It was no surprise that Tanner had made an attempt to call me already by the time I had gotten home. After what had happened at his house with his mom...he must have felt terrible. His voice was so SAD on my answering machine that night. I certainly hope he hadn't been crying. I didn't want him to feel like I BLAMED him for the incident. It just sorta happened, and honestly, I didn't expect anything more out of an old witch like his mom anyway. So Tanner had nothing to worry about as far as I was concerned. He couldn't have called more than ten or fifteen minutes before I walked through the door, but he apparently was anxious to make sure that everything was okay between us after his mom's display earlier. And, yeah...I guess in most ways, everything WAS ok. I mean, I knew it wasn't Tanner's fault and that he cared about me as deeply as humanly possible. It's just....something really seems to be disheartening about the whole situation and my inability to do anything about it.
I suppose the biggest problem I had with it was the fact that no matter how much Tanner and I loved and cared about one another, we were suddenly made hopelessly 'unequal' just because of the amount of money in our bank accounts. And it never went away. I mean...to me, Tanner was my idol. He was my everything, my only concrete evidence of perfection in an imperfect world. I look at him and I see an image of such pure beauty that I am almost driven to tears by the idea of him actually feeling the same way about me. It's like fate put us together on purpose through some amazing divine intervention, and I was accepting a reward for something I'm not sure what I did to deserve. But...when things like this happen...I was forced into the position of...'less than'. I was the dirty little spot on his record, the nasty little blemish on that perfect face of his. The only thing ruining the beauty and magnificence in a boy that special.....was ME. And GOD, that hurt sometimes! I mean, with the exception of Jackie...I knew that none of his family really liked me. None of his friends liked me either, except for Chris. Who, I'm sorry to say, likes me a bit TOO much! Still...the worst part of our separation in a 'class structure' run society, is the fact that I'm the weak point in all this. Me. I'm the one at the bottom of the barrel. I'm the one holding him back, and making him look bad, and forcing his friends to wonder what the hell he sees in me. Despite all the love that Tanner could give me from the most delicate parts of his heart...I'd never add up in the eyes of the people he cares about. I'd never be able to duplicate the amount of amazement that he brings to my life. Something about that ached inside of me more than I can say, and made me want to hide my face in shame everytime someone else came around to talk to him. I just wish things could be different. Just for a little while, so they could all see me for who I am instead of what I had. Or DIDN'T have, as the case may be.
It was a struggle to choose whether I was going to call him back or not that night, but decided that it would be a shitty thing to do to make him wait until tomorrow to hear from me. He'd think I was pissed at him all night long, and I didn't want to put Tanner through that. So I picked up the phone and dialed the number. "Hello?" It was Tanner's mom, and I found myself freezing at first, not knowing what to say. I was instantly humiliated all over again. I didn't want her to hear my voice...I didn't want her to know that the lowlife 'scum-boy' was calling to wreck her only son's life again. I didn't know what to say, but anything would have tipped her off as to who it was. She knew my voice, and I considered hanging up the phone to call back later when Tanner could answer instead. "Hello?" She said again.
"Uh, hi. Is Tanner there?" I asked. I winced at the sound of my own voice, and felt my heart shrivel up to the size of a raisin in her presence.
"Yes he is, who's calling please?"
Sigh...I really didn't want to say, but she probably knew anyway. Making me say it was like some kind of extra punishment for being who I was. "It's...it's Derrick."
"Oh..." She says. "...just a minute." From the tone of her voice I could just tell she was thinking, 'there goes my promising young boy's dirty little friend from the other side of town'. You'd think I'd be able to get angry and ignore it instead of letting it break me down this way, but I'm not.
Tanner picked up the phone a few moments later. "Derrick?"
"Yeah. It's me. I'm sorry, I didn't expect your mom to answer the phone." I pouted, trying to keep a 'smile' in my voice if possible.
"Don't you DARE be sorry about calling me! Don't you let her make you feel any less important than you really are. Ok?" He said.
"It's ok. I just didn't feel like talking to her. That's all. Is she upset that I called?" I asked.
"It's...it's not anything that you need to worry about, you know? I mean...no matter what, it will never change the way I feel about you."
"I know. Really."
"No, I mean it, Derrick. She doesn't understand, and who says she HAS to?" I didn't say anything, just listened as Tanner tried to convince me that this shouldn't hurt as much as it did. "Look, I'm...I'm really sorry for what happened today. I know that had to really dig into you and it sucks. Because you don't deserve that. You're the sweetest boy in the world and those idiots are missing out. I just....sighhhh....I wish there was something I could do to make it up to you and put a smile on your face."
I smiled a little, "I thought we were working on 'putting a smile on my face' already when she came into the room and messed everything up?" I grinned, and he caught on right away.
Tanner made me shiver with that boyish giggle of his, even over the phone. "I see. You liked that, huh? Well, maybe we can get back to some of that 'activity' this weekend. If you'll have me?" He could sense my grin, even in silence. "I'll give you a kiss and a brownie, if you think a bribe will help." He giggled.
"Well....those WERE some good brownies..." I answered.
"WhatEVER...soooo? Will you do me the honor of being my 'cuddle bear' this weekend?"
"Sighhh...Don't do that."
"Don't do what?"
"Be all cute and...sweet, when I'm trying to find a reason to be mad at you."
"Awwwwww...don't be mad at me. Please?" He whined in the sexiest, most ADORABLE way imaginable, but he was taking it seriously. He really must have thought that I was angry at one point. "I PROMISE, next time I'll tie my mother up and shove her in a closet! Ok?" His boyish pleas were reaching such a heartbreaking pitch. Tanner was still incredibly cute about it, but I could tell that he really felt bad about the whole thing and didn't neccessarily have any way of expressing it fully. Not that I had any other choice but to give in. He was SOOO unmercifully beautiful when he begged!
"Wellllll....I suppose I could fit you into my schedule."
"I'm sure you could 'fit me' into a lot of places, cutie. But we're talking about something ELSE right now." Tanner said.
"Hahaha...can we say 'PERVERT'???" I laughed.
"You can most definitely say that, yes!" He giggled. "So we're ok? You and me?"
"More than ok, sweetie. SO much more than ok." It made me blush to say it, but words were never more true. "I miss you, dude."
"Yeah.......I miss you too." There was a short silence, and Tanner then whispered, "I love you, Derrick. I love you sooo much."
"Love you back." I replied, and we sent each other a quick kiss before hanging up the phone. I guess I was still feeling kinda down about the whole incident, but just hearing the voice of the boy I loved more than anything was enough to dull it an awful lot before I went to sleep for the night. He cared, and he never let me forget it. Even when I was tempted to try.
School was going to be the furthest thing from my mind all week. I mean, it all seemed like filler to keep me sane during that long long wait for the approaching weekend. Saturday never seemed so distant as it did that morning. And since I was well 'stimulated' on our half day off from school, with no...um...big finish...I was going to be ready to pounce on Tanner the first opportunity that I got. When he got on the bus that next morning, it was just his leg touching mine that set me spinning off into thoughts I should probably NOT be entertaining when I had to stand up in front of everybody. And I think he could tell, especially when I subconsciously found myself using the back of my hand to rub the outside of his thigh. Slowly at first, but more deliberately as he tried to not pay attention to it. He eventually let himself smile wickedly at me without saying a word, and raised an eyebrow to alert me to what I was doing. "Hehehe...sorry." I whispered, my face turning red.
"It's only a few days. And we'll have..." He stopped to look around at the other kids on the bus, then leaned closer to whisper in my ear, "...we'll have the whole house to ourselves."
"Really?" I asked. "Um...you didn't hack up your parents with a hatchet, did you?"
"And deprive you of the pleasure of doing it for me? No way. But the house will be vacant, and the pool hasn't gotten any use in a while." He motioned for me to come closer so he could whisper in my ear again. "Swimsuit optional." He said, and then stuck out his tongue a bit to delicatley lap at my earlobe...sending an electric charge all the way through me and making me hard as a concrete instantly. I looked over at him briefly, his gorgeous eyes sparkling in my direction, and turned to giggle bashfully out of the window before I accidently creamed myself. "Hehehe, you are so cute." He smiled, pushing some of his soft hair out of his face.
We got off of the bus and went our seperate ways for the rest of the morning. I wouldn't catch a glimpse of him again until lunch, probably. Just as well. The mere sweetened scent of his light sweater was driving me nuts! Have you ever been around someone that you just wanted to kiss and lick ALL THE TIME??? There wasn't a moment that passed that I didn't want to touch a part of him, or squeeze his soft lean muscles in my hand, or just rest my head on his shoulder, inhaling his innocent aroma by nuzzling my nose in the nape of his neck. Just a few more days, Derrick. Just a few more days, and he'll be all yours. I've never been so thirsty for another boy's kiss...
The day began, and my mind dumbed down to deal with the monotonous formulas and rhetoric that came with the average school day. But thoughts of Tanner lingered anyway. It was cool to think about him once I got a break from 'paying attention' to my teacher's lesson. It was like a day full of brief reccesses.
"You're still wearing it." Said someone from the side of me in th hall as I walked to my next class. I looked over and there was Chris, his grin just as bold and as wide as it always was whenever he made contact with me in one way or the other.
"The bracelet I bought you." His eyes dropped shyly at first, but not for more than a second. "You've still got it on. I guess you really do like it."
"Of course I like it. Like I said, that was really sweet of you Chris."
"Yeah...well people say a LOT of things when you give them something. I suppose I never really believed it before now." He said.
"Well, it was cool of you, Chris. Thank you."
He stumbled along at my side for a moment without saying anything, and then asked, "Do you...do you maybe wanna ditch the next period? Maybe...go get a smoothie or something from the corner store and...'hang out' or something? JUST for a little while..." He was trying hard not to be 'intrusive', but his nervousness was already giving away how much something like that would mean to him. Even if he was trying to hide his excitement in asking.
"Oh...Chris, you know...I should really take this class today..."
"I mean, if it's an 'attendence' issue, I can get Mitch to block it out of the school records for you if you want..." He said.
"No, it's not that. Thanks though...really. I've got a pretty big test coming up soon, and if I miss something important I'll wreck it and my mom will kill me."
"Oh...ok. Sure. Well...I'll see ya 'round." He said, fake smile in place, disappointment clearly visible anyway.
Maybe it was my conscious that got the better of me, although with all the shit that Chris had put me through when I first came to that school, I don't know why my conscious would be on HIS side...but I called to him before he walked away. "Hey Chris?"
"Yeah?" He said, stopping just for me.
"Um...maybe tomorrow? After school or something?" I figure, what the hell? He's been really cool lately, and he was so sweet to even ask. So I at least owe him another chance.
"Tomorrow? Uhhh...yeah! Yes. Ok...sure. When? What time?" He fought for control, wanting so badly to stay calm.
"After school..." I said again. "OK?" I could see his smile bloom and flourish as the date was set.
"Ok. After school it is." And he started to turn around, but stopped and asked me, "Um...this isn't...I mean...this isn't crossing any lines of...you know...the whole 'Derrick needs space' thing...is it?" He almost winced while waiting for an answer.
"No, I don't think..."
"Because I DON'T want to be a pest or anything and make it seem like I'm forcing you to go."
"Chris, you're not forc..."
"And you DON'T have to make anything up to make me feel better. If you don't wanna go, I'd rather you just say you don't wanna go. And I'll be cool with that."
"I don't want you to be upset or anything. I hate it when you're upset at me. And I know that I might have come off as a little 'intense' before, but I'm trying to do a lot better now."
"It's just this whole thing kinda took me by surprise, and it was so...so strong, and so perfect, and so REAL! I just...I couldn't help myself..."
"CHRIS?!?!?" I shouted, trying to stop him from talking before he ran out of breath.
He jumped back a little bit, concerned that maybe he had screwed up again. "Yeah?"
"I'll meet you on the front steps. After school. Tomorrow. K?" I made it plain, I made it simple. And when I smiled, he let out a short giggle.
"I'm sorry. I talk too much, don't I?" He blushed.
"Yes, you do. But that doesn't mean I won't be there. Ok?"
"Ok." He looked me in the eye, as though the words 'I love you, Derrick' were about to burst forth out of his mouth and send me flying back against the lockers. But...he contained it just enough to say, "Bye." And he turned to walk away and let me get to class. It was actually kinda charming, Chris was becoming like a big fluffy pet these days.
The day actually dragged along, only interesting during gym when Chris and I were on two opposite teams on the soccer field. He let me breeze by him on purpose almost every time, not even putting forth the LEAST bit of effort to stop me. Hahaha! His team mates weren't too happy with his sudden ability to 'totally suck' whenever I came his way. But I don't think he cared too much. He was much too busy staring at my legs in gym shorts to care about much of anything.
At the end of the day, I met up with Tanner to hop on the bus, and he told me that some guy threatened to beat him up earlier...and he LAUGHED! Naturally, my first instinct was to find out who would even 'think' of laying a finger on my boyfriend, and then break both his arms and his legs personally. But for some unknown reason, Tanner found it to be nothing more than a shrug of his shoulders. "He said his girlfriend was looking at me, and to stop it. And I was just like, 'Stop WHAT? I didn't even know she was looking.' which only made him angry. But he couldn't really do anything to make me understand what exactly his demands were. So people started to laugh a little bit, and then he just got frustrated and left me alone. Hehehe...I think that means I won."
"Whoopee..." I said, rolling my eyes. "Go get him, tiger."
"Raaarrr!" He said making his hand look like a tiger's claw...but with a limp wrist and an effeminate swat at my arm. I looked at him and burst out laughing.
"Hahaha! VERY convincing!"
"What? I'm tough when I wanna be." He couldn't even keep a straight face while trying to say it. I love him to death, but a brawler, he's not.
"Whatever....dork! Hehehe!" He elbowed me in the side, and when I kept laughing, he shoved me playfully. "Ok! Ok! I'll stop."
"You suck..." He said with a pouty grin.
"Yeah, well...if it's any consellation, I'm sure you could hire a very big guy to do your dirty work for you."
"Possibly." He said, then lowered his voice, "But there's some dirty work that I kinda like to do for myself." And his hand squeezed my thigh as he stood up to get off the bus. "I'll call you later, k?"
"Alright. Later." Tanner headed towards the front, and I took a very healthy look at his ass on his way down the aisle, as I'm sure a lot of people did. This weekend is going to be AWESOME!
I was walking home from my stop when I noticed somebody sitting on my front step. It caught me a little off guard, as I wasn't expecting anyone that day, so I kept my eyes on him the whole time that I was walking towards my house. He had his head down, so I couldn't really tell what he looked like. Short brown hair, just long enough to cover his forehead, slim, about my age, I guess. Then, as I got closer, the image cleared itself up a bit, and when the boy looked up at me...it was a huge surprise! "Joel...?" I said.
"The one and only, preppy." He smiled, and stood up to wipe some of the dirt off of his clothes. I hadn't seen him in AGES! But just being able to see his face brought back fond memories of the good old days at my old school. Back when I mattered a bit more than I did where I am now. I walked over quickly to give him a big hug.
"DUDE! It's been forever! What the hell are you doing out here?" I asked.
Joel was smiling wide, but still keeping his cool. He always did have a way of making any situation look like it was 'nothing to get excited about'. Even if this was a REALLY unexpected surprise. "Well, ever since you came out here to hang with your rich friends, you don't come back to see your old peeps anymore. I figured I'd come out to make an appearance."
"How'd you get here?"
"Two busses, and then a short walk. I thought that since I missed you at that party a while back, I could make a trip to make sure you were doing ok out here."
"Well you should have been there, it was cool!"
"Are you kidding, it was raining up a storm outside! The lightning knocked out my power for an hour and a half."
"Yeah...I remember." BOY did I remember! "So do you think you can stay and chill for a while?"
"I wouldn't be here if I didn't."
"Sweet! Well, come on in! Bring your bag with you." I said, and escorted him inside. It was so good to see him again. Joel was one of those friends that you just happen to meet out of nowhere when you're little, and just strike up a friendship without any effort at all. I might have been all of six years old when I met him walking down the alley behind my old house. The next thing I knew, we were both throwing rocks on top of Mrs. Hernandez's roof. Why? Who knows? We were six, it was summer time, what ELSE were we gonna do? Then he accidently low-balled one of his throws, and shattered the attic window! I swear, it echoed over the WHOLE neighborhood! We took off running as fast as our legs could carry us, and ended up hiding at his house in the basement next to the washing machine for HOURS until we felt it was safe. Hehehe, it still makes me laugh when I think about it. We've been tightly knit ever since.
We instantly hit it off after that incident, and basically grew up together. His mom was pretty much struggling to make ends meet like mine was, but since we shared almost everything, we had a wealth of materialistic stuff between us. Action figures, a few video games, some of my mom's leftovers from the diner, some of his dad's old Playboy magazines...together we felt like we had the whole world to share between us. We stayed awfully close up until about the 7th or 8th grade, when he got a girlfriend. And we all know what THAT can do to a friendship, especially at that age when it's like the greatest thing on the planet. By the time I moved away, we were hardly talking all that much anymore, even when him and his girlfriend split up. It's not that we didn't get along, our experiences had just caused a gap between him and me that couldn't be crossed without some great effort on our part. He was into girls, I was discovering that I was gay, he kept to himself, and I was gaining more friends, we had different classes...we just lost some of that easy companionship that we had reached before. Hell, when you're six, you have everything in common with every other six year old on the planet. I mean...your world is pretty much a limited experience. But as you get older and discover your own personality...things change. We were still friends, just from afar. The last time I had seen him was when I transfered schools to go where I'm going now. I suppose that it wasn't a break up or a fight, we just grew apart and went our own ways. Still...just seeing him again was a flashback to a simpler time, and it was like we hadn't missed a beat.
We talked for two hours straight, and caught up on sooo much lost time. I never knew that I missed him that much until he showed up on my doorstep, it was cool having my old 'partner in crime' back in my life. There were relationships that I had missed, pairings that I NEVER would have thought possible until Joel described them for me in detail. There were sports games, and gossip, and break ups between friends that he filled me in on. It seemed that Joel and I weren't the only ones changing. Everybody seemed to have gone insane when compared to the predictable personalities that I was used to before I went away. It almost felt like I was back there with them. And, for nostalgia's sake, I kinda longed to be submerged in that life all over again.
Joel got up to grab a snack out of the fridge, and I told him that we had some leftover meatloaf and that he was entitled to it. I heard the microwave running the second he disappeared into the kitchen, he must have been starving. After being friends for so long, even in this new house, he could easily find the dishes and everything. After years of my mom making us cookies and giving him 'scraps' from the table, he knew how it all would be put together. It was just like old times. That's when the doorbell rang, and another surprise was waiting for me. I got up from the couch and opened up. It was Tanner, and my heart skipped a half beat as I let my eyes land on his smile. "Whoah, hello!" I said.
"Hey..." He grinned.
"What are YOU doing here?" I giggled back, hoping that he wanted a 'quickie' before the weekend came.
"I know it's kind of unexpected, but my father wanted me to come out to dinner with him and some of his co-workers. I guess the vice-president has a thing for men with 'families'." He said, while I noticed that he was a bit more dressed up than normal.
"So you're being used as bait for instant approval." I grinned.
"You got it. I'm thinking that it'll be even more boring than usual, but I'm trying to stay on my parents' good side so they'll keep their plans to leave town this weekend and not stick me with a guardian or something."
"So...how did you get here?"
"Well, I needed a ride to meet up with dear old Dad for dinner...so who else would I call?" I looked passed him at the door, and saw Jackie in the front seat of the limo, doing yet another favor for her two favorite lovebirds. Then Tanner looked at me, mischief creeping into the shine of his eyes, "I don't have too much time....but I thought you might want to take a little ride around town for a few minutes."
"Tinted windows?" I asked, knowing what he had planned.
"Tinted windows. What do you say?"
I heard Joel come back into the room from the kitchen, and remembered that I wasn't exactly alone anymore for that night. "Oh...you know what? I can't do it tonight, dude." I said quickly before Joel was close enough to hear us talking.
"Who's this?" Joel asked.
"Joel, this is Tanner. He goes to school with me." I said, "Tanner, this is Joel, a friend from back home."
"Nice to meet you, Joel." Tanner, always the gentleman, extended his hand.
"S'up?" Joel replied, and roughly shook Tanner's hand. "So you're one of the rich kids, huh?"
"Um...yeah, so they tell me."
"Yeah...I'm sure they tell you that a lot." Joel said sarcastically. "So are you going out somewhere, or are these your 'play' clothes?" I was already used to Joel's sometimes abrasive sense of humor...but this was a little different. It was almost like an instant tension that came out of absolutely nowhere. I don't think Tanner sensed it right away, but it was there, even if only a hint of it.
"Actually, I'm going out to dinner." He replied. "I just...stopped by to say hello."
"How sweet, him coming way out here to say hello. Say, is that your limo out there?" Joel said looking over his shoulder.
"My cousin, Jackie...she's...giving me a ride tonight."
"Going out to dinner...in a limo. Must be something special, huh? Must be nice." Ok, it was about time for me to jump in and say something before he went any deeper into this. It was almost like he was feeling around 'safely' to find out what buttons to push. I didn't like that. "Say, how do you guys park one of those things? They're pretty big, you know? Do you have a private garage everywhere you go?"
Tanner wrinkled up his forehead a little bit, and I could tell that he was catching on to the negative vibe here. "Wha...?"
"You know, Tanner has a lot of things to do tonight. We shouldn't keep him too long, really." I said, hoping to get a little space there.
Tanner already knew me forwards and backwards, and he knows an evasion tactic when he sees it. But he didn't press any further with it. "True. Actually, I should get going."
"Yes. Dinner awaits." Joel said with a shit eating grin, the asshole in him creeping out a little bit more to silently egg him on.
I looked over at Joel, my eyes telling him to shut up. "Right." Tanner added, looking back and forth between Joel and me. "I'll talk to you later, Derrick. I'll let you know how everything went."
"WE can't wait." Joel stood closer to me, as though to form a wall to keep Tanner from stepping foot in that house. And I did what I could to try to make everything look normal for the sake of keeping the peace.
"Sure thing, dude. I'll be here." I said, ignoring Joel's sarcasm.
Tanner looked back over at Joel and mumbled, "Well...it was nice meeting you."
"Yeah, so you said." He answered, this time not shaking his hand. He was pushing it. REALLY pushing it. Tanner left to go back to the limo, and Joel shouted, "Have a fun dinner. Tip your 'servants' well." But tanner didn't pay him any mind at all. At least, it didn't look like he did.
As soon as the limo pulled away, I shut the door and turned to give Joel a nasty look. "What?" He said.
"YOU know what! What the hell was that about?"
"What was WHAT about?" Was he KIDDING me??? "What....you mean 'HIM'? He's a rich kid, who cares? He can take a little dig or two, right?"
"He's NOT just some 'rich kid', Joel, he's my friend. And I don't appreciate you ripping into him when he didn't do anything to provoke it."
"Who's ripping into him? I just told him to have a nice dinner. hat's wrong with that?" I gave him an even dirtier look. "Aww c'mon, Derrick...I mean he was all prettied up like he was going to take pictures for school or something. Just so he could go eat dinner? He's taking a LIMO for crying outloud. Ever hear of a bus?" Joel was stepping onto a patch of thin ice that he did NOT want to be standing on with me. Being mean at Tanner's expense was a topic that I had VERY little tolerance for.
"Just...don't...ok? I'm happy to see you, but don't go jumping on my friends." I said, leaving it at that.
"His little 'outfit' there probably cost half as much as your rent. 'Nice to meet you,' he says. Geez, what a fag." Joel said, and then sat down on my couch to finish eating.
"Ok, you know what...?" I started, but the phone rang before I was able to rip into him. "Hello?"
"Hey honey, it's Mom. Listen...I'm taking on an extra shift, so I'm going to be working really late tonight. I'm so sorry." She sounded tired already. How she was going to make another whole shift, I'll never know. "If you stay up late enough, I'll try to bring home some more leftovers from work, ok? I'll manage to scrounge up something for you to eat."
"It's ok, Mom. I'll find something."
"The fridge is pretty empty, I know. But I'll go shopping this weekend and get a few snacks or something. Maybe if tips are good tonight at the restaraunt, I'll grab you an early breakfast from somewhere. Sound good?"
Her voice was so apologetic, money must be tighter than I thought these days. "Um...yeah. Ok. Thanks."
I heard somebody saying my mom's name in the background and the order bell was ringing, so she was short on time. "I love you, hon. I've got to go now. We're busy."
"Love you too..." But I think she hung up before she heard it all. I certainly hope that she gets a day off sometime soon to catch up on her sleep. They seem to be working her to death at that place. And it shows in the bags under her eyes.
"I'll take that to mean we have the place to ourselves, huh? Got any porn?" Joel grinned without even missing a beat.
"Don't think that I forgot what we were talking about. What you did was pretty fucked up, Joel..."
"I'm sorry, ok? Got any porn?"
"I MEAN it!" He wasn't about to change the subject on me and act as though it was no big deal. He might not have known it, but that was my BOYFRIEND he was agitating with his remarks.
"Derrick, chill out. I apologize. Sincerely, k? I didn't know he was one of the good guys." I stared him down to let him know that I wasn't playing, and he stood up to put an arm around my shoulder, "Don't hold it against me. I admit it, I was a jerk."
"A BIG jerk!" I added.
"A really big jerk, yes, I know. And I'm sorry. Deal?" He said, but I was silent until he shook a gentle smile to my lips. "C'mon, are we cool again, or what? What's going on here?" I smiled all the way, and he grinned back at me. "Thatta boy. Now...where exactly are you hiding that porn?"
I rolled my eyes with a smile, "I'm not kidding around here, you know?"
"Of course not. Geez! Loosen up, shithead! The 'high life' is making you all tense and touchy. LOOK at you, you're actually scaring me here." That's Joel for you, Mr. Fix-It in 60 seconds or less.
"Quiet!" I grinned.
"You're the boss, tough guy." He said, and for the time being, I guess it was all settled. Not that I wouldn't be keeping a very close eye out for him in the future.
Joel ended up spending the night, without the benefit of any porn. A tragedy that he swore he was going to help me out with as soon as possible. Hehehe! Whatever. I was LIVING a porn movie at this point! Who needed video? But it felt good to have Joel around again. Honestly, some of the stories he was telling me in the time that we had been apart were absolutely hilarious! It was the first time since meeting my dream boy that I had ever once felt like I missed home. It looked like all of my old friends were getting along just fine without me. Sure, we tried to keep in touch for the first month or so...but I suppose that when school is pretty much your whole life, and you're going to two different places, you just don't relate the same way. I eventually found myself growing further away from all them. And yet, it would be so easy to pick up right where I left off if I were to go back to the old neighborhood. I had almost forgotten what it was like to 'fit in' somewhere completely. It was nice to finally remember how a 'cherished' person feels in a school environment.
We probably stayed up all night talking and giggling, and when my mother came home with some goodies from the diner, we gobbled them down and had even more energy to get out of our systems. Normally, my mom would have been screaming at me to hurry up and go to bed. She was a big fanatic when it came to me doing well in school these days, and that meant a decent night's sleep whether I liked it or not. But she was a complete zombie when she came home, and basically gave Joel a hug for old times sake and collapsed on the living room couch for the night. She switched on the tv, but it had barely warmed up before she was snoring...shoes on and everything.
"Your mom must have had a tough one tonight, huh?" Joel whispered as we were on our way back to my room.
"Looks that way, doesn't it?" I said, and got a blanket out of the closet to cover her up with. "Go ahead, dude. I'll be there in a sec." Joel left, and I carefully draped the blanket over my mom's shoulders. Then I moved over to slip her shoes off, one at a time, and set them down next to her, and clicked the tv off.
"Hmm?" She woke up...sorta...and said, "I'm watching that."
"Sure you are, Mom." I smiled, and kissed her on the cheek.
"Did you guys eat?" She mumbled groggily.
"Yeah, we did. Thanks."
"Ok...good. Now go to bed...school tomorrow." She yawned, and snuggled deeper into the blanket around her. "Love you, honey."
"Love you too, Mom. G'night." I kissed her on the cheek and crept back into my room. Surprisingly enough, Joel was ready to knock off for the night too. So I gave him the sheet from my bed, and he put an old mattress on the floor next to my bed.
"I really am sorry about...you know...earlier." He said under his breath. Possibly more sincere than anything I've ever heard come out of him.
"I still think he's a 'fag' though." He said, rolling over with a giggle. "Watch your ass around him, blondie."
"I think you forgot that you needed a PILLOW, Joel!" I said, bashing him in the head with it as I tossed it down to him.
"Ow! What'd I SAY?" And we both broke out laughing in unison for a few seconds before going to sleep. Joel...who would have thought he'd be the one to come all this way just to see me?
The next morning, my alarm clock woke us both up with a fury. I could have sworn that I got a total of three blinks in before I had to wake up again for school. I think Joel was doubly unhappy with the early morning buzzer. Still we got up, and took turns in the shower before getting ready to head out. "Say...aren't you gonna be late?" I asked him.
"Late for what?"
"School? Helloooo...dumbass? It's Wednesday."
"Oh. No way, dude. I've got my first period free this year. Imagine that? So I don't have to go in until nine o'clock. Scheduling mix ups are great, aren't they?" He said, spreading some butter on a freshly made piece of toast.
"Lucky bastard. Still, you've got a long ride to get home, and I've gotta catch this bus. If I have to wake my mom up to take me to school she's liable to run me over with the car to teach me a lesson."
"Why don't you get your buddy with the limo to take you?"
"DON'T start! Now shut up and grab your stuff, I've gotta run."
We got our stuff together, and walked out of the house to the sidewalk. Joel gave me a big hug before walking in the opposite direction, and I looked forward to seeing him again soon. "Don't be a stranger, ok? We miss you back home." He said.
"You either. Gimme a call sometime, we'll hang out. K?"
"Cool...but you better have porn next time. I'm a growing boy...and I'm looking to grow a little bigger, if you know what I mean." And with a smile, he took his bag, slung it over his shoulder, and rode away on his bike. I will definitely have to keep in better touch with him, we always had such a good time. Good to know he's still out there somewhere, occassionally thinking about his old buddy Derrick.
I had to make a short sprint to the bus stop in order to catch it on time. I wasn't going to miss one moment of being side by side with cupid's gift to me. I was still a bit exhausted from last night. Having an old friend around you is NOT good for getting sleep, I don't care HOW 'fun' it is! So I tried to catch a quick nap before getting to school by laying my head against my backpack, putting it on the window. I only wanted a quick snooze, hoping to be wide awake by the time my boyfriend hopped on to join me. But when I opened my eyes, Tanner was sitting already next to me smiling. "Morning sleepy head."
Still groggy, I focused on the beauty of his bright hazel eyes and found myself locked in a world that could outshine my dreams in every possible way. "Hey...I was just trying to catch some zzz's before first class."
"I can see that. I was about ready to lay my head on your shoulder and take a nap myself." He smiled. "It IS how we met, afterall."
"Oh wow...hehehe, you're right." I giggled.
"I guess you could say that it was the first time we ever 'slept together'."
"Hehehe...you know, if I wasn't so out of it right now, I might have some kind of dirty come back for you."
"You stay up late last night?"
"Yeah...me and Joel stayed up until like 3 AM or something unholy like that. Just talking and laughing....it was really fun, you know? But I think I pushed my luck a bit in the sleep disorder category, and now I've gotta pay the price for it." I said, trying to rub the imaginary sand out of my eyes.
"Ohhhh...Joel. Right." Tanner said, and faced forward without saying anything else about it. There were times when he and I had silences, just to enjoy the moment between us or something...but this was different. This was more of a 'I'm biting my tongue' issue.
"What?" I asked.
"Liar." He looked at me with a weird smile, but I guess I could pretty much tell the whole story from the look in his eyes alone. "It's Joel, isn't it?"
"That's your friend, Derrick. I'm not trying to say anything or...."
"No, no you're right. Seriously. I think he was just trying to get at you a little bit. That's all. He's really a good guy once you get to know him." Tanner kinda smiled, but I could tell it bothered him a little bit. "I gave him a piece of my mind when you left. He promised not to do it again."
"You don't have to do that, dude. It's ok." He said, but I insisted.
"It's not ok, and I'm gonna make sure that he treats you right from now on. Ok? Promise."
"He doesn't like me very much, does he?" Tanner was trying not to look...'worried' about it or anything, but he was. I think that he was a bit self conscious about what he might have been doing wrong to give someone the impression that he was less than 'cool'.
"He just doesn't know you, Tanner. That's all. He can be a bit coarse sometimes...but I'm willing to bet that you two will hit it off great once you talk a bit more." Tanner used his hand to brush his hair back, still unconvincingly agreeing with me with a nod of his head. "I'm serious, dude. He'll love you. Like I said, I told him to take it easy on ya, so it's no big deal."
"Ok. I believe you." I gave him a stare, a crooked grin on my face. "I BELIEVE you! What? What do you want me to say?" He giggled and a beautiful crimson blush came to his face. "I'm not trying to be weird. Just...asking. You know?"
"Like I said, he'll love you....just like I do." I said, and leaned over to gently butt him with my shoulder, finally giving his smile that genuine quality that always made it so cute to me. "And SPEAKING of total mush, hehehe, guess who I'm cheating on you with this afternoon?"
"Hehehe, as though I had that many candidates to choose from." He laughed.
"HEY NOW!" I said in shock.
"Don't worry, there was no way you could keep this little thing a secret anyway. Chris told me three times yesterday. You know, if he's trying to be 'discreet' about being head over heels in love with you, he's not very good at hiding it." Tanner said in a low voice.
"I know, but he's actually kind of sweet about it. It's cool."
"And here I thought he was your nemesis. My, how things have changed."
"Well, it's a well lit public place, and I don't forsee Chris trying anything 'gay' with people watching. Besides, you should have seen those puppy dog eyes of his. It really KILLS him when I don't say yes. It's so sad, I'm helpless."
"Yeah.....so am I." Tanner replied, looking into my eyes seriously for a moment. It kinda put a stop to our joking around, and suddenly brought this warm sensation to my whole body, expanding in my chest until I could feel my heartbeat all over. Holding that eye contact, even for a moment, was both a pleasure and a pain. The most beautiful element of life that a frozen moment could hold. He whispered, "I never get tired of seeing you, Derrick....never." It was so cute the way he spoke to me when he was like this. I desired his kiss with a passion, but remained well aware that this wasn't the time or the place.
Instead, Tanner looked over his shoulder at the other kids on the bus, all engaged in their own world of playful conversations, walkman broadcasted music, and last minute homework, and just made sure that no one was listening or watching us. Then he let his arm drop a bit, and took a gentle, but firm, hold of my hand. I sighed outloud, and could feel goosebumps prickle up on my arm. His fingers grasped mine tenderly, his thumb moving in small circles over my skin. It was like making love, the way he touched me. It was times like this that the whole world finally felt complete and I had a definite place in it. Tanner brought every ray of sunshine into my heart with the simplest of actions, and I was so weak over him. He could see the warmth in my smile, and we sat there in silence for the rest of the bus ride, occassionally looking back at one another to giggle bashfully and turn away before we made a spectacle of ourselves. If only everyone could know this kind of love. This ever changing, ever growing, emotionally satisfying, kind of love.
Despite my continuously growing anxiety for the weekend, and my hazy 'half asleep' manner, the school day actually whipped by me pretty fast. Classes that normally seemed a minute short of eternity were over so fast that I was beginning to wonder if I had fallen asleep during class and didn't know it. I guess I shouldn't question it and just be thankful, huh? The funny thing is that I hadn't bumped into Chris a single time during that day. He apparently skipped out on our gym class and I didn't even run across him in the halls. I wasn't sure that he was going to show up for our little 'date' today. But as soon as that last bell rang and I walked outside, there he was...nervously patting his knees and biting his nails as he sat waiting on the steps for me.
"Hey stranger." I smiled.
Chris looked up at me, almost in surprise, and then smiled back. "God, you look hot today!" He said.
I shook my fist at him playfully, "Knock it off, you."
"Sorry....just a natural reaction..." He said, and then mumbled, "...To someone who's as fucking gorgeous as you are!" But before I could say anything else, he stood up. "So...you ready?"
"You lead the way." I said, and we started walking. He seemd to be good at hiding his nervousness, but I could still tell that this whole 'date' thing meant a lot to him. It showed in his occassional stumble over a word or two, or in the way he would push his hands down into his pockets when he didn't know what else to do with them. I can't help it, Chris was being really 'cute' today. And I never would have guessed that this level of sweetness existed in him until the events of the past week or so. I figured I'd speak, just to help take some of the pressure off of him to be dashing for me. "I didn't see you in any classes or anything today. I thought maybe you had forgotten about me."
"Hehehe, no way. Just had a paper to make up for in English, so I skipped gym to type it out. That's all." He grinned mischeviously in my direction and added, "Why? Did you miss me?"
"Don't flatter yourself. It was just a question." I smirked.
"I'll take that as a 'yes'." He replied. "You know...you wouldn't have to miss me if we were dating."
I gave him a strange look, "Hehehe...it's funny how you just managed to just 'slip' that in there."
"What? I'm just letting you know your options."
"Chris...what am I going to do with you?"
"We can discuss THAT when you say yes to the dating part." And he winked at me.
"STOP that!" I said, but it only made him move closer to put his arm over my shoulders. An arm that I maneuvered to slip away from. He was being especially frisky today, but in a cute and fun kind of way.
"I'll wear you down eventually."
"No you won't."
"We'll just see about that. Just know that I'm itching for the day when I get to say 'I told you so'..." Chris giggled as we reached the corner store. He stepped in front of me and opened the door. Ushering me inside. "...preferably after some dirty sex."
"CHRIS!!!" I said in shock.
"Shhhhh! We're in public." I swear...this boy is more nuts than even I had suspected. He's completely bonkers at best.
We sat in a corner of the shop and had a few of those swirled up fruit smoothie things, and the two of us just talked between brain freezes. For the first time since I had known him...for the first time since that first day when he pushed me aside and called me a 'slug' in front of everybody...we actually had a normal conversation. One that didn't involve curse words and insults. Although he managed to add a flirtatious comment every time he had an open opportunity, and some when he didn't. But he didn't push it too far, and seeing him so sweet on me....it was kinda nice. I feel like I got to know him a lot better than before, and he impressed me. I suppose everybody is a decent person once you get underneath all the bullshit.
He looked up at me while I took a healthy sip of the smoothie, and I caught him staring with a noticeable amount of admiration. "Don't." I said.
"You were about to pay me one of your 'compliments' again." He giggled to himself, a blush appearing in his soft white cheeks.
"Yeah...yeah, I was." Not that my request would stop him anyway. "Geez, am I that bad?"
"Yes!" I told him, but we both smiled at the idea of it.
"You don't...you don't like my compliments?" He said, still smiling, but with a certain despairing tone in his voice. Again, he wanted so bad not to disappoint me in any way.
"It's not that I don't like them, Chris. They're actually pretty sweet..."
"So you DO like them?"
"I...I'm just saying..." I got confused, and hovered somewhere between 'yes' and 'no'. I felt myself blush and giggled to myself. "...Forget it! Just...don't do it, ok?"
"I could say it with a kiss if you'd let me."
"I think you've stolen enough kisses from me." I said.
"Hehehe...not enough for me." He sat there, taking a sip of his smoothie with an infatuated stare. "I'm doing a little bit better these days though, don't you think?"
"Better than jumping me in the backseat of a limo? Yes, I guess there's some improvement there." Chris' blush turned a deep shade of red, and I had to laugh as he bit his bottom lip and directed his eyes down to his feet.
"Oh my God..." He covered his face with both hands and giggled in embarrassment. "Derrick, I am SOOO sorry about that! I really didn't know what I was doing that night. It just sorta...happened."
"So I figured."
"You just....you looked really CUTE that night, and it was raining, and we were alone.....you were being nice to me all of the sudden, and...I snapped. I just...I HAD to kiss you, you know? I felt like I would DIE if I didn't kiss you right then! And you know what? I don't regret it. I hope I didn't freak you out too bad....but I don't regret it."
Sometimes...Chris could really charm you without warning. I did what I could to keep things from getting to heavy emotionally. So I smiled and said, "I think it was a little too much like Jekyll and Hyde for my tastes, but I suppose I should take that as a compliment." I told him. "It was the last thing that I ever expected from you."
It was then that Chris got a bit more serious, and worked up the courage to look me in the eye directly without flinching. "Yeah...look, about....before..." He started. "I know that we weren't necessarily on the 'best of terms' when you first started going to school here...and that's mostly my fault."
"No. Let me say this. Because you deserve it. I owe you this much. For making me feel so...'alive', you know?" Chris pushed his drink aside and continued. "I said and did some really mean things to you before. Things I'm really not proud of. I made that place a living hell for you and it wasn't cool of me at all. I made you feel like shit, and I'm sorry. Ok? I shouldn't have treated you that way, Derrick."
"Thanks." Wow, and the surprises never cease.
"When I saw you for the first time, I thought that maybe I knew you from somewhere, or that I was just constantly looking at you because you reminded me of somebody else. But after a week or so, I couldn't stop staring. And it kept getting worse, and the next thing I knew I was thinking about you all the time. I didn't WANT to, but I HAD to. I wanted to be around you all the time, and that just wasn't like me, you know? I'm usually not this obsessive." Well THAT'S good to know! "I just...I thought that...maybe if I could find you to be someone who wasn't so special, maybe if I could find something to not like about you, or make you not like me...then maybe it would go away and I could go back to being normal again. The problem is...I never found anything to dislike about you. I kept pressing buttons and I kept pushing you and I kept calling you names, and you just kept getting more and more beautiful every day. No matter what I did, you never once lost an ounce of that awesome spirit that makes me so crazy about you. That night at the party...I just lost it. I thought I was going to explode."
I smiled to myself timidly, and he asked me why. "Nothing. I just...never expected you to be this cool. That's all."
"Well for once, I'm glad that I didn't live up to your expectations." He blushed, and then reached forward, almost subliminally, to push my blond bangs out of my eyes. "Why don't you cut these things?" He grinned.
"Quit it. I like my hair the way it is." I smiled, gently pushing his hand away.
"Yeah, well I like your eyes. I love your eyes. And your hair keeps getting in the way. I wanna see 'em...they're beautiful." A look came into Chris' face, a tone crept into his softening voice, and with a slightly uncomfortable fidget...he drew back from me a little bit. He cleared his throat and went back to his smoothie. "Ahem...sorry."
"It's ok. Thank you." What else was I going to say?
Then he snapped back with, "Are you sure you're not even a LITTLE bit interested? I mean, for just an hour or so? We can have some REALLY good sex if you give me an hour!"
"Finish your smoothie, Chris."
"I've sucked on a STRAW before! I'm looking for a new experience here." He giggled.
"Keep dreaming, loverboy."
"That, I will." He said, and we enjoyed the rest of our time together, just hanging out and sharing a laugh or two. Not that Chris didn't take every chance to hit on me or try to persuade me to change my mind...but at least he was sweet about it. It kept me on my toes, that's for sure. It began to rain while we sat there by the window, so I didn't leave right away. But when the pouring water didn't seem to let up, and the sky started getting dark, I figured that I should just brave a trip back home.
"I guess it's just gonna keep on raining, so I'm gonna go."
Chris' face dropped a little. "Do you have to? You can come over for a while, if you want."
I smiled, wondering what kind of traps he had laid out there for me there. "Maybe next time."
"Ok...no biggie." I think he was really sad to see me go. It almost hurt to bring the 'date' to an end. "Hopefully I made a bit of a better impression on you this time around?"
"Yes. Much better."
"But still not enough for any naked tongue dancing, huh?" He had to giggle a bit himself after saying it.
"No, Chris. No naked tongue dancing."
"Ok, but I'm not gonna stop trying. You're too cute to let a little thing like heterosexual tendencies get in the way." He said, and flipped open his cell phone to make a call.
Always the gentleman, Chris got someone to pick us up and drop me off right in front of my house. Even though it was way out of his way. But before letting me out of the car, Chris asked, "Can I kiss you goodbye?"
"C'mon dude, I've gotta go."
"I'm serious." He said with a smile, but he actually WAS serious. "Just a little kiss! What can it hurt?" I just looked at him sideways, and he said, "I was good all afternoon, AND I bought you a smoothie. Don't I get a little reward?"
"I should've known there was a catch!"
"Consider it payment for YOUR half of the check."
"Come on, Derrick...ONE kiss! Just a smooch. How tough can that be?" He asked, looking all boyish and innocent as he possibly could. "Pweeeease?"
"Close your eyes." I sighed.
"Nope. I wanna see you."
"Close them, or it's no deal."
Suddenly, the driver rolled down the window between us. "Is everything alright, Chris?" He said.
"I'm FINE, Frankie! We're just talking." The driver nodded and didn't roll up the window. "Um...some 'PRIVACY' please?" Chris asked, and naturally got his way. Before the window had even rolled all the way back up, Chris was anxiously rocking back and forth in his seat. He took a deep breath, "Ok...go ahead."
"Alright, alright. Geez!" He closed his eyes, his shoulders trembling in anticipation, and I leaned forward slowly, my lips getting closer and closer to his face...putting my hand on the door handle. Then I leaned to the side a little and gave him a quick peck on the cheek!
I burst out of the car door before he could stop me, and said, "Thanks, Chris! Today was awesome!" I couldn't help but laugh at his facial expression.
"I cannot believe you just cheated me like that!"
"You only bought me a smoothie! Next time make it a STEAK, and we'll talk!" I said, and started towards my house to get out of the pouring rain.
"I'm gonna hold you to that!" He said, and shut the door. They drove off as I was walking up onto my front porch. Damn....me and Chris...FRIENDS? How the hell did THAT happen???
"There you are!" Came a voice from a bundle of blankets on the side of my porch. It scared the living shit out of me, and I jumped when I heard it.
"What the...???" I looked closer as the bundle unfolded in front of me. "JOEL??? What the hell are you doing out here in the rain?" I asked.
"Long story. One I'd kinda like to tell you inside...I'm FREEZING out here!" He said. I opened the door and he collected his clothes and blankets up from the porch, carrying them inside in both arms. He was soaking wet, and his teeth were chattering. He must have been out in the rain for hours.
"I'll get you some towels, dude." I said, and came back to help dry him off a bit. "You've gotta get out of these wet clothes, man. You'll catch pneumonia out in weather like this."
"Where the heck were YOU? I thought you got out of school around three o'clock or something? You're not THAT far away." He said, shaking as his body tried to get some of it's natural warmth back.
"I went out with a friend after school. Why?"
"Well you could have told me or something."
"Well why didn't you just go home if you saw that I wasn't here? You could have come back tomorrow, you know?" I said.
"I...I can't." He mumbled under his breath.
Joel stopped me from drying him off to make sure I understood. "I can't go home, Derrick." What was he talking about? What's going on here.
"Dude...you lost me here." I said, confused.
"My mom and I...we had a falling out. A bad one. She uh...she kicked me out of the house." He said sadly.
It finally began to sink in, and I said, "When did THIS happen?"
"About two or three days ago. I got strapped for cash pretty fast, and I didn't know where to go...so..."
"So you came to see me?" I answered. He nodded his head slowly. "Joel...why didn't you tell me?"
"I don't know. I guess to save you the stress of saying no. I didn't mean to invade your home or anything..." He said sadly, ashamed that he would have to ask me for a place to stay. I can't imagine what it would be like to be...'homeless' at my age. He was almost teary eyed, still trembling from the cold of the rain, and I couldn't bear to see him so helpless. Not Joel. Not my friend. I walked over and gave him a tight hug around his neck.
"You're not invading anything, bud. I mean that."
"I...I hate to ask, but...do you mind if I stay another night? JUST until I find another place to crash?"
"Of COURSE you can stay here, Joel! Don't sweat it, k? I'll talk to my mom about it tomorrow. Promise."
"It won't be for long. Just until things calm down. Really, you'll see." Joel said. "Now quit hugging me. You're making me feel all queer over here." He giggled, and I handed him the towel.
"A warm shower is that way..." I said, pointing to the bathroom, "...enjoy."
Joel smiled and slushed his way to warm up. What could have happened between him and his mom, I don't know. But I hope it'll blow over soon. For now, Joel can count on me. Same as always. Friends to the end, right? What could go wrong?