In Due Time

By J.Ross

This story and everything found herein is the property of the author. Any similarities to real people, places, etc. are strictly coincidental.
This story is not to be posted anywhere else without permission from the author.

Warning: This work of fiction contains sexual contact between two males. If you are opposed to reading something like that, or if it is illegal for you to read this type of material in your area, please leave.

Otherwise, I hope you enjoy. All comments/questions/complaints can be sent to

Chapter 2

My room has glow in the dark stars pasted all over the ceiling. They'd been the first thing I'd ever bought with my own money from the paper route I had when I was twelve. Ryan and I had put them up together at one in the afternoon right after I'd gotten them and hung thick blankets over the windows so that we could look at them when we turned off the light.

I remember being so proud of the damn things. They didn't mean much to me anymore, I'd actually forgotten about them, but after Shane left, I'd gone to bed early and lied in bed staring at them, lost in thought.

I couldn't be gay. Or...obviously I could be. I was. I'd known that for quite awhile, but there had to be some sort of way to ignore it. Or change it.

My father would hate me. He was quite vocal on the topic and made sure I knew exactly what he thought of the `fags' of our good nation. He'd make long speeches and give me this I'd better be paying attention. It was times like those that made me wonder whether he knew...wondered if I'd slipped up somewhere.

And Ryan. I couldn't lose Ryan. He'd been the closest thing I'd had to a brother for most of my life. He never said anything on the subject one way or the other, but I couldn't risk it. I couldn't lose Ryan.

I just couldn't be gay. I liked my life, exactly the way it was. I didn't need anything messing it up. I would just ignore the whole gay thing. I'd figure out a way to stop it and I would never, ever act on it.

Which would be so much easier if Shane didn't exist. He wasn't even around and I was having trouble not thinking about him, which was ridiculous. I'd only known him for a couple hours.

I liked him what I knew so far though. As much as we'd argued when he was over, I'd had fun. He was easy to have fun with. His laugh was warm and more than once, I'd found myself laughing along with him even though he was laughing at me. Just seeing him smile gave me shivers and I actually enjoyed the sound of his voice. It was soft and smooth, but still raspy and the slightest bit deep at the same time.

I wanted him to come over again. I wanted to hear his laugh again and feel the light warmth that spread through my body every time he directed that smile of his in my direction or when he nudge me playfully as we argued. I wanted to listen to him talk about his brothers and bitch about his dog. I wanted to know him.

Which meant I had to get rid of him. I couldn't be around him. I needed to forget about him. It would be hard, considering we went to the same school and he was on the fucking swim team, apparently, but I could do it. I could just blow him off if he tried to talk to me. As much as I was starting to like him, he wasn't important. My father was important. Ryan was important.

I didn't even know Shane; it wasn't going to kill me to get rid of him.

I could just ignore him. And, I'd ask Tracy Marks out, in the mean time. She was nice enough and I knew she liked me. She'd told Ryan under the extremely misguided belief that he'd actually keep her secret. Plus, I'd seen the way she looked at me. It had made me uncomfortable at first, but it was good to know ahead of time that she wouldn't be opposed to going out with me. I'd always been terrified of rejection.

But Tracy wouldn't reject me. I could go out with her a couple times and...maybe I could be happy with her. It's not like it's unheard of--gay guys marrying women and staying closeted all their lives. Not that I expected to marry Tracy. I just figured it would help, having a girlfriend.

It felt like a plan; avoid Shane and get Tracy to go out with me. Maybe not the best plan but I felt good about it. It helped me stop thinking about things and finally fall asleep. And the good feeling stuck through the night. I wasn't even bothered when the loud screeching of my alarm clock ringing woke me up, seemingly just minutes after I fell asleep. I was actually in a good mood when I went down to breakfast that morning.

This, apparently, is not allowed in my house.

"What's wrong," Mom asked, handing me a glass of juice as I snatched some toast from the center of the table. "What's going on?"

"Nothing," I said, smiling to reassure her. It didn't work.

"Do you have a meet today?" she pressed.

"Uhm, no," I replied with a chuckle. "The schedule's on the fridge, ma, you know that."

She frowned at me. "Jake Taylor," she said. "What are you up to?"

I shrugged.

She cocked her head to the side. "Does this have anything to do with that Shane boy you brought over?"

It hurts to choke on toast. A lot. Especially when some of it goes up towards your nose. My eyes watered as I reached for my juice and it took me a minute to respond.

"What?" I croaked. "What do you mean?"

"It's not often you bring home new friends. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with him, he seems nice enough, but if you two are planning something..." she let it hang but I knew where she was going with the sentence. I was always getting in trouble with Ryan.

"No," I said with a sigh of relief. "We're not." I stood up before she could ask anymore questions. Not that I thought she was going to guess, there was no way, but my mother has this look that she gives me. Like she can actually see what I'm hiding. I hardly ever got away with anything when mom was around. Dad was easy to play, but Mom was like a fucking mind reader. I never had a chance to get in trouble with her around. She was always foiling my plans before I even had a chance to fully make them.

"Eat your breakfast, I'll stop interrogating you," she said before I could start walking away, grinning at me. See? Mind reader. "You've just never been a morning person."

I shrugged, but didn't move to sit back down. "It's just a good day, Mom," I said, grabbing my book bag and heading for the door.

And it was a good day. A good day with plans. Good plans.

Plans that were completely ruined when I opened my front door and almost ran into a raised fist, poised to knock on my now opened door.

"Shane," I said. Or squeaked. Whatever.

"You said you didn't have a car," Shane answered before I could ask what he was doing there. He smiled at me as he went on. "And I do, so I thought..."

"I have legs," I cut him off. "I can walk."

"You could," he nodded, still smiling. "But I'm here and I'm offering," he turned away walking toward the car idling in my drive way. "So get your ass in."

I stood in my doorway for a full five minutes glaring at him through the windshield of his car. But he didn't leave.

And I didn't walk.

It was really hard to blow him off, like I fully intended to, while he was smiling at me like that.

I didn't say a word to him when I got into the car and I spent most of the ride glaring out the window, huffing every now and then. Immature? Oh, yes. But I didn't care. I was sticking to the plan. The plan was good. The plan was my...salvation.

Whatever. I've always been fond of bullshitting myself.

"I like walking to school," I lied as we neared the school. "So, don't bother." Yeah, it was rude. I was actually grateful for the ride, but I almost wanted him to be mad at me. It would make things easier, at least.

"Fine," he said, in a flat tone. "I won't bother."

"Good," I nodded. I was out of the car before he was even fully parked.

The student parking lot was to the left of the school, and I usually met Ryan near the Quad--all the way on the other side of the school. I ran all the way there.

"Where's the fire?" Colin Keats said with a smirk as I jogged up.

I shrugged. "Where's Ryan?" I asked.

He laughed. "You won't believe what he did, bro. There was this article--,"

Shit. I'd completely forgotten about that.

"Was he suspended?" I asked, cutting Colin off mid-sentence. He looked a little annoyed, but I couldn't have cared less. Colin was more Ryan's friend than mine. I tolerated him because Ryan seemed to think he was funny.

"Yeah," Colin responded with a shrug. "It's in-school suspension, though. Coach talked Snider into it because he didn't want Ryan pulled from your little team."

I really hated the condescending way he said that but he was spared my response when Chloe walked up.

Chloe and I weren't as close as Ryan and I were but she'd been there just as long. I moved in across the street from her when I was seven. She was kind of the sister I never asked for, but definitely wanted. She could be annoying and she was most days, but I loved her. I always had. In a lot of ways she knew me better than Ryan.

But he let me get away with more shit. Chloe never hesitated to put me in my place. She was hard to deal with sometimes but right then, I was grateful for her presence if it would get me away from Colin before he decided to stop being mad at me and try and tell me one of his dirty jokes.

"You're a little shit, you know that?" she said, punching me when she got close enough. She wasn't anywhere near as fragile as her thin frame and mousy brown hair made her look and I tried to cover my wince with a frown.

"Really?" I responded caustically, rubbing my arm where she hit me. "Well, you do keep saying that."

"Because it's true," she said, hooking her arm through mine and dragging me off without even looking at Colin. "You said you'd help Ma and me with the nursery. You totally bailed on us."

"Shit, Chloe," I said, and I stepped in front of her. I actually did feel a little bad. Chloe's mom had always been there for me. I liked her better than my own parents. "I totally forgot."

"Yeah?" she asked. I nodded.

Chloe grinned, chewing on her lower lip for a second before continuing. "It's okay. I wasn't really expecting you." She grabbed my arm again and headed for the quad. "Ryan said you left with Caydence Martell. You still could've called."

"To tell you something you already knew?" I asked, bemused. I'd never understand the way girls thought.

"You didn't know that I knew," she said with a shrug. "But I'll let you off the hook if you tell me about her. What'd you guys do?"

I shrugged as we neared the quad. We walked out to the center nodding to the people we knew as we passed and trying not to bump into the ones we didn't know as we navigated our way through the crowd.

"Not much to tell," I answered her as we sat down in the grass. "We didn't really hang out long. She had to go meet her boyfriend."

Chloe frowned. "Why didn't you come help us finish the nursery, then? Even Ry came. Mom about beat the shit out of him when she heard about his little stunt with the news paper. She lectured him forever." She pulled out a package of pop tarts and opened it, handing me one, while she nibbled on the other. Forget what I said earlier. Chloe was perfect. Not annoying, at all. Especially when she brought food.

"I told you, I forgot," I said, smiling at the pop tart. "Besides, I hung out with Shane afterwards."

"Shane Tickersine?" Chloe said, chewing. "The guy that stole Ry's pants last year?"

"Yeah," I said chuckling as I remembered Shane's side of the story. "You know him?"

She shook her head. "Not really. I have AP Chemistry with him. He's wicked smart. I was paired with him a couple weeks ago during a lab. He's the only partner I've had that I didn't have to carry. So, you two are hanging out now?"

Yeah, right. "No," I said, frowning. "We really didn't click." The words felt weird. Probably because they weren't true. Shane was...different, sure, but I'd definitely felt a connection.

"Too bad," Chloe said, finishing the last third of her pop tart in one bite. "He's about the cutest boy I've ever seen. Save Ry."

"I wouldn't know," I said, a little too quickly.

Chloe laughed. "Chill, dude. No one doubts you manliness."

I shrugged just as the bell rang and students started to leave the quad. Chloe and I stayed though. There was still ten minutes until class.

"Are you gonna come over to my place after torture today?" she asked and I laughed. Chloe was about the smartest person I knew and hated school more than one would think possible.

"I can't," I said. "I've got practice."

"Oh, God," Chloe scoffed. "You're still on this swimming kick? You're not even that good."

"Am so," I said. And it was true. I was decent enough. I didn't place at every meet, but I did well enough. I wouldn't be getting any scholarships any time soon, but I loved it in the water. The weightlessness of it was a feeling like no other for me and when I was swimming, I was totally focused. Not a thought in my mind but the pool and how I could get across it as quickly as possible. I could leave everything behind when I was in the water. It was the best feeling I knew.

"Whatever," Chloe rolled her eyes. I might've been a little bit offended by her words if her actions didn't let me know she was one of my biggest supporters. She was always up in the audience, right next to my mother shouting and cheering. And she was the only one who knew how to behave towards me when I had a terrible swim. Ryan would laugh and shrug and say something along the lines of, `it hurts, I know, and I'd let you be me if I could...but alas, I can't.' My mother would apologize. My father would tell me where I slipped up. But Chloe never said a word.

I remember once I'd done so badly that Ryan actually felt bad for me and left off the teasing and patted my shoulder sympathetically. Which was worse, somehow. But Chloe had just walked right over to me after the meet and started ranting wildly about pistachio nut ice cream and how it tastes a hell of a lot more like toilet cleaner than any kind of nut.

She'd tease me relentlessly when I won, though. She'd say I'd gotten lucky, or that she hoped I was enjoying my fifteen minutes of fame because it wasn't ever going to happen again.

"Hello? Jake? You in there, space head?" Chloe asked, pulling me out of my thoughts. She was standing up, giving me a strange look. "Jesus, lay off whatever it is that you're on and get up. Let's go, we're gonna be late."

I dusted my pants off when I got up and trailed after her. I hated her most days, or at least she annoyed the living shit out of me with her constant mothering and bitching. Today just wasn't one of those days. She was a good almost, just like Ryan. She was definitely another person I never wanted to lose and part of the life I didn't want to change. But I wasn't worried about losing her. I knew I never would. If I did something she didn't approve of, she'd bitch and she'd lecture me, but she'd never walk away from me.

"Are you coming, Jacob?" Chloe called over her shoulder, using my given name in a tone that was so reminiscent of my mother's it was scary. "Hurry up, we've gotta get to Johnston's. We're gonna be late as it is, you'd better hope he's had his coffee."

"Don't be so dramatic," I said, but I hurried to catch up. Mr. Johnston was definitely an asshole, even when he had his coffee and when Chloe and I arrived to his class, not even a minute late; we were both written up in his book. If you name went in more than twice, he gave you detention. He made sure to tell me that I'd be in detention if I let it happen again.

Not that I cared. Teachers made detention seem like it was some sort of hell. It was just a room that you had to stay in for an hour after school. Talking was allowed. Eating was allowed. All good things in my book.

The rest of the day went by without much consequence, though. I hadn't seen Shane once, in the halls or at lunch. I knew I'd see him at swim practice, but I figured it'd be easy enough to blow him off. It had been easy that morning, for the most part. I definitely wasn't going to skip swim practice because of him. Besides, it felt like it'd been forever since I'd seen Ry.

Shane wasn't in the locker room after school when we changed for practice. But he never was. Not that I was looking for him or anything.

"Looking for someone?" Ry asked me as he slipped into his Speedo's.

"No," I snapped, but I grinned just the same. "You've got a lot of ass kissing to do."

"For what?" Ryan asked grabbing his swim cap. "And whose ass am I kissing? Yours? How many times do I have to ask you to leave me out of your little fantasies? At least keep them to yourself, dude."

"Fuck off," I laughed, shoving him against his locker. "I meant coach. Colin said he saved your ass. And what was that article all about?"

Ryan shrugged. "Colin wrote it. It was a dare."

"And you went for it?" Ryan really wasn't what you would call a genius. "Seriously?"

"I got his stereo out of the deal. He bet I wouldn't do it. Well, I did. Still sucks, though. I liked working on the school paper."

I nodded. It was the one thing his father was proud of him for. I was sure Ryan didn't like it nearly as much as swimming and he struggled with everything he did with the paper. If it weren't for his dad, Ry probably never would have joined.

I reached over and squeezed his shoulder. He shot me what I assumed was a grateful grin before he shrugged me off.

"Come on, kid," he said, putting his goggles around his neck. "Let's go. I'll school you on how to work the pool."

I rolled my eyes but I followed him out of the locker room.

Coach Edgecombe glared at us when we neared the bleachers at the left side of the pool. I hated the way he looked pissed at me too, when I didn't even know about what Ryan was going to do until afterwards. But that was the way it always was. If Ry was in trouble, so was I. And vice versa. Everyone always assumed that we were in on it together.

"Alright," Coach said, as the last of us sat down. It was then that Shane walked in from the locker room, rushing over towards us. He sat at the opposite end of the bleachers from Ry and me. I tried not to stare as he sat down. He really did look different without pants. His legs were long and smooth. He was obviously one of those that shaved. Ry did. I'd tried it once but it didn't seem to make a difference so I didn't bother after that. It looked good on him though. My eyes traveled up his body, almost against my will. I'd spent quite awhile staring at his chest the day before and it didn't look any worse now.

He must have felt me staring though because he looked at me. I immediately looked away.

"Ry," I whispered, as coach droned on about the upcoming meet. "So...remember what you told know, about Tracy?"

Ryan snorted, softly. "Aw. Is little Jakey finally ready to be a man?"

"Shut up, dude," I shot back. Ryan was one of the few sophomores' that had actually lost his virginity already. We all said we'd done the deed and talked about it in great detail...and we were all lying through our teeth. Ryan wasn't though. He'd come over to my house after it had happened and crawled into bed with me, leaning back into my chest as he told me what happened with a shaky voice. I'd never mentioned it, but right then, I wanted to. He was always giving me hell when it came to my lack of success in the girl department. I knew it would piss him off, if I brought it up. I never would. No matter how much I wanted to.

He laughed, though, patting my knee. "What about her, bro? Do you want me to talk to her?"

"Nah, I can do it," I replied, looking back at Shane only momentarily before I added, "I need to do it."

Ryan nodded like he understood. I doubted it.

"So, what about her? If you don't want me to talk to her, what do you want?"

I shrugged. "I couldn't find her today." I hadn't actually looked but that was beside the point.

"She doesn't have our lunch period," Ry said. He paused for a minute when coach turned to glare pointedly at us. I hadn't been listening to what he was saying and I wondered what the hell that was about.

"I have her number, though," Ryan went on, as coach directed his attention elsewhere. "I'll give it to you after we're done here."

"Thanks," I said, with a grin.

Ryan shrugged, elbowing me in the ribs. "Don't sweat it."

I smiled at him once more and turned back to coach to try to listen to the rest of his lecture. I was a little antsy just sitting there and I really wanted to get in the water. To feel it wash over me. To feel myself cut through it as I swam from one end to the other and back. I almost needed it.

And obviously the universe hates me, because just as soon as the thought crossed my mind, coach announced that we wouldn't be swimming.

"What?!" I shouted.

"You got a problem, Taylor?" Coach asked me sternly. I figured the answer he was looking for was "no" and I couldn't to give it to him, so I just huffed and sat bag against the row behind me, grateful that no one was sitting there.

We spent practice writing essays on the proper behavior of a West Diamond high student athlete. Because of fucking Ryan. The entire team was glaring at him for the next hour and a half.

"I hate you," I told Ry when coach finally let us leave. "A lot. That was bullshit."

"Whatever," Ryan said. "You'll get over when you see the stereo I got off Colin. I plan on driving the entire neighborhood insane with it. You'll see, bro, it's awesome."

"Unless you plan on giving it to me, I don't see how the damn thing is going to make up for me not getting any pool time," I huffed.

"You can swim at school when you're not at practice," Ry said. "Just go early tomorrow."

"Yeah right," I shot back. He knew as well as anyone that I hated mornings enough as it was.

He laughed. "But look," he said. "I gotta jet. If you wanna swim just go over to Chloe's and...shit, you got a pen? I'll give you Tracy's number quick."

"Where are you going," I asked, pulling off my book bag and giving him a pen and ripping off a piece of an old math assignment. I handed them to him. "Aren't you grounded?"

"Yeah," he said, hurriedly scrawling a few numbers on the paper before handing them back. "That's why I have to hurry. I wanted to stop at the Bon Ton and pick up something for Chloe's mom's nursery. Chloe's trying to save up for it, but I've got the cash so I thought..."

I started laughing.

"What?" Ryan snapped.

"Nothing," I said, walking off. "Figure it out yourself." He glared at me as I walked away.

It's no wonder Chloe couldn't get over her crush on Ry. He was always doing things like that for her. And if I didn't know him better, I would have thought he liked her back. But if he did...he'd do something about it. He wasn't exactly the shy type.

It was really too bad he was clueless when it came to the way Chloe felt, because he might actually think about it if he did. But Chloe wasn't about to say anything and I was sworn to secrecy.

The walk from the school to my house wasn't a long one but I couldn't get there quick enough. I had barely gotten any sleep the night before and I was really looking forward to my bed. Yeah, home sounded really good right about then.

I changed my mind when I got there. Shane was sitting on my porch. I really wished I had offered to keep Ry company on his shopping trip.

"Hey," Shane said, as soon as he saw me. "What's up?"

"What the fuck are you doing here," I snapped, ignoring his question.

He shrugged. "You were an ass today," he said in the tone one would use when talking about the weather. "I came to see what was up."

"Why?" I asked, and I didn't give a damn that it had come out sort of whiny.

"Because," he said, standing up. "I wanted to know why. We were cool yesterday."

I sighed. "It's not like we're friends. We just met. Why do you care?"

Shane grinned. "We could be. I had a good time yesterday."

His eyes sparkled and I got shivers. Fluttering in my chest. He needed to leave.

"I didn't," I lied, trying to glare at him. It didn't exactly have the desired effect. He laughed. I was getting tired of people laughing at things that I hadn't meant to be amusing.

"Well, then," he said, stepping closer to me. "Let's try again. Maybe you'll have a good time today."

I didn't answer. I really didn't understand why he wouldn't give up. We'd known each other for all of twenty four hours. It's not like I was ending a lifelong friendship.

"Why are you doing this," I asked aloud. "You don't even know me."

He smiled. "That's why."

That didn't make sense at all and I frowned. He just kept smiling.

"Are you going to tell me to leave?" he asked.

I wanted to. I should have. But I didn't. I pulled out my key and sighed, stepping around him to open the door. I didn't invite him in verbally but I glance back at him and he followed me in.

"You're cute when you angry," he teased and I rolled my eyes.

"Whatever," I said. "My parents won't be home for awhile, but if you're hungry we can eat leftovers or something."

Shane shook his head. "Nah, I'm good," he said. "Where's your mom?"

"Yesterday was her day off," I responded. "But she has a job. Sometimes, she even goes to it."

He laughed and it was deep. Throaty. I made a mental note to try not to be funny.

I took of my shoes in the foyer. Not because I had to. I was stalling. I was at a loss for what to do with him.

"We could watch the movie we picked yesterday," he suggested, apparently on the same train of thought. "We never did get to watch it."

I sighed and stared at him. I really didn't get why he was there. I was being an ass to him. He shouldn't want to be around me.

"Why are you here?" I asked aloud after almost a full minute of staring at him.

He shrugged. "I told you, I wanted to know why you were being such a dick. And I didn't really have anything else to do."

"Maybe I just don't like you," I snapped, responding to the first part of what he'd said.

My comment did not have the desired effect. He grinned at me. "You just said, we hardly know each other."

"So?" I shot back, confused as to why that made a difference.

"So, how can you dislike someone you don't know?"

"It's possible," I deadpanned, with a frown. It was possible. He was annoying me right then, and I actually didn't like him very much.

"Do you want me to leave?" he asked, losing the grin, suddenly taking on a serious expression.

The word `yes' was on the tip of my tongue. It really was. And I tried to say it, but it wouldn't come out. We stood there in the foyer, in silence, staring at each other while he awaited my answer.

But I couldn't fucking say `yes, I want you to leave'. The words wouldn't come.

"The Green Mile, right?" I said finally. He grinned at me.

"Yeah," he said softly. I turned away, leading him up to my room. I'd brought the movie up the night before, planning to watch it without him but I'd never gotten around to it.

No, I'd been busy trying to think up ways to avoid this very situation. What. A fucking. Waste of time.

I put the movie in my DVD player when we got to my room, trying not to think about the fact that he'd closed the door behind him. Trying not to pay attention when he made himself comfortable on my bed. And trying not to think about how small my bed seemed now that I had to find a way to get on it without getting too close to Shane.

I really wished we had picked a shorter movie. I wasn't sure I could handle being there with him, in my dark room, alone, for more than ten minutes, much less the hours it would take to get through the movie.

It wasn't that bad though, once we started watching it. It was a good movie and I relaxed as we watched.

I didn't even mind when Shane started talking twenty minutes into the movie. He wasn't really talking to me. He was just...making comments about the movie as we watched. His commentary had me laughing my ass off. I'd always thought the movie was funny, at certain parts, but for the most part, it was a pretty serious movie.

Not with Shane, though. He had something to say about everything, but it wasn't annoying, like I would have thought it would be if someone were to talk through a movie. He was sarcastic and...just funny. He pointed out things I'd never noticed before and the movie was quickly becoming one of my favorites.

The movie wasn't even halfway through the first disc, but I was totally relaxed and thoroughly enjoying myself.

Because...what the hell? Maybe I could never act on my feelings, but what harm could it do to enjoy them? And I was enjoying them. He was close enough that I could smell his cologne and I could hear his voice even though he was talking pretty low. The shivers that his voice sent through my body didn't happen as often but they still made an appearance every now and then.

And I liked it. Fuck Tracy Marks. Yeah, having a girlfriend would probably keep my father from suspecting, but as long as I was careful, no one would ever find out. And yeah, Shane was definitely tempting but my fear of rejection would keep me from doing anything stupid. I just had to be careful.

"Don't you think it's kind of fucked up? Shane asked. He'd be talking almost the whole time, but he hadn't really been directing any of his comments at me, even if they were for my benefit.

"What is?" I asked, turning my head a little to face him. We were sitting at the head of my bed with our backs against the wall and when I turned, it brought my face just a little to close to his.

Careful, I reminded myself and turned back to the movie waiting for him to answer.

"They just use the guy," Shane replied, staring at the screen. "They use him to fix all their little problems and then send him off to the chair. Not cool."

"No," I agreed, nodding even though he wasn't looking at me. "But Tom Hanks offers to let him go. He just doesn't want to. He said he was tired."

Shane nodded, but he didn't say anything. He seemed lost in thought, though, he could have just been watching the movie.

"I get that," I said, suddenly, and immediately wished I could take it back.

He turned to face me.

"What?" I could feel his breath ghost warm across my cheek and I leaned away, slowly, trying not to be obvious.

"I mean," I said, swallowing. "I just meant that I get what it's like to be tired, you know? Like, I get what it's like to wish you could," I paused, realizing how that sounded and understanding the frown on his face. My eyes widened and I quickly added, "I'm not saying I'd take the chair. Just that I get the `tired thing'."

He studied me for a minute longer before turning back to the screen.

"Me too," he said. I knew what it was that made me tired but I found myself wondering about him. I had that feeling like I wanted to know him again, but I didn't ask the question. I was afraid he'd want me to answer as well.

We watched the rest of the first disc in silence, but it wasn't uncomfortable. I was enjoying the movie and the feeling of Shane next to me. He didn't speak again until I switched the discs.

His words had shocked the hell out of me. But not in a bad way. Just...I wasn't expecting it.

I'd knocked a picture frame off the night stand next to my bed, when I threw the remote onto the stand because I didn't trust myself to lean over Shane to set it down.

I could have just asked him to do it, but I never do things the easy way.

He picked up the frame though and set it back in its place, studying it. It was one of me, Ry, and Chloe taken the summer before at Chloe's birthday.

"Are you dating her," Shane asked and I couldn't have stopped the shocked laughter that escaped me. It wasn't a question I heard very often either. Everybody that knew me, knew that Chloe and I couldn't have been more like family if we shared the same blood. But Shane didn't know me.

I just wanted him to. Which is probably why I offered him more than a simple `no' in response.

"Nah," I replied, smiling. "She's...I don't know. I could never think of Chloe that way." And not just because she's a girl, I added silently. "I've known her since we were young enough to bathe together. I've got the pictures to prove it. She' sister." I nodded as I said it.

"And him?" Shane asked, picking the frame back up off the nightstand. "What about him?"

That had me laughing too. "She wishes," I said and it didn't even occur to me that I'd never actually told anyone about Chloe's secret crush before. I wasn't entirely sure why I was telling him. He seemed interested enough though. "She's liked him forever," I added.

Shane smiled at me, cocking an eyebrow. "That's...not exactly what I meant."

"What did you mean, then?" He was by far the most confusing person I'd ever met, but I wasn't annoyed. Just curious as to what he did mean.

Unfortunately, he wouldn't say. He just shook his head, slowly, giving me a small smile and saying, "Never mind," as he put the picture back.

I shrugged. "What about you and Caydence," I asked and I was proud of myself when the question came out innocently enough. I was far more interested that I was letting on.

"Oh," he said, and his eyes lit up when he smiled right then. I looked away, swallowing, moving away from him another inch. Just in case.

"Yeah, we dated," he said with a shrug. "It didn't last."

The way his eyes lit up, I'd expected him to be at least a little disappointed but he was still grinning.

"She broke it off," he said, with a laugh. "She came barging into my room and told me that I didn't want to be with her and that I was breaking up with her, but we could still be friends if I gave her a little time to get over the fact that I broke up with her so abruptly."

There was a fondness in his laughter that kept me from cracking up too bad. It made it seem less like he was joking. Also, I could actually see Caydence doing something like that and I didn't even know her that well. She was just...unique. I figured out that much when she'd told a random dog walker with a misbehaving puppy at the park that he should not be calling his dog `Cookies' because it was degrading and that the dog would probably behave much better if the man called him 'Toby' instead.

I'd thought it was a joke at first. I thought maybe she knew the guy and was just messing with him. I found out how wrong I was when he looked at her like she'd just said that the earth was about to open up and swallow him whole and he backed away slowly.

I didn't think she was a freak or anything...but it did give me a clue as to why a girl as pretty as Caydence didn't really have very many friends.

"That was in seventh grade," Shane went on, pulling my attention back to him. "I'm still not over her."

I laughed at that, but I couldn't tell whether he was serious or not. He said it like he was kidding but I couldn't really be sure with Shane.

If nothing else though, the comment pretty much answered the question of whether or not Shane was straight before I'd even had a chance to really wonder about it. I never really thought about it, but if I had, I would have guessed he was straight. Now, I was sure he was.

Until he spoke again.

"So," he leered at me. Yes, leered. He also leaned closer--much closer and because of the pesky wall on the other side of me, I had nowhere to go. "Do you have a girlfriend. Or whatever."

I hated the way he said that. Or whatever? What the hell was that supposed to mean?

He could have been teasing fact, it was exactly the sort of thing Ryan would do, though Ryan knew the answer to that particular question and wouldn't ask it.

Only, when Ryan did something similar--when Ry teased me like that-- my heart never pounded against my chest like it was suddenly too hot inside my body and it needed to get out. Having Ryan that close never made me feel dizzy, and I was pretty sure I'd never found Ryan's lips quite as interesting as I seemed to find Shane's at that moment.

And thank God Shane didn't stay close for long, because I was doing crazy things like letting my eyes drift shut and leaning forward.

Shit. I really could not trust myself around him. I actually swallowed audibly before I answered.

"No," I said, finally answering his question and frowning, but not at him. At me. I moved further away from him, pressing myself as close to the wall as I could get. I wasn't at all subtle about it either, but Shane didn't say anything.

The silence that surrounded us was definitely the uncomfortable kind. I hated it. I hated that he'd asked that stupid fucking question and I hated the tone that he'd asked it in. I hated the way he seemed to know...

"You're paranoid," he said, breaking into my thoughts. I hated him for that too.

"What?" I asked, and wondered again whether I'd voiced my thoughts without knowing it.

Shane shrugged. "You're fidgeting," he said gesturing to where I was playing with the hole in the knee of my jeans.

"That doesn't mean I'm paranoid," I shot back. I was definitely rethinking my plan to just enjoy Shane and what he did to me. And not just because I'd almost done something monumentally stupid.

"Is this about the rumors?" he asked. The playful smile that I'd grown so accustomed to was gone. He was frowning at me and not in the thoughtful, studying way that he'd been frowning at me lately. He looked annoyed.

Which was stupid because he was the one being annoying.

"What rumors?" I snapped. He really needed to stop jumping topics.

"You know what rumors," he said, glaring.

I really didn't. I think the confused look on my face clued him in to that little fact.

"Oh," he said and the glare disappeared just as quickly as it came. "Never mind," he went on. "Just...chill, okay. I'm not going to do anything."

"What?" I was so fucking lost.

Shane sighed. "Just...if you hear anything. I...I'm not trying...I'm just not going to do anything."

I still had no idea what he was going on about. He wasn't making any sense and I watched him, expectantly, waiting for him to explain.

He didn't.

"I like quesadillas," he said with a thoughtful grin, looking off into the air in front of him.

"What?!" I shouted again, exasperated. I was going to hit him. Hard. I don't think I'd ever been so confused while having a conversation in my life and I had once talked to Chloe about physics. This was worse. Way worse.

"I like quesadillas" he repeated, looking at me. "Do you?"

"What," I said, through gritted teeth. "What the fuck does that have to do with anything?"

He started laughing but quieted when he seen how amused I really wasn't. " you wanna go and get some?" he asked, obviously still amused at how frustrated I was. "Quesadillas, I mean," he added before I could ask. "I'm hungry."

"Oh," I said, letting out a sigh, happy that I had finally caught up to him. It felt good, actually understanding the conversation we were having. And I was hungry, now that he mentioned it. "We can make some," I offered, looking at him.

He smiled and hopped up from the bed, reaching out a hand to help me after him. I didn't really need it but I took it anyway. It actually shocked me to find that his hands were cold, I expected them to be warm. He seemed like...just a warm kind of guy, though I wondered vaguely when I'd had time to think about stupid things like his body temperature.

"Let's get to it, then," he said, and the fact that he looked excited had me grinning as I followed him out of my room and down the stairs toward the kitchen.

It occurred to me, as we entered the kitchen that we'd been talking about something before he distracted me with food. I just couldn't remember what it was. And the fact that I hadn't understood a word he was saying when we were having the conversation wasn't really helping when it came to remembering. Still, it bothered me.

"So," Shane said, opening my refrigerator. "How do you think one would go about making a quesadilla?" He was all business as he rummaged through my fridge like he did it all the time. "Can't be too hard. Cheese. Tortillas. And...stuff."

I laughed, joining him. His mood was catching and I was actually excited. About making fucking quesadillas.

Shane just smiled at me. "Do you, like, have a cookbook or something?"

I laughed again. Maybe keeping Shane around wouldn't be the most horrible decision I'd ever made in my life.

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