Status: Finally finished.

Just the Way I’m Not.

Première partie.

It was Friday, I believe. It couldn’t have been any other day, because on this particular day, one would have found me skipping down the sidewalk. One only skips down the sidewalk on Friday. Otherwise, you seem crazy.

Anyway, it was cold; strange for midsummer in Baltimore. It was somewhere around forty degrees out and the sun was barely shining through some clouds that seemed terribly similar to death.

So there I was, skipping through the shadows of the clouds. Just a normal day for one seventeen-year-old Alexander Gaskarth (that’s me!). I was running errands for my mother, like the good son she had raised. She had given me some money and a list of various shops I had to visit.

I came to a crosswalk, stopping only to make sure there weren’t any asshole drivers who wanted to run me down, and then skipped across the street.

In the middle of the crosswalk, however, I collided chest-first into someone and knocked them to the ground.

My initial reaction was to start laughing, even though my ass hurt and I’m pretty sure the back of my head smacked the ground as well. But there I was, on my sore ass and laughing. I must have looked half-crazy right then and there; I was fine with that.

The person I knocked over looked at me dumbfounded. “Shit man, are you okay?”

“I’m more than, but thanks for asking.”

He grabbed me and pulled me to my feet. “You’re not dying right?”

“Maybe slowly. But dead? Not yet.”

“You’re a bit weird.”

I saluted him. “Yes sir. Anyway, you’re still in one piece, so you didn’t get your arm severed by my bony body.” I leaned down and picked up the stuff that fell from his arms in our collision. As I did so, I took him in; he was lanky, with short, spiky hair that was dyed black and blond. “You’re kinda cute.”

“And you’re so not my type. Plus, you’re only, like, fifteen.”

I glared at him. “I’m seventeen-and-a-half.”

“Ooh, what would you be without that extra half-year?” he growled, rolling his eyes.

I shoved his shit into his arms. “You’re a fucking prick.” I stormed away like a pissy child. Just like that, my encounter with the cute stranger ended.

I meandered my way down the sidewalk, toward the mall at the end of the block. I pulled out my phone and texted my best friend Zack, telling him to get his muscular ass to the mall that way I could ogle him. I mentally slapped myself.

You see, I had been fighting with myself on whether I was straight, bi, or totally into Zack guys.

While this should have been a terrible thing — as my girlfriend would probably kill me, resurrect me, and then murder me again if she found out — Zack definitely wasn’t going to complain about my attention.

Speaking of which, he slapped my ass as soon as he sidled up to me. “Hey Lex.” He slid his hand into the back pocket of my skinny jeans.

“Hey Zack,” I smiled.

“What are you up to?”

“Mom sent me on a wild goose chase.” I handed him the list of multiple lists. “I was wondering if you would help me.” I pouted up at him and bat my eyelashes flirtatiously.

Okay, I only felt slightly bad for playing him like that, as he’d had this massive crush on me since tenth grade. But he was my best friend, more than anything.

Zack smiled a sincere, million-dollar smile that reached his eyes. “I’d love to. First, we need to go—”

There were moments — quite like this one — where I was truly fond of Zack. He was just so adorable and obvious about his crush on me. He was innocent at exactly the right moments. Other times, he was sexy as fuck, and the little shit didn’t even know he did it.

As he started to walk away, I slid my hand into his and followed him. I could feel his pulse spike, and he looked down at my fingers in his and smiled.

He was too impressionable, at times. And I knew how to work it to my advantage.

When we finished with my mother’s shopping, we somehow managed to get back to my house. Mom was busy organizing the coffee table in the living room when we walked in. My mother was more or less off her rocker.

“Mom, we’re back,” I called into the adjacent room.

“Thank you. You can just put that stuff on the dining room table.”

After we dropped the bags on the table, I grabbed Zack’s hand and pulled him up to my room. I settled on my bed and tapped the spot next to me for him to join. Once he did, I snuggled against him and dragged the covers over us. I slid one of my legs between his and hid my face in the crook of his neck. “Zack?”

“Yeah, Lex?” he murmured tiredly.

I looked up at him. “You’re the best, best friend I’ve ever had.” I sat up and crawled so my face was inches from his. I straddled his hips and looked at him. “I don’t know where, or who, I’d be without you.” My gaze flicked down to his lips. He was biting his bottom lip, which he does only when he’s nervous. “Why are you so nervous, Zack?”

“I’m not,” he choked.

He had never been good at lying. “Really? Because I know you, Zack. You can’t lie to me and you know that.” I leaned down, my lips barely brushing his. “So what has you so worried?”

I loved watching how unraveled he would get around me. His eyes slipped closed at the simple gesture and a happy sigh passed his lips, warm breath feathering my cheeks.

“I just…. You.”


He lazily opened his eyes to look up at me, smiling goofily. “Lex….”

I ducked down and lightly kissed his Adam’s apple, which bobbed as he gulped. “Oh, baby,” I hushed. “You don’t have to be so nervous around me. I’m not going to hurt you.” I kissed the hollow between his shoulder and collarbone.

He sifted his hands through my hair and brought me up level to him. He stared into my eyes for a minute before pressing his lips to mine. We sloppily made out for a few minutes.

I loved moments like these with my best friend. They were intimate, just for us. I absolutely loved him when we were like this; when he was like this. Zack was so beautiful underneath me. He was so vulnerable in this state. And to know he trusted me to be there alongside him was the best feeling ever.

His hands traveled down my waist, reaching around to slide into the back pockets of my skinny jeans and resting on my ass. He roughly rutted his hips up while pulling mine down. His breathed heavily in my ear. “Lex!”

I moved my lips to his neck again, making sure to leave a mark there. I smiled against his skin. “Zack,” I sighed.

There was a sudden ring that echoed through the room. It took me a moment to realize it was my phone on the nightstand.

“Answer it,” Zack told me.

I.D. told me it was Lisa. But I really didn’t want to deal with her today. “No, baby. It’s not important. It can wait. You mean more right now than a stupid phone call.” I went back to kissing him. My hands slid under his shirt, gently tugging it off and dumping it over the edge of my bed. I leaned down and flicked my tongue against his nipple.

“Shit, Lex,” he gasped, his fingers digging back into my hair. His legs wrapped around my waist and drew me closer to him, our clothed crotches rubbing together perfectly. “O-oh God!”

My phone started ringing again.

“Dammit, Alex; just answer it.” He collapsed against the pillows, his legs unravelling from around me. His hands sifted into his hair as he licked his lips.

I reached over and grabbed my phone. It was Lisa again, obviously. “Hey babe.” I leaned my forehead against Zack’s abs. I always found it kind of hot how toned he is. But I would never admit it to anyone.

“Hi Alex! So Tay’s having a party tonight. And we’re invited.”

“I’m, um, I’m not feeling great tonight. I’m just gonna stay in and watch shitty movies.”

“Do you… do you want me to come over to be with you?”

“No! No, no. I’m just tired, is all. I’m probably gonna take a nap.” I looked up at Zack and winked. A smiled stretched across his lips. He was probably thinking how special he was for me to choose to hang out with him and finish what we started, instead of going to a stupid party with Lisa. He was going to make a big deal about it now.

“Oh. Okay. I’ll see you tomorrow, though?”

“Absolutely. Talk to you soon. Bye.” I quickly ended the conversation and shut my phone off.

I returned my attention to the strung out boy below me. I ran my hands over his chest, teasing his nipples again; it was something that I was beginning to understand he appreciated very much. I kissed my way up from his abs, to his pecs, and to his neck.

Zack was coming undone underneath me. It was a wonderful sight to take in. He pulled me down and kissed me, breathing heavily into my mouth. He rolled his hips up into mine. “Alex.” My name left his lips as a high-pitched whine.

“I know, baby.” I reached down to his pants, about to unbutton them when there was a knock at my door. We jumped apart and scrambled to look half decent. Luckily the door didn’t open.

“Alexander, Zachary, lunch is ready,” my mother called.

“Thank you,” I replied, leaning my forehead in the crook of Zack’s neck. Once we heard her retreat, we got up and made ourselves presentable.

“Cock-blocked by lunch,” he sighed, laughing lightly.

“Cock-blocked by my mom.” I leaned up and kissed him. “Later,” I promised.

As we walked downstairs, he slipped his hand into mine. I smiled up at him. Maybe I liked him more than I was letting on. He was seriously too adorable for his own good.

We curled up on the couch with lunch, which consisted of sandwiches and Mountain Dew. Zack curled under my arm as we watched the Food Network.

“So there’s a party tonight,” he muttered.

“Yeah. Were you gonna go?”

“I don’t know. I got the sense that they didn’t really want me there, so I wasn’t planning on showing up. Why aren’t you going with Lisa?”

“I didn’t feel like going. Plus, I kind of have better plans.” I winked at him and he blushed.


“Unless you’re suddenly backing out of hanging with me tonight.” I wiggled my foot under his thigh and smiled when he squawked.

“Your foot is cold, asshole.”

“I know.”

After lunch, we went back up to my room. But instead of returning to what we had doing before my mother interrupted us, we started watching a movie. I leaned back on my pillows and Zack ended up between my legs with his back against my chest. I kissed the top of his head as the introduction played.

He turned and looked up at me with a smile on his lips. I returned his genuine smile. His eyes lazily went back to the television, his fingers scoring my shins.

Halfway through the movie, I heard a soft snore from the boy between my legs. I couldn’t help but coo at him. I managed to manhandle him so he was laying under the covers and relaxed next to him, thanking whatever deity out there that he was such a heavy sleeper. I agreed, though; a nap seemed like a really great idea right now. I curled up behind him and proceeded to fall asleep.

When I woke up, we were facing each other. I yawned heavily and accidentally woke him up in the process. He grinned goofily in his dazed state. “Hi Lex.”

“Morning Zack.”

He stretched against me. “Mm, I don’t want to get up.”

I laughed. “Then don’t, baby.”

He pressed his face against my chest. “What time is it?”

“Like, eight?”

He rubbed at his eyes. “Can I stay the night?”

“Sure, honey.”

“Let me just text my mom.” He leaned over me to reach his phone, successfully placing his ass right in front of me.

I carefully ran my hand over the round of his ass; I couldn’t help the genuine grin that crawled across my features when he made a content noise.

“She says it’s fine, as long as I take a shower tonight.”

The image of a naked Zack in my shower — and bed, more importantly — immediately popped into my head. “I don’t see how that would be a problem,” I told him, running my fingernails up his spine.

He purred, I shit you not; this kid must have been a fucking cat in a previous life or some shit. “Can I borrow some pajamas, then?”

“Absolutely. You know you don’t even need to ask.” He did, in fact, have a pair of my sweats and a tee that he used every time he “forgot” his stuff at home.

He smiled. “Thank you, Lex.” He pressed his lips to my cheek and shuffled off the bed. “I’ll be, like, five minutes. I promise.” He dug through my closet for the pajamas and then raced to the bathroom.

He was in there for a total of fifteen minutes, and halfway through I went in to “brush my teeth” after hearing some loud moans that sounded vaguely like my name. After he got himself under control, he was cool with it; except he didn’t know I was kind of watching him in the mirror. Through the glass of the shower, I was given the best view of a naked, and a sudsy, Zack. It was a thoroughly invigorating sight. I had to restrain myself from dressing down and joining him.

We cuddled in bed after that, putting on another movie only to forget it and return to kissing each other. This time around, it was lazy and perfect, instead of heated and needy. Zack eventually shifted so he was laying on top of me.

It was around ten forty-five when we realized exactly how long we’d been making out and giggling like teenaged girls.

Zack was the first to pull away, his eyes heavy and tired. “Alex. It’s late. We should get some sleep.” I could tell by the laziness of his words that he wasn’t too sure if he wanted to stop either.

“If we have to….”

“We do,” he ordered. He shifted to grab the remote control for the television and shut it off, plunging us into darkness.

“Or we can just go back to kissing,” I offered, feeling around in the dark for him as my eyes dilated.

He squawked right in my ear. “That was my crotch, Lex.”

“Mm, then I meant to do that,” I chuckled slyly.

He moved so his back was pressed to my chest, pulling the covers up around us. “We’re not doing anything like that until you’re single.”

I slid my arms around his waist and kiss his shoulder lightly. “Aw, don’t be that way, baby.”

“It’s only fair, Alex. I just want to make sure that you’re… mine before we do that.”

I laughed. “I already am, Zacky.”

His fingers curled around my hand that was resting on his stomach. “I know. But I mean legitimately.”

“I love you, Zack.”

“I love you too, Alex. Now go to bed.”


“You’re acting strange,” Lisa commented a week or two later. We were hanging out in her living room with the television muted.

“Am I?”

“Yeah, you’re totally zoned out right now. What are you thinking about?”

Zack! Zack!! the voice in my head yelled. It was true. That boy seriously had me wrapped around his little finger, instead of vice versa. Everything about him sent shivers down my back, in the best way. Like when we play videogames and he makes those sexy pouty faces at me when he loses. He had to know what he was doing to me.

“Earth to Alex!” She snapped her fingers in front of my face. “Come on, what has your attention more than your girlfriend?”

“You know, just stress.”


“Senior year,” I lied. I’d been getting better at it, which I’m not sure if I was proud about that. “You know my parents want me to be the best going into this year. I’m worried that I might not live up to their expectations. They have them set pretty high.”

“Aw, baby. You’re going to be fine. Don’t worry. You pressure yourself too hard, you know that.”

“Can’t help it.” My phone buzzed in my pocket and I instinctively reached for it. It was Zack.

can we have a movie night?

I smiled down at how innocent he was. sure thing. my place at 8

“Who are you talking to? Because you seriously don’t even answer my texts that fast.”

“And I’m terrible for doing that to you. Let me make it up to you.” I leaned across the couch and kissed her.

“You’re going to have to do more than that,” she muttered, biting her lip in what was supposed to be a seductive manner.

Something about it wasn’t as appealing as it should have been, but that didn’t stop me from leaning in and kissing her again. A while back, I read a quote somewhere that said, “We’re actors in our lives, pretending to be who we want people to think we are.”

How fitting, I thought as Lisa led me up to her room.

Lisa was pretty hot. I won’t lie. She was proportional in all the right ways, and knew how to accentuate those perks.

When we first started dating, those things were all I could think about; the way her body felt against mine, or the way her chest was small but perfect, et cetera.

All of these things became null and void, however, the night that Zack first came out. It was when we started tenth grade. He and I had gym class together and I noticed that he was looking at the guys a bit differently than I was; I was dead-set on being straight.

That night he came over to my house, bawling his eyes out. Lisa had been over as well, curled up on the couch with me; though she dismissed herself when he showed up with red-rimmed eyes. She claimed that she had some place else she had to be and left.

Zack had just collapsed in my arms and said there was something wrong with him. He commenced his hysterics without another word. When I finally got him to calm down, he confessed that he thought he was gay. At first, I was a little perturbed by that. What if he tried something with me that I didn’t want? But I soon learned that he was too passive to try anything. So he let his crush on me develop.

When I got back to my house, it was six-thirty. Knowing Zack, he’d be here early, so I decided to take a shower. I really needed to wash the lies from my skin before he came over.

He showed up at seven-thirty on the dot with candy and other snacks in a large, brown paper bag. “I know I’m early, but I have candy. And a van.”

“Splendid! Makes up for you being early.” I laughed, taking his hand in mine and pulling him inside. “My parents are elsewhere until tomorrow evening.”

“While that sounds very tempting; Lisa?”

“Soon, baby. I promise.” I leaned over and kissed him.

In making that petty promise to him, however, I felt like I was obligated to follow through with it; no matter how much I didn’t want to.

“Come on, let’s go set up our movie night,” I whispered against his lips.

“I brought some of that heart-attack-in-a-bag popcorn that you love,” he mumbled. “You go pick some movies and I’ll be up in a moment, yeah?”

“Okay.” I kissed him again and he giggled against my lips. “You’re so fucking adorable, Zack.”

He pushed me away slightly. “Go,” he smiled, turning to walk into the kitchen.

“I’ll miss you,” I teased.

“Shut up, you ass,” he called back.

I headed up to my room and quickly tossed my duvet onto the bed to make it look like I had at least tried to clean up before he got here.

When he joined me, I was fidgeting with the DVD player. He kneeled on the bed behind me and put his arms around my neck. “Hi,” he giggled.

I turned and looked over my shoulder at him. “Hey cutie.”

“What did you pick for a movie?”

“I was thinking a Tom Hanks movie marathon. That man is the shit. We could watch Saving Private Ryan, then Apollo 13, and then if you’re in for a total mind-fuck, Cloud Atlas.

“Sounds good.” He settled back on the bed and peeled open the microwave popcorn, throwing some alt my face. “Come snuggle with me, you jerk.” Another kernel hit me right on the tip of my nose.

“I’m coming.”

“That’s what he said,” he chuckled.

I grabbed his ankles and roughly tugged him down the bed.

“Alex! Stop!” he squeaked.

I settled over him and grinned. “That’s what you get.”

He leaned up and kissed me. “…scared the shit out of me. You’re so mean.”

“Am I?” I laughed, leaning down to kiss him again. “Come on, you want snuggles.”

We maneuvered up the bed so we were resting on the pillows and settled in for some movies. About two hours in, I leaned over for the remote and paused it.

Zack looked up at me with wide eyes, a gummy worm hanging out of his mouth. “What’s wrong?”

“We’ve been friends for a while, yeah?”

“Of course. The first day of sixth grade, you beat up some really fat, ugly kid who was harassing me for being fat and ugly.”

Leave it to Zack to remember. I curved my hand around his stomach. “Okay. Well, I just kinda wanted to talk.”


“Well, like, how did you know you were gay?”

“I thought we’ve talked about this before…?”

“We have. But I don’t think I was listening hard enough. I just wanted to revisit this; you know, keep it fresh in my mind. Like, you’re a virgin—” Yes, he had told me these things, “—how do you know you don’t like girls unless you try something with one?”

“I don’t know. I just didn’t like the idea of kissing, fucking, or marrying girls. But those ideas are great when I think of those things with a guy….” I heard the unspoken, with you in his voice. “Who did I want to marry, have kids, grow old, and die together with? I want that stuff with a guy. I don’t know. It made sense at the time. I must be the only gay guy who doesn’t know why he’s gay,” he huffed.

“No, that made perfect sense, baby.” I leaned over to capture his lips with mine.

“Why do you ask?”

“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.”

“Oh?” He stuck another gummy worm into his mouth so it was hanging out of his mouth. He looked absolutely irresistible. “That’s a new one for you; thinking. How have you been handling it?”

He had always been quick-witted. No one ever gave him the opportunity to show it.

“I don’t know, man. It’s just… it makes me feel all icky.”

He snorted and shifted around in bed so he was sitting between my legs, back to my chest. “Anyway, you’ve been thinking…?”

“Yeah. I’ve just been thinking. I’ve been trying to figure out who I am, who I like. It’s just strange, you know?” I asked, absentmindedly threading my fingers through his hair.

“I get it. I know exactly how that feels.” He lightly pressed back against me.

A moment of silence passed between us before: “I think I’m going to break up with Lisa.” I dropped my head toward the pillows, smacking it against my headboard instead. “Fuck!”

“Aw, are you okay?” he giggled.

“Yeah, I think so.”

“Let me look.” He gently tugged me back into sitting position and pushed his fingers into my hair. “It just looks like you’re going to have a bump on your head for a few days.”

“Ow,” I whined. “I guess that’s what I get for not knowing who I am.”

“I know. And that was a very daring proclamation, too,” he giggled.

“You’re not supposed to be giggling at that. I was serious.”

“I know baby. I’m still laughing at the fact that you hurt your head.”

“Kiss it, make it better?” I asked.

He obliged, shifting around so he was seated above me and gently pressed his lips into my hair. “So you’re going to break up with Lisa?” he whispered. There was an excited edge to his words. I knew how bad he wanted me for his own.

“I think I have to. It just makes sense to me at this point. It’s like, we walk around pretending we’re this perfect couple. But from the inside, from where I sit in the relationship, it doesn’t feel right,” I told the space between our bodies.

“Why not?”

“I’m not happy with her anymore. I don’t love her. I love someone else.”

“Oh?” he hummed happily.

I looked up at him. “Yeah.”

He smiled. “You deserve someone who’s gonna make you happy.”

I hid my face in the crook of his shoulder. “You do too.”

He leaned down and kissed me lightly. “I know that there’s this conflict of interest, talking to me and all. But I want you to be sure in yourself.”

I nodded. “Gonna go do it now.”

“Now? But it’s eight-thirty,” he told me.

“It’ll be fine.” I stood up from my bed and made myself look presentable.

“You’re gonna leave me here alone?”

“I’ll be back soon, baby. I promise.” I leaned over and kissed him. “I won’t be gone long.” I pulled on my sweater, grabbed my phone, and then booked it to Lisa’s. I didn’t bother knocking, just barged in because I knew her parents weren’t home and she told me before I left that she would be upstairs all evening (insert supposèd seductive face here).

I took the stairs two by two, realization hitting me once I was on the landing. I was about to break up with Lisa.

But then I heard something that I probably shouldn’t have, even in the best of situations. A moan, followed by a breathy, “Shit!”

It was Lisa, I know that much. But unless she was masturbating, which she had specifically told me she found “icky,” she shouldn’t have been making those kinds of noises.

At this point, I didn’t even care about my own infidelity. I barged into her room to find her and some guy fucking. I couldn’t even think of anything to say.

“Alex!” she managed, startled. She pushed the guy off of her. “Alex, what are you doing here?”

“I seriously cannot talk to you with a naked guy in your bed, Lisa. I’m leaving.”

She caught me in the living room, looking half-decent. “Alex wait, I can explain.”

“Really? I don’t think you need to do any explaining. Here I was coming to do the right thing, only to find my girlfriend of four years in bed with some bozo—”

“Mark isn’t a bozo.” Her voice was so small. “And what the hell do you mean, ‘I was coming to do the right thing’?”

“I was coming here to break up with you, Lisa. I’m not feeling this relationship. And apparently, neither were you.”

“That’s totally different,” she tried.

“I realized that I can’t continue lying to you about the fact that I have really strong feelings for someone else. So do you; you’re cheating on me, Lisa.”

“He means nothing to me, Alex. I love you.”

“I meant nothing to you, as well,” I accused. “We’re done and that’s final. I have someone who’s going to make me happy, who isn’t going to treat me like shit. Just… whatever Lisa. I’m so done with your bullshit.” I turned and headed for the front door.

“You’re no better than me, Alex,” she called after me.

“Bullshit!” I screamed. “I’m not fucking this other person. I knew better than that. You didn’t. Stop trying to act like you’re all high and mighty when you’re really not. God, I don’t even know why I’m explaining this to you. Goodbye Lisa.” I slammed the door shut behind me.

When I got home, Zack had burrowed his way into my sheets and made a little den around himself. He lit up like a Christmas tree when he saw me. “Hi Lex.”

“Hey Zacky,” I sighed.

He sat up, worry overtaking his features. “What happened?”

I stripped down to my boxers and joined him in his blanket den, pressing my face into his shoulder. I didn’t say anything for a few minutes.

He wrapped his arms around me and kissed the top of my head. “I love you,” he whispered.

I sighed happily. I loved hearing him say those words to me. “I love you too.” I pressed myself against him a little harder. “…so much.”

We stayed like that a little longer, just cuddled against each other.

“So do you want to tell me what happened?” he whispered.

I shook my head, no. But filled him in, nonetheless. “So… I caught her fucking another guy.”

The face he made was kind of priceless, even if I was feeling really down. He scrunched his nose up and stuck his tongue out slightly, followed promptly by, “Ick.”

“Can we just cuddle and go to bed?”

He laughed. “Seriously Alex, what am I going to tell you? ‘No, you can’t sleep in your bed’? You’re so silly.” He kissed my forehead. “Well duh, we can do that.” He pulled the covers over my body and curled around me protectively, his legs tangling with mine as he lazily kissed me.

“You really are the best,” I whispered up at him as he shut off the T.V.

“Mm, I know,” he chuckled arrogantly. “Get some sleep, Alex. We’ll worry about this whole shit-storm tomorrow.”

I hummed my approval at the implication of “we.” Like, him and I. Together. I reached down and linked our fingers together. “Good night, Zacky,” I yawned.

“Good night, Lex.” I could hear the smile lingering at the end of his words, even in the dark.

The next morning as we tried to convince ourselves to get up and do something productive today but couldn’t really find the energy just yet, our peace was brutally interrupted when Lisa stormed into my room. “What the fuck is this?”

Zack, bless his heart, took it upon himself to come to my aide. He immediately sniffled and teared up. “And Alex, do you know what he said to me? He said to me that he was just using me for… for sex!”

From the outside, it must have been a believable attempt, because the next thing I knew, Lisa was gone with a, “Talk to you later. Sorry,” following quickly behind it.

The tears stopped once the front door closed and he smiled up at me.

“Okay. What the fuck just happened?” I asked.

“No offense, but she’s kind of a bitch and would’ve started shit had I not at least pretended to have boy problems.”

A phone jingled in the background, and he reached for it. “Lisa says that she’s sorry for interrupting my mental breakdown… and she hopes that I feel better soon.”

“You know, you didn’t have to do that.”

“I know. But you just got out of that terrible relationship; she would’ve used anything against you to make you look like the bad guy. You know what they say; you watch my back, I watch yours.”


Thank God it was summer. That’s all I can say. It meant long nights of watching the sun set, and longer days just lounging in the pool.

Zack had this thing with splashing me. Whenever we would chill in my pool, he’d jump in, or flick water, or whatever, just to get a reaction out of me. Usually, it was something along the lines of me dunking his head under, or pushing him in and jumping in after him. I absolutely loved being childish with him. We’d always ended up kissing until we couldn’t breathe.

Other times, when we were too tired to swim, we’d just lay back in the sun and tan a bit. Zack also had this thing with making sure I had sunscreen on; if I didn’t, he’d slather it on my exposed skin. Sometimes, I wouldn’t do it just so he had to. And he was more than happy to help me. Then, we’d lay with our backs up to the warmth and our fingers would link in between the chairs we were laying on.

He loved to fall asleep when we were like this, that way I would have to carry him up to my room.

About a month after I broke up with Lisa — there wasn’t a “we’ll talk later” talk either, like she asked for — and two weeks from the beginning of our senior year, Zack and I were in his kitchen making late-night tacos to satisfy our hunger.

I stood on the other side of the room, watching him as he carefully placed the ingredients together.

“Alex, stop staring,” he told me, turning to look at me. A grin tugged at his lips so I knew that he wasn’t too serious; maybe he was, but not in a harsh way. He was too much of a softy to mean anything in a terrible way.

I didn’t say anything as I traversed the room and took his plate from him, setting it aside.

“Hey! I’m—”

I pushed him back against the counter and wrapped my arms around him. I leaned against his chest and pressed my lips to his. He hesitated momentarily, trying to gain his bearings on what was happening. Once he did, he responded to me, wrapping his arms around me and melting into my touch.

“Shit, Alex,” he chuckled breathlessly when I pulled away. “If you wanted to kiss me, all you had to do is tell me.” His eyes were bright with laughter.

“I wanted it to be a surprise.” I nudged my nose against his cheek.

He giggled and buried his face in my shoulder. “That you were able to do. My tailbone hurts now.”

“Aw. I could kiss it and make it better,” I whispered seductively.

He blushed and looked down at his feet. “Alex.”

Zack was such a sweetheart, so innocent in all the right ways. He knew what he wanted, when he wanted it; he also knew what he didn’t want.

About a week prior, he had expressed to me that he didn’t want to have sex yet. I was perfectly okay with that, in all honestly. I was just a little nervous. (I wasn’t scared of sex, mind you. Just sex… with a boy). I reassured Zack I wasn’t with him just for sex. And I honestly wasn’t. He was my best friend, and I never wanted to hurt him like that. Ever.

I leaned in and kissed him. “Zack, I love you.”

“If you loved me, you’d let me eat my freakin’ tacos.”

I let him out of my arms. “Let’s eat then, yeah.”

He reached over and happily grabbed his food, rushing back to his room. I chuckled and followed after him with my food. He was curled up on his bed, stuffing his face, as I sat down.

“Sexy,” I informed him.

“I’m fucking hungry, you asshole.” He pushed my face into the pillows and then returned to eating.

I relaxed and silently ate my own food while watching him. He looked so happy and innocent.

“Again, stop staring at me,” he requested.

“Sorry baby.”

After we finished, we curled up on each other and lazily made out until we fell asleep.

Waking up in the morning was one of my favorite moments. He was always aware of his surroundings, but he just looked so lost and sleepy. It almost looked like he didn’t know why I was still in his bed. I’d always pepper him with kisses as he woke up, along with little sweet nothings. He’d stretch once before curling into me.

Mornings often reminded me why I loved him, why I always would.

That’s why, on this particular morning in the middle of the warmest summer Baltimore had ever seen, I asked Zack to be my boyfriend.


The start of our senior year was a little weird. The first two days, Zack ignored me while we were in school. But when we got home, he wouldn’t stop to think before cuddling me.

So, on the third day when he continued his assault on my mind, I cornered him in the men’s bathroom during our lunch period while he washed his hands.

“You’ve been ignoring me,” I stated as I stepped up behind him and put my hands on his hips.

He shook his head. “I’m not ignoring you, Lex.”



“Zacky, you refuse to talk to me at school. You refuse to look at me until we get home.”

“Yeah, because to all your friends, you’re still straight.”

I sighed. Sometimes, Zack held the weight of the world on his shoulder when he shouldn’t have to. I pressed my lips to the nape of his neck. “I don’t care. I love you.”

He turned around so we were standing chest to chest and draped his arms over my shoulder. “I love you too.”

There was a snicker from inside one of the stalls, followed by a harsh, “Shh!” The stall clicked unlocked and Victor Fuentes stepped out. “See, I knew you guys were boning each other. Took you fucking long enough.”

“Go run your mouth, you little shit, and you’re going to die,” I threatened. “We need to tell people on our own time.”

“Calm down,” he laughed. “Although I absolutely have to tell Kellin. We had a bet on whether or not you were finally gonna lose that bitch Lisa and get with this cutie.” He sidled up against Zack.

“You’ll only tell your boyfriend?” I asked.

“I swear on Mikey’s life.”

“Hey!” came a whine from another stall.

“Jesus Christ,” I groaned. “Is the entire Mexican Army in here right now?”

“I’m mildly offended by that,” Vic told us, sassily waving a finger at me. “And it’s just Mike and I in here right now.”

“You should be offended. What the hell are you even doing here?” I asked them.

“Just stalking my best friend,” Vic laughed, punching me lightly. “’Cause I knew you guys were hiding something.”

“You’re such a creep.”

“Hey, someone around here has to provide things to gossip about.”

I rolled my eyes at him. “I should lay you flat.”

“But you love me. Obviously not as much as Zacky, here. But close enough for government work, am I right?”

“The only Mexican I love is the stuff that I can stick in my mouth.”

“Oh babe, you can stick me in your mouth all you want,” he smirked, his voice low and husky.

I gagged and hugged Zack closer. “I have a boyfriend now. This weird, I-want-Alex-in-my-pants thing has to stop.”

“It’s kinda cute,” Zack whispered, snuggling his face into my shoulder. He gently kissed my neck. “But I’m kind of selfish, so you can’t have him, Vic.”

“You guys are so adorable together.” He took his phone out and took a picture of us. “I’m setting you as my lock screen. Hands down. Mikey, look at this.”

I raised my eyebrow at him. “Weirdo.” I turned to Zack. “Ready to go back to lunch?”

He edged a fraction of an inch away from me.

“I didn’t mean like that if you don’t want to.”

He bit his lip and nodded. “Oh.”

I kissed his forehead. “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” he mumbled.

We went back to lunch, sitting next to each other. Vic and Mike came back after a few seconds, Vic sidling up to Kellin and passing over his phone. Kellin’s eyes sparkled as he made eye contact with me. He nodded slightly.

I smiled, placing my hand on Zack’s thigh to get his attention. He smiled at Kellin as well.

Lunch continued with neither of us really paying attention.

As we walked home, our houses being close enough to the school, Zack kept walking closer to me.

“Baby, what is it?” I prodded lightly, smiling at how our hips were bumping against each other.

“People know I’m gay.”

“Yes, okay.”

“And they think you’re straight.”

“Yes, baby.”

“But this afternoon, in the bathroom, what you said was pointed at me.”

“Yes it was.”


“I’m ready to step out of my shell. I just want to kiss you and hold your hand and make you blush. But I want to make sure that you are ready for that as well. I don’t just want to assume that you are.”

He let his lips pull into a smile and he nodded. “Okay.”



I hip-checked him at the vague response. We headed up his walkway. “Are you hungry? I’m thinking snacks and cuddling.”

“I’m not stupid enough to reject cuddling with you.”

I closed the door and tapped his ass. “This is probably the last day before they start hitting us with a shit ton of homework.”

He groaned. “Yeah. I hate how they do that.”

We dropped our stuff off in his room, grabbed snacks, and curled up on the couch for the time being.

At five, his father came home. “Hey boys! How was school?”

“It was good,” we chimed, then giggled at answering simultaneously.

His mother returned home about an hour after her husband and asked if I wanted to stay for dinner. Zack answered with an excited, “Yes he does, Mom. You know that.”

“What if he has somewhere he has to be? Alex?”

“I don’t really have anywhere to be. I just need to text my parents. And if it’s not a problem, I’ll stay.”

“It’s absolutely not a problem, Alex. You know that!” she smiled.

Zack’s mom was something else. She was animated and bubbly, and now I knew where my boyfriend got it. She loved me the moment Zack and I started hanging out back in sixth grade. Her adoration grew when I stood behind my best friend when he came out to our school, and beat anyone who tried to pick on him. While he was ripped, people fought him with words. I was there to settle the hate that followed him. Zack’s mother all but came out of her skin when we told her we finally got together. Well, she had walked in on us in his bed, making out and we had no choice but to come clean.

Zack and I decided to help make dinner, which was chicken divan. And by help, I mean we shooed his mother to the living room so she could enjoy a glass of wine with his father. She was beyond speechless as Zack pushed her out of the kitchen.

We couldn’t stop giggling as we got to work. Halfway through, she came back in to check on us, accusing us of having too much fun.

After dinner, which surprisingly we didn’t ruin, we went upstairs to his room. We were both similarly wiped and just wanted to hold each other as we slept. He carefully clambered out of his pants and up onto the bed, then waited patiently for me to do the same thing. As I crawled up the bed, I kissed his thighs, stomach, chest, neck, up to his mouth. He smiled into the kiss as his hands went to my hips.

I pulled back after a moment and pushed his hair out of his face. He leaned into my touch, closing his eyes and sighing happily.

We rearranged ourselves so he was curled up in my arms and let our eyes drift shut. Sometime later, his mother knocked and came in, pulling us from the grips of unconsciousness.

“Mm’nah,” the tired boy in my arms managed.

“Oh, I’m sorry, darling,” his mother apologized. “I didn’t know you two were asleep. It got quiet up here and, well, knowing you two, you’re never quiet.”

I pulled the duvet over his shoulders as he pressed into me. I kissed his forehead lightly as he quietly snored, passed out in an instant.

His mother cooed at us and shut the door.

“Mm, snuggles,” Zack begged.


We ended up spooning, my leg pressing between his. He looked back at me. “Goodnight, Lex.”

“’Night Zacky.”

It took me about three more days of being ignored at school that I really got fed up with him.

He was standing at his locker, down the hall from mine, talking to one of Kellin’s close friends. He kept laughing and smiling, until he caught me staring at him. Then his lips pulled into a thin line. He was seriously going to kill me with his indecision.

I shut my locker, snapped the lock in place, and stalked down the hallway. Kellin’s friend, I think his name was Justin or something, looked up and caught my gaze. He visibly shrunk away from Zack, and my boyfriend turned around.

“Oh hey, Al—”

My hands came up to frame his face, my lips crashing to his. And he smiled, that fucker, as I kissed him.

When I pulled away, the blood roaring in my ears, I muttered, “I hate you.”

“I know,” he responded, smiling wide.

There was a certain scoff from behind us. We both turned to face Lisa. Zack hid behind me, or rather I stepped in front of him, as Lisa picked the dirt from under her nails. “I knew it was him,” she lied. “You two were always closer than normal best friends. Plus, it was only a matter of time before Zack’s little crush on you—”

“Shut up.”

“I’m sorry?” she smirked.

“You have no right. So leave Zack and me alone.” I grabbed Zack’s hand and pulled him down the hall.

A couple close friends, included the Mexicans and Kellin, followed.

“Dude!” Tony laughed. “You and Zack finally?”

I nodded. I turned to said boy. “You.”

“Me?” he asked innocently, batting his eyelashes at me.

“Ignoring me. You know that makes me crazy,” I admonished playfully.

He gnawed at his lips nervously. “I know.”

“But. I’m vaguely okay with that.” I was finally going to be able to do all the things I’d told him about. Kisses, and holding hands, and hugging. All of that finally.

Apparently, me being gay wasn’t as much as a culture shock as Zack’s coming out was. Because when we walked through the cafeteria while holding hands, the only glares I received were from my pissy ex and her friends. Everyone else simply smiled when they saw our hands folded together. A couple people breathed a quiet, “Finally.”

Yes, my thoughts exactly.


At the beginning of December, about five months after I asked Zack to be my boyfriend, I brought up the topic of our Winter Formal. It was going to be on the first Saturday of our winter vacation. We were walking down the main plaza of shops when he stopped to stare at the men’s tuxedos through a window to one of the stores.

“You would look really hot in one of these,” I told him.

His eyes sparkled at the comment, but quickly died. “Too bad I’m never going to wear one, though.”

“Why not?”

“Well, when would I?”

“Winter Formal.”

“But I’m not going to Winter Formal.” Then he realized I was offering to take him. “A-are you asking me be your date?”

“Only if you want to go. If not, I’m sure there’s other things we could do; lazily making out, snuggling under a mile of blankets….”

“No. I kind of want to go to Winter Formal with you,” he murmured shyly.

I squeezed his hand. “Of course we can go, baby.” I kissed his forehead. “But I have absolutely no idea how to go about buying a tuxedo, so you’re going to have to ask your mother.”

He pulled his phone out and texted his mom, alex is taking me to winter formal.

She immediately called, which he put on speakerphone. “Oh my God, are you serious? My little boy’s growing up.”

“Mom!” he whined.

“We need to go shopping! Oh my God, this is so amazing. I’m going to call Alex’s mom right now to discuss this. You know, I was curious when he would ask you to the dance. I’m so happy that he did finally. This is going to be so fun.”


“Sorry. Where are you right now?”

“We’re looking at some tuxedos through the store window.”

“Oh, you’re down on the plaza. Good. Stay there. I’ll get Alex’s mother and we’ll meet you down there in a few minutes. Okay?”

“Uh, sure.” He hung up, turning to glare at me. “I blame you.”

“I know baby,” I smiled. I curled my arms around his waist and pulled him closer. “I love you.”

He snuggled further into my side. “I love you, too.”

When our mothers found us, Mrs. Merrick kept cooing at the idea that her son and I were going to a dance together. My mother did the rare thing and smiled as we were fitted.

“This is so wonderful; you two going to a dance! Zacky’s been swooning over going to a dance since freshman year,” his mother gushed.

“Mom!” His cheeks were tinted a beautiful shade of red. “You’re so embarrassing!”

“She’s your mother, Zacky. It’s in the job description,” I chuckled, taking his hand in mine when he pouted at me.

“You’re no fair,” he accused.

“I’m just honest.” I leaned over and kissed him lightly. “And you’re so cute.”

That gave his mother another opportunity to coo at us.

One thing led to another, time passed too quickly, and there we were, being cliché; our parents taking too many photos of us in the foyer of Zack’s house before we left.

As we were about to leave, I quickly filled our parents in with some minor details. “The dance ends at eleven. We’ll be back here, at the latest, around eleven-thirty. I’ll text you both,” being our mothers, “when we leave the dance. Mom, I’ll text you when we get back here.”

“Okay, honey. Be safe.”

Mrs. Merrick informed us the house would be empty when we returned (and she may have winked at me, I’m not entirely sure), and then everyone wished us well at the dance.

We walked to my car, which I opened the door for him like a gentleman. He smiled at me, one of those megawatt smiles I never failed to fall in love with. The drive there had Zack fidgeting like a madman and biting his lips. I gently reached over and took his hand in mine.

“Baby, it’s okay.”

“I know. But this is my first dance. Ever. I… I don’t know what to expect.”

I smiled at him. “It’s an experience, for sure.”

Which basically meant lots of grinding. But I didn’t tell him that. He would just have to find out.

It took him almost four songs to get into the whole swing of the dance. I guessed he must have had a drink that was spiked, because he went from being really awkward, to the biggest flirt mid-song. He even danced with Kellin, leaving Vic and I to stare down our other halves.

“Zack’s not okay, is he?” my friend asked me.

“Did someone spike the drinks?”

“I don’t know. Probably.”

Zack came sauntering up to us, followed by the raven-haired man. “Hey, Vicky,” he giggled.

No matter how hard he tried, Vic couldn’t be mad at him because he was so innocent. “Hi Zack. How is the dance?”

“The dance? Pretty fun. Lex, come dance with me.” He grabbed my hands and dragged me into the middle of the grinding teenagers, immediately getting into the song. Not that I was complaining. The instant a slow song came on, however, Zack returned to being shy.

I led his arms to around my neck and linked mine around his waist. He was stiff compared to the other way he danced. Eventually, his limbs unlocked and he rested his head in the crook of my neck.

“Thank you, Alex,” he breathed. “For taking me to my first high school dance.”

I smiled. “It’s not a problem, Zack. It’s been my pleasure. I just wish you could see how amazing you look tonight.”

“You’re so corny.”

I kissed his forehead. “I like making you blush by saying silly things.”

He laughed. “Whatever.”

At the end of the night, as we let ourselves back into his house, we were beyond tired. I practically had to carry Zack up to his room and dress him down. He watched me as I set his pants and tux jacket on his desk chair.


“Yeah babe?” I murmured absently, straightening the dinner jacket so it wouldn’t crease funny.


It’s not the fact that he used my nickname that caught my attention; it was the way he let it out in a wispy breath, followed by a moan. My head snapped over to see him with his head thrown back, his boxers around his knees, and his hand on his dick.

“Lex, come join me,” he panted.

I took a moment to figure out whether this was morally sound or not, before stripping off my dress pants and jacket so I was in only my boxers. I shimmied up the bed next to him, kissing his stomach lightly and traveling up his chest.

He hastily pulled me up so I was facing him and kissed me. He started rutting his hips up to meet mine, detaching from my lips to gasp at the friction. “Alex,” he whimpered in my ear.

I leaned down to kiss his Adam’s apple, before moving down his body and leaving kisses all over his taut skin. He made an unhappy noise when I didn’t go any lower than his V-line. I trailed my lips back up to his mouth and smiled into our kiss. I rolled my hips down into his again and he let out a high-pitch whine.

“Alex, more!” he cried.

I ground down into him a few more times before he moved us so he was straddling my hips. He quickly removed my boxers and experimentally flicked his tongue against the tip of my dick. He cringed at the taste of me.

It suddenly all became real; Zack was between my legs, his tongue on me. I pushed him back lightly, to which he looked up at me like I had kicked a puppy. “Zacky, I can’t morally do this.”

“Why not?”

“You’re not thinking clearly; someone spiked the drinks.”

He burst out in laughter. “You think I’m under the influence of something right now?”

“Well, you are… aren’t you?”

“I didn’t have anything to drink; well, that had been previously opened. If anything, I’m a little dehydrated; but nothing where I can’t think straight.” He chuckled. “Get it? I can’t think straight. Because I’m gay.”

I smiled. “I get it. But how were you so confident while you were grinding on me?”

“It was fun,” he shrugged. “And seriously, you can’t say you didn’t like what I was doing to you.”

“Yeah, being a fucking tease.”

“So now here I am, making it up to you.” He leaned down while keeping eye contact with me and slid his tongue up my dick.

I groaned at how innocent he looked, at how amazing his tongue felt. “Fuck, Zacky.”

He smiled and carefully took me into his mouth, gagging slightly. I almost felt compelled to push him off to stop him from choking; but when I tapped his head to signal him to stop, he just caught my hand and pinned it by my side. I didn’t press the issue further as he continued sucking me off. This kid, for the virgin he is, pretty much knew what to do to drive me up the fucking wall. He paid particular attention to my tip, suckling and licking and purely torturing me with his mouth.

“Jesus Christ, Zack,” I hissed. “Shit, I’m about to come.” I writhed against the bed, against his mouth.

I could feel his lips stretch into a smile at my words. He didn’t let off my dick, though.

“Seriously, Zack. You gotta fucking stop. I’m going to come.” I tried pushing him back but he slapped my hand back, and we got into a slapping war as he sucked me off. Only with this kid. “Zack, fuck, I’m gonna come in your mouth if you don’t get off.”

He pulled back so my tip was balanced on his bottom lip, his gaze never faltering. “Then come for me.”

I groaned as he sucked me down to my base, his nose pressing against my V-line and his hands coming to rest on my thighs. He swallowed around me, a small moan passing his lips, and that was it for me; I was coming down his throat.

He pulled off once he licked me clean. He smiled as he placed my boxers back on my hips and crawled up the bed. His hands trailed from my chest, up to my shoulders, down my arms, to my own hands. He looked down at me with those innocent eyes of his.

I carefully maneuvered us so I was hovering over him, our hands still tangled together. I leaned down and kissed him, tasting the salt from the remaining semen lingering on his tongue. “Zack.”

He nudged his nose against my cheek. “Alex.”

“There’s no way you’ve never given a blowjob before.”

“I haven’t. I’ve just, um, watched porn a couple times,” he confessed.

“Oh you dog,” I chuckled, pulling back to look at him.

He blushed. “Shut up. I needed to know what I was getting into.”

I smiled at him. “I love you, Zack.”

“I love you too, Alex.” He watched me intently as I shifted down the bed, leaving a trail of hot kisses against his skin until I made it to the band of his boxers. He gave me that familiar look. “Lex, it’s fine. Don’t worry about me.”

This boy.

I hooked my fingers and tugged his boxers down off his legs. I kissed the inside of his thigh, closing my eyes and lingering on the task. I could feel his legs quivering from nerves, but I wanted to prove to him that I loved him. I slowly worked up his thigh.

He pushed me back lightly. “Alex.”

I locked gazes with him. He genuinely looked terrified. I crawled up the bed and leaned up against the headboard. I settled back so he could curl up against me. His erection pressed against my hip.

“I’m sorry,” he sniffled. “I kind of ruined it.”

I ran a hand through his hair. “Baby boy, I should be the one apologizing.” I kissed his forehead and linked our fingers together. “I didn’t realize you were so nervous.”

“I just need a minute.”

“That’s fine, baby. I need you to be comfortable with everything.”

He nodded. “Thank you.”

A few quiet moments passed before he shifted onto his back. That was his silent okay for me to resume what we had previously started. I kissed him gently, giving him plenty of time to tell me to stop if he needed me to. He didn’t.

I willingly moved my mouth down to his dick. I faltered slightly as I realized this was the first time I was ever going to give head. I mean, it had been Zack’s first as well, but he’d watched porn to learn. While the thought of that was seriously hot, it didn’t help me in my predicament. And as much as I don’t want to admit it, I forced myself to think back to the many times Lisa had been in this compromising position. Maybe I could remember something that she’d done.

I kissed the underside of his dick softly, congratulating myself when Zack made an appreciative noise. By the time I focused on his tip, he was leaking precome. As expected, it tasted salty and I must have made a face because Zack laughed down at me. Even so, I continued, trying to get into the fact that I had a dick in my mouth. Not just any dick, though. The only plus side was that it was my boyfriend.

I gagged as his tip hit the back of my throat, but couldn’t even be bothered to pull off. The noises Zack was making above me were enough for me to persevere through giving him his first blowjob.

He almost didn’t give me notice that he was about to come, just a long string of incoherent vowels and the pleasant view of his abdominals spasming. I pulled back because there was no way in Hell, even if it was Zack, that I was going to let him come in my mouth. I had tasted myself and that was enough; I didn’t need to have his spunk scarring my taste buds. However, even as I leaned away, some of his come landed on my chin and cheek.

He fell back against his pillow as his chest heaved. “Holy fuck!” he giggled. “Oh God, wow. That was… that was amazing.”

I reached over the edge of the bed and grabbed my boxers to wipe the little bit of come that was slowly drying against my skin. Then I stood and reached into his dresser for a clean pair of boxers for us both. I tugged them up his legs, tapping his hips so he would lift them and I could settle the fabric on his waist. I gently pulled on the other pair and laid back in bed with him, stretching down the bed for the covers.

He rested his head on my chest, giggling again as he came down from his high. “Al.”

“Yeah, baby boy?”

“I love you.”

I smiled as I kissed his forehead. “Zacky, I love you too.”

He sighed heavily as sleep started creeping into his bones. “Lex?”

“Yes, honey?”

It was quiet for a while, and I thought that he had fallen asleep. But just as I was giving in, he whispered, “Thank you. For everything; being my best friend, being the best boyfriend I could ask for, being you.”

“Anything for you, baby boy,” I hushed, kissing his forehead again. “Good night, Love.”

He was already snoring quietly.

The next morning, his mother knocked and walked in on us, half-naked and half-covered by the duvet. I was curled protectively around her son. It was only when she cooed at us that we woke up properly. Zack nearly had a heart attack, sitting bolt upright.

“Mom!” he cried as he drew the covers over him. “Don’t you knock anymore?”

“I did, sweetie.”

I gently rubbed his back, trying to gain back at least a little of the warmth the duvet held. “Come on, baby. It’s okay. She was just checking on us. It’s okay, though. Come on, lay back down,” I told him, raking my fingers up and down his spine. Luckily, I’d learned it helped him calm down quicker.


Zack was traveling for Christmas. He had distant relatives who wanted to see how much he’d grown; but I meant distance, because they lived in Cincinnati, Ohio. And his parents wanted to drive there.

So, for the three days leading up to Christmas, including the drive there, I was stuck texting, calling, and FaceTiming him.

On Christmas morning, I was woken up by a call from him at seven. “Merry Christmas,” he giggled.

I rolled onto my back and smiled at the ceiling. “Merry Christmas, baby boy. How’s Cincinnati?”

“It’s nice. But I’m a bit… bored without you.”

“You’ll be back in my arms in three days’ time. Don’t you worry, pretty boy.”

He sighed heavily. “My aunt says that we need to FaceTime when we open presents. Everyone wants to meet you.”

“Baby, it’s okay.”

“I know. But there are eight cousins, two aunts, and two uncles who all want to see you. And they’re so embarrassing sometimes. I don’t need that stress. Like what if they tell you something really mortifying about me?”

“Zack,” I interrupted. “I love you. There’s nothing they can say that will make me feel otherwise. I love you, and I always will. Plus, I’ve been your best friend for far too long not to know any of the things they could possibly tell me. But don’t worry, baby. I love you so much.”

“I love you too.”

I got up and started for the kitchen. “Zack, I got you a Christmas present.”

“You did?”

I smiled to myself. “Don’t sound so surprised. Of course I got you something.”

“I just… you know you didn’t have to,” he murmured.

“But I did. You’re my best friend, my boyfriend.”

“I know. But you didn’t have to,” he tried again.

“Baby, it’s okay.” I poured some cereal into a bowl.

“What are you doing?” he asked me.

“Making breakfast. How about you?”

“Laying on the couch, hiding under the blankets. I’m stuck sleeping on the couch. My back is sore.”

“I’ll give you a massage when you get back,” I promised.

“Oh, okay,” he muttered. I knew that tone.

“Baby, I mean a legitimate back massage. You know I’m not about to pressure you into something you’re not comfortable with, baby.”

“Yeah. But you know me, I get nervous about nothing.”

“You’re completely rational, Zack. Don’t—”

I was cut off by someone on the other end of the phone. “Zachary’s talking to his boyfriend. He’s talking to his boyfriend!”

There was quick shuffling around. “Yes I am, Sierra,” Zack said. “Now you have to stop being so loud. It’s only seven-thirty and your mother said not to wake her up until nine. Can you go play with your sister for a few minutes?” After a moment, he returned to our conversation. “Sorry, that was my cousin. She’s the youngest on my mother’s sister’s side. She’s nosy sometimes.”

“Baby, it’s—”

Again, I was cut off. “Oh, Zachary’s up! Kiddo, can you come help make breakfast for the little ones?” The voice belonged to a male and it was deep.

“I’m on the phone with Alex right now.”

“Well, he can wait. The kids are starving right now.”

“Seriously, why does he have to wait? We could be talking about national security right now.”

“Zack. Baby boy. Listen to me,” I told him. “I can call you later. Right now, your family needs you to pay attention to them.”

“Promise you’re gonna call soon?”

“Text me when you’re done with breakfast and have showered and changed. I’ll call you right after.”

“Okay Alex,” he pouted.

“I love you, baby boy.”

“I love you, too.”

“Talk to you soon, Beautiful.”

“Talk to you later, Lex.”

After I finished breakfast, I took a shower and dressed. My parents were up by the time I was done, and they had started on making Christmas Dinner.

“Morning Alexander,” my mother smiled. “How’s Zachary this morning?”

“He’s good. He got roped into making breakfast for his cousins so I’m going to call him back when he’s done.”

“That’s nice. Do you think you can take a few minutes out of your busy schedule to help start dinner?”

I checked my phone, no text from Zack yet, and agreed. “Sure.”

Luckily, Zack took longer than expected and texted me around the time I finished helping my parents. The text told me that his family was ready to open presents and wanted me to FaceTime while they did so. I agreed, sitting on the couch next to the Christmas tree.

As soon as I saw him, I smiled. Even with how frazzled he was, he looked gorgeous. “Hey Zack.”

“Hi,” he sighed.

“It’s awfully quiet over there; are you alone?”

“No. I just got them to stop making so much noise so we could talk for a minute.”

I laughed. “Well okay.”

“I’m gonna go around one at a time so you’re not hit with twelve different people at the same time.”

“Whatever is easiest for you, Zack.”

He kicked himself off the couch and walked over to someone. “This is my mother’s sister, Lydia, and her husband Michael.” Then he moved to three children. “Simon is twelve, Micah is ten, and Sierra is seven.” He moved to the other side of the room. “This is my uncle, Timothy. He’s my father’s brother. His wife, Annie. And they have five kids, so bear with me. Kyle is the oldest at seventeen, Stacy is sixteen, Christie is eleven, Sara is seven, and Charlie just turned two. Charlie, say hi to my boyfriend, Alex.”

The toddler squealed happily and reached for his phone. And then I saw the inside of his mouth.

“Charlie!” Zack laughed. “Baby, you can’t eat that. Can I have it back?”

After he managed to save his phone from the two-year-old, he panned around the room again. “Yeah, so that’s my family. We’re pretty hectic sometimes.”

They all laughed and greeted me.

“As you know, it’s just my mother, my father, and I here,” I told Zack, everyone else overhearing. I got up and walked to the kitchen, only to find my parents dancing between the breakfast island and stove. “These are my parents. They get really weird sometimes,” I laughed.

“Alexander!” my mother giggled.

“Don’t worry, it’s just my boyfriend’s entire family you’re dancing for.”

My parents blushed and went back to working on dinner.

“So yeah, that’s my family as well,” I muttered awkwardly.

Luckily, Sierra, the nosy seven-year-old, knew how to keep us moving. “Presents!” she cried.

“Alex, you can go if you want,” Zack told me.

“I want you to open your present before I go,” I smiled.

“Alex, you’re in Baltimore. There’s no way I can open it from here.”

“I packed it in your bag when you weren’t paying attention.”


“In the front pocket of your duffle bag.”



He ran down the hallway and pushed open a door. “What did you get me?”

“You’ll see, baby boy. You don’t have to open it up in front of your family if you don’t want to. It’s kind of embarrassing.”

He smirked. “All the more reason to open it in front of them. Seriously, there’s nothing fucking in here.”

“Yes there is, Zack,” I chuckled.

He made a happy noise. “Okay, found it. What is it?” he asked as he took out the little present that had a bow on it.

“Open it.”

“You’re making me nervous now.”

“Zack, seriously. Why?”

He gently tugged on the paper. “I don’t know. It’s just… I don’t need anything from you.”

“I promise it’s not going to bite you, baby.”

As soon as he got down to the velvet box, he nearly choked on his breath. “Oh my God. What is it?”

“Zack, don’t freak out. Just open it.”

“Alex,” he warned. He gently opened the box, pulling the little silver ring out.

“Now, before you let your mind travel to every possibility out there, this a promise ring. I know that generally, these are for when someone wants to promise one day they’ll get married or whatever. I want to tweak that and make a promise to you that I’m always going to be your best friend. Right now, I promise to be your boyfriend as well. But if we break up, I want to be the best friend you run to. I want to bash your ex with you. You are the world to me, Zack. You have been since I met you in sixth grade. Our friendship means so much to me. Our relationship does, too, don’t get me wrong. I want to be there for you until we’re laid in the ground, whether that be as best friends, or more.”

He was sobbing quietly at the end of my monologue. “Alex, that’s so sweet.”

“I just want you to know that our friendship extends further than us dating, and I never want to change that. Like, ever. There are just perks to dating now, like snuggles or kisses.”

He smiled. “This is… beyond amazing, Lex. You know you didn’t have to do this.”

“Yes. But I just wanted something to remind us.”

“Thank you, Al.”

“You’re more than welcome, baby boy. Although you have to remind any male family member that I’m not asking you to marry me yet. But just that we’ll always be best friends.”

“Okay, I can do that.”

“I’m going to let you get back to Christmas with your family. But we’ll be separated just for a little while more. You’re going to be home soon. And then we can cuddle and kiss as much as we want.”

“I’m gonna hold that to ya,” he promised.


As it turned out, I came down with the worst possible case of the flu the day before his return. So when he came over, I had been curled up under some blankets, shivering my ass off as my forehead burned up. Instead of greeting him with a hug and lots of kisses, he was welcomed with snores and terrible, violent coughing. I slept right through him jumping on my bed.

The morning after he returned, I woke up to a half-dozen-plus texts from him.

20:50; almost home! can’t wait to snuggle!

21:10; getting off the highway. five minutes!!!

21:40; okay, you totally slept through my homecoming. I jumped on your bed for, like, ever

22:03; I know you’re sleeping, but I can’t help to think that I did something to piss you off.

22:37; are you mad at me?

23:00; okay, I know I said that I knew you were sleeping. but really? when you knew I was coming home?

23:21; well, okay. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, I guess.

03:43; I can’t sleep thinking you’re mad at me. I’ve been up wondering what I did.

And then as I was reading, he sent me another. 05:51; I miss you, Lex.

I turned and coughed violently into my elbow before weakly typing up a response. Baby boy, I came down with the flu and wasn’t feeling well at all. I’m so sorry I missed giving you a homecoming kiss and lot of snuggles. I just woke up :(

He didn’t respond for a while and I was nearly on the edge of sleep when he called me. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I kind of had a conniption fit.”

I coughed again. “Hey, it’s totally okay. I’m sorry I wasn’t conscious enough to tell you.”

“How are you feeling?”

“Gross. I feel like I’m swimming in mucus and tissues. My head is pounding. I’m really cold, but I have a fever.”

“I want to come over and take care of you.”

“I don’t need you feeling like this, too,” I laughed. “Luckily, I’ve been feeling gross since Christmas Night, but it hit last night. Mom thinks I’m coming out of it. I should be better by the new year. And then we’ll have a week left of our vacation.”

“Three days? That’s such a long time! I don’t think I can wait that long. I just want to hug and kiss and snuggle and fall asleep with you right now.”

“You went to Cincinnati well enough without seeing me.”

“Yeah, but this is different. You being here but I can’t see you is like a cocktease. Like, you’re a five-minute drive away but I can’t see you.”

“Baby, we can FaceTime and text and call to our hearts content. It’s only three days.”

He grumbled. “Fine. You’re right. Plus, I kinda don’t want what you have, because you sound bad right now.”

“Thanks, baby boy,” I smiled. “I love you too.”

He sighed heavily. “Lex.”

“Yes, baby?”

“I really do love you.”

It hit me right in the gut to hear that, and I mean that in the best way possible. Now, I’m going to regret comparing my beautiful baby boy to my ex, but I kind of have to. There was one big difference between the two of them — aside from their sex; but hey, I’m trying to be romantic here. Above all else, it had to be the way they told me they loved me. Lisa’s always sounded weird and never as genuine as they should have. It was like it was an obligation she didn’t want to fulfill. Zack’s, however, always took my breath away and made me crave him. In more than the physical sense of the word. He put a lot of himself into every single one of the “I love you’s” we had shared. I did the same thing for him. I mean when I say I love Zack, and that I always will. There was always a piece of me in those uttered words.

“Alex? Are you still there?”

“Yes I am.”

“Sorry, you went quiet on me.”

“I was just thinking, babe.”



He hesitated before laughing. “That’s so cliché of you, Alex.”

“I mean it Zack. I was thinking about you, and how much you mean to me.”

He yawned suddenly. “Sorry. That was supposed to be romantic. I ruined it with my yawn.”

“Don’t worry, baby. Why don’t you go to bed? I know you’ve been up stressing about why I wasn’t talking to you and stuff. Now you know I’m fine; well, sick. I wasn’t purposefully ignoring you.”

His next sentence came out muffled, as I think he yawned into his elbow.

“What was that, babe?”

“I said I think I’m going to take you up on that offer to go to bed.”

“Good boy.”

“I love you, Lex,” he whispered again.

“I love you too, Zack. Good night. And sleep well. I’ll talk to you more later.”

“Talk to you soon.” I rolled over when silence filled my bedroom. I looked at the picture I set at my lock screen. It was taken the day before he left for Cincinnati. We had been curled up under a fortress of blankets and it was just us cuddling. Zack looked so shy, as he reverted to his old self. Amazingly, in the five months we’d been together, he had been louder than ever. He was always smiling and joking. It was amazing what a little TLC can do for someone like him.

I passed out a few minutes later.

Zack came over later in the day. He sweet-talked his way past my mother, told her that he wanted to help take care of me regardless of the chance he’d get sick, and woke me up as he cuddled under the covers and against my chest. “Hi,” he giggled.

I was still trying to pull my mind from the grogginess of sleep. “Whatcha doin’ here?” I mumbled.

“‘Taking care of you’,” he smiled.

“I’m too sick to understand the innuendo.”

“No, baby. That wasn’t an innuendo. I legitimately came over here to take care of you.”

I rolled over to look at the time. “I thought I told you not to come over until I was over this illness?”

He kissed my neck. “You did. But I couldn’t.” He moved down my body with his lips, hiding under the covers. He pressed a kiss to my chest and my stomach. I felt his fingers splay across the fabric of my shirt. “I’m thinking maybe getting sick wouldn’t be too bad if I could at least see you today. I’m willing to risk it.” He lifted my shirt slightly and pressed his mouth to my warm stomach.

There was a knock at the door, and it opened to reveal my mother. Her gaze immediately snapped to the incriminating position and shape of my duvet. She froze in place. “Alexander!”

Zack giggled from his place under the covers. I gently thwacked him on the head. “Get up here,” I told him.

He leaned his ear on my chest, pushed the checkered duvet back, and looked up at my mother. “Hello Mrs. Gaskarth.”

Her shocked expression dimmed when she saw that he was only laying on me. “Hello Zachary. I was going to invite you two down for some breakfast.”

“We’ll be down in a few minutes,” he promised.

“Oh, all right.” She turned and left us alone.

Zack almost burst into laughter when her footsteps retreated down the stairs. “Oh my God!”

“You’re an ass,” I accused lamely.

He repositioned himself so we were spooning, he was the little spoon. My arm snaked around his abs and held him tight to me. “Yeah, but you love my ass.” For emphasis, he pressed his rear back slightly.

“Seriously, if you don’t stop, I’m going to have to dry hump you into my mattress.”

“That sounds promising,” he giggled. I could see the blush crawling across his cheeks. “But, your mom may come back to tell us she made breakfast.” He turned over and looked up at me with those beautiful doe eyes of his. “Speaking of promises, everyone loved your Christmas present to me. Mom cried. My cousin, Kyle, told me that I need to put out for you now.”

I laughed at the absurdity. “Okay, just because I promised to be your best friend until we die, it doesn’t mean that you have to put out. We’ll get there when we get there. Just like with the blowjobs. I’m going to check, double-, and then triple-check with you before we do something like that.”

He sighed and hid his face in my neck. His next question vibrated against my throat. “Is it weird that we’ve been together for, like, five and a half months and we haven’t done anything more than give each other blowjobs? Which only happened, like, a week ago?”

“Seriously Zack, I’m not going to say that we have to have done that stuff at this point in our relationship, because I can’t. It all depends on the people and how they work together.”

He sighed heavily, pressing further against me. “Am I defective?”

“What? Baby, why on Earth would you be defective?”

“Because. I’m… scared to do anything.”

“Baby boy, you’re not defective. It’s okay not to want to do that kind of thing. Again, I’m not here to judge you. I’m not here to pressure you into anything. I’m going to be honest, Zack; I’m scared too.”

“What? That’s not at all what you’re supposed to say to make me feel better!”

I sat up, taking him with me, and turned to face him. I took his hands in mine. “It’s the kind of scared you get when you really love someone and you don’t want to mess things up with them. I had never even thought about being with a guy, sexually, until I realized my feelings for you. I honestly don’t know how any of that works, either. I mean, yeah, I have an idea, but the fact of the matter is that I don’t know what makes you feel good in that department. But I do know that I love you. I love you so much, sometimes it hurts. And whatever happens, be it awkward or amazing or what have you, it’s okay.”

He swallowed the lump in his throat and nodded. “I trust you.”

Another knock sounded at the door before Mom stuck her head in. “I was just coming to tell you that breakfast is ready.”

Zack stood up and helped me to my feet. His fingers gently curled around mine and he led me down to the dining room.

Zack’s mom was drinking a cup of coffee as we came in. She smiled at me. “Hello, Alex. How are you this morning?”

“I’m okay. Not dead, so that’s a plus.” I turned to my mother. “Mom, my ear is killing me right now.”

She stopped what she was doing. “Maybe you have an ear infection and not the flu. I’m going to go call the doctor’s office, see when we can get you an appointment.

“Let’s hope it’s the former,” I murmured.

“Why would you hope for that?” Zack asked.

“Because if it’s an ear infection, I don’t run the risk of getting you ill,” I smiled.

He looked up at me with wonder dancing behind his eyes. “Oh, okay.”

I smiled. “I love you,”

“I love you too.” He kissed my jaw. “I can’t wait until your better.”

Our mothers shared a look, which caused him to blush. Zack’s mom looked at her watch. “I have to go. You’ll be fine?” she asked him.

He pressed into my side. “Yep.”

“Okay, I’ll see you later.” She stood, gathered her purse, kissed his forehead, thanked my mother, and then left. Mom walked into the kitchen to tend to breakfast.

I turned to Zack. “You have to come with me to the doctor’s.”

“Why do I need to go?”

“Because you love me and the doctor’s office gives me anxiety.” I pouted at him. “Pretty please with a blowjob on top?”

He smacked me and hissed, “Alex!”


Mom came in, saving me without even knowing it. She set down two plates in front of Zack and I. “I have scheduled an appointment for three this afternoon. Thankfully, they’re practically appointment-free because no one makes appointments around Christmas. Unless their sons randomly come down with something.” She gave me a pointed look.

I smiled at her and then looked at the time. “Six hours. Ugh, I don’t want to go to the doctor’s.”

“Oh, and because you’re eighteen, you have to fill out some forms because you’re now legally an adult.”

I nodded. “Far enough. But I want Zack to go with me.”

“No!” he cried. “I don’t want to go to a place with lots of sick people.”

“You know, maybe Alexander is right. Some moral support never killed anyone. And I know how much he’s scared of the doctor’s—”

“I’m not scared. I just get bad anxiety when I’m there.”

“Anyway, Zachary, why don’t you go with him to keep him from biting the doctor?”

He gave my mother a wary look. “I’m sorry, what?”

I laughed. “One time, I got so anxious, that I bit the doctor. See, I really need someone there who can naturally calm me down. I need a rock. My rock. I’m sorry, baby boy, but I have to throw you under the bus.”

He rolled his eyes. “You’re really lucky that I love you.”

“Yay! Zack’s going to the doctor with me!” I leaned over and kissed his forehead.

Luckily, the doctor figured out I had an ear infection and I couldn’t infect my boyfriend. The bad part was that I wasn’t given any antibiotics, just a regimen of decongestant and ibuprofen. That meant I was stuck with the God-awful pain of an ear infection for the next few days.

The first thing I did when I got home was change into my pajamas and collapse on my bed. I made grabby hands at Zack and begged for him to snuggle with me, which he did happily.


We were sitting in the library of our school the week before midterms. Zack had some extra studying he needed to do for his Calculus exam. I was just sitting across from him, watching him huff at a problem he didn’t understand. In front of me was my Chemistry textbook, but I hadn’t even opened it yet. Under the table, I hooked my ankle around his. He made a content noise.

“Lex,” he whispered, not looking up.

“I’m going to go buy a drink,” I told him. “Do you want something?”

He hummed as he thought about it. “Kiwi Strawberry Snapple.”

I wouldn’t ever disclose this to Zack, but I absolutely loved when he drank the fruity Snapple drinks because I could always taste it when we kissed. “Okay, baby. I’ll be right back.” I kissed his forehead and walked away.

When I returned, he was staring off into the distance, deep in thought. “What are you thinking about, baby boy?”

“Hm?” His gaze lazily landed on me.

I smiled at him. “What are you thinking so deeply about?”

He bit his lip. “Oh, nothing. Just college stuff.”


He looked down and his fingers played with the promise ring absently. “Can we take a walk?”

“I thought you needed to study?”

“It can wait.” He stuffed his book back in his bag and shrugged it over his shoulder. He dropped his hand into mine and led me out of the library again. He led me to one to the entrances into the school, quartered off by two sets of double doors. He dropped his bag on the floor and leaned against the wall.

I did the same thing. “So what’s on your mind, Beautiful?”

He sighed at me, looking down at the ground. “Alex, I’m wicked scared. I don’t know, it’s just too much to handle right now.”

“What is, Zack?”

He came over to me and kissed me lightly. When he pulled away, his stare focused on my sweater. “Everything. This is our senior year. Our last year stuck here. What’s going to happen… like, next year or whatever?”

“What do you mean?”

He absently rubbed at his ring. “San Diego accepted me. I got my letter last week.”

“That’s great, Zack! I’m so proud of you.” I leaned forward to kiss him but he pulled back. “Babe?”

“Last I knew, you were applying to colleges on the east coast.”

I hadn’t told him about it yet, but after I learned he applied to San Diego, I researched the area for universities near there that had what I was looking for. UCLA was a long shot for me, but I figured what the hell and applied. I wanted to surprise him after him getting his acceptance (because who are we kidding, that kid could get in anywhere), but I had yet to hear from UCLA.


He looked up at me like I held the world in my hands.

But there was nothing I could say to him. Instead, I scooped him up and pulled him against my chest. He started sobbing wildly, defeated. His arms circled around me to secure his spot in my arms.

I kissed the top of his head as I rocked him back and forth. I couldn’t tell him, not yet.

That afternoon, he begged to be left alone as we walked to his house and up onto the porch.

“Baby, are you sure?” I asked gently. Normally when he was sad, all he wanted was to snuggle me. He nodded shortly. I tried to kiss him, but he ducked out of the way again. I sighed. “Zack, I love you. I’ll call you later?”

“Mm, okay,” he mumbled, shutting the door in my face.

When I got home, I was left in this weird funk. Zack’s mood kind of threw me off.

Mom was sitting in the living room with a Cosmopolitan magazine opened on her lap. I huffed as I sat down next to her. “Hello Alexander. What has you huffing like that?”

I sighed. “I don’t know. Zack’s mood kind of got to me.”

“What’s wrong with Zack?”

“He was thinking about college, Mom. And us. College and us. And I don’t know what to think.”

“What about college and you two?”

I sighed heavily again. “He got his acceptance letter to San Diego last week.”

“That’s phenomenal!”

“That’s what I said, but then he said that the last he knew, I applied to east coast schools. He got all sad on me, Mom, and I don’t know what to think. I mean, I haven’t gotten a response from UCLA and I wanted to surprise him if I did get in. But… Mom, he looked so defeated today.”

She nodded, thinking on what I’d said. “Alexander, I honestly don’t think I know what to tell you. From what you’ve told me and knowing your relationship with Zachary, I think he’s scared to lose you if you aren’t close to each other next year.”

I scrubbed at my eyes with the heel of my hands. “That’s ridiculous. He’s not going to lose me.”

“Did you tell him that?”

“Well… no.”

“Why not?”

“Because isn’t it obvious?”

She just shrugged at me.

I groaned and stood up. I made the ten-minute walk to his house. As I did so, I decided to order take out for us. When I got there, I noticed his parents weren’t home. I let myself in and locked the door. I made my way up to his room.

He was watching reruns of Devious Maids, sniffling slightly, as I let myself in. I shrugged off my sweater, pulled the covers back, and settled with him. He jumped a mile when he felt the bed dip. “Holy fuck, Alex! Don’t you fucking knock anymore?”

I curled my arm around him and tried to pull him against me, but he fought me.

“Alex, stop. I seriously want to be alone right now.”

“I know, baby boy. But I needed to talk to you.”

He huffed slightly, drawing the covers to his chin. “Fine,” he grumbled.

“I need you to turn and face me, Zack.”

“Don’t wanna.”

“Please, Zack. This is important.”

He curled in on himself, back still facing me. He sighed heavily. “Alex, we’re not going to work out.”

I reeled away from him, falling off of the bed. I stood up. “Zack—”

“We need to break up.”

“No, Zack—”

“You need to leave, Alex.”

“Zack, please—”

“Seriously, Alex. Go away.”

“Zachary Steven Merrick,” I growled. “You need to listen to me and not interrupt me.”

He turned to face me, a surprised look stretched across his gorgeous features.

I immediately dropped the act. I sat down on his bed. “Zack, I don’t want to break up with you. I don’t think I could handle that right now. You mean more to me than I can describe.” I stopped momentarily.

“Alex, please,” he whispered.

“No, it’s my turn to talk. Now, my mother thinks that you’re afraid to lose me come next year.”

“I am. That’s why we can’t be boyfriends anymore. It’ll be easier if we’re just best friends.”

“No. Stop… just stop lying to yourself.” I reached over and took his hand in mine. He barely let himself hold my hand. “Look, I’m terrified of what next year has in store for us. Yes, I am. But I don’t want to break up because of some stupid ‘what if.’ We… you are so strong and stubborn and there’s no way you can lose me. You’re my best friend, my boyfriend… my other half. I need you in my life more than you know; that’s saying something. Now, you’re going to San Diego. You deserve that. You’re so smart; the only way you could possibly be stupid is if you didn’t go. I wanted to surprise you, but you kind of blew a gasket before I got the news; I applied to UCLA, in the lame attempt that I might actually get in. I haven’t heard back yet unfortunately. Whatever happens with college plans, I don’t want you to change. Because I want you forever. I want you forever and a day. That is, of course, if you weren’t serious about breaking up with me.”

“Of course I don’t want to break up with you. But I’m just so scared and I didn’t know what to do.” He pulled me close and hugged me.

“Baby, why are you scared?”

“What if we drift apart?”

“We’ve been attached by the hip since sixth grade, Zack. That bond is going to stay, regardless of miles between us.” I sighed as my nose nudged his jawline. “I’m yours for as long as I can keep your heart.”

“So… like, forever?” he giggled.

I smiled down at him. “Fuck yeah.”


“So Gayskank.”

I turned to look at Vic, Kellin perched on his lap as the Mexican ran his fingers up the dark-haired boy’s spine. “Vicky, I know you still want my dick, but your flattery doesn’t do anything for me.”

He rolled his eyes at me. “I was going to suggest that Kellin and I should go on a double date with you and Zack.”

A double date with the Sexican and his boy toy…. It honestly sounded like a bad idea, but the way the small, raven-haired boy pouted at me had me rethinking that.

“I’ll bring it up to Zack. What do you have in mind?”

“You mean aside from getting high and ravaging Kellin’s body?” That made Kellin blush and smack Vic lightly. “I don’t know. I was thinking since it’s almost his birthday, we could go to dinner this Friday. After, I’m ravaging Kellin’s body.” Again, he was slapped. “Whatever you and Zack do after is up to you.”

“I’ll ask him about it later.”

“No, you have to do it now. Right now, Gayskank.”

“He’s not going to respond until lunch, and by then we can just ask him.”

Vic sighed dramatically. “Fine, whatever.”

Kellin shifted in Vic’s lap, hiding his face in his shoulder. He leaned up and whispered something in the Mexican’s ear. Vic laughed deep in his throat and I knew it was something sexual. That’s just how their relationship worked. Kellin stood up and walked out of the classroom. The tanned man hung back for a minute or two, taking the time to interrogate me.

“So you and Zack….”

“What about me and Zack?”

“Well, have you, you know, gotten the ‘D’ yet?” He wiggled his eyebrow for emphasis.

“Oh my God, that’s not something I’m ever going to disclose to you.”

“So you haven’t yet.” It wasn’t a question.

“I’m just saying that you may be my friend, but you’re not my best friend, nor my boyfriend. You don’t need to know every single detail of my life.”

“Jesus Christ, Alex. It’s a simple question. Don’t get your panties in a twist.” He smirked at me then. “You know, you seem stressed; sex is a great stress reliever.”

“Vic, stop.”

He held his hands up in defeat. “Whatever, man. I’m just dicking around.” He stood from his seat. “I gotta take a piss. I’ll see you at lunch.” He walked out of the room, stopping to smirk back at me as he disappeared.

I hated Vic, I really did sometimes.

At lunch, Kellin and Vic couldn’t stop smiling at each other, leaving the pale boy to blush every other second. Zack hadn’t showed up yet, leaving me boyfriend-less and to fend for myself as the two idiot lovebirds made eyes at each other. I swear, I could have vomited right then and there.

Suddenly a set of hands covered my eyes — and no, I didn’t scream like a little girl. There was giggling above me as a body pressed against my back. “Hi, Alex,” Zack chuckled.

I turned around to face him, but he kept my eyes covered. “Hello, darkness.”

“You’re an ass,” he accused.

“Guilty. So why are you covering my eyes?”

“Did you know when you lose one sense, the others accommodate the disability?”

“Listen to you, all smart.”

“I should smack you, but I kind of like this experiment.”

I reached my hands up to ones covering my eyes.

“Ah, ah, Alex. Not fair,” he admonished playfully.

I closed my eyes, even though he was covering them. I gently squeezed his hands before following his forearms up to his shoulders, circling around his elbows. “I’m going to stand up.”

“Um, okay?”

I carefully did so, trailing my hands across his collarbones and feeling where his shirt started. My fingers traveled up his neck, feeling his Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed. My thumbs curved over his chin, over plump pink lips that wavered slightly as my caress passed over them, dipping into his philtrum — “Goodness, what big philtrum you have!” I laughed —, to his cheekbones, the hollow of his eyes, the ridge of his nose, the protrusion of his thick eyebrows, to the backwards hat resting upon his head. I smiled at him as my thumbs brushed back to his lips. “I want to kiss you,” I told him.

I felt his lips pull back slightly into a smirk. Okay, he mouthed against the pads of my digits.

I slid my foot across the small space between us, gently jamming it into his, before moving so it was in between his. I leaned my head back slightly as our chests pressed together — I didn’t want to smack my face on his accidentally as I aligned our bodies. His heartbeat was even, beating under my pinky fingers, warm breath fanning across my mouth and chin lightly.

They were feathers against my own, his lips; soft and delicate even though I wanted to kiss him firmly. It felt amazing not to rush this with him. He had complete control of this situation, everything from my sight to the forcefulness of our kiss.

When he pulled away from my lips, I sighed happily. “That’s fantastic,” I muttered. I traced the contours of his face again. Even in my temporary blindness, I was able to express to him, “I see you.”

His lips pulled back into a smile. “I see you.”

There was a certain awkward cough from behind me. “What the hell did we just witness?” Vic asked.

Zack went to pull away from my eyes, but I covered his hands with mine. I smiled at him. “Not yet,” I begged.

I felt his lips on my forehead. “All right, babe.”

I just stood there, facing him. I could feel the way our bodies swayed. I smiled at nothing in particular. A few minutes passed until I nodded and signaled that we could stop.

We both hesitated to pull away from each other. Zack removed his hands from my eyes and I blinked away the blinding light. I smiled up at him. “Thank you.”

We sat down and looked across the table at some dumbstruck Mexicans, and Kellin.

“Again,” Vic muttered. “What the hell did we just witness?”

I shrugged. “Sometimes you have to put all your trust into that person, you know?” I smiled at Zack.

Vic cleared his throat. “Okay. Well anyway….”

I gently pressed my palm into Zack’s thigh. “Kellin and Vic invited us on a double date.”


“Do you want to go?”

“I don’t know. When?”

“Friday,” the pale boy told my boyfriend.

Zack nudged my knee with his. “Saturday is my birthday,” he whispered.

I kissed his jaw. “I’m giving you the option, baby boy. If you don’t want to go, we don’t have to.”

“I want to think about it.”

“That’s fine.” I leaned toward him again and kissed his chin. He turned so he could press his lips to mine properly. I smiled against him.

Kellin cleared his throat. “So the consensus is?”

“I’m gonna think on it,” Zack told him. “I’ll tell you by Thursday morning?”

“Sure, no problem.”

When we got to my house that afternoon, he curled up on my bed and smiled up at me. He pulled me down with him. His limbs carefully tangled with mine, his lips finding mine. We spent a good ten minutes making out, not necessarily in a rush to do anything.

He carefully — I use the term carefully because there have been times when his elbows had pinned my stomach as he moved — turned over so I was spooning him. His fingers linked with mine and rested on his stomach.

“I’m thinking I just want a night in,” he whispered.

“That’s fine, Zack. They’ll understand.”

“I’m sleepy now, Alex.”

“Take a nap, babe.”

“I will.” He pressed back into me, making sure I wasn’t going to go anywhere. He sighed in content and squeezed my hand.

About ten minutes later, I thought he had passed out, but he cleared his throat. “Um. Alex?”

I nuzzled the nape of his neck. “Yeah, babe?”

“Why are there… why is there a box of condoms on your dresser?”

I looked across my room to the condoms my mom had bought as a Christmas gift. “Oh. Mom got me those back in December. I just didn’t bother putting them away.”


I stood up and walked over to the dresser, sticking the box in my sock drawer. “Better?”

“I was just curious. Because it was kind of like a subliminal message. But… does your mom know that we haven’t done anything other than that one time?”

I went back to him. “She just wanted to harass me. It’s a gag gift. I did tell her that we were waiting.”

“You’re waiting,” he clarified.

“So are you, baby. And I’ve told you before, that’s fine. I’m not in a rush.” I curled around him. “Now can you take a nap?”

He nodded. “I guess so.”

I laughed. “Good boy.”

He snuggled back against me, pulling the duvet up to his chin. “Alex, you really are the best boyfriend I’ve ever had.”

I knew I wasn’t Zack’s first boyfriend. I did, however, know that I was the first person he was intimate with. And I silently hated the boy who wanted anything more than to make Zack happy. “Only the best for you.”

He grew silent again. Until: “Alex?” He’d waited another ten minutes to say anything.

“Yes baby?” I laughed.

“Today at lunch….” He took a deep breath. “I really liked that.”

“Me too, Zack.” My hand curled around his. “It was nice to just feel you for once.”

He hung his head slightly; I could tell he was hiding a blush. “It was… weird.”

“I was able to see you in a different light, per se. It was a wonderful experiment. I’m really happy that we did that.”

I swear, sometimes this kid didn’t realize how amazing he was.


Saturday morning, I was up and letting myself into Zack’s house by seven. I crept upstairs into his room and settled on the bed with him. Even asleep, he curled up against me, his heavy head resting on my shoulder. I was able to fall asleep with him for the time being.

He shifted awake around ten, looking mildly confused as to how I could be there with him when clearly I spent the most terrible night away from him. “Mm, Alex; what are you doing here?” He pressed his face into my chest as his fingers splayed across the fabric of my shirt.

“Well, I figured since it’s your birthday, and I’m your boyfriend, we could do something.”

He sniffled quietly, and I quickly cut him off. “Why are you sniffling?”

“It’s just because it’s early morning. Nothing bad, Alex. Calm down.”

I kissed his jaw. “If you’re going to lie to me, you should try to sound a little surer of yourself.”

He laughed. “You’re an asshole.”

“While that may be, I’m still concerned as to what has you crying.”

He sighed. “Last night, I realized that this school year is almost over. That’s such a scary thought.”


“Yeah, so anyway. I think my parents want to take me out for lunch. But we can definitely do something after that.”

A knock sounded at the door and his mother pushed into the room. “Oh Alex; hi!”

“Hello, Mrs. Merrick.”

“When did you get here?”


She smiled, knowing that I let myself in. “Well Zack, I made breakfast.” She set the tray she brought his breakfast onto the dresser. “So I was thinking that we could take you boys to lunch.”

“Mrs. Merrick, you don’t have to invite me. This is Zack’s birthday.”

“I want you to be there,” Zack told me, taking my hand in his.

“Alex, it’s seriously okay. I know how much Zack would want you with him,” his mother laughed. “It’s not that big a deal. You’ve been a part of this family since you were in sixth grade.” She turned and left us alone.

I turned to my boyfriend. “Seriously, can I feed you?” I asked him.

“You’re weird,” he informed me.

I gently tugged on the finger that was home to the ring I bought him. “Okay, and? So can I feed you?”

“I suppose you can, but this can’t turn into anything weird. You can’t make noises like the mother from The Incredibles when she’s feeding the baby.”

I stood up and grabbed the tray. “Okay, you’re not six months old. You may be adorable; but that’s a little weird. Like, a daddy kink or something.” I set the tray over his lap and curled up next to him.

And no, I didn’t make weird faces at him while I fed him.

“You’re doing it again,” Zack muttered as he took a sip of orange juice.

“No I’m not.”

He giggled at me. “Yes you are. It’s kind of cute.”

I focused on the fork as I brought another bite of scrambled eggs to his mouth. Without thinking, I told him, “You are kind of cute.”

“Only kind of?” he pouted.

“Sorry, I wasn’t thinking. I said that as if it was an insult. But you’re more than kind of cute. You’re the epitome of gorgeous.”

He blushed and ducked his head. “Shut up.”

I gently lifted his chin for him to look at me. “Zack, it’s the truth. Everything about you is beautiful.”

He leaned back on the pillows and pulled the covers over his head. “Stop! You’re making me blush!”

I moved the tray off his lap and straddled him. I began tickling him. My fingers dug into the curve of his waist and across his stomach.

“Alex!” he squeaked. “Ah-Alex, stop! Oh my God!”

I continued nonetheless until he wasn’t making any more noise, even though he was still laughing. Then I pulled back, taking his duvet with me.

“Oh my God, my stomach hurts from laughing!” he accused.

As he calmed down, he locked gazes with me. I smiled down at him as an arm circled his stomach.

“C’mere,” he murmured, curling a finger at me. His hands curved around my neck and gently tugged me down so our lips were almost touching. “Hi,” he giggled up at me.

“Hi, baby boy.”

“I just… kinda wanna….” He closed the small gap between us and pressed his lips to mine. He tasted like orange juice and burnt toast. And it wasn’t necessarily a bad combination. “Mm, okay,” he muttered.

I smiled against his lips. My hand cupped his jaw as the other rested my weight on his chest. I pressed my mouth to his again. “Come on, let’s get the day started, shall we?” I went to pull away from him, but he stopped me.

“No, I wanna stay here all day with you.”

I laughed, not at the idea — I definitely wouldn’t turn down that offer in any other scenario — but because he pouted up at me to try and get his way. I kissed him once more and then pulled away. “We can snuggle all you want after you celebrate with your family. I would be a terrible boyfriend if I let you do otherwise.”

“You’re a terrible boyfriend anyway,” he quipped.

I faux-gasped. “Zack!”

He folded his arms over his chest. “That’s what you get for not snuggling me.”

“Don’t be a pain, baby boy.”

“Are you really going to make me cry?”

He knew I hated to see him cry, so he was using that to his advantage. I pushed back from him. “Nope, stop.” I turned away. “Stop it.”

“Alex,” he pouted. “Are you really going to make me hang out with my family all day?” He pawed at my chest. “Please don’t make me do that. Please!”

“I’m will bend you over my knee and spank you if you don’t stop complaining.”

“And what if I like being spanked?” he asked, biting his lip.

“Nope, okay; I’m done.” I pushed off his bed, taking the duvet with me. “I’ll be downstairs.”

The thought alone of bending Zack over my knee and spanking him was enough to make my dick hard. And the way he was so innocent in asking about if he liked it… my God. That boy would be the death of me, I’m sure.

When he finally trudged downstairs, dressed in a pair of skinny jeans, a gray tee that stretched taut against his pecs, and that infamous hat, he glared at me. “I hate you,” he told me as he sidled up to me. He lips brushed against my cheek.

“I know you’re not happy about getting out of bed, but look at how happy your parents are.”

“Happy birthday, Zack! What do you want to do today?” his mother asked.

“I want to snuggle the shit out of Alex all day,” he grumbled.

His mother sent him a pointed look. “I realize that, but we’re only asking that we can take you out for lunch. Plus, he’s coming with us. You’re going to have all day with him.”

“See?” I told him.

“It’s more than just Alex.”

“Oh thanks.”

“Well apparently, I can’t have my cake and eat it too,” he accused. He rolled his eyes. “Snuggling. That is pretty much everything I want. Now, snuggling Alex would be better. But, you know, I’ll take what I can get.”

I kissed his forehead. “Thank you.”

“You owe me. And now I’m going to be thinking of what you should repay me with all day.” He looked so smug.

When lunchtime rolled around, his parents took him out to his favorite diner. It was a small, hole in the wall kind of place that, unless you know it’s there, you wouldn’t find. I’m kind of proud to say that we had found it on one of our, maybe it’s a date, maybe we just want a kids’ day, adventures. I loved how we could get lost and find these treasures.

“This is quaint,” his mother stated as we sat down and looked at the menu. “I don’t think I’ve ever been here before.”

He grinned discreetly at me. I lightly slapped his leg as a warning. He just giggled then, leaning over and kissing me lightly. He leaned his head in the crook of my neck and looked at his parents. They were staring back at us, his mother smiling widely. She really did love how much I cared for her son. Now his father was usually a hard man to crack; but he, too, was beaming. He shared a look of pure joy with me before looking away.

My hand absently went to his hair, which he had been able to style so it didn’t look as crazy as it usually did. He made a content noise at my gesture.

Little things like this made me appreciate my boyfriend a little more every day.

After lunch, his parents were able to convince him to walk around the stores with them. He seemed a little more okay with that, as he didn’t complain when he was dragging me to the windows and pointing inside excitedly. At one point, he was able to whisper in my ear how he was thankful I was his boyfriend and that he loved me.

We separated from his parents long enough to go to my house. My parents were more than ecstatic to wish Zack a happy birthday with a hug and kiss. I was talking to my father briefly when my boyfriend excused himself to the bathroom. He returned with a happy grin on his face.

We got back to his house around three in the afternoon and he was more than ready for a nap. We both were, really. He immediately crawled out of his pants and onto the bed, waiting for me to pick up the clothing and then join him. He immediately tangled our legs and drowned us in sheets.

Our nap lasted about four hours. As we slowly came to, giving each other a bunch of weird looks and smiles, we didn’t hear any noise from his parents. We went down to the living room to see that we were alone. There was a note on the counter that said something like, ‘went out for a while. Love mom and dad,’ but we didn’t pay any attention to it.

I reached into the fridge as I asked Zack what he wanted for dinner. He responded with French toast. I smiled and kissed his forehead. Dinner was quick to be made and eaten. After, we went to the living room to see if there was anything worth watching. We ended up watching the last hour of Miss Congeniality. Zack has this thing for Sandra Bullock, I don’t know. But I was okay with it if it meant curling up with the buff boy and watching chick flicks.

At the end of the movie, Zack shut the T.V. off and stood from the couch. He held out his hands for me to take so he could lift me out of the black hole his couch is. He shut the light off and pulled me upstairs. He didn’t bother turning his light on as he stepped in, closing the door behind me.

I leaned over and kissed his forehead. “Happy birthday.”

His hands caught my shirt, pulling me against him. He leaned in and kissed me proper before we fell back onto the bed. As I scooted back, he was quick to climb over me. His mouth pressed against the skin of my neck, moving up to the sensitive spot behind my ear, back to my mouth.

It was easy to see where this was going. The only time Zack is this dominant was when he needed to get off on me or something. His favorite thing was particularly hard grinding of our lower halves, like he started doing as I was thinking about it. I honestly loved to see him when he was this confident. It really did fit him so well.

I lolled my head back and moaned, giving him an excuse to kiss my throat, even biting into the squishy flesh there. A hard thrust pinned my hips down and I gasped. “Zack! Ugh, more.”

It’s funny, really, that over the course of our relationship, we kind of traded roles; normally, I would have been the one grinding on him. But in this moment of him pushing his hips into mine and hearing the happy noises he made, I decided that I wouldn’t have it any other way. This was about him today.

Plus, horny Zack noises were the best thing to have breathed into your ear, I swear. There was nothing more beautiful than that.

I tugged on the hem of his shirt, silently asking him if that was okay. He pulled back momentarily to take it off, as well as his boxers. I took this moment to remove my extra pieces of clothing, leaving us to ogle each other lovingly.

Zack looked so beautiful standing at the foot of his bed, on full display for me. His hand was around his dick, stroking himself lightly. His eyes were clouded over with lust. “Lex.”

I quirked an eyebrow at him. “Yes baby?”

And the confidence left just as quick as it surfaced. “I want… I want to h-have sex with you.” He bit his lip and looked at the floor.

And if my heart didn’t swell…. I wiggled my finger at him. “Come here baby boy.” He quickly climbed up beside me. I cupped his cheek and looked at him for a moment. I leaned in to kiss him. “Zack—”

Before I could even ask him, he was quick to say, “And yes, I’m sure. Don’t you dare ask me that damned question.”

I tunneled my hand through his hair, coming to rest on his jaw. “While that was a concern, I have to ask; top or bottom?”

He shied away from me again. “I was kind of, um, hoping to top.”

In my lame attempt to make him less shy, I simply stated, “Okay. Do you have a condom and lube?”

He nodded, reaching over me into the nightstand. He hit me in the chest with the lube and then went to find his pants. I gave him a strange look. “You didn’t think I actually had to use the bathroom at your house, did you?”

I smiled. “You broke into the gag gift from my mother?”

“It’s not a gag gift now,” he smirked. He came back to the bed and set the condom beside me. His cheeks flamed pink again. “I, um, don’t want to mess this up for you.”

“Seriously Zack, this, you and I figuring it out, absolutely cannot be messed up. I promise you.”

“I just want you so bad, Lex. And I want everything to be perfect.” He pushed his lips to mine roughly. He maneuvered so his thigh was between my legs, giving me a great, sturdy object to dry hump.

As my mind was telling me to grind the fuck out of his leg and forget even trying to talk, I breathed, “I want you too, and it will be perfect if we get somewhere.”

He laughed. “Okay, well you need to unwrap your legs from around my thigh, first of all. Then, I need you to lay onto your back.”

I quickly disentangled myself from him and settled back on the pillows. Luckily for me, the past couple of nights were spent reading up (read, watching porn) on this whole “gay sex” thing. So I knew what to expect, at this point of the game. I spread my legs, enough for him to rest comfortably between them. I watched him as he put a generous amount of lube on his fingers. His tongue gently poked out from between his lips as he concentrated on lubing his digits.

“It’s cold,” he muttered absently, moving my hips so he could access me a little better. He brought his fingers to my entrance.

And, okay, I giggled at how cold the substance actually was.

Zack looked up at me with a worried expression plastered on his face. “You okay?” I felt his hand move away.

“Baby, I’m fine. That was just a giggle, because that really is cold.”

“We can stop—”

“No, it’s fine. Keep going.”

This time, as he lightly touched his fingers to my entrance, I held back the giggle. I knew he could tell that I was dying to laugh. Instead, he pushed passed the ring of muscles, earning a squawk from my lips. My body immediately tensed around the individual intrusion. My breathing picked up on its own accord. But I knew that I couldn’t be tense.

“I need you to relax, Alex.”

“I know. I just wasn’t expecting that.”

He almost removed his finger from inside me. “We can stop—”

“Zack, I’m seriously okay.”

“I know. I’m just making sure.”

“I love you.”

There was more than just an “I love you” in those words. Yes, I was expressing all my pent-up feelings toward him and how much I cared about him. I was also trying to tell him that I trusted him, no matter the outcome.

He seemed to breathe a little easier, and nodded at me. “I love you too.”

He returned his attention to the appendage pressed into me. The concentration written on his face was too funny. His tongue pressed out against his lips again as his eyebrows scrunched together. He pulled his finger back, and pressed a second alongside it as he pushed back in.

The adrenaline running through my body was enough to drown out any discomfort I might have felt, until a third finger joined inside me. It was just a thoroughly disturbing feeling, you know? Seriously, what was so fantastic about having someone else’s fingers up your ass?

That is, until, a shot of pure electric bliss buzzed through me on one of his easy pushes in. “Holy shit! Oh fuck!” I gasped, my body tensing from the pleasure.

Zack’s free hand went to my stomach, right below my belly button, as a grin stretched across his lips. Even if I hadn’t felt anything amazing, the look on his face would’ve been enough. That smile is the one thing I never want to see dim. “I think…” he began, licking his lips slightly. “I think I found it.”

“What? What did you find?” Maybe I was a bit of a hypochondriac.

“Your prostate. Don’t worry, it’s supposed to feel good.”

“Well whatever you did, do it again,” I begged.

He carefully pushed his fingers inside me again, prodding slightly until I felt that intense pleasure again. I moaned out loud. It felt like my whole body was vibrating against his fingers.

I don’t know how long I was there, writhing against the sheets. All I know is that when he removed his fingers, I nearly slapped him for robbing me of the pleasure. I was quickly silenced as I saw him reach for the condom. He rolled it over himself and slicked lube over his dick. He curled his hands under my thighs and repositioned me.

It hit me that this was finally happening. I realized that the shaking of my thighs was because I was more nervous than I allowed Zack to know.

His palm ran up my stomach as he positioned himself against my entrance. Without a second thought, he pressed into me.

I nearly cried out as a singe of pain spiked through me. But the way Zack’s eyes rolled back in pleasure was all I needed to stay quiet.

“Holy shit,” I whispered. “That’s definitely not like your fingers.”

He laughed as his fingers pinched my nipple on their way up to my hair. He leaned down and kissed me, movements not ceasing until he was nestled firmly inside me. “Baby, relax,” he whispered, nipping at my earlobe. “It’ll feel better once you do.”

I suppose I just had to trust him at this point, even though there was no ‘feeling better’ at this point, at least as far as I was concerned.

He kissed me again, pressing firm against my mouth and tasting me. Just as I was beginning to forget that he was still balls deep, he started moving. It was shallow at first, his thrusts. I could get used to that, I figured. It was slow and easy. I could do slow and easy. And I guess it felt good.

Somewhere in there, he brushed up against the spot that had me moaning. Suddenly all thoughts of this sucking were swiped away. Zack just grinned down at me. “There we go,” he whispered to himself as his thrusts went deeper. He didn’t necessarily hit my prostate every time, but it sure as hell felt like it, what with the agony coming to a close and being replaced with raw pleasure.

It didn’t take Zack long before he was groaning in my ear and whimpering the fact that he was coming. His forehead pressed against the crook of my neck as he continued to move inside me. I could feel my stomach pitch as he moaned in my ear. Like I said, horny Zack noises were one of the best things to get off to.

He seemed to sense that I was close and pulled out of me once he’d rode out his high. Twice. I nearly slapped him twice.

But he was settled between my legs before I could complain. The warm, wet cavern that was his mouth slid down my dick, his nose nestled right against my V. He hummed around me, making every nerve ending in my body buzz. My back arched off the bed as my hand went down to his hair. Now, I’m not selfish, per se, when it comes to head, but I may have held him down for a second. He, however, took it like a champ even though this shouldn’t have been about me.

With that in mind, I released my grasp on him. He barely pulled off me to take a breath before going down again. He swallowed around me before coming back up to focus on my tip. His hands went down to my balls. The combination of sucking and fondling was enough for me and I was coming down his throat with a high whimper.

He pulled back as he swallowed, smiling up at me. He looked so happy with himself as he reached over the edge of the bed to pick up our boxers. He pulled mine up my legs for me and settled into his, then climbed under the covers with me and curled up against me.

I was still breathing heavy and coming down from my high. All I could think of was, “Wow.”

He giggled and pressed his nose to my neck. “You looked beautiful, all strung out and horny underneath me,” he commented, hot lips moving against my skin.

I turned to look at him. “Zacky….”


“I love you so much.”

He linked his fingers with mine and kissed my knuckles. “I love you too, Alex.”

I closed my eyes and yawned, trying to think of something that wasn’t how Zack had felt moving inside me. I just wanted to sleep now. Sleep was good. I peeled my eyes open to look at the time. It was just after ten.

I’m glad I wasn’t the only one thinking sleep was a great idea; I heard Zack snore lightly, face snuggled against my chest. I drew the covers up around us and closed my eyes. For some reason, I really liked this moment, pressed against my boyfriend after sex. It was really a nice thing to fall asleep to.

I woke up sometime later to Zack pressing his hand into my stomach. “Alex, wake up.”

I pushed myself away from him. “Nuh-uh, too early.”

“Come on, I’m horny. Wake up.”

I rubbed my eyes. “What time is it?”

“Like, three in the morning.”

“You couldn’t just jerk off in the bathroom?” I asked, opening my eyes against the darkness.


“Why not?”

It suddenly grew too quiet behind me, on his side of the bed. I heard him breathe in. “I kind of wanted to have sex again.”

The way he got all quiet and shy at the end of his sentence made it almost impossible for me to say no to him. Almost.

“Zack, it’s three in the morning.”

“I know. But I wanted to know what it was like to bottom.”

Okay, I’ll admit I’m a little selfish. The promise of Zack bottoming was too good to be true. I turned over and faced him. He pouted up at me. “You want to bottom?”

He nodded, still doing his best to goad me into it. And it didn’t take me too long to decide that hell yeah I wanted to top him. Again, call me selfish.

“As long as you’re up for it?” I asked, wanting to give him an out.

“Seriously Alex, I wouldn’t suggest anything I don’t want. Seeing you under me tonight made me want to.”

I leaned our foreheads together. “I just want to make sure.”

He laughed. “Sometimes, you just have to trust me the first time I say something.” He pressed his lips to mine and moved so he was laying on his back.

I took up the spot between his legs, leaning down to kiss his stomach. “I love you, Zack.”

His knees trembled against my hips. “I love you.


On Monday, as soon as we walked into school, Zack ran down the hall and disappeared.

Vic came up to me about five minutes later and leaned on the locker next to mine. “Your boyfriend’s gossiping with Kellin, if you were wondering.” He smirked at me.

“Well, thank you for that. You can stop smirking at me like that now. It’s weird.”

He chuckled. “So you got the ‘D’.”

“Why are you so adamant about me having sex with Zack?”

“Well, I just overheard a buff little birdie telling a black-haired birdie that you did.”


He smiled and nodded at me. “Okay, so he’s going to be pissed off if he ever finds out I told you this: He came to us a few days ago asking how he should initiate it, so of course he’s going to tell us it worked. But look on the bright side, you got laid.”

“I don’t know if I should beat you to a pulp or not.”

He threw his hands up. “Hey, without my expertise, he would still be wondering how to seduce you.” His infamous smirk returned. “And think about it this way; because I gave your pretty little virgin boyfriend advice on how to get into your pants, it’s almost as if I got into your pants too.”

“I changed my mind, I’m going to beat you.”

He took off before I could take a step toward him. His presence was replaced with Zack’s. He looked good with a smile stretched across his lips.

“Hi baby,” I grinned, kissing his forehead.

He nuzzled his nose into my neck, pressing me back against the lockers and stepping flush to me. “Hi,” he giggled. “So you’re coming over tonight.” It wasn’t a question, but a statement I knew I’d answer.

“Yes sir.”


When we walked home that afternoon and into the kitchen, his mother was sitting at the breakfast island and blushing furiously down at her hands. “Hi Mom,” he smiled, kissing her cheek.

She nearly jumped a mile. “Oh, hello Zack.”

“Hi Mom,” I copied, going to kiss her cheek as well.

She ducked away with a laugh. “Not going to happen, Alex.”


“So how are you?” Zack asked.

She blushed again. “I’m good.”

“Why are you blushing so much?”

“Oh! Um….” That caused her cheeks to flare up again.

“Seriously, it can’t be that bad,” Zack prodded.

She fanned her face. “Well, I was, um, getting the trash together today. And I, yeah.”

“What, Mom?”

She hid her face in her hand. “I found the used condoms in your trash.”

Zack laughed, instead of getting all awkward. “Seriously Mom, why is that more embarrassing for you than it is for me?”

“I don’t know! I mean, I was okay with you telling me about the blowjobs.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

She shrugged. “Maybe. I don’t know.”

Zack sat down next to her, placing his hand on hers. “Okay. Mom, I had sex with Alex on Saturday. I was ready and we were safe about it; his mom bought him condoms for Christmas as a joke. I made sure to grab a couple before we came back here. Do you have any questions or concerns for me?”

“Not that I can think of. I mean, was it at least good?”

I blushed at that. I’d arrogantly assumed that it was just as good for him as he had been for me, but we hadn’t talked about it.

Zack chuckled. “It surpassed all my expectations. Anything else?”

She sighed. “I can’t really be mad at you. I know you’re gay, that’s not a shock; I know Alex really loves you, that’s not the problem; and I know you boys were safe, I can’t freak out about you doing it if you were at least safe with each other. You two are all grown up.”

“Mom, I love you.”

“I love you too, Zack.”

He stood up. “We’re gonna go to my room now.”

“Okay baby. Alex, are you staying for dinner?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Zack took my hand in his and led me upstairs. He flopped back on his bed and looked up at me, smiling at the pink hue that still decorated my cheeks. He sat up and pulled me toward him so I was standing between his legs. He pressed his face to my stomach, kissing me lightly. “Alex….”

I kissed the top of his head and curled my fingers into his hair. I lifted his chin so he locked gazes with me. I leaned down and met him for a kiss. He tasted like strawberry milk and Lays Sour Cream and Onion chips. I’m not entirely sure how I felt about that.

Nonetheless, he smiled against my lips, hands going up to fist into my hair. He gently pulled me down so I was on my knees in front of him. He nudged his nose against the nape of my neck, tone arms circling around me to keep me trapped against him.

That’s how his mother found us when dinner was ready, just embracing each other. We turned at the sound of her gasp. Her mouth was covered by her hand and tears brimmed at her eyes.

“Mom, why are you crying?” Zack asked, pulling away slightly.

She waved a hand at us. “Nothing. Don’t worry.”

“Seriously Mom.” He went over to her.

“You two are just so precious. I can’t help but get emotional about it.” She fanned her eyes. “Okay, I came up here to tell you dinner is ready. But take your time.” She turned and left the room.

Zack looked over at me, confusion written on his face.

“I don’t know. Mom is weird,” I explained.

He laughed and rolled his eyes at me. “Be that as it may, come on. Dinner is ready.”

I looked at the time. “Wait a minute.” I stood and reached into my bag. “We were too busy embracing each other earlier that I completely forgot to give you this.” I pulled out an envelope from my bag and held it out to him upside down. “Happy Belated Birthday Zachary.”

He warily reached for it.

“It’s not going to bite you, baby,” I coaxed.

He took it from me and flipped it over. “This is from UCLA….”

I nodded. “Go on. Open it.”

The smile that stretched across his mouth was one of pure excitement. He pulled out the letter and read it out loud. “Dear Mr. Gaskarth; I am delighted to inform you that the Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid has voted to offer you a….’” His narration died off as tears welled in his eyes. He dropped the papers and shrieked as he jumped into my arms. “Oh my God! I’m so proud of you.”

After a few moments of him kissing my face and neck, he dropped down. “Oh my God, I have to go tell my mom.” He picked up my letter and then took off for the kitchen. “Mom! Mom! Mom! Oh my God, Mom! Mommy! MOM!

I followed in the wake of my excited boyfriend. I found him in the kitchen, jumping up and down in front of her.

“Zack, calm down. What’s wrong?” Her gaze landed on me, a playful glare written into her expression. “You broke my child.”

I walked over to Zack and took his shoulders in my grasp. “Zack, hey. I know you’re excited, but you’re really freaking out your mother.”

He stopped bouncing and took a deep breath. “Oh my God Mom Alex got into UCLA that means he’s going there in the fall isn’t that so exciting Mom that’s so exciting that means we’ll be like two hours away from each other and can see each other and it’s not that scary anymore and oh my God Alex got into UCLA Mom! Mom!

It came out in a rush of vowels and consonants without any breathing in between sentences.

His mother took a second to thoroughly digest what Zack had just word vomited at her. “Oh my God, Alex! That’s so wonderful! Oh my goodness. Does your mother know?”

“Yes, of course. I opened the letter yesterday at home. That's why I gave it to Zack after you returned down here. A belated birthday present.”

She sent me a knowing look. “Yes, because we all know what your actual birthday present to him was,” she giggled.

“Mom!” Zack blushed.

“I’m sorry. You had to know there were going to be jokes about it sooner or later.” She turned to me. “I’m so very proud of you, Alex. You deserved this.” She hugged me tightly. “Now, go wash up, dinner will get cold.”

Zack was so excited, he was practically vibrating in his seat as we ate dinner with his parents. Of course he told his father as soon as he got home. The elder Merrick smiled at me. “Well congratulations, Alex. That is good news.”

“Dad,” Zack accused, “that’s not just good news. It’s great. Wonderful! Alex will be two hours away from me. Now I don’t have to freak out about him being three thousand miles away.”

“Zack, I’m fully aware of the implications of him going to UCLA. But on a less selfish level, it’s good news.”

“Forget less selfish. Alex and I aren’t going to be separated by a bazillion miles!”

I couldn’t help but smile at him. Little things like this, I swear, made me fall in love with him more every single day.

The next day at lunch, Zack bragged about it to our friends.

“You know what that means,” Vic laughed. Zack just gave him a questioning look. Vic rolled his eyes. “Never mind. Your little virgin mind can’t handle it.”

“But I’m not a virgin anymore!”

“Forget I even said anything. I’m just happy you two are going to be fairly close to each other. You should see how lost Alex is here when you stay home for a day.”

“I’m not lost,” I tried. “I just don’t want to face you and Kellin fucking each other at lunch alone. I need moral support.”

“Even so, you can’t go five minutes without talking to each other when you’re not attached at the hip. I swear, you two are going to get married and have a shit ton of kids.”

“Well, we can’t necessarily have a shit ton,” Zack protested. “Do you know how hard it is to keep this form?” He placed his hand on his hip and pouted at us.

Everyone stopped to look at him, noticed the serious look on his face, and then burst into laughter.

“What? I’m serious!”

I pulled him against my hip and kissed his forehead. “Zack, I love you so much.”

“You better,” was all he threatened. He leaned up and pressed his lips to the underside of my chin.


It seemed that before I could even blink, the first semester of my second year had. I was in too much of a tizzy to point myself straight.

Luckily for me, Zack was the one thing that stayed the same. He was the one thing that kept me from going postal. Every weekend, we travelled to see each other, spending as much time as we possibly could snuggled against each other, not wanting to break the peace of just being able to see each other after a long week.

I had made a few friends my freshman year. One being my roommate; a skunk-haired boy, Jack, who was also from Baltimore. After about a week of trying to pinpoint where I knew him from, it finally hit me that I had run into him the summer Zack and I got together. He was the snooty little asshole I had plowed into as I was skipping across the street. It was elder’s second year at UCLA. He had just turned twenty my first year and was into the whole party scene.

Jack had a close friend; a shorter, almost-bald kid named Rian. He had grown up in the same area as the skunk-haired boy. They had been best friends since before middle school. Rian played drums in some garage band four nights out of the week. It was his second year, and he was the same age as Jack.

Rian could be friends with almost everyone. But he and Jack stuck with a certain group of people. I sort of just amalgamated with their massive friend group.

Zack had met the crazy duo one night when we were on our way out for dinner. They came crashing into my dorm, so shitfaced they couldn’t see straight.

“Whoa,” Jack had hiccupped, pointing at Zack. “Who are you? And are you single?”

“Zack, this is my friend, Jack. Jack, my boyfriend, Zack. I’ll catch you guys later. I have a date that I can’t to be late for. See you tomorrow.”

As Zack and I walked down the sidewalk away from my dorm, he turned to me. “Okay, so who were they?”

“Oh, the one trying to flirt with you was Jack. The quiet one was Rian. They kind of adopted me into their group of friends.”

“Oh. Okay.”

“I don’t go out drinking with them to that point of inebriation. Don’t worry. They just like to harass me when they get like that.”

“Oh, okay.”

That was almost a year ago. Since then, Zack and I had gone to a party or two with them. But he’d still choose to snuggle on my bed than going to a party.

It was Christmas time now, so we were at home with our families and each other. I sat at the island in his parents’ kitchen at seven in the morning and watched him flit around the stove in just his boxers. He hummed along to some 90’s song and gently swayed his hips back and forth. I couldn’t help but stare at him as he did so.

He suddenly faced me, sticking a plate of French toast in front of me. “Here you go, baby,” he giggled, noticing I was still ogling at him.

I looked down at the food, then up at him. He had cut his hair short as soon as the semester ended, even though it was getting cold outside. He didn’t like the way it got in his eyes whenever he looked down. I liked the cut style; it made him seem a little older and more mature. In the past year and a half, he’d done more working out as well. He’d found a gym buddy to help keep him focused whenever they had gone to do that stuff.

But the one thing that really caught my eye the most was the way his eyes still lit up whenever he saw me. Even now as he stared down at me.

He moved away from me. “What? You’re staring so intently at me.”

“N-nothing. I just…. I love you so much.”

He kissed my forehead. “I love you too.” He turned back to the stove and started making his food.

And I didn’t think. I just knew. “M-marry me.” It wasn’t supposed to sound like a question, but nerves were running rampant through my body.

He whipped around and faced me. “What?”

My hand went to the back of my neck as I looked at the ground. “I don’t know. I don’t have a ring. I wasn’t thinking; I was just staring at you and the thought of being with you forever jumped into my brain and out my mouth.”

“Lex, are we responsible enough for something like that?”

“Screw responsible, Zack. I love you. You love me. I want to learn how to be an adult with you.”

“Do you really want to marry me?”

I reached out and tugged on the band of his boxers so he would step against me. “Yes, I really want to marry you, Zachary Steven Merrick.”


“I like your body,” I tried.

He smacked my shoulder. “Ass.”

I took a deep breath. “Zack, when I think about growing old with someone, I can’t see anyone else but you. You were my best friend long before I figured out my feelings. You’re my best friend, even now as we date. You will continue to be my best friend until the day we both die. It only makes sense.” I kissed his jaw. “You make me feel so complete, both as a person and as a soul. It’s time to take this friendship and relationship just that much further. You’re my only one, Zack. I want to make sure the world knows this. I want the world to know that you are the only person who can make me happy. For the rest of my life.”

He nodded, gnawing harshly at his bottom lip. I didn’t know why he thought he should be so nervous. “Okay. I will marry you, Alexander William Gaskarth.”

I wrapped my arms around him and hugged him against me. I could just stay there forever if he’d let me. “God, I love you, Zack.”

“I love you too, Alex,” he giggled.

I pulled him down and pressed my lips to his. He couldn’t stop smiling to himself as he crawled onto my lap, balancing himself between my body and the island.

“Oh my God,” he exhaled, not breaking away from me. “Oh my God. Alex.”

I stroked his jaw gently. “Breathe baby boy. It’s okay.”

“I know. But — oh my God!”

We went to his room after breakfast and pulled on some clothes. Then we curled up on the couch and lazily made out. I was positioned between his legs, which were bent at his knees and hugging my hips. His mother walked in on us a few hours later.

“I’m not really sure how I should take this,” she smiled.

“Just be happy,” Zack giggled. He untangled his legs and I sat up, pulling him with me.

“Of course I’m happy, Zack. You and Alex are just so perfect for each other. Now, I’m going to make breakfast; have you eaten?”

“We have. There is stuff to make French toast, if you want it,” he informed her.

“Thank you.” She turned and headed downstairs.

Zack stood from the bed. “I need to take a shower. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” He leaned down and kissed me lightly before heading down the hall to the bathroom.

I got up and went down to find his mother. She was flipping a set of bread as I sat down. “Hello Alex.”


“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. I just want to talk to you.”



She gave me a funny look. “Is everything all right? Last I knew, there wasn’t any trouble in paradise.”

“There still isn’t. I just….” I got up and went over to her, hugging her tightly.

“Oh, goodness,” she breathed. “Alex, is everything okay?”

I stepped back and stared at the ground. “I, um, want to marry Zack.”

“What?” she asked, completely floored.

“I want to marry your son.”

I could see the tears well to her eyes. “Oh my….”

“I kind of already proposed to him this morning. He was making breakfast and it was then, as he was humming and moving his hips that I knew I wanted to be with him forever. I blurted, ‘Marry me,’ when he turned to go back to cooking. I don’t have a ring right now, because this was so spontaneous. But I really do want to marry him. Now, I know you’re his mother, and you only want the best for him, and you might think that we’re too young to get married. But I want your son as my partner until we die. I want to make sure that he is healthy, and happy, and loved.” I looked into Mrs. Merrick’s eyes so she would see how serious I was.

“You’re twenty, Alex.”


“Zack’s going to be twenty in four months.”


“I don’t want to tell you that you can’t marry him; you’re both adults.”


“But you are young. Are you sure you want to be tied down like that? I mean, you have the whole world at your fingertips at this point. If you get married, there are limitations.”

She didn’t seem to understand that if she was trying to talk me out of it, she was doing a terrible job.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so sure about something in my life. Your son makes me so happy and I want to try and reciprocate that gesture by at least half.”

She sighed. “And I can’t talk some sense into you?”

I shook my head no. “This makes sense to me, Mrs. Merrick.”

Zack decided now was a good time to come skipping back into the room. He noticed the way his mom and I were and stopped. “You know?” he asked her.

She nodded. “Yeah.”

He frowned. “You don’t seem happy for us.”

“Zack, you’re so young.”

“I’m twenty, Mom. I can make my own decisions.” He came over to me and snuggled against my side. “I know this is the right choice.” He looked up at me and smiled. “Hi.”

“Hello, Love.”

He pressed his face into my shoulder, successfully getting me wet with his hair. He giggled when I made a strangled noise. “You love it.”

“I love you.”

“You’re a sap.”

“Uh-huh. Sure.”

“But I love you because of it.” He wrapped his arms around my neck and planted a sloppy kiss to my cheek. “We should do something today. Ooh, let’s go to the park! Can we bring Baz and Pey with us?”

“Sure baby,” I smiled at him. “Whatever you want.”

“Oh goodie. I have to go change.”

“But you just put that outfit on,” I disagreed.

“Yes, for staying in.”

I laughed. “Okay baby. If you must.”

He took my hand in his and we went upstairs. I settled on his bed as he stripped down to his boxers and went around trying to find something else to wear.

He really was the epitome of beautiful; broad shoulders that held the weight of the world sometimes, toned torso that was too fun to snuggle up to, strong arms that loved to crush me against his chest, legs that curled around my waist as we had sex. His megawatt smile that could blind anyone, those lively eyes of his, his stupidly adorable hair that I liked to tunneled my hands through. His heart, the one that kept him alive every day and beat just a little faster when I touched him. Everything about him was just so beautiful.

He turned around as he pulled a shirt on over his head. “Alex, what is it with you and staring at me?” he chided playfully.

I held out my arms for him and he settled against me. “You’re just so beautiful. Every time I stare at you I’m able to see something that I fall in love with. You’re amazing and I love you.”

He pushed his hands through my hair and smiled down at me. “I know I’m amazing. It’s just weird sometimes to have you stare at me.”


“I don’t know. I’m just not used to the attention.”

I lifted his shirt and kissed his stomach. “You have been my boyfriend for almost two and a half years. I’ve looked at you the same way for the past years. More than, if I’m being honest.”

He ducked and pressed his forehead to the crook of my neck. “I know,” he whispered. “It’s just… I’m not used to it yet.” He pulled back and kissed me softly. “But I like hearing it.” He took my hand in his and helped me up. “’Kay, I’m ready to go.”

“You should wear a hat,” I advised. “It’s cold out.”

He made a face at me, but picked up his hat anyway.

We headed down to the foyer, pulling our sweaters and jackets. I tugged a beanie over my messy hair and reached for the door knob. “Ready?” He nodded at me and we passed through the door. As soon as we were outside, Zack screeched. “Holy shit, it’s so fucking cold out!”

“Didn’t I just say that?”

“Maybe, but you didn’t say it with authority. I need snuggles to keep warm if I’m going to make it to your parents’ house.”

“I’d tell you to get in my jacket with me, but that would be weird.”

“Screw being normal. Let me inside your warmth.”

I chuckled. “Now’s not the time to be making sexual comments, Zacky.”

He made a face telling me he was thinking over what he said. Then he laughed. “Get your mind out of the gutter, Alex.”

I unzipped my jacket and shrugged it off. I helped him get his arms inside the sleeves and zipped it back up. “Better?”

“Mm, much.” He buried his nose in the fabric. “Smells like you,” he hummed happily, reaching out to entangle our fingers and swing them back and forth.

When we got to my parents’ house, he quickly put the leashes on the dogs. They were excited to see him. Once he had them ready to go, I left a note on the kitchen counter saying we had the puppies and would be out on a walk if they needed us.

The park was almost empty because it was midwinter, but that didn’t stop the dogs from having a blast. Zack kept them running around so they were warm.

“You know what Baz needs?” he asked, picking up the puppy and coming over to me. “Booties!”

I laughed and rolled my eyes. “You’re not putting booties on my dog, Zack. He’d never allow it.”

“Sure he would. Baz, tell him that you need booties…. ‘Yes Daddy, I need cute little pink booties for my freezing little dog feet.’ See, Alex?” Zack scoffed. “You’re depriving your dog of being both stylish and warm. Tsk, tsk.”

“You’re so weird, Zack.”

“I know,” he giggled. “But I’m your weirdo.”

“That you are.” I kissed his forehead. “Are you ready to go back home?”

He nodded. “We still have to tell your parents.”

“Yes we do,” I agreed, taking his chilled hand in mine and trying to warm him up. “But first, I think we need hot chocolate and a blanket fort.”

“Ooh, can we?”


“Yay!” He giggled and skipped ahead of me with the dogs chasing his ankles.

“Baby, be careful, it’s slippery.”

“I know. I’ll be—” His footing gave and he fell back onto his ass. He yelped the end of his statement “—fine!” He groaned and rolled onto his knees. “Fuck, that fucking hurt.”

I slid over to him and helped him up. His back and ass were covered with snow, which I gently wiped away. “Are you okay?”

“It just hurt. I’ll be fine, though.”

I kissed his forehead. “All right, let’s get you home.”

He nodded and curled into my side. He was silent on the way home. As we walked up the walkway of my parents’ house, however, he whispered, “Thanks for not saying ‘I told you so’.”

I opened the door for him and shut it behind him. I helped him out of his layers of clothes. “Well, that wouldn’t be very nice; now would it?”

He nodded and kissed my chin. “I love you.”

“I love you too. But you keep missing with your kisses.” He smirked as he kissed me proper. “All right, go on up to the bedroom,” I gently pushed him. “I’ll make the hot chocolate.”

“Mm’kay,” he hummed. He ran upstairs to my room excitedly.

I loved how much of a kid he was, even though he was almost twenty. I walked to the kitchen, coming to face my parents. They looked pissed. “Hi Mom, hi Dad.”

“Alexander,” my mother started, “Zachary’s mother called us while you were out with him and the dogs. She told us that you proposed to him?”

I blushed as I walked to the cabinet to get some coffee cups. “Yes I did.”

“Alexander, you’re twenty.”

“Yes I am.”

“You cannot be serious. You’re young and you’ll find someone else you want to date.”

“Yeah Mom, his name is Zack.”

“You’re too young to get married,” my father stated “There are things that you’re going to regret when you’re my age if you marry this young.”

“You and Mom got married at nineteen,” I accused. “Are you telling me you regret marrying her?”


“Then what makes you think I will? If anything, I think I’ll regret it more if I don’t.” I was starting to get frustrated that everyone wanted to talk me out of marrying Zack. I already knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.

After I made the cups of hot chocolate, I headed upstairs to my room. I was met with the lovely sight of a blanket fort, as well as Zack standing in front of my full-length mirror with his pants and boxers around his ankles. His neck craned around to look at his reflection.

“What are you doing?” I asked him, laughing lightly.

“I think I bruised my ass,” he said thoughtfully. I took a quick look, only noting that his ass was red. I didn’t doubt, however, that he’d have a bruise in a couple of hours. “Also,” Zack mentioned, pulling me back from looking at his ass, “I need to borrow a pair of your boxers, mine are soaked through from my fall.”

I walked over to my dresser, placing the cups of hot chocolate down and reaching into one of the drawers. I handed him a dry pair of boxers, which he quickly changed into. Then we hunkered down into the piles of blankets.

“I love you, Alex,” he whispered, snuggling into my side a little harder.

“I love you too, Zacky.”


“So you and Zack,” Jack smirked. “You’re gonna tie the knot?”

It was the third Friday of the second semester and he had stormed into our dorm with coffee around five in the evening. I don’t know, Jack had some weird habits.

I rolled onto my back and accepted the coffee he was holding out to me. “Thank you. And yes. How did you hear? I haven’t said anything.”

“Dude, it’s all over Zack’s Facebook. He’s wicked excited.”

“Since when are you and my boyfriend friends on Facebook?”

“I don’t know. A while now. Anyway, he posted a picture of you the other day when you were in sixth grade. Damn man, you were fucking geeky as Hell.”

I laughed. “Whatever, man. If I endure the humility of everyone seeing me as a sixth grader, he’ll repay me in sex. That’s more action than you get.”

“I have that cute boy, Derek Sanders, following me around. So technically, I do get some.”


Rian walked in just as we were talking about Derek. He wore a disturbed look. “That was more than I needed to hear.”

I laughed. “Hey Rian. How are you?”

“I’m good.”

“And Cassadee?”

“She’s hanging in there, man. But apparently, we’re not as good as you are….”

I rolled my eyes. “Yeah?”

“Jack told me that you proposed to Zack.”

“I did.”

“How’d that go?”

“Pretty well, I guess; I mean, he accepted,” I laughed. “So what isn’t great about that?”

Rain nodded at me. “That’s great man, I’m happy for you. Look, I have to go. Cass is waiting for me. It was nice catching up with you.”

“You as well.”

He left, shutting the door behind him. Jack stayed and stared down at me.

“What?” I blushed.

“Nothing.” He turned and flopped onto the end of my bed, successfully pinning my legs under his heavy body.

“Jack!” I laughed. “Get off of my legs.” I smacked at his chest.

“Come on, don’t be that way.”

My phone rang on the bedside table. I reached for it, but Jack was crawling up my body and answering it before I could even think. “Hello?” he asked, sitting on my thighs. “Oh hi, Zack…. Yeah…. Yeah, he’s right here.” He held my phone out to me. “It’s Zack.”

“I figured, asshole.” I took the phone. “Hi baby. How are you?”

He sighed heavily. “I’m good.”

I pushed Jack off me and sat up. “Baby boy, what’s wrong?”

“I can’t come up this weekend.”

“Baby, that’s all right. You know I can always come down and see you—”

“I got hit with a project that I need to get a head start on.”

My smile fell. “Oh. Okay. Yeah, that fine,” I muttered, biting my lip.

“I feel wicked bad.”

“Baby, don’t. It’s fine. Schoolwork is definitely important.”

“I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“Don’t be, sweetheart. I’ll see you next weekend or something.”

He hesitated for a minute before saying, “I love you Alex. And I’m so sorry.”

“Zack,” I laughed, “it’s fine. I love you too, baby boy. I get that you have to start your work. I’ll talk to you soon, darling.”

“Yeah, talk to you soon. Bye.”

“Bye Beautiful.” I set my phone on my bed.

“What’s wrong?” Jack asked.

I sighed and laid back on my bed. “Zack isn’t coming up this weekend.”

“So you can come to a party with me and Rian!”

“Jack, you know, I don’t feel like going to some creepy party with you.”

“Me and Rian. You’ll be fine.”

“I don’t want to go,” I spat.

“Ooh, someone’s a little pissy. Are you having Zack withdrawals?”

I laughed and threw a pillow at him. “Shut up, asshole.”

“I’m just saying, Alex.” He reached over and touched my ankle lightly. “You know I’m here for you.”

“Thanks Jack.”

“Are you gonna be okay if I go and find Derek?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

“Don’t stay holed up here all day, yeah? Go outside and enjoy yourself for once. I’ll see you later.” He turned and walked out, shutting the door behind him.

I sighed and pushed my stuff to the side. Maybe he was right. I hadn’t left the dorm room in a while. I made up my mind and decided to go to a diner down the road. I grabbed my keys, wallet, phone, and sweater, and then made my way across campus.

A few of Jack’s various outer-circle friends saw me walking and called out to me, waving wildly for me to go over and talk to them. I figured it wouldn’t hurt and headed over.

“Hey Alex,” Jeremy Lenzo smiled.

“Hey man, how are you?”

“Good. And yourself?”

I sighed happily. “Pretty good.”

“Yeah? Jack told the entire campus, pretty much, that you and your boyfriend are engaged.”

“So that’s how everyone knows.”

“Dude, I think he’s more excited than you are.”

“No one is more excited than I am. We’re talking about the man that I’m going to spend my life with. Me. Not Jack.”

“Well, he’s just excited. You two are really close; he kind of sees you like a brother. He wants you to be happy.”

“Yes, I bet,” I laughed.

Brooks Betts spoke up. “Yeah man, you wouldn’t believe how many drunk confessions he has been a part—”

Jeremy’s elbow connected with his ribs. “What we’re trying to say is that, yes, Jack really is happy for you. He just has a really strange way of showing it. But it’s there nonetheless.”

“I’ll remember to return the sentiment,” I muttered, a little perturbed by their sudden aloofness.

“Anyway, we have a lot of work to do. It was great talking to you,” Brooks smiled.

“You as well.” I turned and walked away awkwardly, hearing them whisper quietly to themselves.

I continued my trek away from my dorm room, finding myself at a small diner Zack and I frequented when he visited. I walked in and took a seat in the corner and stared at the menu for a few minutes. I just couldn’t find anything that seemed appealing.

“Do you know what you want, darling?” a waitress asked me.

“Uh, yes?”

She smiled. “You don’t seem sure about that. Do you need a few minutes?”

“Yes, but while I look over the menu, can I get a cup of coffee?”

“Absolutely, sugar.”

“Thank you.”

“Not a problem.”

When she returned, I was staring out the window.

“You seem to be having troubles,” she guessed, setting down my coffee.

“I think it’s just lack of sleep, honestly.”

“Oh? Where’s that cute boy you’re always with?”

“Zack, my boyfriend?”

“Yeah, him.”

“He couldn’t come up this weekend.”

“Such a shame. You two always look so cute together when you’re sharing a slice of pie or a sandwich. What’s keeping him away?”

“A project that he needs to get a head start on. I don’t blame him, though. He worked hard to get into that college and I wouldn’t want to see him fall behind.”

She nodded at me, looking over her shoulder at someone in need of her attention.

I smiled at her. “I can flag you over when I figure out what I want to eat.”

She took her leave to tend to the other customers.

I ended up just drinking coffee for a few hours, looking down at my phone every once in a while to see if Zack had texted me.

When my phone finally vibrated, it wasn’t my boyfriend. Instead, it was an overly drunk roommate. I looked at the time and groaned. I’d spent the last four or so hours just sitting there, staring out the window. I got up, stretching my limbs until they popped happily. I paid for my numerous cups of coffee, thanked the woman for dealing with me for so long, and then started for my dorm room. I pushed opened the door, being greeted by the sight of Jack standing on my bed, naked as the Lord made him. His back faced the door and he was looking out the window.

“Jack! What are you doing?”

He spun around and smiled at me. “Alex! Hi! I got bored and came home.”

“I can see that you came home. Would you mind finding some boxers or something?”

“What? Am I not beautiful enough for you?”

“What does that even mean?”

“You only like buff boys. Lanky kids like me would never have a chance with you.”

“What — Jack, I don’t like my fiancé only because he’s muscles. I fell in love with him because he was adorable, and amazing, and — why am I even telling you this? Jack, get off of my bed, put something on, and go to bed. You’re way too drunk to have a decent conversation with right now. You know how you get.”

He pouted, but hopped off my bed nonetheless. He reached into my dresser and pulled on a pair of my boxers. Well, close enough, I figured. But then he flopped back onto my bed.

“Ah-ah, that’s my bed.”

He pulled the covers over his body. “Sleepy. Shut the light off.”

“Jack, get out of my bed.”

“Snuggle me, Lexy.”


“I won’t be trouble.”

“I thoroughly believe that doing anything with anyone other than Zack is… just asking for trouble. Either get out of that bed right now, or I will… I will… sleep in your bed.” I seriously needed better ammunition against the kid.

“Go ahead and sleep in my bed, Lexy; I masturbate to the most graphic thoughts of you there anyway. Why not bring it all together by sleeping there?”

“You’re so gross. I’d rather sleep on the floor.”

“Suit yourself, you tight-ass bitch.”

I chucked my shoe at him.

“Ow!” he whined. “Lexy! Please snuggle me.”

“Get Derek to snuggle you.”

He tried to make a scoffing noise. “Derek’s no fun.”

“Oh, I’m going to regret this but; Why, Jack?”

He rolled onto his stomach, hiding his face in my pillow. He peaked an eye out from under its cover. “He isn’t you,” he sighed.

I put my fingers in my ears. “No. No, no, no, no, no. Nope. La, la, la, la, la.”

“What are you doing?”

“I’m pretending I can’t hear you.”

“Well stop. That’s annoying.”

“Jack, you seriously can’t tell me that. I’m engaged to Zack. I don’t need you to complicate things.”

“I’m not gonna complicate anything, Lexy. Now shh, I’m tired.” He pulled the covers up high around his chin. Within minutes, he was snoring loud.

I scrubbed my face with the heel of my hand. This new-found revelation of his was going to make our friendship really awkward. I shut the light off and sat down on the floor. Jack was just being selfish, not thinking before he told me that. Plus he was drunk.

Sometimes, my roommate really made me crazy. There was no doubt about that.


The following Friday evening, Zack was led into the room by Jack. “I found him wandering around outside, lost, in the cold,” Jack joked.

“I wasn’t lost. I was just… enjoying the campus.” He climbed up on the bed beside me and snuggled against me. “Hi Alex,” he giggled. He pressed his jaw to mine, raking his stubble against me.

“Mm, you grew stubble over the last week.”

“I’ve just been wired and didn’t have time to shave.”

“I like it,” I muttered, pressing my hand to the scruff.

He turned so his back pressed against my chest. “I’ve missed you.”

“I’ve missed you too, baby boy. How’d that project come along?”

“I have ninety percent of it done. And it’s not due until next Thursday.”

“That’s great!”

He nodded. “But I really needed to see you. To touch you.”

“Okay, you two are going to have sex, aren’t you?” Jack asked, standing up. He retrieved his jacket, phone, and wallet before starting for the door. “I’ll see you guys later.”

Once the door shut, Zack giggled. “He’s quirky.”

“Yes, quirky is the word I would use to describe him.”

“Do you not like him?”

“That’s not it at all,” I defended. “Jack’s just… overwhelming sometimes. He’s loud and known.”

“Oh. Well, so are you. Compared to me.”

“I like how you’re so shy. You totally rock it.”

He hummed quietly. “Maybe.”

“I have a sexy as fuck fiancé. What do you expect? And what do you have?”

“I have a dork of a fiancé.”

I pulled him firm against me. “Yes. Yes you do.”

He rolled over to face me. He bit his lip lightly. “You know, Jack was kinda, sorta right.”

“Really? About what?” I smiled, having an idea of what he was talking about.

“Well… I haven’t gotten off in a while….”

I brought him close and kissed him. “You know, you can always dry hump me into the mattress.”

He giggled and blushed. “Don’t make fun of me.”

“I’m not. I’m completely serious.”

“Shut up.”

“So… do you not want to get off?”

“Of course I do.” He pressed me down against the bed and sat back on my thighs.

My hands went to his hips as he slid his fingers under my shirt, gently taking the fabric off. He leaned down and kissed me lightly as his fingers worked the button and fly of my jeans. I gently lifted my hips against him, eliciting a soft sigh of content from the man above me.

“I’ve missed you,” he whispered, kissed my jaw and neck lightly.

I leaned my head back to give him a little more room. I squeezed his hips gently. “I’ve missed you too, baby.”

He moved down so he was seated between my legs and kissed my chest, his fingers pressing into the skin right above my hips. He kept kissing down my body. He roughly tugged at my jeans, managing them down my legs and mouthing my dick through the fabric of my boxers. He hooked his fingers inside the elastic band, about to pull them down, when the door opened.

“I promise I’m not looking,” Jack squawked, covering his eyes. I swear I saw him peak a couple times on his way to his bed.

I pulled the covers around my waist. “Jesus Christ, Jack. What the fuck are you doing back here?”

“I forgot something! Calm your tits.”

I hid my face until I heard the door shut behind him. “Oh my God, that’s so embarrassing.”

Zack giggled. “Hey, we’re engaged; he should expect that every time I see you, I want to jump your bones.”

I smiled up at him. “I love you, Zack.”

“You love me because I put out,” he accused playfully.

I laughed. “Oh, of course.” I pulled him down and kissed him. “I have been dating you for two and a half years; the only thing you’re good at is sex.” My lips moved to his neck, pulling a soft moan from his throat.

“I’m phenomenal in bed,” he chuckled arrogantly.

I wrapped my arms around his back, pulling him chest-to-chest with me and kissing his jaw. I maneuvered so I was sitting over him. His eyes grew wide as he realized he was settled under me now. I smiled at him as I moved down his body, making short work of both articles covering his legs. My fingers curled around his thighs as I bent down and licked at the head of his dick. I didn’t hesitate to take him as far as I could without gagging, using my hand to jerk the rest of his length that wouldn’t fit.

“Alex!” he gasped. His fingers tangled in my hair and held me down against him for a minute. It took all my willpower not to smack him. But instead, I entangled our fingers together, relieving me of almost choking to death. He didn’t seem to notice my tactic; instead he writhed around under me, moaning loudly.

“Fuck, Alex!” he whined. “Shit, I’m gonna come.”

I took him fully into my mouth, my nose pressing lightly against his V. While normally I didn’t like the idea of swallowing as Zack came, I didn’t hesitate to let him this time. It wasn’t a surprise how generous he was, but it still made me cringe.

It was the first thing he said when his mind returned to Earth. “You let me come in your mouth.”

I smiled at how blissed out he was as I moved up to settle beside him. He curled around me. “Yes I did.” I ran a hand through his hair.

“You don’t ever do that.”

“Wow, way to make me sound selfish.”

“You are,” he laughed absently. “But that’s okay. You don’t have to swallow. Hell, I probably do enough for both of us.”

I leaned back to look at him, a thunderstruck expression pulled tight across my features.

He giggled. “You didn’t deny it.”

“That’s because I’m still trying to figure out what the hell you just admitted.”

He kissed my lips, then moved on to below my ear. His fingers pressed into the flesh between my shoulder and collar. “I’m kind of a slut when it comes to it.” His tongue darted out and licked the skin leading up to my ear.

I shuddered against him. “Zack,” I breathed.

He pushed me onto my back. “I want to make you feel good now.” He leaned over me to reach into my nightstand and pulled back the bottle of lube.

I sat up. “What are you doing?”

“Lex, lay back.” He pushed on my chest to get me to lay down again. He spread my legs slightly and settled comfortably between them on his knees. He licked his lips before leaning down and kissing my tip. It was light as a feather, but I nearly bucked my hips up against him at the contact. He giggled at me before popping the cap on the lube. He slicked a finger and pressed it up into me with ease. As he prodded around for my prostate, he focused his mouth on my dick.

My entire body spasmed when his finger grazed that bundle of nerves that was my prostate. “Zack!”

There was no way in Hell that I was lasting long with this continuous torture. And I was right. It only took a few minutes of the fingers, and the wetness of his mouth, and the every part of Zack around me for my body to decide to give into the immense pleasure. My head pressed back into the pillows, my back arching off the bed, as I cried out and came.

He smiled happily as he moved up the bed. He kissed my forehead and curled around me. “How do you feel now?” he giggled, pulling my duvet up around us.

“You’re embarrassing,” I laughed lazily.

He kissed me proper. “That’s the point.”

I pressed my face to his chest. “Pretty damn good, then,” I admitted.

He laughed. “You get all cute and tired post-sexy-times.”

I nodded lazily. “Yes, yes I do. Because you are a God in bed.”

A hearty laugh rumbled against my face. “Yes I am. We’ve already established this.”

“I know. I just like hearing you say it.” I yawned heavily. “We may just have to cuddle until the end of time now.”

He pressed his fingers to my stomach. “I like that idea.”

“Shh, now. Tired.”

“Sure, baby,” he allowed.

I kissed the underside of his jaw and closed my eyes tightly. “Good night.”

“Good night, Lex.”

I settled comfortably in his embrace and let myself fall into the grips of unconsciousness.

Sometime later, I woke up to Zack shaking me lightly. “Lex, please wake up.”

“Don’t wanna.”

He kissed the top of my head. “I need to talk to you.”

The edge on his voice had me sitting up almost instantly. “Zack, what’s wrong?”

There was a soft chuckle from him. “You don’t have to panic, Lex.”

“You wake me up at God-knows what hour and you tell me I don’t have to panic? Really, Zack?”

His hands curled around my thighs and he moved to sit up. “I just wanted to talk logistics.”

I rubbed my eyes. “What time is it, first of all?”


“And you chose now to talk, why?

“I meant to discuss this before we got off and passed out.” He felt out the curve of my neck and jaw. “I really do love you.”

“I love you too, Zack. Because you got me up at the ass-crack of the morning to tell me that.”

I saw the whites of his eyes as he rolled them. “It’s more than that.” His voice fell at the end of his sentence.


He sighed. “Alex. I’m so nervous.”


I could hear the pout in his next sentence: “About getting married.”

I will swear until the day that I die that my heart did not drop when I heard that.

“The way that you got all quiet tells me you’re about to freak out at me. But before you can, I do love you, Alex. And I do want to get married to you. It’s just finally hitting me that I’m not even twenty or out of college yet and I plan on making you my husband. It’s just all so… overwhelming. I don’t know what to think anymore.”

“So what are you saying?”

“I just think that we need to take a step back and breathe. We need to be stupid and reckless and young while we can.”


“So maybe we should hold off on the wedding for right now. Let’s make it through college first.”

“But I want to marry you.”

He gently ran his fingers over my jaw. “I want to marry you, too, Lex. I really do. It’s just all too much right now. Don’t you think?”

“No!” I accused.

“Alex, we’re both juggling college right now. We only see each other on weekends. I just think that getting married will heighten the tension between us and might break us. I don’t want to break up with you; that’s the last thing I want to do. But we need to look at this like grownups. As we are right now, I don’t think we could manage marriage. But we can manage being boyfriends.”

“So we’re not engaged?”

“No, that’s not what I meant. Let’s just say that we’re having a long engagement. Yeah?”

Every fiber in my being was telling me that this was a bad idea. But I loved Zack too much to say no to him. I only wanted to make him happy. And maybe, just maybe, he was right. This could be good for us; to straighten the bonds already forged.

“Yeah, you’re right,” I whispered.

“Alex, I love you. I want nothing more than to marry you. But we hardly understand how this world works. We need time to figure it out first before jumping head first into it. Don’t you think?”

“Yeah,” I pouted. “Yeah, you’re right.”


Jack was drunk. It seemed to be a common theme with him as of late. At least in the past two months since Zack and I “agreed” to holding off on our wedding until we graduated college. Luckily, I only had to wait a little over a week for spring break to get away from the constantly drunk Jack.

As it was Friday, I was waiting for Zack to show up to save me from the awkward encounter I knew would follow in Jack’s wake.

But at six that evening, I got a call from him.

“I’m sorry, Lex. I can’t come up again.”

“Oh. That’s fine honey. You’ve got something more important to attend to.”

“Yeah, it’s just another… thing.” He sighed heavily. “And I’m working with someone who has put zero effort into it. I’m freaking out at this point, Al.”

“Babe, that’s fine. You have to worry about school. I totally understand that. I love you, Zack,” I whispered.

“I love you too. Bye.”

Before I could answer, the line went dead. “Oh, okay. Bye,” I told no one.

I rolled over and placed my phone on the table beside my bed. This kind of sucked, Zack not being able to come up this weekend. I understand that college work was really important. I am, in fact, always preaching that it should come first. But maybe he could have done it while he was snuggled up against me.

The door opened and slammed against the door stop. “Lexy!”

I rolled my eyes. “Jack.”

“Uh-oh,” he giggled. “Lexy’s sad.” He crawled up on my bed. “What’s wrong?” he pouted.

“Jesus Christ, Jack; you’re not my fucking therapist.”

“No. I’m your best friend,” he whined. His hand rested on the curve of my hip. I almost flinched at the contact. “And as your best friend, I’m here to listen to you complain about whatever your heart desires.”

I sighed and rolled over to face him. “Zack’s not coming up again this weekend.”


“Yeah, he has this thing again. So now I’m stuck here babying you.”

“You could always go down there. Surprise him, you know?” He looked down at me with those intense brown eyes of his.

“He needs to focus on his work, Jack. I’m not going down to San Diego.”

“Come on.” He got up off the bed and pulled me with him. “In relationships, as far as I can tell because I’m allergic to them, you need s-spon-spontaneous-ity.”

“Spontaneity,” I corrected.

“Yes,” he giggled. “You need that to have a good relationship. Rian surprises Cassadee all the time and they have a great relationship. So we’re going to get Rian to drive us to San Diego so you can surprise that sexy little fiancé of yours.” He reached for his phone and called Rian. “I need you to do Lexy a favor…. Take us down to San Diego…. It’s a surprise…. I will. ’Kay, thank you.” Jack smiled at me as he put his phone in his pocket. “San Diego or bust. Come on.” He took my hand in his and pulled me out into the hall.

“Jack, seriously. We can’t do this. This is completely and utterly irrational.”

“Exactly!” He dragged me down the hall to Rian’s room and knocked on the door. “Rian!”

The door opened, revealing a disheveled friend. “I don’t understand why I have to drive your lazy asses down to San Diego on a Friday night.”

“I wanted to stay in,” I accused. “But my weird-ass best friend here thinks that I need to go surprise my boyfriend.”


“He’s not able to come up this weekend, which is why this dumbass right here wants to go down,” I laughed, bumping hips with Jack.

“You know me; I’m always looking out for my best friends,” he smiled goofily.

We headed to his car and got on the road. Jack sat in the back with me, babbling nonsense and leaning across my lap to see out my window.

“Jack, calm down,” I scolded, trying to push him back.

“But it’s so exciting! Look!” He crawled onto my lap and pointed out the window. He was fascinated by a car passing us.

“Jack, you need to calm down,” Rian cooed. “You’re going to end up hurting yourself or Alex with all your moving around.”

He leaned back against me, his head resting against my shoulder while he stared dreamily out the window. His hand reached down and took my own. “It’s so pretty,” he sighed happily. He turned his head to look at me. “Isn’t it pretty, Lexy?”

I locked gazes with him. His eyes were clouded and lazy, but still really intense. “Yes Jack; it’s really pretty. But keep on watching, okay?” I tapped on the window to focus his attention.

He nodded and turned back to look out the window.

Rian caught my gaze in the rearview mirror. There was something there that I couldn’t quite place, but I didn’t like the look of it.

Jack’s fingers played with mine absently and he sighed in content again.

I will swear on my grave that in a moment of complete weakness, I tightened my grip lightly and nuzzled my nose into his hair, like I would do with Zack. My lips gently pressed to his scalp.

I caught Rian staring at me again, causing me to blush.

When we got to the college, I pushed Jack onto the other side of the car and got out. “I’ll text you guys with the plan, okay? Just hold up for a little? I mean, I’m most likely going to stay here, but just in case…?”

“Sure thing, man,” Rian agreed.

I got out of the car and started for Zack’s dorm. One of his friends saw me walking toward the building and called out to me.

“Alex! Hey man, how are you?”

“I’m pretty good. And yourself?” I couldn’t quite place Zack’s friend’s name.

“Are you looking for Zack?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“Oh, he’s not in his room. He’s hanging out with Martin over at the gym.”

I gave him a weird look. “This late? Isn’t that a little strange?”

“Zack has this affliction with lifting, y’know?”

“Oh, I guess that’s typical Zack. Thank you.”

“Well, I’ll see you later.”

“Thanks. See you later.” I turned and walked back toward the car, stopping to tell Rian the change in location.

“Cool man. I’m probably going to find a fast food place for Jack. I saw a Taco Bell, like, five minutes from here.”

“Yeah, that fine.”

“Lexy,” the drunk boy whined from the backseat. “Where are you going, Lexy?”

“I’m gonna go find Zack.”

He pawed at the window, to which Rian lowered. “I wanna come with you.”

I laughed. “You’re going to stay with Rian. He’s going to get you some food.”

“Ooh, can we go to Taco Bell?” he asked, completely distracted from wanting to come with me.

“Sure, buddy. Alex, we’ll be back here in, like, fifteen minutes.”

“’Kay, thank you. See you later.”

He pulled away, driving out of the parking lot and out onto the main road.

The walk to the gym was quiet, as it was probably on the exact opposite side of campus from the dorm. I pulled out my phone and texted Zack, playing it off that I was stuck in Los Angeles and really bored.

hey babe; whatcha doing?

It took a few minutes for a response, and by then I was pulling open the door to the gym.

just working on the project. hbu?

I furrowed my brow at the lie. just relaxing. really bored.

came the curt reply.

I took the stairs two-by-two up to the weight room, rounding the corner in time to hear Zack say, “Sorry, Martin. Alex needs some attention.”

I stopped before they saw me, offended that Zack basically just called me needy.

“Well, you know how they get….”

“Yeah, he’s gotten weird since I told him we needed to focus on college. I get that he’s really into getting married, but I just can’t right now. I’m so conflicted, Martin.”


“My feelings. I love Alex. But there’s something stopping me.”

“I think you mean someone.

It got really quiet between them and I almost made my presence known. But something kept me paralyzed there. Instead, paranoia rushed over me. I peeked out around the corner of the stairwell. My heart dropped at the sight.

Zack was laying back against a lifting bench, Martin straddling his waist. If that wasn’t suggestive enough, they were, in fact, lip-locked.

All I could do was stare at them, frozen in my place.

By now, Martin had pulled away and was smiling down at my fiancé. Zack grinned goofily at him, grabbing the front of his shirt and pulling him down for another kiss.

There were footsteps coming up behind me, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the train wreck in front of me.

“Lexy!” came an excited shout. “Alex, we got burritos, and tacos, and—”

The two making out on the bench jumped apart and went to straighten themselves out before being caught.

Jack tackled me from behind and I stumbled out into the open. “Lexy, look,” Jack giggled. “I got you a burrito.

“Jack, get off me.” I struggled out of his hold and he fell to the ground.

“Ow, Lexy. That hurt!” he cried, looking up at me like I had just kicked a puppy.

“Alex, what are you doing here?” Zack asked, coming over to me.

“I was here to surprise you. But, you know what, you surprised me.” I turned and ran down the stairs, running into Rian on the way.

“Whoa, man; what the hell?”

“J-just get Jack and get me the f-fuck out of here.”

“What happened?”

“Alex! Alex, please!” Zack called out. He caught my arm and pulled me around to face him. “Alex, please listen to me.”

“Zack, I seriously can’t even look at you right now. I’m just so… so… I don’t know!”

“Alex, please. It was a mistake.”

My heart broke at the lie. “It was a mistake? It was — oh, I’m sorry, because grabbing someone’s shirt and kissing back is a mistake now.”

“Alex, please listen to me,” he begged. He took my hand in his and pulled me down to sit on the curb. “Alex, I’m sorry, okay?”

“That makes me feel so much better,” I growled sardonically. I blindly swiped at the tears staining my cheeks.

“I didn’t mean for things to happen like that.”

“You didn’t mean to fall out of love with me?”

He sighed. “Alex, I still love you. I always will. You know that.”

“Do I? Do I really know that?”

He took my hands in his. “I’m just so confused right now. You want to get married and start a life together. I’m still trying to find out what I want from my life.”

“I thought you wanted me.”

“Alex, you’re putting so much pressure on me and I don’t know what I should do anymore.”

I refuse admit that I was crying at this point. “Zack, I can’t be with someone who doesn’t want to be with me in return.”

“But I do.”

“But you don’t,” I growled. “If you were as into this relationship as I am, you wouldn’t have found an excuse for kissing someone else.”

“You can’t tell me I don’t want to be with you.”

“I don’t have to.” I tugged on the engagement ring I had managed to get for him just after Christmas time, as well as the promise ring on the other hand. They clanged together in my palm.

“Alex, you can’t do that,” he claimed, his voice breaking.

“There’s only so much I can say to you. But I’ve said all I could. There’s nothing left, Zack.” I stood up from my place on the curb.

“Alex. Alex, please,” he begged.

“You, of all people, Zack, should know that I can’t just forget this.”

“Yes, all because your ex-girlfriend was cheating behind your back. Well, you know what? You must have deserved it for it to happen again.” A look of realization washed over him and his hand went to his mouth. “Alex. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that—”

“You’re so unbelievable, Zack. Just so fucking unbelievable.” I nearly tripped off the curb in my fury.

“Alex, please. I didn’t mean that,” Zack tried again, following me as I managed to get to Rian’s car. Jack and Rian were right behind me.

“No,” I told Zack as I pulled open the door. My arm was outstretched to stop him from coming toward me anymore. “You reap your bed and you must lie on it.”

“It’s ‘you’ve made your bed, now you must lie in it,’” Zack told me.

“Jesus, it’s a malaphor!” I screamed. “Because one idiom cannot truly express how betrayed I feel by you.”

“Alex,” Rian muttered. He motioned for me to get in the car.

I nodded. “Please. Just get me out of here. I’m going to be sick.”

He helped both Jack and I in. Then he got in the driver’s side and took off back toward Los Angeles.

Jack still looked hurt that I shoved him to the ground, but he put that aside given the circumstances.

We were quiet nonetheless until we got above San Clemente.

“Alex, I’m sorry,” Rian whispered.

“It’s whatever,” I rolled my eyes. I turned to the cowering man beside me. “Jack, I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“Just shut up,” he slurred. He was gnawing at his lips and looking out the window.

This entire night was one huge cluster fuck. It wasn’t supposed to end up like this.

The next morning, a sobered-up Jack woke me up. “Hey.”

I rubbed my eyes. “Hey.”

“Last night was pretty fucked up. I’m sorry about Zack and then me acting like a fucking baby.”

“You weren’t even a problem. How bad did you go down?”

“I have a massive bruise on my hip, but nothing I can’t manage. How are you feeling?” he asked, stealing a glance at the two rings on my bedside table.

“Pretty shitty.” I felt tears pricking my eyes and covered my face with a pillow. “Jack, did I do the right thing?”

He rested his hand on my stomach. “I think you need to do what’s best for you right now.”

I lifted the pillow and glared at him. “That’s doesn’t help me!”

“Alex, I can’t tell you whether you did the right thing or not. You have to decide that for yourself.”

“From my best friend’s point of view, did I do the right thing?”

He sighed and nodded. “I would have done the same thing, had I been in your position.”

I couldn’t help but sob out loud. “God, I’m such an idiot.”

“Alex, you’re anything but.”

“You’re not the one who was totally invested in someone just to have them cheat on you!”

“You’re right. That didn’t happen to me—”



“Everyone cheats on me. My first relationship. She cheated on me with some stupid singer guy. And now the boy I promised everything to digs the knife further. I just can’t find someone who wants me like I do them.” I rolled over so my back was facing Jack, his hand dragging across my skin.


“I just want to be left alone.”

The bed shifted as Jack stood up. “Alex….”

I burrowed into my covers. Before I heard the door shut, I felt Jack lean over me. I didn’t expect to feel his lips on my hair, or stubble against my forehead. I sobbed harder at the touch.

I was left alone after that, disgusting sounds retching from my throat as I writhed in self-pity. I wanted something, but I couldn’t quite place it. I picked up my phone and texted Jack to come back.

He nearly broke the door down. “Alex, are you okay?”

I sniffled and nodded.

“What’s wrong? Why did you text me?”

“I… I don’t know. I just didn’t actually want to be alone. And you’re my best friend. As my best friend, you have to cheer me up.”

“I’d suggest drinking, but I know you don’t like drinking to forget.”

I sighed. “What are you trying to forget when you drink?”

He laughed. “Don’t worry about it.”

I sniffled again, wiping the back of my hand across my nose. “Can you, like, lay with me Jack?”

“Won’t you feel weird?

I scoffed. “Not anymore. I just need comfort.”

He carefully pushed back my duvet and settled with me. I curled up against him as his arm curled around my waist.

“Thank you, Jack.” I pressed my nose into the squishy flesh connecting his collar and shoulder and sighed in content.

It really did feel nice to have a friend to talk to and snuggle, as the option presented itself.

“Alex, I know this really bummed you out. But I want to take this moment to remind you that I will always be there for you.”

I pulled back to look at him. “Thank you.”

He smiled at me, all goofy and lopsided. “It’s not a problem.”

I continued to stare at him, just lost in thought.

“Are you okay?” he whispered.

I swallowed the lump in my throat, scooting up the bed slightly so we were face to face. My gaze lingered on his lips for a moment before I was leaning in and kissing him softly.

His hands settled on my shoulders and he pushed me back lightly. “Alex.”

“Sorry. You don’t like me.”

He rested his forehead against mine. “It’s not that. But you just got out of a relationship. I don’t want to be that guy. I don’t want to be rebound.” His eyes fell shut. “I really like you, Alex. I do. But I think you need to focus on yourself for a little while.” His breath feathered my cheeks. “You’re a really great guy, Alex. Being irrational is not you.”

“I… I don’t want to be just Alex, though,” I whispered.

He reached a hand up to cup my jaw. “I know.” He kissed my forehead. “Sometimes, looking to be part of something might just hurt you instead of help. For now, at least. I’m not saying you’re going to be forever alone with fifty dogs.”

“When’s a good amount of time to start being a part of something again?”

He hummed. “That’s not for me to decide for you, Alex.”


“You did what?!” my mother gasped.

I was sitting at the breakfast island in my parents’ kitchen. I gnawed at my thumbnail nervously. “I, uh, I called off the engagement.”

“Why? When?”

“About a week ago.”


I took a deep breath and sighed. “I, um, went to visit him; you know, surprise him. But I walked in on him sucking someone else’s face off.”


“I don’t know if it was a singular incident, but it’s not like the guy forced himself on Zack and he tried to stop him. Zack pulled on the guy’s shirt to kiss him again. He even had the gall to say that I must have deserved it; he was the second person to cheat on me.”


I nodded and sighed. “You remember Lisa?”


I hummed. “Yep.”

“Oh, Alexander. I’m so sorry.”

“I didn’t know what else I could do, Mom. He knew what Lisa did to me, and yet he did it as well. I’m just so tired of the runaround. When is someone going to be honest with me? I mean, I can handle if someone wants to call it off, but I can’t stand by and let this shit happen to me.”

Her hand covered mine. “I think you did what’s right for you, baby. And I’m proud of you.”

“I just feel really bad for doing it. I feel like I just threw, like, eight years of my life down the drain. All that time and energy….”

“I know, sweetie. I know it’s hard.”

“Does it ever get easier?”

She kissed my forehead. “It will, baby. You’ll find someone who’s will to take all those broken pieces that Zack left behind and put them back together. Someone who is willing to see to it that you get back at least half of who you are.”

I leaned into her and hugged her tightly. “I just want it to go back to normal.”

“I know.” She tried to detach herself from my grip. “But as of right, your father and I have to go. So I need you let go of me, sweetie.”

“What are you doing?”

“Just some errands. Alexander, you’re going to be fine here alone.” She turned and walked out of the kitchen, calling up the stairs to my father.

When I heard the car leave, I huffed out to the living room and watched them drive away. I pulled out my phone and texted Jack to see if we could meet up. He said of course and told me where I could find him.

I changed and dragged myself outside. I headed down the street, turned a few corners, and then stumbled right into him. “Holy shit, sorry,” I laughed, pushing myself back from him. “I thought you would have been inside, not on the corner.

“I never kid about where I am; but if you want to go in and sit down for a bit, that’s cool too.”

“Uh, sure.”

“Cool. I know the owner of this place.” As we sat down in the little café-diner thing and got settled, Jack kept stealing glances at me. “So, how are you?”

I took a deep breath. “I’m good. I told my mother this morning. She seemed to understand that I did what I had to, whether or not it was pleasant.”

“You really are strong. Emotionally. You know that, right?”

“Thank you Jack,” I blushed.

He leaned across the table and took my hand in his. “It’s not a problem, kiddo. You’re going to be okay.”

I laughed. “So I’ve been told.”

“It’s true. This is going to make you stronger.”

“The only part I don’t like is how there’s no one to snuggle. Call me weird, or strangely feminine, but I like cuddling.”

“There is nothing feminine about cuddling. That shit is the best.” He pointed at me for emphasis.

“So will you be my snuggle buddy?”

He thought it over. “Would that be weird?”

“Not really. You’re my best friend, Jack. Best friend snuggles are the best.”

He laughed. “Okay then. I can be your snuggle buddy.”


After we left, we ambled around the streets for a while. We weren’t looking for entertainment, just something to keep our minds from… things.

We happened across my house and I didn’t fail to mention it with a subtle, “Shit, this is my house!”

Jack laughed at me. “Okay?”

“I just didn’t realize we were walking around aimlessly.”

“We have been for the last two hours.”

“Oh. That would explain my sore feet then.”

He chuckled. “Would it?”

I stuck my tongue out at him. “Yeah. So do you want to, you know, come in? Or something?”

“Or something?” he smirked.

I blushed. “It’s either come in or stay out here.”

“Then I would much rather go inside with you.”

“Okay.” I led him up the walkway and into the house. I shrugged off my hoodie and toed off my sneakers. My parents were still out, probably just avoiding me like the emotional plague I was. I walked into the kitchen to make some hot chocolate. “Do you want some?” I asked, turning to face Jack, who had pulled himself up onto one of the stools at the breakfast island.

“Uh, sure.”

I sat down at the island next to him after I made the hot chocolate. We sat in relative silence as we slurped on the hot beverage.

“You kind of have…” Jack began, pointing to his face.

My finger when up to wipe my face, but he giggled at me.

“No, right here,” he tried again. When I failed, he erupted into laughter. “No, no. I’ll get it.” He reached over and gently swiped his finger against the side of my mouth.

I blushed as I locked gazes with him, ducking my head down instinctively. “Uh, well, thank you for getting it. That’s kind of embarrassing.”

“It’s kind of cute.”

I looked up at him again, noticing how he was just a little closer than before. My cheeks burned just a little hotter.

“You’re kind of cute,” he whispered, before leaning over and nudging my chin up with his knuckle. He pressed his lips to mine.

My hands withdrew from my coffee cup, to around his neck. I pulled him closer to me as his hands curled around my hips, to the small of my back, and tugged me toward his body. I steadied myself against his shoulders.

When he pulled back, he rested his forehead on mine again. We were breathing hard, and our noses brushed each other’s.

“Oh God, kiss me again,” I pleaded.

He smiled and leaned forward again.

When we pulled back the second time, it wasn’t because we wanted to. My phone was ringing from its place on the counter across the kitchen. I reached for it, feeling Jack’s hand still resting on the small of my back.



My stomach dropped. “Zack. Hi.” I turned to Jack, who frowned at my phone.

“I wanted to talk to you.”




“Are you alone?”

I took Jack’s hand in mine. He carefully folded our fingers together. “Enough.”

“You have company over?”

“I’m entertaining ideas.”

Jack gave me a look. I kissed the tip of his nose.

“Anyway,” Zack mumbled. “I just wanted to talk to you. I said some pretty shitty and hurtful things to you the other night and I have been feeling sick ever since. I promised myself that if we broke up, I wouldn’t be like Lisa; vindictive and an overall bitch. But… I was.” When I didn’t say anything, he continued. “I’d understand if you hated me and never wanted to see my face again. I just needed to tell you that the person who said those things to you died when you left. I died when you broke off our engagement.”

I sighed heavily, but couldn’t find my words.

“I’m not asking that you take me back. But I am asking that you find it in your heart to be my friend again. I miss you being my best friend above being my boyfriend or fiancé… or ex, I guess now that we’re no longer together.”

“Z-Zack, you really hurt me—”

“I know. And I will forever try to right that wrong,” he was quick to say.

“I need some time to get myself together; to figure out what I want and need from my life. I don’t know if I can do that while trying to balance a broken relationship. I need more time to myself to think about my feelings.”

“Oh. Um, yeah. Okay.”

“Bye Zack.”

“Yeah, bye.”

I set my phone next to my cup of cocoa. I immediately started bawling my eyes out.

Jack was quick to pull me into his arms. “Shh, shh, baby. It’s okay. Hey, it’s okay, Lexy. I promise. Breathe, honey.”

I pressed myself as far as I could against the tall, lanky boy and just sobbed.

Somehow, we managed upstairs to my room, where we curled into the sheets, and each other, as I continued my hysterics. He kept pressing my hair flat, brushing away my tears, and telling me everything was okay. Every once in a while, he would kiss the top of my head.

I eventually passed out from exhaustion, tangled wildly around Jack so he couldn’t leave without my knowing. He didn’t seem to care, though, as he was still brushing my hair out of my face when I finally came to.

I yawned heavily, looking up at him. “Hi.”

“Hi,” he whispered, seemingly afraid that he would break the peace of this moment if he talked any louder.

I pushed myself up out of bed, walking toward the bathroom. “What time is it?”

“Time to get a watch.”

“Don’t be an ass,” I laughed.

“Hey, it got a smile out of you,” he informed me, standing in the bathroom door as I washed my hands. “It’s, like, nine.”

“Nine on a Friday. Why aren’t you out drinking or something?”

“Because my best friend needs me here with him.”

I walked over to him and colliding with his chest. “Thank you.” My arms hooked around his middle in an attempt to have him as close as possible.

“Seriously, stop. You know I’d do anything for you.” He slung his arm over my shoulder and led me back to my bedroom. “Are you hungry yet? We can order take-out.”

“Your plan on making me feel better is to make me fat on take-out?” I laughed. “That’s not a very nice thing to do, Jack.”

“The plan isn’t about making you fat. Though you would look good with a little extra right around here,” he muttered, pressing his fingers into my stomach.

I squawked and rolled over. “Stop, that tickles.”

“Mm, my best friend’s stomach is ticklish? Since when is that a sign to stop?

“No, don’t you dare!” I tried to roll from him.

But he managed to flip me back over, climbed onto my thighs, and dug his fingers into my stomach anyway.

“No! Jack! Oh my God, stop!” I cackled.

He continued until I was laughing so hard I wasn’t making any noise. Then he pulled back, lifted my shirt, and pressed his lips to the exposed skin. I was still giggling as he pulled away. He fondly smiled down at me.

“You’re so mean to me,” I breathed.

He smirked. “Yeah, of course.” He reached into his pocket for his phone. “Now, because I’m fat and hungry, I’m ordering take-out. I’m going to eat it all right in front of you and you can’t have any.”

“Don’t be a pig.”

He pushed my face into the pillows as his call was answered. I managed not to say anything as he was ordering probably everything on the menu. Instead, I slid out from under him; taking the route down the bed and between his legs to free myself. I started for the kitchen, Jack following on my heels. I pushed myself up onto the counter and watched him intently until he hung up.

He smiled at me and leaned against my legs. “So, take-out and a movie? I’m thinking we could watch Home Alone.

“You’re way too obsessed with that movie,” I laughed.

“You can suck my dick,” he retorted.

I playfully glared at him. “You’d be lucky if I ever wanted to suck your dick.”

We did end up watching Home Alone as we ate, but we weren’t really paying attention to it. Instead, we were making it almost impossible for the other person to eat and then giggling about it.

Sometime later, as I curled up against Jack and drifted off into sleep, I heard the front door open and close. I assumed it was my parents, but I was too tired to open my eyes and look.

The T.V. was shut off, as well as the light at the end of the couch.

The sound of footsteps retreated up the stairs, followed by my parents talking. I couldn’t catch any of what was said, so I just snuggled further into the warm body that was underneath me.

I could get really used to this, I definitely could. The feeling of comfort brought from snuggling my best friend was unlike any other.

The man below me hummed in content, like he was agreeing with me. At least that made two of us.

I just hoped it would last, this time.
♠ ♠ ♠
I had to do some serious editing to this bad boy, so that's all this is. But I do love this fic so much.