What's The Difference Between Me and You?
Nick blinked and
started to open his eyes as he wondered if he had been dreaming or not. When
his eyes finally focused, he smiled and realized that he hadn't been dreaming.
His head was still on
"Where are you going," he asked as
"I have to go pee,"
"I'm cold Nick,"
"Me too," Nick said shivering. When they curled up together under the covers for warmth,
"Hey!" Nick whined. "Your feet are cold."
Nick used his hand to feel
"Your tummies nice and warm," he said as he ran his hand in a circle over
"Your hands feel cold,"
"Want to watch TV?" Nick asked as he started to warm up. He reached for the remote and turned the TV on. While they watched, Nick could feel
Eventually, Nick turned back toward
"I like that,"
"Did you like it when I kissed you," Nick asked a little nervously.
When they finished in the bathroom, they went downstairs to see what James was doing. As they approached the kitchen, they could hear James on the phone.
"But why," they heard him say as he started to cry. They turned around and headed back to the stairs.
"I have to tell my dad," Nick said. "I hope he's not going to get mad."
They went back upstairs and down the hall to Jim's room, where Nick knew that he was sleeping next to Lori. Nick knocked, but there was no answer.
"Daddy," he said through the door. "Daddy, wake up. I need help."
There was still no answer, so Nick knocked a little harder. Finally, he knocked as hard as he could, then he opened the door.
Lori must have heard the knocking, because when Nick opened the door, she was sitting straight up with no top on at all, and nothing covering her boobs. Nick turned his head as fast as he could, but it was too late. He saw everything. He looked for
"Nick!" Jim said angrily as he sat up. "I told you to knock goddamnit!"
"I did," Nick said, starting to cry. "You didn't answer."
Nick stood and cried out of embarrassment, and out of fear. He was sure his dad was going to whip him for what he walked in on. Jim got out of the bed and took Nick into the hallway.
"I'm sorry daddy," Nick sobbed as he waited for his spanking.
"You need to knock first," Jim said softly. "I'm sorry I yelled at you. What did you need son?"
Nick was still sniffling as he told his dad about James on the phone, so after he got a hug, his dad went downstairs to check on James.
Nick went into his room to see if
"I'm sorry, Nick,"
"A little," Nick said. "It's not your fault though."
"I got scared and ran away,"
"I know, it's ok," Nick said. "I was scared too."
"Is Miss Lori mad at me,"
"No, I think she might be mad at me though," Nick said sadly. "I know my dad was at first."
"Is she going to yell at us,"
"Maybe she'll just yell at me instead," Nick said, feeling worried. He hadn't thought about whether or not Lori would be upset with him. The idea of her yelling at him or being mad at him made him feel awful.
"Let's just stay in here and watch TV,"
"At least she didn't come in here and yell at us,"
"Yeah," Nick said. "I wonder if her feelings are hurt."
"I hope not,"
Nick sat still and watched the TV for a while, trying not to worry about whether or not Lori was mad or sad. When a commercial came on, he looked over at
"What's wrong?" Nick said as he moved closer to his friend.
"I don't want Miss Lori to be mad at us,"
"What if she yells at you,"
"It'll be ok," Nick said. "I won't cry. Wait here and I'll go talk to her."
Nick got up and walked downstairs, feeling nervous the whole way. On the way down, he thought about what he was going to say to her, but nothing he thought up seemed right. Finally, he reached the bottom of the stairs. From the kitchen, he could hear his dad and Lori talking to James, trying to make him feel better, so he walked slowly and quietly to the entrance of the kitchen. When he looked inside the kitchen, he could see James sitting on Jim's lap, still crying a little, but he had a small smile on his face. Lori was sitting in a chair next to them running her hand over James' face and talking to him.
"Miss Lori," Nick said cautiously. "When you're done, can I talk to you if you aren't mad at me?"
"Honey I'm not mad at you," she said sweetly. "Come here." She held out her arms for him, so he walked over and gave her a hug.
"Will you tell
"Yes ma'am," Nick answered. "He's crying."
Lori sighed with a sad look on her face, then she got up and took Nicks hand and together they walked upstairs. When they got to Nicks room,
"I don't want you to be mad at us,"
Lori sat on the bed and hugged
"Are you mad,"
"No," Lori said. "I was never mad at you, or Nick."
"Mr. James was,"
"He just yells," Lori said. "He wasn't yelling at you anyway. I don't even think he saw you."
"Do you want to stay in here with us and watch TV?" Nick asked.
"Sure," Lori said. They let her sit down on the beanbag first, and then they each sat next to her, one on each side and watched TV.
"Miss Lori," Nick said as the commercials started. "Is James still sad?"
"Yes he is sweetie," she answered. "I think he's going to be ok though."
"Did he call his mommy and daddy,"
Lori nodded with a sad smile, then she looked back toward the TV.
"Does he want to be alone with my dad right now," Nick asked.
"I think he just needs to be with someone who loves him," she said. "He misses his family."
"Are you going to cook us breakfast today?" Nick asked with a grin. He was hoping that she would, but he wasn't sure. He knew that she cooked better than anyone he knew, and that included his grandmothers.
"Maybe we should go downstairs and see what James and your daddy want to have," Lori said with a smile. "How about you guys? What do you feel like having?"
"Can you make me grits," Nick asked.
"Sure I can," she said. "What are you hungry for
"I liked what you made us last weekend," he said with a smile as he looked up at her. "It was so good."
The three of them got up and went downstairs together, and Lori cooked breakfast. After they ate, Jim told Nick, James, and Taylor that they needed to get some fresh air, so they got dressed and went outside.
"Let's ride our bikes," Nick said.
"I don't know if I can," James said. "I'm still grounded, remember?"
"But didn't dad say that it didn't count this weekend?" Nick reminded him.
"What if I go and he didn't mean that I could ride my bike though," James asked nervously.
"Why don't you go ask?" Nick suggested.
James went back inside while Nick and Taylor walked around the side of the house to the garage. They got their bikes out and took off. Nick figured that James would catch up to them on the trail. As they rode their bikes, Nick lost track of time, and soon he realized that James never caught up to them.
"Let's go back and see what's taking him so long," Nick said.
"Nick, you need to come inside so I can talk to you," he said irritably. Nick followed his dad inside and as soon as Jim shut the door, he took Nick by the hand and forcibly led him to the couch.
"Why the fuck did you guys leave without James?" Jim said angrily. "I could have sworn that I asked you to be nice to him!"
"We thought he was going to catch up," Nick said as he tried not to start crying. "We weren't being mean to him, daddy. I promise."
"Well, you two really hurt his feelings," Jim said with a disappointed tone. "He went back out there and you were just gone. How do you think that made him feel?"
"Bad," Nick said sadly as he thought about how James must've felt when he realized that they were gone. "I thought he was going to catch up to us."
"Would you like to tell me where the hell you think James knows how to go around here?" Jim asked sarcastically. "He just got here son. You know better than that."
Nick put his head down and started to sniffle. He didn't want to start crying, but the way his dad was talking to him, plus the way he knew he had hurt James' feelings, made him feel awful. He looked up at his father, who was giving him a disappointed look, and he fell apart.
"I'm sorry daddy," he cried. "I didn't mean too."
Jim sat next to him and wrapped an arm around him, rubbing his back and trying to make him feel better.
"Son, you don't have to cry," Jim said as he lifted Nick into his lap. "I'm sorry if I made you feel bad, but I wanted you to know how you made James feel. His feelings were really hurt."
"I know," Nick sobbed as he laid his head up against his dad's chest. "I don't want him to be sad today. He already had his feelings hurt this morning and now I did it again."
"What happened early this morning wasn't your fault, honey," Jim said softly as he ran his fingers through Nick's hair. "I know you didn't mean to hurt his feelings. I'm not mad at you. I was just upset because James took it hard. He thinks you guys are teaming up on him."
"But we're not," Nick said defensively, still sniffling.
"I know you're not, son," Jim said. "But you need to talk to him. I want you to get yourself together and then I want you and James to have a talk all by yourselves. Is that understood?"
"Yes sir," Nick said, wiping more tears from his eyes.
"Good," Jim said as he gave Nick a tight hug. "After you two talk, I have a surprise for the both of you."
"What is it," Nick asked.
"That's none of your business," Jim said jokingly. "You'll see it when you get it."
Jim set Nick down and told him to wait on the couch while he went back out to the patio. A few moments later, James walked inside and closed the door. Nick got up from the couch and went to him, wrapping his arms around him and giving him a hug.
"I'm sorry James," Nick said as he started to sob again. "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. I thought you would know how to find us."
"Don't cry," James said in a sweet voice. "It's ok, Nick. I'm not mad."
"But I'm stupid," Nick said, feeling discouraged. "I didn't even think about you not knowing your way around here."
"You aren't stupid Nick," James said. "Don't say that."
"It's true," Nick said sadly. "I'm stupid and I'm ugly."
"You aren't ugly," James said. "Oh my god, don't say that. You're cute, Nick."
"No I'm not," Nick said sadly. "I used to be cute when I was a baby, but not now."
"Stop it," James said. "You are so cute. Trust me."
Nick didn't really think he was ugly, but he was being hard on himself for the way he messed up. He did feel like he was stupid, but mainly because when Jim was yelling at him, the things he was saying to Nick made him feel that way. Nick was ashamed that his dad had to make him stop and think about something as simple as James not knowing his way around. He wondered what his dad must've thought of him, and how stupid his dad must've thought he was.
"You don't think I'm stupid?" Nick asked.
"No way," James said as they walked back to the couch together to sit down.
"You really think I'm cute?" Nick asked.
"Of course I do," James said with a smile.
Nick looked shyly at his cousin and smiled, then he looked away.
"We're just friends," Nick said.
"If you like him you should tell him," James said.
"He's not gay," Nick said. "I don't want him to not be friends with me anymore."
"Maybe he likes you too," James said grinning. "He told you that he thinks you're cute."
Nick started to feel nervous, and he didn't want to talk about it anymore, so he changed the subject.
"Dad said he has a surprise for us," Nick said.
"I know," James said. "He won't say what it is though."
"Let's go tell him that we want it right now," Nick said as he jumped up off the couch and pulled James up by the hand, and they went back out to the back yard to beg Jim for the surprise.
"First you need to take a shower," Jim said. "We have to go get it, and I'm not taking 3 smelly boys out in public."
Nick and Taylor waited for James to shower, then they took theirs. When they were finished, they got dressed and Jim did Nicks hair. While they waited downstairs, Jim and Lori took their showers and got ready. Nick noticed that Lori seemed to take forever to get ready, and he wondered why. The shower had stopped a long time ago, but for some reason, she took longer than anyone to get her hair ready. Jim was already downstairs waiting with them when Lori finally came downstairs. Nick thought she looked beautiful.
"You look really pretty Miss Lori," Nick said as he climbed into the back seat next to
"Thank you sweetheart," she said.
On the way, Nick and James tried to get Jim to tell them what the surprise was, but he wasn't cooperating. Nick noticed that he was taking them out toward the country to an area that Nick had never even seen before. He watched as the signs started to say that the
She talked with Lori and Jim for a few moments, then they all followed her into the house. As soon as they walked inside, Nick could hear yelping coming from another room, and as they walked through the house, the yelping got louder. When the woman opened the door to the room where the yelping was coming from, Nick's eyes got big. There were about five puppies curled up together, and they were the cutest things Nick had ever seen.
Nick looked up at his dad, who was smiling down at him and James.
"You two need to decide which one you want," Jim said. James had a huge smile on his face as he and Nick looked over all of the puppies. They all looked so tiny that Nick was scared he would hurt one if he tried to pick it up. Finally, James lifted one up and looked it over. It was a boy, and Nick looked him over with James. It was brown all over and it had a red nose and sad eyes. Everything about him was so small, even his tail and his ears. Nick reached out, took his little paw in his hand, and rubbed it with the tips of his fingers.
"He's so cute," James said. "I love him."
"What are we going to name him?" Nick asked.
"Do you like this one," James asked him.
Nick nodded and smiled, so James handed him the puppy. Nick was so nervous as he held it that he almost forgot how to handle it, but he finally relaxed and cradled it in his arms.
"Let's give him a Greek name," Nick said.
"Like what," James asked.
Nick thought about it for a minute, then he looked up at his dad, who shrugged. Finally, a name popped into Nicks head.
"His name is Skalaki," Nick said with a proud smile.
"What kind of name is that," James asked with a giggle.
"It means dog," Nick said.
"Hold him Taylor," Nick said. "He's soft and cuddly."
"I wish I had a puppy,"
"Well, when you come over, he's your puppy to play with too," Jim said.
"I love you," James said as he rubbed his nose up against the puppy's nose. While Jim and Lori were busy talking to the lady, James, Nick and Taylor stayed behind in the room and played with the other puppies.
"I wish we could have them all," Nick said. "They're all so adorable."
Finally, the adults came back into the room and Jim told them it was time to leave.
"He's not ready to come home with us yet, boys," Jim explained. "We'll be able to take him in about two weeks. He's still nursing."
"Can we come back and see him," James asked sadly.
"Sure we can," Jim said. "I promise."
On the way home, Nick and James pouted about not being able to bring the puppy home, but Jim talked to them about it, and they cheered up. When they got home, it was starting to rain, so they stayed inside and played cards with Jim and Lori. When they got tired of playing cards, Jim took them to the movies.
When they got home,
Jim and Lori took the love seat while Nick, Taylor and James sat on the couch. As the movie was starting, James moved to the floor where he laid on his stomach to watch. Nick snuggled up next to
He slipped his arm down under the blanket and ran his hand down
Nick curled up closer to
"Who's thirsty?" Jim asked as he started to get up halfway through the movie. Nick and Taylor pulled their hands out and sat up, and everyone spoke up that they needed a drink. Jim brought everyone soda, then they settled back down for the rest of the movie. This time, James sat down on the couch with Nick and Taylor, so as the movie started, they had to try to keep their hands to themselves. As the movie wore on, Nicks eyes started to get heavy, and when he looked at
"Let's go to bed," Nick said as he shook
"I'm gonna go tell my dad goodnight," Nick said as he watched
Nick went back downstairs and gave his dad and Lori a kiss goodnight, then he walked back up the stairs. As he walked to his bedroom door, he noticed that James was still awake, so he went into his room first to say goodnight.
"Goodnight James," Nick said as he gave his cousin a hug.
"Goodnight," James said. "I love you."
"I love you too," Nick said.
"What are you and Taylor going to do," James asked, sounding like he wasn't ready to go to bed yet.
"Probably just talk and stuff," Nick answered. "Maybe we'll watch TV or something."
"That's all I'm going to do," James said. "I'm going to see what's on TV and go to sleep."
"I saw you guys when we were watching the movie," James said. "You looked so cute together."
"We were just snuggling," Nick said almost defensively.
James grinned and sat down on his bed.
"You want to kiss him, huh," James asked.
"No," Nick said, but he knew that James could tell that he was lying.
"I think you like him," James said. "I think he likes you too."
"We're just friends," Nick said. "I swear."
James gave Nick a look that said that he didn't believe him, and Nick decided to go to bed.
"I believe you," James said right before Nick walked out. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight," Nick said as he walked out of James' room and down the hall to his room. When he got there,
"I wanted to tuck you in buddy," Jim said as he kissed Nick on the forehead.
"Goodnight daddy," Nick said. "I love you."
"I love you too son," Jim said as he pulled the covers up over them. "Goodnight
"Goodnight Mr. James,"
"I love you too pal," Jim said. "You two get some sleep now, ok?"
"Yes sir," Nick said. "Are we going to church tomorrow?"
"Yes we are," Jim answered. "We're going to get up early and have breakfast."
Jim got up from the bed and turned on the lamp by Nick's bed, then he turned off the light switch for the main light in Nick's room before he closed the door on his way out.
"Do you think papu's going to be hot," Nick asked as Jim pulled into a parking space at the airport in
"He'll live," Jim chuckled. "It's not so bad here."
As they got out of the car, Nick took the time to stop and feel the heat that he had become so used to, and he realized that compared to
As soon as they got their drinks, they were back at the gate, waiting patiently for the flight to arrive. While they waited, Nick noticed another family waiting at the same gate. It looked like a husband, wife and son, and Nick thought that the son was especially good looking. He had brown hair and pouty lips, and when he stood up, Nick noticed that he had a bubble butt. Just as he was thinking to himself that he couldn't take his eyes off him, Jim spoke up.
"There he is," he said, snapping Nick out of his trance. Nick looked up and saw his papu walking toward them with a huge grin on his face, so he hopped up and ran as fast as he could toward him.
"Papu!" Nick almost yelled as he ran into his arms. "I love you."
"I love you too, my little polakia," his papu answered as he wrapped his arms around Nick and lifted him off the ground. "I missed you so much."
"I missed you to papu," Nick said as he started to cry a little.
"What's wrong," his papu asked as he hugged him close.
"I want you to live by us again," Nick cried. Earlier in the day, Nick had no idea that all of this was going to come out, but now that he was actually with his papu, he couldn't help how he felt. He just wanted to let it all out.
Jim walked up and wrapped his arms around his dad, and Nick thought he heard his dad sobbing a little, but he wasn't sure about it.
"I missed you dad," Jim said.
"I missed you too, son," the elder Nick said.
"I'm glad you came," Jim said. "Are you hungry?"
"I'm starving," said the elder Nick. Then he lifted Nicks head off his shoulder and asked, "What about you, little one? Are you hungry?"
Nick smiled and nodded, and then he put his head back on his papu's shoulder and held on. They walked down to the baggage claim area, and as soon as they collected all of the luggage, they went to the car.
"Jesus Christ!" big Nick exclaimed as soon as they walked outside of the airport. "What are they trying to do, kill us?"
Nick giggled and smiled at his dad, who looked embarrassed.
"I told you he wouldn't like it," Nick said.
"Dad, it's not that bad," Jim said. "You'll get used to it after a few days."
They got in the car and headed to a restaurant so that they could find something to eat. They stopped half way back to the house at Fudruckers, a place that Jim, Nick and James found by accident a couple of weeks before, and they ate. After they ate, they got back in the car and headed home. On the way, Nick couldn't stop asking his papu questions about
"Everything's still the same, buddy," his papu said. "You're uncle
"What about my yard," Jim asked. "Has he been keeping it up?"
His dad cleared his throat and smiled.
"Let's just say that someone has been keeping it up, but I wouldn't say he has."
"That's what I thought," Jim said with a grin. "I'm going to kick his ass if I go back there next year and my house is fucked up."
"Son, I'm not going to let him do anything stupid to it," big Nick said softly.
As they pulled into the driveway, Nick noticed that his papu seemed impressed.
"Wow, son, this is nice," he said as they got out. They unloaded his luggage from the trunk and went inside. Once they were inside, Jim took his dads bags upstairs to the spare room and called for James. Just as Jim was calling out for him, Nick found a note on the counter in the kitchen from James saying that he went next door for lunch, so after Jim was through getting his dad settled, he called Tom and Linda to let them know that they were home. While they waited for Tom and Linda to show up with James, Nick took his papu by the hand and dragged him around the entire house. Showing him that there were 'two living rooms,' a refrigerator that spit out water and ice from the door, and all of the other things that he was still fascinated by about his new house.
Just as Nick was opening the back door to show his papu the backyard, he heard the front door opening. James slowly made his way into the family room and smiled shyly at Nick and his papu, and right behind him, Tom and Linda walked in and greeted them both.
"It's good to see you Nick," Tom said as he walked straight up to his old friend and shook his hand.
"How are you," the elder Nick replied. "It's been to long, Tom."
Linda stepped forward and gave him a hug, and as Nick watched, his papu and his grandparents from his moms' side of the family greet each other, and he felt relieved. He wasn't sure why, but he wasn't expecting them to remember each other.
As he listened, Nick realized just how well his papu knew his grandparents. Tom and Linda were asking him questions about Nick's big papu, about Nick's uncles and his Yia Yia, and they talked about certain roads and lakes in
"What are you two doing for dinner tonight," Jim asked Tom and Linda.
"We'll probably eat out," Tom said.
"Why don't you guys come to dinner with us?" Jim said.
While they were discussing dinner, James got up and went to the garage. When he came back, he was holding the new puppy.
"This is Skalaki," Nick said as he took him from James. "He's our new puppy."
Nick handed him to his papu, who lifted him up into the air and smiled. He said something to the dog in Greek that Nick could barely understand, then he handed him back.
"Have you fed him today," Jim asked.
"I fed him before I went next door," James said. "I let him out for a while, too."
"Nick, it's your turn to take care of him tonight then," Jim said sternly.
"Yes sir," Nick answered. He knew better than to argue the point with his dad. After they brought the dog home, Nick tried to get away with having James feed it and clean up after it all of the time, but eventually, James spoke up, and Nick got stuck doing all of the chores for a few days by himself to make up for sticking it to James. Now they took turns, and Nick made sure that if his dad said to do something for the dog, he did it.
As the afternoon wore on, it got hotter outside, so everyone went in and sat in the AC. Eventually, Tom and Linda went home and Nick's papu settled into the recliner. Nick knew that he wouldn't be able to stay awake, and he was right. Almost as soon as he put his legs up, he fell asleep. Nick crawled into the recliner with his papu and watched TV for a while, but eventually, he fell asleep as well.
As they all sat together at the restaurant, Nick looked around the table and beamed. He felt so proud to be sitting there with everyone that he loved, so he soaked up the moment. They were all talking about different things, but all of the things they were talking about seemed to relate to Nicks life somehow. When the food came out, the conversation died down a bit while everyone ate, but after a few moments, it started again. Nick's papu started talking to James about the last time he was at his house, and they talked about the stream in the backyard that James remembered swimming in.
"You went swimming in the stream?" Nick asked.
"Yep," James answered with a smile. "I still remember it."
"You couldn't have been older than 4 or 5," Jim said. "I can't believe that you remembered that."
Nick listened patiently for more stories about
That evening when they got home, James went upstairs to take a shower and Jim checked the voice mail to see who called while Nick and his papu went to the garage to get Skalaki and bring him inside.
"I forgot," Nick said. "Can I call him back?"
"Go ahead, but use the cordless and go outside with Skalaki," Jim said. "Make sure he goes before you bring him in."
"Yes sir," Nick said. He picked up the phone and walked out the back door with his puppy. As soon as he closed the door, he set the dog down and dialed
"Hi," Nick said sweetly.
"I'm ok," Nick answered. "My papu came today and we went out to dinner."
"How long is he going to be there,"
"Just for a week," Nick said sadly. "I wish he was going to live here. How are you?"
"I'm doing good,"
"I wish you could spend the night," Nick said. "We could camp in the family room."
"I don't think my dad will let me tonight,"
"It's not rude," Nick said. "You can come over if you want."
"My dad already said no,"
"Ok," Nick said, feeling disappointed. "This is going to be the first weekend since I moved here that you didn't spend the night."
"Can you ride your bike here tonight and just come over to play," Nick asked.
"I'll ask my dad, but I don't think he'll let me,"
"We'll ride bikes tomorrow then, I promise," Nick said. "We can build a jump on the trail."
"Yeah," Nick said as he tried not to let his disappointment get to him. He really missed
"What time do you want to meet at the trail,"
"How about early in the morning?" Nick said.
"I will," Nick said, feeling better. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"Ok, I'll see you too,"
"Goodbye," Nick said as he hung up the phone. As sad as he felt about not seeing
"What's talking so long," he asked.
"I don't know," Nick said. "I guess he doesn't have to go."
"We better wait," James said. "Remember what happened last time we didn't?"
Nick giggled as he thought about the incident that happened earlier in the week. James and Nick were tired of waiting for the dog to go, so they brought him inside and said he didn't have to go. A few moments later, Jim caught him in the corner, going on the carpet, and he exploded at both of them.
"Me and Taylor are going to ride bikes tomorrow morning if you want to come," Nick said.
"On the trail," James asked.
"Yeah," Nick said. "We're going to build a jump."
"Cool," James said. "I'll go."
"It's going to be early," Nick said. "Before we go to church."
"I'll be up," James said.
"I don't know if Uncle Jim would want him to spend the night tonight, Nick," James said. "We have company."
"He can stay next weekend, can't he," James asked.
"Yeah," Nick said quietly.
"It'll be ok," James said as he put an arm around Nicks shoulder and gave it a squeeze.
"I know," Nick said. "But I just like spending time with him."
"You'll hang out tomorrow," James said. "Besides, big Nick's here now, so you should go inside and visit with him."
"I have to wait for Skalaki," Nick said.
"I'll wait," James said with a smile.
"Thanks James," Nick said with a smile. "I love you."
"I love you too Nick," James said.
When Nick got back inside, he talked to his dad about riding his bike with
"I don't care, as long as you guys are careful," he said. "Is James going with you?"
"Yes sir," Nick said. "Are we going to church tomorrow?"
"We sure are," Jim said. "So you need to be back in time to get ready."
"We will," Nick said.
"He's my best friend," Nick said happily. "We're like brothers."
"He spends the night every weekend," Jim added. "He's a good kid. We started going to church with his family."
After a while, Nick went upstairs to take a shower. When he got out, his dad helped him get ready. When they went back downstairs, Nick's papu was sleeping in the recliner, snoring loudly. James was sitting with Skalaki on the loveseat grinning, and Nick noticed that the dog was watching his papu snore with an odd look on his face.
"Don't worry Skalaki," Nick said as he sat next to James and reached out to pet the dog. "He's just snoring, that's all."
That night, Nick lay awake and wondered if James was able to sleep at all. On one side of the hall, Jim was snoring loudly in his bed, and on the other side, Nicks papu was snoring twice as loud in his bed. The noise seemed unbearable to Nick, and he wondered how James was doing. He got up and crept across the hall to James' door, and he could see the light from James' lamp under the door, so he knocked.
"You couldn't sleep either," James asked. "This is ridiculous."
"I know," Nick said. "I never knew they both snored so loud."
"I'm used to Uncle Jim," James said. "But big Nick is killing me."
Nick giggled and sat down on James's bed. They stayed up and talked about different things, especially boys, and Nick realized after a few hours that this was the latest he had ever been up in his life.
"Who do you like at your school," James asked.
"I don't know," Nick answered shyly. "There's lots of cute guys there, especially in the 5th grade."
"Do you think
"I don't know," Nick said. "I don't know if he thinks other boys look cute."
"He said you were cute," James reminded him.
"But that's just because we're friends," Nick said. "I don't think he likes boys like that."
"You like him like that though, huh?" James said with a grin.
Nick smiled and looked down. He really did like
"It's ok if you do, Nick," James said. "He's so cute, how could you not like him?"
Nick looked up at his cousin and smiled. He knew that James was right.
"I kind of like him," Nick finally admitted.
"Does he know," James asked.
"I don't know," Nick said. "He might."
"Did you tell him," James asked.
"No, not really," Nick said shyly. "But I think he knows."
"I think he likes you too," James said. "You guys always hold hands and stuff."
"Can I tell you something and you won't tell anyone else?" Nick asked.
"I promise," James said.
"Sometimes I like to pretend that
"What," James asked with a smile.
"I kissed him a couple of times," Nick admitted.
"On the lips," James asked.
Nick nodded and smiled, and then he looked away.
"Are you going to tell anyone," Nick asked.
"No, I promise," James said. "Nick, can I ask you something?"
"Yes," Nick answered shyly.
"Do you think you know if you're gay or not," he asked.
Nick nodded and said, "I know."
"Are you," James asked.
"Yes," Nick said. As soon as he said it, he felt his head whirl. It wasn't a good whirl, or a bad whirl, it was just a whirl. "I can't believe I just told someone."
"I won't tell unless you want me to," James said.
"I'm not ready to tell anyone else," Nick said. "I only told you because it's easy to tell you stuff, and I love you."
"Awww," James said sweetly as he hugged Nick. "I love you too, Nick. I swear I won't say anything."
For the rest of the night, Nick and James sat on the bed and talked about boys. Nick told James almost everything about him and
When they got there,
"Hey," Nick said playfully.
"No one can see,"
Nick turned around and did it back to him, just to show that he liked it.
"I wish you could've spent the night last night," Nick said as he rubbed
"I missed you too,"
When they got back to the ramp, James was grinning at Nick like he knew what happened, but he didn't say anything. They raised the ramp and jumped it over and over again, and finally,
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