The Many Faces of Kai

Chapter 1

By Dabeagle



Senior year. It's magical. You walk down the hall and the freshmen part in front of you like a tire through rainwater. This year was going to be great. After graduation I could hit college, get a wider pool of guys who were more sure of who they were and really try dating. I would not only graduate from high school, but I'd graduate from kissing drunk boys who only kissed other boys when they were drunk – or so they told people – to boys who kissed boys on purpose.

I've heard of people that knew they were gay, or at least different, really early. I think most people must figure out they're a little different at some point; the only difference is how well you hide it. I think I could hide if I'd wanted to, but I just...didn't. Mixed results with that like with a lot of things; some didn't care, some cared but didn't know why, some cared and did know – good or bad – or...that's the idea. Tons of different tiny reactions. Some giant asshole reactions, some of them being adults.

It did give me a few minutes where I wasn't so sure of myself, but if there's one thing I do have, it's a pretty decent sense of self. I moved on from people I didn't like or who didn't like me and settled with a few people that I did like. Shell, short for Michelle, is my best friend. She's an average, normal person, and we just kind of vibe together. I have a few other friends, and I hang off and on with them, but she and I vibe best.

My vibe is...chill. I don't like drama: crying, yelling, hysterical bullshit is just not for me. Given that I work fast food, my vibe is shattered a lot by Karens, Kens and their many, many crotch goblins. Shell and I work together, and it makes the time pass better. Neither of us would actually eat the food we sell; in fact we've both wondered if there is a legal definition of food, because we're not sure this stuff would qualify.

Except the fries.

I mean...overloaded with chemicals, yes, but so tasty. And bad for you. Like everything else.

The first day of classes is what you might call uneventful. Or you might call it boring as shit. I don't mind school. I like to learn in general, but the first few days nothing happens. It's like watching paint dry. Not even paint that was an interesting color. Off-white paint. Luckily Shell is in my lunch period; we decided to take our grub out to the benches behind the school while the weather was still decent.

“What did you get?” she asked, wrinkling her nose.

“Same thing you did,” I said with a snort. “Don't act like yours looks that much better.”

“I wasn't,” she protested. “I just wanted to see if yours looked better so I could trade you.”

I blew a breath between my lips, and we sat down to eat.

“I think a midget hit on me this morning,” she said.

“Like a real midget?”

“Well. He could have been one of those guys that look like they're in grade school when they're old enough to drive, but...I don't know.”

“What did he say?” I asked, smiling already.

“Not telling you,” she said, shaking her head. “You'll tell me to go find him and propose or something. You give the meanest dating advice.”

I laughed. “There are advantages to dating short people. He could be under your dinner table, and your parents wouldn't know.” I made a 'V' out of my first and middle fingers and stuck my tongue through, wiggling for effect.

“Such a twelve year old,” she said with a sigh and a little smile.

“Well, you're doing better than I am. At least you got asked out.”

“What about...Kevin Jansen?”

“He was drunk. Even if he hadn't been, he puked on me. I have standards.”

“You'd prefer he peed on you?” she asked innocently.

“Jesus,” I replied, shivering. “So gross.”

“What about Hakeem?”

“It was a bet from his friends.”

“Oh. Did he win?”

I raised an eyebrow. “He kissed me so, yeah!” We laughed together, then I turned the tables on her. “What about you and Yu?”

“Ugh. He's so fine. He's still dating Hillary fucking Dumas. I wish she'd just cheat already, we all know it's what she'll do.” She popped a tater tot in her mouth. “Doesn't he know that?”

“I don't know. Are you working tonight?”

“I haven't checked.” She pulled her phone out and logged into our work portal. “Shit. Yeah.”

“Who's manager tonight?”

“Fucking Nancy,” she said bitterly.

“Shit,” I agreed.

“Andy. Maybe we should call in,” she said in a thoughtful tone.

I paused for a moment. “Well. It is the beginning of school. Maybe we'll have a big assignment to start?”

“On the first day?” she asked distractedly, still looking at her phone. I know how she is, so I pulled my phone out and started scrolling as well. Hey, we spoke in person for nearly ten minutes; that's enough for now.

I spent the rest of the school day scrolling my phone, texting here and there and checking out anyone who didn't look completely familiar. A few guys had changed over the summer, some of them even for the better. There were a few unfamiliar faces, a few that were worth looking at more than once, but over all it was just another first day. My last first day, but still...nothing that interesting.

Our school calendar is kind of odd – we start on a Thursday. The beginning of the week is taken up by Superintendent's days, In-Service training and a Teacher Prep day. So after school I drove home to chill for a bit and get changed for work, but that went off the rails pretty quick when I had the unpleasant surprise that my mother was home.

My mom is...many things. Most of them contradict each other. She can be kind, and yet really mean. She can be truthful, and lie like a whore on her back when the fleet's in. She's really full of herself while pretending to be humble. She tries to be things she isn't. Like smart and well read. When my mother was in high school her class read – she didn't act in, just read in class – A Midsummer Night's Dream by old Will Shakespeare. So, when I was born, she decided to put on airs and set expectations on me by calling me Lysander.

Yep. Now if you've read Romeo and Juliet and then wondered how people talk about the romance of two teenagers committing suicide – and Romeo is sixteen while Juliet is just thirteen – how is romance your takeaway? Same thing with Lysander. He likes a girl, he convinces her to run away with him, he tries to put the moves on her in the woods, and she's all 'uh-uh'. So, Puck does his thing, and Lysander goes and fucks some other woman, fights her significant other and wakes up wondering why the first girl is pissed at him.

I guess I really derailed that with not liking girls. I mean that's the very first thing there, so. Yeah. Early rebel, that's me.

“Oh, you're home,” she said, coming out of the kitchen with a can of Dr. Pepper. It's always cans; she says bottles change the flavor. “I thought you had to work?”

“Came home to change. I thought you had to work?”

“Don't take that tone with me,” she said, breezing by me. “That manager of mine, he's so lippy. I was five minutes late back from lunch. Five. You'd have thought I'd taken an hour like him! He started lecturing me and I told him, I said, look, buddy, I've been here for over a year. I think I can handle my own time.”

I knew she was heading off into another story about how she'd been unjustly fired or had been written up. It was familiar territory.

“Okay, that sucks,” I said. “I'm just grabbing my shirt for work.”

“Can you believe the balls on that guy? Like five minutes means anything? What a jerk, am I right?” she asked, waved her can around in the air and headed off into the living room. Honestly that was the best possible outcome. The worst would have been her insisting I sit and listen to her version of events – like I get a vote – and agree with her. Never, ever point out that she's not the boss, can't make the rules, or use anything approaching reality in your discussions with her when she gets like this. Instead I took my good fortune as it came, grabbed my shirt and headed back out the door.

I work at a national burger chain with a clown for a shift supervisor and a mascot. I don't think it's really us that she, the supervisor, hates, but herself and her life. I'm not sure anyone dreams of growing up and being a shift supervisor for a fast food place, but here we are. I pulled my shirt on and clocked in before checking in with Nancy, the shift supervisor, to see where to go.

“Front register. We have a bus coming.”

“Yay,” I replied listlessly.

“They pay your wages, so smile, cupcake,” she said tartly and turned from me. I screwed my face up and moved my mouth silently, mocking her before turning to get a drawer started.

Busses. Suck. They're cranky, been riding for a while, on a limited time, and they all want to use the bathroom at the same time. I don't know why, because busses like that have bathrooms on them. So, it's usually a cluster fuck. Plus, if it's one of those casino tours, they lost money and are cranky. I mean...don't they know they can lose money at home? I guess it's more thrilling to pull the handle than tap a screen to do the same thing.

After I got my drawer set up, I checked my phone in case Shell had anything funny to say. She was on back cash, where you pay at the first window and get your pseudo-food at the second. But she could be funny. I happens. I flipped through Insta and Snap before my first customer came up. He was a regular, always ordered two doubles with a large fry, apple pie and a large diet soda. It's always the same with these ones. Larger everything, oh but make the one a diet. Like that's making a difference. I rang him up, got his order set, and he headed to a table.

We have a lot of regulars like that. They order a lot of this so called food, and they all look like they're a processed, pseudo-cheeseburger away from a heart attack. I don't really know how people get that big. I don't know if it happens slowly, like just bad habits and then one day you wake up and realize you can't see your toes anymore? I know there's a push for body positivity and not fat shaming people, and I get it. No reason to do that, not my business – but can people be happy with that level of unhealthy weight? It's hard on joints, on the circulatory system...we learned about it in health class. Diabetes. Heart disease. Increased risk of everything that will kill you.

Then the bus people started to arrive. The one thing I will say about a bus that's positive is that it makes time pass. You're busy, you're not as bored. I sold a ton of unhealthy food to people that should probably not be having anything unhealthy, like, ever. My phone buzzed a couple of times in my pocket, but I had enough to keep me busy – and bosses don't like you checking your phone in front of customers. I mean, I get it. It's not a good look. I can't exactly say I respect my job, but I value it and what it does for me enough to recognize that you don't openly shit on it.

So it was a bit before I got my break and scrolled through my phone to see what had happened in the world – or with Shell – that I'd missed. A dick on my phone wasn't expected. Not entirely unwelcome, but unexpected. Shell had sent it to me. Apparently some guy had broken up with his girlfriend or cheated or something, so she was sharing his nudes. Not cool, but you kind of had to expect it if you're going to send stuff like that. I'm not into sending my junk anywhere, but I don't mind seeing what I'm not getting. Much.

The problem with a picture like this is context. Like, I don't understand pictures of guys peeing. Not to kink shame, but yuck. Double yuck with a little throw up added in. Now if this had been lying back in bed, maybe one hand behind the head, full body kind of nude, I'd find that more interesting. Even knowing whose dick this supposedly was on my phone, I wasn't that interested. I do have a low key interest in seeing a lot of guys at school nude. Like I wouldn't say no to seeing them, but it doesn't keep me awake either. I have my crushes, I have my fantasies, but a random snap of the junk of a guy I don't find very attractive is not my idea of sexy.

Shell is a bit different. She has a collection. I'm pretty sure it's illegal. There's one or two guys at school whose nudes are like trading cards – pretty much everyone has seen them. I don't know why. I don't know what gets into people's heads when they take those pictures and send them off. My Global Studies teacher would say it's a lack of forethought. I think it's more like unintended consequences. Their thought was they were trying to make whoever they were sending the picture to thirsty, but instead – or eventually – they just turned into something to joke about. Unless you sent it to the wrong person, then it turned into a revenge porn kind of thing.

There was this guy who'd dated this psycho girl. He was no prize. Neither of them should be in a relationship. But he'd sent her a lot of nudes and Snap videos. He didn't think anything about it when she downloaded them; Snap usually deletes stuff after you send it, but if anyone screen caps or downloads a picture, conversation or video, the app tells you. So yeah, he figured she was just keeping his nudes and stuff for later.

Later turned into sending them to everyone when she got pissed. He did it too, when they broke up. Such trashy people. The cops got involved, because they were underage. It was a genuine shit show. And that, kids, is why you don't send nudes of yourself to sketchy people. And by that I mean people in general.

Still. I can think of a few guys at school who I'd be just fine with them sending me their nudes.

After break it was slow, but eventually my shift was finally over, and I headed home to wash off the smell of processed not-food. Mom was chain smoking in the living room. She didn't say much to me, because she was bingeing another TV show. I showered and got a snack before going to bed.


I got an early morning text from Shell to pick her up: she was running late and would miss her bus. I squinted at my screen and saw the time and figured she was just still in bed. I got ready and went over to her house. Her mom was in the kitchen, just kind of straightening things out after her youngest, Huey, had been through the kitchen like a storm.

“Hi, Andy,” she said distractedly. “Senior year. You get one year of being the big man on campus.”

“Hey! I eat right!” I said with a smile.

She gave me a tired smile. “You know what I meant.” She put a hand on her hip. “Look at you. Seems like yesterday Shell came home with you behind her, and I thought 'This boy is so cute, he's going to be trouble'. And you were! Just not the pregnancy kind of trouble.”

“I'm an angel and you know it,” I said with a grin.

“Loser,” Huey said as he entered the room.

“Enjoy walking to school,” I told him.

Huey's all right. We know each other, but aren't close in any real way. I'd help him out if he needed, but we don't have anything in common besides I'm his older sister's friend. Plus he thinks insults are funny. Thank everything holy he's not cute in any way. I'd hate to be one of those people that falls for a friend's horrible sibling.

He just snorted and went out the back door.

“Working tonight?” she asked.

“Yeah. Last night, too. At least Shell is working with me tonight. It helps with Nancy.” I couldn't help but sneer and roll my eyes a bit.

She chuckled. “Get used to it. No matter where you go there will be people you won't get along with.”

“I know. I live with my mom,” I deadpanned.

“Be nice,” she chided.

“Is there coffee?” Shell asked, entering the room. “Oh, thank God.”

“Thank Folgers,” her mom said. “Andy, could you come over tomorrow morning? Rick has the overnight shift, and I need to get the ladders and things out for cleaning the gutters.” She lowered her voice. “His balance is so bad, he'd fall. Huey can help.”

“Sure, I'm not working Saturday,” I said, though I wasn't thrilled. Rick, her husband, had fallen at work a few years ago, and he had some kind of permanent problem with balance, so ladders weren't the place for him to be. It wasn't that I minded helping; I just wasn't thrilled it was going to take up part of my day off – even though I'd probably be here anyway.

“Okay, let me get my shoes and I'm ready,” Shell said, leaving the room with a travel cup.

“You spoil her, letting her sleep in like this. If she hadn't gotten those tickets, she could drive herself,” her mother chided.

I just smiled and nodded. What do you say to that? Shell and I hopped in my car and headed into school.

“I heard from Cindy Goa that Vin Geritsen and Georgia Villapuerta had a massive fight at the planning meeting for the homecoming dance. Or, like, right after. But massive.”

“Really?” I asked, surprised. “I thought they were pretty strong.”

“Right? I mean, she's dramatic anyway – I never understood him putting up with her yelling at him. Plus, she got into that fight with Maya last year and got her ass stomped, which she had coming.”

“Yeah, I remember.” I didn't remember or care what the fight was about. In fact I didn't really care about the fight either, but that was beside the point. Shell almost used gossip the way people use landmarks to drive. You think 'turn left at the Burger King' and she thinks 'I had a paper due the week so and so found out she was pregnant and screamed at whoever knocked her up'. I don't understand people that measure time like that, but she's definitely one of them.

“Anyway, the fact they had a fight wasn't the interesting part,” she continued. “I heard there may be some serious nudes between the two of them. Georgia's not my speed, but I always thought Vin was hot.”

“Yeah,” I said, nodding in agreement. “Vin's definitely worth looking at.”

“I'll let you know if anything starts to get around,” she said, looking at her phone.

I grunted a response. Some people draw a hard line about stuff like this. I was more ambivalent. The thing is, everyone knows if you post a picture somewhere, you lose control of it. You flash your goods online and somehow it ends up on someone's Christmas card. So while I don't go looking for nudes of guys at my school, if they fall my way I'll take a look.

If you don't like that, don't hit send. That's all I'm saying.

We split up for classes, and I headed to my morning computer systems class. Some kids had to leave the campus for VOTEC, or Vocational Technical training classes, but not the computer tech stuff. If you did cosmetology or mechanics you'd take a bus or drive yourself to another facility. I spotted a nice looking guy I wasn't familiar with and took the seat next to him, wondering if I'd missed seeing him the day before.

He turned my way and fumbled his phone, awkwardly bouncing it off his hands in my direction. We both made a grab for it, but it tumbled down – thankfully hitting his bag instead of the floor.

“Fucking thing,” he grunted. “I swear I can't wait to get this thing replaced.”

“Want something that tries less to leap to its death?” I joked.

He looked at me and gave me an odd non-smile. Like...his lips didn't curve into a smile, but he still gave the impression of being amused.

“It's my dad's old one. He's going to get me a new one, but because I broke my old one he's busting my balls and put this huge ass case on it. It's nearly impossible to hold it with one hand, and if I try – like I'm used to – I nearly always drop it.”

I laughed. “That is one big ass case,” I agreed.

The bell rang, and the teacher brought the class to attention and started in detailing the coding chapter we were going to start on. I kept glancing at this guy. The school was big enough that I didn't know everyone's name, but most people I at least recognized a face. This guy I didn't recognize, and the more I looked, the more I was sure I'd have remembered his face.

He was really cute, but not in a cute way. Like he didn't have a strong chin or high cheekbones. His chin was rounded, but not fleshy. His nose, in profile, angled up a little. His lips were nice, but not full, and sort of looked like an upside-down smile. His face was full but not puffy or anything. He had a nice summer tan on his face and arms and thick hair in an ice cream scoop style. Long fingers and a slender neck rounded him out nicely.

Class ended, and I hadn't had a way to really talk to him again. I didn't even get his name.


“I can't even,” Shell said, walking away from the front counter. “Maybe we should look for more upscale jobs, like Wally World.”

I snorted out a laugh and scraped the grill. “Sure, why not? So many advantages. We usually get one kind of weirdo – the fast food slob. Over there you get all of them.”

“At least it would be variety,” she whined, turning back to the front counter and going to greet a new customer.

Work was steady, and it made the time pass by easily. I dropped Shell at home and headed back to my house. My mom was sitting in the kitchen sipping from a glass of wine and reading something on her phone when I came in.

“You stink,” she said.

“Yeah. Professional hazard.”

“I made my pasta salad,” she said in an offhand way.

“Oh? With the mini pepperonis in it?”

She looked at me with a smug smile. “Of course.”

“Is it for us?” Some might think this is a weird question, but you have to know my mother. She likes to play games with your head. It would be just like her to tell me she'd cooked one of my favorite things that she makes and then tell me it's for someone else so I can't have any.

“I put some in a plastic tub for you. But the big one is for my book club tomorrow.”

“Oh, Bet!” I said excitedly and went to the fridge.

“Um. After you shower? You smell like burger ass.”

I blinked. “What? Burgers don't have asses.”

“If they did, it's what you smell like. Go. Shower.”

“Mooom,” I groaned but left to shower. I didn't even like how I smelled, but I wanted that pasta salad!

I got cleaned up and dressed for staying in and claimed my prize in the fridge. Mom had moved off to the living room, so I didn't have any more head games to distract me from my food. I was flipping through apps on my phone when I got a notification that Shell had posted a new picture. I swapped over and was unsurprised to find it was her fingernails – she likes to paint them and then take pictures. Thing is they aren't fancy nails or anything, she just slaps a color on like a blind clown who paints cuticles as well as nails. I haven't been able to figure out if it's a joke or not yet.

I flipped to my main image feed and was scrolling as I ate when something caught my eye. I went back up and studied a bit more closely a picture of the soccer team from the school's pictures. I thought I saw my guy from this morning in coding class, so I opened the image and looked at the names to see if I could find out who he was. I recognized many of the faces and could put names to a few, but the image didn't contain links to private accounts or a list of who was in the image. I opened the soccer team's account and started to scroll – and bam.

Shout out to new player, Kai Lucio.

A quick search brought up his personal account, which was set to private, so I went back to the soccer team page. There were a few shots with Kai in action – running, kicking and being all sporty. He was a slender guy. I scrolled back to the welcome picture and ended up saving it. It was a nice picture.

With a yawn I put my phone on the charger and took my bowl to the sink. “The pasta salad was awesome, Mom,” I called out.

“I knew you'd like it!” she called back.

I brushed and went to bed, tired and knowing I had to go clean gutters the next day.


I woke up to banging somewhere in the house. Probably my mom. She likes to start weekend projects that never get done. I got up and got ready for the day, stopping to get a fish taco and a coffee on my way to Shell's. Fish tacos are an underrated breakfast food, but even more so when you understand Shell hates them and so won't be trying to steal my food.

Even though Huey was supposed to help me, the little shit kept disappearing. Bathroom. Mom was calling. Had to wash his hands. Hungry. I started to give him some shit, and his mom must have overheard, 'cause she came down on him. He was kind of pissy and dragged his ass while we did the front and back gutters. It was messy, boring work, made worse by him being a jerk.

Shell came out to talk and was actually more of a help than Huey. Eventually she just told him to get lost, and she helped me finish up the work. After the ladder and stuff was put away, we went into the house. We washed up, and Shell went to make us some plates from leftovers for a late lunch, which was good, because I was starving.

“My dad should be getting up soon,” she said, sliding a plate to me.

“Working overnight has to suck ass,” I noted.

“I wouldn't want to,” she replied. She sat down with me, and we started to eat, both looking to see if there was anything interesting we'd missed on our phones. “Georgia is getting dramatic in chat.”

“Yeah? About Vin?”

“Looks like,” she said.

I set my phone down and for some reason was reminded about Kai and his private account. I wondered if I should hit the button to request to see his account, but I didn't know him or him, me. Maybe I'd just wait to see if he turned out to be decent or not. Pretty guys can be really douchey. Not only that, but part of his appeal was the mystery. He was new to the school this year, so there was no gossip mill or even actual experiences with him. It's a little how I felt about going to college – everyone would be a mystery to me. It was kind of exciting.

“Oh my God!” Shell looked up at me. “Are you done eating?”

“Uh. I guess? I mean, not sure why you're so excited about that idea?”

“Hey, guys,” her dad said as he came into the kitchen. He was wearing sweats and a tee shirt, so I think he'd just gotten up. “Andy, thank you for doing the gutters. I had plans to do them today, but you know how my wife worries.”

“No problem,” I said.

“I appreciate it,” he said, holding his hand out to shake. I shook his hand and felt him pressing paper into my hand. “Seriously.”

“Yeah, all good. You're welcome,” I said. This was an old thing between us. If I had to guess, he didn't like that there were things he shouldn't do. I know I don't like being told 'no' just like anyone else. But when you have your wife, who is looking out for you, getting a kid to do stuff around your house because your doctor said to 'stop doing that'...yeah, might hit the old ego. So instead, his wife asked me to help, and he slipped me cash, not just as compensation but, I think, to make it feel more like he hired me to help him out because he's busy rather than something he couldn't do.

Of course I could be full of shit.

“Come on,” Shell said to me, grabbing my plate and putting it in the sink. I followed her back to her room, and we sat on the huge, over sized beanbag she'd begged for when she was thirteen. I mean it was huge. And comfortable, if you don't count her elbows. “Georgia just went nuclear.”


She grinned. “Take a look.”

She put her phone up so we could both watch I have no problem admitting I've fantasized about guys at school; I'm sure other guys have their crushes, and girls do, too. There are times when people look their best, for whatever reason – acne cleared up, stumbled on just the right color combination for their complexion – whatever that might be. I sure had no idea about that stuff. Point is, some days people can come in looking better than their normal best.

Vin was good looking. Hands down, objectively, the guy was hot. I've checked out his public pictures before, and he's had a few that were a little scandalous, I guess you'd say. If you were eighty. Like his swim trunks pushed down to show a few pubes. Or a shot from the floor where you couldn't tell if the shadow up the leg of his shorts was really a testicle or just a shadow. He looked good with his shirt off, and he knew it. Rumor was there were a lot of Vin's photos out there and he'd told me some sketchy things about a cousin of his. Not stuff I'd repeat.

That was not this. This was video. This was Vin sitting in a gaming chair, smiling at a screen while his phone, probably, recorded him stroking his dick. His very nice dick.

“Uh. Jesus, Georgia just posted this?” I asked.

“She linked. It's on some amateur porn site,” she said, staring, her mouth curled into a smile that was hard to interpret.

I felt a little bad for Vin. As far as I knew he wasn't a douche or anything, at least I had no first hand experience. I'm not sure there is anything really that people could do to deserve being exposed like this. On the other hand, don't hit send. Even if the site took this video down, it's too late. People will download it. It'll spread. It may not go viral or anything, but Vin stroking in his chair is going to be circulating for years. There will be Twitter posts with people wanting to know who he is and if there are more videos.

I mean, I would.

“Damn. If Kent Graber hadn't already asked me to Homecoming, I'd ask Vin.”

I snorted. “Please. Like you're going to do anything with him.”

“Fuck you,” she said, shoving me lightly. “I'm no prude.”

“Don't have to be. I'm just saying, even if you went to a dance with him it doesn't mean you're hooking up. I mean...I wouldn't kick him out of bed, but let's be real.”

She closed the video and looked at me.

I grinned. “Kent Graber, huh?”

She rolled her eyes and smiled a little. “He was really sweet when he asked. I wasn't busy, obviously, and it felt like I'd be kicking a puppy to say no. It's just a dance.”

“Yeah. But you'd totally go down on him,” I said, smiling and not looking at her.

“Would not!” she cried.

“Oh come on-”

She slapped my arm. “Pig.” She paused. “But Vin....”

I laughed.

“Come on! You're saying Vin wouldn't get you on your knees?”

I hummed and tilted my head from side to side. “I liked what I saw, no doubt. But Vin's always been hot and unavailable.” I sighed. “Tragically straight.”

She elbowed me. “Okay, well I'm going now, so you have to pick someone.”

“Why?” I asked with a snort. “You'll be on a date.”

“You can't leave me alone with Kent all night.”

“Shell, you can't agree to go with a guy, let him get dressed up and everything and then just ignore him. That's crueler than just turning him down,” I chided.

“I never said anything about ignoring him,” she said defensively. “But we don't know each other. You need to wing man for me. So you need a date.”

“Yeah, let me pull up Grindr and see if that's a category,” I said with a snort.

“Come on. There has to be someone you could risk asking. Or go stag.”

“I'm not going stag,” I said firmly.



“Your voice changed.”

“What? It did not.”

“It did!” she accused. “When you said you weren't going stag. Oh my God! You have a guy on your mind!”

“Oh, Christ,” I said with a roll of my eyes, but I was smiling.

“Who. Who is it?” she asked, wiggling beside me. You can't really jump in a bean bag chair, wiggling is as close as it gets.

I chuckled. “It's nothing. Just this new guy. I know nothing about him. Except his name. And that he plays soccer for the school. And he's new.”

“That's not nothing. Who is it?” she asked.

I chuckled again. “His name is Kai Lucio.”

She woke her phone and went to the school picture feed and searched up the soccer team. “Him?” she asked, bringing up his shout out.


“Hmm. Kind of thin. That nose makes him look a little like a rodent.”

“It does not!” I protested. “And he's not thin! Slender yes, but athletic. Look at his shoulders, and you can see some decent pecs in that jersey.”

She looked at me with smug triumph. “So? Ask him to the dance.”

“What? No. I don't even know if he's gay.” I paused. “Chances are he's not.”

She started making chicken sounds, and I bumped her with my shoulder, but that only encouraged her.

“Stop, weirdo,” I told her.

“Come on. You accuse me of wanting to go down on Kent, but you like this one.”

“He's cute,” I admitted. “There are tons of cute guys at school. Most are either straight or douches.”

“So...Kai's a mystery.”

“Right. I don't know him. I just have him in a class.”

“Oh, you've had him?”

I laughed. “Oh God, you're so right! If Kai were gay, I'd suck him so hard his balls would implode!”

She burst out laughing, and I joined her. It was stupid. “Listen, though. It doesn't hurt to ask him, right? Worst he says is no?”

I was about to answer when I heard her dad hollering at Huey about hanging out in the hallway. I looked at her, and she rolled her eyes.

“Huey's gotten weirder as he gets older,” she said. “I swear we were never as creepy at that age as he is.”

“I dunno. You can be pretty creepy.”

“I said ‘at that age’.” She snorted. “So. Ask him out? Please?”

I sighed. It was always dicey to ask a guy out. There were a range of replies for sure, but the worst thing was that your feelings were out there in public for someone to do whatever they wanted with. It was kind of like the whole sending nudes thing. Once you send it, you lose control. So I'm kind of thinking it's better to not hit send in terms of putting my interest out there.

“I don't know, Shell. I met him once in class and we talked a little. About the huge ass case his dad put on his phone. Not really something to build on.”

“Lysander,” she whined.



I sighed. The shit I do for other people. “Okay. I'll ask him.”

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