With a bit of nervousness, Dustin wished me a good day before he ran towards his school. Now staring at the doors to mine, I felt glad he said that – I almost couldn’t even walk through the Quad! As Dex half-dragged, half-pushed me towards my doom, I saw Elliot once again sitting in the same spot, drawing away. But this time, he looked up as I neared. A very small smile crossed his face and I thought I saw his eyes twinkling a bit before he clouded over once more. He sort of waved at me as I passed and Dex stopped long enough for me to wave back.
The walk to my locker was actually rather calm. No weird looks, no snarky comments. Nothing. It almost felt anti-climactic, given how I reacted on Thursday. A few girls looked me over a bit and I think they sighed with disappointment or something as I passed them. I didn’t really understand their attitude but at least they weren’t throwing negative slurs at me or threatening me with violence. But I did see a few eyes linger on my attire and that left me a tad uneasy.
Aimee pushed her shoulder off my locker as she saw me and approached with purpose, her long hair flowing behind her like a cape. Her eyes seemed to narrow more the closer I got to her. She placed a hand on my chest, stopping me as I tried to sidestep her. “Can I help you Aimee?” I said neutrally.
“Yes! You can stop this… stupid gay act! I know that you aren’t and are doing this just to piss me off. Guess what – it worked. Now, please just… stop being stupid for once and give me a chance? I’m not all that bad.”
Dexter scoffed. “You are so full of yourself it’s not even remotely funny. Chance is off limits to you – and every other girl in this school.” He went to say more but Aimee cut him off.
“What, so you’re boning him? You I can see being gay, but Chance… no. I refuse to believe it.”
“Eww!” Dex almost squealed. “I am not boning Chance! He may be the best friend I always fall back to and treat like a brother, but… no. Ew. Gross.”
“While I agree with you, bud… but could you at least give me some credit?” I sighed. “I’m not that ugly… am I?”
“What? No, dude! You are rockin’! Just… if I had to go gay, I definitely couldn’t do it for you. We’ve been too good of friends for us to risk the friendship and stuff.”
“I get it… I think.” I turned back to Aimee who looked really confused. I removed her hand from my chest. “Relish that touch forever for all I care, but it’s the last one I’ll allow for you. I have to get ready for class now.” I stepped around her and proceeded to my locker.
“Just give me a kiss!” I stopped just as I opened my locker.
“What?” I said as I spun around. Aimee closed the distance between us again.
“Just… let me kiss you and I’ll prove to you that you’re just being silly about this whole gay thing.” Her slightly hesitant smile brightened. “You just haven’t been with the right girl is all. I can be that girl for you, Chance.”
“Not interested,” I said immediately. “Go chase after someone… I don’t know. Straight.” I shrugged a bit before I proceeded to ignore Aimee. I swapped my books around, only to feel a presence behind me – Aimee yet again no doubt. “Look Aimee. Just stop bothering me and just go the–”
“I’m not Fowler,” Rick said as I spun around to tell Aimee off, only to see him and not her. “Nice of you not to go slinking back into the closet after what happened on Thursday.”
I sighed. “While I’m petrified I made the biggest mistake of my life then, there’s no point in trying to lie about it now.”
“Ah, you’ll be fine,” Rick said reassuringly. “And if anyone does give you shit for being who you are, just refer them to me. I’ll ‘straighten’ them out.” He laughed a bit. I didn’t and he stopped. “That was a joke, kid. Lighten up a bit.” His eyes gleamed intensely. “And I know just the ticket to help you there. Wanna step inside the bathroom quick? I’ll take care of you and give you an experience for sure.”
“Look Rick… I appreciate the offer, but I don’t think I can roll like that. It’s not what I think I can do.” Again I sighed. “I… I’m not like you, Rick. At least not like that.”
He bristled a bit and frowned some but took a step back. “Okay. No sweat. Catch you later?”
“Um, sure.” He offered up a wave before he disappeared down the hall, Aimee trailing behind him when he caught up to her. I leaned my head against my locker for a moment, summoning up some reserve of courage I didn’t think I’d find. I let a slow breath out and started towards class. As I did, I almost knocked Elliot down again but he just stepped to the side and offered up a small smile with another tiny wave before moving on. I watched him retreat, but shook myself back into focus – the bell was about to ring. I stepped into class and proceeded to feign learning.
Second period came up and as soon as he entered the room, Rick took a desk next to me. He didn’t say anything right away but I could feel his eyes on me as I pulled my laptop out. I was in the middle of a Solitaire game when he leaned closer. “Hey… just wondering if you had reconsidered my offer from this morning. Seriously, I’ll rock your world and you don’t even have to reciprocate or anything. What do you say?”
I stopped in mid-game and slowly turned to Rick. His face was full of confidence in his approach; he had no qualms about the offer he laid out for me. I just couldn’t understand how he could just have so much meaningless sex. I mean sure, I want it just as much as the next guy, but… can’t he see that it’s not good for him? The risk and dangers he’s exposing himself to and potentially all of his future “tricks”? I closed my computer for a second. “Rick… my answer is still the same. Thanks but… no thanks.” I stared him in the eye as I said it to him before breaking the stare and opening the lid on my computer again. I heard a frustrated sigh come from my left and I ignored it.
A few more periods passed and I took my seat across from Dex as lunch finally arrived. I happened to look up and saw Elliot yet again as he exited the lunch line. I saw his eyes sweep the room and once he saw me, again he offered up a wave, this one a bit more pronounced. I turned back to Dexter. “Hey, did you happen to talk to those girls yet about the Valentine’s Day flower thing?”
He thought for a moment before he nodded. Swallowing his bite of chicken sandwich first, he said, “Yeah, I spoke to them both last period and I was really careful about it. You know, seeing if they would write what was written. Turns out they didn’t.”
“So that leaves either Rick or Elliot,” I said mostly to myself. Dexter heard me though.
“Yeah, that it does. Good thing they’re at least the right gender for you.” He reached across and playfully pushed my arm from under my chin. It made me laugh a bit. “I think that’s the first time you’ve smiled all day. You really need to just relax. Anything bad happen to you at all?”
“Not really. I think someone tried to say something about me but I didn’t really hear them all that well. It happened between second and third periods. But that was it. Oh, maybe a few stares here and there, but I guess that’s to be expected. I’m the latest gossip, right?”
Dex nodded. “Until someone gets pregnant or Guy A cheats on Girl B with Girl C or even Guy B, you’re the in story for now, bro.”
“Whoo.” I rolled my eyes as I attempted to eat whatever was on my plate that the school called ‘food.’ I tentatively poked the mass of… whatever and decided to brave a bite. It actually wasn’t too bad, although the chicken tasted awfully like beef to me. I mentally shrugged – I liked beef so I ate it. About halfway through the meal, I saw both Rick and Elliot head in my direction. Elliot though seemed to come to a stop but hovered nearby when Rick took a seat right next to me.
“Hey Ricky,” Dex said with a polite nod. Rick nodded back.
“So Chance.” Rick chuckled a bit. “Last chance on my offer. What do you say?”
I had felt second period wasn’t the end of Rick trying to get with me in that way. I turned to him. “Rick, you seem like a nice guy and I admire the perseverance, but… I can’t bring myself to ever have just… empty sex.”
“Sex?!” Dex said, almost choking on his sandwich. I ignored him.
“I can’t do whatever it is that you do. It’s just not my scene.”
“Are you dissing me?” Rick said heatedly. “Like, are you condemning how I’m choosing to live my life?” I cut him off right there.
“No, I’m not. Look, I don’t understand how you can just… grab a guy, shove him in the bathroom or your bedroom, have a quick score and then part ways to hardly talk to one another again. But if that’s how you want to do things, it’s not my place to judge either way on how you live your life, as you said. It’d be nice if you could respect my position on actually wanting to be with one guy at a time and make it last as long as possible.”
I saw the anger leave Rick’s face. Thoughtfulness took over as he leaned back a bit. Dexter looked a bit uncomfortable but otherwise stayed put. After a minute, Rick said, “I think I understand what you’re saying. Kinda makes sense in a way. I mean, I don’t think I can understand where you’re coming from fully, but to each his own, right?” I nodded. “Okay, I won’t ask you again. Promise.” He stood up but did pinch my ass as he did, winking at me. “I do have to say though one last time that I think you’d make a great–”
“Um straight boy still sitting here!” Dex interrupted. Rick just laughed as he waved and started to walk off. “Oh Rick?”
He stopped and turned. “Yeah?”
“I have a feeling I know the answer, but you didn’t give Chance his flower did you?”
Rick looked puzzled. “No, that’s definitely not my style. I thought a girl gave it to him before he came out or whatever.”
“Didn’t think so – just wanted to double check.” Dexter semi-dismissed Rick. I glanced around, wondering if Elliot still stood nearby. I noticed that he wasn’t – probably split when Rick beat him to me. Wait…
“Wait, so if Rick didn’t write that poem and neither of those girls…” I paled a bit and looked around the lunchroom for him. I saw him, face buried into a notebook, a pencil or pen of some sort moving in defined, fluid motions. Since he sat too far from me, I couldn’t read his face at all and the one-half of his notebook blocking most of it anyway didn’t help much. The bell rang and I attempted to catch up to him, but lost him in the crowd of kids. “Damn!”
“What?” Dex asked as he followed me.
“Well… by process of elimination, I know who gave me the flower.”
“Oh yeah… I guess you’re right.” We fought through the crowd and made it to my locker. I glanced toward Elliot’s and he wasn’t there. Now that I found out who gave me the flower, I felt my nerves bundling up a bit at the thought. Until I realized that he was the one – the flower giver and message writer – I didn’t really pay too much attention to him. Sure, I noticed him as I saw him but… it was different then. Now… now all I can see is the pain that I saw for but a fleeting moment that first time we met and something deep inside me now wanted to somehow ease him of his pain, his emotional baggage. I wanted to find out why he hurts… what makes him tick. “You better get a move on, bro – you’re gonna be late.” Dex’s voice snapped me back and I realized I had followed him to his class. I ran down the hall cursing, not even giving my friend a proper goodbye.
The rest of the day was a blur, as thoughts of Elliot swam in my mind while sitting at my desk at home. The more I thought about him, the more I felt my nerves get all jumbled and mixed up at the mere thought of confronting him about the rose. I glanced at the flower, still floating in the small cup of water. Its petals seemed to have started wilting at least a few days ago. I don’t know why, but I looked at that flower and felt my time starting to run out for some reason. The spring dance was still a couple weeks away at least, so I don’t think I was cutting it that close.
* * *
I awoke to a sense of dread, one that was caused by my hand. It was ‘do or die time’. As the sleep faded from my mind, I felt the fear, nervousness, and even some anticipation at the mere thought of talking to him today about it. I made up my mind as I fell asleep that if I didn’t do it today, then I’d never do it and I don’t want this to be a regret I’d live with forever.
It took ages and several whines and moans from Dustin to even get me out of the house. I just couldn’t figure out what to wear! I decided to try the skinny jeans again, along with a dark olive green tee that somehow manages to hug my body. I hoped it’d get his attention in some way.
Upon arriving on the school grounds, I saw that Elliot was not at his normal spot of sitting on the Quad bench, doodling the morning away. And as soon as I realized he wasn’t there, I felt… disappointed. Even a bit sad. Where was all this coming from? Did I secretly have my own crush on him and didn’t even tell myself that I had one? I just can’t believe that all of this is coming about all because I now know he likes me. In that way. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
I wandered into the school and didn’t see him at his locker, though I did see some sort of look on Aimee’s face. She didn’t loiter long enough for me to see it fully – she went off towards her first period class. “Any issues again today?” Dex asked as he slid up to the locker next to mine.
“Not yet, luckily – the day just started. I’m hoping things look up for me today.”
“That’s the spirit, buddy!” Dex said with a smile, slapping me on the back. I almost head-butted my locker door. “Gotta keep a positive outlook on things. So… did you find him yet?” He raised an eyebrow at me.
I sagged a bit. “Not yet. Normally I see him on the way into the front doors, but… he wasn’t there.”
“Aw, maybe later you’ll see him.” At the thought, I started shaking a bit in nervousness. “Chance you… you have it bad for him, don’t you?”
“I-I do now, yeah. Wasn’t like this before.”
“Knowing someone likes you like that tends to help things along,” he said. He glanced at his watch. “Oh, I gotta get going. Have to hand this one assignment in early – I won’t be in my afternoon classes today since I have an appointment with my doctor.” He did his best not to chuckle a bit. “How about some gaming after I get done with my appointment?”
“Um, maybe. Depends on… things.”
Dex smiled as he backed away. “Right, got it. Well, see you later.”
First period went by without me even noticing and second period went by almost as fast. Rick managed to break through my distractions and asked if I was cool. I whispered to him I had someone on my mind and he immediately let out a low whistle and gave me a devilish grin. Thankfully, no one else bothered to look towards him. Other than that, the period became a memory.
Just as I stepped out into the hall, I saw him at his locker. I caused a small backlog at the exit to the classroom for a few seconds until I got pushed out of the way by some random sophomore. I saw him roll his eyes at me as he passed but I didn’t care – I finally saw him for the first time that day. Instinctively, I started smoothing out the creases in my tee and toyed with my bangs for a second.
“That who’s on your mind?” Rick whispered to me, following my gaze. Absently I nodded my head. “Not bad. Don’t know much about him but he is a looker that’s for sure.”
“He’s off limits to you by the way,” I found myself saying quietly.
“Right, I think I can respect that. Unless he makes a move on me before you do on him, that is.” I turned to face Rick and saw no hidden agendas – just someone stating facts. Slowly I nodded to him as I took in a breath. I started towards him.
Once again, the two of us almost collided.
Elliot stopped just in time as I backed up and almost took out Rick, who was following close behind. “Oh! Um h-hi… Chance.”
I suddenly blushed a bit. “Um, hey… Elliot. How’re… things?”
“Okay, I guess. How about you?” Any emotions I saw initially faded into the mask.
“Oh… um, good. They’re… good.” A lull struck us out of the blue and the two of us danced a bit on our feet, trying to ignore the awkwardness. Just as he offered me a quick nod and started to head off, I felt a swell of courage hit me. “Um, wait. I-I have something… I’d like to ask you.”
He stopped. “Oh?”
I unfolded the note that he attached to the flower he gave me and showed it to him. “Did you… um, type this in Mrs. Lee’s class?” At first, nothing happened. I stared at his face as he read the lines that he typed up, waiting for a sign and getting nothing. But as he seemed to be finished with his analysis, it happened.
The mask cracked just enough.
A slow, florid tone covered his cheeks and threatened to climb up on his forehead. And as I watched his cool gray eyes, I saw them flicker momentarily. That flicker gave me enough to peer once more into his hidden soul and saw two distinct things there. One showed a lingering, constant ache that this boy couldn’t shake. And the other was… a bit strange. “U-Um… this wasn’t me.” The words somehow didn’t match his tone. He sounded… afraid. Nervous.
Even just a bit eager.
I felt a bit more confident as I said, “Well, I have proof that it was typed on a computer you used and the other users all deny it. Leaving you.” My voice was quiet as other kids passed us. The bell for class loomed over the two of us like a grim reaper – these next few seconds would determine the fate between us. Elliot tried to shake some sense into his head.
He tried to step around me, his mask hardening completely.
“Wait!” I said, grabbing his arm and making him spin around. The momentum thrust him into me, our face now scant inches apart. I couldn’t breathe all of a sudden, being so close to him. I think he couldn’t either. My eyes found his. We stared at each other, seemingly forever. I readjusted the grip I had on his arms into one more gentle. Short, quick gasps slipped from his lips. His full, kissable pink lips. I didn’t care about the shadow that covered our faces as I noticed each of us drawn to the other.
Softly, our lips meshed.
The instant I felt his lips connect to mine, it seemed as if they were the key to unlocking my heart and now that he was here, with me, an indescribable sensation swept through my body. Unable to contain my feelings, I moaned softly and pressed my lips harder to his. I felt his hesitation, his uncertainty, but underneath even that, I felt his lust. His passion. An unbridled force few seemed able to cope against.
I braved the assault once he could resist his wants no longer.
A throat cleared subtly after several more blissful and passionate seconds, just enough to bring me back to earth. Gently, I pulled back from Elliot. His eyes were closed as I took in his face once again. He looked like a sleeping angel, all innocent, even as a slightly devilish smile crept onto his face. The juxtaposition suited him quite nicely. But slowly he opened his eyes and for the longest time I’ve had yet – about two or so seconds – I could just about read Elliot Pearson. I really saw the boy that stood before me and, honestly, it overwhelmed me some. But not from fear of what I was getting myself into, but more like awe. Somehow, I felt that was the most emotion he expressed in a long time.
It made me sad for him all over again.
“B-By the way,” I said quietly, suddenly feeling an entire hallway full of eyes upon the two of us, even if it wasn’t true. “I-If you really, um, bought those tickets to… the dance. I think I’d… like to go with you?”
“Y-You will?” he asked in total wonderment, forgetting about his earlier protests regarding the note. “You really will?”
“Um, sure, I’d like to.” I glanced at my watch and I cursed – I’d have to run really fast to not be late. But then I didn’t care – I was standing with Elliot. “You think you can come over to my place after school… to talk?”
Slowly he nodded. “S-Sure. Um… where should we meet?” Elliot slowly started to back away, finally becoming aware of the time.
“My locker?” Elliot nodded and turned. I almost laughed as I thought I saw a small skip in his step.
“That was… awesome…” Ricky breathed. “Totally need to find someone and soon!” He followed me a bit. “That was a sexy kiss, man.”
“Um… thanks?” I stopped him, again not caring as the bell just rang through the halls. “Why were you watching us anyway?”
“I wasn’t really watching you. I was protecting the two of you. Didn’t want anyone to interfere with your moment. Especially the Fowler kind – I didn’t see her, luckily.” He sighed for a moment. “Y’know, seeing the two of you like that almost makes me wanna rethink this whole thing I have going. Almost.” He disappeared down the hall, leaving me to deal with the soaring feelings within my heart.
I may just have found myself a boyfriend!