It had been an hour since JC had taken his iced tea out to sit on the steps, and he still hadn't figured out what he was going to tell Justin. He had all sorts of words, words he'd heard before but whose meaning he'd never understood until he went to LA. All of them would sound like excuses, he knew, even to a fourteen-year-old. All of them sounded like failure.

He looked up and saw Justin walking down the sidewalk, holding his backpack with one hand and swinging it against his legs. Justin lit up when he saw him, even at this distance and in full daylight JC saw it. Justin lit up and started to run, and he didn't stop until he was right in front of JC. He stopped, suddenly, like he'd gotten closer to JC than he'd expected to, and threw his arms out like he was going to hug him and then let his arms drop to his sides.

"JC," he said, quietly, like he was surprised by a gift he'd known better than to ever ask for. Then Justin smiled, wider and brighter than the day around them, and JC knew he wouldn't need the words he'd brought from LA ever again.