interested in Warner? Just until after this war is over? Because that would make things a little less stressful. And then we’d all get along, and Adam and James wouldn’t die out there all alone. You know? Happy ending.”

I’m so mad right now I’m shaking.

“You told him something else, didn’t you?” I ask, my eyes narrowing. “You said something else to him. About me. Didn’t you?”

“What?” Kenji is moving backward now. “I don’t—”

“Is that all you told him?” I demand. “That I missed him? Or did you tell him something else, too?”

“Oh. Well, now that you mention it, yeah, um, I might’ve told him, um, that you were still in love with him?”

My brain is screaming.

“And . . . that maybe you talk about him all the time? And maybe I told him that you cry a lot about how much you miss him. Maybe. I don’t know, we talked about a lot of things, so—”

“I am going to MURDER YOU—”

“No,” he says, pointing at me as he shifts backward again. “Bad Juliette. You don’t like to kill people, remember? You’re against that, remember? You like to talk about feelings and rainbows—”

“Why, Kenji?” I drop my head into my hands. “Why? Why would you lie to him?”

“Because,” he snaps, frustrated. “This is bullshit. Everyone is already dying in this world. Everyone has lost their homes, their families—everything they’ve ever loved. And you and Kent should be able to work out your stupid high school drama like two adults. We shouldn’t have to lose each other like this. We’ve already lost everyone else,” he says, angry now.

“They’re alive, J. They’re still alive.” He looks at me, eyes bright with barely restrained emotion. “That’s reason enough for me to try and keep them in my life.” He looks away. Lowers his voice. “Please,” he says. “This is such crap. This whole thing. I feel like I’m the kid caught in the middle of a divorce. And I didn’t want to lie to him, okay? I didn’t. But at least I convinced him to come back. And maybe once he gets here, he’ll want to stay.”

I glare at him. “When are they going to be here?”

Kenji takes a beat to breathe. “I’m getting them in the morning.”

“You know I’m going to tell Warner, right? You know you can’t just keep them here and make them invisible.”

“I know,” he says.

“Fine.” I’m so furious I don’t even know what to say anymore. I can’t even look at him right now.

“So . . . ,” Kenji says. “Good talk?”

I spin around. My voice is deathly soft, my face only inches from his. “If they kill each other,” I say to him, “I will break your neck.”

“Damn, princess. When did you get so violent?”

“I’m not kidding, Kenji. They’ve tried to kill each other before, and they almost succeeded. I hope you didn’t forget that detail when you were making your happy rainbow plans.” I stare him down. “This isn’t just the story of two guys who don’t like each other. They want each other dead.”

Kenji sighs. Looks toward the wall. “It’ll be okay,” he says. “We’ll figure it out.”

“No,” I say to him. “You’ll figure it out.”

“Can’t you try to see where I’m coming from?” he asks. “Can’t you see how much better it would be for us to all be together? There’s no one left, J. It’s just us. We shouldn’t all have to suffer just because you and Kent aren’t making out anymore. We shouldn’t be living like this.”

I close my eyes. Sigh deeply and try to calm down.

“I do,” I say quietly. “I do see where you’re coming from. I really, really do. And I love you for wanting everyone to be okay, and I love you for looking out for me, and for wanting me and Adam to be together again. I know how much you’re going through right now. And I’m so sorry, Kenji. I really am. I know this isn’t easy for you. But that’s also exactly why I don’t understand why you’d force the two of them together. You want to stick them in the same room. In a confined space. I thought you didn’t want them to die.”

“I think you’re being a little pessimistic about this.”

“Dammit, Kenji!” I throw my arm out, exasperated, and don’t even realize what I’ve done until I hear a crash. I look toward the sound. I’ve managed to knock down an entire rack of free weights. From across the room.

I am a walking catastrophe.