|Try for Normality
Author: TheLuciferPerson PM
Three teenagers in an ordinary high school setting. It's the real world, and with their raging sexuality and identity-seeking, it's more than enough of a challenge. Maybe, if they keep looking, they'll be able to get what they so desperately want.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Chapters: 21 - Words: 90,028 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 01-27-13 - Published: 06-18-12 - id: 3033344
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Daniel closed his backpack and glanced around. "Hey, where's Jaime?" he asked. Last period math class had ended and the three had straggled towards the lockers but now Daniel could only see Thomas and a couple of other kids he didn't much care about in the vicinity. He slammed his locker shut. "I swear he was just behind me two seconds ago."
"Maybe he went to the bathroom?" Thomas offered from a few lockers to the side. He closed his own locker and glanced around. Jaime was nowhere to be seen in the stretch of hallway where the junior lockers were.
The two moved towards the middle of the hallway where the bathrooms were and waited, shifting their heavy bags. When Jaime didn't appear after a minute, Daniel scuffed the toe of his shoe on the floor and took out his cellphone from his back pocket.
"You know he has his phone off during the school day," said Thomas, looking doubtfully at Daniel's phone. "He's not going to answer."
'Can't answer because he has his phone off, or has his phone off because he won't answer?' Daniel thought, feeling a flash of annoyance. He had known, as well as anyone who had ever tried to contact Jaime electronically, that Jaime was well nigh impossible to reach through his phone when he wasn't notified beforehand of a scheduled call or text as he nearly always had his phone either off or on silent. This fact had not occurred to Daniel, however, when the predominant thought in his head had been that of finding the increasingly elusive boy.
His brief irritation abated, Daniel tried to justify the feeling. He kicked at the floor again and shoved his phone back into his back pocket. "You know we have practice today," he said, making up an excuse for himself. "We don't have time to be standing around like this."
Thomas glanced at his shoes and then back up. "Well, he could still be in the bathroom."
A few boys who were not Jaime walked out of the bathroom and the two stepped a little away from the door, feeling a tad bit set back.
"You guys coming or what?" called a flat voice from a little bit away. When the two looked, Jaime was standing at the end of the hallway, one hand on the corner edge and one hand in his pocket and looking for all the world like he had been the one waiting for them.
"Oh, there you are! Where were you?" asked Thomas, smiling and crossing the hallway.
Jaime shifted his eyes, blinked, and then looked at the two in turn. "Here," he said, lifting his shoulders a little and letting out a half-laugh as though he thought it was obvious. "I was reading the daily bulletin."
"At the end of the day? Uhm, what's the point of that?" They glanced at each other, grinned quickly and started walking down the stairs. Because most of the other students had quickly made themselves scarce when school was over, the hallways were not as packed as before and the movements of all three were a little freer.
Jaime shrugged and tilted his head and it was almost like normal. "There's a home soccer game today," he said seriously, changing the subject but not completely so. "It's going to start in thirty minutes. JV and then Varsity. That's what the bulletin says."
Daniel perked up at this news. "Oh, we haven't had a home soccer game in a while! Can we try to catch a little bit of the game after practice?" he asked, looking at Jaime instead of where he was going and suddenly feeling a desperate hope as he tripped out the front door of the school building.
Jaime saw the sudden longing in Daniel's face and didn't know how to react. He knew he would be tense, both muscles and mind, after tiring himself out in practice and wasn't interested in staying any longer at the school around other people than he could help it, but needlessly shooting Daniel down didn't seem necessary.
He flicked at his bangs and considered it. "Uhm, we'll see," he said.
After practice, Daniel still very much wanted to watch the home soccer match with Jaime. As usual, archery had been released from practice just a little earlier and as he headed towards the lockers from the far end of the baseball field, he caught sight of Jaime slipping into the building, some hundred or so steps ahead of him. He thought about running to catch up with the other boy, but then decided against it; he didn't want to look too needy. Instead, he swung by the football field to check out the score so he would have an excuse to approach Jaime when he got to the lockers. As soon as he walked into the boys' locker room, he made his way to where the conspicuously jet-black-haired boy was.
"Hey, I just checked the soccer match score and we're tied," he announced to Jaime's back. "Two to two!"
Jaime had just pulled his shirt off so he could switch into his casual clothes. "Is that supposed to be a good thing? It's not like we're winning," he said disinterestedly without turning around, keeping his back to Daniel. "And can this wait until at least after I change?"
"Well, we're not losing at least," said Daniel, ignoring the second comment and also starting to change next to his friend. He tried to keep up his enthusiasm in hopes that Jaime would join in. "Since it's a tie, the game could go either way now! JV lost, you know, so I really hope that Varsity's going to win. We should definitely go see the match for at least a couple of minutes and cheer them on or something!"
"Mhm," Jaime responded noncommitantly as he briskly pulled on his shirt. He decided to keep on the shorts that he was wearing and finally turned around to properly face Daniel. "I don't know if I'm feeling very up for this. You can't watch the game by yourself?"
"C'mon, that's so boring! Fifteen minutes, that's it, yeah?"
Jaime stretched his shoulders, wincing a little at the stretch in his archery muscles, and gave a small sigh. "Alright. Fifteen minutes."
They went to the soccer field and sat at the home team side of the bleachers where a couple of their peers were also sitting. Whereas the two, as well as the other boys, were mostly silent except for the occasional outburst, the girls around them made continuous comments.
"Oh. My God," said one of the girls, who seemed to be either freshman or sophomore. "I changed my mind. That one over there, number 18? I think he's the hottest. Ugh, why do all the good-looking ones have to go to other schools?"
"He's not all that," said another girl. She, like the first girl, was making no attempt to keep from being heard by possibly everyone on the bleachers. "He's okay, he's pretty up there, but he's not the best. Number 7's not bad. And we so too have some good-looking guys at our school!"
"You must be kidding me. Name one, just one, that can be called hot! And yeah, number 7's pretty cute, but he's short."
"He's still taller than you, isn't he? And besides, 18's not that much taller than him."
"18's like a foot taller. And he's hotter."
"I don't know what either of you are talking about. In my opinion, 14 is the best. He looks like he could be a celebrity," loudly jumped in yet another freshman girl. "He has such long legs and he's just my type," she gushed.
A few more minutes of having this type of commentary for background noise left no doubt in Jaime's mind that these girls had obviously not come to watch the game but to cruise the boys on the other team. Even though their commentary wasn't about him or anyone that he knew, he still felt very annoyed at having to endure this trite and found himself impatiently glancing at his watch every so often. The only strange thing about his sudden annoyance was that he felt unduly bothered by it.
But even though he was extremely irritated by the airheaded gossip that the girls near him were practically broadcasting, he couldn't help himself from having a good look of his own at the players that the girls were talking about. In his opinion, pretty much all of them were good-looking, or at least decent enough for him, not that he would or could say so to anyone. Instead of trying to follow the boys who were running about on the field, he focused on the ones on the bench, limply slouching in his seat.
Perhaps it was because he was just too tired in the current moment, but he didn't run through any sexual-themed scenarios with the boys. He still felt, very much, a raw desire towards the boys, but it was much less explicit than before, much less hopeful. Imagining making out or more with them in the face of inflexible reality under the bright sunshine was too hard and required a lively energy that he couldn't muster up in the current moment. He just looked and wordlessly, silently, wanted.
"Man, that was super close!" Daniel suddenly said loudly, making Jaime unpleasantly start, when a shoot from one of their school players bounced off a goalpost of the opposing team's net. "I can't believe that didn't go in!"
"What?" Jaime looked around, heard the girls behind him still gossiping freely about boys, flaunting their ability to do what fear of social rejection kept him from doing, and just wanted to leave. "Yeah, sure, whatever, let's go." When Daniel started to protest that it hadn't been fifteen minutes yet, he waved him off, making an impatient shooing gesture with his hand. "The girls behind us – they're annoying me."
Daniel didn't appreciate this sudden announcement, but he heard the tension underlying Jaime's voice and nodded cautiously. "Alright," he said slowly, "We'll go then."
Taking up their bags, they hit the road, Jaime leading the way without looking back.
Daniel followed him closely behind, feeling a little miffed, despite himself, at Jaime's sudden demand to leave. After a moment, he couldn't help saying, "You know, if it was just the girls bothering you, we could have just moved somewhere else and still watched the game." There was no reply or even a reaction, so Daniel, after a moment, continued talking. "And it's not like you were even watching the game. You were just staring–"
"–Oh yeah? What was I staring at, then?" Jaime's interruption sounded almost playful, almost joking, and maybe it would have been on normal circumstances, but now it was cut with a barely perceptible undertone of challenge.
Daniel had been about to say that he had been staring at the guys on the bench, but he realized that saying that now would not only sound strange, but was also unwise. He thought about saying, "I was just going to say that you were staring off into space. Chill," but then amended it at the last minute. "At … space, I guess," was what he settled with, wondering how Jaime would respond.
"Hmm. Okay," said Jaime, his unsettling tone the same as before and his reply as reserved as all the rest of his behavior had been for the past few days.
"Well … weren't you?" Daniel felt sure that if he knew Jaime at all, he knew that Jaime wasn't the type to blank out, especially not when he was facing people, but he wanted a clear answer from Jaime himself.
No reply from Jaime. Daniel glanced over at him just in time to catch another frustrating straight-faced half-shoulder shrug.
Resisting the sudden urge in his gut to grab Jaime by the shoulder, stop him in the middle of the street, and either ask him if he had done anything to put him off or confront him flat-out about the way he had been acting, Daniel tried to shrug the frustrating gesture off for the moment and continue talking, completely unaware that he was playing further into the danger zone.
"Uh, anyways, as I was saying. You were just staring into space. So I don't get why the girls were bothering you so much that–"
"–You know," Jaime said, interrupting again. "You seem to be commenting a lot about what I look at these days." He glanced back at Daniel quickly, making the pointy strands of his hair whirl about his head, and then turned back away just as fast.
Daniel was so stunned at the second, purposely rude interruption, that for a moment, he couldn't think of anything to say. Then he sputtered, "So? Why does that bother you?" He tried to calm his rising sense of irritation but found it difficult – if Jaime was being touchy with him because he was physically tired, then he was emotionally tired of taking this sort of treatment from the other boy. "Hey, what's the problem?"
"Nothin'. I'm just sayin'. It's just that I've noticed that you concern yourself with what I look at pret-ty darn often now."
Jaime didn't dare push things further in that moment by shrugging again, but he spoke in a tone of voice that he knew was aggravatingly casual. He purposely emphasized each of the two syllables in the word 'pretty' because that sounded slightly condescending, which was the effect that he was going for, but didn't say 'damn' stead of 'darn' as he usually would because that sounded downright like he was looking for a fight, and he wasn't willing to get so far just yet.
"What the …" This time, Daniel did reach out and stop Jaime. "What are you even getting at?
Jaime jerked away but didn't continue walking. He tilted his head. "What do you think I'm getting at?"
"I don't know, Jaime, I don't know." Daniel didn't appreciate being talked to in this purposely vague, restricted way from Jaime, who, until just about a week ago, had been fairly open and out-and-out with him. "Will you stop playing games and just tell me already?"
Even if Jaime had wanted to tell him, he couldn't have. There was no way to explain the frustration, the sense that all his efforts and affections went on a one-way street with no return, like one of his arrows shot into the vacuum of space. The deep worry that he would never get any of it returned. Added with the stress about his secret meeting with the hustler, something which he might have at least slightly bragged about had the hustler been female, and not knowing how he was going to, if was going to, tell anyone about his sexuality, it was no wonder he had inverted into himself. When he saw that the pedestrian crossing streetlight a couple of meters away had turned to green, he shook his bangs in front his face and started walking again, across the street, at a much faster pace than before. Somehow, his pride prevented him from feeling like he was running away.
"Look, did you not have a good practice or something?" Daniel asked, calling and running after him after getting over a shocked pause. "Or is this is about the girls? Actually, is this even about the girls anymore?"
"Look, will you stay out of my business?" Jaime retorted. "What I look at or what I don't, or what I tell you or what I don't is entirely my call, okay?"
"This is about the girls, then, isn't it?" Daniel wasn't about to let himself get shot down without having at least some sort of hypothesis for why Jaime had pulled the guns on him. "I mean, you weren't this pissy with me before we came across them."
"Maybe it is about the girls, then," Jaime snapped, stopping at the end of the road and whirling around again. "Since you seem so set on thinking that it is." He looked straight back at Daniel with a bright glare, knowing that the other boy wouldn't be able to catch the depth of the situation with the vague and antagonizing response he had given him.
"Jaime! What's up with you?" If it was anyone but Daniel, they would have done more than just raise their voice.
It was Jaime who took the liberty, and also the recklessness, of going to the next step and cussing. "Oh, I don't know," he barked sarcastically back. "Why don't you tell me since you're the one who's fucking stalking me now?"
"I'm not stalking you! If anything, it's you who's stalking random people! You spend so much time staring at everyone else that it's like an obsession with you!"
"And what's so damned wrong with looking at people, then? At least I don't get caught at it, unlike you!" Jaime's voice was going husky with stress – talking about looking at people made him remember how he was looking at the boys and that made him feel uncomfortably self-conscious. "You think I haven't noticed how you keep on glancing at me every two seconds?! The fuck is up with that?"
Daniel flushed at the last statement, but even with his rising temper his response came fast and his defense was offensive. "Don't give me that shit when you know that I only started checking up on you after you started up this act! And you think that I don't know how you've been lying to me all week?!"
"What act, huh? Maybe this is just the way I am, did you think of that? Why don't you stop accusing people of lying and just shut the hell up when you don't even know anything?!"
"Oh, that's rich! Someone's in denial. You know I've sat and watched how you stare at every single guy in this entire neighborhood and then turn right around and tell me that you were zoning out?! Don't you tell me you weren't fucking lying!"
Jaime almost swallowed his tongue when he heard the part about how he stared at guys, but his face was so set in an expression of sneering fury that his shock didn't show. What's more, after a horrible split second in which he had felt the edge of an abyss right behind him, a rush of adrenaline kicked in and he started pushing, lashing out, much harder than before now that he knew what desperation felt like. But even in the midst of it all, he didn't lose his head. There was an innate consciousness sharp inside of him, terrified of his secrets being found out, which kept him from losing control. With that self-protective consciousness, there was a sense of wanting to severely hurt the boy in front of him in any way that he could if that meant that he would be kept from being vulnerable.
"You know what? Fuck you! Maybe the reason why I look at other guys is because I'm looking for friends to replace clingy shits like you!" he snarled. Putting the hatred in his voice came easy. Later, he would remember how easy, and wonder about himself, but in that moment he just wanted to fight. By this point, both of them were so running on adrenaline that it was only the years of friendship that they'd had that kept them from turning the fight physical.
Daniel was too angry to really notice the cussing anymore. But he heard Jaime's tone and his overall message of rejection and indulged in his own reaction of slashing back – the hurt and confusion and frustration that Jaime kept on pushing him away despite his best efforts would come later for him also.
"Like hell you are!" he yelled. "What makes you think anyone wants to be friends with an icicle like you, then?!"
"Oh I don't know, maybe that you won't fucking leave me alone when I've made it clear that I don't want you around?!"
"Bullshit! Don't even pretend that you've been coming clean with anything, when you've been acting like a shady bastard all week!"
"And you've been acting like a needy bitch!" Jaime hurled back, painfully aware that he really hadn't been coming clean about his recent realization with his sexuality and becoming harsher for it. "What makes you think you're so fucking entitled to my life?! Get your own life!"
"You know what, I fucking will! I'm not fucking doing this!" Daniel was so upset that he hardly knew where to turn in the city sector he had lived in for all his life, but he knew that he wanted to get away. He jerked back from Jaime like he was pulling back after getting a burn and started walking away, taking long strides as though he were proud but never having felt more bizarrely belittled by someone he hadn't known he cared about so much.
He strode down the street and turned the first corner that he came across, needing to be as far and as separated from Jaime as possible. When he ducked around the corner so that Jaime couldn't see him, he started running and didn't stop until he reached his house. He couldn't think. Slamming through the front door, the only marginally positive thing he felt was that no one, not even his dad, was around to see his miserable state. He threw all his things on the floor, collapsed on his bed, and fell asleep before he got his breathing under control.
While Daniel slept to forget, Jaime similarly tried to blank his mind, but he found it impossible.
He wandered back and forth across his room restlessly, feeling his head hurt both mentally and physically from the stress, as his mind frantically jumped among his seemingly infinite problems.
"Why the hell did he have to confront me about this anyway? He's keeping a watch on me like I'm his fucking slave or something, that attention whore, and so what if I have a personal tangent and oh fucking hell he knows I've been looking at guys and I tried to play it off but I don't know if he bought it and Thomas is probably wondering right now what the fuck happened and I don't know what I'm supposed to do or say to them tomorrow and just fuccckkkk!" The sense of fury and panic and suspense was incredible, but it wasn't the end of what Jaime felt.
"Why did I have to be like this anyway? It's causing me nothing but trouble," he thought quietly. "I'm losing my friends; I'm losing my goddamn life; I'm losing … me. And at the same time I know I can't control my sexuality, so I can't blame myself, but it would just be so much easier if I wasn't like this. I mean… it just would."
Jaime switched back to panicking.
"But what am I going to fucking tell him tomorrow? I can't just tell him that I blew up at him because I'm stressed about my sexuality – that's so damned awkward to say and it sounds like some sort of confession or apology and I'm not confessing or apologizing to him or to anyone about this. But I still shouldn't have blown up on him like that and I could tell he was really hurt by what I said… he doesn't know that I just said that to hurt him and make him back off and now he probably thinks I hate him and oh jesus, this is really all just too much!"
Jaime stopped restlessly pacing and braced both his hands against his bedroom wall, pressing his face against the cold hardness and looking for any meager sense of security that he could manufacture. He usually didn't mind crying on the rare occasions that he did when he had an exceptionally terrible migraine, because that had the valid purpose of physically relaxing him and making his pain ease up, but crying wouldn't help with the pain he had in his head now. So he gripped the wall and did his damnedest to hold his tears back.
It didn't work. But in a minute it was over.
He wiped his eyes carefully so that there was no wetness left and turned around to lean on the wall. Quarter 1 was about to end, it was autumn and it was night and it was dark both outside and inside and he felt like a hunter with nothing to hunt, who had lost himself in the jungle, and who just realized that he hadn't brought any of his equipment with him. He didn't really have consciousness of anything except that he was exhausted and that he didn't have any options anymore.
Jaime's hand went to his back pocket. Taking out his phone, he looked at himself on the black turned-off reflective surface. Then he dropped his phone on his bed. His wallet and keys and everything else he had on him including his clothes followed.
Then he did what he could to induce comatoseness by sleeping in the shower.