The Best of Friends – Chapter 2
Aiden pulled his pillow over his head when his Spiderman alarm clock blaring at him in the darkness.
“Too damned early,” he moaned as he fumbled around for it, trying to find the snooze button. As his fingers grabbed the clock, he thought about those older boys who would happily make his life a living hell. The only way to get away from kids like that was to be stronger or faster. Stronger was probably out of the question, so faster it would have to be.
When he turned off the alarm, he swung his feet out of bed and stood up. He padded from his room and over to the bathroom and had to wait for his morning wood to go down before he could pee. After that, he put on the same pair of shorts he’d worn on Saturday and a clean tee-shirt. He headed toward the front door when he saw a light from the kitchen.
Nana called out, “That you Aiden?”
“Yeah, Nana. Gonna go for a jog before school.”
“Alright. Make sure you get back with enough time to shower.”
He closed the door behind him, “Yeah. I know. Hygiene.”
Like most pre-teen boys, hygiene was still a dirty word. Although he conceded showers served a good purpose when you needed some privacy to jerk off.
He stood on the old porch and looked down toward the quadplexes, hoping to see Wendy in the predawn light. There was nobody over there that he could see. The boy navigated the broken concrete walkway between porch and street, casting glances every step or two up the street. By the time his feet had reached the street’s asphalt paving, Aiden realized he’d been looking forward to jogging with Wendy.
He stretched his back and his legs and as he stepped onto the empty street, he looked up to see the Asian girl jogging toward him. He flashed a smile as she stopped in front of him and while jogging in place, and said, “Good morning, Aiden. Ready?”
By the time Aiden’s legs started burning, they jogged a bit further this morning than they’d done on Saturday. He slowed to a walk as his knees felt like Jell-O. He had a long way to go before he could jog the two-mile route that looped around the college.
“Oh, thank you,” Wendy gasped after sucking in a big lungful of air. “I was afraid I’d fall over dead, if we’d run much further.”
Aiden’s nod would have been more vigorous had he been less winded, “It’s supposed to get easier.”
He fell into step beside Wendy as the road curved, becoming their street. As they walked, the girl asked, “What time do you have to be at school this morning?”
The girl glanced at her watch, “Are you going to have enough time?”
It was a couple of minutes past seven. The walk to school was less than fifteen minutes. “Yeah. Even time to get a shower before I go. What about you?”
“My first class is at nine.”
Curious, Aiden said, “What kind of class is it?”
Aiden shrugged, “Sounds boring.”
Wendy said, “Well, next semester I’ve got to take research English.”
Aiden cocked his head, “What’s that? Your English is good enough. Why research it?”
Aiden was a bit put off when the girl giggled, “No, it’s about writing research papers and stuff. I’m not looking forward to it, either.”
Mollified that Wendy wasn’t really laughing at him, Aiden said, “I’d rather do English than math.”
“Not me,” the girl replied. “Give me negative equations any day over a split infinitive.”
When they reached the quadplex, Aiden realized he’d enjoyed the run, not just for the exercise, but because he enjoyed the older girl’s company. “Wednesday, same time?”
“Sure,” Wendy said, “You better hurry or you’ll be late.”
Wendy swerved into the quadplex’s parking lot as she turned her jog into a walk. She glanced down at her watch. She and Aiden had finished their two miles in twenty minutes. Now that October was nearly over, it wouldn’t take long for the cool air of the Friday morning to make her arms and legs cold. She didn’t have any classes before noon on Friday, so she was tempted to go back to bed after a hot shower.
Aiden walked around in circles as he caught his breath, “How fast this morning?”
“Nineteen minutes and forty-five seconds.”
The boy preened, “That’s a new record. If I hurry, I can get cleaned up and get up to school early.”
Over the past two months, Wendy had grown to know the younger boy pretty well. Certainly knew how much he hated the school and why. “I didn’t think wild horses could drag your lily-white butt up there before the first bell.”
He stuck his tongue out and said, “I’m failing math. If I don’t get my grade up, Nana’s going to kill me. One of the teachers has a study hall before school.”
Apart from the near-constant bullying, Aiden talked little about the school, other than to tell her how much he hated it. Even so, she assumed he was doing well, given how bright he was. Still, she empathized. While she’d done well in school and had several good friends, part of her had always felt like she was slightly out of phase with her friends. While both her parents had been grounded in their Vietnamese culture, it didn’t resonate with her like it did with them. She’d been of their culture, but not in it. And at school and with her friends, she’d been in the culture, but not of it.
She wanted to think that her situation had been worse than Aiden’s. But she’d gone to a good school, and had parents who cared. Wendy knew Aiden’s situation was far worse. The school was failing. A majority of the students didn’t have parents who cared about helping their kids. Poverty was rampant and life was hard; sometimes even brutal. The school district had a dropout rate of over twenty-five percent by the time kids were juniors or seniors.
Wendy said, “We can’t let your nana kill you. Why didn’t you ask me for help? I’m pretty good with numbers.”
The boy’s face colored a little as he shrugged. “I didn’t want to be a bother.”
Aiden’s expression made Wendy wonder if there was more to his reluctance than his response showed. She’d grown fond of the boy over the past couple of months and now considered him a friend of sorts. And she figured she’d become something like a friend to him as well. And if there was anything she could do to help him pass math, she’d be happy to do it.
“It would be more of a bother if you failed. Why don’t you bring your math book over here before our Saturday jog? After our run, we’ll figure out a study plan.”
Aiden’s expression turned hopeful as he stopped his circular walk. “Are you sure it wouldn’t be a bother?”
Wendy shook her head, “Not in the least.”
That Saturday, when Wendy opened her front door at eight, Aiden was walking circles in quadplex’s parking lot. He had a textbook under his arm. She waved at him, “Hey!”
The boy trotted over and said, “Are you sure about tutoring me? I understand if you’ve changed your mind.”
Wendy opened the door and waved him in. Once Aiden was inside, she closed the door and stuck her finger in his face. Despite the differences in their ages, she liked Aiden, even if it was simply friendship. From their first runs, he’d been unfailingly polite and friendly. And unlike the men she’d talked to at the college, he was deferential toward her. Growing up in Henry Nguyen’s house, a man deferring to a woman was something she seldom saw. And seeing it in Aiden made Wendy realize she valued that trait.
“Now, listen here, Aiden Frazier. I said I’m glad to help you, and I meant it. If I hadn’t wanted to tutor you, I wouldn’t have offered. Now shut up with trying to weasel out of it.”
The boy’s eyes were round as saucers. They’d gone jogging together close to forty times, and Wendy hadn’t known she’d had it in her to dress him down like that. From his look, neither had Aiden.
He stammered, “Uh, okay. Thanks, I think.” A moment later a glimmer of a smile tugged at his lips and Wendy felt a rush of relief that she hadn’t hurt his feelings.
Feeling particularly fond of the boy at that moment, she gave him a hug and said, “Set the book down and let’s go jogging.”
Aiden’s belly lurched when Wendy gave him a hug. In all their time jogging together, the only time he recalled the two of them touching was when they’d run into each other that first day. Now, as Wendy released him, he felt butterflies in his stomach as he realized he liked her hugs.
As he set the book down on the desk in the dining area, Aiden looked around. Wendy had told him her home was more like a small apartment than anything else, and now that he’d seen it on the inside, he agreed. Even so, the furniture was nice, the wooden floors were smooth and polished. Even the paintings on the wall looked expensive. Wendy was already out the door when she said, “Come on; we’re burning daylight.”
They made a few changes in their run today, adding another half mile by taking a detour through the heart of campus. And after they slowed to a walk as they reached the quadplex, Wendy said, “Do you know how many kilometers are in a mile?”
Aiden sucked in a lungful of air and liked that he didn’t feel too winded even after going two-and-a-half miles. “Uh, like two?”
Wendy walked around for a moment as her body worked to cool down. “Close. There’s about one point six kilometers in a mile. Now, how many miles are there in five kilometers?”
Aiden’s eyebrows nearly knitted together as he worked the math in his head, while he walked around, unwinding from the run. There was a note of uncertainty when he answered, “About three?”
Nodding, Wendy headed toward her small apartment, “Close. Did you know there’s going to be a five-k run the week after Thanksgiving? I was thinking about entering.”
Aiden knew he was getting better, stronger and faster. The idea of competing sounded fun. “Can I?”
Wendy nodded, “They have divisions for all ages. I’ll get us registered. Come on, let’s go take a look at your textbook.”
Aiden grabbed the textbook from the desk and sat on the couch. Setting it in his lap, he opened it to his current assignment while waiting for Wendy.
She brought over a couple of bottles of cold water and sat down beside him. “Okay, Aiden, so let’s see where you are.”
Aiden listened as Wendy explained how letters represented numbers when the number was unknown. As the freshman college student talked and pointed to an example in his book, the boy realized Wendy’s milky pale-yellow leg pressed against his pale leg. He tried focusing on her voice, although he felt a fluttering in his belly and a tingling where the girl’s leg touched his own.
“So, tell me what X means on question number three,” said Wendy.
Aiden blinked, tearing eyes away from where their skin touched. He found the question and read it, “Uh, X equals eight.”
Wendy nodded, “That’s right. But why?”
The tingling in his leg didn’t go away as Aiden worked out the math in his head. “Well, if twelve plus X equals twenty, then to find out X, you can subtract twelve from twenty. So, X equals eight.”
Wendy smiled at him, “See, you’re getting it. Look, there’s an exercise on the next page. Twenty equations. There’s some computer paper on the desk. Why don’t you work them while I go get cleaned up? Alright?”
Wendy put her hand on his shoulder and used it to help her stand up. As she started back toward her bedroom, Aiden took the book from his lap and barely bit back a gasp as he noticed his penis poking up in his shorts. Had her touch done this?
He turned and looked behind the couch as Wendy entered her bedroom. Before the door closed behind her, Aiden saw her pull the hem of her tee-shirt up and caught the briefest glimpse of her bare back.
He glanced down at his shorts and felt his dick twitch. He couldn’t help glance back at the closed door. Even though Wendy was gone, his leg still tingled where her leg had touched it. Over the past couple of months, he came to like Wendy a lot, if he were honest about it. But his body had never responded like this when they’d gone jogging. Even though he thought Wendy was very pretty in her own way, he’d never thought of her like he frequently thought of some of the girls in his class. Like the sun rising on newly planted corn, he realized she was actually friendlier and nicer than any of the girls he’d thought about at school. Still, despite being eleven and naïve, he knew well enough to know that Wendy was way out of his league. Still, it was hard to forget seeing her bare back before she closed the door.
He grabbed the paper from the desk and put his textbook back on his lap as he tried to focus on the equations. Anything but the bulge in his shorts.
Wendy closed the door to her bedroom as she pulled her shirt off. A quick sniff and the shirt sailed across the room and into the hamper in the corner. As she pulled the rest of her clothes off and headed toward the shower, she found she enjoyed helping Aiden. The boy was keen to learn. He just needed someone to help him connect the dots.
As water poured out of the showerhead, Wendy realized that even though her freshman year at college wasn’t turning out how she’d expected, she was enjoying parts of it. The highlight of her week was her jogs with Aiden.
As she lathered herself with body wash, Wendy muttered, “Shame he’s not in college, yet. What’s a girl to do when the best man she’s met since starting college is eleven years old?”
She’d gone to a couple of campus events since the start of the semester, hoping to meet somebody. But she’d struck out each time. She ran her hand over her stomach. It was more toned than it had been when she’d started jogging. Her legs were firmer, too. But none of that had been enough to entice any of the guys she’d met into expressing any interest in her.
As she let some conditioner do its magic in her short-cropped hair, she muttered to herself, “Why’s it so hard to find a guy who’ll treat me like I matter? I just want someone who wants to be around me, who likes me for me. I wouldn’t mind if he was smart and witty, too.”
She turned off the water and said, “Oh, who am I kidding? The only men in my life who are worth a damn are Mr. Benton and Aiden, and both are as unattainable as a snowstorm in July.”
Back in her bedroom, as she toweled off, her thoughts came back to Aiden. She enjoyed sitting next to him as she explained his math homework. The boy was smart. She enjoyed it when she could see his innate intelligence in his eyes. But the school was failing him and if he couldn’t get ahead on his own, within a few years, Wendy could see Aiden getting further and further behind, just like so many other kids in the school district.
She couldn’t do anything about the other kids, but she felt something in her heart for the boy, and said to herself, “I can keep him from failing. I will keep him from failing.”
With that promise still on her lips, she decided Aiden should get started on the next exercise after the one she’d already assigned. She wrapped the towel around her body and opened the door, “Hey, Aiden, are you finished with the exercises, yet?”
The boy craned his neck and looked back from the couch. When his eyes grew round, Wendy wondered if she should have gone ahead and gotten dressed first. But she was excited about helping her young friend and she pushed the thought aside, as the boy, eyes still wide, nodded.
“Good,” Wendy said, “Go on to the next page. There are some more exercises there. Get started on those and when I’m dressed, I’ll look them over.”
Closing the door, whether she should have opened the door covered in just her towel was on her mind. Given how wide Aiden’s eyes had grown and the goofy smile on his lips, Wendy suspected the boy may have enjoyed seeing her wrapped in just a towel.
A smile played across her face at the idea someone would find her interesting. After two months of trying to catch the attention of several of the guys in her classes, she was ready to give up on any sort of relationship. And to be honest, she felt flattered anyone, even an eleven-year-old, gave her more than a single glance.
After sliding a clean pair of panties on, Wendy glanced down at her chest. The modest swells hardly poked out from her body. They didn’t even jiggle enough for a bra to do what it did for most women–hold the girls in place while exercising. Usually, she didn’t bother with wearing one when she went jogging in the morning. And putting one on now was more trouble than it was worth. She wasn’t planning to go anywhere, and she didn’t think Aiden would notice. And in the unlikely event he did, it surprised Wendy to find that she just didn’t care. So, she donned a matching green tee-shirt with the college’s mascot on the front and a comfortable pair of shorts.
Wendy left her black hair to air dry. She wore it short in the back, well above the collar. While she liked its low maintenance, sometimes she thought that her preference in keeping it short may have contributed to some guys in her classes not giving her a first glance, let alone a second.
She gave herself a last glance in the mirror and nodded. She ran her hand across her shirt. Her boobs’ subtle curves gave scant definition to her shirt; they were barely noticeable, and that was only if you really looked. With a nod, she headed back into the living room, where Aiden was bent over his textbook.
Taking her seat beside the boy, she watched as he scribbled some numbers on the sheet of paper. She asked, “How’s it going?”
Aiden let the pencil fall into the crack where the textbooks’ pages met. “I think I’ve got it.”
Wendy leaned against the boy and watched as Aiden worked through another problem. She could smell the boy’s sweat. It had dried to his shirt, which felt clammy as her arm pressed against his sleeve. There was an odor to Aiden that wasn’t altogether unpleasant. She guessed it was simply the smell sweaty boys give off after a hard day at play, or in Aiden’s case, a good jog.
When Aiden finished the problem, he glanced at her, “What?”
Wendy felt self-conscious. She didn’t really want to admit to smelling him. “Nothing. Just noticed your shirt’s still a little clammy.”
Aiden’s cheeked grew red as he sniffed at his shirt. He frowned a bit. “Sorry. I didn’t notice I smelled.”
He looked uncomfortable, which was the last think Wendy wanted. She said, “It’s no biggie.” She leaned in and smelled his shirt, “See, I don’t smell hardly anything at all. You’re fine.”
It was a lie. The smell of his boyish sweat still lingered in Wendy’s nose. But Aiden had returned to the problem.
It didn’t take him long to finish the second set of exercises. When he finished, Wendy took the textbook and checked his work. While she did that, she turned on the TV for him. After seeing that Aiden had answered all the questions correctly, Wendy closed the textbook.
“You did well. An A-plus.”
The boy’s face lit up, “Cool. If I have any questions with my homework this week, can I bring it over to you?”
Wendy hadn’t seen this particular Avengers movie yet, so she propped her feet up beside her and settled in next to Aiden and watched it with him.
Aiden was still staring at Wendy’s bedroom door after she’d closed it. He blinked a few times. Had she really just been standing there wearing nothing but a towel? He slowly shook his head as he felt his penis poke against his shorts, again.
He pushed his textbook down as his mind played back what was now seared there. Wendy’s black hair, still wet, fell over her forehead. The towel, wrapped under her arms, covered her from her breasts down to several inches above her knees. She was just about the prettiest girl Aiden had ever seen. And even though he knew she’d never be interested in a shrimp like him for a boyfriend, he was happy that she was friendly toward him.
Even while he focused on the math problems, Aiden’s erection never entirely went away. And when Wendy came back out wearing a matching green tee-shirt and shorts, his little stiffy returned. He was thankful for the textbook and its strategic placement. After he finished the problems, and Wendy took the textbook to check his work, he crossed his legs and prayed that the way his shorts bunched up that she wouldn’t see his stiffy’s outline in his shorts. Once he had the latest Avengers movie playing on her TV, he was able to forget about his erection until Wendy finished grading his work.
After setting his textbook aside, Wendy put her feet on foot rest that matched the couch’s leather and watched the movie with him. Even while following Ironman’s antics, Aiden couldn’t help noticing Wendy’s arm pressed against his. And smell the strawberry fragrance of her shampoo.
When the movie ended, the streaming service queued up the sequel. Wendy said, “I’ll order some pizza and we’ll watch the next one.”
Aiden was game. He enjoyed sharing the pizza with Wendy as they watched the second movie. By the time the credits rolled, he could see the evening sun and realized he’d spent most of the day with Wendy.
“Oh, shit!” he muttered, as he moved his arm away from Wendy and stood. “I gotta get on home. My nana is going to be pissed.”
Wendy got to her feet, “Didn’t you tell her I’d be tutoring you?”
Aiden nodded as he grabbed his math textbook, “Yeah. But she thought I’d be home by noon.”
Wendy swore when she looked at the clock, “After five? Damn, where’d the day go?”
Aiden feared his nana would be worried sick and as he grabbed the door handle, Wendy said, “I’ll come, too. I haven’t met your Grandma yet, and I’m sure she wants to know who’s tutoring you.”
Aiden shrugged and said, “Maybe you can keep her from grounding me.”
When they reached the street, Aiden looked toward Nana’s house. Aside from the lit porch light, things looked normal. As they reached the crumbling concrete walk that led to his nana’s porch, the old woman opened the door and hobbled out onto the porch, leaning on her cane.
Aiden broke away from Wendy and hurried forward, “Sorry, Nana, I lost track of time.”
Instead of anger, there was a hint of relief in his nana’s tired voice, “I was wondering. Is this the young lady who’s tutoring you?
Aiden felt relief wash over him. He smiled and grabbed Wendy’s arm and pulled her toward his nana, “This is Wendy Nguyen,” he made sure to carefully pronounce the last name correctly, like Wen.
“Wendy, this is my nana, Wanda Frazier.” Aiden felt a bit silly calling his nana by her name. After all, she’d always be just Nana to him.
“Howdy, Mrs. Frazier,” Wendy drawled. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
His nana nearly lept back, “Heavens, Aiden. I didn’t believe you when you said your young lady talks just like you.”
She recovered, “I’m so sorry, Ms. Wendy. What a horrible impression I must’ve made. The only Vietnamese folks I’ve talked to have pretty strong accents.”
Aiden smiled at his gran. She hadn’t really believed him about Wendy’s accent matching their own. “I told you, Nana.”
Aiden felt a tingle as Wendy tousled his hair, “I’m sorry about the time. We got some good studying in and then I let Aiden watch a movie and before I knew it, the day was gone.”
Aiden’s relief grew as his nana said, “I figured it was something like that.”
As the boy reached the door and turned to wave goodbye at Wendy, his nana said, “I’m just about done cooking supper. While I can’t speak for Aiden, I’d be mighty pleased if you’d stay and eat with us.”
The boy’s heart skipped a beat when Wendy nodded, “Sure, why not?”
The three of them sat around a small table to one side of the kitchen. Aiden learned more about Wendy in that hour than he learned in the past two months. He’d not even known who the Vietnamese Boat People had been. Of course, public schools being what they were, he knew next to nothing of the Vietnam War, even though Nana’s first husband had fought in it fifty years before.
He also learned Wendy was a great friend. He flushed at her constant praise, whether it was how well he had done the math exercises or as her jogging partner.
Nana gave a tired smile. “That’s my boy. Aiden’s my little angel.
His nana recounted about how Aiden’s mom disappeared from rehab, and left him with her, a seventy-five-year-old woman.
After dinner, as Wendy was leaving, Aiden followed her and Nana onto the porch. It was dark outside, save for the dim light cast by the porch light.
Nana said, “It was so nice to meet the girl that Aiden has been going on about for weeks now.”
Aiden flushed at the old woman’s words, although he knew they were true. In a world as hard as his, time with Wendy was the best part of his week.
Wendy grinned at him as she said, “The pleasure’s been mine, Mrs. Frazier. If I wasn’t training with him, I’d be a recluse, hiding out in my apartment between classes.”
Aiden’s eyes arched as his nana patted Wendy’s arm, “Then I’m doubly glad the two of you ran into each other.”
Aiden joined the women in laughing. His nana had laughed hard when he told her how he and Wendy had first met. She leaned heavily on her cane and sighed. She sounded old, “School this year is hard on Aiden. I’m… we’re grateful you’re tutoring him.”
In the poor light, it was hard to tell if Wendy was blushing at the praise. She said, “I’m glad to help, Mrs. Frazier. Aiden’s welcome anytime.”
His nana waved as Wendy started down the stairs, “Careful there, Wendy. I may just send him over every time he’s got homework. Or when I need a break.”
Wendy turned and waved, giving Aiden a quick wink, “That’s fine with me.”
Aiden’s head spun as he watched the petite nineteen-year-old head back toward her place.
Copyright 2021 – Caliboy1991
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