Heartstopper Volume 2 by Alice Oseman
In Charlie’s diary, dated 17th April, he pours out his thoughts. He thinks he’s destroyed his friendship with Nick; they were best friends and then he kissed him at the party that night and was rejected. The look Nick gave him still hurts. This is what happens when you fall for the straight guy.
Later that night, Charlie can't sleep. He’s remembering calling his dad to pick him up from the party. His dad came and could sense something was wrong but didn't push his son. Meanwhile, Nick is lying in bed wide awake. He’s remembering the altercation with Harry that dragged him away from Charlie and how Charlie wasn’t there when he went back. Nick tries to text Charlie, but doesn’t send the message.
Charlie didn't sleep well and is in a horrible mood, but goes about getting ready when someone knocks at the front door. It’s Nick standing in the rain. He didn’t text because he wanted to talk in person. Dragging him inside out of the rain and up to his room for privacy, both Nick and Charlie are edgy and nervous. Awkwardly, Charlie starts the conversation. He apologizes and takes full responsibility for being rude and making Nick feel pressured and uncomfortable. He says he shouldn’t have kissed Nick and still wants to be friends. Nick has to interrupt Charlie’s word vomit and tells him he is his best friend and then he kisses him.
It is a long and very thorough kiss. When they part, blushing, Charlie admits he received some mixed signals which makes Nick laugh and hold Charlie. Once Nick pulls himself together he exclaims that HE is sorry he ran away, he was freaking out over a full-on gay crisis. Nick wanted to kiss Charlie, but he’s just so confused. Nick isn’t ashamed of their kiss, but he needs to figure out things and needs time to do so. Charlie hugs him tightly and they both start crying and laughing. Nick worries he’s messed up both times they’ve kissed, but Charlie assures him he didn't, so they are both happy. Time for a cup of tea.
In the kitchen, they’re flirty with each other and Tori, Charlie’s older sister watches and knows. Alone in the conservatory with their drinks, Nick asks Charlie how he knew he was gay and Charlie confesses it wasn't some great revelation, he just always knew he's always liked boys. Nick is torn because he's liked girls before but now… he holds Charlie’s hand as he tells him how his feelings have grown. Nick doesn’t know how to describe himself and Charlie suggests he's bisexual but also reassures Nick that he can take his time figuring himself out. They start a long make out session…
…Which is interrupted by Oliver, Charlie’s little brother who adores Nick. Oliver clearly caught them smooching and doesn’t believe their protests, but isn’t phased at all by boys kissing. Nick and Charlie agree to keep their relationship secret for now, though it doesn’t stop Charlie from running out to the street to kiss Nick in the rain.
Over the weekend they text message in earnest and Nick starts looking into bisexuality on the internet. At school the following week, Nick and Charlie try not to show they their relationship has changed, but there are signs like little touches, knowing looks, and Nick helping Charlie after a rugby scrum. Charlie’s friend, Tao, thinks Charlie is flirting with a straight guy and is going to get hurt. There are some awkward moments, too, like when they took Nick’s dog Nellie for a walk and Nick pulled away from a kiss when a couple walked by. Nick feels bad. He’s not ashamed, but he just needs to figure things out. Throughout, Charlie is very understanding.
Charlie’s birthday is coming up and to celebrate, he and his friends are going bowling, and of course Nick is invited too. Nick is very excited, though annoyed that he doesn't have much time to buy Charlie a present. At the bowling alley, Nick meets Tao and Aled from school and is reintroduced to Elle, who he shared a class with previously but who now attends Higgs, the all-girls school, after she came out trans. Charlie is convinced Tao and Elle have a thing for each other but haven’t said anything. Nick gets on well with Charlie’s friends but Tao grows more annoyed at Charlie and Nick's "hollow" flirting to the point he confronts Charlie in the restroom.
Outside the restroom, Nick is ordering more food for the group and overhears the confrontation and Charlie’s defense without revealing their relationship. Tao is concerned for Charlie because Nick’s friends are the asshole Harry and the other Year 11s who bullied Charlie last school year and Tao is scared it will happen again. Charlie reassures Tao that Nick is different. As they leave the restrooms, they spot Nick. Tao returns to Elle and Aled and Charlie heads to Nick who pulls him into a tight hug without explanation.
Later, after Elle has kicked their butts in their second and final game, the group breaks up. Nick and Charlie hang back and go for a drink while Charlie opens his gift. Nick has given him a picture of the two of them with Nellie from their Snow Day (volume one) in a frame he decorated himself. Blushing, Charlie tells Nick he really wants to kiss him, so behind an extra large menu, they do. Nick confesses he heard Tao and Charlie in the restrooms earlier and tells Charlie he isn’t like Ben, the scumbag who used Charlie and made him keep their liaisons secret. Nick is scared, not ashamed, and he regrets not helping Charlie when he was being bullied. Soon, Charlie’s dad comes to pick them up.
It’s May, two and half weeks after Charlie’s birthday, and Nick is desperately trying to do the math homework he should have done the night before instead of making out with Charlie when he literally bumps into Charlie in the corridor. The school orchestra is doing a joint concert with Higgs and Charlie is on his way to play the drums. Tara, Nick’s first girl kiss when they were seven, also see volume one, is there, too, and she spots Nick and Charlie’s flirty interaction. Tara stops Nick before he leaves the hall and he confesses to her that he and Charlie are secretly going out. It’s not official yet and Tara is the first person he’s told but it feels really good to tell a friend. Tara understands because she went through a similar thing when she started dating her girlfriend Darcy and tells him to message her if he needs to. What he's going through is hard and he shouldn’t feel like he needs to come out to anyone until he’s ready.
After school at Charlie’s house, Nick tells Charlie he told Tara they are together which makes Charlie so happy and they roll around the floor while making out. Tori walks in, gives Charlie the pens he wanted, looks over at a panicked Nick, gives a knowing look to Charlie and leaves with a “well done.” Charlie reassures Nick it’s perfectly okay that he needs to go at his own speed. Before Nick heads home, Charlie checks that he still wants him to come out with him and his friends. Nick definitely does and explains that Harry the dickhead won’t be there, and the rest of his friends will be fine. In the background using her older sister magic, Tori nonchalantly drinks her lemonade and reminds Charlie she isn’t an idiot and won’t tell anyone about their relationship, and that she’s happy for him but asks him to be careful with Nick’s friends.
The next Saturday, Charlie’s dad drops him off at the cinema. Charlie is obviously nervous and his dad is worried about him. Charlie meets up with Nick before they catch up with the rest of Nick's friends and he has bad news… Harry is there. Charlie isn’t going to let him intimidate him though. When they meet up with the group, Christian and Sai are really welcoming to Charlie, but Nick sees Harry laughing with another friend. Heading inside, they grab snacks and Nick calls Charlie “Char.” BLUSH! That’s so cute. They go to see a horror movie and both get scared so hold hands.
Outside after the movie, Harry is his typical homophobic asshole self. Charlie tries to cover for Nick and downplays Harry's jokes, and Nick tells Harry to fuck off, but he doesn’t relent and starts mocking both of them. Eventually Nick pushes Harry and they leave. Charlie’s dad is outside waiting for him. Nick is really sorry about the way Charlie was treated, tells him he shouldn't have to cover for him, and decides he should never have had to put up with that. Back inside, Nick confronts Harry and his other friends. There is no excuse for their behavior. Harry is making Nick more and more angry, and it comes to a head when Harry shoves Nick for calling Charlie a derogatory name. Nick punches Harry and they start brawling.
In the car on the way home, Nick’s mum tries to get him to talk since Nick is sporting a black eye. He only says that his friends are horrible and they were being nasty about Charlie. Nick’s mum suspects Nick and Charlie are something more, her side glances say everything, but Nick doesn’t say what. Later that night, Nick and Charlie are texting. Nick apologizes for his asshole friends and confesses he doesn’t even want to be friends with them anymore. Charlie doesn’t want Nick to give up his friends for him, and defends Christian, Sai and Otis from rugby, though agrees the others don’t like him. Charlie’s friends, however, want to adopt Nick which is great because he really liked them. Nick then asks Charlie out on a proper date. SQUEE. They continue to text for hours until they both fall asleep. Nick never told Charlie about the fight though.
The next morning, Nick is playing with Nellie waiting for Charlie to arrive for their date. Charlie sees the black eye straight away so Nick has to confess. Though Charlie doesn’t like to see Nick hurt, Harry really deserved it. They set off together with Nellie on their date, taking the bus to the beach. They play in the sea, get fish and chips, kiss by the beach huts, and do a cute photoshoot in a booth. Lying on the sand together listening to music, Charlie asks Nick what he meant by him not wanting him to cover for him anymore, so Nick tells him he’s ready to come out. He’s definitely bisexual. Nick doesn’t want to creep about pretending to be just friends, and he wants the people he cares about to know. Standing up, Nick runs to the water and screams I LIKE CHARLIE SPRING IN A ROMANTIC WAY NOT JUST A FRIEND WAY. Charlie is so happy he cries because they can finally be boyfriends out in the open.
That night when Nick gets home, his mum notes how smiley he is. Nick tells her about how great his day was, then opens up to her. Charlie is his best friend but now he is also his boyfriend. Getting upset at not knowing how his mum will react, Nick starts to cry. His mum stands up, comes over and gives Nick a hug, thanking him for telling her. He explains he’s bisexual, if she knows what that is, erm yes, cheeky! They talk about how his feelings toward Charlie have changed and the months of self-discovery he’s had. Nick’s mum loves him and is so glad he can be honest with her; however, Nick can’t bring Charlie on vacation with them because that’s already paid for, sorry. But, muuuuuum! *sigh*