Taran's face went deathly pale. All expression vanished from his face as Will in his normal jovial kind of manner blurted out what Taran had spent the best part of the last four years trying to hide. How did he know? Did he hate him? He was sure as hell laughing now.
The intense emotions of the moment overcame him as Taran just bolted for the nearest door. He tried his hardest to hold his tears back, but as his face hit the cooler air outside, they came flooding out fast. Many thoughts were going through his head as his feet carried him to an unknown destination. If Will knew, how many others did? If others new, how could he face them on Monday? Why did life need to be so fucked?
Will and James were quick on his heals. They had to be quick. By the time they were out the door, Taran had rounded the corner of the house, and was making a bolt for it up the driveway. "Taran man... It's cool dude. We don't care," Will yelled after his mate.
It took a while for Taran to register that he wasn't screaming abuse at him. He hesitantly turned around, unsure if he should speak or not. "You...You mean it?" He asked this, half expecting one of Will's many wise-cracks, or just a simple `no' and a snigger at his expense.
"Yeah man... I was a bit surprised at first... But fuck, we're bud's man." Shit, Will has never talked like this before, Taran thought to himself. So... serious. James, very uncharacteristic of him, just stood behind Will trying to think of encouraging things to say. He simply came up with a few yeah's and similar words.
Taran still didn't want to go back down there. Will's last statement was something Taran needed to hear, but his mind was running in paranoia overdrive. What do I do now? Do I go back down there and act like nothing happened? Should I say something? They'll probably think I'm a wimp for running away like a girl. He felt trapped. For everything he came up with, he found a reason not to do it.
"Look man," James began, somewhat hesitantly. "You're one of the coolest people I've ever met." What, Taran thought. James thinks I'm cool? "Man there's just so few guys I know who would have the guts to just be themselves."
"Yeah man... Ya know we're not gonna let ya fuck off that easily," Will added with a friendly smile. All the while James and Will had been making their way closer to Taran. As they finally reached their friend he continued, "besides if there's one less guy out there, that means more chicks for us," he said as he made a sideways glance towards James.
The three of them burst out laughing. Taran found himself chuckling, even as the last of his tears rolled down his cheeks. A relaxed Taran made his way back down the driveway, and around the back of the house again, with his two good friends. Once inside, the trio immediately went back to continuing the game. Even though the big news had been broken, and the tension was gone, they found it incredibly hard to restart the conversation.
"Well I dunno about you guys... But I need another hit," James finally announced as he made his way to the patio once more.
"Gear!" Will chimed in with his now familiar catch-phrase. Where the hell did he pick that up from anyway?
The trio made their way out together. This time Taran was truly able to appreciate the mull going through his lungs and into his blood. His mind was clear, and he felt the best he had in a long time. It doesn't get better than hanging out with two of your best buds, he thought at that moment. Of course he knew there was something better, but was content to live in this moment for now.
This time Taran only needed one cone to send him to wasteville again, while the others sucked in another two each. Once it was perfectly obvious they were all stoned, Taran decided to ask the question he'd been dying to ask.
"How the hell did you guys know I was gay," Taran demanded, probably louder than he should have, given that they were sitting outside. He always managed to lose track of the volume control whenever he was whacked. It didn't ever seem to matter to him. But for Will, always the paranoid one, no volume was quiet enough. It often frustrated Taran, because Will would speak in such hushed voices, there was no way to understand him.
"Cause we're gay," Will said as he put his arm around James, which promptly brought a punch to Will's left arm from his psuedo-lover. "Sorry man," Will said between giggles, "I couldn't resist... But that is what you wanted to hear, isn't it?"
"No!" Taran tried to sound believable as he wiped the astonished expression off his face. He had to admit that his heart was beating faster at that sight. But there was no way he wanted them to know that.
"Bollocks man... You thought there was gonna be a wild sex-fest right here didn't ya?" Will found this incredibly amusing. It wasn't often he had the chance to make Taran squirm, so he was going to take it as far as he could. And squirm Taran did.
Taran blushed a shade of red that is reserved for such occasions. He took it all in his stride. Taran knew how to take a joke. You couldn't be friends with Will or James for long if you couldn't. "Yeah... Well I saw James' eyes light up when he thought things were getting on," Taran decided to get some of his own back. Even if it wasn't at the person who originally started it.
"Why you little..." James yelled as he lunged at Taran, who got up as fast as he could. In these situations, it's best to just run. James was quite insane, and there was often no telling what he could do sometimes. Taran still remembered the various injuries suffered from their famous rock-wars.
In his drugged haze, Taran only got to a semi-standing position before James had him on the ground. Taran was laughing too much to offer any resistance, as James held him flat on his back. Occasionally Taran would struggle against James' hold, only to falter at more laughing. It pleased Taran to realise that James was comfortable enough with him to wrestle on the ground.
"Ohhhhhhhh James... I didn't know you cared for me that way," Taran said in his deliberately over-the-top, breathiest, most sexy voice. This immediately caused James to jump off his body. Though he would have loved to stay in James' hold for as long as possible, he knew that he was just a good friend, and didn't want to jeopardise that. He was happy to just keep things as they are. And was glad that he could make that kind of joke and not be rejected by them. They still knew how to take a joke as well, he was glad to realise.
After getting back inside, James suggested they have a few games on the Super NES they'd hired from the video store. Taran was less enthusiastic, being not very good at computer games, and not overly interested either. He did like Streetfighter 2 though, which he'd played a few times before.
It was half way through his first fight that Taran realised the other two had totally avoided his question. "Hey... you bastards," he yelled at the two of them. While he was paying attention to James, Will made a secret move against him. He saw it just in time to save the game. With only a couple of centimeter's of life left, Taran just went crazy pressing all buttons at random interval, and within ten seconds flat had Will dead. "Yeah... Take that fish-boy."
"You two fully avoided my question," Taran said as soon as it was confirmed that he'd won. "So come on... Out with it."
They looked at each other, and Will motioned for James to talk. "Well we've got this friend... Who said that he suspected you were gay."
A friend? This sounds promising... But all the same Taran, asked his question with caution. "Who?"
"He said we couldn't tell you..."
He? That's certainly got to be a plus. "A gay friend?"
"Yeah," James hesitantly replied, realising the answer was obvious anyway, "he is... But he just doesn't want anyone to know. He just says that he could tell by the way you acted in certain situations."
"So..." Taran's mind was racing at a mile a minute, trying to think of the right things to say to get more information out of James. He knew an opportunity like this comes along once in a blue moon. Especially when concerning James. Getting information out of him is usually impossible. Therefore if he was giving it, Taran may as well see just how much he can get. "If he knows me well enough to know that I was gay... That... Must mean that I know him as well..."
Taran watched with glee as James' facial expression changed, revealing that what Taran had said was in fact true. Aha, I have him, Taran thought. "Yeah... I guess."
"Does he go to school?"
"Come on Taran... I shouldn't have told you as much as I did." Taran could see that James wasn't going to budge much further but was desperate for some info.
"So that's a yes..." Taran was very confident, playing the smug card in an attempt to bluff James into thinking he could read his face. He decided not to push it further, but in his mind, he determined to find out which one of James' friends was gay.
The three of them spent the rest of the afternoon munching on junk-food, telling dirty jokes, insulting each other with stupid, insane comments that only three incredibly stoned, and otherwise immature guys can come up with, and generally bumming around.
They had pizza for dinner, as per usual for a sleep over. They went into the night, playing a second mission of Spacehulk, getting stoned again, and playing more of the Super NES. Eventually 3:00 rolled around, and they decided they'd better get some sleep. Will insisted that music be played as they went to sleep. So one by one the three boys drifted off to the sweet sounds of Fur. This was one punk band that Taran liked. He hated the likes of Pennywise and NOFX. They sounded shit! Besides they're just sooo a-typical. Like why don't I just get myself a skateboard, put my hat on backwards (well... get a hat first) and become a true teeny-bopper, he thought to himself with a smile.
As usual, Taran was the first up the next morning. A glance at the VCR clock told him it was 8:30. He was immediately conscious that his butt hurt from sleeping on the floor. Not wanting to leave the warmth of his sleeping bag, he shimmied himself up onto the sofa behind him. He just watched the other two sleeping. Will seemed to have no head. He was somewhere down inside his sleeping bag. James lay on his stomach, with his arms outside the bag, but by his side. James looked a wreck at the best of times, but now he looked like a true bum. All he needs is a park-bench and a newspaper instead of a sleeping bag.
By 9:00 the three of them were awake. As it was Sunday, there was no need to hurry, and it took more than a few minutes for the three to summon the will-power to leave the warmth of their sleeping bags. But reluctantly they made their way upstairs to the kitchen to find some sustenance, as James put it. Breakfast was a combination of over-cooked toast with vegemite and left-over pizza.
First things first, the three boys did a quick once over of the house to ensure that it would pass inspection when Will's parents came home that afternoon. Once that was accomplished the threesome made their way back down-stairs to hang-out, listening to music, play the Super NES, or whatever. They thought of going out. But to do what? None of them skated, and living in this part of town they were miles from anywhere.
As Sunday's go, it was pretty uneventful. James left to go home at about 1:00, just before lunch. The remaining two had one last game of Spacehulk after lunch, before Taran called his parents to pick him up. Once he realised it would soon be time to go, Taran felt he needed to say something. He was just so happy that Will and James knew his secret, and accepted him even so.
"I just wanna say... That I'm heaps glad that you and James are so cool with me," Taran just said out of the blue as they were making their way upstairs.
Will turned to answer his friend. Taran who hadn't noticed his friend stop at the top of the spiral stairs, walked straight into Will's open arms. It was a short hug, but the sentiment was not to be denied. Taran was accepted, unconditionally. It made him smile. One of those smiles which could give way to tears at any moment. "It's cool man". To Taran this short sentence summed up everything he wanted to hear.