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Summary: Andrew's parents invite Zane to stay at their home for his senior year instead of moving to Florida with his parents. They're best friends. Things change.
Part of the Second Star 'Verse.

In Our Bedroom After the War
By: Tony
Email: Batmanhater@aol.com

Zane thought it over for awhile now, and he really felt like he had what he wanted to say together. All he had to do was just get it out and be done with it. He picked up Andrew's dirty soccer cleats from their strewn position over his neat stack of handwritten Bio notes and dropped them on Andrew's bed.

Those are dirty,” Andrew pointed out, helpfully. “I kind of sleep here. So. Yeah.”

Zane leaned against the dresser and faced Andrew, who was sitting on his bed fiddling with his Nintendo DS. Of course he didn't just take the shoes off the bed himself. They sat there, caked with dried mud, and already forgotten. Ridiculous. He cleared his throat.

I think from now on you should take the futon, and I can sleep on the bed.”

Andrew's lips twitched, but he barely looked up from his handheld, peering at him through his dark hair that fell into his eyes. “Oh, is that right?”

You bet'cha,” Zane replied. He crossed his arms. “I have a list.”

The room was pretty big as far as rooms went. It was over a thousand square feet, so there was a lot of space that was devoted to minimalistic IKEA furniture, a flat screen, a queen sized bed, desk and a nice futon that Andrew had inherited from his older brother, who moved off to college three years ago. This left plenty of room that was unfortunately claimed by Andrew's dirty laundry, strewn wherever he dropped them, and various dishes and sports equipment laid about carelessly. It was disgusting.

Andrew blew stray hair away from his face. “I kind of have to get ready for school, so is this like a long list, or can you summarize it for me.”

You're listening to the whole thing.”

I'm just going to tell you, dude, that it's not likely. Since, you know, this is my room. And my parents are letting you finish school here, so it's not like you pay rent or anything. Oh, and again it's my room.”

And I'm thankful for that. Finishing senior year in Florida would blow.” He pointed his finger at Andrew. “This is hard for me, too, but let's be mature and get through this.”

Andrew rolled his shoulders and leaned back. He spread his hands and said graciously, “I'm the epitome of mature. It's my middle name.”

Your middle name's Carol.”

Never fail to throw that out, huh?” Andrew shook his head, looking at Zane with pity. “It's a family name. Sorry my great Uncle Carol fought and died in Vietnam so young upstarts like you can sit there playing games on your Sega and disrespect veterans.”

Zane rolled his eyes and gave the boy a round of applause. Andrew bowed his head accepting the praise with a grin.

Nice distraction,” said Zane dryly. He pushed his glasses up his nose and pulled a folded list from his jeans.

Andrew snorted. “Typed it up? Look at Mr. Bigshot over here.”

My first reason,” Zane talked right over him. “You've turned me into a maid. I feel like fucking Dobby the elf picking up after you all the time in here. Giving me the bed would be like compensation.”

Andrew shook his head. “House elves don't get wages or compensation, so you just pretty much screwed yourself over on that point.”

Zane narrowed his eyes as his friend mimed shooting a gun at him with his fingers. He looked pretty proud of himself too. Bastard.

We have to get going if we want to make it on time to school,” said Andrew, grabbing his messenger bag. Zane can see him chewing on the inside of his cheek to not laugh. “Can we do this later? Like to be continued or something.”

Wrinkling his nose, Zane debated on the options. They did have to drive to school, and he was on a roll this semester with no tardies. The school gave out coupons to Chili's for students with perfect attendance at the end of every semester. And Zane wanted that coupon. He sighed and folded up his list, carefully tucking it back into his jeans.

This isn't over,” he vowed.

Andrew just hummed happily, practically skipping out the door. “Whatever you say, Carrot Top.”

I will smack your teeth straight.”

The taller boy just laughed. Andrew glared darkly at his back. He snagged his backpack and followed his friend down the stairs. It wasn't his fault his hair was Crayola red. He dyed it on a dare. A little over a month later he was still walking around with a head full of dark red hair. He was damn lucky he could pull it off.

Zane picked up his skateboard from where it leaned against the wall near the front door. He tugged on his beanie, rolling his eyes at the hurry up motion Andrew was making.

You done, Princess?”

Adjusting the hat with exaggerated slowness, Zane dropped his arms and winked. “Now I am.”

Andrew tugged at the beanie on his way by, just for good measure. Zane swatted at him, but Andrew was already dodging through the doorway, laughing. Zane's car was a shiny black Honda Civic his parents bought him before they moved to Florida. They felt guilty for trying to move him his senior year, and the car was supposed to make him not resent Orlando so much. Or it would have if the Wessons hadn't opened their home to him, offering the choice of staying with them to finish out his last year of high school. And really, what kid wanted to start senior year at a new school in some random state. So his parents begrudgingly agreed as long as he kept his grades up, or he'd be on the first plane to Orlando.

Zane slammed the door when he slid into the car, already finding Andrew fiddling with the aux adapter and iPod until something suitable blared through the speakers. He cleared his throat pointedly when Zane started the car.

Buckle up for safety,” Andrew drawled, tugging at his own belt for emphasis.

He takes one defensive driving class and now he's Officer Do-Good.”

He puffed his chest up. “They gave me a certificate.”

They printed it up using Microsoft Office.” Zane pointed out, speeding off down the street. He wanted that perfect attendance coupon.

Andrew drummed on his thighs to the beat of the music. “It has my name on it.”

They misspelled it.”

Hmm, first you make me miss breakfast, which is the most important meal of the day, I may add, and now you're crushing my accomplishments. Evil, man. Just evil.” His stomach rumbled and he waved at his midsection for emphasis. He scratched at his nose, turning to watch the row of houses go past out the window.

The stoplight flashed red and Zane brought the car to a stop. He reached into his backpack sitting behind his seat to grab something from the front pocket. He pressed himself back into the seat and tossed the wrapped parcel at the sulking passenger. Andrew caught the poptarts in his hand, a sunny grin breaking through his pout.

You're amazing sometimes,” Andrew crowed, tearing into the wrapping. He pointed. “Look it's the s'mores kind. The best kind, Zane!”

He's smiling like he just won the lottery. Crumbs are all over his chin. Unbelievable.

Zane smiled indulgently. “Yeah, yeah.”

-

During the weekday the mall usually wasn't busy. They only saw real peak numbers during the weekends and holidays. So the food court was relatively empty. Andrew poked his turkey sub with a sad face.

My sandwich taste like garbage,” he said sadly. “I think the girl used low fat mayo.”

Zane patted his wrist. “It's so hard being you.”

Drake wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Have you guys got sick of each other yet? What will you do if you fight?”

Zane stared at his band mate. Well, their band was a work-in-progress. There was just the two of them so far, but Andrew had already been designated groupie, much to his protest. Zane was about to answer when Andrew slung an arm around his shoulders.

Look at that pretty, pretty face,” Andrew cooed, pinching his cheeks. “Who could fight with this guy?”

Zane narrowed his eyes, side-eying the arm hanging off him. “I swear to God if this is leading up to another Raggedy Andy joke, so help me, Andrew.”

Andrew threw up his hands. He tried to look to look innocent, but his smirk ruined it. “You said it not me.”

You are the worse thing in my life right now.”

Even when I make this face?” Andrew hedged.

He made his eyes really big like a schoolboy and pouted like he was getting paid for it. With his flippy brown hair and hazel eyes, the overall effect was him looking like a very cheap baby prostitute. Zane snorted. Damn him.

Your powers are strong,” admitted Zane like a quiet epiphany.

Andrew preened, running his hand through his hair. “I learned everything I know from Martha Stewart.”

Whoa. Zane gaped. “That makes no sense.”

Have you seen those K-Mart commercials,” Andrew demanded. He wiggled his eyebrows. He looked ridiculous.

Drake patted him on the shoulder and said solemnly, “I hear you, man.”

Zane and Andrew both turned to him with wide eyes. Drake squirmed in his seat at their incredulous stare pinning him.

TMI much, dude,” Andrew drawled.

Drake's mouth fell open. “But.”

Totally didn't need to know you spank it to Martha Stewart,” added Zane, cutting off Drake's protest.

They met eyes over Drake's head. Their shoulders shook from holding in their suppressed laughter. Drake's face turned red and that only fueled their tag-team assault.

I hate you both,” Drake hissed.

Andrew ruffled Drake's hair like he was a particularly mulish kitten. He slung his arm back over Zane's shoulder. His fingertips rested just below the shirt's sleeve and Zane felt the heat of them press against his skin like a brand.

-

Zane was kind of in love with his guitar. It was an acoustic guitar that belonged to his father and was his favorite birthday gift, hands down. Andrew called it an extension of his penis. Zane called him a moron.

He sat on the futon strumming his guitar and periodically scribbled a new lyric on the notebook beside him. It was something he did every once in awhile, and when he worked he kind of got in a zone. Andrew sighed. Zane ignored him. Andrew sighed louder. Zane increased his volume.

I'm bored,” said Andrew when Zane stopped to scratch his nose.

Zane sighed. “I'm not letting you French-braid my hair again. That was a one-time deal.”

Andrew's shoulders dropped. “Such a buzzkill.”

Why don't you go sip on hot bleach.”

That's hilarious coming from the male version of the Little Mermaid,” said Andrew, eyes glittering with mirth. “Try as you might I know you think I'm adorable.”

It's been awhile since you've had a date, huh?” Zane asked, tongue firmly in cheek.

Andrew shook his head. “Been keeping my love life under heavy surveillance? Stalker.”

Zane grabbed at his throat. He coughed like he couldn't breathe. Andrew looked at him in concern, but Zane waved him off.

Sorry, it's just that your ego is filling the room and now there's barely any air.”

It's a stupid joke, but Andrew laughed anyway. It's kind of why they're friends. They just kind of get each other.

Andrew huffed out a heavy sigh. “Why do you hate so much?”

Your smile is heavens gift to me. Near or far, know I'll always be here. This is my solemn truth,” sang Zane in a clear tenor. He finished with a raised eyebrow in Andrew's direction.

You ginger-son of a bitch,” he whispered, a slow smile blossoming on his face. “Did you just write me a heart song?”

What? No,” Zane snapped. “I was just showing you I have a heart, asshole.”

It was too late. Zane groaned as Andrew shot off his bed, hands above his head. He let out a loud whoop and did this dance that was half gyrating and half awkward. He looked like he was on coke.

You like me, you really like me!” he howled, doing a dance routine that Zane swore he ripped from some boyband. “I'm awesome.”

Zane picked up his guitar. He ducked his head to hide his smile, fixing his eyes on the guitar strings and his finger placement. He played until the tightness in his stomach loosened, until warmth spread all through his veins.

-

Mrs. Wesson poked her head in the room one day in January when Andrew's at soccer practice. Zane was a storm of determination. He was so focused on cleaning up the hellhole that passed for a room that he honest to God screamed when he saw Andrew's mom leaning against the jamb.

You sounded like a baby Orca,” she said, amazed.

Zane flushed feeling like a freaking schoolgirl. He cleared his throat. “I was...surprised.”

She shook her head at the pile of dirty clothes Zane was separating from clean ones. “You really don't have to do this, Zane. This is Andrew's mess and that boy's got to learn to pick up after himself.” Mrs. Wesson tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “Your making me look unfit. I feel like I should be paying you or something.”

Payment is me getting to breathe clean air. I feel like that's important.”

A laugh left her throat. “Last year I vowed never to step foot in here. I can't afford to catch the plague.”

Lucky,” he muttered enviously. He dreamed of one day sleeping in fresh air. It had been a long five months.

Mrs. Wesson leaned forward and said in a whisper, “How about this, I baked cookies. They're all yours if you want. I won't tell Andrew if you won't.”

What kind?” he asked curiously.

Chocolate chip.”

Zane dropped the soccer jersey on the dirty pile of clothes and laughed. “You had me at baked cookies.”

-

With soccer being in season Andrew had been practicing pretty hard. He'd been clocking extra gym time since the off season and it was paying off. His chest was insane. Zane couldn't help but admire the ripped body sprawled across the couch. Andrew was in jeans and his boots and nothing else. A glass of water was on the coffee table along with a half eaten bag of Marshmallows. He was dead asleep, probably lulled to sleep by Sportscenter still playing on the TV. Zane thought ESPN was boring as Hell so he could see how anyone would fall asleep while watching.

He knew Andrew was in the comfort of his own home, but who walked around in everything but a shirt. Showoff. It was so like Andrew to be so enamored by his own abs. A devious grin formed on his face. Zane slid a sharpie from his pocket. He walked over to the sleeping boy and carefully dragged the cold marker across the smooth chest bared before him.

A minute later, Zane stepped back to admire his handiwork. Branded across Andrew's chest in black permanent marker is a single line surrounded by swirls and stars and hearts; “Bottom Bitch”.

Zane's shoulders shook as he smothered a snort, and he congratulated himself on a job well done. Kudos to him, he was awesome. He slipped the sharpie back into his pocket and turned. His foot hit the coffee table and he bit back a curse as the glass tipped over, spilling a small puddle of water across the surface. He groaned. Then paused, thinking.

Quickly Zane picked up Andrew's arm hanging off the couch. Slowly he moved the arm across the space until his hand settled on the fallen cup. He stepped away to make sure Andrew stayed sleeping and his arm remained in position. He ran from the living room, turned the corner and leaned against the wall by the entrance. Zane waited for a moment then bumped his elbow against the wall sending a loud thud echoing through the room.

He heard movement on the couch, the sound of Andrew waking up. There was a curse and the sound of Andrew hurriedly getting up and the sound of the cup being picked up and moved around. It was coming. He didn't have to wait a full minute before he heard Andrew gasp, followed by a confused murmur and choked back laughter.

This better wash out,” Andrew's voice growled from the living room. “Touché, Ginger.”

Zane sat against the wall, hands covering his mouth, laughter muffled, and his whole body shook. Tears pricked his eyes and he laughed until his stomach ached.

-

Winter rolled away giving the way to Spring. Zane took out his contacts in the bathroom and tugged at the reddish strands flipping out at the nape of his neck. He was due for a cut soon. Maybe he'd go tomorrow. He wiped at his glasses and stepped out into the bedroom. Zane didn't make it a foot in the room before he came to a stop, staring.

Zane blinked. “What's going on? I don't understand.”

Andrew span in a little circle gesturing at the clean floor. “Look we can see the floor,” he said gleefully. He drew himself up to his full height, like that made what he was about to say that much important. “I cleaned.”

You just dumped everything on the futon,” Zane said dryly, staring at the unbelievable pile of crap that was stacked together. “You know I sleep there, right?”

Andrew sighed, long and labored, but the corners of his lips were tugging up into a smile. “Well, I cleaned the floor so nice. All you'd need is a sleeping bag and you'd be good to go.”

No. That's idiotic.”

What? No. You're idiotic.”

Zane narrowed his eyes. “Is that my shirt?”

Andrew had the nerve to do a little bicep curling pose like he was Mr. freaking Universe, displaying the Led Zepplin print across the front like a show model. Zane wasn't that much smaller than Andrew, but the taller boy was definitely more muscular, and it showed with the shirt fitted on him like it was painted on.

I didn't want to get one of my shirts dirty, what with all the dust and stuff. And plus I look really good in this. Go on, admire me all you want. I don't mind,” Andrew said, voice dripping with faux politeness.

I swear.” Zane sighed. He rubbed his hands together. His skin tingled and his palms felt hot. “I hate everything about you.”

Andrew laughed, clear and loud. “You say that stuff all the time, you know that? I hate everything about you, Andrew, you're the worst thing in my life, or die, assshole.” He swiped at the hair that fell in his eyes, still grinning. “Your eyes though – you don't mean it. You say it, but you mean the opposite. Come on, give me a point on my best friend card. You know I'm right, Raggedy Andy.”

I hate you.”

He clapped his hands, body practically vibrating with happiness and triumph, as he pointed at Zane. “See! You're about to smile because you know I'm right.”

Zane rolled his eyes, doing his damnedest not to crack. “I have no idea what you're talking about. I want all that stuff off the futon, or I'm taking the bed tonight and your ass can sleep on the floor.”

Andrew shook his head. “Always talking about wanting in my bed. Obsessed.”

-

Sometimes Zane needed to be outside the house. He's always been like this. His parents had a picnic table in the backyard where he used to sit when he needed fresh air. He'd pluck at his guitar and stare at the sky, thinking there has to be more.

The Wessons don't have a picnic table, but there's a bench and a lone tree that stands proudly next to a faded gray shed. Zane sat on the bench, guitar resting on his lap.

Andrew squinted at the tree. “I think we should build a treehouse.”

You're eighteen years old,” Zane pointed out. “That ship has sailed.”

He pulled a serious face. “Age is nothing but a number.”

You sound like a pedophile.”

Zane,” Andrew whined out. “It'll be fun. We can put in a really cool rope. Oh, and a no girls allowed sign!”

Zane stared at him for a long moment. “Is this real life?”

The idea is just that awesome, right?” he asked, smiling so wide that Zane can see the back of his molars.

How about this, if you give me your bed I'll help you build the treehouse.”

Andrew raised his eyebrows. “Still gunning for that bed, huh?” His shoulders slumped. “No deal, Big Red. You'll die on that futon before I give up my luxurious bed.”

Nodding, Zane rolled his shoulders and adjusted his guitar. Andrew plopped down on the lawn. He teared a fistful of grass up from the ground. He stared up at Zane on the bench and the sun shined in his eyes, making them crinkle tight at the corners, light greenish-brown barely visible behind thick eyelashes.

Your red hair has made you evil.” Andrew glared up at Zane, but his eyes shone with humor. “I never get anything I want.”

He says this even as Zane eyes the shirt he was wearing. It was dark crimson and tight against his impressive torso. Evans was branded across the back along with Zane's family coat of arms dating back to the 17th century right underneath.

Zane bumped his shoe against Andrew's ankle. Ri-ight. Nice shirt.”

Andrew batted his eyelashes, looking up at Zane through his side-swept bangs that fell into his eyes. “I know right.”

Zane's heart sped up a little and he rolled his eyes. Andrew made a humming noise and lifted his hand, blowing hard into his open palm. Dozens of torn of blades of grass floated across the air, and Zane chuckled as they landed on his lap.

-

At least once a week, Andrew got this urge to play guitar even though he has, like, zero musical talent. It's like he's this gigantic blackhole of artistic ability. It's sad, really. Zane urged him to become a case study, but the idea was frequently shot down.

The futon dipped when Andrew sat on the edge, quiet as can be, like Zane can't feel the shift in the thin cushion. He knew he should open his eyes and tell Andrew to evaporate, but he foolishly thinks if he ignored him maybe he'll disappear like a food poisoning induced hallucination. It's not the first time he's thought this.

The guitar strums softly and Zane twitched. Then Andrew suddenly plucked at the strings savagely, belting out, “Hands down this is the best day I can ever remember, always remember, the sound of the stereo. The dim of the soft lights, the scent of your hair that you twirled in your fingers. And the time on the clock –”

Oh, God,” Zane moaned, he slammed the pillow over his head hoping that he'd suffocate. “We've talked about this. You're not my alarm clock, douche bag.”

He waved his arm up and around without lifting his head, hoping that he'd catch Andrew in the eye with his fist. No such luck. Andrew calmly avoided the flailing appendage. He tapped the skin on the nape of Zane's neck three times.

Zane tried to kick him but missed. “Die, scumbag.”

Goonies never say die.”

Zane chuckled. Okay that one was funny. He picked his head up, blinking blearily. “Today's only Monday, isn't it?” He turned over onto his back frowning at the ceiling. “If you sit next to me at lunch I will stab you in the leg with a fork. This is injustice.”

Good morning to you, too,” said Andrew, flattening his hand against Zane's chest.

If his hand lingered there a little longer than necessary. Neither one said a word.

-

The heavy bass line of the music broke the still of the night as the party continued in the lit up house set back from the road boarded by woods. Perfect for a party where alcohol and minors were in full capacity. It was the biggest party before graduation and everyone was letting loose. It wasn't the last party, but it was the best so far.

Can I bum a cigarette?” Zane asked Drake, blowing on his hands and rubbing them against his pants.

Drake was already holding up the pack. “As long as you got a light, bro.”

Zane doesn't usually smoke. But it's been a long time and he only ever does it when he's moody. And right now it was the only balm for his agitated nerves. He took a long drag and blew the smoke out in a huff of breath.

Zane where'd you go?” said Andrew, jogging across the lawn to the sea of cars Zane stood in. He panted a bit to catch his breath. “Why did you leave?”

Instead of looking at him Zane turned his stare to the ground and muttered, “Too many people. No room to move.” He glanced up trying to look away from the rumpled collar and smear of red against Andrew's jaw. “You have lipstick on your face.”

Damn it,” Andrew groaned. He wiped at his face savagely. “Stacy kisses like a Doberman. Sloppy.”

I don't think this is going to work.”

Andrew frowned, still wiping at his face. “What are you talking about?”

I had all these reasons why I should take the bed. You're messy, you have no concept of space, and you're inconsiderate – and really, all this just makes me want to move out.”

Zane looked him in the eyes, finally, and their locked gaze felt like an explosion in his chest. He couldn't tell if his heart was beating fast or slow, there was too much air in his lungs, and his breath was coming out all wrong, fast and heavy.

I don't understand.”

Andrew took a step back and his face was pale. He leaned against a pickup, panting and distressed, and he couldn't have looked more shocked. Zane wanted to take it back. Anything to soothe the hurt on Andrew's face. But he didn't.

Zane didn't look him in the eyes again. He didn't look at the smeared lipstick marring sun-kissed skin. He stared at the middle of Andrew's chest. Safe territory. “Thanks for letting me stay for so long anyway,” he said, stiffly and formally.

That was it. Andrew's shoulders straightened and a hard look came over his face. Anger flashed in his eyes along with something else that Zane didn't have a name for.

Really. This is how you're acting. Stacy's my clingy ex. You're just mad because I let her.” He stopped mid-sentence, swallowing heavily, biting his lower lip so hard that it turned white.

Anything would be better than that finished sentence. In this moment Zane wanted the earth to open up and drag him down and down, and down and down, until there was nothing but sweet darkness and nothingness. It may be the longest moment of Zane's entire life as the silence lingered in the air like something tangible and solid enough to touch. Zane sighed watching his own chest rise and fall.

This is San Francisco,” said Drake quickly, looking spooked. “You boys know 90210 is like a few cities over. God, I need a beer now.”

He sort of ran away before they could say anything.

Zane walked away. He couldn't take Andrew's presence anymore. He took a drag of the cigarette in his hand. He inhaled the smoke, letting it linger in his chest until it burned, and his cheeks went pink. He let the smoke out in a low exhale feeling the burn in the pit of his gut. He did it until the ache in his chest faded and the nervous, angry energy faded from his heart.

-

The next few days were quieter. They walked on eggshells around each other. The morning Zane dared pull out a suitcase Andrew had given him a hard look. “I swear Zane if you pack one bag –-”

It was said gruffly, but there was an ultimate fragility to it that startled Zane into stillness. He doesn't think, he knows this would break Andrew. His suitcase disappeared from sight shortly after that and never made a reappearance. And now when Andrew came home he didn't drop his things wherever. He took the time to put his belongings in their proper place, and their room was a whole lot neater.

Now instead of waking him with a song that could only be produced by a tone deaf sea lion, Andrew runs his fingers through Zane's hair until his eyes crack open and he whispers, softly, wake up.

Zane doesn't talk about it, doesn't want to change this, whatever it is. Andrew's different. It's two in the morning and they're yawning and resisting the lull of sleep that's on the verge of smothering them. The mattress felt like heaven. Way better than the futon. Zane sighed peacefully, enjoying the rare comfort. Andrew faced him on the bed, turning on his side and propping his head up on the crook of his elbow.

Are we pretending that it never happened?” Andrew asked, nervous smile on his lips. His eyes were fixed on the stitching of the bed comforter. “I can so do that if you want. Like. I dont. Things are weird, kinda.”

Zane closed his eyes trying to ignore the last ten months that's sprawled behind them, like some phantom staircase that's leading up to something. He turned onto his back counting the speckled paint of the ceiling, partially to hide the way his face went too warm, he's sure the flush was visible across the arch of his neck.

I thought we were already pretending,” he said at last, smiling crookedly.

Zane --” Andrew started.

Can we not.” Zane interrupted him. “I mean, I don't want to go into it. We're cool, Andrew. Let's forget it, okay?”

Andrew was silent for a minute, and then he smiled weakly turning over onto his back. They stared at the ceiling together, their shoulders brushing, but Andrew never answered the question.

-

Prom was like every other event their school hosted, lame. The punch wasn't even spiked like in every single teen move, ever. Most of their friends didn't even bother getting dates. There was no point, since everyone planned to leave early. Zachary Niley was throwing a party on the lake and that's when the real fun would start.

You clean up good, Wesson,” said Zane, gulping down the last of his punch. They stood on the outside of the dance floor near the cluster of tables. “You look like a mix between Zac Efron, a Ken doll, and a mountain troll.”

Andrew bumped their shoulders together. “Laying it on thick with the compliments, Opie. Be careful or I might start to think that you have a heart.”

Ssh,” Zane said with his finger over his lips. He winked. “Don't say that too loud. I have my hard skater boy rep to maintain.”

The music was loud. It was some electro pop song that was annoying but ultimately catchy after more than two plays. Zane looked through the crowd and his eyes darkened when they land on Stacy standing across the floor. She has her sights on Andrew with a kind of determined intensity. Zane's fingers tightened around the cup so hard that tiny fractures cracked across the surface.

Stacy looks like she wants to have your babies. You might get lucky tonight,” Zane said, smiling wanly. He waved his empty cup. “I'm going to get some more punch. Shit taste like some kind of super Kool-Aid.”

Andrew didn't glance her way. He shrugged and finished the last of his drink before turning to follow Zane. He walked close so he could talk into his ear over the music.

Hey, do you want to go to the skate park tomorrow?”

Zane raised an eyebrow. “You don't even like the skate park. You said it's like standing in the middle of a Tony Hawk wet dream.”

Well I'm full of surprises.”

Right. They go left. You go right.” Zane stopped him before they got to the refreshment table, though. “You seriously want to go? You suck at skating. You hate it there.”

Andrew looked fidgety. He smiled, but it was weak and timid. “But you like it there, so. If you're there. I'm there.”

Zane's eyes were wide. He swallowed heavily and looked down at the floor. “Yeah, okay then,” he said, voice suddenly hoarse as his throat squeezed tight.

Andrew's eyes lit up, relieved and happy, and they continued to the table. Not for the first time Zane realized Andrew's hand rested on his lower back as they walked through the dimly lit ballroom, guiding him through the sea of dancing bodies.

-

It's late Saturday night. The TV's on and an infomercial played silently on the flat screen. Zane snapped awake by a sense of urgency that he thinks come from a dream, but he can't remember it as soon as his eyes open.

It was like the pieces were all bared and the puzzle was done. He stood up, bare feet walking across the gray carpet to Andrew's bed. The boy was laid on his back with his hair haloed around him on the pillow. In the day Andrew was this ball of energy, always moving, loud and random. He was smiley and energetic and a pain in Zane's ass. Seeing him so still and quiet tugged at his heartstrings. Zane licked his lips and reached out to touch the tips of his fingers against the line of Andrew's jaw.

Everything has been pointing to this, leading up to this moment and he's tried to fight it but it's inevitable. The moment seemed heavy.

If we fall, we're going to fall hard,” he whispered, stroking his fingers gently across Andrew's cheek. “You're my best friend. I need you. What if we screw this up?”

Andrew was usually a sound sleeper. He wouldn't wake up even if music was played directly into his ear. Like normal, Andrew had some internal type of Zane radar. He could find Zane in the middle of a rave without missing a beat. So he shouldn't have been surprised when Andrew's eyes cracked open. Zane froze.

Really, Zane – while I'm sleeping,” he said, sleepiness making his voice come out in a rasp. His eyes were barely open, and he gave a tiny yawn, looking up at Zane standing over him with a sleepy smile. “I've never done this before. But. You feel it right? How epic we can be. You make me fucking dizzy. Do you know how much I want to kiss you, all the goddamn time?”

It took a moment to understand that Andrew was talking about him. The declaration felt too real. He knew he must look a sight with his slack jaw and wide eyes. Zane took a sharp breath. Warmth flooded through him, made his head swim, made his heart feel like it was filled to bursting with all the emotion he felt for this boy, who's staring at him with worried eyes, waiting on an answer. Looking so very vulnerable now that it's all on the line.

This is all your fault. Walking around with no shirt. Being there all the time with your stupid face.” His fingers caught the sleeve of Andrew's shirt and they tangle in the fabric. “I know you did this on purpose. You are the worst, I swear –-”

The brief look of panic and hurt shining in Andrew's eyes faded quickly as realization chased it away. Then tender affection shone through clear as day, lighting his whole face up. “You mean the opposite. I like when you do that.”

He meant it because his smile was bright and dreamy. Zane's heart fluttered when Andrew grabbed his hand tugging him down on the bed. “C'mere.”

Zane landed on Andrew's lap between his legs. Andrew squeezed his legs around Zane making him laugh at the ticklish sensation. Gently he wrapped his arms around Zane's waist leaning close. Zane let out a deep breath, shaking. He was trembling in part nervousness and part anticipation of what may come.

With your stupid grin. And your boyband hair. I hate --”

Andrew let out a long happy laugh and then he was kissing him. Zane's vision whited out as sparks exploded behind his eyes, warmth and elation wrestled together to send his senses heightening to higher levels. He melted in Andrew's arms as the boy kissed him slowly, holding Zane's face, letting himself go boneless under the heat of Andrew's mouth. Andrew licked across Zane's lower lip, drawing a shuddering whimper from Zane, and then he pulled back to stare into his dazed face.

I'm not saying sex or anything,” said Andrew quietly. His hand was shaking, too, when he reached up to cup Zane's face. “But do you want to sleep in my bed tonight.”

Zane bit his lip to stifle a smile. “See, if I'd known that from the beginning all I needed to do was put out to sleep in your bed.”

Amount you talk about it. Starting to think you love the bed more than me,” Andrew said with fond exasperation.

Andrew doesn't realize he just put the L word out there, but Zane did, and his heart soared because this felt so easy, so right.

Never,” he stated clearly and then added sincerely, “I don't love anything more than you.”

Andrew stared at him for a long moment. Then his smile came like the first rays of the sun after winter in the spring. He smiled it and it was beautiful. He reached up to tug at Zane's ear, trailing his hand down to rest against the slope of his neck, palm over his pulse point.

Me, too,” Andrew said with uncharacteristic seriousness, meaning every word, as he stroked the sides of Zane's face. “Love you, too. For a long time now.”

Zane breathed slowly, affection curling low in his stomach as Andrew's hands settled low on his hips possessively. Softly, he gazed at Andrew trying not to drown in those eyes. He turned away feeling choked up.

Such a girl,” he said gruffly, voice lower than normal.

Andrew's hands drifted down to his ass, pulling Zane to him so they're chest to chest. “Are you going to cry?” he asked, completely delighted. “Is is too much emotion for your cold, dead heart?”

I hate you.”

You say the sweetest things.”

A hand tugged at his arm and Zane lowered himself to the bed on his side. Andrew crawled behind him. He slid his leg between Zane's and one arm fell over his waist. Fingers slipped past the hem of Zane's shirt and brushed against warm skin.

Tomorrow when I'm more awake and it's not five in the morning, you're putting out,” Andrew said, his breath ghosting against the back of Zane's neck.

Zane sighed. He closed his eyes and laid his hand over the one resting on his hip. “Dream on.”

Fuuuck.”

Andrew buried his face into Zane's hair, squeezing his waist. Zane felt warmth pour from his chest, and a smile tugged at his lips. Yeah, tomorrow he was so putting out. They've waited this long, after all. They had plenty of time to be together now. They fell asleep in each others arms with the rest of their days spread out before them.


[end.]


Author's Notes;
Thanks to everyone that emailed me. I got tons like
wow. They were so nice and some were really sweet. I'm still replying to every one of them. You guys are awesome. I'm glad that you liked the first story so much. I hope that you enjoy this one just as much. I think the next part to the series will be a multi-chaptered story. It's going to be good, promise.

I appreciate any feedback or if you just want to drop a quick line, I will definitely email you back! You can do it here at Batmanhater@aol.com