The woman sighed and listened to the soft giggling from her son's bedroom. She'd told them to go to bed an hour ago, but they'd just turned the lights on again after she left and continued chatting away. "Boys.." She knocked on the door.

"Yeah, mom?"

"Go to bed. Lights out, now."

Zach sighed deeply and climbed out of bed, turning the lights off. "Good night, mom."

"Good night, Zach. Good night, Brian."

"Good night, Mrs. Williamson." Brian called politely. Zach rolled his eyes and grabbed his flashlight. Brian grinned. "Do you have another scary story?"

Putting the flashlight under his face as scary story-tellers would have you do, he smirked. "Of course. there was an old lady that lived in the house up on the hill there.."

"The.. white one?"

Zach nodded solemnly. "But she didn't have any feet.. and when she was little, she lost her hands in a farming accident.. so she had to pull herself along.. and when she did, it sounded like this.. Click.. click.. scratch. click. click.. scratch.."

Brian paled, and gulped. Sometimes he wasn't sure if the stories were real or not.

"And then a little while ago.. when we were still babies.. kids started to go missing. "

"M.. missing?"

"Uh-huh.. And no one knew what was happening. They'd just disappear. And then my sister was walking home from work, and she heard this sound. click. click. scratch." Brian pulled the blanket a little tighter. "Click.. click.. scratch. So she started to run."

"The old lady?"

".No, my sister." He kept the flashlight on his face. "And it came faster now. Click, click, scratch. click, click, scratch. She tried banging on the door, but mom didn't hear her. click, click, scratch." Brian's eyes were wide, and his face was white. "Click, click, scratch. When mom opened the door, there was no one there.." All of a sudden, there came two clicking noises and a long scratch. Brian yelped and fell off the side of the bed, taking the blankets with him. Zach laughed so hard tears came to his eyes. Grumbling, Brian pulled himself back up. "Come on. We should go to bed before my mom comes and yells at us again."

"You're mean."

"You -wanted- a scary story." He clicked off his flashlight.

They were both ten years old - and had just celebrated their birthdays the week before. Their mothers had met in the hospital when they were 'roommates', so to speak, and the boys had been best friends for as long as they could remember. Only one day separated them, so they had one big party instead of two little ones. Brian and Zach were both only children, so it was like they were brothers.

"Doesn't matter." Brian mumbled. "You don't even -have- a sister."

"Well, duh. She got eaten by the old lady."

He laughed. "You dork."

"Nu-uh. You're a dork."

"Are not."

"Are too."

"Pfft." He yawned. "Hey. "

"Yeah?" Zach yawned.

"When we go to college. And you're.. like.. Michael Jordan.."

"He doesn't play football, doofus."

"Whoever. Uh.. Dan Marino."

"That's better."

"And I'm a famous actor.. and I've won.. like.. a gazillion Oscars.. are we still gonna be best friends?"

"Course we are."

"Good. Cause you're my best friend."

"I know. "

"G'night, Zach."

"Night, Brian."

They both fell asleep within minutes, from a combination of all the chips, pop, scary stories, and the half bag of marshmallows they'd consumed earlier. The sugar rushes had worn off, and now they were just exhausted.

All through elementary and junior high, they were friends, but Brian started to notice something.. Zach had started to grow up a lot faster.. And he got on the football team freshman year of High School, just like they'd talked about.

But while Brian had stayed fairly skinny and plain, Zach was muscled and gorgeous. Brian felt like the Jughead of the relationship, and spent more and more time in the school library by himself. Zach noticed, of course, but he didn't say anything.. After all, they were still best friends.

He yawned and groaned. "I hate this stuff."

"Algebra's easy, Zach." Brian sighed, putting his pencil down. He'd tutored him all through high school, and now that they were in senior year, Brian was pulling down an 89% average. With Brian's help, Zach was passing, and he'd graduate that year. That was all that mattered.

"Can we take a break? I'm gonna die."

The dark-haired boy nodded and closed his book. "Sure, I guess."

"What are you doing this weekend?" Zach tossed his book on the ground. "There's a party at Malcolm's."

"Who?"

"Malcolm. He's Tammy's boyfriend."

".. the .. uh.. cheerleader with the red hair?"

"Blonde."

"Sorry."

"You wanna come?" He asked, popping open a can of Coke. Brian shook his head. "Man.. I gotta get you a girlfriend. People are going to talk."

"What do I care what they say?" Brian lay back on the bed.

"Well, is there anyone you like?"

".. Yeah." He sighed.

"Who?"

"If.. I .. I tell you.. Promise not to .. to get mad?"

He raised an eyebrow. ". Sure."

Before Zach could stop him, Brian leaned up and kissed him full on the lips. Zach moaned and pulled Brian close. "Mm.. I've wanted this for so long.. I love you too."

Yeah. Right.

That's the way Brian wished it happened.

Zach shoved him off the bed, eyes wide. "Wh.. what the fuck!?" He sat back. Brian fell onto the floor, looking a little shocked himself. "What the hell is wrong with you!?"

"G..god.. Z.. Zach, please.."

"Y.. you're .. it's true what the other guys were saying."

"You promised.."

"You -kissed- me! You faggot!"

Brian flinched and stood up slowly, getting his book. "I.. I'm sorry, Zach.. b..but I'm in love with you."

"Get out."

"You're my best friend, I had to tell you!"

"Get out! Now!"

He nodded silently, tears streaming down his cheeks. "..I'm sorry.." He mumbled, and ran out of the house. His home was a block away, and he ran the whole way, sinking onto his bed and sobbing softly. "Oh god." He said into his pillow, shaking his head. Brian's only hope was that Zach was still a good enough friend not to tell anyone.. after all.. they were like brothers. And brothers didn't stab each other in the back.

Of course, brothers didn't kiss each other, either, but that was a moot point.

Brian had been harboring feelings like that towards Zach for years now.. but he'd been too afraid of acting on them. It'd been too long, and it was killing him inside not saying anything. It probably wasn't the best way to do something about it.. and he knew in his heart that his friendship with Zach was over. His eighteen-year friendship was destroyed.

"I'm so sorry.." He cried, wishing Zach could hear him. But now, Brian doubted that Zach would listen to anything he had to say anymore. He was alone. Completely alone. And it was no one's fault but his own.

His phone rang beside him, and he wished that he had turned it off. Sniffling, he answered. "H..hello?" He asked, voice choked.

". Brian?"

"Z..Zach, listen.. I.. "

"I want you.." He took a shaky breath. "To stay away from me. "

"J..just listen, please. I shouldn't .. I shouldn't have done that.."

"You're goddamn right you shouldn't have!" Zach snapped. "You fucking kissed me!"

"Just give me another chance.. Best friends forever, right?"

There was a derisive snort from the other end. "You fucked up, Brian. I have other friends. And -they- wouldn't kiss me."

"I'm sorry.."

"You should be." He hung up and sighed deeply. God, he didn't want to be so cruel, but.. it was a lot to deal with, finding out your best friend was gay.. and in love with you, no less. What was he supposed to do? Brian -kissed- him. Of course he didn't like it. He wasn't gay. He had a girlfriend, for Chrissakes.

That was it. It was over. And it was no one's fault but Brian's. It wasn't Zach's fault that his best friend was queer. It was Brian's own fault. No one else's.

That's all there was to it.

Right?

Right.