If you are offended by male/male relationships, or male/male sexual relationships, then you shouldn't be here in the first place. If this conduct is illegal in your area, you must EXIT NOW. This story is not to be copied or posted elsewhere without permission from the author. If you are interested in a story about gay teenage males, then please take your time and enjoy. Feedback/comments/suggestions and even complaints are welcome at DomLuka@aol.com
Chapter twelve: What to feel...
A/N: Thank you to Jim the editor for volunteering his time to sort through all of my mistakes to make this chapter more readable (better) it is appreciated.
A warm breeze, a watch-worthy sunset, the sound of potential friends chatting in the distance, and my hand sweating profusely against Aaron Keslin's.
I was having all sorts of issues.
The last time I checked, I hadn't decided what I wanted to do about Aaron. I liked him, sure, but maybe that fact wouldn't have been so difficult to deal with if things weren't so... complicated.
Here he was now, telling me that he didn't want to be my friend, and it wasn't in the schoolyard, we're-not-friends-anymore-so-there! kind of way. I wasn't really sure how to respond to it, so I didn't. I just sat there, holding his hand and getting a little more nervous about it every second.
I didn't know why I was getting so worked up over it. It wasn't like Aaron didn't have a habit of making me nervous. And this time he wasn't even kissing me--or walking around in underwear I could see through. He was just holding my hand, for christsake! And I liked it.
Maybe that was the problem.
It was kind of nice, just sitting with him like that. Peaceful. Relaxing, too, as his thumb began to brush over my fingers. Of course, the lack of tension probably had to do with the fact that we weren't arguing. Actually, it occurred to me that Aaron and I seemed to get along better when neither us us were talking at all. Maybe that wasn't necessarily a good thing.
"What are you doing here?" I finally asked, if anything because the silence was managing to kill me, and becoming more awkward by the second. Aaron's thumb paused briefly over my knuckles, but continued its soft stroking as he replied.
"Seth said he was going to be here, but I haven't seen him; saw you instead."
I didn't like that answer. I didn't like the mention of Seth. I didn't like that Aaron was there to see Seth. I really didn't like that Seth was with Angela, who seemed way too nice to be hanging around someone like him.
"He's here," I responded coldly. "You never said that the girl he was with was Angela."
I sighed, and shook my head. It was probably pointless to bring up Angela. Aaron wouldn't have any idea what I was talking about, and even if I explained it to him, something told me that he wouldn't be very sympathetic towards Dave, anyway.
"He's here with her?" Aaron suddenly asked, and when I looked at him, it was to find that he seemed somewhat surprised by this information.
"Yeah, I saw Angela with Seth a while ago... Why?"
"No reason," Aaron said, shrugging. "He just didn't mention he'd be with her."
"So, he was supposed to meet you here?" I asked curiously; but I think it came out more like an accusation than anything, and because of that, I found Aaron smirking at me.
"Isn't it a little early to be jealous?" he remarked. "You haven't even agreed to go out with me yet."
Feeling annoyed, I instinctively tried to pull my hand away, but this time he held it tighter, refusing to let me.
"I'm not jealous," I mumbled. "I just...I sort of can't stand him."
And that was the truth. Actually, I think it was a little more fair to say that I despised him. First, he warned me off of Aaron and then he took off with Dave's crush. There seemed to be a few contradictions here. I wasn't amused when Aaron simply laughed about it.
"Seth's my friend," he said, shrugging as if that settled it. I guess maybe it did. It wasn't like I could choose Aaron's friends for him, after all. I could always tell him everything that Seth said, but when he suddenly lifted my hand and I watched his mouth brush over my thumb... I wasn't sure that I wanted to. Seth obviously meant something to him, and I didn't want to risk Aaron thinking that I was lying about his friend.
Aaron's teeth suddenly closed around the tip of my thumb, but I think it was the hazy look he was regarding me with from under his lashes that snapped me back to reality, and pulled my hand back to my lap as I faced forward, trying to calm the sudden heat taking over my face. I heard Aaron sigh beside me, but it was far from contented.
"So is this the part where you walk away from me and say you need more time to think?" he asked, sounding irritated.
"No. I just...I don't... I mean..." Oh, for crying out loud, he was sucking on my finger in a public park. I was allowed to be a little unnerved. Seriously, weren't we just fighting this morning? And the day before? And then again before that? I had no idea what to do about this, or the feelings that I was developing for him. And there were feelings. Beyond attraction, there was something else. Maybe it was just curiosity. I wasn't sure. Aaron had a knack for making things feel confusing. Like he did when he suddenly grabbed my hand and stood up.
"Come on," he insisted.
"Come on," he repeated, this time smiling, and giving my hand a tug. "If you're not going to walk away from me then I'm going to count my blessings. Let's go."
"Go where?" I asked cautiously, even as I stood up with him.
"Somewhere a little more... quiet."
"Aaron, I'm here with Luke, and I don't think..." He was making me nervous. I wasn't going to deny that. It was getting dark, and considering I'd gone to the park with Luke I didn't think it would be a very good idea to go off anywhere with Aaron, especially if Luke decided that he wanted to go and came looking for me.
"Well, you're here with me now," he replied. I couldn't help noticing that there was a certain amount of finality in those words. I wasn't sure what to make of that. All I knew, was that I suddenly felt like a little kid who was being bossed around by an older friend. I didn't much care for it, but at the same time, I couldn't bring myself to object because the way Aaron was looking at me almost seemed challenging, like he was daring me to go with him, and as a result, I became quite determined over the next few moments.
"Fine," I said irritably. "But we're not going far."
"Don't worry about it," he replied, obviously satisfied. "I just figured we could go for a little walk. Maybe I can even convince you to go out with me."
I rolled my eyes at his smirk and pulled my hand away from his, but when he started walking, I did follow.
"What exactly do you mean by that?" I found myself asking as he slowed and I stepped into pace beside him.
"Mean by what?"
"Go out with you,"
"Haven't we already been over this?"
"You mean... like a date?"
I didn't know anything about dating. As far as I was aware, dating meant different things to different people, and I was curious to know Aaron's definition of it.
"Yeah, you know, that thing people do when they want to spend some time alone together... getting to know each other." He actually had the nerve to roll his eyes at me as he said this. "I was thinking, like, a movie or something. Or we could go hang out somewhere. It doesn't really matter."
"Aren't we doing that now?" I asked, before I could think better of it, and the look Aaron flashed me put me on edge as I realized exactly what I'd just implied.
This was not a date. It was two people meeting by coincidence, at a park. Sure, he'd held my hand, and we'd been-there-done-that with the whole kissing thing, but this was not a date.
"That's not what I meant," I said to answer the sly smile that was aimed in my direction. "Shit... Aaron, I don't even know what I'm doing with you," I admitted. "I don't even know what you're doing with me. I mean, doesn't it feel like we don't even like each other most of the time?"
This was honesty at its best for me. If we were going to go walking off alone together, then I figured that it was time to address a few things, especially if he was talking about dating. Because honestly, I was reaching the point where I couldn't stand the confusion around him anymore. I wanted clarity. I wanted to know exactly how we felt about each other, and if it wasn't too much trouble, I wanted to know why. Because for all intents and purposes, it seemed to me that Aaron and I shouldn't even be friends half the time.
"I can see why you'd say that," he admitted, looking a little glum about it.
"So what are we doing?" I demanded. "I mean, why are you even here, if..."
"I like you," he said quietly, glancing over at me. "You get on my nerves sometimes..."
"It feels like all the time..."
"But I don't care," he insisted. "You're obnoxious, and..."
"You're obnoxious," I instantly retorted.
"But I think it's kind of cute," he finished. "And you make me laugh. I don't know... the night we met I sort of thought we hit it off, and ever since then... I've just wanted to know more about you? It's not that strange, is it? And you like me."
"You don't know that," I said almost defensively.
"Yes I do," he replied, with a self-satisfied smile attached to his face. "You wouldn't be here right now if you didn't." I frowned at the truth in that, and then watched as he suddenly turned serious. "So, I know this gets old; but, how do you feel? I know you like me, but it's like you don't want to--is it because you know I was with Luke?"
"That does make it a little weird," I admitted.
"Too weird?" he asked, cautiously reaching out and taking my hand. He ended up with the tips of my fingers, and after looking around to see that there was no longer anyone near us, I didn't pull away. "I mean, when you kiss me..."
"When you kiss me," I instantly corrected him.
"I get the feeling you like it; but, if Luke's in your head, then no offense, but I'm really not interested in that. I mean, I understand why it would be weird. You live with him, but it's not like he still has feelings for me, so..."
"I feel guilty," I suddenly blurted. "I mean, at first it was because it was like I was fraternizing with the enemy, but now it's like I'm going behind my friend's back to hang out with his ex-boyfriend. It gets too fucking complicated. I mean... something has to be wrong if I can't even be seen with you, right?"
Aaron frowned at that, and I felt another moment of guilt. Unfortunately, what I was saying was true: I really was ashamed to be seen with him. Especially around the family that I was supposed to be getting to know, and that just made matters worse. Logically, I knew that if I was smart--if Aaron was smart--we would just stay away from each other. I think the fact that he hadn't come to the same conclusion yet played a part in why I wasn't bringing it up. Maybe I didn't want him to come to the same conclusion.
"Hey," he suddenly said, turning to face me. "You know what, maybe that doesn't matter."
How could it not matter? If I was in his position, hearing that I didn't feel comfortable even being seen with him, I'd be walking away right now.
"You said earlier that it had nothing to do with Luke," he pointed out. "So, let's leave Luke out of it. How do you feel about me?"
I wasn't sure how to respond to that. I didn't respond to that. It seemed to me that I still had a lot of thinking to do before I came to any reasonable conclusion about how I felt about Aaron. He, however, didn't seem to think it was as complicated as I did, the way he was suddenly inching forward in a way that caused me to forget how to move my feet. I wanted to move away. Maybe. I definitely wanted to think on things some more. But, when he lifted his hands to my waist, his thumbs brushing against my sides, I found myself nervously staring at his chest as I wondered why I had to freeze up every time he touched me. Maybe it was just because it was new to me. Apart from Aaron, my experience with guys was pretty much non-existent. I was curious, and his persistence made me feel... wanted. That seemed to be a rarity for me these days, and maybe that's why I lifted my head when he dipped his down, making it very simple for him to place his lips neatly over mine.
This kiss seemed so far away from our first one. Perhaps that had something to do with the lack of sloppiness. I wasn't sure. All I knew was that when I felt his tongue pressing against my lips and I, if anything, hesitantly parted them and his tongue slipped in almost aggressively, deeper than I remembered it happening before, it sent a fluttering sensation all the way down my throat to my stomach and I found myself almost comfortably responding to the intrusion. He didn't take it away, either. He didn't pull back as he had the night before, when he announced he was going to the bathroom and left me alone with Seth. Instead, he pressed closer and I felt one of his hands move to my lower back, almost as it were there to prevent me from pulling away, something I decided I had no intention of doing when I felt the fingers of his other hand, lightly moving against my neck in a way that sent a chill through me. It was a pleasant feeling that had me moving even closer to him, his hand becoming firm against my back until our hips seemed locked together and I could actually feel the zipper of his jean shorts against my groin. That contact bought me back to a moment of nervousness, but when he actually managed to deepen the kiss more than it already was, I found myself forgetting all about it, relaxing as my own hands somehow found their way to the sides of his untucked shirt; and I gripped it, as if it would provide some sort of balance for my suddenly weak knees.
When I did pull back it had mostly to do with the necessity for air, but there was a slight sense of panic, too, as I faced Aaron and wondered what the hell I was doing. But, the panic faded a moment later when his mouth was roughly over mine again.
I closed my eyes and suddenly felt like I was falling, like a weight from above was forcing me down. I was on my knees before I realized that his hand was on my shoulder, pushing me down. He was right there with me, though, his knees in the grass and his arm tightly around my waist, holding me to him. But, the sudden change in direction seemed to set off alarms for me and I found myself pulling back again, trying to make out his facial features as it grew even darker.
"Aaron, what are you...."
And he hushed me. I can't believe he hushed me. What was even more surprising, was that I let him get away with it, but that could have had something to do with the way that his mouth suddenly seemed to attach itself to my neck and I found my sensitive skin crushed between his lips, sending another sensation through me, one that I found particularly appealing as my eyes rolled back and I clutched his shoulders, pulling him even closer. I guess I came to the conclusion that it didn't matter what he was doing, especially if I was enjoying it. Certain body parts definitely were, and when his teeth managed to make its way to my ear--my very sensitive ear--it seemed to send a jolt all the way down to my cock, which was steadily rising and I inadvertently pressed my waist forward, discovering that I could feel a warm bulge within his jeans; and the thought of Aaron being excited only added to the fogginess that my brain was currently experiencing.
Arizona was definitely full of surprises. When I got on that airplane, scared out of my mind, I never would have imagined most of the things that had already happened, let alone making out with another guy in a public park, or allowing him to push me down until I was flat on my back--or encouraging it by pulling him down with me.
His mouth was over mine again, but this time it was my tongue moving through his parted lips, seeking out the warm feeling of his, and when I heard a small moan after he managed to lodge a knee between my legs, pressing against my groin, it took me a full minute to realize it came from me as my hands slipped under his shirt to explore a flat stomach, the actions causing him to lean even further into me.
This still wasn't a date. I doubted I'd put out like this on a first date. Unfortunately, I had no idea what it was. All I knew was that I liked feeling like Aaron and I were the only lifeforms currently in existence. I liked his weight against me, and the way his mouth felt over mine. I liked the new feelings currently swarming through my body, and I didn't even mind the way that the grass was making me itchy everywhere that I wasn't covered in clothing. In fact, a mental image of Aaron climbing out of the pool earlier that day made me wonder if we were wearing too much clothing at the moment.
I felt his hand move to my chest and moved one of my own over it, feeling content as he stretched his fingers so they could tangle with mine. Somewhere in the background, I was suddenly aware of an insistent ringing, which I didn't give a damn about until Aaron was suddenly moving off of me, leaving me to sit up in the process in order to keep up with his lips. It was when he placed a hand on my shoulder and I found him staring at my pocket that I realized the ringing was coming from me.
"Oh," I said, feeling somewhat disgruntled as I lifted the newly acquired cell out of my pocket and answered it. I tried not to sound as out of breath as I felt, figuring it was Eddie, testing out our new line of contact that made him feel more comfortable. But, it wasn't Eddie's voice on the other end of the line, it was Luke's.
"Rory? Where are you?"
"How did you get this number?" I asked, feeling perplexed, and he laughed at the tone in my voice.
"Eddie made sure I had it before we left. Good thing, too. We've been looking for you for about twenty minutes... just remembered I had the number. Hey, we're taking off. I've got Dave with me. Can you meet us at the car?"
I looked at Aaron, who suddenly looked a little glum. He probably knew what was being asked on the other end of the line, and suddenly, I felt awkward about leaving now. It wasn't like a whole lot of talking had been done. We certainly hadn't come to any conclusion over where we stood.
"Yeah, give me five minutes," I decided.
"Sure, where are..."
I hung up before Luke could finish his question. No way was I going to explain where I was to him.
"You have to go," Aaron said as he watched me for a moment, backing up, but leaving his hand on my knee as if he wanted the contact to remain.
"Yeah, um... listen..."
"Forget it," he replied, frowning. And then he casually added, "Nice running into you."
I frowned at the cold note in his voice. Granted, I probably wouldn't like it if he ran off on me at a time like this, either.
"Aaron, I have to..."
"I get it," he responded shortly, looking past me, rather than meeting my eyes.
"Maybe we can talk tomorrow," I suggested. "I'm the only one home all day."
His frown seemed to fade at that announcement. I guess he hadn't been expecting an invitation to meet again.
"You want me to come over?" he asked, regarding me curiously.
"I don't know... if you want," I said, shrugging. I certainly wasn't going to beg him. But, I think I felt relieved when he smiled and leaned forward to kiss me again, even if it did nothing to calm the growing erection in my shorts. I kissed him back, too, but that didn't mean that I knew what to think about any of this when I stood up to walk away, although, I did manage to return Aaron's smile when he caught me adjusting myself before I started walking.
"I'll see you later," I heard him call after me, and when I looked back it was to find that he was still sitting in the grass, his back to me. I suddenly felt like I should be saying something more, or doing something more. It wasn't every day I walked away from someone trying to avoid the way my hard-on was pressing out against my boxers. But, I had no idea what to say, or what to do, so I left it with the opening I'd given him to come over tomorrow. There was a certain amount of anticipation in wondering whether or not he would, but either way, the encounter I was walking away from had left me feeling... light. I mean... I think I was still smiling.
But, whatever I was feeling turned to abrupt upset when I looked ahead of me and saw a figure standing there in the darkness, one slowly moving towards me. The baseball hat was almost enough to make me want to scream.
What the fuck was Seth doing there? Seriously? Seeing him there nearly had me panicking, wondering if he'd been watching me and Aaron. Pervert. Creepy pervert. I mean, the fact that he was there just struck me as... creepy. The fact that it looked like he was on his way to see Aaron didn't make me feel any better, and for a moment I thought about turning back right here. What the fuck was he doing there? I don't know if I was feeling more unnerved, or pissed off about this. I think my only consolation was the way that Seth seemed to duck his head when I openly glared at him, stopping in my tracks as he reached me. I think I half expected him to say something to me again. In fact, I hoped that he would. I was feeling a lot less insecure than I'd been the other night at his house, and he didn't own the fucking park, damn it. But, he didn't say anything to me. In fact, he didn't even look at me, although, he didn't alter his course, either, and he came so close that his shoulder actually rubbed against mine. Stupid fuck.
I don't know where this aggression was coming from. I think it was the simple matter of Seth's existence that provoked it, though. There was just something that I didn't like about him, and there was nothing to be confused about on that matter. I did not like him.
I didn't have to worry about my shorts being tented when I reached Luke's jeep. In fact, by then I was completely turned off, wondering about Seth's mysterious appearance. Creepy. Definitely creepy. And wasn't he supposed to be with Angela? Where did she go? And how did he know where to find Aaron? It was obvious that Seth was on his way to talk to Aaron. The only reasonable conclusion I could come to for that question was that Seth had seen us walk off together. That bothered the hell out of me. It also bothered the hell out of me that the two of them were probably together right now, and I had no idea what was going on.
"What happened to you?" Luke asked as I reached the vehicle, where he was standing outside of the passenger door with Dave. It didn't help when Luke reached up and brushed some dry grass from my shoulder.
"Um... just walking around," I replied. I didn't like lying to him. Not even about Aaron. After all, he'd told me that he wanted to stay out of it, and that I could make my own decisions. One would think that meant he'd want me to be honest with him, but with Dave standing right there, I wasn't exactly in the mood to confess.
"Hey Rory..." Dave said. "Um... look, I wanted to say sorry about yesterday. If I said anything to upset you..."
"Forget about it," I insisted. "I just... I'd rather forget about it."
"Okay," he replied. "But um... there's sort of more. When Luke told me you were gay I was sort of a little surprised... I might have mentioned it to a few people."
Dave looked entirely guilty, and my stomach seemed to become unsettled at this news.
"It was just Rick and Brian," Luke chimed in, looking at me nervously. "They really don't care, Rory."
"It's okay," I decided, thinking back to what Aaron had said. Maybe I really was lucky... and, a few people knowing really didn't seem like the end of the world. "I kind of want to forget about that, too."
I got a smile from both of them, and Luke tapped my shoulder as he started walking around the jeep to the driver's side.
"Well," he said, "we're going to meet Brian and Rick, grab something to eat, maybe. You want to come, right?"
"Of course he does," Dave said, grinning at me before I could respond. "I've got a broken heart, need all the moral support I can get."
He made a fake sniffing sound and I couldn't help smiling as I got into the back seat, leaving the front to Dave and his broken heart.
We ended up at the restaurant where Dave worked, with Brian and Rick, along with Brian's girlfriend, Cathy. It turned out that Luke wasn't the only one fond of the waffles and chocolate milk there. There was a full table of those orders. I still wasn't very hungry, but I found myself picking at a plate of food in front of me, anyway. At least the illusion of consuming food allowed me to be as quiet as I wanted, and I was definitely in a quiet mood.
My anger towards Seth was definitely still there, and I'll admit that the idea of Aaron picking up with Seth where he'd left off with me had crossed my mind, and sent all of my mixed feelings into a tailspin. On one hand, it seemed totally possible. I don't think in all the times that I'd seen him, I'd gotten a really good look at Seth, but as much as I hated to admit it, he wasn't unattractive, and considering that in some ways I found Aaron to be so entirely out of my league, I couldn't help thinking about him going for Seth. Besides, they obviously had a history. Good or bad, I wasn't sure, but it was definitely there. On the other hand, I wanted to give Aaron a lot more credit than I was giving him. At least, I wanted to believe that the idea of meeting me tomorrow was fresh enough in his mind to prevent him from doing anything with the psycho stalker boy.
Actually, the idea of meeting Aaron again became my focus, pushing my very present anger towards Seth aside for the time being. Aaron had asked me how I felt about him before he started kissing me. The answer to that question wasn't as clear as I would have liked it to be, but I definitely had a case of the warm fuzzies after our encounter. Maybe some people would call that horny, but to be honest, it felt like something more than that. When we weren't fighting... I liked being with him. So, I guess if I were to take away all of the complications, that would be my answer.
I used my fork to poke at a waffle on my plate, idly wishing that I could just clear the whole table and put my head down for a while--as if resting my eyes would make thinking about Aaron any easier. The conversation seemed far away, but the bits and pieces I picked up told me that Cathy was the center of attention and liked it that way. I guess she really did seem like a nice girl, and I imagined that she was the only one who could make Brian giggle the way that she did. I didn't care for her overly sweet perfume, though, which was making my head hurt. It probably wouldn't have been as noticeable if I hadn't ended up squashed against the wall, with her and Brian trapping me in the booth, Luke, Dave, and Rick sitting opposite to us.
"Cheer up, Dave," I suddenly heard Cathy say. "Angela dates, but I think if she was really serious about anyone she'd tell me about it."
I scowled at the mention of Seth. Not Seth's name, but they were talking about Seth and it was the same thing. I hated him, you know. For good reason, too, I thought.
"I'll kick that guy's ass for you if it'll make it better," Brian remarked. I liked that idea. Probably a little too much.
"Whatever," Dave replied, sounding sullen. "We don't even know who he was. It just sucks, you know? I was this close to talking to her."
"No you weren't," Rick replied, laughing.
"Shut up, I was too," Dave argued.
"It's not like she was with him for very long, anyway," I said bitterly, and then looked up to see all eyes on me when things suddenly got quiet. Oops.
"You saw them?" Dave asked, looking even worse than he had a moment before.
"I saw Seth," I replied, shrugging. Oops again.
"Seth?" Cathy repeated. "I don't think Angela even knows a Seth."
"How do you know a Seth?" Luke asked curiously, looking at me. I really didn't want to answer that question. I didn't have to. "Seth... Seth... Seth..." Luke said, as if trying to remember a face to fit the name. If you asked me, I was hearing the word Seth way too much at this point. But, that was no longer my problem the moment realization hit Luke and his eyes widened on me for a brief moment before his expression looked more disappointed more than anything. "Oh, Seth."
"Who?" Dave demanded, looking exasperated, and Luke shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
"Keslin's ex," Luke explained. "You remember--he was the one always giving Aaron a ride when the idiot would leave his headlights on and run down the battery. Rick had a class with him last year."
Rick looked like he was thinking about it for a minute, but then shrugged, obviously not recalling Seth. Luke was giving me another funny look, and I found myself looking away, hoping that he wouldn't ask me anything else at that table. I'm sure he'd figured out that there was really only one way I'd know Seth.
"Wait," Rick said. "So doesn't that make him gay? See Dave, nothing to worry about."
Dave seemed to like this news after a moment of thinking about it, but it was over soon enough.
"He could be bi or something," Brian pointed out, and Cathy elbowed him when Dave's face fell again.
"Do I even know this guy?" Dave groaned. "I mean, if he was with Keslin, that makes him a prick, right?" I felt myself blushing after that remark, and I noticed Luke flashing Dave a dirty look. "Sorry," Dave mumbled to Luke. "Angela's just a nice girl. I wouldn't want her stuck with some jerk or anything."
"That counts you out," Rick remarked, and I swore Cathy kicked him under the table. I resisted the urge to tell Dave what a jerk the guy she was with was.
"I'm serious," Dave insisted. "I don't remember him." Dave was looking around the table as if he expected someone to get up and point the asshole out to him. But, I was surprised that the looks around the table suggested that no one else really knew who Seth was, either.
"Just relax," Luke insisted. "I'm sure it's nothing, Dave." Luke sounded like he was trying to reassure his friend, but he still seemed thrown off when he looked at me again.
"Forget it," Dave said, shaking his head. "It doesn't even matter. I never stood a chance with her, anyway."
"Now he's making sense," Rick said jokingly, but no one seemed to find it funny but him.
"I'll talk to her, Dave," Cathy insisted. "It's probably nothing serious. Don't worry about it, okay?"
Luke was across the table, still watching me with an unreadable expression as I pretended that I was interested in the conversation, and now I was definitely worried about it.
I didn't have to worry about Luke confronting me on the ride home, or even when we got back to the house. It was only because the still-bummed-out Dave had decided to come over and stay the night, not that I was complaining. It was a confrontation I was willing to put off. In fact, I was hoping that Luke would never bring it up.
When we reached the house Eddie and Jase weren't anywhere visible, so after Luke decided that they'd gone to bed, he and Dave settled down in the basement for the night and I snuck off to my room, hoping that I could stop thinking about Aaron long enough to get some sleep. I was tired enough that it worked, too... at first.
It was after midnight when I left my room again. It was a dry throat that had woke me up. I made sure to be quiet as I moved through the basement living room, where Dave and Luke were passed out in front of the credits to the movie they'd been watching. Unfortunately, the refrigerator down there only had soda in it, which meant that getting a decent drink of water required going upstairs.
I was yawning as I made my way up, my sleepy mind focused only on the drink I needed. Upstairs, as I neared the kitchen, my eyes stung, but I didn't even comprehend the fact that a light was on, until I heard the voices and stopped in my tracks.
"How long are we going to do this?" It was Eddie. Definitely Eddie. He sounded tired.
"We're not doing anything," Jase said as I cautiously moved around the corner and peered into the kitchen. "I'm drinking my coffee. If you want to go to bed, go."
Jase was sitting at the kitchen table with a mug in his hands, his shoulders wrapped in an old bathrobe that looked three times his size. Eddie was behind him, a light hand on Jase's shoulder, looking like he hadn't slept in days.
"Just go, Eddie. You said you were tired of talking about it. Fine. Go to bed."
"I don't want to talk about it anymore because all I'm doing is apologizing to you. How many more times do you need me to say it? I'm sorry."
"Yes, you're sorry," Jase replied with a certain edge in his voice that actually made me flinch, and caused Eddie to remove the hand from his shoulder. "I get it, Eddie. It's just not enough this time."
"Then what do you expect me to do?" Eddie demanded. "I can't make it right if you don't tell me what to do."
"Nothing," Jase responded, sounding eerily calm now. "I don't want you to do anything. Just... give me some space."
"Fine," Eddie replied shortly, and I ducked back around the corner, hoping that I blended into the shadows as he came my way. But, he stopped when Jase called out for him.
"What?" Eddie's voice was controlled, but it sounded harsher than I imagined he meant for it to.
"I just need to be mad at you for a while."
Eddie never saw me when he left the kitchen, and Jase never left it. I, of course, forgot about the drink I needed and returned to the basement, suddenly wide awake and mentally feeling like crap.
I just need to be mad at you for a while? As strange as it seemed, hearing it from Jase, I could understand the concept. I knew what it was like to need to be angry. I needed it after my mom died. I needed it when I found out everyone around me was lying, over and over and over again. And again. I knew anger. Sometimes I felt like, without it, I wouldn't be able to deal with anything.
But, why would Jase need that kind of anger to be reserved for Eddie? This, I couldn't understand. Sure, when it came to Eddie, I was the king of anger, so I was a little put off that I couldn't understand this. They were obviously fighting. About me? That was the conclusion I came to. Eddie had made a mistake. We all knew this, but from what I knew, it didn't seem completely unforgivable. After all, I was doing my best to forgive him. Why not Jase?
I don't know why, or where it came from, but the fact that they were fighting unsettled me. It probably had something to do with the reason why I assumed they were fighting. Me. But, the more I thought about Jase's words, directed at Eddie, the more I realized that I wasn't only unsettled, I was angry, too. There was an odd feeling rising up that felt a little like suspicion, and suspiciously, I felt a little protective, too... towards Eddie, and that was unsettling in itself. Sure, he wasn't really a deadbeat, and he'd apologized for lying to me--he really was trying. But, he was just a man, one who I was supposed to get to know over the summer. There weren't supposed to be any real feelings towards him on my part. I already had one parent, I didn't need another. A friend, maybe? But that didn't mean I was supposed to care about his other relationships, not enough to feel some resentment towards Jase, at least. But, there it was, following me all the way back to my room, placing knots in my stomach as I wondered what the hell what I saw in the kitchen had been about.
I opened my door and flicked on my light, wondering if I'd ever get any sleep now. I highly doubted it, especially since Luke was sitting on my bed in his boxers, looking half awake and glum as hell. I paused for a moment, just staring at him before I released a breath and closed the door before moving to sit next to him. Only, as soon as I was on my bed I found myself leaning back tiredly.
"Did you see Aaron tonight?" he asked me after a few long moments of silence.
"Yeah," I admitted, and there was another long silence before Luke laid back next to me, and just stared at the ceiling. I wasn't sure what I expected from him. He'd been pretty passive lately, when it came to Aaron. In fact, I was under the impression that he really did want to stay out of it. I guess I was kind of hoping he would.
"So that's where you were..."
"Yeah... everyone else seemed kind of busy. I didn't go looking for him or anything, Luke, but..."
"I know," Luke replied, sighing. "I just had to ask...you didn't mention Seth when Angela took off."
"Yeah, well, I don't like Seth," I admitted.
"But... you like Aaron?"
I fell silent, wishing that he'd stop asking that question. I turned my head, and found that those blue eyes were on me, waiting for an answer. I don't think I had to give one to him, though. The way he let out a breath and momentarily looked away suggested that it was right there on my face.
"Do you hate me?" I asked.
"No," he replied, and the fact that he didn't hesitate meant everything to me. "I just hate that you like him."
"Luke, it's not like..."
"It's okay," he cut me off. "I just wanted to know."
I opened my mouth, almost feeling like I should be apologizing to him or something, but before I could he was already standing up and heading for the door.
The next morning was quiet for me. And depressing. It seemed that everyone had already left for work; Dave was gone, and even Chey seemed lethargic to the point that she didn't even follow me outside when I went to check the mail. As for me, I felt depressed.
Aaron had a lot to do with that. Not really Aaron, but the situations surrounding him. Matters hadn't exactly seemed closed between Luke and me the night before, and I was left feeling guilty over feelings that I couldn't help having. I liked Aaron.
Maybe I thought that things would be easier if Luke actually hated me. If he hated me, I think it would have been easier to walk away from Aaron, actually. But, he didn't hate me. He wasn't happy about it, but he didn't hate me. I had no idea how to handle this.
Another thing on my mind was Seth, unfortunately. While I was struggling with how to react to my guilt when it came to Luke, I was also hoping that Aaron would show up. I wanted to talk. Needed to talk about what had happened the night before. I guess, I wanted to know what it all meant, and I was hoping that he would tell me. Unfortunately, Seth's presence there now had me wondering if Aaron was going to show up at all. The fact I was on edge waiting for him had to mean something. But, I really didn't trust Seth, and for all I knew, he could have been there last night to tell Aaron more lies about me. I was furious over even the idea of that.
And then there was Jase and Eddie. The more I thought about it, the worse I felt about them fighting, especially if it was over a stupid picture that I'd left out. Maybe Eddie had told me that it had nothing to do with me, but I couldn't help wondering. Not knowing what the problem between them was, just made it worse as I jumped to conclusion after conclusion, all fault seeming to lie with me.
I think I felt lonely that morning. I'm not sure why. I had enough worries to keep me occupied. But maybe that was the problem. I was starting to feel like I needed to talk, and there was no one to talk to. I read my mom's letter again. I think I was hoping that it would make me feel better. Less alone. After all, that's what it said. You're not alone. Unfortunately, by the time I finished reading it, I still found it to be pure bullshit. It also made me angry with my grandmother again, who I nearly called up the moment the piece of paper was back in its envelope. I wanted to scream at her. I wanted to call her a liar. I wanted to tell her old ass to go to hell. That's exactly why I didn't call her. I'd have to eventually, but for now, I just needed to be angry.
"What are you doing here?"
At around three-thirty, there had been a knock on the front door; I'd answered it to find Aaron standing there, looking way too good, dressed in beige shorts and a too-tight shirt... and this was how I greeted him. Judging from my tone, I was more than a little irritated, and I didn't even stop Chey from barking at him this time.
Maybe I should explain a few things.
When noon came and passed, and there was no sign of Aaron, I'd been disappointed. Disappointed, and depressed. Maybe I'd never given Aaron an exact time to meet me, and maybe he seemed happy when I asked him to come over, but he never technically agreed that he would. But, I think even while thinking about Seth and all of the reasons why he wouldn't come, I'd still expected it. I wanted it. I had waited and wished that he'd just show up and get my mind off of everything else, because good or bad, Aaron always managed to make the perfect distraction.
By two o'clock, I was past being disappointed. I was just plain annoyed. He'd pursued me. Last night, I'd finally let myself relax enough to just be with him, to explore something that was completely new and terrifying to me. As much as I didn't want to admit it, it had felt like the start of something. I wanted to think that Aaron felt the same way, and when he still wasn't there, I was left wondering if I'd done something to make him change his mind.
By three o'clock, I'd been up for about eight hours, sitting around that house: waiting. And I'd finally accepted the fact that he wasn't coming. After all, Luke would probably be home in less than two hours, and the idea of him walking in while Aaron was there didn't exactly paint a pretty picture, so I'd pretty much given up. That's why a half-hour later, when Aaron finally did show up, I was less than thrilled to see him.
The smile that had been present on his face when I opened to door abruptly faded, and he regarded me, seeming confused.
"Was I imagining it when you asked me to come over?"
"No," I replied flatly. "But I sort of thought you'd be here before there were only two hours left before Luke came home."
Aaron just stared at me for what seemed like a full minute, shaking his head.
"Are you kidding me?" he asked incredulously. "Rory, you never told me what time..."
"Well, it doesn't matter now, does it," I responded, and then took it upon myself to close the door on him.
I didn't succeed, though. Aaron's foot got in the way and he suddenly reached out and grabbed my wrist.
"Hey! Hold on a minute!"
Chey started growling the moment he touched me, and it sounded so vicious that this time, I did hush her.
"Just let go of me," I ordered. Aaron did no such thing.
"What the fuck's your problem?" he demanded, looking alarmed. "Why are you doing this?"
I paused. It was a good question, I suppose. Why was I doing this? It wasn't like I hadn't wanted him to come over. It felt like the weight of the last few days was finally crashing down on me, and unfortunately, I was taking my frustration out on him... again. I knew I was doing it, too, which made it even worse, and for a moment I felt like a complete idiot about it. That was embarrassing, which resulted in my next words.
"Can you just go away? Please."
Aaron's eyes momentarily widened, and for a second he looked at me like my head was literally on backwards.
"No," he finally said, matter-of-factly, and then seemed to ignore the fact that I was making him crazy and turned serious. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing... I'm having a bad day, okay? It's not you... but you have to go."
"Because if you stick around I'm going to take it out on you," I informed him. At least I was being honest. I really wished that I knew where all of this frustration was coming from. Aaron was still looking at me like I'd lost my mind. I guess I couldn't really blame him at this point.
"Okay," he finally said. But, he didn't move, or let go of me.
"Okay?" I repeated, looking at him expectantly. He was supposed to be leaving now, so I could get on with feeling like an idiot and wonder if he was ever going to speak to me again.
"You're acting really weird," Aaron decided, and I resented his smile.
"I've been waiting for you to show up," I informed him.
"Rory, you never said..."
"And Luke knows I saw you last night," I cut him off. "He's not picking a fight about it, but I still feel guilty. And I still waited for you because last night, I thought..."
I don't know where I was going with this.
"Last night was fun," he replied, his smile becoming more relaxed.
Fun? Okay. I could live with that.
"Are you going to come in?" I asked, and Aaron blinked, as if the invitation had come out of nowhere. Maybe it had, at least from his perspective. After all, I'd nearly slammed a door in his face a few seconds ago.
"No," he said after a few moments, and I found my eyes narrowing on him in a way I couldn't help. He laughed at this. "You really are acting weird," he informed me. "But, I was going to ask if you wanted to come out?"
Aaron let go of my wrist then and I watched as he slipped his hands into his pockets, suddenly looking a little nervous.
"Don't take this the wrong way, okay?"
"What?" I asked suspiciously.
"I don't really feel comfortable... in this house," he admitted. "Look, I know it's stupid, but after all that talk about Luke..."
"Oh..." I guess I could understand that, and as if I hadn't been insane at all a few moments ago, I found myself sympathizing with him, as if he'd shown up to see me and I'd greeted him like a completely normal person.
"So can you come out?" Aaron asked, and after a moment of studying him I found myself nodding.
"Just give me second, okay?"
He didn't get to finish what he was saying. This time, I did close the door on him and found myself leaning heavily against it, staring at Chey.
Seriously, what was wrong with me? I couldn't figure out what I was doing. Or feeling. I think I wanted to go with him, just like I'd wanted him to come over. But, for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what the reaction I'd had to him showing up was all about. I felt so frustrated, but not with Aaron. It was with everything. Now, he didn't feel comfortable being in that house and to be honest, I felt the same way about him being in it. Something about that seemed very, very wrong. But what? It wasn't like I considered the place home, anyway. And it sounded like a good idea, to go on a drive with him or something. It would give us time to talk. Maybe we could decide what we were doing, or what kind of relationship we had... or anything.
I took a deep breath, and opened the door again. Aaron was waiting in the car already, watching me almost cautiously as I walked around it and got in the passenger side. I sat down and buckled up calmly, ignoring the way that he was staring at me before he started to drive.
"I'm sorry," I said, after what seemed like several minutes. From the look on his face, Aaron seemed to know exactly what I was talking about, and he flashed me a small smile that I wanted to consider reassuring. "I really am having a bad day. I don't know why..."
"Hey, it's okay," he insisted. "I mean, you're still dealing with a lot, right?"
"Yeah," I replied sighing, and after another few minutes passed, I suddenly found myself babbling on like an idiot. "I mean, it's not like things are even really that bad. After the whole gay thing got out I figured things would be hell, but Luke's still talking to me... and maybe Eddie isn't so bad. Some shit is going on with him and Jase, and it's bothering me, but it's not my problem, you know? And I was going to call my grandma, but... what the fuck?"
No. Seriously. What the fuck were we doing parked outside of Seth Fisher's house?
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