By: Skylights. Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I floated through the next week, at times feeling breathless. It was that glimpse in the hall of Ryan's face that haunted me and yet I longed to look for him at the same time. It was those moments in class when I would give in and let my eyes have their fill of his form. I never let him catch my stares though, I always looked away. Despite the ache it caused, I greedily took my chance of stealing those clandestine glances.
I wondered when he would talk to me again, because it was inevitable. Though we tried to give each other a wide berth, there would come the time for confrontation and I knew it. Ryan did not seem to be hiding behind anger, confusion, and frustration at all anymore.
It was my friends that helped me through those days. They were there for me, smiling and supportive, and I vowed never to let selfishness shy me away from reciprocating. Josh joked around with me and we went through the huge workload together, with Laura already finished and looking over our work. And when we got distracted by video games and food, she shook her head at us and finished our homework for us. Even Jeremy dropped by, concerned expression included and all, and hung out with the three of us one night. I really loved that kid, especially when he took me out for ice cream sundaes and we shared two gigantic ones.
Even Nathan called me up one day and I hung out with him and his girlfriend. That was still surreal to me but seeing them together made it real. If a boy who thought he was straight could be physically attracted to another boy, or even a girl to another girl, then why couldn't someone who thought they were mainly gay be attracted and fall in love with a member of the opposite sex? Nathan was cool with me, he was male after all, and didn't bother me by asking me how I felt.
Laura didn't talk about my feelings with me again, and for that I loved her even more. Words were unnecessary, and instead she did her best to maintain as normal of an attitude as possible. Although, I have to say, there were far less impolite comments than normal even though I goaded her repeatedly.
By Friday, I was ready to just collapse and spend a lazy weekend at home. The workload was picking up as March arrived because of the approach of the end of the school year. That meant summatives, which were the equivalent to an exam but consisted of a huge project instead of a written test. My geography summative in freshman year had consisted of a thirty page report and obviously in the eleventh grade, the summatives would be even more grueling. I probably wouldn't even look at the handouts for the outline till the week before each was due though.
From the moment I woke up that Friday, I felt groggy and gross. I really didn't want to have to go to school. Of course I did go, because I didn't have well enough of an excuse to miss out on school. Especially with march break so close. In class I didn't even endeavour to understand anything my teachers were saying.
"Kyle," Laura hissed as we walked out of biology together, "What the fuck is wrong with you?"
"So what happened to Ms. Nice?" I grumbled.
"She's taking a break. Wait up will you?" I paused and let her catch up to me. Laura smoothed the front of her shirt down before speaking again. "Now, what was I saying?"
"What's wrong with you Kyle, Ms. Nice is gone, wait up," I tallied.
"Oh, right. Yeah...what is wrong with you?" She continued as if there hadn't been a minor interruption. "At least try to pay attention in class. Your grades actually matter this year. Universities look at your grade eleven marks too."
"I'm not sure I want to graduate next year," I told her, "hey come up to my locker with me for a second. I'm just gonna grab something and then we can go down to the cafeteria."
"Okay, let's go. Don't tell me you want to take fifth year." Laura said, walking beside me to my locker at the end of the hall. I fished inside and grabbed a textbook for the next class after lunch, shoving it in my backpack.
"Well, I'm thinking about it. Universities do recommend taking fifth year because you can organize your courses throughout high school better and be more mature when you start."
"Whatever, I'm getting out as soon as I can. Like, hello...I wanna be a doctor and a whole year of my life is a lot of time."
I shrugged. "I just don't know what I want to do for the rest of my life." I put emphasis on the last four words.
"Well you'd better start thinking about it ASAP, you don't want to suddenly decide next year that you want to be a computer engineer or something and realize you haven't taken any pre-requisite courses to get into that program. You'd definitely have to take night-school, summer-school, and fifth year."
"Fuck, I know okay? I'll start taking it more seriously."
"Good." she said, satisfied and smile back on her beautiful face. "I'm hungry, what are they selling in the cafeteria today?"
"I think it's pizza day or something. You know I don't buy `caf food."
Laura snorted. It was a strange sound coming from her. "I know, I know. It still makes me laugh thinking about it. The way you threw up after eating that cookie last year."
"It was horrible! It tasted alright but I think they put something funny in there. Not to mention, all the food in there is a rip-off. I refuse to buy from the evil lunch ladies too. Like you'd think you could be less of a bitch once in a while, but no."
"Okay, buddy," Laura rolled her eyes, "I'm going to go get me an unhealthy cookie and you can come with me."
"No, I'll just go run off and sit down inside." The food was sold in a separate room from the actual cafeteria. There were doors that lead to the main cafeteria once you bought your things.
"Jerk, next time I won't come with you when you need me to."
"Whatever." I said and sped up to get past the rush of students coming in for their lunch period. Josh caught me right before I went through the doors though, and gave me the hug plus pat plus handshake thing.
"Hey, man, where's Laura?"
I waved behind me somewhere. "She's buying a cookie."
Josh smirked at me, clearly aware of why I didn't go with Laura but he refrained from making any comments. "I wanted to go out for lunch today but whatever. Let's go sit down."
We sat down at long white table somewhere in the central area of the cafeteria and soon enough a few friends of Josh's came to sit down. That of course meant that more and more people would automatically veer towards this table.
I knew most of them and had met them plenty of times. Zach Fischer and James Hunter nodded at me when they sat and I gave a stiff nod back.
Chatter and booming laughs had already filled the general vicinity, but I liked the noise. It drowned out my own voice.
I already knew Ryan would sit here when he came into the cafeteria as well, and my eyes constantly watched the entrances to see if he would walk through but I guess I missed him or something because there he was suddenly, in front of me. He glanced at me briefly before sliding into the empty space beside Zachary across from me and just a few meters to the side.
Josh looked at me apologetically, and I just shrugged back at him.
"Sorry." He mouthed.
I rolled my eyes. "It's fine," I told him, not bothering to whisper. I really wasn't going to break and they needed to get that. Sure, sometimes it hurt, but I wasn't `emo' or anything and it's not like I revelled in the pain or self-pity. I was getting used to seeing him and feeling that sharp pang. I could look him in the eye.
I could definitely survive this, but that didn't make it any easier, and that didn't make the wanting go away. Because as much as I knew it was impossible, as much as my conscious self was aware of this fact, a part of me wanted to hold on and not let go. A part of me believed in some chance of us being together. It was absurd and I was aware of it, but there it was.
"Party tonight at my house," James said enthusiastically, slapping Josh on the back. "You're coming right?"
"Of course!" Josh said, never one to turn down a chance to get wasted, "I'll be there, bro."
"Hey, Kyle, you coming too?" Zach asked. Suddenly all of their eyes were turned on me. Ryan, Zach, Josh, and James all looked at me expectantly.
I blinked, swallowed, and looked away from the shining green stare of Ryan's eyes. "Uh, I don't know." I said stupidly.
"Come on, man," Josh said, "It'll be fun. You'll get a chance--," He glanced briefly at Ryan, "to have some fun. I know this week's been sucky."
"Yeah, we're all gonna be there. I had to force Ryan to go though. He didn't want to, said he had other plans." Zach said.
I looked at Ryan, who looked away guiltily. "Well, I don't think I'm going to come, guys. Sorry."
"Hey, whatever. Next time, eh?"
"Definitely." I agreed, smiling and relaxing a bit.
"Hey, freaks," Laura's voice came from behind me. She slapped her red bag down on the table and sat down with a contradicting poise. She was better at socializing than me clearly.
Zach and James were instantly on alert and transferred their attentions to the very much not-straight Laura. "Hey, Laura. I was wondering where you were, your boyfriend here was all alone. He missed you," James winked at me.
"I missed him too." Laura said, not bothering to deny what everyone had assumed. She kissed my cheek for effect.
"Actually," I said, surprising myself, "Laura and I aren't dating."
They scoffed at first, thinking I was joking but then saw the serious expression on my face and backtracked. "What, you serious, dude?" Zach asked incredulously.
"You guys aren't dating?"
"Nope," Laura said, laughingly.
"So you broke up?"
I grinned and caught Laura's eye. She shrugged, so I shrugged too. Ryan looked at me with an intense look on his face. He had barely spoken the entire time since he'd sat down. I looked back and lifted my chin haughtily.
"So that means you're single?" James asked, clearly interested and turning the charm on for a supposedly single Laura. I immediately regretted saying that one bit of truth. This would mean Laura getting bothered and that girl in my business class would probably hear and start annoying me again.
"Actually, no," Laura said. "I'm not single."
Josh was laughing hysterically at this point. "Yeah, dude, she's totally taken." He said with a twinkle in his eye. "Drop it, buddy."
James frowned, but did as Josh asked, "So you coming to the party tonight?"
"Nah, I have plans already."
"What the hell, this is going to suck. No one's showing up."
"People you don't even know are probably going to show up so shut the fuck up, guys." Ryan said this. He sounded kind of angry and I looked at him curiously. He looked okay, even if slightly intense.
"What the fuck's wrong with you today?" James asked.
"Leave him alone, asshole," Zach told James. Clearly Zach was the nicer of the two friends. I liked him.
"Girl problems?" James persisted. "How'd your date with Jennifer go last night?" He snorted. Ryan just treated him to a glare. "Not well, I'm assuming. He didn't get any," James guffawed loudly and held a hand up for Zach to slap but Zach just glared at him and looked away disgustedly.
"Whatever, guys, if you want to act like a bunch of girls, fine with me." He went back to talking to Josh.
"Fucking asshole." Laura muttered beside me.
I grinned. "it's okay, Laura, he forgot you were here."
"Guys are such jerks. You don't hear girls saying things like that."
"I know." I said, but my mind was on the other tidbit of information I'd just received. Ryan had been on a date last night. He'd been on a date! The thought bothered me so much it was physically uncomfortable to sit there with a somewhat happy expression on my face.
"You okay?" Laura asked, and then gasped, "No of course not," She whispered, "I'm sorry..."
"It's okay, I'm not crazy, but it still bothers me ya know?"
"You want to go from here?"
"It's fine, you stay, and I'm going to go sit outside for a bit." I made her stay seated by putting a hand on her shoulder and slowly getting up. I didn't bother saying bye to anyone but just quietly made my way out of the place. I hadn't even gone three meters away from the table when I heard my name being called.
"Kyle, wait up!"
I turned my head back around and saw Ryan walking towards me. I felt panicked suddenly and wanted to keep walking but I maintained an even expression on my face and allowed him to get closer. I looked past him to see Laura looking at me with a mixture of horror and apology. I felt like smiling at the thought that she felt somehow responsible for this turn of events.
I wasn't shocked or anything, I knew we'd talk eventually. He broke the ice.
"Hey," He said, putting his hands in his pockets and looking at me with trepidation. He was so goddamned beautiful and I wanted him so badly I couldn't even grasp how much. "Mind if I come along? It's annoying in here."
"No-uh-yeah, it's cool," I said.
We walked in silence to the bleachers and sat down in silence too. I didn't speak, I don't think I could. I stared at his hands instead. The long fingers and even nails looked elegant but masculine at the same time. I felt like reaching out and grabbing one of them in my own.
"So..." He said slowly, "How's it going?"
I shrugged, "I'm okay." I saw him frown from the corner of my eye.
"You sure, `cause, you know...you haven't been avoiding me or anything lately?" He asked cautiously.
"Uh-no, yeah. I mean, no I haven't been, why would I?" I forced a chuckle. I felt disgusted at myself.
"I don't know," He shrugged, "I know you don't want be friends or anything but I figured now that things are cleared up between us....we'd at least talk occasionally. You know...unless you don't want to or something."
"Oh, uh, that's totally fine. Talking's cool." I said.
"So why haven't we then?" Ryan asked.
"Talked, why haven't we talked then?" He clarified for me.
"Oh, I don't know. Why haven't we?"
Ryan rolled his eyes, "That's what I asked."
"Um, I guess, maybe because neither of us got around to saying anything."
"Yeah you haven't said anything. You've barely looked at me...that's why I thought you were avoiding me."
"Ha, I wasn't avoiding you..." I trailed off, thinking of something to say, "it's just, um, you didn't say anything."
"Neither did you," He pointed out.
"Yeah, you're right. Both of us didn't say anything."
"This is kind of awkward, and you know the past week has been..."
"Awkward," I finished for him.
"Yeah, awkward." He said lamely, staring off at the field.
"So..." He echoed. We looked at each other and laughed.
"I guess you really don't want to talk to me." Ryan said, hurt evident in his voice.
"No, that's not true." I said honestly. How could I tell him I just couldn't talk to him?
"You're just saying that." Ryan pouted. It was so cute, I wanted to lean over and kiss him.
I laughed. "Is that why you were so intense at lunch?"
"Yeah," Ryan grinned sheepishly, "I was trying to telepathically convey messages to you."
I laughed. "Really? What were you trying to say?"
"Loooook at meeeeeee, Kyle! Say something to meeeee, Kyle!" Ryan said in a ghostly voice.
I laughed again and then said. "No seriously, it's not that I don't want to talk to you."
"You're just saying that." Ryan said again.
"Sorry Laura," I said aloud but to myself, "but Ryan, you're acting like such a girl."
Ryan chuckled, and then smiled that sheepish grin, "I know, but still," He turned sideways to look at me. "What is it then?"
I looked down at the metal bleachers and pretended to be really busily tracing something on the surface. "Huh? Oh, well it's just I'm not really the greatest socialiser and things were...uh really complicated with us and it's just taking some getting used to. Talking to you like this and you being nice and stuff is really weird." It wasn't a lie.
"Okay, fair enough. And though I really shouldn't ask this, why don't you think we can be friends again?"
I shifted uncomfortably, "I don't know if I want to be, you know?" I said, feeling like I'd already told him this before.
"Oh, well see you say that and then you say it isn't me."
"It isn't!" I said, frustrated now.
"Chill, dude, I'm not trying to piss you off."
"I'm not pissed off..." I said, huffing.
Ryan grinned."I forgot you had a short temper."
"I do not!" I exclaimed.
"Point proven." Ryan said smugly.
"Hey--." I started, but was interrupted by Ryan.
He placed a finger on my lips to shush me and immediately I settled down. My energy faded to a gentle whirr, everything seeped out of me at that one touch of his, that one look from him. He didn't move the finger, and he didn't take his eyes off mine. His finger stayed there, pressed against my lips while I exhaled onto it erotically. I felt like my eyes would roll back if I didn't force them to stay open.
I didn't budge and he didn't make a single movement to get rid of the finger. Eventually the finger slid off my lips and he coughed uneasily. "Anyway...I get it."
He looked so dejected I wanted to reach out and give him a giant hug. Fuck my life, fuck my life, fuck my life.
"Ugh...Ryan..." I said hesitantly.
"Yes?" He looked at me, wide-eyed and hopeful. I stared back into those gorgeous eyes that seemed to look even more beautiful with that touch of frailty that made him seem human. He really didn't put up any pretence around me.
"I-well-um...I don't know what I was going to say."
"Oh..." he looked disappointed. "Okay."
There was an uncomfortable silence.
"So...pumped for the party tonight?" I asked sarcastically.
"Uh-no," Ryan said, "I don't want to go."
"Zach and James would murder me the next day."
"Right, although I think Zach would try to stop James."
"Hmm...true say. I may not go. Anyway, what are you up to tonight?"
I shrugged. "I dunno." My phone vibrated just then and I looked over at Ryan to say quickly, "Just a sec, I'll get this."
I didn't recognize the number so I said, "Hello?"
"Hi, you in school right now?"
"Um...yes. Who is this?"
"Don't be silly. You don't recognize my voice? It's John."
I was drawing a blank."Uh...sorry I have no idea who you are."
"Oh my goodness, I'm the guy from The Bay. You know, I met you there on Sunday."
Oh yeah, the cute boy who'd been a total ass. "Yeah, I remember you."
"Kay, good." John was confident now. "So, you doing anything later?"
"No-uh-maybe..." I said, flicking a quick glance at Ryan who was making no attempt to hide his interest in my conversation.
"Great, I'll take that as a no. We should hang out."
"I don't think so." I should have hung up on him then, but I didn't.
"I have to make it up to you!"
"Uh...you really don't have to do that. Anyway I'll talk to you later..." I said.
"But you don't even have my number." John pointed out, "Listen, I know I was a total ass, but it's not every day you meet a cute gay boy at the mall. It's fate."
"I don't think so, John." I found myself saying once again. I wished I was anywhere from where I was at that moment.
"Come on, it won't have to be for long. We'll grab something to eat, maybe catch a movie, and I'll give you my present."
I had an inkling as to what that present would be. I sighed, "Okay, fine, but minus the catching a movie part."
"But, but that's the most fun part, besides talking to me of course."
I looked heavenward, "Okay, we'll see about that."
"Great! I was thinking of seeing something funny but maybe an action flick? You seem like the intense type."
"Yeah, sure." I said. Clearly my maybe had been a yes for him. "I'll talk to you later, bye."
"Yeah, I'll call you around six okay?"
"Mmm-hmm,"I said and quickly hung up.
"So...who was that?" Ryan asked. I shifted so I could look over at his frowning face. He was leaning at a position that caused his forearms to look really sexy.
"Doesn't sound like nobody to me if you're seeing him or her tonight."
"Him," I volunteered, "And he's just some jerk I met at the mall."
"If he's a jerk, why are you seeing him tonight?"
"Oh...well he apologized for being an ass and wants to make it up to me or something."
"Really enthusiastically." Ryan snorted. My suspicions about him being able to hear John's voice through the phone were confirmed.
"Yeah...I mean, he seemed okay, so why not?" I shrugged. "I'll bring Jeremy along or something."
Ryan frowned even more, "Hey, why don't I come along?"
"Yeah, yeah, okay..." he said, taking my silence for what it meant. I didn't want him to come along.
"Yeah..." I said awkwardly, not knowing what I could possibly say to make him feel better.
"I mean, I don't know what I'm thinking. Of course you don't want me to come."
I sighed and stared up at the heavens, cursing the God who may or may not exist out there. How could I resist this Ryan? How could I resist being near him, talking to him, giving in to him. Ryan being angry was sexy, fierce, and irresistible. Ryan being sweet, considerate, and needy was even more irresistible in his own way. "Hey, Ryan? I finally said.
"Want to go to the movies with me and John?"
"You're just saying that."
"What the fuck, are we a bunch of girls or something?"
"No...sorry, okay?" Ryan managed a smile, "I just...I know I've fucked up and been a total ass and a royal jerk. But-but beyond all that shit, I do want to be your friend. I miss that, you know? It was good."
"Umm...I should make a confession." I told him.
"Well...a reason I don't want to spend time around you or be friends again is because I just...I don't want to want you like that again."
"That's like saying you've stopped or something." Ryan said slowly.
I laughed, "No, I want you. Even now...crap sorry." I blushed.
"It's okay, I-uh-want you too," Ryan looked away embarrassedly.
"Wow, you have come a long way."
"See? But still, I can control that...I think. I-well-I think you're a good friend, Kyle. I don't want to hurt you anymore, and I wouldn't fool around with you like that...sexually...because that's not what you want. You're looking for something else and that's not something I can give you, not that I'm saying you want me to...fuck."
I laughed."It's surprising you think I'm a good friend.
"Well you were to me, at least."
And when I looked into his face, it was completely sincere. He looked like he was pleading with me to believe him and I did. Just like that.
"Okay," I said, "Okay, but I can't make any promises."
"So you'll try?" Ryan asked.
"Yeah, I will," I said, and when I looked at him I didn't feel pain but a wistfulness. He was what could have been, what I could have had but he was also what fate had denied me. The wistfulness was what hurt because I was a person who hated the feeling of "what if." I felt happy even in my misery because I was with him, because he was near me and I could have a glimpse into some part of his soul.
Some may call that pathetic, I call it love.
Maybe I understood Jeremy a little more, and maybe I was capable of it to some extent. Not like him, no never like him, but I was capable of some goodness, some selflessness. Love is the most complicated thing in the world. And yet, even then, I know that despite its complexity, it is so simple at the core, in its essence.
And so I grew up just a little more that afternoon as I gazed back into Ryan's smiling face.
Thanks for reading guys. I don't know what it was but I didn't get as much of a response as I expected for the last chapter. However, I won't complain like before! I just hope you guys are still enjoying the story. I'm on my way to wrapping it up. There are perhaps 7 or 8 more, and I've just finished the rough version of chapter 26 so don't worry about me abandoning the story or taking too long of a hiatus like before. This one hasn't been beta-read (I had 19 beta-tested), as I'm having internet issues and don't have the time or inclination to do so.
What do you guys think is in store for the characters? Let me know what you thought! Sky_lights@hotmail.com
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