It is strongly suggested that you read the Sanitaria Springs stories, “Another Day In Parodyse” and “The Bearded Bromance” before you begin this story.
I knew it was coming, and I had barely managed to avoid it all weekend, but now I knew I was going to have to face Seth. I had told him I was going to my uncle’s house on Saturday, and then that my parents needed me for housework on Sunday, and then lied to my parents about being sick so that I could stay home on Monday. Since I rarely stayed home from school for any reason, my parents fawned over me with concern, but my faked cough and claims that my stomach was upset ended up being enough, and they left me home alone as they went to work.
The problem lay in the fact that I wasn’t sick, and I knew Seth would see right through that and be at my door as soon as school ended. We may have only been friends for just over a month but he already knew me so well. In a little over an hour, he’d be standing on my doorstep, asking to come in, and I would have to decide if I was going to face the truth or lie to the person who had changed so much for me.
I sighed and lay back down on my bed, covering my face in my hands as I stared into the back of my eyelids, drawing my memory back to the day that everything had begun almost two months earlier.
~ ~ ~ ~
“Logan, what the hell was that?” Drew yelled at me, his face flushed with a mixture of anger and concern. I placed my hand down to push myself up to my knees and then retrieved the basketball rolling beside me with my other hand as I stood up the rest of the way. There was a distinct pain in my tailbone from how I had landed against the court, and my ankle was sore as well. I wasn’t entirely certain what had happened other than the fact that I had messed up the play, and Drew wasn’t going to let me forget it either.
“I’m sorry, Captain. I was distracted.” I planted my feet and moved to pass the ball when the pain in my ankle threw off my aim and I sent the ball wide. Drew watched it go and then glanced at my angle which I was no longer putting my full weight on.
“Whitmore,” He said my last name the way he always did before giving an order; firm and without emotion. “Take a break and ice that ankle, and next time don’t get distracted.”
I nodded and hobbled toward the bench, watching as another of my teammates was sent to retrieve an icepack for me. The coach watched me throughout my entire walk to the bench, his arms crossed over his chest and his face stern, though his eyes showed the fatherly concern he had displayed on numerous occasions for the boys on the team. I wasn’t afraid of Coach Gary. Gary Whitmore was my uncle and the least of my concerns at the moment.
“Logan. What’s gotten into you? You’ve been distracted for weeks now,” my uncle said as I took a seat on the bench, glad to have a temporary reprieve from my fresh injury. “Is everything all right?” He asked with a touch more concern than earlier.
“Yeah, just thinking about some things,” I said as I shook my head and smiled up at him. “I won’t let it happen again, and I’ll get my head back in the game.”
“You’d better. Your teammates need you,” my uncle replied with a nod toward court where someone was now filling in for me in the play. “As good as they are without you, you were added to this team for a reason, and we need everyone at a hundred percent.”
I nodded and he left it at that when my teammate returned with the icepack. I put it to my ankle and let my mind wander for a minute, returning my thoughts to the problem that had been weighing heavily on my mind. I had no idea what to do, but I had to make up my mind before I really started to screw up. The boy just looked so lonely, and I could never stand the thought of anyone being alone. I’d see him walking to school every day, sometimes kicking at a pebble or an empty soda can, other times shuffling his step as if he were ensuring that it took as long to get to school as he could manage. Whether it was the former or the latter, his head was always down. Always looking away from what was ahead of him.
Seth McAllister. He hadn’t gone to my middle school, and I hadn’t even known that he had been attending Columbia High School until I had moved across town and saw him while he was walking to school. It was like I started seeing him everywhere after that. He was in gym with me, and at lunch, and I saw him in the halls between classes. I started to notice that he didn’t have many friends and those he did have were a few guys here and there that I could tell he wasn’t close to.
He never talked to anyone outside of those few boys, or the teachers when they called on him. When he did talk it didn’t seem like there was much holding him back, he didn’t seem shy just… different. I was certain there was something I was missing; something that didn’t quite add up, and then I started to put other details together.
The way he never showered after gym. The fact that he never talked to girls. The way he sometimes looked at his friends when they walked away from him like he wanted something more… Seth McAllister had to be gay. The question remained as to what to do about him, and how I could help him out without him thinking that I wanted something else from him.
I sighed and looked out at my teammates, watching Drew, Jordan, Tyler, and Jace as they went through the plays without me. We had all been friends since elementary school, but things had been different over the past few years. They were my friends, and on some levels we were close, but since the summer three years earlier that I had spent with my grandparents in Pennsylvania, I had grown apart from them. My teammates had become closer, filled with the memories of a summer together that I knew nothing about, while I had become a sort of outsider.
It hadn’t been immediate, but slowly and surely I had lost my best friends as they became attached to each other. I had compensated by making friends everywhere, filling my life with more and more people that hardly knew me, but appreciated the fact that I went out of my way to be nice to them. I didn’t have someone in my life that I really connected to anymore, and neither did Seth.
That was when things began to change for me, that day on the bench. I can see it now, the way I lit up and my uncle smiled at me weirdly. Somehow he knew that I had figured out my problem, and when I told him a few minutes later that I was certain I wouldn’t be distracted anymore, I could tell that he wasn’t the slightest bit worried. Somehow my uncle Gary had always been the one that understood me best.
~ ~ ~ ~
Gary. He was someone I hadn’t considered, and now that I thought about it, if there was anyone I could talk to about what was going through my mind, it was him. I reached for my phone, cycling through the texts from Seth that I still hadn’t answered, and then closed my inbox to start a new message to Gary once I realized that a call would do me little good at this hour. He would be teaching history until the end of school, but I knew he’d check his phone as soon as class ended.
Gary, would you call me when class is over? Thanks. It’s urgent. I hit send before I had a chance to back out of my plan. As much as I hated facing the truth, I needed to talk to someone before it destroyed me. I set my phone back on my dresser and then closed my eyes again, trying to will the world away. I had no such luck, and my mind was instantly filled with images and memories of the past two months, until finally settling on the day that my obsession had finally begun.
~ ~ ~ ~
“Hey, see you at practice!” Jace said to me as we parted ways in the hall. I stopped him before he could go and he looked at me in confusion.
“I thought we were going to the movie tonight?” I asked, though I already knew what the answer was going to be. It was the same every time. He had other plans.
“Oh…” Jace said, having the decency to at least look embarrassed that he had forgotten our plans. “Sorry, Logan… Tyler and I have a project we need to work on for English. We’ll get together soon, all right?” He pulled away from me and darted down the hall while I was left alone. Again.
I heard some shouting from further down the hall and saw a crowd of kids gathering. That could really only mean one thing; a fight of some sort had started. Not wanting to miss out on the action, and with a secondary goal of breaking it up should it get ugly, I started toward the noise. By the time I reached the inner circle of students Jamie Kirkwood had already done the duty of disrupting the fight and had David Mullins up against the lockers, saying things to David that couldn’t be heard over the chattering students.
My attention didn’t remain on them for long, as I looked lower and saw that Seth was picking up the last of his books and getting them into his backpack. He was clearly shaken up, and wasn’t looking at David at all. I started to push my way through the crowd when Jamie finished with David and let him go, and then reached down to offer Seth a hand up. I saw Seth mouth a thank you to Jamie and then he began walking away in the opposite direction of David.
I didn’t know Jamie all that well. As many friends as we both had, we ran in completely different circles. I even had a couple of classes with him, but although we knew each other’s names we rarely talked. But this time I needed to know something from him, so before he could walk away from the scene I approached him and said, “Hey, Jamie.”
“Logan. What’s up?” Jamie said as I stopped in front of him.
“Hey, what just happened there? With David?” I asked, glaring in the direction that David had walked.
“He’s an asshole, that’s what happened,” Seth said, matching my glare before he turned back to me and smiled. “He was messing with Seth McAllister, quiet kid that doesn’t pick fights with anyone. I couldn’t let that happen.”
“Thanks,” I replied, and he raised a curious eyebrow at me. I grinned and patted him on the shoulder. “We need more people willing to get rid of the assholes. Plus, I’ve been thinking that Seth needs a friend.”
“We all do,” Jamie said, and the depth of that line seemed to surprise even him as he coughed to cover up his blush. I met his eyes and nodded, and he seemed to see something in there that I couldn’t figure out as he added, “I’ll keep watching out for him.”
“I will too,” I said with a grin. “Thanks again, Jamie.”
~ ~ ~ ~
I kept my word. I watched out for Seth, but I had ended up with far more than I had bargained for. From the first fifteen minutes of conversation I had with Seth, I was hooked. There were parts of me I hadn’t shared with anyone, which I found myself talking to Seth about in a matter of minutes. Who knew that asking him what his interests were would spark a conversation on Broadway musicals that ended up with me confessing my love for Bernadette Peters? Seth and I had connected in ways I had never imagined.
It had been more than that though. Perhaps it had been born of desperation to fill the void that had been left when my best friends had moved on without me, but for the first time in a long while I had felt like I belonged with someone. He was intelligent and witty, and he cared about the people around him, and the way his eyes lit up when I said hello. Those brilliant, bright green eyes that I could lose myself for hours staring into them…
Where had that thought come from?
I groaned in frustration and slammed my fist into the wall, glaring up at the ceiling. The vibration of my fist hitting the wall shook my dresser and a framed picture fell over, clattering noisily against the wood. I glanced up at it, but unable to tell which one it was from the few others I could see, I stood and retrieved the picture, only to find the faces of Drew, Jordan, Tyler, and Jace all staring back at me, grinning as they held up their fresh catches of fish from our camping trip four years earlier. It was one of the last good memories with them up until recently, when things had started to change for the better.
~ ~ ~ ~
I felt a strong pair of hands grip my shoulders and squeeze them firmly. I knew that squeeze well, though I hadn’t felt it in a long time. “Logan. What’s happenin’, dude?” Jordan asked as he released my shoulders and then slid onto the bench beside me. He slid his backpack off of his shoulder and retrieved his sack lunch from inside before letting the backpack fall noisily to the floor.
Seth looked at me with a raised eyebrow and then he jumped as a tray clattered down on my other side. I smiled at the sound. I had been expecting Tyler after Jordan showed up, and he had been as prompt as usual. “Damn lunch ladies gave me half a portion,” Tyler growled as he turned toward me. “Hey Logan, sup?”
“Do you really want more of that crap?” Jordan asked, his dark eyes widening as he looked past me to Tyler. He grinned and shook his head, his broad shoulders shaking with the laughter he was trying to suppress. “Man, you complain about everything.”
“What are you guys doing here? I thought you’d be eating with Drew and Jace,” I asked, looking between the two of them and then back at Seth, who was looking down and avoiding my two friends with his eyes. Seth and I had been friends for less than a week, and he was still afraid that I would leave him for my other friends. As If I would abandon my new best friend for any reason! I lightly tapped him with my foot under the table and he looked up at me, startled. I winked at him and grinned, knowing that there was no malice in the boys at my side.
“Well… I know Drew is too wrapped up in being captain to have even noticed, but…” Jordan glanced at Tyler who was nodding his support. “We were wondering where you went, dude. It seems like you’ve made a new friend though.” He turned to Seth and stuck out his hand. “Hey, I’m Jordan. I think we’re in Biology together. Your name is Seth, right?”
“Um… yeah?” Seth said, surprised as he took Jordan’s hand and shook it firmly. “Nice meeting you, Jordan.”
“Oh, and that skinny guy with the scowl,” Jordan said, and without looking away from Seth’s face he added, “Yeah, the one looking at me right now like he’s going to throw that small bit of food at the back of my head… That’s Tyler.”
Tyler put the spoonful of food back on his tray and smiled innocently as he extended his hand to Seth. “Don’t listen to a word he says, Seth,” Tyler said with a quick glare at Jordan. “He thinks he knows me… As if I would waste my food on him!”
Seth grinned and shook hands with Tyler, and I was glad to see him starting to warm up to them both. He had told me once that he had once been beaten by an older kid for his mouth, and that was why he didn’t talk to people very easily, but Jordan and Tyler had exactly the same effect they always did. They had been like brothers since they were three, and even though they were drastically different in appearance we had always called them twins. They played that role well, and always knew what the other was thinking, making them capable of functioning as one mind in nearly every situation. This time it was no different, and they were using their full twin-like ability to put Seth at ease.
“Aren’t you in three of my classes?” Seth asked Tyler.
Tyler looked back at Seth’s eyes with a sheepish grin. “Yeah… don’t know why I never introduced myself before. The thing I want to know is why you’re hanging around this guy?” He gave me a playful shove and then added, “He has a habit of making people think that he doesn’t want to be friends with them anymore.”
I turned to Tyler, horrified, but he didn’t meet my eyes, instead I was drawn to laughter from my other side as I turned back to Jordan who was smiling wide. “Logan, you know that you can still sit with us, and bring Seth along as well. It’s not like we wouldn’t welcome another guy to the table, especially a friend of yours.” He winked at Seth and without looking I knew that Seth was blushing.
“Thanks, guys…” I said, feeling a bit of moisture come to my eyes that I repressed as quickly as it came. I looked over at the table where the basketball team was sitting together and saw Drew and Jace glance over in my direction. “What about Drew and Jace?”
“Are you kidding me?” Tyler said, spinning me around to look at him. “Drew is the one that sent us over here to drag you both over there! Dude, we’ve been worried about you for the past couple months…” His cheeks flushed for a moment as his eyes lit up with the realization that he was getting more sensitive than a fourteen-year-old should, but he gritted his teeth and forced the words out. “You’re a part of the team Logan, and we wouldn’t be the same without you.”
“Drew kept mentioning to us how you were distracted all the time, and we couldn’t tell what was wrong with you. Then all of a sudden you stopped being distracted in the game a week ago and you stopped hanging out with us at the same time…” Jordan, always the softer of the two and the one most in tune with his emotions was meeting my eyes and unafraid to show me how he felt. “Apparently you found whatever it was you were looking for, but we want you back. We’ll be happy to have Seth here too, if he wants to come.”
“Wow… You guys really kick ass, you know that?” I said, looking between them and then back to Seth. Keeping my eyes on his I nodded slightly and said, “If you all felt this way, how come just the two of you came over?”
“Hah!” Tyler laughed, snapping my attention back to him. “Do you really think that this was a job meant for anyone but the Swenson Twins?”
“Don’t you mean the Bruckheimer Twins?” Jordan asked, giving his usual reply. They always fought over which family name they belonged to, Jordan’s or Tyler’s, and it always made those that knew them smile. Both boys were considered sons in the other’s family, and both last names applied.
“Seth… What do you think?” I asked, meeting his eyes. There was hesitation there, but there was also trust. I knew that if he decided against joining us then I’d be forced to make a decision between my team and him. Something told me that I knew I’d side with Seth no matter what, and he seemed to see the same thing, and the hesitation quickly began to fade.
“Let’s go. I’m down for meeting a few more people today,” Seth said with a wide grin. Hoots of excitement came from Jordan and Tyler as they picked up their food and waited for us to do the same. As Seth and I made eye contact again I mouthed a quick ‘thank you’ before we got up to join them. Seth nodded and we broke the eye contact as we walked toward the table where Drew had already cleared enough room for two people right between him and Jace.
~ ~ ~ ~
My phone buzzed longer than it would for a text message, and I realized that Gary was calling me. I snagged my phone from my dresser and pressed the button to accept the call without even looking at the screen. “Uncle Gary,” I said in greeting.
“Guess again,” Seth’s voice answered. “So, I’m betting you didn’t even look at your phone before you answered, or you probably wouldn’t have picked up.” His tone was neutral, not betraying any emotion, but I knew what that meant. Seth only withdrew into apathy when he was really pissed off.
“I’m sorry, Seth… I don’t know if I can…” I began, but Seth cut me off immediately.
“I don’t care if you can or not, I’m coming over. I’ll help you if you can’t!”
I was about to protest again when my phone beeped, signaling that I had another call. I glanced to see that it was Gary calling me back and then hastily tried to prevent the inevitable, “Seth, I have another call. Don’t…”
“Oh, you should answer that then. I’ll see you in twenty minutes,” Seth replied and then hung up.
I growled in annoyance as I pressed the button to switch to Gary and must have still been growling when he came on the line as he immediately said with concern, “Logan? Are you all right?”
“I’ve had better…” I said as I lay back down on my bed, covering my eyes with my open hand. “I don’t know what to do.”
“Why don’t you start at the beginning? I can’t help you if I don’t know what’s going on,” Gary said with a fatherly tone. “Is this about you being sick today?”
“Sort of,” I admitted. “Uncle Gary… When did you first know you were gay?”
My question was met with a sharp intake of breath and then silence. The last word hung in the air as if it were taunting me, and I was grateful when Gary ended the silence at last with an honest answer instead of him questioning why I was asking. “I was about your age, maybe a little bit younger,” he said, and then I could hear the frown in his voice as he went on, “Of course, I denied it for a decade, but there was no doubt I knew at that time. As you know, your grandfather…”
“Was running for the House as a Republican when you were growing up and wouldn’t have taken kindly to a gay son. Yeah, I remember the stories you and dad used to tell,” Logan said with a grimace. “Is it terrible for me to say that I’m glad I don’t have a dad like yours?”
“I don’t know about terrible, but I’d say it’s understandable,” Gary replied with a chuckle. “Do you want me to come over so that you and I can talk about it?”
“There’s no time. I have less than twenty minutes to figure this out,” I replied dryly.
“Why? What happens in twenty minutes?” Gary’s voice became deathly serious as he asked, “You’re not thinking of hurting yourself, are you?”
My eyes widened at the question and I answered immediately, “Oh no! Definitely not that. You don’t have to worry about me doing something like that to myself…” I shuddered as I thought about the implications of his words. “I have too much going for me to think of doing something that drastic.”
“I’m glad that you’re not going to. If you ever think that way you better tell me immediately so that I can talk some sense into you,” Gary said firmly. “But what you said is interesting. So what’s the problem if you have so much going for you?”
“I’m scared of losing it all…” I sobbed. When did I start crying? “I’m scared that I’m going to be rejected…”
“What happens in twenty minutes? Are you going to see him?” Gary asked.
“Yeah… How did you know?” I asked through my tears.
“Logan… I was there, more recently than my students like to admit,” Gary answered with a chuckle. “I remember these emotions that you’re going through very well. Just answer this question. Do you think you’re gay?”
“No.” I surprised myself when I answered so easily and resolutely, and I sensed that I surprised him too. “Bi maybe, but I definitely like girls… However, I also know that I’m in lo… That I like him, too.”
“So, this is all about a specific boy?” Gary clarified.
“Do I know him?”
~ ~ ~ ~
It was our first game of the month, and we were behind by two points. With Seth’s encouragement I had jumped back into the sport with more drive than I had ever had before. The team saw it, the coach saw it, and I was on fire. I was determined not to let the team down no matter what, but I was getting tired. The other team was good, better than we were in individual skill levels, but our teamwork was better, and we had played a very smooth game through knowing each other’s abilities very well.
Time was running out on the clock when Jace passed me the ball. I was open at the time, but I soon had the defense on me, doing everything they could to block me from shooting as I dribbled the ball with as much desperation as I ever had to keep it out of their hands. I noticed Drew coming up from the side and feinted a pass to the other direction before shooting it over to him. He caught the ball and tried to move up the court toward the basket but found himself blocked completely and he passed it quickly to another of our teammates.
I glanced over at Seth and saw him watching the game with an intense look on his face. Although he had told me that he had never cared for basketball, he had come to support me at every game since we’d become friends. I had appreciated his support and so had the team, and even the typically standoffish Drew had begun to accept him as a sort of team mascot. Seeing him so engrossed in the game was a huge motivator for me, and I was driven to not let him down.
My eyes returned to the court, seeing that Tyler had been given the ball and was now being hassled by two guards. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t keep it away from them, and he fumbled and lost the ball to one of the guards who spun around, dribbling down the court toward the other basket. Or, he tried to but Jordan was right there, a wall of flesh that the player tried to get around but Jordan, despite his broad frame, was faster and made the player work for every inch of ground.
I knew what was coming and set myself up for the play as Jace moved toward the ball from one side and Drew from the other. By the time Jace had arrived, Drew was already running interference, and as the ball moved behind the unsuspecting guard, Jace grabbed it and immediately passed it to where I was standing at the three-point line.
As soon as the ball was in my hands I took the shot. Although Drew was our top scorer, I could hit baskets from further away with greater success than he could, provided I was open. The guy who had been watching me had been busy trying to get set up for a pass, not expecting possession of the ball to be turned over so quickly. I heard him curse as the ball sailed from my hands to the basket, clearing the rim and swooshing through the net smoothly. The buzzer sounded, indicating that the quarter was over, and that we had won by a single point at the last second.
The crowd roared to life as they cheered the last second victory, the few fans from the visiting team still clapping politely. I lost myself in looking over at Seth who was rushing onto the court with my teammates from the bench and making a direct line for me. Drew led the team from up the court toward me and we all met in the middle in a chaotic mess of cheering and patting each other on the back. Somehow Seth ended up in the middle with me, and when they started cheering my name for scoring the winning shot, it was Jordan who added Seth’s name to the chant. Seth blushed bright red but I wrapped my arm around his shoulder and started shouting his name as well.
When we finally broke apart, Coach Gary was there to greet us, smiling as he looked at us all and clapping loudly. Then his eyes settled on Seth and he raised an eyebrow as he looked at the rest of us for an explanation.
“Oh, coach… This is Seth, Logan’s good luck charm,” Tyler said, pushing Seth playfully from behind.
“He’s the reason Logan made the shot,” Jordan observed with a solemn nod.
“He comes to every game,” Jace said from the side.
“And he’s always cheering us on, even though he claims to hate the sport,” Drew remarked with a disbelieving look.
Coach Gary took it all in with an amused smile and then settled his eyes on Seth. “Well, if all that is true then I guess we have you to thank, Seth.” He winked at Seth and then addressed the group. “All right guys, let’s go get some pizza. You earned it.” Cheers erupted as we dispersed but Seth and I hung back for a moment as the others moved on.
“You’re welcome to come too, Seth,” Gary said with a chuckle before walking away. “Can’t have the guy with the winning shot be without his good luck charm.”
~ ~ ~ ~
“Oh… Seth. Yes, I can see it now,” Gary said as he whistled through his teeth. “Well, at least you picked a cute one!” I groaned and turned over, burying my face in my pillow, but kept the phone up next to my ear. “Logan, at least one thing is certain. He’s not going to reject you.”
“How the fuck do you know that?” I asked, annoyed at his certainty.
“Hey, language, Logan. I’m trying to help you here,” Gary replied testily. “Look, I’ve been coaching for years, and I’ve never seen someone so dedicated to supporting a friend at their games. For someone who doesn’t like the sport, he’s obviously there for a reason.”
I took a deep breath to calm myself before replying. “I see your point, though that still doesn’t make me feel better. And sorry about the cursing… I’m a little upset if you can’t already tell.”
“I can imagine. Actually, I don’t have to. I felt the same way when I felt I had to come out to your dad,” Gray said with a chuckle. “Once I was done, and he was hugging me and telling me how much he loved me, it wasn’t so bad. I cried into his shoulder for ten minutes at least, and he held me like the good big brother he always was.”
“Well, I already have the crying part down,” I admitted with a grin as I wiped some more tears from my eyes.
“You’ll get used to it,” Gary said with a serious tone. And then he laughed and I couldn’t help but join him. It felt so good to laugh like that, and I kept it up for longer than he did, but he waited patiently for me to finish before he started speaking again. “Logan. I’m sure you’re going to be all right, and if for some reason it doesn’t go well, just call me back and I’ll come over, okay?”
“Okay. Thanks, Gary…” I said as my eyes watered again, this time in gratitude. I stifled the urge to tell him that I loved him and settled on a phrase that is easier for a fourteen-year-old boy to say. “You’re the best”
“Thanks,” Gary said with another chuckle. “I love you, too. Good luck, Logan.”
I said goodbye and ended the call. I then sighed as I let my phone fall down on my bed and I crossed my arms behind my head as I stared up at the ceiling, letting my mind formulate a plan of how I was going to address the issue once Seth arrived.
I knew that he was pissed off at me, and he had the right to be. I had been avoiding him all weekend, ever since we had ended the date with Maggie and Kristin. I needed to apologize for that first, and I knew I could do some of that now. Retrieving my phone, I sent him a quick text: I’ll see you when you get here, and I’ll explain everything. I’m sorry for being such a jackass. Then I put my phone down and went to the bathroom to splash some water in my face and do the best to remove the traces of my earlier emotional breakdown.
There was a knock on the front door as I was wiping my face down with a hand towel, and I dropped it into the sink as I made my way downstairs to meet my fate. I walked quietly, not wanting him to hear me on the stairs as I went to greet him. My hand rested on the doorknob, trembling as I considered not answering the door at all, but then I realized that I had avoided it for too long, and if I didn’t face it now then Seth might not try again. With that thought in mind I screwed up my resolve and turned the door knob, flinging it wide.
Seth stood, glancing up from his phone where he had been reading my most recent message to him, and his eyes lit up when he saw me. “I’m glad that you’re starting to change your tune and aren’t avoiding me anymore, but you didn’t have to get dressed up for me.” He winked as he stepped inside and I looked down to see that I was still in the boxers I had slept in the night before.
“Sorry. I guess I’ve been distracted today,” I said with a grin, knowing that he wouldn’t have made a crack at my appearance if he was still as angry as I had originally thought. I was no longer self-conscious about being in just my underwear around Seth, no matter what feelings were creeping into my mind concerning my best friend, I wasn’t worried about any unexpected boners. Seth had already seen them many times in the short time we’d been friends.
“It’s all right, though I’m glad to see you smiling. Except for a few times on Friday you’ve been pretty upset since the middle of last week,” Seth observed with a smirk. “I’m hoping you’ll be able to tell me why that is.”
“Upstairs. I don’t want to do it here,” I replied, my grin fading.
He nodded and started up the stairs while I followed close behind. I watched him move, admiring his body as he walked ahead of me when I realized something I hadn’t before. As much as I had begun to develop feelings for Seth, the physical attraction was minimal. He was “cute” as my uncle had pointed out, but that wasn’t what was drawing me in at all. Confusion about how I felt began to set in again as we rounded the corner and into my room. He slid his backpack off of his shoulder and then kicked off his shoes before climbing onto my bed and sitting cross-legged and facing me, patting the space on the bed in front of him. “Come on, let’s talk,” He ordered.
I considered finding a shirt quickly but then threw that idea out the window. If Seth was going to reject me then he was going to do it whether I was wearing a shirt or not. I followed his lead and climbed onto the bed, sitting across from him and looking up to meet his eyes.
And I knew.
It was there in his eyes that I realized the truth of it, that I was no longer confused. I saw his soul in those perfect, emerald orbs; filled with loyal concern for me, and sparkling with his intelligence and the youthful energy which I had become addicted to. His eyes spoke volumes to me, filling my mind with music that I had longed to hear my entire life and had never realized that I was missing. Seth wasn’t cute, Seth was beautiful. His soul was mesmerizing in its complexity, reflected forever in those stunning pools of green.
“Look, before you say anything, I need you to know something,” Seth began, keeping those beautiful eyes locked on mine, “Whatever it is that you think you can’t trust me with, that’s bullshit. I’m your best friend no matter what happens. You got it?”
I nodded dumbly, unable to speak for fear that my words would betray all the thoughts at once and he would be buried in the chaos. He looked at me funny and then said, “Logan… Whatever it is, you’ve got to tell me.” When I still didn’t answer he raised an eyebrow and an evil grin spread across his face. Faster than I could process he launched himself at me and began tickling my naked ribs, making me squeal in anguish as he forced me down to the bed, straddling me as I had done to him almost a week before, looking down into my eyes as he kept up the torture.
“... Stop… Stop!!” I begged and he finally relented, staring down at me as I panted heavily. I looked up into his eyes again and once again I was hit with the perfect understanding of how I felt about the beautiful boy above me.
“All right then, tell me…?” He said it as a question, his voice breaking slightly as he sniffled.
I took a deep breath, and then released it slowly as I said his name, “Seth…”
“Yes?” He asked, slowing his breathing to match my own.
“I think I’m in love with you,” I said in a rush, biting my lip as I looked up at him, waiting for him to process the words.
The blood drained from his face as he stared down at me, and I saw a new emotion appear in his eyes; fear. He climbed off of me, swinging his legs over the side of the bed and he moved to get up when he simply sunk back down and folded his arms. He was trembling, and I could feel the vibrations moving through my mattress. The movement brought me out of my stupor that had been caused by his reaction, and I stay up and put a hand on his shoulder. He immediately shook it off and I let my hand hang in the air for a moment before trying again, and this time he let it stay.
“Of all the things I thought you might say…” Seth said, his voice cracking at nearly every word. “Did you mean it?”
“Yes,” I said sadly.
“You’re not just messing with me?” Seth asked.
“No, I’m not messing with you,” I answered, feeling tears come to my eyes. “I wouldn’t have said anything if I wasn’t sure. I know what you said earlier, but if you don’t want to be frien…”
“Shut up, Logan!” Seth shouted, turning on me with tears in his eyes. “Shut up… Answer me one more time. You’re not lying to me?”
“No. I’m in love with you Seth,” I said, meeting his eyes, those beautiful eyes I thought I would never see again.
His lips were on mine faster than I could blink, and he was pressing against me, yearning for me to respond. My arms wrapped around him and pulled him into me, keeping his face locked on mine as I pushed back, my lips inviting him in and reveling in the powerful sensation of him against my skin. When he finally pulled away to breathe he stared at me with a serious look in his eyes and said, “You better not be lying to me.”
“We could kiss again if that would clear things up for you,” I said in a tone of wonder. “Seth, you’re not gay… What…?”
“No. I’m bisexual. I’ve known for a couple months now…” Seth said with a shake of his head. “I had a bit of a crush on Jamie Kirkwood after he saved me from David Mullins, but I denied it at first. I didn’t start accepting it until after you and I became friends. I didn’t think it was relevant to tell you though, since I knew you weren’t gay, and you were the only boy I had deep feelings for. I mean, others are cute but… not like you.”
I blushed deeply and said, “To be honest, you’re the only boy I’ve ever felt this way about. I guess that’s the difference between us then. I don’t think I’d feel this way for another guy, only you.”
“Why?” He asked.
“Seth…” I turned toward him, looking in his eyes and seeing everything I had seen before. All of his beauty was still as vibrant as ever before, only this time I couldn’t wait to tell him. “When I look in your eyes it’s like I can see your soul. I can feel you in them; see you as you really are. And it’s… it’s the best feeling I’ve ever felt. I don’t really look at you physically and think about having sex,” I blushed and swallowed. “But I do know that when I look in your eyes I think about wanting to spend the rest of my day lost inside of them. I want to have you close to me and feel you next to me, just because being near you makes me feel…” I couldn’t describe the feeling, no matter how hard I tried the words just wouldn’t come.
And then Seth pulled me into an embrace and I knew that he understood.
“Well, I’m not going to lie. I do think about sex when I look at you,” Seth said with a grin as we pulled away. “But everything else you just said… I feel that too. At first I thought I might just be thinking of you like I had with Jamie, a bit of hero worship, you know? But then everything started to change…” He trailed off as his voice began to break again, and he turned away so that I wouldn’t see the tears in his eyes.
I gently touched his face and guided it back toward mine, and then kissed him softly on the lips before pulling back and making eye contact again. His eyes were moist and red, but he didn’t look away again. “I never want you to hide your eyes from me. Please?” I begged.
He nodded, and then he continued his earlier thought. “That day when Tyler and Jordan came over and sat down with us at lunch. I thought for sure I was going to lose you to them. And then you asked me what I thought, and I could see in your eyes that you weren’t going anywhere without me.” He smiled and was about to look away again, this time in embarrassment when he caught the look in my eye and held the stare, which seemed to give him the confidence to continue. “That’s when I started realizing that you needed me as a friend as much as I needed you, and I decided the fact that I had feelings for you didn’t matter, I was going to be the best friend in the world and support you in whatever you decided to do. And then there was that day when the team started chanting my name. I felt like I belonged with you, like I had really made an impact in your life. It was the best feeling in the world.”
“Wow…” I whispered, awed by his devotion. “You’re absolutely right, by the way. I needed you in my life so badly. At first I just thought that we both could use a friend, and then when I found out you liked some of the things that my other friends didn’t, you started to grow on me. It wasn’t long before I realized that I needed that kind of friend in my life, and I wasn’t going to let you go for any reason, but it took me a bit before I understood that I was falling in love with you.” I shook my head and grinned. He raised an eyebrow as if he wanted me to explain further, and realizing that I had left it open I continued. “The day I realized how I really felt was that day you were here last week and I was tickling you to get you to look at me, and then when you finally did I saw your eyes… I was so scared to tell you…” I trailed off as I sniffled, looked at him and then laughed nervously as I reached out and took his hand in mine.
“Me too…” Seth replied, giving my hand a squeeze. “But now I have to ask… Seriously, what is up with that magazine if you’ve never had feelings like that before?”
“Oh, the gay one?” I asked, my mood lightening as he nodded enthusiastically. “I borrowed that from my uncle’s stash when he wasn’t looking. It was for you. When you took it, I just assumed you were playing a joke. Wait… if you only accepted that you were bi a few weeks ago, why’d you take the magazine?”
“Originally it was just the joke but… I’ve gotten some use out of it since then,” Seth replied with an embarrassed grin. “I can’t believe I just said that.”
“Neither can I, but…” I trailed off and when it looked like he was going to ask what I was going to say I darted in and kissed his open mouth. When I pulled away I finished my thought, “But I’m really glad you did. I have to say though, I’m not sure how I feel about where we go from here. I just discovered that I like kissing you but… I’ve honestly never thought about the rest of it before.”
“That’s okay. I’ve only been consciously thinking about it for a little while, and I’m still new to it too. I’m happy with where we are now, and I’m ready to go wherever you want to go,” Seth said as he gave my hand another squeeze. “Besides, at the moment we have something more important to figure out.”
“What?” I asked, meeting his twinkling eyes as I slowly began leaning forward for another kiss.
He darted out and met my lips again and then pressed his forehead to mine as he said with a wry smile, “What are we going to tell our girlfriends?” We collapsed together in laughter and then embraced before kissing again. I pushed him down to the bed and then lay against him, snuggling up to him as I felt his arms wrap around my bare back and chest.
“Seth McAllister…” I said softly as I listened to his breathing.
“Yes, Logan Whitmore?” He whispered, rubbing his hands across my back.
“I’m so glad you’re playing for the same team as me. You’re the best teammate I’ve ever had.”
The touch of his fingertips on my skin and the kiss on my forehead were all that I needed to show me he felt the same way.
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