Author: Rachel Lynn PM
Cole's mother has just gotten remarried to a guy who has a son his age. Unfortunately, it means moving to a new town, meeting new people and having new neighbors. None of which Cole is too keen on. Slash. Yaoi. M/M action.Rated: Fiction M - English - Chapters: 2 - Words: 8,336 - Reviews: 22 - Favs: 26 - Follows: 23 - Updated: 03-02-05 - Published: 02-27-05 - id: 1846133
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
An: Yeah, so, this sounded so much better and saner in my head…
"So, whatcha reading?"
Cole started and then stared up at the boy over the rims of his glasses. "A book." Turning back to the paperback in his hand, Cole resolved to ignore the one oddity in a school that was just as content to leave him alone as he was to be left alone. It was lunch, he'd managed to finally find a spot that was relatively people free, and it was currently the only thing he liked about school all together. He really didn't see that changing anytime in the near future.
The oddity, however, seemed perfectly content to sit next to him, loudly open a paper sack and start rifling though his lunch. Cole snuck a glance at him out of the corner of his eye. The oddity had dark curly hair held back off his face by red and orange headbands that clashed. The rest of his outfit made Cole wonder if he got dressed in the dark since there was a plaid button down shirt with pinstriped pants and a polka dot tie. Course, who knew with fashion. Maybe dressed in the dark was in these days.
"Wow, I've never seen one of those," the book was snatched out of Cole's hand, "What did you call it? Book? Fascinating! And all these squiggly things here? They are--?"
"Words," Cole deadpanned, holding out a hand for his book. Cole was pretty sure that the boy was taller than him and it wasn't hard for him to be tanner than Cole as well. Next to him, Cole was pretty sure he looked like a pale blond geek boy. Which was probably the point he was making with the book. "Can I have it back, please?"
"Well, see, that depends. Do you know what my name is?" The oddity grinned, tapping Cole's dog-eared book against his chin. Cole decidedly did not take the time to notice his deep brown eyes or the friendly looking dimples.
"Is this a trick question?"
"Well, see, you've been in this school for what?"
"Three weeks," Cole spit out hoping to hurry this along.
"Yes, and we're actually a pretty small town here." The oddity gestured. As if Cole hadn't noticed. He'd been happy where he was. Nice thriving metropolis. A bus system that actually took you to places you wanted to go. People who came in more than one natural shade. People who didn't preface all their sentences with "hey, remember when" and then follow it up with some story that happened at the beginning of time. "And seeing as how there's maybe, maybe a hundred people in our graduating class, I thought you might have figured out who I am."
"Nope, sorry. Not ringing a bell," Cole returned snidely, snatching his book back. Pointedly opening the book up, Cole didn't care that he'd already read this part or that Oddity With the Forgettable Name had lost his page. He'd read the whole damn thing again if everyone would just leave him the hell alone. In fact, he'd read every book in the world if it meant not having to speak to anyone else at this stupid school ever again. He didn't care what they said about him, he didn't care if they said anything about him. As long as he was reading a book, they could merrily jump of the broken bridge at the end of town for all he cared.
"You are an unusually unfriendly person," and the book was ripped out of Cole's hands again, "Cole Reinhart."
"Yes. It's my brilliant plan to push people away and die old and lonely with no one to mourn me. It was working great too, until you showed up. So, way to go. You've ruined my life." Cole grabbed the book back and this time turned a hundred and eighty degrees from Oddity and hunched over protectively.
"S'only fair, you ruined mine first." A hand reached in front of Cole's face and yanked the book back. Mad now, Cole growled and whirled around.
"Look, I don't care what your name is. I don't want to know your name, or anyone else's name for that matter. I didn't want to move here and I certainly don't want to live here. Go away." Cole snarled, reaching out to grab his book, only to have the oddity yank it just out of his reach.
"I don't care that you don't want to know. I gave you a couple weeks to settle in and then I gave you a couple more cause they asked me to, but time's up," the oddity grinned and Cole decided he liked the first grin much better than this one. "You're in my best friend's room."
"What?" Cole couldn't help but look a little perplexed at that. He was about to ask what the hell he was talking about when the bell rang.
"Well, that's lunch, Cole," the oddity smiled and then bowed, "nice chatting with you." He saluted with Cole's book and then walked off with it.
By the end of the day, Cole had found out just enough to know what the book stealing fashion accident's name was. And he only knew that because the kid that thought bathing was optional who sat in front of him in English didn't have a problem answering random questions without asking some in return. Theodore Tortenelli. Not that it helped him or explained at all what Theodore had been babbling or why he'd appropriated Cole's novel. Cole doubted it was because this Theodore had actually wanted to read it.
Sighing, Cole stopped staring at his feet and wishing that he had his book in his hands and looked up. Home sweet home.
When his mother announced that she was remarrying the guy she'd met through therapy and had brought by off and on for the last year, he'd been happy for her. He liked Jim Holden and he'd gotten a bit used to seeing him and his mother going out with him. Coming back with him. Dating. When she told him that Jim had a son his age that he'd never met, he was leery, but figured it wouldn't be that big of a deal. He could share his room. Their townhouse downtown was a bit small, but Cole figured they'd make it work.
When she told him that they'd be moving to some hick town bedroom community? When she told him he'd be changing schools, leaving behind everything he knew?
Shaking his head, Cole walked up the steps to his brand new house and his brand new life. Neither of which he wanted, but was stuck with anyway.
"Hey Cole, decide to walk?" Since Maurice was chewing on what looked like dry Captain Crunch it was a little hard to understand him.
"Yeah. The whole shiny yellow bus? Not my thing." Cole dumped his backpack beside the couch and crawled over Maurice's legs to get to the other side of the couch and the stack of books he'd slowly been stacking there since he'd moved in. A strategically placed book always saved him from having to make uncomfortable awkward small talk, which given that he'd just moved in with two complete strangers was bound to happen more than it happened in most other houses. And walking home prevented him from having to make small talk, pretend to fall asleep, or read on the bus.
"You do realize that we live five miles from school, right?" Maurice managed to quirk an eyebrow, ask, eat Captain Crunch and watch TV all at the same time.
"So I got my exercise. Whee." Cole reached over and grabbed the book on the top of the stack. It was one he'd read five times already but it was a classic and would do until he got his book back. Speaking of which, "hey, tell your friend to give my book back."
"Wha?" Maurice actually tore his attention away from the television to face Cole.
"Your friend. The one who dresses in the dark. Him. Make him give back my book."
"What are you talking about?"
"Theodore Tortenelli. He stole my book. Said I ruined his life. Stole your room." Cole snuck a look at Maurice over the edge of his book. "Which, of course, is ridiculous since your room is in the basement and Jim redid the guest bedroom upstairs for me."
"Well," Maurice put the bowl down on the coffee table and looked away, and while Cole wasn't versed in Maurice that didn't exactly seem like a good sign.
"I stole your room?" Jesus, no wonder they'd never had a conversation that lasted longer than ten minutes and no wonder Maurice looked nervous anytime Cole looked like he was getting ready to dig his heels in anywhere and relax.
"I live in the basement. It wasn't really my room. It's no big deal. You live here now and it's your room," Maurice shrugged before grabbing the soda sitting on an ancient looking stack of magazines.
"God, I stole your room?" Cole tossed the book, not particularly caring where it landed since anything behind the couch was a no man's land anyway. His mother had threatened three or four times to attempt to clean it, but no one had taken her seriously. "Geez, you could have said something." Slouching, Cole glared at the TV trying to figure out what Maurice saw in the bright pink robot that was battling it's way across the screen that made it so captivating.
"You didn't steal my room. Fido just stayed there every once in a while." Maurice shrugged. "Every once in a while a lot." And Cole could only stare at him. Maurice wasn't the most normal of kids. He wore retro clothes with the occasional disturbing preference for anything pastel or pink. He had long brown hair that was usually either braided or in a ponytail and went halfway down his back. But still, Maurice had at least seemed mostly normal at the first couple family-ish trial dinners, the civil ceremony wedding, the first week or so.
"Fido?" But every once in a while, Cole felt like he was living in an alternate universe where it was apparent that no one spoke his version of English.
"Theodore. Or, Theo if you prefer. Me and Pop call him Fido." Maurice changed the channel so that instead of pink robots, there were teenagers in spandex bouncing around.
"Why?" It was a stupid question, especially considering that Cole had every reason to not want to know why. First and foremost being that he was leaving this crazy hick town at the first opportunity he could find.
"Cause he was like a little lost puppy. Always showing up on the doorstep. Dad was always feeding him dinner, sometimes breakfast, and lunch in the summer. So, one day Pop just started calling him Fido and it stuck." Maurice shrugged uncomfortably.
"So he was over here a lot, and now that I'm here, he's out?" Cole tried not to sigh unhappily. Just in case there wasn't any more of a reason for him to feel out of place and awkwardly in the way.
"Nah, he just didn't think you'd appreciate him dogging in on your space now that Liz is boinking Dad legally."
"Oh, ew. They don't have sex. They shake hands. Maybe, if they're feeling wild and frisky, a peck on the cheek. End of story." Cole shuddered.
"Prude," Maurice laughed at him. "Fido's just testing the waters. Trying to get to know you a bit. I think he misses the place. And us."
"I don't care if he comes over or not," Cole bit out in frustration, suddenly wanting to clean something just to get out the restless energy. "If he wants to come over, he should come over. If he wants to move to Botswana, he should move to Botswana. I don't give a damn. I just want my book back."
"So go get it and tell him to come over. I haven't seen him in a while and I'm bored." Maurice stretched out, picking up his bowl of cereal again and pouring the soda over the Captain Crunch before digging in with a spoon.
"What am I? Your messenger boy? You get him. I don't even know where he lives," Cole sputtered, wishing fervently that he'd simply stuck with the classic and given up on the stolen book. He didn't want to go out. He didn't want to talk to anyone. He didn't want to get to know anyone. In fact, he'd prefer it if Fido and everyone in this town would just fall off the face of the planet and give him his old life back.
"He lives in the green house next door, you can see his bedroom window from yours and it's your book," Maurice pointed out, with his eyes glued to the tube. Cole glared at him for about a minute before it became apparent that the whole effort was wasted on someone like Maurice.
Fine. He'd get his book back, extend Maurice's invitation to return to their old lives, not stare at Theodore's big doofy looking brown eyes and then retreat to his mother's minivan—once she got home of course—and live out the rest of his life in self imposed isolation.
Cole stood outside of Theodore Tortenelli's house doing his best impression of a drowned rat. It was raining and since Cole was Cole, he couldn't just knock, ask and leave like a normal person. He hated talking to people. He hated knocking on doors, pretending that he was happy to see whoever it was that answered the door when truth was that he wished that they'd shut up and get the person he wanted to talk to in the first place, since whoever it was who answered the door was inevitably never the person Cole was coming over to see.
He sighed, and now he was just procrastinating.
He turned slightly, and gave his house a longing glance, unsuccessfully trying to ignore that Maurice was watching and laughing from the living room window. Damn, now he actually did have to go through with it or suffer through the "people in this town don't bite, honest" speech from his mother all over again when Maurice told this oh so amusing tale over dinner.
It was a bit like getting blackmailed by yourself.
Turning around and making a face at the puce colored door, which clashed horribly with the green house and probably explained half of the problem Fido apparently had with his wardrobe, Cole screwed up his courage and banged his fist against the door instead of his head.
Since the door immediately opened, Cole was left with the assumption that dear old stepbrother had given Theo a call or that Theo had been standing at the door laughing and waiting for Cole to get sick of standing in the rain and get up the guts to knock. Lovely. Abject humiliation for no apparent reason. Just one more thing to add to his list of why this place embodied his personal hell. Maybe he'd died and was already in some kind of existential alternate universe.
"Well hello, Cole." Theo leaned against the doorway, crossing his hands over his plaid shirt and the polka dot tie that was beginning to give Cole a headache. He was sopping wet and apparently putting on a pretty good show for Theo and Maurice. Good. He was glad. At least someone was getting something out of his being here.
"Give me back my book." He said it slowly, pretending that it didn't bother him at all to have cold water dripping off his blond bangs or down the collar of his blue polo shirt.
"My name?" Theo quirked an eyebrow.
"Theo," Cole bit out, and tried not to snarl the rest when Theo looked smug, "And Maurice says to come over and entertain him. He's bored." Cole shivered slightly.
"You want to come in while I get the book?"
"No." Cole said quietly, patiently waiting until Theo came back from inside the house with a backpack and Cole's book.
"Here ya go," Theo slapped it against his chest. Grabbing it, Cole wondered why he went to the trouble in the first place. The book wasn't that great and he could have always just walked the three miles to the town's one and only bookstore to buy a new copy. "That wasn't so painful was it?"
That didn't even deserve an answer, so Cole turned on his heels and walked back to his new house, not caring if Theo was following after him or not. Once inside out of the rain, Cole realized his choices were a bit limited. Maurice had the basement, the master bedroom was off the main floor and the room he was now in but was apparently Maurice and Theo's was upstairs next to the study. The study was Jim's and Cole never felt comfortable in there. He could in theory stay in the living room, but that was also where the only TV was and there was a high likelihood of being around Theo and Maurice if he stayed there to read.
He felt Theo come in and stand beside him, brushing his shoulder slightly as he stretched. "Ah, home sweet home. Nothing beats it, right?"
Ouch. Just rub salt in an open wound. Cole turned to look this time, noticing that he in fact, did have to look up and that Theo was probably a good half-foot taller than him. "Sorry I took over your room." And with that, he turned and made a grand retreat for the laundry room. Let Theo figure out where Maurice was on his own. It should be easy considering that Theo already knew everything that there was to know about this family and this house.
Turning a corner, Cole let out a heavy sigh as he pulled open the door to the minuscule room that housed the washer and dryer. It wasn't like he'd had a thriving social life in the city, because he hadn't. But at least it had been his life, dammit. He'd had a claim to it, a stake in it. A place in it. There was nowhere in this life for him.
There was a spot of grungy nastiness that was just big enough for him to fit between the two machines, and scooting back into it, Cole decided he didn't care about how uncomfortable his wet jeans were or how cold his soaked shirt was against his skin. He wasn't leaving this spot until everyone else was asleep and he could steal a few minutes of peace for himself in a place he didn't belong.
Hunching his shoulders, he opened the paperback and started reading.