It first happened when they were both 11, right after Bernard had given Nick a good sock to the face, blood was everywhere, kids were screaming murder, and Colin was feeling many things at once.
Bernard had been on Colin's case since Primary 4, when he was the smallest kid in class, whether if it was stealing a new mechanical pencil or taking the money to be used for school lunches, it bothered him, but not enough, he had Nick, at least a friend to have and talk to. But it seemed to bother Nick more, as one day during recess, he confronted Bernard. Nick, ever the one for dramatics, stormed over right to the table Bernard was sitting at and demanded for Colin's money back. Yelling turned into screaming, pushing each other, Colin was crying for them to stop, and Bernard who was taller and bigger than them at time landed a punch on Nick's face, blood immediately poured out his nose and onto his usually pristine school shirt, a teacher stepped in and Bernard was sent to the principal's office to probably get no reprimand, while Colin and Nick to the sick bay.
"Are you ok?" Nick asked, holding onto a wad of tissues to his face.
The nurse had left to make a phone call to the boys parents, and both of them were left alone. Colin was still sniffing from the whole ordeal.
"What! You're the one with the blood gushing from his face! "
"You're the one who is still crying" pointed out Nick
"Am not, idiot" Colin said wiping his nose with the back of his arm. Colin couldn't
stand that Nick had to be noble all the time, he was the one to make sure he could catch up in Maths when he was falling behind, he was the one who came with the football each recess, he was the one who made sure he was not bullied, at 11, God, how embarrassing.
"Thanks, by the way" Colin said quietly
"I said thanks, dumb-ass"
"We're friends, right?" Nick said, grinning from ear to ear, his nose still bloody,
Colin felt a heat wash over him, like many times before during this year, whenever Nick gave him one of those smiles, he didn't know how to place it, but he knew if he did, it may end badly for both of them.
"Your nose!" Colin quickly grabbed another wad of tissues and pressed it gently to his best friend's face.
He was now standing over Nick, touching his face, and he was looking at him with those pretty eyes that Colin spent too much time during English Class thinking about. A beat, another, Colin felt the heat rise up to his ears, he could see Nick's face was pinking as well. Colin felt Nick touching his arm, gently, and - The nurse burst back in the room, the boys jumped apart, the bloodied tissues falling to the floor.
"I've called both your parents, you two can wait here for them here till they come to pick you up, you boys should not get into fights, so young and already so violent, ah-yo" said the nurse
They both nodded solemnly, with murmurs of it never happening again. Their hands brushed against each other, Colin immediately stared at the floor, butterflies tickled the depths of Colin's stomach, in his periphery, he could see Nick staring at him.
The next day, they went about their day as if the beats that between them did not happen.