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 Twenty-three: Seeking Company
A/N Thanks to Jim for editing!
Eddie's office was downtown, right across from the courthouse. The small firm he worked for was on the fourth floor, while the rest of the building consisted of two competing real-estate agencies and a gym, which he happened to be a member of.
Working for Eddie was definitely not the most thrilling experience of my life. The temp he'd hired was a seventy-year-old woman with a hearing problem, and she kept falling asleep at the front desk; but I guess it didn't matter, since I'd picked up how the phone system worked faster than she had, anyway. I did find the paper shredder my first day there, though. That kept me entertained for a whole ten minutes before I accidentally shredded something that Eddie needed and he told me I couldn't play with it anymore. He wouldn't even let me listen in to his end of the phone calls that sounded like they might be a little bit interesting. All I was allowed to do was answer phones. I was so bored that I asked Eddie to give me something to do that would at least keep me busy. He ended up handing me the windex and a roll of paper towels. That kept me busy, but only because when I was done with his office, he told me I could take care of the rest of the floor, too. The next day, I borrowed a few of Jase's books to take along with me.
I don't think it was the best idea for Eddie to take me to work with him, and not just because I didn't like it. It was also because in his office I think I annoyed him. He was a different person there. Direct. Decisive. Way too serious. Every time he met with someone his smile seemed fake to me, but maybe that's because I'd seen Eddie's real smile. I didn't really care for Office Eddie all that much.
But just because I didn't take to going to work with Eddie, didn't mean that I considered the experience a complete waste of time. The next two days gave me time to cool down about Aaron. I didn't know if he'd tried to call. Luke had blocked his number from the phone. But, I didn't see him, and I think that was for the best. And Eddie seemed to like me going to work with him, even if we could both agree that it wasn't the perfect job for me. On Monday and Tuesday he took long lunches. On Monday we ate across the street with Tom Conner, who couldn't stop talking about how much his wife liked the patio; and afterwards, Eddie and I went to see a movie. On Tuesday, we did lunch, and then ice cream, and right when I thought we were headed back to the office, Eddie said that he wanted to do some shopping. I was pretty sure that he was taking these long breaks to convince me that I wasn't being punished, but when I brought it up to him, telling him that he didn't have to, his response to me was that it wasn't about trying to prove anything. He just wanted to spend time with me.
On Wednesday, I woke up at nine in the morning, and panicked. I was under the impression that I was supposed to wake up at six in the morning and go to work with Eddie, at least for the rest of the week. Upon further investigation, I discovered that Eddie had already left to work. Luke and Jase were gone, too, so I couldn't even ask why he hadn't woken me up.
I was surprised by how disappointed I was by this. I mean, I hated being cooped up in that office, but when Eddie wasn't working, I really had been having fun. It was a good distraction from everything else. I was worried that my performance in his office had been so poor that he didn't want me there anymore, and this bothered me.
I made my way to the kitchen and looked on the refrigerator door, feeling pleased to find that Eddie's office number was still there. I called it, talked the temp through how to transfer me, and then dialed it again when she accidentally hung up. On my third attempt, she'd at least had the sense to tell Eddie that I was trying to get through and he answered the phone himself.
"You didn't wake me up," I accused, and then hoped that I wasn't incorrect. It was completely possible that Eddie had tried to wake me up and found the task impossible. I'd been up late the night before swimming and watching movies with Luke.
"I know," Eddie replied, sounding mildly amused. "I thought you might want a break. Besides, I'll be in court for most of the day and you'd be bored out of your mind."
"I'll probably be home a few hours before dinner. Do you want to give driving a try again?"
"Yeah, sure," I replied, still feeling a little disappointed. Keeping busy had become a great strategy to keep my mind off other aggravating things. I'd planned on being busy again today, but now that my schedule had been pretty much cleared, I had no idea what to do with myself.
"I should be home by four, but I'll call you if it's going to be any later, alright? I've got to get going, Rory."
"Okay, bye." I hung up the phone and looked over at Chey. She was scratching at the door. Obviously, she wasn't the only one who wasn't a fan of staying inside all day. Which is exactly what I figured I'd end up doing.
I let Chey out and headed downstairs to get dressed, not sure why I was bothering. I was probably going to end up lying on the sofa all day. But, my mood did improve when I discovered that the bruise on my face was practically gone. There was still a place next to my eye that was a little red, but it wasn't noticeable. And even better, the hickey had almost completely faded. Over the last few days, I'd taken to telling myself that it was my last reminder of Aaron, and when it was gone, he would be, too. I'm sure things weren't really as simple as I tried to make them out to be, but either way, I wanted that hickey gone.
By the time I was at the back door letting Chey back inside, I'd decided that I wasn't going to just sit around all day doing nothing. I had all day before Eddie would be home and I had any plans. And it wasn't like I wasn't allowed to leave the house. I had no idea where I planned to go, but I figured that as long as I had that cell phone there was no way I could run into trouble, at least where Eddie was concerned.
I decided to borrow the bike again, and this time, I let Chey come with me. I stayed off the road, navigating my way through brush and more than a few cactuses, Chey circling me as I went, exploring the land surrounding the house, and then beyond it as I followed the road towards Seth Fisher's house.
Yes, I was deliberately going in the direction of Seth's house. I wasn't sure what I planned to do when I got there. There was a good chance that I'd just look at it before I turned around and headed back home. But, I'd been thinking about Seth. Oddly enough, I'd been thinking about Seth more than Aaron. But, that could have been because every time Aaron crept into my mind, I'd end up with knots in my stomach, so I avoided it every time I could. But Seth--I'd managed to spend hours with him on Sunday without going completely crazy. While I hated that he wouldn't give me all the information that I wanted regarding Aaron, like I'd told Luke, Seth wasn't that bad. At least, this new side of him wasn't so bad. This nice side of him. He was being nice to me. That whole thing really threw me for a loop. It made me suspicious, but it also got me thinking. I wondered if Seth had always been nice, and I just hadn't noticed before. Maybe his previous attitude had been to match the one I had towards him. And, I did have an attitude towards him. I could admit it. But in my defense, he'd given me enough reason to hate his guts when I first met him. Maybe it had all been a misunderstanding, or maybe Seth was playing me for a fool. Logic told me to stay away from the situation entirely. Curiosity had me riding into his driveway and leaving the bike next to the blue truck parked there.
The German shepherds in the backyard started barking, probably because Chey was with me, so I grabbed her collar as I headed for the door, not wanting her to go wandering off while I was distracted. But, before I even reached the door with Chey, it opened and Seth stepped out, wearing the hat he'd purchased when I was with him on Sunday, and looking twice when he saw me there.
"Hey," he said, taking a cautious step in my direction. "What are you doing here?"
"I don't know," I answered honestly.
"Oh..." Seth replied, obviously accepting my response, even as he looked past me in a suspicious manner that suggested that he wasn't sure if I was alone. "So, you didn't stop by to egg my house or write something dirty on the driveway with shaving cream, right?"
I considered the question.
"No," I decided.
"Okay. So, do you wanna put your dog in the backyard and come in?"
I looked down at Chey, hesitated for a moment, and then shrugged.
"Okay, but I'm not, like, interrupting anything, am I?" I really wasn't in the mood to help out with anymore of Seth's family projects. At least not at the moment.
"Just me and the pool boy," Seth responded as he headed towards the gate. He stopped when he realized that I wasn't with him, and looked back to see something resembling shock and perhaps curiosity on my face. He laughed. "You've been in my backyard. We don't even have a pool, and the only boy around here who would be forced to clean it if we did, is me."
"Right," I replied, shaking my head as I pulled Chey forward and let her slip through the gate with Seth's dogs when he opened it.
"I didn't know if you'd come back," Seth said honestly as I followed him into the house.
"Neither did I."
"And you don't know why you're here?"
"Fair enough. So did you get in trouble the other day for forgetting your phone?"
"Not really," I replied. Maybe Eddie had gotten kinda mad at me, but I really didn't feel like I'd been in too much trouble. Plus, Eddie's insistence that I go to work with him had been a good thing. Things felt like they were calming down after Aaron. I needed that. I needed to not think about him. And oddly enough, I think that's part of why I'd ended up with Seth. If Seth had made anything clear, it was that he didn't want to talk about Aaron. A few days ago that had annoyed me. Now, it suited me just fine.
"That's good; want something to drink?"
"No thanks," I replied. "Um... I probably won't be here long."
"Oh, okay. So, you wanna go upstairs? I was just hanging out and waiting for Angela to call, anyway."
"Were you planning on leaving?" I asked, wondering why he hadn't said something when I'd asked if I was interrupting anything.
"When she calls," Seth replied, shrugging as he led the way upstairs. "I have to go to work later, too, but not until four thirty. She could call anytime between then and now."
We reached Seth's room, and a quick look around told me that there was no way of telling exactly what he'd been doing before I got there. He had a pile of laundry on his bed, half of which was folded; there was an opened book on the sofa and a race car video game on his television; a new photo album was on the floor, next to a pile of photographs ready to be placed inside of it; and the stereo was blaring. His room wasn't trashed by any means, but it wasn't as organized as it had been the last few times I was there.
Seth took a seat on the sofa, pushing the book aside as he lifted a remote control and changed the television screen to cable, flipping through the muted channels.
"Why do you act like you're going out with her if she's not your girlfriend?" I asked.
"What are you talking about?"
"Angela," I replied. "You act like she's your girlfriend."
"Well, she's not."
"Yeah, I know; but, why do you act like it? I mean, you guys hang all over each other, she holds your hand...and, you're sitting around here waiting for her to call," I pointed out, and I thought I made good points. "Plus, you let everyone think you were going out."
"Seth looked in my direction, smiling slightly, as if he were amused by my observations.
"It's not like that," he insisted. "I just don't like it when people talk about me and not to me. It's like, if anyone wanted to know what was going on with me and Angela, they could have asked--we're just friends. I mean, she's comfortable, you know? Like, I can be close to her without having to be close to her. I don't know, it's been like that ever since we met. My mom keeps saying that it's too bad Angela isn't a guy because we'd be perfect together," he added, rolling his eyes.
It took me a moment to realize what he was telling me, but once it sank in, I found myself abruptly sitting up straighter in my seat.
"Your parents know you're gay?" I asked, the announcement surprising me.
"And they're okay with it?"
Seth looked thoughtful for a moment, and then shrugged.
"Sometimes I think my dad doesn't really understand it. Like, after I told them, he did a lot of research and stuff, but he still thinks it might go away when I get older. But it's not like he's not supportive. I mean, I don't think it bothers him that much. I bet you're lucky, though. What's it like to have a dad who completely understands you?"
I immediately rolled my eyes.
"I wouldn't know. I met Eddie last month and until recently, it's been one lie after another. There hasn't been a whole lot of time for understanding."
"Right; but I mean, come on, didn't you think it was just as little bit great when you found out he was gay, too?"
Great? I bit my lip to keep from laughing at Seth's choice of words. Great? At the time, no.
"Not really," I replied. "I was kind of pissed about being lied to." Seth rolled his eyes, but instead of feeling the need to tell him to fuck off, I suddenly found it very important to defend myself instead. "It wasn't just about that lie," I continued, and Seth leaned back on the sofa, obviously willing to listen. "There was more to it; I mean, maybe I was a little relieved, when I found out. But it was still just another lie. And, I mean, a lie. It's not like it was another omission. He did things to hide it from me..."
I thought that was reason enough to not think it was great, but when Seth continued to look at me, as if he expected me to say something more, I started to feel a little awkward, and kept talking like I couldn't control it.
"Okay, when I met Eddie, I thought he was just some asshole who ditched me and my mom. And, he let me think it, when really, he never even knew I existed. When we met, it started out with a lie, and then everyone... they kept lying, and right when I thought the lies stopped... well, it was stupid to think they stopped. Everyone lied. So no, it wasn't really great when I found out Eddie lied to me again."
As I fell silent, Seth studied me for a long moment before shaking his head.
"Whoa. It sucks to be you, huh?"
I'm not sure what I found so funny about that, but the next thing I knew, I was laughing until Seth joined me before I abruptly stopped and looked at him.
"Hey, where's your family today?"
"Well, my mom's working, and my sister's at day camp, and my dad's spending the day with my uncle."
"Does your dad work?" I asked curiously, wondering what a guy like Mars Fisher did for a living.
"Yeah, he owns the place where I work. Three others just like it, too, actually."
"Oh...so, if your dad owns it, shouldn't you just be able to call in sick or something if you don't feel like working?"
"It doesn't really work that way," Seth responded, cracking a smile.
"It's not like it sucks working there, though," he insisted. "I just don't feel like doing it tonight. I've worked doubles for the last two days in a row because someone else had to quit, and starting tonight I'm on the schedule for the next eight days straight--that's what I get for being the boss's kid. But, hopefully my dad will hire someone else and I'll get a day off before next year. You don't want a job, do you? I can't get Angela to come work with me."
"I already work with Eddie," I replied, shrugging. "But, I don't think I'm really that good at it. I think he just wants me there because he thinks it's the only way we'll ever spend time together; and maybe he's trying to keep an eye on me, I don't really know."
"Well, if your dad fires you, let me know. I know where there's a job."
I shrugged, and then gave Seth a measuring look.
"Hey, can you... just call him Eddie, okay? The dad thing always sounds kinda weird."
"Yeah, sure...no problem."
"Thanks," I replied, nodding as I redirected my attention towards the television for a few moments as he continued to flip through channels.
"Do you wanna come over?" I abruptly asked, trying to ignore the way that those words sounded completely out of place coming out of my mouth when they were directed at Seth. His eyes practically snapped to mine.
"Seriously?" he asked, as if I'd just sworn that there was a two-headed elephant in the backyard. I guess I couldn't blame him. He probably thought the invitation was a strange as I did.
"Yeah. I mean, you don't have a pool and we do, so maybe we could... go in it. You said you didn't have to wait for Angela to call here, so..."
"Oh. Um, yeah. Okay. But, what about your...I mean, Eddie? What about Eddie? I know my parents liked him, but I don't know how he feels about..."
"I don't think he has a problem with you," I said honestly. "He's not there, anyway. No one is."
"Okay, when do you wanna go?"
I studied Seth for a moment. Maybe he was agreeing to come over, but there was something in his tone that got my attention. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that he was nervous. There was something mildly amusing about that.
"Alright," he said, almost determinedly as he suddenly stood up. "Just, give me a second to get ready. It's okay if we drive over there, right? If Angela calls..."
I wasn't really surprised when a phone started ringing right when he started to say that. It sounded like a cell phone, only it was coming from downstairs, and Seth looked at me apologetically before he rushed to go get it. I shrugged, stood up, and took the stairs a lot slower than he had. By the time I reached Seth, he was on the phone, telling Angela that he was on his way to meet her.
I headed to the front door where I waited for Seth to hang up before I left. When he did, he walked towards me looking a little uncomfortable.
"Hey..." he started.
"Um, I'm just gonna grab Chey and go," I cut him off.
"Do you want to come with me?" Seth asked. "I mean, I promised Angela I'd meet her, but she'll probably just wanna go hang out somewhere. I could get both of you back home before I have to go to work; or, if you need to leave earlier, I can do that, too."
"That's okay, maybe I'll see you later. There's probably stuff I need to do, anyway"
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, I'm gonna go," I decided; and, I think I was disappointed about that.
As I headed home, I realized that I was a little disappointed. And, in all honesty, a little annoyed with Angela. That last thing was completely unjustified, I know, but the prospect of hanging out with Seth hadn't been a bad one. It would have given me something to do with my time. I was disappointed that it wasn't happening now, and as I thought about it, the reason why I suddenly found myself seeking out Seth Fisher began to make a little more sense.
He lived close, for one thing. My transportation was pretty much limited, so that made showing up at Seth's convenient. Add to that, I was utterly desperate for some type of companionship, and it explained a lot. It was something that I'd figured out over the last few days while working with Eddie. Maybe I didn't particularly care for the office, but at least I wasn't all by myself at the house, waiting for someone to show up. And in Aaron's case, wondering if he was going to show up most of the time. With Luke, and Eddie and Jase always gone, it was often difficult not to come down with a case of cabin fever, and more than anything, I'd discovered that I really didn't like being alone as much as I thought I did.
And now, as I headed back towards the house on a borrowed bike, I was alone, except for Chey, who was staying closer than normal as she moved along next to me. But I decided not to feel too put out by having to go home alone. After all, my reasoning for feeling disappointed was that Seth wasn't coming back with me. Seth. It wasn't really like we were friends--not that we were exactly enemies at this point, either. Either way, I told myself that it was nothing to get upset over. It wasn't like we'd had plans or anything. Plans with Seth. That was laughable. Kinda. I guess it was just as funny as the idea of spending a day with Seth, playing stupid games, helping him and his dad with a project, or going ice skating--and I'd already done all that.
As Chey and I got closer to the house, I decided that I might as well go swimming, anyway. Doing laps wouldn't hurt, and it might even cure some of my restlessness. But, as I saw a familiar brown car coming towards Chey and me, I decided swimming laps might even be better for getting out some built-up aggression, if the encounter I was about to have with Aaron Keslin didn't do the trick.
And there would be an encounter. As I stopped, and glared at the car, hoping that it would pass us, it pulled over, further up the road. He wasn't even going to give me a chance to simply pass him, or pretend that he wasn't there. He was waiting, making his point by getting out of the car to sit on the hood, watching me as I forced myself to keep riding towards him. I told myself that it was because Chey had already taken off to go bark at him, and it wouldn't be a good thing if she bit him. Wouldn't want her to get rabies.
I looked straight ahead, not at Aaron, or how good he looked. I hated that he always looked good. Currently, I wished that he was wearing a shirt, and I wished that he wasn't looking at me with one of those little, teasing smiles that had always made me blush before. He had no right to look at me like that. He had no right to look at me at all.
As I reached his car, I immediately started to ride around it, deciding the best thing to do would be to ignore him.
"Chey," I called, hoping that she'd just stop barking at Aaron and follow me. She didn't. I had to stop riding, and that was my first mistake. "Chey, come on!"
I let out a breath. He wasn't supposed to talk to me. He wasn't supposed to be ignoring Chey, either, as he walked around the car. At least she followed him and I was able to grab her collar.
"Chey, let's go," I insisted, tugging on her collar. At least she stopped barking. But, it wasn't the easiest task in the world, attempting to stay on the bike and pull her along.
"I've been trying to call you," Aaron said, as he started to walk next to me. It was easy for him to keep up. I was practically crawling along as I held Chey, who was trying to get at Aaron again, growling when the collar wasn't choking her.
"I wouldn't know," I retorted. And I would have preferred to keep it that way. I made another effort of getting Chey to move along, but when Aaron suddenly touched my arm I let go of her all together, shook him off, and glared.
"You can't just ignore me."
"Don't fucking touch me," I warned. "What are you even doing here? Just leave me alone."
"Not until you talk to me, Rory. Look, I know you're mad..."
"Mad?" I demanded, meeting his eyes furiously. "Are you fucking kidding me? After what you did? And then, you just show up and pick a fight with Luke, and you think I'm just fucking mad? Do me a favor, asshole. Fuck off. Chey!"
When I started riding again, this time the dog followed me. Both of them.
"Rory, Luke's the one who started it with me," Aaron argued. "And, it's not like I knew what was going on when I went over there. I just wanted to talk to you!"
"So you didn't see the cars parked fucking everywhere?" I demanded. "You're so full of fucking shit, Aaron. Just stay away from me."
I started to pedal harder wanting to get away from him, but came to an abrupt halt when he jumped directly in front of the bike and grabbed the handlebars, glaring at me.
"Why is it so hard to believe that I just wanted to talk to you?" Aaron demanded. "You hung up on me! Do you have any idea what it took for me to just show up there? All I wanted was a chance to... explain. I just wanted to talk to you." He let out a breath, and there was a troubled frown in his brow as his eyes held mine, obviously pleading. In response, I sat back on the bike seat, crossed my arms defensively, and raised an eyebrow.
"Explain?" I repeated. "Okay, you can explain. Why don't you start by telling me why you ever asked me out in the first place if the only reason you were doing it was to make Seth jealous? Or, why don't you explain why you told me you dumped him when he was the one who broke up with you; or tell me what you said to him about me when you were bragging about how fucking easy I was! Go ahead, fucking explain that, Aaron."
"Don't tell me you believe anything Seth had to say," Aaron immediately retorted. "Rory, you were right about him in the first place when..."
"No, I wasn't," I cut him off. "And yeah, I do believe him. So what? If I'm wrong, I'm still done with you. That makes me pretty well off, either way. Get out of my way."
"Rory!" Aaron actually sounded shocked. Believingly shocked. There was something satisfying about that. But, at the same time, there was also something about that that pissed me off.
"You don't even like me, Aaron!" I snapped. "Now just stop!"
I pushed past him, bike and all, and didn't even stop when I ran over his foot and he winced. I also didn't bother to look back, not even to make sure that Chey was there, so I guess I was relieved when she ran ahead of me once we reached the house. I was also relieved that Aaron had made no further effort to follow me, and even more so, that Luke's jeep was parked out front.
I left the bike in the garage and went through the kitchen. Luke was probably just home for lunch, and I was eager to rant about my most recent encounter with Aaron before he had to go back to work. I started to call his name as soon as I got to the kitchen, but stopped abruptly when I realized that he wasn't alone, and not dressed for work. This time it was Rick with him. Luke smiled when he saw me, and then knelt down to pet Chey.
"Hey," he said. "Where've you been?"
My immediate instinct was to tell him about Aaron, but to be honest, I didn't feel much like ranting with Rick standing there. Things probably would have been different if it had been Dave. It was true that Rick had probably figured things out for himself at his birthday party, but I wasn't quite ready to openly talk about things in front of him.
"Seth's," I replied, shrugging, and Luke's brow shot up as Rick flashed me a strange look.
"Again?" Luke responded, smirking. But, he didn't say anything more about it. "Well, we were stopping by to see if you wanted to come with us."
"Where? Aren't you supposed to be working or something?"
"I only worked a half-day," Luke explained. "We're going over to Brian's. Wanna come with?"
"Yeah," I said immediately. The choice wasn't that hard to make. With Aaron in the area, I just wanted to get the hell out of there. But, then I remembered Eddie. "Wait; when are you coming back? I told Eddie I'd be here around four--we were gonna go do something."
"No problem," Luke insisted. "Just call him. He can pick you up at Brian's after work. It's on the way." I smiled. Luke was already fishing his cell phone out of his pocket.
I called Eddie and left him a message, explaining that I was with Luke, and asking him to call me. Now, I just hoped that he'd get it. Meanwhile, as we drove over to Brian's, I kept looking at Luke, wanting to tell him about seeing Aaron. It wasn't advice I was looking for, it was just the need to talk about it. I was pissed, and just seeing Aaron had spiraled me back into a pattern of thinking about him. I didn't want to think about him. At least Rick proved to be a decent distraction. He was completely shameless. He was hitting on basically every female we drove by, huffing on the window and either writing out or drawing vulgar figures; he yelled nice ass twice, nice tits once, and mooned an elderly woman. I was beginning to realize that I didn't really care for Rick very much. But obviously there was something that Luke liked about him, because he kept laughing.
When we reached Brian's house, we found that his parents weren't home and he was with Cathy and Meg, and three other girls who I'm sure I'd seen around plenty of times, but I didn't exactly know their names. Rick immediately demanded to know how Brian always got the girls. Cathy, in return, smacked Rick and informed him that Brian only had one girl. Rick was apologizing as Brian led us all down a short hall and into a wide living room. I was following Luke, noticing the way that his ass looked particularly good in the jeans he was wearing today, and not paying much attention to anything else, which would explain why I carelessly ran into a body smaller than mine and reached out to catch it.
"Sorry," I said quickly, and then stopped and stared, feeling completely surprised when I realized that I was face to face with Angela Conner. "Hey..."
"Hi, Rory," she said, smiling, and as I released her she turned and tapped Luke on the shoulder to say hello before I had a chance to ask her why she wasn't with Seth. For a moment I actually found myself brooding, wondering if he'd made up meeting Angela just to blow me off. The idea was irritating, mostly because it sounded like something that I would do to him. But, a moment later when Seth Fisher rounded the corner and looked bored out of his mind as we came face to face, the thought disappeared entirely.
Seth looked as surprised to see me as I was to see him, and as everyone moved into the living room, I found myself just standing there with him, seemingly unable to speak. This was unexpected. I was surprised again when he suddenly smiled, like he was happy to see me. He'd obviously recovered first.
"What are you doing here?" he asked.
"Avoiding Aaron. Why are you here?" It seemed like a reasonable question. It wasn't like Seth gave off any impression that he liked any of these people other than Angela. But Angela, was exactly who he pointed to, as if it explained everything. I guess it did. He was there because she was, plain and simple.
"Avoiding Aaron?" he asked quietly.
"I ran into him after I left your place," I explained, suddenly feeling very relieved to have someone to tell this to. "Told him to fuck off." Yup, just saying that made me feel better. Seth, however, looked concerned.
"Did he say what he was doing over there?"
"I didn't really ask," I replied, finding it a strange question. Seth didn't ask anything more about it, though.
"So are you staying here for a while?" he asked.
"Probably. I'm here with Luke."
The moment I answered the question, Angela was pushing herself between us and looking at Seth.
"Still ready to go?" she asked him, and to my surprise, Seth looked awkwardly towards me for a moment, almost as if he was trying to figure out if I wanted him to go. In all honesty--I didn't. But, I tried to look indifferent.
"Actually," he finally said. "I can stay a little longer."
"I thought they wanted you to go to work earlier," Angela replied, looking confused.
"I got out of it," Seth replied. "I've still gotta go in later, though."
"Oh, good," she said smiling. "So do you mind if we stick around here for a little while?"
"It's fine with me," Seth replied, glancing at me again as Angela grabbed his hand and led him into the living room. I looked after them curiously, understanding perfectly, and at the same time, not at all. Obviously, Seth had lied about having to go to work early so he wouldn't have to stick around. It also seemed obvious that my sudden appearance had changed his mind about that. The only thing I hadn't figured out, was why.
I moved into the living room, pausing momentarily when I caught Luke's eyes. He was regarding me curiously. Obviously, he'd seen my encounter with Seth. I found myself wondering what he thought about that. I glanced to the other side of the room, where Angela had brought Seth to talk to Meg and the other two girls I didn't know, one of whom, Rick was hitting on. Seth glanced over his shoulder and flashed me a small smile. I went to sit with Luke, where he'd started talking to Brian and Cathy. But, as soon as I sat down, his attention turned towards me.
"You saw Aaron, huh?"
I guess he'd heard Seth and me, too.
I noticed two things over the next hour and a half as everyone just hung out in Brian's living room. The first, was that Seth was beginning to look less bored than he had when I first arrived. And, everyone seemed to be warming to him. I wondered if Luke and his friends were still people he was uncomfortable around. If they were, you couldn't tell, because he was talking to Luke as easily as he had at Angela's house. Only this time, I was part of it. It seemed that Luke was right. Seth kinda was shy--in a way. He was quiet, and tended to stay out of conversations unless he was included in them; and when Luke included him, Seth would join right in. Only, he'd start out answering one of Luke's questions, or sharing his opinion about something Luke said, but he'd end up with his attention directed towards me, and often times I found that we were having our own little conversations while everyone else was chatting around us. I guess it made sense for that to happen, though; Seth and I were both still new to this group. To be honest, apart from Luke being there, I discovered that I was actually more comfortable conversing with Seth than I was anyone else there. But, that could have been because of the second thing I'd noticed.
At Rick's party, I'd successfully been outed. I'd figured that people would sort of figure things out. I'd just been hoping that they'd ignore it. It was Brian who came out of nowhere, asking me how long I'd liked guys. I nearly choked on my own tongue, unsure of how to respond. It wasn't that I was afraid of these particular people knowing about me. It was more like, I wasn't used to finding myself in situations like this, and when attention was drawn to my sexuality, I found myself uncomfortable. Luke rescued me from the question, though. He made a joke out of it, insisting that I'd been into guys ever since I'd met Brian. Luke swore it was love at first sight. Brian didn't see the humor here, but everyone else did, and it really did put me at ease. Later, it was Cathy who very bluntly told me I was an idiot for having been involved with Aaron. Luke told her to leave it alone, and I might have gotten upset, if Seth hadn't heard her comment across the room and started laughing at her choice of words. When I glared at Seth, he winked at me. I flipped him off, but I was smiling. Kind of. So, I was out, and didn't know how to react to it. Oddly enough, I found that I minded everyone knowing about me and Aaron more than I minded everyone knowing that I was gay. But, at least Meg wasn't hitting on me anymore. Luke swore it was because he'd convinced her I had a hemorrhoid problem, so I should be thanking him.
It was after two o'clock when everyone moved to the backyard to play darts. Seth appeared to be pretty good at the game, and it pretty much came down to him and Brian. It wasn't unentertaining to watch, which is why I chose a quiet place to sit on a bench in Brian's yard. Within five minutes of sitting down Luke was sitting down next to me and handing me a bottle of water.
"It's the only one I could find," he said. "All Brian ever has around here is soda."
"Thanks," I replied, taking a drink before I passed it back to Luke.
"So what are you and Eddie going to do today?"
"I'll make sure to stay off the roads," Luke replied, smirking, but then turned serious. "Are you going to tell him about seeing Aaron?"
I let out a breath and frowned. I hadn't really thought of that.
"I'm not sure," I admitted. "I mean, it's not like anything big really happened. Do you think I should?"
"Not while either of you are driving," Luke remarked, laughing. "I don't know, Rory. I think you did the right thing with Aaron. Mentioning it will probably just piss Eddie off; but, I don't know, you could talk to him, if you feel like it. It's up to you."
"Yeah," I replied, wondering if I should mention it to Eddie or not. In all honesty, the thought probably wouldn't have crossed my mind if Luke hadn't brought it up. I decided to keep my mind off of it for the time being. At least until I was with Eddie. Then I could decide if I wanted to tell him about it or not. "What are you doing tonight, Luke?"
"I'll probably hang out here for a while. I'm meeting Dave a little later. I'm not sure what we're doing yet."
"Where is Dave?" I asked, suddenly noticing that he hadn't been around all day.
"Oh," I replied, and followed Luke's eyes to where Angela was hanging on Seth's arm again. "Um... Seth sort of said that Angela might know Dave likes her; I mean, just in case you want to pass that along or something."
Luke looked at me, and I waited for him to start asking questions about Angela. He didn't.
"So, are you and Seth friends now or something?"
"Huh? I don't know," I said honestly. "I mean, like you said, he's not that much of a jerk, you know?"
"Yeah, he's kind of cool," Luke replied. "I just didn't think you'd ever like him."
"I didn't say I liked him," I insisted, as if the notion were actually insulting. Luke laughed at me.
"Hey, if you're hanging out with him, then the company you keep has definitely improved."
"I'm not hanging out with him," I argued. "I mean, I did go over there again today, but only because Eddie didn't wake me up to go to work with him and I was bored. Seth lives close. I didn't know you were getting off work early."
"Okay," Luke replied, rolling his eyes, and then looked at me thoughtfully. "You should invite him over some night."
"Because I could invite Dave over," Luke insisted. "Maybe if he sees that Seth isn't such a bad guy, he'll talk to him about Angela."
"Oh; well, why doesn't Dave just talk to Angela?"
"Because he turns into a blubbering freak around her," Luke said simply. "He needs to figure out she's human first, I think."
"I was thinking about asking Seth to come over when I was talking to him earlier, anyway."
"Well, yeah. I just didn't know if you would be okay with it. I mean, I wanted to apologize to him for accusing him of being with Aaron the other night. You know, let him know we're good?"
"Oh..." I said. I could understand that, I guess. "So, are you going to apologize for what you did at Angela's house, too? `Cause, he sort of knows what you were doing."
Luke looked incredulous.
"You told him?" Luke demanded.
"No," I replied, laughing. "He already knew."
"Oh." Luke looked in Seth's direction curiously for a moment, and then shrugged. "Yeah, sure. Why not? I'll apologize for that, too--although, that was some of my best material, and technically, he should be thanking me."
I wondered if I should mention to Luke that Seth had also said Luke's ass waving in his face would have been better if Luke hadn't been wearing pants, but I was afraid that Luke would have taken that as a challenge, so I decided against it.
"Yeah, probably," I agreed, and Luke smiled at me.
"So are you going to invite him over some..." Luke started to ask, but abruptly stopped when Seth began walking towards us, and our attention was redirected towards him. I found myself shifting closer to Luke when Seth abruptly sat down to tie his shoe, looking at me out of the corner of his eye.
"I'm out of here," he said, as if this information might interest me. Luke was the one who responded to him.
"Where are you going?"
"Gotta get to work," Seth replied, and then looked at me again as he finished tying his shoe and sat up. "Sorry about earlier. It's too bad I didn't know we would both end up here. You could have come with us."
"Yeah, I guess," I agreed. At least that way, I would have avoided Aaron.
"Well, hey," Seth said. "Um, I don't work again until tomorrow night. I mean, if you get bored again, it's not like you can't..."
"Okay, maybe," I replied quickly, understanding the invitation. I was actually a little surprised by it.
"Well, I'll see you later," he said, standing up, and gave Luke a small wave. "Bye, Luke."
"Later," Luke responded, watching Seth with mild interest as he walked away from us. The moment he was out of earshot, Luke looked at me pointedly. "He likes you. Like, he's into you."
I opened my mouth, instinctively ready to argue with such an absurd notion. But, I didn't. Because the thing is, I'd already come to that same conclusion, so there really wasn't the point. I knew he liked me. In all honesty, I'd known it since Sunday, when I kept asking myself why Seth was being so nice to me. That was the answer I'd come up with and ignored. Only, hearing it from Luke seemed to turn the idea of Seth Fisher being interested in me from suspicion to fact.
"Yeah, I know." I said quietly.
"Really? So are you going to do something about it?"
I just shook my head.
"Not really. Probably not. I don't know."
It was past four o'clock when my phone finally rang, and it was Eddie. By then, we were back inside and Brian's dad was home, insisting we keep down the noise one minute and getting loud with us himself the next. He was a pretty nice guy, and I was having a good time listening to him and Brian argue about random things. When Eddie heard the noise in the background and asked where I was, I explained that I was still with Luke at Brian's, and asked if it would be alright for him to pick me up there.
"You know, if you're having fun with your friends right now, I don't have to get you, Rory," Eddie insisted, although, he sounded a little disappointed. "Why don't you just come home with Luke? No problem. Will you guys be home for dinner?"
"I don't know," I said honestly. "But listen, if it's on the way, you can still come get me. I don't mind leaving. I mean, you're still gonna show me how to drive, right?"
"Of course; I'm just saying, if you don't feel like it tonight..."
"I want to," I cut him off. And, I actually meant it. "Are you going to come get me?"
"Yeah," he said quickly, "I'll be there in ten minutes."
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