Craig and Andrew had just arrived at Craig's house after school later that day. “Would you like something to drink? We've got Coke, orange, root beer, and we have apple juice or orange juice,” asked Craig.
“Whatever's fine, thanks. Uh, apple juice I guess,” replied Andrew.
The two boys were in Craig's kitchen. Craig was doing his best to hide his nervousness, wondering what Andrew's reaction was going to be, or, more likely in Craig's mind, if he'd even believe him.
“Let's go up to my room,” said Craig, “I'm a bit more comfortable there, and this is going to all sound kinda weird. I think I'll tell it better up there. Besides, that's where it all started.”
“Okay.” Andrew was visibly curious and obviously impatient to find out what the big secret was. Craig's reactions and reluctance to talk about it were just stoking his curiosity.
The boys went into Craig's room and Andrew looked around the room curiously as people will do when going into someone's space. You can learn a lot about people by looking at their stuff, and their environment.
“It looks like you read a lot too.” Andrew said. “So do I. So does my dad, but he more reads scientific journals and stuff these days. I'm more into fiction but I like a lot of different stuff.” Andrew's eyes continued to scan Craig's shelves. “It looks like you are too. You've got everything. Even really old stuff. Chaucer and Homer, I've heard of those but I've never read that kind of stuff. And Amazing Stories, I've read a lot of those. Looks like a lot of non-fiction too. I have a hard time with that really old stuff. The language is too weird. Even the translations, they wrote so weird back then.”
Craig laughed. “Yeah, me too. Some of those are gifts, or they used to be my dad's. It's cool, but I don't really get most of it, and reading while sitting next to the computer to try and translate everything is a pain.”
“Umm, where should I sit?” asked Andrew, looking around.
“Anywhere is fine. I'm going to sit on my bed. Hop up here too if you want, there's lots of room.”
Andrew chose to sit on the bed with Craig, but in the opposite direction so the boys could see each other's faces. Craig was fidgeting nervously as he tried to figure out how to start. There was so much to explain and it all sounded so unlikely. Andrew looked at him patiently. Craig opened his mouth to start.
“Okay. Here's what's happened. Uh, okay. Well, let's see...It's like this...It's kinda like, I mean, you know how... Oh fuck, I don't even know where to start.”
Andrew laughed. “Boy, that's so fascinating so far. Really.” The boys smiled at each other, a bit uncomfortably. “Well, start at the beginning. Then keep going until...”
“...until I get to the end. Yeah. Look, I gotta get up. I do better at this sort of thing when I'm kinda moving around.” Craig got up and began pacing, a pen in his fingers vibrating back and forth.
“It started Wednesday morning. Two days ago. And a whole year ago, at the same time.”
Andrew opened his mouth to ask a question.
“No. Hang on Andrew. Let's try it this way. Lemme just tell the story. Then at the end we can talk and you can ask all the questions you want, or run screaming from the house more likely.”
Andrew smiled. “Okay. I doubt I'll be running and screaming though.”
Craig looked back at him sadly. “I hope you're right. Okay, I woke up on Wednesday morning, just like I always do, and...”
Craig told the story. It took a while. He couldn't help noticing Andrew's reactions, his frowns, his gasps, his smiles, his shock. It was funny. Craig found himself feeding off of Andrew's reactions and really making a story of it. Not just reciting facts but telling a tale, though he kept it strictly accurate. In a weird kind of way, it was almost fun.
Finally he finished and sat down on the bed again, awaiting Andrew's call to the psychiatric hospital.
Andrew sat on the bed, knees up and arms locked around them, rocking ever so slightly front to back. His eyes were fixed on his knees and his brows were knitted tight together. Craig waited, and watched.
For five long excruciating minutes Craig waited for a reaction. Something, anything. He was starting to get very nervous again, and was about to stand up and resume pacing when Andrew looked up and into Craig's eyes.
“That's the most unbelievable, amazing, incredible fucking yarn I've ever heard in my life,” Andrew said. Craig's heart fell. “But, I believe you.” Craig's heart jumped back up to where it was supposed to be. Kind of a weird feeling, he thought.
“Well, yeah. It's like, I dunno, almost impossible to believe. But my dad always taught me, pay attention to the details. Look at the evidence. All the evidence. Keep an open mind. Be careful of your assumptions. Whatever you're left with, at the end of all that, once you've eliminated the impossible, no matter how improbable...”
“...must be the truth.” Craig joined in with the last. “Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,” he said to Andrew's smile.
Andrew nodded wanly. “Yeah. The thing is, there's a lot of stuff I've noticed the past couple of days. Any of 'em, by themselves, could be shrugged off. All put together though, well,” Andrew shook his head, “it's weird, but yeah. It makes sense.” Andrew stopped a second and then continued, answering the question in Craig's eyes. “Look, here's the thing. You've got those scars. I don't remember seeing them before. You're acting different in some ways. You're standing taller, you're way more aware of what's going on around you, you seem more comfortable in your own skin, you can do things that I could've sworn you could never do. There was that fight with Clyde, and the way you reacted in my kitchen, when you heard the garage door open. But, at the same time, you're looking around all the time like, I dunno, like you're lost. Like you're in some alien place and you're trying to figure it out.”
Craig thought about this. “Yeah, that pretty much nails it I guess.”
Something changed in Andrew's expression. “So when do I meet Joel?” He smiled when he asked this, but for some reason it didn't reach his eyes.
Craig looked back steadily, wondering. Andrew kept putting out these hints. Well, two could play at that game. “He'll hopefully be here on Saturday. But when do I get to meet Jamie? I mean really meet him, not just say 'hi' at school?”
Andrew gazed back. Both boys had questions in their eyes, both boys knew it, and both boys were obviously reluctant to say more. Finally Andrew answered. “How about on Saturday? Maybe we can all meet?”
“Okay.” Craig stared at the wall three inches above Andrew's head. Fuck it, he thought. Let's see what happens. He'd survived cougars, he could survive this. Though this seemed way harder. “Um, Andrew, I'm feeling a bit out of it after telling you all that. I went without any human contact for eight months until Joel showed up. And, now, just being around people again. It reminded me of what I missed. People, and human contact...this is going to sound a bit weird, but, umm, could I...could I, like, give you a hug?”
Andrew smiled slowly, his eyes showing all kinds of feelings, maybe even hope, and wonder. He blushed, just a hint of one, “I was just trying to figure out an excuse to ask you if you wanted one. You looked like you could use it.”
Craig shifted around and moved towards Andrew, watching his eyes, then embraced him. His arms moved onto Andrew's back and he felt Andrew's arms do the same. A bit tentative for a few seconds, then firmer. His hands began rubbing slightly up and down on Andrew's back, of their own accord. Craig's heart was hammering. His stomach full of butterflies. He felt Andrew's hands on his own back, moving gently in circles. Craig could smell Andrew's hair, and he could smell Andrew. It was intoxicating. Craig felt himself hardening and shifted slightly to ensure it was hidden.
Both boys moved apart slightly at some unseen signal, until their faces were barely two inches apart. Nose to nose. They looked at each other.
Craig moved his head forward. Barely. You'd need a micrometer to measure it. He could've sworn he saw Andrew's do the same, so he did it again. This time steadily forward, slowly, to give Andrew a chance to back up. He didn't.
Their lips touched. Their eyes closed. Craig had thought he had experienced enough wonder and amazement for more than a lifetime. Two lifetimes. He figured he had felt most of what could possibly be felt in the last year.
He was wrong. Oh, so very wrong.
This was new. And exciting. And breathtaking. And oh wow, was it fun!
Craig felt Andrew's lips open slightly. An invitation. Craig responded. Their tongues met. The kiss deepened, arms tightly around each other, bodies now shifting, rubbing slightly. Still a bit cautious, but then less so.
It was a long time later when the boys came up for air.
The boys were sitting up again, though still touching, shoulder to hip, hands locked together. Andrew looked almost smug. “I knew it,” he said.
Craig giggled. “You knew what?”
“That you were gay too. I have sucky gaydar, I don't even really believe in it, but somehow this time I knew it. Jamie's gonna be shitting himself.”
“Jamie knows about you?” asked Craig.
“Yeah. He's the only one who knows. Other than you now. He figured it out. Well, actually, it wasn't hard. He found my porn on my computer.” Andrew blushed.
Craig laughed. “That'd do it. Obviously he's okay with it?”
Andrew nodded, a serious expression on his face, “He's the best friend I've ever had. He knew I was looking at you, on the first day of school. He kept bugging me to talk to you. So I did, but it kept backfiring. You didn't seem interested.”
Craig laughed. “So you figured rupturing my spleen with a basketball would do the trick? Twice?”
Andrew giggled in response. “Well, I was getting desperate. You kept ignoring me. You were so, like, closed up.” He wasn't giggling anymore, a more serious expression on his face. “I could tell you were hurting about something.”
“Yeah. My dad died about a year and half...I mean, I guess about six months ago, then we moved and I lost my only good friend. I'm not, well, I guess I should say I didn't used to be very good at making friends, social skills, that kind of thing.”
“You know, that's another of the things that proves to me you're not making up that whole story.”
“That's about the tenth time I've heard you do that. Talk about something that happened a while back, and then correct yourself, minus about a year.” Andrew shifted slightly, indicating a subject change. “You asked me about Jamie. Well, what about you and Joel? He must know about you. I mean, from your story, you guys slept in the same bed for, what was it, almost four months?”
“Yeah, Joel knows. I told him almost right away, I had to. He's straight though. But, since I'm telling you everything, and being honest and stuff, well, just so you know, we did fool around a bit."
“Well, duh. I would've been amazed if you didn't.”
“But, it was mostly like friends, not a relationship.”
“Listen,” Andrew said, “me and Jamie, we did the same thing. At least up until the school year started. He decided that he didn't want to do that anymore at the start of the year.” He grinned. “Maybe that's why I started looking around so much, and looking at you. I was horny.”
Craig laughed. “Maybe. Makes sense. You wouldn't believe how it was before I met Joel. Nobody at all around, and not much, uh, fantasy material. No internet. No stories, or pics, or...”
Andrew gasped, but it was filled with amusement, “Oh god, you poor kid! It must've been much worse than I thought! And here I thought vicious dogs were your biggest problem!” He laughed.
Craig gave him a gentle shove. “Shut up.” He then moved in for another kiss.
It was several minutes later when they pulled apart and Andrew smirked at Craig. “Just more proof your story is true.”
“What? I never kissed Joel. Ever! Well, not on the mouth.”
“No, that's not what I mean.” Andrew shifted his leg to make it obvious what he was talking about. “The gun in your pocket. It's a big one, and the barrel is as hard as steel.”
“Hey, you must've been there too then, though I didn't see you. You seem to be sporting an awfully large caliber weapon there yourself.”
Sure it was corny, but to the two teens it was the height of novel wit. They giggled like the schoolboys they were before another round of kissing. This time with hands carefully checking out the other's firearm.