The Quantum
By Dabeagle
When Sunday arrived I was awake early, shivering in a light sweat. The Hulk's face was just fading into my subconscious; an image to keep you from sleeping to be sure. I hadn't been sleeping well since the immovable object had pinned me up in school, and until there was some resolution I didn't expect it to get any better. I glanced at my clock,; six twenty was still too early to get up on a Sunday. I daydreamed Iinstead, I let my thoughts drift back to the pool party and the lights shining off , seeing Jake and Bryan in my minds eye as they played in the water. In truth, I was there too, splashing and carrying on, but right now all I wanted to think about was the good feelings they gave me. Sunlight filtered through the skylight and kissed their bare skin, and they were beautiful while having no knowledge of that beauty.

Bryan was worth waiting to see in his Speedo that's for sure. His chest had traces of hair here and there; good definition and his legs were strong and pale. Obviously he didn't wear shorts often. He was more than I thought he would look like beneath his clothes, more than my fevered mind had conjured on its own. His smile spoke volumes to me, and I knew I was doing the right thing by him and by my love for him. About love, however, I felt torn. I felt torn, however.

Jake had proved to be ever so much more than I had ever dreamed of, especially after I was sure Bryan was the one for mein regard to anyone. He seemed so perfect to me in every way. He was gentle, cheerful, seemed so genuine; and I can't forget that he was extremely attractattractive, that much is true, but he was a lot of other things too. He went out of his way to see me, even though I hadn't done anything special to earn that attention. More often he would search out my company, which was flattering and nerve wracking all at once.ive.

Being torn had to do with feeling something for both Bryan and Jake, and how does one choose? Do I even get the opportunity to choose? I am jumping the gun a bit, I guess; I knoew Bryan was is straight and that makes me feel as though he can't care for meI realize that he will never love me as I do him. Straight people just don't seem to understand; after all some of them beat gays to death and leave them to die. I didn't expect Bryan to beat me, but how would he react if he knew about me? Of course there was the question of how Jake would react too.

Was I strong enough to tell them? If they hurt me, I felt as though I might never recover from that. I know my internal scars run deep; only time and love can heal those wounds if they ever can be healed. My grandfather was a fountain of wisdom, and in the months I had spent with him I was stronger than I had been at the start. I didn't know if I was strong enough to handle a rejection I felt sure Bryan would give me if I told him my true feelings. I sighed and got up to shower since I knew I wasn't going to get any more sleep; not to mention the fact thatbesides that Bryan and Jake had my mind in a swirl of emotionscompletely confused.

Afterwards, I walked out into the kitchen and started the coffee. I sat at the kitchenette and waited for the coffee to brew while avoiding thoughts of Bryan and Jake. I concentrated on a mental list about my car and the parts that still had to go into it. We were nearing the end of the year, and while grandpa made no real effort about Thanksgiving, which had come and gone without fanfare, Christmas was approaching in three weeks' time. I hoped the car would be running by Christmas, even though I'd be afraid to drive it in the snow. I know it may not be much, but it was mine and I didn't want it destroyed.

I poured my coffee and walked into the garage. A chill was in the air that wasn't there yesterday. Tendrils of air pushed dust seeds about the floor, the air leaking past the worn out rubber seal on the big door. My mug steamed in the cold air and I worked at cleaning up the garage, much as I had done the day before. My grandfather wandered in about nine o'clock, glaring over his coffee cup and grunting about abnormal teenagers again. I just smiled at him.

"Bad dreams again?"


"Have a good time yesterday?"

"Great! Bryan, Jake, and Jess are the best people. They always make me feel welcome and like I belong with them."

"That's always a good feeling; one lots of people never findWell, that's good. I'm glad you made some good friends, people I don't need to worry about turning you to the dark side or something. " He chuckled, " Feel like doing anything special for Christmas?"

"Like what?"

"I have no idea, I was just wondering. I figure we should go do some Christmas shopping anyway. I need to go to the mall; I have to pick up a couple of things."

We were on the road shortly and grandpa was bopping along to the radio. A few flakes of snow began to fall, the first of the season and I have to admit it looked nice at first. New snowfall is always pretty to look at; it's the following day when it mixes with dirt and tire tracks have run through it that it looks awful. We pulled into the mall, and of course it was wall-to-wall holiday shoppers.

Grandpa was like a bulldozer, moving through hordes of people and not caring if he bumped them. His philosophy was if they stopped dead in the middle of the floor so they could stare and expected people to go around, they deserved trampling. Pretty soon we were inside Spencer Gifts -- someplace I never thought to find my grandfather. We walked quickly through, not finding what he was looking for. Stickers with clever mottos dotted one rack, while various decorative ways of displaying a pot leaf filled another display. We circled through the back, all the stuff that reacted to black lights and the poster area with no luck. He stopped quite suddenly at a stack of small boxes: a display of rubber dog turds.

"Nothing says happy anniversary like a rubber dog turd." He chuckled gleefully as he scooped up an armload of the small boxes and walked to the counter.

"What are you up to?" I asked.

"Eleanor moved here seventeen years ago today. You don't expect me to ignore an event like that, do you?"

I rolled my eyes at him and headed back out into the mall, having agreed to meet back in front of Spencers in two hours. I went into various shops and looked at the nice things they had inside, bits of jewelry and clothing everywhere. I walked into a bookstore and browsed the titles, seeing what was new and discounted. I spent a few minutes lingering in the horror and fantasy sections before going into the toy store. I checked out the video games and the toy cars before heading out to a kiosk in the mall. They had a display of various rings, necklaces, and other assorted jewelry.among the kiosks in the mall with their assortments of cell phones, pagers and watches.

A rack on the counter of a jewelry kiosk held a few pieces of pride jewelry. I fingered a choker style necklace with a polished silver bead separating each color. I rolled the beads in my fingers as I wondered if I'd have the courage to wear something like that one day.

"That's a sale item, half off the sticker, hon." I glanced into the smiling face of the sales girl. She couldn't have been too much older than me, and form the looks of her be-ringed fingers she was a frequent user of the employee discount.

"That's ok, I was just looking," I said shyly as I made to move away.

"Come on, I'll give you an extra ten percent off just cause I think it would look good on you. Maybe you can save it for a special occasion or something?" she said with a soft smile. I debated, my apprehension growing at the thought of what this purchase would say about me.

"I don't know," I hesitated.

"No fear, you are who you are and don't let anyone tell you different!" She grinned at me and instead of feeling more comfortable, I felt more skittish than ever.

"I think I'll pass," I said as I began to turn away.

"Hey, wait a sec," she called to me and I turned back to face her. She dropped the necklace into a bag and tossed it to me. "It'll mean something to you sometime, I know it did to my sister. Merry Christmas, kiddo," she smiled at me and went to the other end of the counter to help another potential customer.

I glanced at the bag, unsure if I should toss it on the counter and run or not. I opted for not, but tucked it safely in my coat pocket where it wouldn't be seen. I glanced back at the girl, who winked at me and I gave her a smile in return. Not a big one, mind you, but a smile.

Walking through the mall I came upon another kiosk with jewelry and I walked slowly around it. I spotted one of those cheesy necklace sets with the heart broken in half and bought it on an impulse, not sure in whose hands they would end up.

I slowly sauntered through the rest of the mall, stopping in this store or that boutique. I walked intofound a clothing store and began looking at button-up shirts, feeling their cloth and wondering what they would look like on Jake. The shirts had embroidery were embroideredon either side, colorful thread patterns woven into thethat complimented the material color of the shirt. On yet another foolish impulse, I bought three for Jake as a gift. Before you think I am going overboard, there was a sale, a good price for three shirts. I swear.


Once home, grandpa and I went our separate ways. I didn't want any part of what he was up to, and I knew he was up to something. I put the gifts away and fixed myself some lunch, then settled onto the couch to watch some TV. Jerry Springer was on, and the funny thing was that although I never intend to watch these things; I was hanging on every word. These people sure do make you feel better about yourself or your own relatives.

"Henry! This is intolerable! Take that you criminal!" Eleanor shrieked from outside and I went to the window to see what was happening. My grandfather was running, a smile on his face, while Eleanor trailed throwing plastic dog turds at him. What a Christmas card that would make!

I called Jess. "Hi Jess, it's Kris."

"Oh, hey, what's up?"

"My grandfather is on my front lawn being pelted with rubber dog turds,." I reported.

"I'd come save you but Bryan will be here any minute." She giggled at me and I frowned.

"Oh really?" I felt my stomach clench as I tried to sound no more interested than I should be.

"Yeah, we're going to get something to eat and then we'll be coming back here to work on his history paper."

"Well, that's an interesting development." I snickered into the phone while my heart felt coldsick.

"It's workWe're working, and we do have to eat. Look, allBesides, this was your idea. I'll never believe Jake came up with this on his ownall by himself!"

"Jake's pretty smart!" I retorted, without thinking.

"In some most things, yeah, but he is a real dumbass about other things."

"For instance?"

"I can't give away secrets, you'll just have to find out on your own." She giggled at me.

"That's not fair! You can't say something like that and then not tell me!" I whined at her.

"Listen, I don't go tell Jake all your secrets, why should I tell you his?"

"I don't have any secrets," I said while blushing and sounding utterly unconvincing.

"Oh, you don't huh? I'll bet I can find something out form Bryan if I pry a little." She giggled at me and I felt the heat rising in my cheeks.

"Wow, look at the time! Well, I guess I couldreally should do some of my homework then. I'll see you in school tomorrow?"

"Yeah, bye Kris."


I returned the phone to it's cradle and then grabbed my dishes from the living room to take to the sink. A shriek filled my ears from the front of the house, apparently grandpa was successful in getting under Eleanor's skin.

"Come out here you old buzzard!" Eleanor shriekedwailed. Something tapped against the door on the front porch. My grandfather cackled while Eleanor railed at him and, no doubt, was throwing the rubber dog turds at the front door.

After dropping my dishes off I tookreclaimed the phone and went to my room toand called Jake. "Hey you, what are you doing?"

"Staring at this geography book and trying to stay awake. What are you doing?"

"Hoping you'll come save me from my grandfather and my insane next door neighbor."

"Save you? What's going on?" he asked, chuckling.

"Eleanor is out front showering the front door with rubber dog turds."

"I'll be right there."


Jake took his sweet time getting there, let me tell you. The barrage against the front door kept up for a few more minutes, and my grandfather continued to cackle until she stopped punishing the front door. He strode into the living room and gave me a wink before heading to the bathroom. I just shook my head and went to pull on my sneakers.

Jake finally knocked at the door and I walked out to the back door to meet himknocked at the kitchen door and let himself in. Jake has a way of dressing that simply takes my breath away.; Iit's not fancy or overdone, just tasteful and suits himgraceful. He had dressed in a fuzzy sweatshirt and khakis, the blue of the shirt matching the blue of his eyes with stunning accuracy. His blond hair was combed split down the middle, his face glowing with a scrubbed look. The sweatshirt made him look warm and comfortable, downright cuddly in fact.

"Hey," he said to me with a smile playing on his lips. "Sorry I took so long, Jess called and we were talking a little bit."

"Well, I wasn't the victim of a drive by turding so I guess it's ok." I replied. I was surprised I could talk!

Jake and I went to his house, after noting the dented panels of the screen door in front of the house , and the piles of brown rubber on the front lawn as we pulled away. He looked at me with one eyebrow cocked, but made no comment. The snow had continued to fall and we had a nice blanket covering all the houses and whatnot. Jake emphasized this with a few sliding turns; the boy's license plate should read `daredevil'!

Jake's house was pleasant and homey, very lived in. A small computer sat directly across from the front door; a well-worn desk, and flat screen monitor in attendance. Wooden floors ran the length of the house; the small but cozy living room and the spacious kitchen and dining room combination in the back spoke of happy people, loving people.

Jake showed me the pictures of his family, his older brother who was away at college and his little sister, `the alien' as he called her. He gave me the dime tour of the house, pointing to the basement and the door stairway to the second floor before opening the first floor door that belonged to his room.

"Mom and dad have their room upstairs, and so does the alien, Allison. My brother Mike and I used to share this roomhad a room in the basement before he went to college."

Jake's room was clean and pretty well organized. A small TV was in one corner with a Playstation 2 hooked up to it. The floor had an area rug on it, and the bed was madehad been made with a thick comforter on top. No posters were onadorned the wall, though there was evidence that pushpins had once been there.

"You want a Coke?" Jake asked.

"Sounds good," I replied. He left the room and I walked over towards the bed. My eyes caught a flash of color on the floor next to the bed. I bent bent down to look and discovered a crumpled poster and clothes shoved behind it under the bed. Apparently Jake had cleaned up before I got there. I couldn't get a sense of the posters contents from the little bit I saw, and resisted the urge to pull it out for a closer inspectionsuppress a giggle as I pictured him dashing around his room, shoving things wherever they would stay hidden. Obviously he had wanted to make a good impression for my first visit to his house.

I heard Jake's footsteps approaching and I took a seat on the edge of the bed. He appeared with two cans of Coke, smiling and handing one to me. I took it, and felt my fingertips graze his hands.


"No problem." He took a seat at the head of the bed, making use of the pillows to lean back and sipped his drink.

"So why was your neighbor throwing those things at your house?" he asked.

"All I know is my grandfather bought them at Spencer Gift this afternoon; he said something about it being an anniversary gift."

"How romantic, a rubber dog turd." Jake snickered.

"That's my grandpa." I sighed.

"So, what are you getting me for Christmas?" Jake asked with a grin.

"What makes you think I am getting you anything?" I asked while using my grandfather's patented eye squint.popping the top on my Coke.

"Because I got you something, so you have to. It's in the rules of Christmas or something."

"You got me something?" I asked with some surprise.

"Of course, I buy for all my friends."

"Oh. Well, what did you get me?" I asked.

"I can't tell you -- you have to wait for Christmas!" he laughed at me.

"Then what makes you think I'll tell you what your gift is?" I snapped.

"Oh ho! So you got me a gift, huh?" Jake snickered. I blushed at having fallen into his trap. "Come on, what is it?"

"Something Jess would agree with," I smirked at him.

"Got to be tight clothing," Jake stated and I laughed at him. "Speaking of Jess, she and Bryan are out at the moment. Things are looking good there!"

"Yeah," I said softly. "Looks like Bryan will get a chance to be happy."

"Yeah." Jake lapsed into silence. I took a swig from my Coke and scooted back towards the wall, stretching my legs out crossways on the bed. Jake stretched his legs out and put them on my thighs.

"Foot rub would be nice," he said. I looked up at him to see the smirk on his facethose big blue eyes doing their best to bend me to his will.

"I don't think so!" I laughed, but I didn't push his feet away. It actually felt kind of nice to have him touching me so casually.

"Oh come on! Is that anyway to treat the guy that saved you from a meteor shower of dog turds?" He laughed at me and I with him. He tried to toe off the boots, sky-blue Timberlands, but couldn't manage it. He drummed his ankles on my leg as Hhe giggled, "Come on! Help me out!, I showered before I went to get you!"

He gave me the puppy dog eyes and I set my Coke can between my legs and undid the first lace, then the second. I made sure to loosen them, and then tugged off first one then the other. He wiggled his toes in their thick woolen socks, grinning at me. I gave him a devilish grin before tracing a finger up the sole of his foot.

"Stop!" he withdrew his feet quickly, giggling. Oh, so Jake was ticklish now was he? I fixed him with an evil smile.

"No, don't! It's not funny!" he said with his legs curled under him at the head of the bed. I looked at him innocently and picked my Coke back up. I think the last thing I needed to do would be to climb up there and try tickling him again. The last time I did that I ended up straddling him on my garage floor. That could prove to be embarrassing, to say the least.

"So, can I ask you a question?" Jake asked.

"You can ask," I smiled at him.

"Okay, I get it. How come you change when someone mentions Bryan?"

I remained silent while I looked at Jake, the question hanging in the air between us.

"Change in what way?"

"It seems like you get tense or maybe worried when we talk about him. Are you afraid he'll forget you if he and Jess work out?"

I remained silent for a moment; a thoughtful expression on my face. At least I sure hoped it appeared thoughtful. I guess I wasn't hiding things as well as I thought I was, especially if someone that hadn't known me all that long was reading me. Usually you had to be around someone for a while or have studied themthem in order to read them well. I guess my change in demeanor must be obvious then, more than I ever suspected.

"I guess I kind of miss him, a little. He was my first friend when I moved here, plus I know that when guys get a girlfriend they sometimes forget everyone else." I sighed as I danced around my reasoning for acting the way I did. "That means that he and Jess wouldn't have that kind of time for me, I guess."

"I have all kinds of time," Jake replied.

"Yeah, Jess said if things worked out I had to look after you." I looked over and smiled at Jake.

"Oh, she did huh?"

"Yeah, but I appreciate what you're saying about having time, you're..." I choked on calling him any number of things: sweet, cute, loving... all of those gave away more than I wanted to, and more than I could safely handle. "You're a great friend to me."

"If I'm such a great friend, don't tickle me." He stretched his legs back out and rested his calves on my thighs while he sipped his Coke. We sat that way, in a comfortable silence while time slipped by. It was nice, I felt at home in a way that was hard to describe, comfortable.

"You have any brothers or sisters?" Jake asked.

"No, I was it. Thank God; no one else should be subjected to my parents."

"How about pets?"

"No, not really. How about you guys?"

"Mom has a cat, Sydney, but that's it. Dad doesn't like animals. He'll sit there and ask the cat if it's cold while he looks at it through the sliding glass door. The cat's sitting there waiting to come in, and he just teases it. I am pretty sure the cat thinks dad is an asshole." We both laughed at that.

"Where are your parents anyway?" I asked.

"They took the alien to pick up my uncle from the airport; he's coming in for an early Christmas." Jake hesitated at that point and I looked up at him as he continued, "He's going to meet his boyfriend in Cancun for the holiday."

"That's cool," I replied. Jake had an Uncle who was gay? "Are you close with to your uncle?"

"Sort of, we don't see him all that often since he' is on the West Coast. It's always nice to see him though. He's funny and he does a lot with us when he's is here."

"That's awesome, Jake. I wish I'd had an uncle to do things with me -- you're so lucky."

"Yeah, I guess so."

"No, seriously,. yYou walk in here and it's like, I know happy people live here. There are's pictures on the wall, things are kept up. Your folks are in the pictures with you, and they have a lot of individual pictures of you guys doing all sorts of stuff. I can see they love you. , and that you hHaveing your uncle is just extra. I never had theat loving base, much less any extra. You are really are lucky."

"I never really thought of it like that before, I guess." Jake appeared to study me and I met his gaze steadily. "So you want to meet my uncle and my parents?"

"Wow, that's kind of fast to, introducinge me to your parents, isn't it?" I laughed and he pushed me with his foot.

"Do you make jokes out of everything?" he asked, his lower lip turned out in an exaggerated pout.

"Only withto you, Jake." I grinned while he rolled his eyes at me. He stretched out, his feet on my legs again and sighed.

"You know that's called a defense mechanism; people do that when they feel nervous or threatened."

"I don't know what you're talking about," I replied. Was I that obvious?

"So are you okay to meet my parents?" he asked.

"Yes, Jake, of course I am."

"What about my uncle?"

"Sure, he's going to be here isn't he? I may as well;, I've never met anyone from the West Coast before. Where did you say he was from?"

"San Diego originally; he lives in Las Vegas now."

"That show CSI is supposed to be based in Las Vegas. You can see all the casinos when each episode starts."

"Yeah, we've been by almost all of them at one time or another. He's brought me out there on vacation before -- that was cool."

"Just you? Or like, you and your brother and sister?"

"Just me, it was `guy time' he called it."

"What did you do?" I asked.

"Sat around playing video games, and we watcheding some sports on TV. He took me to Hoover Dam and we went to a different buffet each afternoon for lunch. Those all you can eat things are awesome!"

"It sounds like it. So you got to go into the casinos to eat?"

"Yeah, we had to walk through them to get to the buffet. They were pretty cool at first, but after a while you started to see that it was all just for show. Like, when you saw it all at night, it was so cool all lit up like Disneyland or something. But during the day it's like, I dunno, some old whore rolling over in the morning before she gets any make-up on. It doesn't look like much during the day, it's all a face for the public."

"Yeah, I guess some places are like that, they need the shadows to make them pretty."

"What I learned though, is that things aren't always what they look like. Those casinos weren't glittering palaces,palaces; they were cheap paint and lots of mirrors." He fell silent as if trying to find the right words to say, and I gave him the time to think.


"When you go out in the morning the city is so dirty. The sidewalks are filled with papers, advertisements and stuff. At night people hand out these slips with ads for escorts and stuff, `cause prostitution is still legal in Nevada. But most people drop them right there on the sidewalk, so in the morning there is this big mess. All this trash just...everywhere. It's disgusting how different the front is, and the reality,"

"In the morning there were all these handbills lying on the sidewalk that people hand get passed out as people pass themto people going by. They are for escort services and prostitutes." Jake looked up at me, holding me in his eyes. "That was the morning the weekend he came out to me, like mid-weekhalf way through the week. He said he wanted to show me that things aren't always what they seem, that you could watch sports or drink or go to casinos and be gay, just like everyone anyone else. He was just like everyone else."

I sat in quiet contemplation of this statement. All of it was interesting, especially the why. Why was he sharing this? Was he trying to make me comfortable with his uncle or was there something else? He must be trying to make me comfortable was the only logical answer I had.

"He picked a cool way to tell you."

"Yeah, I guess. I didn't know any gay people before that."

My mind relaxed as I realized that Jake was one person I didn't have to worry about coming out to. I was just being silly, I guess., Jake had never shown me a mean bone in his body. I looked down as he drummed his heels on my leg. He was grinning and I wasn't exactly sure why.

"What?" I asked him.

"Nothing," he replied with a smile on his face. I could see the dark roots of his hair, strange how it never occurred to me that he dyed bleached his hair before. I mean, you could tell that it was, but I just never noticed. Jake's eyes were a soft blue, almost as if there were a bit of gray in the mixture. I could imagine them being either very soothing or quite commanding. His face didn't have any obvious scars from the acne wars, nor did he have anything threatening on his face. It was a golden brown color, skin with many hours in the sun, not a tanning booth.

"What are you looking at?" he asked.

"Time to bleach your hair again," I replied flippantly.

"Everyone's a critic."

"Well, blond does look good on you," I said by way of apology.

"You think so?"

"Sure, it goes real well with your skin color and...stuff." Jesus, what was I saying? Why don't you just come out and say `Jake, man are you a hottie!' and get it over with? Why don't you tell him how nice his butt looked in those pants the other day? Why don't you tell him how you think about him more and more as each day goes by, and how you are starting to feel disloyal to Bryan for it? My God, I need a shrink.

"Wow, um, thank you." Jake replied. I mumbled something in return, I hope it sounded like "You're welcome". We lay there in silence for a few moments, I know my own mind was wondering what Jake was thinking about my comments. Telling someone you were gay was a lot different from saying you thought he was attractive. Right?

"What are you thinking?" Jake asked suddenly.

"What makes you think I'm thinking at all?"

"I smell smoke."

"Oh, very funny, har har."

"Only you are allowed to joke?"

"I am just pointing out that I am sitting here, minding my own business, and you started to pick on me."

"No I didn't, you were thinking. I just asked what you were thinking about."

"Like I said, who says I was thinking?"

"You chew on your lower lip when you think."

I looked at him in amazement. "I do?"

"Yeah, you do," He said in a quiet tone. That would mean that he was watching me, or studying me.

"So, what were you thinking about?" Jake asked. I studied Jake's face, the curve of his nose and the shape of his lips, the eyes that held so much promiselife. I sighed deeply, tearing my gaze from him and feeling as if I were betraying Bryan. That was silly of course, Bryan and I had never dated, there was nothing more than friendship between us. Or was I underestimating the value of friendship by just saying that? I spoke, consumed by my misplaced guilt, but I hadn't planned to say anything.

"I love someone that who will never feel the same way." I was startled by my voice breaking the silence.

"Why do you say they will never feel the same way?" Jake asked softly.

I glanced at him nervously. What do I say to that?

"It's ok if you don't want to talk about it. I understand." Jake was lying, and I could hear the lie in his voice as clearly as a siren in the night. I think he was hurt too, and that made me feel like a bigger asshole.

"Jake, it's hard to say some things," I said slowly. Jake pulled his feet under him and waited for me, patiently.

"You don't have to..." Jake said, but I cut him off.

"Yes, I do. You deserve some kind of answer." I balled my hands over my eyes; I was so tired of feeling scared and of alonethe recurring loneliness. I needed to open up to someone, and Jake was pushing the right buttons.

"Kris, I know you don't think too highly of yourself, but what your parents told you was a lie. There isn't anything wrong with you, nothing."

"Yeah there is," I said as I folded my hands in my lap and stared at them. "There is a lot wrong, but I found some good friends to help me outyou just don't know about." I felt him shift on the bed, and then his head was near my leg, propped up on his hand. His blue eyes looked up at me and he smiled reassuringly.

"You're going to be ok, Kris."

I felt it creep into my heart at that moment that I wanted to be Jake's. I knew thought then that I could let Bryan be who he was and be content to be his friend. Right then, the epiphany possibility was so large I wanted to tell Jake then and there that I loved was falling hard for him. Like the Cowardly Lion, I lacked the courage. His blue eyes met mine, the curve of his reassuing smile made my chest tighten up. and I gave him a nervous smile, in reply to his.

"So who is the mystery girl?" Jake asked after a lengthy silence. His eyes looked away from me as he said it, an expression I couldn't identify on his face. Oh boy, do I just go for it? I haven't really come out to anyone, and even though Jake seems cool with that concept; I still felt nervous.

"No mystery girl," I replied. Ok, I was stalling, I admit it. If you were as nervous as I was, you'd stall too. Maybe if I were more like Jake I would just out and say it, but I'm not and so I sat there like a fish out of water.

"Well, if it's no mystery who is it?" He asked. Well, now that was the question, wasn't it? How do I get out of this one gracefully?

"Oh, well," I stammered.

"Oh, that's so cute," Jake cooed, teasing me. "Tell big bad Jake who stole your little heart away!" He giggled at me and I frowned. Oh yeah? I'll show him.

"You, smart ass," I replied with a satisfied grin. In retrospect, if I wasn't so pleased at making his jaw drop, I'd have been terrified that I'd outed myself. As it was, Jake had turned into the punch-line of a credit card ad. Phone call to Jake: twenty five cents. Gas for Jake to pick you up: A dollar and twelve cents. Making his jaw drop in surprise: Priceless.