In Due Time
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.
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Sandwiches. That's what we ended up eating after I burned my fourth attempt at a quesadilla and set my kitchen stove on fire.
"Did you know that was possible? I didn't," I said through a mouth full of turkey. Turkey sandwiches had always been good to me. They were quick and easy. I was also pretty sure that it was impossible for them to catch fire. Yeah, turkey sandwiches were definitely the way to go.
"I told you to turn the stove down," Shane grumbled, slouching in his seat at my dining room table. "I told you that after you burnt the first one. And what kind of family doesn't own a microwave? It's not right."
I laughed, deciding that Shane was definitely easier to be around when he was pouting.
"We can still go to Taco Bell," I offered, smiling. Shane didn't smile back.
"Taco Bell can kiss my ass," he muttered, taking a bite of his peanut butter and jelly, which, by the way, also does not catch on fire.
Amazing things, sandwiches.
"Hey," I said, kicking his foot under the table. "Suck it up. If you want, I'll con my mom into cooking something when she gets here."
"Nah," Shane said, stuffing the rest of his sandwich into his mouth. "'S Cool. `M Good."
I smiled. I'd been doing that a lot, smiling. Fortunately, though, he'd been to busy pouting over his food to notice it.
Until now. He looked up at me, seeing my smile, but he didn't ask me why I was smiling or what I was looking at. He just smiled back, blue eyes sparkling.
I turned away from him quick. I was trying to relax, I really was. I mean, if I stayed as tense as I'd been earlier that day, it wouldn't be long before Shane figured me out, so yeah, I was trying to relax.
But I couldn't hold his gaze. I couldn't look at him while he was smiling at me. I couldn't trust myself to behave when he was smiling at me like that.
It was my fault when things got tense and I knew it. I was thinking too much. I was snapping on Shane for the same things that Ry did every day, all because, when coming from Shane, they made me feel...dizzy. They made me want him.
And I couldn't want him, not like that. I wanted to be his friend. I wanted to be normal enough to be his friend and not picture him in his Speedos every time he stretched. Shit like that never happened with Ry. I mean, Ryan could smile at me all he wanted and my stomach never flipped the way it did when Shane smiled. It was such a weird feeling; like being in an elevator that suddenly dropped a couple stories too quick. Only, maybe not, because I doubt I'd actually like being in a freefalling elevator, but I liked the stomach flop. It was...nice.
I needed to watch myself. If I let myself get too caught up in Shane, I knew I'd slip. I'd slip and do something monumentally stupid and then Shane would run away, stop speaking to me and tell the world about the little queer he'd tried to befriend and my life...wouldn't be my life anymore. I couldn't handle that.
I liked things the way they were. I had good friends and I was well liked. I even liked my ridiculously insane parents. I couldn't lose it all because somewhere along the line, I'd gone crazy and started...looking, and dreaming and...God, who knows. I needed to fix things. I couldn't let my little secret fuck everything up.
But Shane's smile...was the type that would make it easy to do just that. Fuck everything up. Every time he smiled at me, I forgot myself for a second and I wanted to lean closer. I wanted to get lost in his eyes. I just stopped thinking.
Since I need my brain in full working order to avoid disaster, I just couldn't look at him while he was smiling at me like that.
I got up and gathered our dishes, not even bothering to finish my sandwich.
"Why do you do that?" Shane asked when I left the dining room, taking both of our plates to the kitchen.
"Do what?" I asked over my shoulder, though, I had a good idea what he was talking about. Playing stupid just bought me the time I needed to think up some convincing bullshit.
"I don't know," Shane said, and his voice was much closer than I'd expected it to be. He'd followed me into the kitchen. "It's like, you're trying not to have a good time."
Well, wasn't he a perceptive little fucker.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," I said, shrugging. I was surprised at how casual my voice was.
"Like," Shane went on," you'll be smiling and laughing one second...and then you'll stop and back away, like you just remembered that you're not supposed to like me."
"I don't like you," I shot back defensively.
Yeah, that wasn't totally obvious. It occurred to me that this--things like this--might be why it sometimes seemed like Shane could read my mind. I wasn't exactly good with hiding things.
"Right," Shane said slowly, looking at me with wide eyes. He looked completely taken aback. "Sorry," he said. "Uhm, I'll just...I'm gonna go. Sorry. I thought...right. Leaving."
"No." Yeah, I stopped him. I shouldn't have. A smart person would have let him leave. A smart person would have realized that becoming friends with Shane would definitely fuck up my, oh, so wonderful `plans' to be straight. A smart person would have said `good riddance' and got on with their life.
I am just so clearly not a smart person. But I didn't want him to go. I wanted to be his friend. I wanted him to stick around until I could be his friend.
"I'm sorry," I said, sighing. "I didn't mean...I just didn't mean that the way it came out."
I expected him to come back, tell me it was okay and maybe start in with the teasing again. He didn't. He just stared at me and the kitchen was enveloped in a silence that I can only describe as suffocating.
It seemed like forever before he said anything.
"What was your problem this morning?"
Definitely not what I was expecting, but nothing with Shane ever was.
"I don't know," I lied. "It was nothing. I'm just not a morning person." It seemed like a really good, believable lie.
"What about this afternoon, then?"
Okay, maybe not that believable.
I shrugged. "I've got issues," I said, frowning because that was probably the most honest thing I'd said all day, and I hated it.
Shane nodded slowly, taking a step in my direction. "I noticed."
Harsh. I probably deserved it, but seriously? Harsh. I'm just sayin'.
"Do you want to talk about it?" he asked coming closer still.
"No," I said immediately. I was almost offended he'd even ask.
"Right," he said, "of course not." The corner of his mouth twitched into that smirk that was quickly becoming all too familiar.
There was another silence and everything was awkward again. And tense. I hated it. I hated everything, at the moment.
I didn't get it. I didn't get why Shane, who I hadn't known long at all could make me feel things that I'd never felt before. I didn't get why it was so difficult for me to just relax and try to be his friend like a fucking normal person. It wasn't like he was all that special. Cute? Sure. Funny? Definitely, but I'd met lots of cute funny boys before. I may have even...thought about them during...private time.
None of them ever made me feel like this, though. I could forget about the others with no problem and I never had any problems avoiding them--telling them to fuck off. Why the hell was it different with Shane?
"You need to relax, bro," Shane said. He was close. He was leaning against the counter right in front of me. And just...yeah. Really close.
Relax? Yeah, right.
"I know," I said and racked my brain for some sort of excuse for the fact that I wasn't relaxed in the first place. "I'm just...not good with new people," I continued. "I've had the same friends since the third grade."
I'd pulled the words right out of my ass, and I was surprised when I heard them come out of my mouth. They were even kind of true. I wasn't good with new people. That just wasn't the real reason I couldn't relax with him. Not the whole reason, anyway.
"I get that," Shane nodded, smiling.
"Right," I said, not even trying to keep the skepticism out of my tone. He just really didn't seem the type that had trouble meeting new people. He struck me as the type of person that could strike up and carry a conversation with just about anyone.
"It's true," he insisted laughing. "I hate most new people."
I cocked an eyebrow at him. "Oh, sure," I said. "That's why you've been stalking me since we met. Because you hate meeting new people."
"Stalking you?" He looked seriously offended.
"Well, yeah," I said, shrugging. "You keep showing up, uninvited."
His eyes were impossibly wide. "I offered you a ride," he said in a high pitch tone I hadn't thought him capable of. "I thought we were cool. I was just trying to be a friend."
He was calling me an asshole with his eyes. I could almost hear it.
"What about this afternoon, then?" I asked, throwing one of his earlier questions back at him. It didn't exactly work out like I'd planned.
He grinned, chuckling softly. "I wasn't planning on staying," he started, softly. "I just wanted to see what your problem was this morning. I thought maybe you just didn't want to be seen with me in school...because of..." he paused, his brow furrowing. "Whatever. I was going to tell you that you could fuck yourself. But then you were still being a dick and I thought I may have done something...I still wasn't going to stay, but...you didn't ask me to leave. You confuse the hell out of me, you know?"
The feeling was definitely mutual.
He snorted before adding, "And you have more mood swings than my pregnant mother."
"I do not have mood swings," I argued and it was true. I didn't usually have mood swings. He brought that out in me.
Shane just grinned at me. "I really do have to go. Are you going to have another bitch fit if I come pick you up for school tomorrow?"
Bitch fit? I resented that.
"No," I muttered and headed toward the living room, nodding for him to follow me. "It wasn't a bitch fit; I was just...shut up." He was laughing at me again.
"All right," he said, as I opened the door for him. "I'll be here."
I met Ryan Lucas when I was eight years old. He was the kid that could push the tire swing the best and I was the one stupid enough to jump off while it was spinning and swinging when it was my turn. I ended up getting one hell of a bloody nose and a busted lip and Ryan was terrified I'd run and tell a teacher on him. I didn't do anything to reassure him. I wouldn't even talk to him. I didn't care that the whole thing was basically my fault; I was still pissed at him. But when Mrs. Bailey asked what happened to my face...I told her I fell of the monkey bars.
Ryan and I have been friends ever since.
And, yeah, Ry could be an ass sometimes. He hated most everyone that wasn't me or Chloe and he was a dick to even us on the best of days, but whenever I needed him, he was always there. He could be completely pissed at me, but if he thought I needed him, he was always there.
So, when he called me and told me that I needed to come over to his house now, I didn't think twice before hauling ass to get to him, not even bothering to leave my parents a note to let them know where I'd be. He was always there for me, but I rarely had a chance to return the favor. I ran almost the whole way to his house.
You would think that after eight years, I'd be comfortable using his front door to get into Ryan's house.
I wasn't. His dad really freaked me out. The man never smiled. Ever. I was sure of it. I swear Mr. Lucas' face froze as a child when he was in the middle of taking a shit. He always had this look on his face like he was concentrating on something really hard. And every time I rang his doorbell, he gave me the third degree. I don't think my own parents asked me as many questions about school as he did.
So, no, I wasn't comfortable entering through the front door. I hadn't used the front door since seventh grade.
"You need a latter or something, bro," I said climbing through his window. "I'm getting to old for this shit."
Ryan rolled his eyes from where he was sitting at in his computer chair, staring at the blank computer screen. I didn't actually see him roll his eyes, but I could almost hear it in his tone.
"I was there when Chloe tried to get you on a rollercoaster," he retorted with a short laugh. "I know you're afraid of heights. Also, there's a rule that says you can't use that line until you've reached puberty."
"Bite me, Lucas," I said, shooting him the finger as I threw myself onto his bed. "Next time you want something, you can come to my house."
I didn't mean it, and he knew it. I'd be there if just as quick the next time he called. Still, I wondered what the hell had been so urgent. It didn't seem like there was anything wrong with him.
"I'm grounded," he stated, flatly before I could ask.
"So?" I said. Ryan got grounded all of the time. Actually, I wasn't even sure if he knew what it was like to not be grounded.
"He's serious this time," Ryan said, still staring at his computer screen. It wouldn't have been as weird if his computer was on but it wasn't.
"What'd you want, then?" I asked.
Ryan shrugged. "Company?" he laughed. "I didn't feel like being grounded alone. I'm going crazy, dude. Dad took my flat screen."
That didn't surprise me. Ryan's dad had given him the television as a reward for being on the school paper. It made sense to take it away because Ry got kicked off. I didn't say that though. Even if I did actually like Ry's dad, I was on Ry's side by default.
"That blows," I said, exactly like I was supposed to, though, I was a little pissed that he actually expected me to help him through his punishment when I hadn't even been involved in the crime, for once.
Ry nodded, finally swiveling around in his chair to face me. I was grateful for it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not the type of person that can't have a conversation without eye contact, but the whole `staring at a blank screen' thing was freaking me out.
It only took a brief look at him to see that his eyes were red, but that's just not the sort of thing that you mention. I'm pretty sure there's a code somewhere that says friends are not supposed to call attention to the crying thing. We are sworn to ignore tears and any evidence of them and act like it's not happening. Or something.
I was pretty sure Ry wouldn't have let me see it if he didn't want me to know that something a little more serious than he was saying had happened, and he didn't want to talk about it. So I didn't bring it up.
"I called Chloe, too," Ry said. "You guys can be bored with me."
"Why didn't you call Colin," I said. "Why should Chloe and I have to suffer with you? We didn't even know what you were going to do." I wasn't jealous. I wasn't bitter, either. Teasing him just seemed like the right thing to do. It was something that we always did when we knew the other was upset. We teased each other until we forgot about everything else. I'd tried the same thing with Chloe once in fifth grade when she'd tried to cry on my shoulder and she stopped speaking to me for a week. But it worked with Ry.
I grabbed a ball from his nightstand and tossed it at his head.
"Shut up, Jake," he said, catching the ball and immediately throwing it back, like we'd been playing a game of catch and I hadn't just tried to hit him in the head with a baseball. "Don't act like it's such a hassle being here. What else do you have to do?"
I resented that. A lot. Dickhead. But letting him verbally abuse me seemed like a small price to pay for getting rid of the red eyes.
Ryan was smirking at me. "You'd probably be sitting at home with your pants down, trying your damnedest to grow a pair so you could actually dial Tracy's number. I saved you, dude, admit it."
I wanted to hit him. Hard. Partly because it was true--I probably wouldn't have had the guts to call her--and partly, because I'd forgotten all about Tracy. Which was just bad for so many reasons.
I wasn't about to admit any of that to Ryan, though and I didn't know how to respond. Tackling him seemed like a good idea. I stood up, on the verge of doing just that when he spoke again.
"He's being a prick," he said suddenly, with a forced laugh that probably would have sounded normal if I didn't know him so well. He was upset and I remembered why I was there in the first place. Because Ry needed me. I sat back down to listen. I didn't need to ask who he was talking about.
"He wants me to go see my mother," Ry went on, chuckling the way he always did when he was saying something that really wasn't at all funny. "I swear, he thinks her headstone has some sort of mystical power. He's just...he's being a dick. He said--well that part doesn't matter; the point is... you're my friend. That means it's your job to sit here and be pissed off with me. There's a saying about misery and company. You know the one."
He was laughing when he said it and this would normally be the part where I'd agree with him, laugh and make a joke about his father's comb over or something, but I kind of wanted to ask what his dad had done or said to make him so upset. Ryan didn't really cry...ever. I was curious as to what pushed him over the edge.
But like I said, Ry? I'd known him for eight years. I knew when it was time for a subject change
"How'd it go with, Michelle?" I asked, feigning curiosity. I already knew the answer to that question, but I didn't know Ry's side of the story. Ry's date with Michelle had been over a week ago and it'd gone horribly. Colin told me and I'd heard the story from about a half a dozen bitching girls that thought it'd be a good idea to bitch at me about Ry's shortcomings, like I could actually do something about it. I couldn't. Ry did what he wanted. Nobody told him what to do. Besides, I didn't really think he had very many shortcomings. He was just different. A little hard to understand.
"It went," he said simply, smiling gratefully at me. "She refused to eat anything from the theatre and made sure she told me how unhealthy everything that I had was. Dude, I swear, if I ever hear another fun calorie fact, I'm gonna find someplace high and jump," he laughed, shaking his head. "Plus, she talked through the whole movie. It was fucking annoying."
I smiled. "It's not that bad," I said without thinking.
Ryan smirked at me, eyes widening. "You and Caydence? I forgot to ask what happened with that." He laughed. "Can't have been too great. Not if you asked me for Tracy's number. Unless you're turning into some kind of man whore."
"Huh?" I asked. What the fuck did Caydence have to do with anything? And can I just say; man whore? Definitely not. I was about as far as you could possibly get from man whore. I hated it, but `prude' was probably much more accurate.
"Caydence Martell," Ryan prompted, sliding his chair closer to the bed. "You left school with her yesterday. Is she the one you took to a movie?"
"I never said I took anyone to a movie." This was like, the third conversation I'd been completely lost for in that day alone. I really wished people would stop jumping topics so quickly.
Ry was frowning. "You said `it's not that bad'" he reminded me. "How do you know? I mean...I know Chloe doesn't talk during movies...and you don't really hang out with anyone else away from school. And it's definitely too early to be Tracy. So who were you watching movies with? Was it Caydence?"
Oh. Well, fuck.
"No," I answered hesitantly. I suppose I could have lied and said it was Caydence but Ry was exactly the type of person that would hunt her down and ask her how it was or what she thought of me. I couldn't tell him the truth either, though. He'd know.
Yes, I'm fully aware of how ridiculous that is. It's just...Ryan had assumed that it was a girl. I was afraid he'd suspect if I told him it was a boy.
"Who was it, then?" he asked, looking expectant.
I was extremely grateful when the door opened and Chloe walked in. Her timing was always wonderful.
Unlike me, Chloe had never been afraid to use the front door. Probably because Mr. Lucas loved her. It's the brains thing, I think. Mr. Lucas teaches at the local university and Chloe wasn't exactly short on brain power.
"I love your dad, Ry," Chloe said flopping down at the end of the bed. She actually lifted my legs and sat under them. It was comfortable enough, though, so I didn't really feel the need to try and kick her away. I almost reconsidered, though, when Ry frowned and turned back around to stare at the blank screen again.
It obviously wasn't a good time to love Mr. Lucas. At least, it wasn't a good time to say it. I frowned at Chloe.
"You love everyone that gives you cookies," I said, noting the plastic container in her hands.
Chloe narrowed her green eyes at me for a second before laughing. "True," she said, shrugging. She popped the lid off and handed them to me after taking one for herself. "So, what are we doing? Are we going somewhere?"
"I'm grounded," Ry answered, shaking his head. "You're lucky my dad let you in the front door. I told you to use the window."
"That's stupid," Chloe said, rolling her eyes at him. "If he didn't want you to have company, he'd put bars over your window. He knows that's how Jake gets in here." She turned to look at me. "He even knows you're here now. He said to tell you congratulations, by the way."
I shrugged. "Who cares," I said, with an expression that I hoped looked dismissive. I'm the loyal type. And I didn't miss the grin Ryan shot over his shoulder at me.
Chloe frowned at me, but didn't comment. She turned to Ryan. "So, let's go somewhere."
"You're encouraging him to break the rules?" I asked, laughing. "Oh, god. The world's ending, isn't it? We're all going to die."
Chloe punched me. I really thought the hitting thing was supposed to be something that guys did but Chloe abused me far more than Ry. I was going to have a bruise after that last one.
"Shut up," she said. "You're the square, not me. Besides, Ryan's never really grounded, right Ry?"
Ry's face was scrunched up, when he turned back around to face us. I wanted to tell him to stop making that face before he ended up like his dad, but I caught myself.
"He took my flat screen," Ry said simply in response to Chloe's question as if that explained everything.
"So?" Chloe said, bemused. "That doesn't mean anything. He's taken things before. Doesn't mean you can't leave."
Ry just sighed.
"We're wallowing in self pity, Chlo," I informed her, when Ryan didn't answer. "We don't want to go anywhere; we just want to sit here and be miserable and maybe talk about the many girls Ryan's wooed in the past month. Catch up."
I moved before Chloe's punch landed. Ha.
"Missed," I said, grinning.
Chloe rolled her eyes at me and pulled my legs back into her lap.
"Whatever," she shrugged. "Who's the unlucky girl this week?" she asked, curiously.
I had no idea how she did that. I mean, with her crush on Ry, you would think that this would be a topic she avoided, but she never did. She never even seemed upset about it. She even laughed along with us when we went over Ry's dates and she'd actually given Ry advice more than a few times. It was weird.
"I resent that," Ry said, but his tone was light. Amused. He stood up and came over to join us on the bed, literally climbing over me to sit against the wall. "Anyway," he added once he was comfortable. "We weren't talking about my girls anyway. We were talking about Jake's."
Shit. I'd forgotten about that.
"No," I protested feebly. "We were talking about Michelle."
"Michelle?" Chloe's eyes widened. "What happened to Kyler? I liked Kyler."
Ry ignored her. "No," he shot right back at me, grinning. "We were talking about Caydence." He turned to Chloe. "Jake left school with her yesterday. And, apparently, took her to a movie."
Chloe frowned. "I thought you were with Shane yesterday," she said, looking confused. "I thought you said Caydence begged off. And...you were with him today too, right? I thought I saw him walk into your house with you."
I hated her so much right then. Or maybe I hated Ryan.
Or maybe, I hated me.
I really don't know why I was so dead set against telling them anything about Shane. I just was. I definitely wasn't the best liar around and I was sure if I said anything about Shane...I'd end up saying everything. So, obviously it was best not to say anything at all.
Except...Chloe and Ryan were both looking at me with matching looks that ranged somewhere between expectant and confused and I had to say something.
"Uhm..." was about all I could think of. Brilliant, right?
"'Uhm' what?" Chloe pressed.
My face was burning. And I don't think I'd ever been so uncomfortable around my two best friends in all the time I'd known them.
But Ry laughed suddenly. "Chill, dude," he said, grinning at me. "It's not gonna kill your rep to admit that you were watching a movie with that loser instead of a hot girl. It's not going to do anything to your reputation at all because it's exactly what we would have expected from you, bro. We never thought you were a stud in the first place."
Stud? Who says stud? Also, loser? It was one of the last words I'd used to describe Shane. Well...if I were being honest, it was one of the last words I'd use. But I let it go, relieved that he didn't think there was anything weird going on with Shane and I.
I was overreacting. Paranoid. Obviously. I'm good at those sorts of things.
I just shot Ry my favorite finger and glared at him. "Asshole," I muttered. "Just because I haven't dated as many girls as you--"
"Any girls," he corrected me, smirking. "And that game of Truth or Dare where you got to kiss Tonya--which, by the way, I hate you for--does not count. And neither does Chloe."
"What?!" Chloe and I said at the same time. It totally counted. I mean...it was in sixth grade and I only kissed her once and it ended horribly but it counted. It counted because, for a solid week, I told everyone who would listen that Chloe was my girlfriend and Chloe let me. It most definitely counted.
"It doesn't count," Ry reiterated, throwing his hands up. "Chloe's not a real girl, she's Chloe."
Chloe didn't even flinch. I did. If it were me that said something like that there would have been no place to hide. You wouldn't think so, because she's tiny but Chloe could inflict some damage when she wanted to.
Ry totally got off scot-free though. Or...almost.
"Shut up, ass wipe," Chloe said, bored. "I meet all the girl requirements. And I'll traumatize you and drop my pants right now to prove it. See how you like that."
Ry's responding grin was almost feral. "I can't say I'd have a problem with that. I want to...but I can't."
I laughed. Chloe didn't. She actually blushed. It was weird. When Ry was insulting her or talking about other girls, she took it all in stride, but the second he starts almost flirting with her, she goes all shy? Weird.
"Shut up," Chloe repeated, quietly before taking a breath and rolling her eyes. "Are you going to tell me what happened with Kyler or not? Why'd you have to fuck that up? She was my favorite."
Yeah. Chloe makes absolutely no sense whatsoever sometimes.
Ry shrugged. "Her time of the month lasted the entire month," he said.
Chloe actually growled. "Jesus, Ry, you are such a dick. There's a reason you never have a girlfriend for long, you know. And it's not because you just too much guy for one girl to have all to herself, like you go around telling everyone. I know your secret. You're an ass and nobody can put up with you for long."
I had no idea where that little outburst came from. Chloe never freaked out, or threw fits. That was my job. I think I was actually a little bit afraid of her, right then. The room went silent for a second while Ry and I stared at her. I wondered vaguely if it was her time of the month but my momma didn't raise no fool and I kept my mouth shut and didn't ask. I wasn't sure I wanted to know anyway.
"You put up with me," Ryan said eventually moving to sit next to Chloe. He was making his `I'm totally sucking up' face. Both Chloe and I could see right through it. It still worked on both of us every fucking time. "You and Jake have put up with me for a lot longer than a week," he added.
"Yeah," Chloe said sounding exasperated. "Well, I'm special and Jake's stupid."
"Hey!" What the fuck did I do to deserve such hostility? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
"She's right, bro," Ry said, and he patted my leg sympathetically. "We're here for you, though."
I laughed. Chloe laughed. And even though things were tense not two seconds before, everything was okay. Chloe started talking about her mom and the baby, and I told her about not getting to swim that day, and she scolded Ryan, and we all laughed about it.
We even talked about Shane. Not much, but Ry did want to know why I was suddenly hanging out with the guy that'd humiliated him freshman year. I actually told him Shane was alright. I actually talked about him. I didn't tell them much...I couldn't have, not without giving away my secret, but I told them some. And we laughed about the way I had no idea who he was when I first met him. We laughed about Ry's dad, and how Chloe's mom had a crying fit when she couldn't fit her foot into her favorite slippers.
We all scrunched ourselves on to Ry's bed, limbs overlapping, elbows bumping and we talked. We could go on for hours when we got like that, talking about absolutely nothing in particular, and everything at the same time.
"No, I need to be able to grab the toilet paper from underneath." This from Ry and he said it like it was the most essential thing in the world. And right then, despite how fucking stupid, the topic of conversation was, it seemed just as important as he'd made it sound.
And when Chloe disagreed with him and said it was easier to rip toilet paper from the top, I actually took the time to think about which way I preferred. It seemed imperative that I have an opinion on the subject. I was, after all, the tie breaker.
I loved them both. I'd known them for forever and I really couldn't imagine my life without them. They were worth the trouble I'd have to go through to `fix' my little problem.
They were worth it.
I once read that if you tell yourself something enough times, or hear something enough times, you'll start to believe it. Eventually, what you're telling yourself will become fact.
I want to let you all know right now, that is ten different kinds of bullshit. It doesn't work. Don't waste your time. Thank you for your time.
No matter how many times I told myself that I didn't want anymore than friendship from Shane, I still caught myself staring at his lips far more than was necessary, and I might have hung behind in the locker room once or twice to catch a glimpse of certain parts of him that I'd yet to see.
Both times, I ran out before he dropped his pants. Speedos keep no secrets, you know.
Obviously, telling myself I didn't want him wasn't working.
I tried to tell myself I was straight, instead. I almost believed it too. Then Shane fucked it all up, by calling me. Just to say hi.
I'd thought that things would get better with time. I wanted him around and I'd thought that eventually I'd get used to Shane, the way that I was used to Ryan, and he wouldn't have any effect on me anymore. I was so wrong it's not even funny.
After a week, it was almost like I was addicted to him. I actually went looking for him at school when I wasn't with Ry and Chloe. I looked up his number for fuck's sake. I wanted him around. I couldn't fucking stop wanting him around.
I laughed more when he was around. I was warmer. I liked...learning about him. I even learned how to have a normal conversation with him and I liked the things we talked about. I was almost content when I wasn't beating myself up for the feelings I was having. And I'd started doing stupid, crazy things, like wonder what it'd be like if Shane liked me the way that I liked him. Or what it'd be like to touch. Kiss. Hold.
Do you know what it means to be royally fucked? Because I do.
Shane was excruciatingly stubborn. It was one of the things I'd learned about him in the two weeks that I'd known him. He was the most stubborn person I'd ever met.
"You're doing it wrong," I told him for what seemed like the millionth time in the past hour. My mother had asked me to put her new weed whacker together and Shane had offered to help me put it together when I took it out to the back yard. `Help' was definitely not what he was doing. He wouldn't even let me touch the damn thing.
"I'll get it," he snapped, annoyed. His forehead glistened with sweat and it wasn't hard to see that he was frustrated. He was chewing on his lower lip, almost violently.
I sighed. "I've done it before," I informed him, staring down at him. "I could help you."
"I said I'd do it," he responded, without looking up at me. "Just...go somewhere else and stop distracting me."
"I live here," I said with a laugh, kneeling next to him and laying a hand on his forearm. "You go somewhere else."
He frowned finally looking up at me. But it didn't make me uncomfortable as it usually did. He seemed genuinely flustered. Shane was so much harder to handle when he seemed so sure of himself. It was almost like he could see right through me. Like he knew what I was thinking. Now, he just looked pissed at me and that somehow made everything different than when he was studying me like he knew.
"I can put the damn thing together," he said after a minute. "If I can't, it's broken."
I smirked. I wondered if my smirk looked anything like his or had anywhere near the same effect on him that his had on me. "It's not broken," I said, shaking my head.
"It is," he insisted, finally looking away from me. He didn't look back at the weed whacker, though. He was looking at my hand, still resting on his forearm.
I ripped it away.
It definitely wasn't the right time for Shane to laugh at me. I didn't really see what was funny and I hated that I didn't know what he was thinking. But Shane was always doing that; laughing at me when he had to know I was embarrassed. He never held back. I'd hated it at first. I still hated it.
I was getting used to it, though.
"Shut up," I grumbled, standing up and kicking him in his ass. He almost fell over.
It was my turn to laugh.
"Hypocrite," he said, but he was smiling.
No, I didn't understand why he was calling me a hypocrite. Bu then...there were a lot of things I didn't understand about Shane, and I'd grown tired of asking him to explain the things he said and never getting an answer. He'd always just grin, shake his head, and change the subject.
"I've decided it's broken," Shane said suddenly, standing up. "You should just borrow mine."
I laughed at him. "We have one and it works. My mom just wanted a new one. So, step aside and let me put it together."
He rolled his eyes and put his arm out in a `be my guest' gesture.
"You know," I said, picking up the handle of the weed whacker, pulling the plastic cap from the end of it and connecting it to the lower piece of metal. "I heard somewhere that you have to be at least fifteen percent smarter than any equipment you try to operate. This doesn't look good for you."
Shane snorted. "Whatever. It's your fault I didn't get it. You were distracting me."
"And you refused to read the instructions," I laughed.
Shane shrugged and nodded. "There's that, too."
I laughed again and we were silent while I worked. I finished fairly quickly and mixed the gas and oil together immediately after so that it'd be ready when my mom wanted to use it. And by that I mean, when she was ready to make me use it.
I dropped the weed whacker when I was finished and sprawled out on my back in the grass like I was exhausted. Shane laughed and sat next to me.
It wasn't really all that difficult to put a weed whacker together and I'll admit to being a little smug. I could put the damn thing together with no problem and Shane had worked up a sweat without ever having accomplished a thing. It felt pretty good. I felt pretty good, laying there with the sun beating down on me. And it had been...cool, seeing Shane frustrated and sweaty.
...Forget the sweaty thing.
"I was thinking of asking Tracy out."
Yes, I said it. Out loud. Don't ask me why, the answer is so far beyond my comprehension, I couldn't even begin to tell you.
Shane snorted. Actually snorted. I knew I didn't really have a reputation with the...'ladies'...or whatever the fuck, but Shane barely knew me. He couldn't possibly know that.
"I'm serious," I said, more offended than I can say. It stopped his laughing, at least.
"Oh," he said, moving to lay down in the grass next to me. We were in almost the same positions that we were in the first day I'd officially met him at the park. Except, we were a little closer together and I was actually laying down, facing the sky, instead of sitting up facing him.
"Why?" he asked, studying the sky.
What a stupid fucking question.
"Because I want to," I said simply.
Shane just looked at me. He didn't frown, the way Chloe would, or laugh and mock me the way Ryan would. He just looked at me. But Shane was a new friend and it was okay for him to be different from my other friends.
Shane sighed after a moment. "You're so--weird sometimes...but I knew that, actually," he said. "I mean, I thought it was a rumor, but..." he shrugged. "You should probably ask her soon if you're really going to do it, she's getting frustrated with the waiting."
My eyes widened. "What?! How does she know? How do you know."
Now Shane laughed. "We're in high school. Everyone knows."
Ryan. It was probably Colin that spread it all around but it was Ryan's fault for telling the fucker.
"Ryan," I said aloud, when I caught Shane's question glance. "Asshole."
Shane nodded. "Oh," he said and then frowned. "Why isn't he ever here? He's your best friend, right? I've been here every day for the passed seven days and I still haven't gotten another opportunity to get into his pants."
There are just certain things that people should never say. That was one of them. My mind provided me with all sorts of really bad images.
I was never going to be able to look at Ry again and I blushed scarlet when I looked at Shane.
"What," he asked, grinning like he knew exactly what was going on in my horribly dirty mind. My mother would be appalled.
"Nothing," I said, swallowing. "Uhm...Ry's been grounded since that thing with the school paper. I go over to his house, but he can't leave."
I didn't think it counted as a lie, since Ry actually believed he couldn't leave.
"Right," Shane said laughing, and he shifted, just barely, but it was enough to bring him closer to me and his arm bare arm brushed against mine. I waited. He didn't move away.
I always thought that when people said that their `hair stood on end', it was a bad thing. It didn't feel bad. It felt good. I guess I could have freaked out about it and moved away, but I was feeling really good. Content. And freaking out was just obvious and exhausting.
"Let's go see him, then," Shane said, his voice almost soft, and his words didn't really register with me until he added, "He's probably lonely if he's been grounded for so long."
I freaked out. The arm touching, I could handle. Seeing Ry was out of the question.
"No!" I didn't really a shout that loud. Not exactly. I'm sure there were a few people in the next town that didn't hear me.
"He hates you," I added quickly when Shane shot up and stared at me like I'd lost my mind. "For the pants thing," I finished lamely.
"Christ," he said, lying back down. "Really, Jake, I'm pretty sure `chill pills' don't exist, but you should look into it, just in case. I was kidding. I know he doesn't like me."
Note, to self and also to anyone who'd like to know. There's a reason that `freaking out' is called that. Freaks do it. I am a freak. Freaking out, is just broadcasting that little fact.
"Sorry," I muttered. His arm wasn't touching mine anymore. It was disgustingly hard not to miss it. Shane shifted again, more deliberately this time, but instead of bringing him closer to me, it took him further away. I'm not sure why that made me feel like the lowest kind of shit.
It wasn't that I was ashamed to be seen with him or anything and I would have said that out loud but it sounded lame, even in my head. I just...couldn't be around Ry and Shane at the same time. I'd finally stopped freaking out every time Shane looked at me, or smiled at me. Hell, he could even touch me now and I was okay. Mostly.
I just...couldn't be around both of them at the same time. It would be awkward and...wrong. Things felt different with Shane and...I don't know. The situation had disaster written all over it.
But I didn't want Shane to think I was ashamed to be his friend. I wasn't.
Friend? I was having trouble meaning it. Or...I was having trouble feeling it. Friend? I didn't want him to be my friend. Not really. And until I fixed that, Ry couldn't see me with Shane.
Ry knows me. He would know something was up with me. Maybe, he wouldn't know what it was, but he'd ask a hell of a lot of questions trying to figure it out. I could not be around them both at the same time. If I was with Shane, Ry couldn't be there.
Unfortunately, Ryan didn't get the memo. I neglected to tell him not to come over, because I'm ten different kinds of stupid and I should have fucking known that Ry was never really grounded.
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A preview...if you'd like.
Ry groaned, exasperatedly. "You don't get it, Jake, you're...you're a good guy...just don't talk to him. He's..."
"He's WHAT?!" I was actually getting worried and I found myself wondering crazy things like whether or not Marco, Ry's dead dog, was really hit by a car and there were terrifying scenes running through my mind wherein Ry walked in on Shane brutally butchering poor Marco. "What's your issue? What's wrong with him?"
"He's a fucking queer!" Ry snapped, throwing his hands in the air, defeated.
It's weird...but that was more terrifying than the dead dog scenario. Even worse, was the way that Ry had said that word. Queer. He may as well have said puppy murderer. Or whatever.
The thing is, though...he wasn't telling me anything I didn't already know. Or...at least, suspected.