"I'm dreading it, J-man," Steve muttered down the phone, "Dunno what the hell I'm doing."
"Don't be a tit, mate. She's hot with a double 'T' that girl." Jamie always had a way with words.
"Great. Eight years of friendship and that's the best advice you can give me, don't be a tit? This is my first ever date, man. I need to know who's winning right now - me or my hair?"
"Definitely the hair. But you know what Stevie-boy? She didn't say yes because of your hair, she said yes because you're smart, funny and potentially a beast in the bedroom."
"Emphasis on 'potentially'," Steve sighed.
"Come on, you've managed to hold down the likes of me as a best mate all this time. She won't be able to resist your charm."
"Yeah, well. Wish me luck."
"Just be yourself, Ste," Jamie called after him as Steve broke apart from the twosome, "And make sure you spruce up. You look like someone shaved a monkey and kicked it through Topman."
Steve walked swiftly along the last hundred metre stretch to his house.
"Such a lucky git, complete natural," he couldn't help but think. Steve had been in Jamie's shadow their whole lives. When they were in primary school, Jamie was the one playing Kiss Chase with the girls, while he sat alone on the banks of the school field. When he was given the part of Tybalt in the school play last year, Jamie went and landed the part of Romeo. How ironic - two rivals, where one kills the other. "He can be such a bastard at times."
Heatedly, Steve slammed the door shut behind him and raced upside to 'spruce up'. It was going to take a miracle for him to look presentable in time for when he'd arranged to meet Chloe. Perhaps he could craft his own Jamie Redfearne mask, that would be sure to get him laid. Lucky dickhead, such a ladies' man and doesn't have the decency to pass on a few tips to his best fucking mate.
Five years he'd had a crush on Chloe, ever since she sat next to him in Physics. She was gorgeous: silky blonde shoulder-length hair, glistening blue eyes and the sweetest laugh you've ever heard. A cute little snort, but not like your average pig. More like piglet from Winnie the Pooh.
After a quick shower and failed attempt to sort his hair out, Steve set off on the short walk down to 'Tequila Mockingbird'. Chloe loved Mexican, he'd remembered her saying so two years ago when he told her all about his family holiday in Cancun.
"Hey, you." Chloe's voice was tantalising to his ears, "I'm not happy about this, you're a whole two minutes late." She smiled tormentingly. If she was half as spicy as the food he was planning on ordering, this date might be a success for him either way. They walked inside and were seated by a short, plump waitress at a table for two by the window.
For a whole two hours they munched away at fajitas and shared stories about the week's events at school.
"Oh hey, you guys did a great presentation in Psychology," Chloe said.
"Well you're half right," Steve retorted, "The presentation was good."
"What do you mean?"
"Well I hardly feel Jamie deserves credit for work that's not his."
"Eh? He didn't even contribute?" Chloe asked, shocked.
"Nope, lazy ass. Guess that's what being friends for so long does for you. Thinks he can just walk all over me."
"He's always seemed quite bright, that sucks he's just leave it all to you."
"Yeah well, he barely seems to give a shit about me to be honest."
"I'm sure that's not true, you guys have been friends for like forever."
The following day at school brought a fresh wave of wind and rain, Winter was approaching. Equally depressing, French was first on the list for today. Steve slumped into the room and into his seat.
"Alright man, spill, spill, spill. How'd it go last night?" Jamie had announced his entrance, loudly and abruptly.
"Yeah, went well I think."
"Such modesty. You had her screamin' the walls down didn't you? Eh? Nudge, nude, wink, wink," Jamie said, while doing so.
"Fuck off, mate, I'm not in the mood for talking about it."
Jamie leaned back against his seat, a concerned look on his face.
"You alright, man?"
"She said she wasn't sure about a second date, OK? Rejected. Again. Happy?" Steve screwed his face up menacingly.
"Don't be daft, maybe she's just busy or whatever. Talk to her."
"I can't talk to her, dickhead. I'm not you. I don't have what you got."
"Well let me help then, you goon," Jamie laughed.
"Just fuck off, Jay. FUCK. OFF."
The walk home from school seemed so much longer without Jamie. Things were so much easier when they were kids. Football at the park, Big Macs at McDonald's, imitating the famous American wrestlers on Jamie's trampoline in his back garden. Now girls were involved. The popular crowd was involved. Something Jamie lapped up, while Steve turned a blind eye.
He finally reached the end of his driveway, and was not happy at the sight he saw.
"What the fuck man, get out of here."
Jamie was sitting relaxed on the garden wall. "I'm going nowhere until we sort this out."
"There's nothing to sort out, mate. I don't know you. You're not the guy you used to be. I've held my tongue until now but I can't take this shit any longer. Those days we went to football games with your Dad: gone. Those days we used to skateboard down by the bowling alley: gone. Those days we talked about one day owning our own wrestling company, they're gone man. As of this moment, you and I are no longer friends. This friendship is unfixable, man. Just go fuck off back to your jock mates."
Jamie stood there dumbfounded at his now former best mate's outburst. "Alright. If that's it then, that's how you want it to be, I'm gone." And just like that, he was.
A week passed with neither of them speaking to each other. They stopped sitting together in school, stopped hanging out at lunchtimes. A chain that had once been linked so strongly, it now lay broken, left alone, no desire for it to be fixed.
Walking home one night from school, Steve passed the 'Tequila Mockingbird' restaurant, reminiscing about what could have been with Chloe, if only his moron of a best friend had talked to him. Suddenly, he stopped dead. Sheer horror filled his face. He could not quite believe what pictures lay before him.
He burst into the restaurant and ran to the exact same table for two he and Chloe had shared a mere week ago.
"You dick. How the fuck could you do this to me you bastard!"
Jamie was sitting at the table, with a plate of quesadillas in front of him. Sitting opposite, was Chloe, with a commiserating look on her face.
The shocked customers of the restaurant turned in interest. A pin-drop silence quickly emerged.
"Steve, lets take this somewhere quite, man."
"No! You tell me right now what the fuck you think you're playing at," Steve raged, "You know how I feel about her, and you treat me like a piece of shit and then knick my girl."
"You're damn right I know how you feel about her. All you ever do is talk about yourself you self-centred prick. This whole time, mate, this whole fucking time you've labelled me the bad guy. You've put me down as the one who's ruined this friendship. It takes two to fucking tango, mate. You say I've never tried to help you out? Never tried to give you tips with girls? How 'bout you try actually accepting the help I try and give you? You just piss and moan about being such a pathetic loser and broadcast it as everyone else's fault instead of your own. I've tried to improve your confidence, man, I'm the reason you got a date with Chloe in the first place 'cause I know how much you've liked her all these years. I put your feelings first despite liking her myself, and you just yelled at me for being the cause for all your problems, you selfish bastard. The other day you said our friendship was unfixable. That's because of you, man. Not me."
Steve stood there in greater shock than upon seeing the two of them together. Throughout their whole secondary school lives he'd only ever considered his own thoughts and feelings, and never those of Jamie or anyone else. Where he failed to mature like his best friend in achieving the friends and life that he leads, he failed more to even recognise that it had all been up to him all along. Like in the school play, he'd forgotten that Romeo wasn't the bad guy, he killed Tybalt in vengeance for the death of his best friend at Tybalt's hand. So there he stood: a quivering mess, alone, unfixable. The architect of his own defeat.