The Last Inch

The Last Inch

Chapter One

 

“I’m gay.”

Sebastian rolled his eyes, even though Vicky wouldn’t see it through the phone. “Vicky, can we not do this right now?”

He’d thought it was an emergency, not… this.

“I just– wait. Did you just turn down my big fat coming out?”

“Vicky,” he said with a deep sigh. “It’s your third ‘big fat coming out’ this week, and we both know it’s not an actual coming out, it’s just because you’re fucking tired of guys, or some guy did something to make you not wanna be straight.”

She had been doing this for five weeks now, ever since some guy she was with for a mere second broke it off with some stupid excuse. Bash was getting real tired of it.

“Anyway, why is it exactly that you feel like you have to tell your only male friend this, all the time? It’s not because you think I’m into you, is it?”

“Puh-lease. Babe, you like guys as much as I hate them,” she said.

A small smile made its way across his lips.

“Not true,” he said.

“It is.”

“Nope. I’m pretty sure you love me and alas, I’m a guy.”

“Got me there. But you know what I mean.”

“Sure, I do. I’m not gay, Vicky.”

He almost breathed a sigh of relief when silence ensured. Almost, since it didn’t last longer than two seconds.

“Well, you could be. So could I.”

“It’s not something you just do for fun. There pretty much isn’t anything fun about it.”

He knew that firsthand, having two Moms and Vicky should know it too, she had two dads.

“Come on Bash, don’t be so negative.”

“I’m not negative, I’m realistic.”

“Everyone can get married and adopt now.”

“I know. I’m the one who told you,” he said. He heard the irritation in his voice but he couldn’t muster up enough energy to care.

“So? It’s still true.”

“This is not why you called me, is it?”

“Uh, no. I called to rant about what an asshole Jeremy is.”

“Of course, you did.”

He shook his head and let her rant for a bit. It fell on deaf ears anyway. Why did women talk so much? What did they even talk about?

“Listen. Can we talk about this tomorrow? I have to get back downstairs.”

“Uh, okay. Say hi from me.”

This time he did sigh. Not just in relief but also a bit guiltily for cutting her off. “Will do. Sleep tight, Vicky.”

“You too. See ya tomorrow.”

He ended the call and put his phone in his pocket, before walking down the stairs to the sound of his sister, Mia, laughing. A small smile graced his lips when he found his mothers and his sister in the middle of a tickle attack. From the looks of it, mom and Mia was ganging up on Ma, who was now on the bottom of their pile.

Moms had been together since he was three. Linda was his birth mother and she met Tianna at a chance encounter when she was studying to become a lawyer and the firm she was interning at held a meeting at the hospital Tianna worked at. Spilled coffee, a sprained ankle, and a laughing fit later, it was love at first sight. Their love grew fast and so Tianna became Mama or Ma for short.

Mia and he had the same father. Bash had been an accident 18 years ago when Isaac, his father, was home from his first deployment in the army and had met mom. Mom got pregnant and Isaac went back to the army. That was as much as he knew about that period since mom always got real quiet whenever they talked about it.

Isaac was a good guy, even though he was all about his career in the army. But then, when he got time off, he spend as much of it as possible with their family.

Moms often talked about when Isaac and Tianna first met, and how they’d hated each other but then became friends over a shared passion for helping people and then Moms asked him a little over nine years ago if he would help them with another kid. He obviously did, since Bash now had a giggling Mia clinging to his left leg. He lifted it to try and shake her off but she held on closely, squealing in delight. Ma attacked Mia, pulling her off his leg and together they rolled over the floor. He went to sit on the couch and stopped halfway there to pull mom up off the floor.

“Thanks, honey. Was everything alright?”

“Sure.”

She raised an eyebrow at him, clearly not buying it. He groaned.

“What?” she asked.

“Nothing. Just the same old, same old.”

Mom knew what he meant. They had been witnesses to more than one of Vicky’s ‘I’m gay’ moments.

He sat down on the couch with a huff. She sat down next to him, putting her arms around him and pulling him into a hug. “Oh, honey. I’m sorry.”

Ma placed a kiss on Mia’s nose before telling her to go brush her teeth, and as Mia ran off, she turned to Bash with a contemplating look on her face. “Is this because of us?”

“Of course, it is. You’ve been through so much, and you still go through so much shit every day.”

“Language.”

“Sorry,” he said sheepishly.

Moms shared a look.

“We didn’t go through all that just for us. We did it for you and for Mia. We did it so that people can learn to understand that it is alright to be who you are,” mom said.

He nodded before dropping his head down.

“I just don’t understand how she can throw it around like that. She knows everything her fathers have gone through, what you all still go through.”

“I think that it could be a good thing. If everyone was as easy going as Vicky with sexuality and all this stuff, we would have it a lot easier. But I get your concern too. Just remember that we’re all different and we all do things differently. She might be having a harder time than you think.”

“Vicky never has a hard time.”

Ma frowned and opened her mouth, but before she could say anything, they were all attacked by a squealing Mia. She threw herself across mom’s lab to hug Ma.

“Hey there, pretty girl. You ready for bed,” Ma asked, smoothing down her wild hair and placing a kiss on her forehead.

“Yup.”

Mia smiled, her tongue poking through the hole her latest baby tooth had left. It was crazy. She was nine already. It made him feel so damn old. He was only eight when she was born and she had been so small that he almost hadn’t dared touch her.

Mia hugged Bash tightly and he pretended not to be able to breathe to make her let go. She stuck her tongue out at him.

“Night princess Mia. What do you want for breakfast tomorrow?”

“Pancakes. Night Bash. Sleep tight.”

Then she ran off in all her glittering glory. There was glitter on all her things. Her bag-pack, her clothes, her shoes, hell, even her room was sparkling. As annoying as she could be, she was also a sweet little girl.

“You’re okay with taking her?”

He hated the concern that laced mom’s voice. As if he would ever not be okay with it.

“It’s okay, mom. Really. We’ll be fine.”

She was going in for some testing early in the morning to see if the cancer had come back. She was diagnosed with breast cancer two years before. Since the tumor was really small, the doctors had only taken that and some of the surrounding tissue out, so mom still had her breast and she was declared healthy after, but she still went in about every six months to be checked. Just to be safe. You never knew with cancer.

“Okay. Good. Thank you, honey. I know the last few years have been hard on you.”

“It’s been just as hard for all of us,” he said.

Silence filled the room, not that it bothered any of them, they were all caught up in their thoughts. As it were, it was his thoughts that led him to ask, “when did you know that you liked girls?”

“When I was fourteen and had my first crush,” Ma said.

“Who was she? What did she look like?”

“She was a grade over me. Suzy, I think her name was. She was one of the popular girls. She rocked the whole sideways ponytail, stonewashed jacket, and roller blades thing.”

“Honey, I think you just described the 80’s awkward phase.”

“Shut it.” Ma threw a pillow at Mom, hitting her straight in the face. Mom pushed her away with a hand on her face and turned to Bash with a smile playing on her lips.

“So. You crushing on someone, honey?”

“No.”

“You don’t have to tell us, sweetheart. Just know that you can.”

“You’re young, baby. Experimenting is a good thing, just remember to do it with someone you know and trust,” Ma added.

Mom turned a quizzical gaze on her.

“How did you go from crushes to experiments?”

“What? They go together. You were young once, don’t you remember?”

“I believe she just called you old.”

Mom let out a gasp worthy of an Oscar. “Oh, you’re gonna pay for that.”

He yelled goodnight to them as he fled towards the stairs. Ma tried to yell something back to him, but it became muffled halfway through. He wore a grin on his face the rest of the way to his room and it didn’t dim until after he’d brushed his teeth, changed clothes and gotten into his bed.

Everything Vicky said ran through his head in an endless loop. He laid restless for a long time, staring at the ceiling and shifting around until all he could do was squeeze his eyes closed and try to breathe slowly. Something told him things were about to change. He didn’t know if it was for better or worse, and he wasn’t sure which of the options he feared the most.

 

 

Chapter Two

 

Bash was woken by something heavy smacking into his stomach. That something turned out to be a very hungry Mia. He growled at her, but unfortunately, she was immune to scare techniques; she just growled back. He grunted and let his head fall back onto his pillow. It was way too early.

“Come on, Bash,” Mia whined.

He put a hand on her face, keeping her at bay as he closed his eyes again.

“Please get up. You have to make pancakes, cause you make the best ones.”

“Flattery will get you anything,” he grumbled.

He was barely out of his bed before Mia grabbed his hand and tugged him out of the room and down the stairs. He yawned and almost missed a step, grunting when he caught himself against the railing. Mornings were the devil’s work. Mia had to be sacrificing to the devil or something, to be this merry so early.

He went through the motions of making her chocolate chip pancakes still half asleep. Luckily, he was well versed in the act. He ate with her and then chased her off to the bathroom, so she could shower and get dressed.

When he’d taken his own shower, he found Mia still not dressed, because she wanted his help to pick out clothes. Since he didn’t have a clue what was trending in little girls fashion, he picked out the closest dress and some shoes in the same color. Vicky would laugh her butt off if she knew and that is exactly why he made Mia pinky swear on keeping it secret.

Mia was controlling the radio on the drive to her school as Bash let her ride in the front seat. He turned to her as he pulled up to the curb in front of the school.

“I’ve only got two periods today. Do you wanna skip out early and go get some ice cream with Vicky and me?”

Mia nodded vigorously, smiling big time when she hopped out of the car, slamming the door after her and waving shortly over her shoulder at him as she ran towards her classmates.

He wanted to give their Moms some time alone before they got home. Just in case. You never know with cancer. Besides, Mia was an easy kid. Just give her some paper and pencils and she would be lost to the world for hours. She was never really annoying or too demanding. He, more or less, became a third parent to her the last few years. He was okay with taking care of her and letting her tag along with Vicky and him if it meant mom could get well.

He sighed and pulled away from the curb to drive the two miles to his high school. Vicky was waiting for him in the parking lot, a worried look covering her face. He parked as close to the school as possible and just as he got out of the car, Vicky was in front of him, enveloping him in a big hug.

“Are you okay?” Her words were whispered, but he could still hear the tremble in her voice. When people got hurt, Vicky cried, often more than the one hurting.

“Yeah.”

He patted her on the back and she stepped back, quickly drying the tears that had already fallen. Her eyes were red, which told him that it wasn’t the first time today she shed tears.

“Are you?” he asked.

“I’m just so worried.”

“We’re picking up Mia after school and then we’re going to the pier,” he said. He knew there was no need for asking. Vicky would go with them no matter what.

“Ice cream?”

“You know it.”

They did that a lot back when mom was first diagnosed. Eating ice cream at the Santa Monica Pier and looking out over the ocean or go on one of the rides. It was more or less their sanctuary.

They were walking to Bash’s car together after their last period and Vicky was raving on and on about some girl, prompting his question, “Have you ever actually liked a girl?”

She swirled and walked backward in front of him, a smirk on her face as she fired back a, “have you?”

“Answer the question.”

“You first.”

He let out a groan, shaking his head at her.

“You know I haven’t,” he said.

“Not even a little bit when we first met?”

“No.”

“That’s cold. You’re breaking my heart, man.”

“Your turn.”

She worried her bottom lip, a contemplating look covering her face.

“What are you thinking?”

“Hmm? Oh, just that Macey’s gotten quite a rack.”

“So you’re a boobs kinda girl?”

“I’ll have boobs any day rather than the equivalent of those that boys have.”

“Gonads?”

“Yeah, those. I’ve got them in spades at home, ya know, two brothers and two fathers. It’s gonads all around. If I have to see another pair of gonads, I will squash them.”

“It sounds like this relationship might be bad for my gonads.”

“If you don’t treat me like the princess my daddies have always said I am, then it will be.”

“Well, princess Vicky, let’s go get princess Mia.”

Bash sent off a text to Mia, telling her they were on their way. He knew she’d check immediately. They both became quite attached to their phones over the past two years. Mom hadn’t been much for Mia even having one, but Bash argued her case. They needed the security in knowing Moms could get a hold of them right away.

Five minutes later, he pulled up to the curb where Mia stood waiting. She jumped in and hurried to put her seatbelt on, her eagerness making both him and Vicky smile.

“What did you tell your teacher?”

“The truth,” she replied instantly.

“Good girl.”

He caught Vicky trying to conceal a smile. He rolled his eyes at her.

“What?”

“I didn’t say anything,” she said cheekily.

“Right.”

It didn’t take more than ten minutes before they were at the pier. They walked onto the pier and he caught Mia’s hand to make sure she didn’t run off. She smiled sheepishly up at him. she wouldn’t run further than she could still see them, but he felt better knowing exactly where she was. She was skipping by the time they made it to their favorite ice cream vendor.

“Three ice cream cones with–”

“Strawberry, vanilla and chocolate,” Mia interjected.

“What the lady said.”

“Coming right up,” the vendor said with a pleasant smile.

Mia grabbed the one with strawberry, leaving Bash and Vicky to fight over who got the chocolate first. They shared the cones between them, so they would all get a bit of every flavor.

Mia was only halfway through hers when Vicky and he were done and they stood looking over the sea at the end of the pier, letting her finish in her own time.

“Are you scared?” Vicky suddenly asked him.

He shook his head. Truth be told, he was terrified, but he wasn’t about to tell her that. He wasn’t going to tell anyone. He leaned his elbows on the railing and watched the waves crashing against the pier.

There were so many things he wanted to do, to experience. Yet he couldn’t help but be scared. He would be going off to college soon. He would be moving out, but he wouldn’t be moving too far. He’d chosen a college in LA so he could still be close to home, just in case. Mom wreaked havoc on his ass when she found out. Mama told him she was proud but that he needed to think of himself. But he was thinking about himself. He needed them as much as they needed him.

Mia tugged on his shirt, making him look down at her.

“Can we go down to the beach? Can we?”

“Sure thing, squirt.”

She let out a squeal and started running ahead, but she kept glancing behind her to see if they were following along.

“Can I go in? Please?” she asked when they reached the beach.

“Sure. If you take your shoes off and make sure your dress doesn’t get wet.”

He didn’t know how much she heard since she had already darted off to the water after his first word. He shook his head and watched her throw her shoes off in the sand as she ran. She jumped right in, thankfully with her feet first, but it looked like there was no way around her dress getting wet. They would have to wait till it was dry until they could go home, but it was almost 80 degrees so it wouldn’t take that long.

Vicky elbowed him in the side, making him grunt and rub his ribs as he glared at her, but her attention was solely on something behind him.

“Is that Bennett Williams?”

“Huh?”

He glanced over his shoulder and the first thing that caught his eye was a bare chest with water dripping down over prominent muscles. Bennett Williams. He didn’t need to see his face to know that it was him. The squeezing of his heart was answer enough. His body was different, bigger than he remembered. He looked rougher. His gaze continued upwards until he caught green eyes watching him closely.

A smile spread on Bennett’s face as he walked the few feet that separated them.

“Sebastian.”

“Bennett? What are you doing here?”

“We just moved back.”

“Oh.” Oh? That was all his stupid brain could think of saying? He cursed himself silently and swallowed hard when Bennett’s smile dimmed. Bloody hell.

“Don’t mind him. He’s not good with surprises. The last few haven’t been good ones,” Vicky said, salvaging what was left of his dignity. God bless her.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…” Bennett shook his head, seemingly not knowing what to say.

Since words obviously didn’t work, perhaps actions would. He hauled Bennett into a hug, squeezing him tight. Bennett went rigid for a second before his body relaxed and his arms surrounded Bash. He laid his head against Bennet’s shoulder. He was taller than Bash, maybe three inches. It was weird. Last time they’d seen each other, Bash was the tallest.

“It’s good to see you,” Bash mumbled.

“You too, Bash.”

When Bennett stepped back, he regarded Bash with curiosity in his gaze. He was probably waiting for an explanation. How do you tell someone you needed through something but hadn’t contacted out of fear that they would dismiss you, what that something was?

“Mom got cancer two years ago.” He figured just laying it out there was easier. Bennett looked shocked. But then again, who wouldn’t.

“Shit. I’m so sorry.”

“She’s in for a checkup today.” He looked down, grinding the tip of his shoe into the sand. Tension rose in him at the silence that ensued.

“Do you have your phone?”

He glanced up, catching the seriousness in Bennett’s eyes. He nodded curiously and dug it out of his back pocket. Bennett grabbed it from him and typed on it for a few seconds before putting it back in Bash’s hand.

“There. Now you have my number. Call me if there’s anything. Anything at all.”

He looked down at the black phone in his hand.

“Thank you,” he said, his voice cracking. He cleared his throat.

“So. You’re back.”

“Yeah. Thank god. I’ve missed the heat.” Bennett winked at him, confusing the hell outta him. What was that about? Wait. Was it because Bennett missed something else? Maybe he’d missed Bash. No, that probably wasn’t it.

He was brought out of his thoughts by Mia who skidded to a halt in front of him, spraying water and sand all over them.

“Well if it isn’t my favorite dance partner,” Bennett said.

Mia stared up at him with her mouth hanging open. Yeah, she was a real charmer that one. She jumped straight into his arms, both of them laughing. Bennett swung her around like she weighed nothing. Well, with the amount of muscles he’d put on, perhaps she didn’t to him.

Bennett led her around in one of the dances he’d taught her. She didn’t seem like she’d forgotten any of it. Mia was all big smiles, pirouettes -or whatever they were called- and giggles.

Bennett’s mom was a former dancer and now she was teaching it, so she taught Bennett from a young age, right until he’d discovered football at ten.

Mia had always been a huge fan of him but when he taught her to dance, she started hero-worshipping him.

His eyes drifted from Mia to Bennett when he dipped her. His eyes landed on Bennett’s smile and his lips.

“He’s hot,” Vicky said.

He just grunted in answer.

“I’m not the only one who’s noticed.” She nudged his shoulder with hers.

He wrenched his eyes away from Bennett to stare innocently at Vicky. “What?”

“Do you like him?”

“I don’t know.”

“How can you not know if you like someone?”

“I just don’t. Can we not talk about this right now?”

Vicky kept her mouth shut, thankfully. Bash glared at her for good measure though, before he turned to Bennett.

“So, are you gonna come back to school?”

“Yeah. I’ll start tomorrow. I’ll even be on the football team. I talked to coach Hammock and he said he was glad to have me back.”

“That’s great. Um. We have to get home now, so I guess we’ll see each other tomorrow.”

They all said their goodbye’s and then Vicky, Mia and he were on their way to the car. He dropped off Vicky at home. Tension wracked through him as he tried not to let anxiety take over. Mom had to be okay. He needed her to be.

“Mom? Mama?” he called out as he let Mia and himself into their home. Mia ran ahead of him, not bothering to take her shoes off. He took his time taking off his shoes and hanging up his and Mia’s bag-packs. He needed a minute to get himself under control before he joined them.

He found them all clustered together on the couch. His heart stopped in his chest. They all had tears streaming down their faces. This couldn’t be happening. Not again.

Mom smiled through her tears. Not an it’ll-be-okay smile, but an everything-is-okay smile. He felt as if the entire world just lifted from his shoulders. He ran to them and jumped into their pile, making them all laugh. Mom kissed him all over his face and for once he wasn’t bothered by it at all. They stayed on the couch, talking and, god save him, crying, for a few hours, until Ma announced that they would be celebrating the good news.

Vicky and her family were invited as their families were quite close and because grandma and grandpa were on vacation and the rest of their family lived in Florida, they decided to just keep it small for now.

Bash went to his room, feeling the need to do something for himself too. He felt nervous when he hit the call button. He shouldn’t have been. It was just Bennett. They had been friends since they were five. Still, when Bennett and his family moved almost four years ago they lost touch. He breathed in through his nose and out through his mouth. Well, it was ringing. No turning back now.

His hands were clammy by the time Bennett picked up.

“Hello?”

“Hi Bennett, it’s Bash.”

“Hey,” he said in a soothing yet hesitant voice.

“She’s okay.”

“Phew.”

He let that settle in before he hesitantly asked what he’d been calling for.

“Um. So, uh. Vicky and her family are coming by to celebrate. Do you want to come too?”

“You think they’ll want me there?”

“Yeah. Moms will be glad to see you.”

“Okay. Do you still live the same place?”

He breathed a sigh of relief. “Yeah.”

“I’ll see you in ten, then.”

He ended the call and held the phone against his chest as a smile bloomed on his face.

It was only a few minutes later when the doorbell rang and he sprinted to the door, cutting mom off on the way.

He opened the door to find Vicky’s little brother Charles standing there with what looked like a box of chocolates under his arm.

“Hey Chuck,” he said with a sigh.

“Hey, man. Glad your mom’s okay.”

Chuck slapped him on the shoulder before moving past him and into the house.

“Thanks,” he called over his shoulder.

He was promptly attacked by the vicious thing they called Vicky. She slammed right into him, knocking him back a few steps. He huffed out a breathless laugh.

She was half monkey or something. She just climbed onto people, like she was doing with him right now.

“Oh, thank god. She’s all yours now,” Pat, Vicky’s father, said as he pushed past them and into the house, his husband Timothy right on his heels. Bash grumbled a ‘no thank you’ after him.

“She’s non-refundable,” Pat yelled.

“You’re stuck with me. Don’t you feel lucky?”

“No.”

Before Vicky could reply, a knock sounded on the door behind them. Vicky begrudgingly slid down from him.

He opened the door and seeing the smile on Bennett’s face made him, once again, lose the ability to form coherent sentences.

Before he could get his voice to work again, Bennett pulled him into a hug. When they pulled back, Bennett clapped him on the shoulder before moving on to say hi to Vicky.

Bash led them both into the living room where everyone else was.

“Hey Moms, guess who just moved back to LA.”

Everyone turned to look their way, and the look on Ma’s face was comical when she noticed Bennett.

“Oh my god. Is that you, Bennett?”

“Hi Mama T,” he said. He held out his arms for a hug as she charged at him and let out a grunt as she squeezed him tight. Ma stepped back and mom pulled him into a tight hug, before holding him at arm’s length to look him over.

“You’re all so grown up.” Mom sniffled and Chuck chose to ruin the moment by burping Vicky right in her face. She grimaced and tried to bat away the smell. When that didn’t help she turned to glare at him.

“Yeah. Real grown up, Chucky.”

“Hey. We all know she wasn’t talking about me.”

Bennett was soon sitting in between Bash’s mothers, being grilled on what he’d been up to the past few years. His smile was bright as he told story after story.

“He’s been checking you out,” Vicky whispered when she caught him stealing glances at Bennett.

“No. He has not been checking me out.”

“Oh yeah. I think he’s got the hots for you, my friend.”

He shushed her but then she started singing instead.

“Bash and Bennett sitting in a tree–”

She mumbled something against the palm he’d clamped over her mouth. He wasn’t about to find out what she was saying. She scowled at him when she couldn’t pry his hand away, which just made him grin bigger at her.

“Forgot that we’re all grown up, did you?”

She grumbled against his palm and then something wet slid along his skin. He released her mouth to dry his hand off on her face.

“Ew. Gross,” Vicky whined.

The time passed fast with all the stories being told and the great amount of laughter that filled the room. Around nine, Pat and Timothy herded their family home and Bennett left shortly after with a promise to tell his parents hello and welcome back from Moms.

Bash was moving the last things back to their places when Ma asked, “you figured out that crush thing yet, sweetie?”

“I don’t know.”

“So, there is someone?”

“No.” Yes. Maybe. Ugh. He totally got why people just said it was complicated.

“Oh my, is it a boy?”

The excitement in her voice made him mumble, “it has to be, doesn’t it?”

“What? No, baby. Of course not,” Ma said.

Confusion covered her features. At least he wasn’t the only one.

Mom sat down next to him on the couch and patted his hand to get him to look up at her before she asked, “Is this because you think we wouldn’t love you if you were straight?”

“I don’t know.”

“Your sexuality doesn’t matter to us, honey. You could be attracted to pelicans for all we care, we would still love you just the same.”

He heaved a sigh. He knew they loved him. He was just so damned confused. All. The. Time.

“Your mom is right, baby. We know how hard it can be at this time in your life. How hard it is to find out who you are. But, you don’t have to find out on your own.”

“I know. I think, maybe I just need some time.”

“Okay. Well, you let us know if you need anything or if there’s something we can help with, okay?”

“Okay.”

He was walking up the stairs when he heard Ma say, “Pelicans? Really?”

“Oh come on. It just popped out,” mom said on a whine.

He shook his head and couldn’t help but let out a chuckle. They might be crazy, but they were his sort of crazy.

Chapter Three

 

He sat in the canteen at lunch break the next day, waiting for Vicky who was standing in line at the canteen, when Bennett slid into the chair opposite him.

“Hey. What are you doing after school today?”

“Vicky’s coming home with me for dinner,” he said, looking up at Bennett with surprise.

“Oh.” Bennett looked disappointed.

“You can come too if you want,” he offered tentatively.

“No, that’s fine. How about we meet up tomorrow after I’ve finished practice?”

“Um. Sure.”

“Alright. I’ll just give you a call when I’m done, yeah?”

“Yeah, sure. That’s fine.”

“Good. I’ll see you tomorrow,”

Bennett winked and smiled, a dimple showing in his left cheek. Those winks did something funny to his stomach. He shook his head at himself and went back to picking at his food. Vicky showed up shortly after, sitting down and keeping quiet as they ate. She didn’t say much the following hours in school either. Though she seemed like she was working hard to hold something in on the way home. He found out what that something was the second his front door closed behind them and Vicky twirled around to glare at him.

“So, you’re gay.”

“What the hell, Vicky?”

“Oh come on. I have two fathers, I know when guys are gay.”

“I have two mothers but that doesn’t mean that I know what other people think or feel.”

“Honestly, can you say that you have never taken a peak in the locker room?”

“I’m not you, Vicky. I don’t look up peoples skirts or down their pants or whatever you do,”

“Hey, now. I am not that conspicuous.”

He raised an eyebrow at her.

“I’m not.”

She huffed, shaking her head at him. she crossed her arms over her chest as she watched him through narrow eyes. “I heard you. You’re going on a date with him,”

“No, I’m not.”

Mom stuck her head into the hallway from the kitchen, yelling a hello to them.

“Well, if you don’t want him,” she let the suggestion hang in the air between them. Anger surged through Bash unexpectedly and he snarled, “don’t even think about it.”

“Oh, I’ll do more than thinking about it if you won’t.”

“I thought you were gay. Or maybe that was just some more bullshit coming out of your mouth.”

“Whoa, guys. What’s going on,” mom asked.

“Wow. If you want him that bad, why don’t you just say it.”

“I don’t. I’m not gay,” he yelled.

“You could’ve fool me,” she said with a sneer.

“Um. Guys? Could we stop yelling at each other?”

“I’m not the one using it as a fucking excuse.”

“Ugh, you’re so stupid.”

“No? Okay then,” mom said. She crossed her arms over her chest, but Bash just rolled his eyes at her, his attention on Vicky who was yelling at him.

“Vicky,” he hissed at her.

“Bash,” Vicky sneered.

“Victoria.”

“Sebastian.”

“Linda,” was sung in a loud voice.

They both turned to stare at his mom who looked mighty proud of herself, she even went as far as to brush off her shoulders.

“What? I thought we were saying each other’s names.”

“You said your own.” The duh was implied.

“Well, I felt left out. No one else was saying mine.”

“You’re annoying and embarrassing.”

“I know and I also stopped your argument.” She booped his nose, much to his dismay. “Now, how about you guys talk it out instead?”

“Fine,” he grumbled.

Mom rubbed her hands together. “My work here is done.” She turned and went back to the kitchen.

“I sorta love your Moms.”

“Try living with them.”

She smiled hesitantly up at him. He let out a sigh.

“Come on. Let’s go to the roof.”

Vicky followed him up the stairs. Because of how the roof was made, they had a little place they could sit comfortably on just outside his window. He opened the window and crawled out first to give Vicky a hand as she went through.

They sat down, side by side, but neither looked at the other. This was stupid. He didn’t even remember what they were arguing about. He knew, though, what they should be talking about.

“It’s okay, you know,” he turned to look at her before continuing. “It’s okay for you not to be gay. It doesn’t matter. You’ll always be my best friend, Vicky.”

She didn’t say anything for a long time. She just sat there fiddling with her shoelaces until finally she let out a sigh and looked up at him with tears in her eyes.

“I know,” she whispered. Her voice was strained and cracked on her last word just before the tears broke free. He put his arms around her and she put her face against his chest as she cried, wetting his shirt.

“But how can we be friends if we don’t have that? It’s the reason we’re friends.”

She sniffed and dried her eyes with the sleeve of her shirt.

“No, Vicky. It’s just how our friendship began. It’s just how we found each other.”

He’d felt quite dejected when Bennett moved, and meeting Vicky and her family at an LGBT parents/children gathering was just the thing to get him back on track.

“You’ll always be my friend, Bash. I’ll always love you.”

“I’ll always love you too. No matter what,” he said, believing it with all his heart.

“Even when we’re eighty and arguing over who threw away the tv-remote because we’re both half blind and stubborn asses?”

“Yes. Even when you’re covered in wrinkles,”

She smacked his arm. He rubbed it, feigning injury until she rolled her eyes and deigned to rub it soothingly for him.

She then turned serious eyes on him as she asked, “even if we have to be away from each other for a long time?”

“Especially then.”

“Good. Because I got accepted into Yale.”

“Are you for real?”

“Yeah.” Her smile was watery, but it reached her eyes.

“Oh my god. Congrats.”

He ruffled her hair until she growled at him, pushing him away to comb her fingers through it. Nothing could save it now though. He thought it best not to share that with her.

She looked up at him with tears in her eyes and a smile on her blushing face.

“Please stop crying.” Would it never end?

“It’s just happy tears,” she said and tried to sniffle back the tears anyway.

“I know, but you’re making me cry too,” he grumbled.

Did she just snort?

“Men,” she exclaimed.

 

 

Chapter Four

 

It was around five when Bash and Vicky could finally leave school. As they walked down the hall, Bash could still feel the irritation from getting caught in third period because of Vicky. She just couldn’t keep her mouth shut. If she had, they would have made it out safely before Mrs. Ferris heard them. But, alas, she entered the staff room just as Bash was stacking the last of the balloons. Vicky, him and a couple of other seniors had filled the room from floor to ceiling with balloons, but it was only Vicky and him who got caught.

He was about to complain to Vicky, but she obviously had other things on her mind.

“You really called me out on the gay thing, you know,” she said.

He was surprised for a second but managed to not let it show. He didn’t say anything, knowing she would just continue on her own. It was a female thing he guessed.

“I did use it as an excuse. Like, what you said when I got tired of guys or something. But you really got me thinking.”

“Uh oh.”

“Shut up, asshole.”

“Keep going. I got you thinking?”

“Yeah. About girls. Whether or not I actually like them.”

“And?”

“Well, I started actually noticing them and um, I kinda do like girls.”

“So, you like girls?”

“I sorta like both girls and guys. I guess that makes me bisexual, right?”

“I can’t tell you that. I also don’t know how to define things like that. I mean, why do we have to put ourselves into boxes?”

“I guess it’s just easier that way. Or maybe sometimes it’s just nice to have something solid to fall back on. You know, when the going gets tough and such.”

Since they’d both just finished detention thanks to Vicky’s big mouth and bad timing –at least that’s what he was going to tell Moms, no need to incriminate himself any further– they were now walking across the football field at the same time as the football team was dismissed.

He caught sight of Bennett just as he bent to pick up his discarded shirt. He couldn’t take his eyes off of him. the muscle he’d gained over the years really suited him.

“Do you want to wait for him?”

“Um. If that’s okay with you?” He felt a bit guilty for asking, but Vicky didn’t seem troubled by it.

“It’s fine,” she said.

They walked towards the locker rooms which were on the opposite side of the football field. The team had already disappeared inside as they had been just outside the building.

“I’m sorry about what I said. But you should totally ask him out,” Vicky said.

“Vicky,” he protested in feinted outrage.

“Just saying.”

She shrugged, smiling at him.

Once they made it to the locker room, half the team was on their way out, but Bash didn’t spot Bennett amongst them.

“I’ll just go in and tell him we’re waiting,” he said to Vicky.

“Take a peek for me. Or a picture. Yes, take pictures,” she yelled after him.

He shook his head at her and blushed when he caught someone staring at him as if they’d heard her. He walked in further, looking for Bennett and finding him just as he stepped out of the showers. Bennett smiled widely when he saw him.

“Oh hey. What are you doing here still?”

“Detention,” he explained with a wry grin.

“Well, well. Some things have changed.”

He followed Bennett to his locker.

“I blame Vicky wholeheartedly.”

“I don’t doubt her involvement,” Bennett said. He opened his locker, pulling out clothes and put them on the bench before letting the towel around his waist slip to the floor. Bash looked around, finding them alone except for someone he could hear still in the shower.

He felt his head tip to the side and his eyes slowly move down over Bennett’s body and he could do nothing to stop it. He wasn’t really sure he wanted to.

A sound made him jerk his eyes to the left. He froze when he found them not so alone anymore. The look on the guy’s face made him sure that he’d just gotten caught checking out another guy. Heat filled his cheeks and he jerked his gaze down to the floor.

It felt like Bennett deliberately dressed really slowly, as Bash tried not to fidget too much, while he waited for him to finish.

When he was, at last, finished, Bash tore out of the room like it was on fire.

“Hey, you!”

He spun around, meeting the angry eyes of the guy who caught him eyeing Bennett and he recognized him as someone he had Math with. Marc something. This couldn’t be good.

“You been looking at me in the locker room, too?”

Bash near choked on the air he sucked down too harshly. He was saved, as per usual, by Vicky and her sharp tongue.

“Man, your skinny ass ain’t worth looking at,” Vicky said.

Marc got all red in his face and sputtered some nonsense at Vicky. Bash fought to hold back a laugh, but when he caught Bennett trying to do the same, it became impossible.

“Shut up. I know your parents are fags,” Marc said.

“Wow, you are years behind on that fact.”

“Just because someone’s parents are gay, doesn’t mean they’re gay. Take me, for example. My parents are straight and I’m gay,” Bennett contributed.

Bash stared at him, finding it hard to breathe for a whole different reason.

“You? No, you can’t be… b-but you’re on the team,” Marc stuttered out.

“What does being on the team have anything to do with being gay? You know, most homophobes are closet cases. I think you want him to have looked at you in the locker room,” Vicky said, looking him over with a knowing look.

Marc cursed her out vividly before turning on his heel and scurrying off. They stood there in silence, just the three of them, no one looking or speaking with the others.

A cell phone beeped.

“That’ll be my dad. He’s picking me up today. I think I’m gonna ask him to have a talk with our homophobic friend there,” Vicky said. She winked at them before trotting after Marc. He was in for quite a ‘talk’. Though, Bash knew, if Vicky was right and he really was in the closet and scared, then she would help him as best she could. She was all bark and no bite. She could bark though.

“Kudos to your girl. She brought him down,” Bennett said, a shy smile spreading on his lips.

“Yeah, she’s pretty awesome.”

Bennett hoisted his bag over his shoulder and they started walking towards the parking lot.

“She your girlfriend?”

He shook his head.

“Because you’re not into girls or?”

“Because she’s my best friend, but honestly, I don’t know what I’m into.”

Bennett came to an abrupt halt. “You don’t know if you’re gay or not?”

“No.”

He clasped his hands together to stop fidgeting. He sorta felt weird telling Bennett about this, but at the same time, it was nice to talk to someone about it, who wasn’t his Moms or Vicky.

“Maybe I can help with that,” Bennett said.

He jerked his head up to stare at Bennett with confusion, but curiosity quickly took its place, prompting him to ask, “how?”

“Oh, just the good old-fashioned way.” There was a glint in Bennett’s eyes that made it a struggle to breathe in air. Why was his skin tingling?

Bennett took a step closer, cocking his head to the side. “May I?”

He didn’t dare answer. There was no way his voice would be working right now. He nodded quickly, almost swallowing his tongue when Bennett’s smile turned flirty.

The first brush of Bennett’s lips against his own had him losing his breath. His heart was hammering in his chest and he felt like he was heating up from the inside.

He hummed when Bennett’s fingers found their way into his hair, angling his head a bit to the side. He damned near melted when Bennett’s tongue licked at the seams of his lips. He held onto Bennett as he explored every inch of Bash’s mouth with his tongue.

He liked it. A lot. But if it was just Bennett, he didn’t know. Maybe it didn’t really matter. Maybe it wasn’t what you were into, but who. He was okay with that. He knew Bennett, he wanted Bennett. And even though there was still a lot they didn’t know about each other, he wanted to learn everything, he wanted to share everything with him. Maybe that was what love was about. Not race or gender, not should or maybe’s, perhaps it was about who and why. Maybe it just was.

When they parted, Bash felt like he was flying. His whole body was tingling and his heart beat heavily in his chest. But most of all, he felt calm. Like he was home in Bennett’s arms.

“Did that help clear up things?”

“I’m not quite sure. Maybe you should give it another try,” he said breathlessly.

“Maybe.”

Bennett arched an eyebrow at him as he leaned back against the wall, a playful smile on his lips. Bash smiled. Challenge accepted.

Since Bennett was three inches taller than him, he needed to stand on tiptoes to reach his mouth. When an inch separated their lips, he looked up at Bennett through his eyelashes. Their gazes clashed. The intensity and affection in those green eyes made him close his own and lean forward the last inch.

 

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