"Well, that was subtle!" Drew giggled, giving me a little push with his hand.
"What? What'd I do now?"
"You know what you did! What are you being all jealous for?" He smiled.
"I'm NOT being jealous!" I said it a bit louder than I wanted to and had to hush my voice as other high school students passed us by in both directions. "I just...I'm capable of looking out for you in the halls too when it comes to bullies. You know this."
"Patrick wanted to help, so I let him help. He's really NICE, Ethan. He's just doing what he can to keep the social sharks at bay. That's all. So don't be such a meanie."
"I'm not being a meanie. I'm being...'vigilant'." I said. Drew raised an eyebrow, and it caused us both to giggle shyly at the silliness of it all. "Well...I am."
"I certainly won't complain about you being 'vigilant'. Hehehe! Especially when you look so adorable doing it."
"Ok, now you're just buttering me up so I'll forget about you and your pretty boy strutting around the halls together." I grinned. "What is his interest in you, anyway? He's not gay. I don't get it."
"Gee, I don't know, Ethan. Maybe he just likes me because I'm a good person? I know that's a stretch of logic..."
"That's not what I meant." I said, but he was having too much fun to really discuss it much further.
"Quiet. You're gonna ruin my good news, so...hush up." He said.
"What good news?"
"There's this annual park festival going on tomorrow afternoon way out in the burbs, and my mom is going out there with a few employees to set up a booth." He said.
"Yeah, you know...make coffee, sell pastries, pass out business cards? She goes every year to promote the coffee shop and bring in new business. I used to go with her but...the last few years, I sorta stayed away. I don't know...it's a teenager thing." He said, then he lightly poked my in the stomach with his finger as he looked me in the eye with a cheeky grin. "Thing is...I never had a boyfriend before. So I was thinking...ummm...well, you know..."
I waited for him to finish. "Know what?"
"You KNOW!" He blushed.
A little slow on the take, I said, "You want me to take you to the festival in the park?"
"Hehehe, NO!" He said, giving me a little push. "I want you to spend time with me. You know...not at the festival." I gave him a weird glance, and he bit his bottom lip, rolling his eyes in the cutest way. "I'm saying that I'm going to my mom's house tomorrow...and she's going to be gone for, like, the whole day. I'll have the house to myself. Better yet...we both have the house to ourselves. Get it?"
Light bulb! "OH!!!" I gasped. "Hehehe, wait...are you serious?"
"Yep! My mom's gonna give me the key for the shop, and all I have to do is open it up for Ed and the others to run the store during the day, and then come back to lock up when they close. Collectively, it'll take all of ten minutes, both open and close. And the rest of the time...? Hehehe! Let's just say...I don't have to spend it in that big ol' house by myself. I mean, do I?"
With a smile, I said, "Oooooh, I'm telling your dad!" Drew's jaw dropped as he playfully swatted me on the arm. "Hahaha, you're devious when you want to be, you know that?"
"You're such a jerk! Don't make this difficult. I stayed up all night thinking about this. Hehehe!"
"Might explain why you can't get your butt to school on time." I teased, as I got another slap on the shoulder.
However, as Drew and I were both goofing around together...this bigger guy, wearing a letterman jacket for the high school football team, just comes RUDELY barreling over to the side and deliberately 'body checks' poor little Drew up against the lockers! Drew winced in pain and held his shoulder as the fucking oaf laughed at the fact that he was hurt! His friends all joined in and laughed with him as he giggled, "Oh my bad, fag boy! Lost my balance for a moment there! Hahahaha!"
Who DOES that??? What the fuck is his problem?
I put my hand out to shove him the fuck off of Drew, but he just found my attempts to protect him funny. The boys just walked off like it was no big deal, and I started to follow them...but Drew put his hand on my chest to keep me still. I shouted out, "Fucking ASSHOLE!!!" But Drew tried to calm me down.
"You're NOT fine!" I grunted angrily. Ugh...the RAGE!!! "Come back! Why don't you try pushing ME around, huh?!?!?!"
"Ethan! Say yes..." Drew said, trying to get my focus back on his inviting, light brown, eyes.
"What? What are you talking about?" I pushed his hand off of me, and looked over his shoulder to holler out at the guys walking further down the hall. "Real man! Picking on somebody smaller than you! You're a bunch of fucking BITCHES!!!" I tried to step around Drew, but he stepped in front of me and put his hand on my chest again.
"Ethan? Ethan...look at me..." He said, but I was so infuriated that it was hard to keep still. "Ethan?" I looked down for a split second, but...Drew's eyes were always so hard to turn away from. "Say yes."
"Say yes about what?"
"About tomorrow. Just...say yes. Ok?"
"Drew, this bullshit CAN'T go on! You weren't even doing anything to deserve that! He just..."
"Ethan...?" He said softly, his eyes getting a little misty, even though he tried to hide it from me. "They can't stop me from being happy. They can't. Believe me...they've tried, and they lose every time. The only person in this hallway that can keep me from being happy is you." His soft, vulnerable, expression got to me. I wanted to run over and tear that guy in half for being such a prick, but...it was Drew's plea for peace that started to extinguish the hellfire within. "Look at me, k?" He said. "Just say yes. Tell me you spend the day with me tomorrow." I didn't want to give in and let this just go unnoticed, but the moment I saw a tiny smirk curl up on the side of Drew's pretty lips...my determined wrath came crumbling down like a wall of loose bricks. "Come on. Say yes." He said.
With a heavy sigh, I said, "Of COURSE, 'yes'! Just..."
"Acckkk! Nope! You said yes! That's all I needed to hear! Hehehe!" How can he be HAPPY right now? And why the hell is it so contagious? "Now then...take me to lunch. I'm hungry."
I stared at him for a moment, unsure if I should be praising his strength or admiring his beauty. I was so helpless when caught in the tractor beam of his innocent appeal. As much as I loathed the unmerciful scumbags in this world who were absolutely obsessed with spending their every waking moment hurting other people and making them feel ashamed for having the guts to be themselves instead of fitting into the cookie cutter LIE that they call a life...I was more enchanted by Drew's bright eyes and boyish smile than I was with their persecution. I almost felt 'wicked' for wanting to drag Drew into my world of anger and hate, instead of joining him in the paradise of enjoying simple pleasures. If making him happy was the goal, I could do that simply by standing at his side...and saying 'yes'.
Sometimes, I swear that boy has sooooo much to teach the rest of the world. I just wish he didn't have to suffer the way he does in order to gain the level of heart and compassion that he's earned over the past few torturous years of living with this...mindless witch hunt!
But, as the tension left my muscles, and I unclenched my fists, I just...surrendered to him completely. I always did. "Fine. Come on. Geez." I said.
"Well, don't say it like THAT! Hehehe!"
"Say it like what?"
"I'm detecting a 'tone', there, Mister. Don't you 'tone' me." He giggled, and even though we were in a crowded hallway, I instinctively put my arm around Drew's neck and pulled him in to give him a big kiss on his forehead, those soft brown curls tickling my nose and lips all the way.
"You're one of a kind. You know that?"
"Yep!" He chirped.
"But no more Patrick. Deal?"
"Nope." He smiled. Then I closed my locker door and twisted the combination lock. "Who wrote on your locker?" Drew asked.
I shrugged. "No idea. But whatever. Once the school year is over, it'll be somebody else's problem. I'm sure it's no big deal."
From there, Drew and I headed off together. Hmmm...more time alone at Drew's mom's house, huh? Fun times, without having to look out for his DAD to come home every twelve seconds. That could be fun!
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