The Eiffel Tower
Chapter One

I push away my now-empty tray, void of any traces of hamburger or fries. Leaning back, I regard the boy sitting across the table from me. Well, "boy" in the sense that he was more than four months older than me, and I still regard myself as the epitome of immaturity. Which is exactly why I just ate two Happy Meals. Because I am not mature enough to handle the real deal. But I can listen to my best friend talk. I'm not too bad at that.

"Okay, what'd you want to talk about?" I ask conversationally.

He looks down, playing with the straw sticking out of his Coke. Actually, he hasn't looked up before, so he couldn't technically have looked down just then. Whatever he did, he was evading my question.

Now, I know my best friend. He was thinking about how to best phrase his thoughts, but in the meanwhile, he'd be happy with making me forget his whole dramatic act of running--not driving, but running--to my house, storming in, rushing up to me, grabbing my arm, and telling me we needed to talk. All with his eyes unusually bright from holding tears. And I'm the dramatic one.

"C'mon, Seba, what's up?" I prod, careful to keep my tone gentle. If there's one thing I know, it's that Seba can be almost fragile at times, and the best way to make him talk is to baby him if he's feeling particularly emotional.

Seba Étaîn, my Boinkie. I'd known him since he was but a mere five-year old. Given, I was the same age at the time, and also given, I met him through me stealing a big, bad seven-year old's granola bar whereas Seba himself rescued me, but I still like to think of him as "mere." Seba's a solid guy, and he's not overly emotional or anything like that, but he doesn't have fully developed defense mechanisms when it comes to the emotional stuff. What you see is what you get, I guess. Still, even the great Sebastian Étaîn has his insecure moments.

"Braelyn," he barely whispers to me. That got my undivided, no questions asked, attention. Back in the day, I used to have a huge crush on the girl. She's been seeing Seba exclusively for over a year though, so I'd shot that idea down pretty quickly.

"Braelyn Murphy?" I ask, just confirming. The wonder couple never has problems that get Seba overly messed up; this looks like it could be a first.

Seba nods. "Yeah."

"What about Braelyn?"

"She's just being strange. I mean, it's not much, or anything," he adds quickly. "We're on a break. It's just kinda . . . unexpected, that's all."

He's trying to put on a show for me, I know it. Being strong, that's what people have come to expect of Seba. But it doesn't work with me. Shit like that only works if the person doesn't know you too well. And I know Seba way too well.

"Yeah, understatement a bit? On a break? Since when?" I have no tact. Never have, probably never will.

"A coupla days ago. Wednesday, maybe?" It's Saturday afternoon. "I've got to focus on school right now," he tells me seriously. "Senior year, first semester marks are worth a lot. And you know how busy I get in November; I need my marks high as possible right now."

"Why didn't you tell me?" I demand, sounding more wounded than pissed off. Not quite what I'm going for. "It's Satur-fucking-day, Seba. Wednesday was days ago."

Seba runs a hand through his light brown hair. "Yeah. Yeah, I know. Sorry. I was kinda not thinking about it."

"You chicken-shit," I say, glaring at my best friend.

He glances at me, almost annoyed now. I hide my grin. "Fuck, Paris, it's not exactly something I want to think about all the time. Where's your philosophy bullshit? Maybe I was trying not to think of it as to make it 'not real;' isn't that what you're always spouting outta your head?"

When I get Seba like that, with his guard down, then I know I can get to him. "Yeah, that's right," I agree. "But you still tell your best friend, asshole."

He stares at me for a minute, probably trying to decide if I'm just egging him on, or if I'm really pissed at him. Bit of both, really. He decides on egging him on. "Why, so you can comfort me by making her jealous that you'll pick me up when she doesn't want me?"

"Well, yes, I'm actually quite looking forward to seducing you. Or raping you, whichever," I say back to him. It's our ritual, with almost queer behavior towards one another, and no matter how pissed I am, I'm still not one to pass up rituals.

He points his index finger at me. "It's not rape if I'm willing."

"True, my dear Bastian, very true. In that case, seduction it is?" I immediately clasp my hands under my chin, and bat my eyelashes at him.

Seba grins, his mind obviously off Braelyn for the moment. "Ooh, seduction. I expect the whole ten yards, whipped cream and all."

"Uh, Seba, honey? It's nine yards."

He glares at me. "Oh, I expect you to go that extra yard too," he tells me haughtily.

"No time to waste then! My parents are gone . . . " I add in a suggestive wink. Seba doesn't even raise an eyebrow, but instead raises his voice to a high-pitched giggle.

"Be a dear, and pay for the pill, won't you, sweetums?" he coos. If it wasn't normal banter for Seba and I, it'd definitely be disturbing.

"But of course, bun."

He wrinkles his freckled nose. "Bun? Where'd that one come from? Angel-face," he adds as an afterthought.

"Why, thank you, Sebi-kins. And love has no names."

"What kind of answer is that?"

"I refrain from giving you a reason for my choice of loving name."

"Oh, fuck you," he says good-naturedly.

I gasp, seemingly indignant. "Seal me? Why, I never! Animal molestation, that is."

Seba rolls his eyes, a small smile on his face. "I never should've taught you any French," he mumbles.

We walk out of the restaurant door, and I swing my arm around, letting it rest across his shoulders. "But then how could I have lived up to my name?"

I feel his shrug. "Who cares? That's a better question. How am I s'posed to live up to Sebastian?"

I think for a moment. "Well, you could turn into a crab thingy," I reply thoughtfully. He fixes me with the strangest look he can muster. "What?" I ask.

"A crab thingy?" He sounds like he's on the brink of choking. "Where in the bloody hell did you get that?"

"'The Little Mermaid,'" I admit.

"Do I want to know?"

"Prob'ly not."

"Okay then."

We walk in silence for a couple of seconds, before I realize I absolutely cannot let Seba be silent for long enough to think of Braelyn. It's always better to sort these kind of things out when he can lie down somewhere, like the couch in my room.

"Hey, Seba?" I venture.


"When you planning to break out the skateboard hardcore?" I ask. It's the best I can come up with. Seba's almost like a professional snowboarder, and when it gets close enough to winter that he really needs to start training, but there's no snow, he'll break down and use a skateboard.

He shrugs next to me. "I don't know. Next week sometime? It's already mid-October and there's no sign of snow. I'm kinda worried."

"About the snow? Only someone as queer as you would worry about that."

"Hey, I make money by using that snow for my own business."

"Seba, I had no idea you were so kinky. Don't certain parts of your anatomy freeze while you're taking care of this . . . business?" I wiggle my eyebrows suggestively, a trick that Seba actually taught me.

His face visibly changes, back to his walled-up, thinking face. His Braelyn face for the time being. I inwardly groan.

"Whoa, whoa, Seba, none of that now," I say hastily, drawing his attention back to me.

"None of what?" he snaps, not quite the picture of innocence.

"None of the thinking of Braelyn," I tell him sternly.

"I wasn't thinking of Braelyn," he replies weakly.

"Yeah, right. So, what were you thinking of then? Monkey-sex?"

He makes a face. "Okay, so I was thinking of Braelyn. So what? I can think of her, you know. She was my girlfriend--"

"She is your girlfr--wait, girlfriend?" I cut him off.

He blushes. "At one point, we made it official," he mumbles. "Which gives me even more reason to think about her." He glances at me. "Sorry, Paris, didn't mean to shock you. I just didn't want a big deal made of it at the time."

And shocked I am. When I say Seba and Braelyn had been seeing each exclusively, I mean that they would deny the fact that they were an official couple, and simply say they'd "gone on a coupla dates, that's all." Never did make it official. Well, at least as far as I had known. Until now, obviously.

Seba takes my silence the wrong way. "Don't be pissed, Paris. It just . . . you know me," he says helplessly. "I'm pretty private and all."

"Understatement," I mutter. "But no, dude, I'm not pissed. Not about that. I do know you, and no matter how much I yell at you, you're just so fucked up as to not tell me these things."

Seba grins. "Yep, 'tis true," he agrees. "You like it."

"Do I ever!" I flash a goofy, over-exaggerated grin at him, and he kicks my foot out from beneath me. Landing flat on my ass on the sidewalk is not a good thing. "Fucking a!"

I get up, rubbing my ass, as Seba, my best friend, has a laughing aneurysm right in front of me. He takes one look at my face, and just books it. "Get back here, you little shit-head!" I howl at his receding back. I proceed to "chase" after him. Hey, I'm sure my gimp-man hobble is making this quite the chase.
Seba's waiting for me on the front step of my house. He smiles as I approach. "I'm liking the swagger, Sian," he says.

Sian's a nickname Seba gave me. He doesn't use it as often as I use Seba, but then again, I always use Seba. He got Sian from the word Parisian. Long story, but since I once proclaimed myself God of the city of Paris, and then stated that God was also all of his people in this case, he decided I was the Parisian. Or Sian, for short. It made sense at the time. To Sebastian.

I glare at him, my hand drifting back to rub my ass again. The neighbors already think I'm sexy; they'll appreciate a good show such as me rubbing myself. "Fuck you, Seba. You are no longer my Boinkie."

He rolls his eyes. "Good. It was a shitty nickname anyway."

"Hey!" I exclaim. "I'll have you know I put a lot of thought into that name. You're my fucking security blanket, Sebi-kins. Are you saying you want me to go insane?"

"You're already mental," he says, shrugging.

"No, I am not. Yet. If you stop being my little bit of security, then I very well could be. You're my Boinkie, and that's all there is to it. Now, what am I?" I demand, hands on my hips. I am the picture of an indignant, erm, person. Oh, yes, I am.

"Um, Paris?" he suggests, scuttling away from me on the step. I've sat down, and am now attempting to put my arm around his shoulders.

"Nope, try again," I say cheerfully, finally dropping my arm on him, and pulling him closer so he's against my chest.

"Okay, you're Legoman. Can I have my body back now?" he grumbles.

"Nah, I want to use it for my own purposes a bit more."

He pushes my arm off of him, and straightens up, dusting his shirt off as if I've actually got cooties. Or lice. Or herpes. Which is, of course, entirely possible as one out of four people does have herpes. One, two, three, herpes!

"I don't know what's going on in that head of yours, but when I'm stressing out about Braelyn, somehow I don't really think you making a move on me is the right idea," he tells me, sticking his freckles in the air. Oops, I mean his freckled nose. His freckles are pretty light, but there's a shitload of them. His nose is freckles. On a misshapen platform.

"Quite the contrary, it could be quite effective in taking your mind off her," I say in all seriousness. Well, in a serious tone, at the very least.

"I don't want to take my mind off of her," he says stubbornly. "I want to talk about her until you understand that she's not supposed to take a break with me! She's not supposed to act weird. She's supposed to be like she always is, where the weirdest thing she talks about in regards to us is getting married once we graduate. That's it."

I'm thrown back. "Married?" I choke out. "Holy fuck, Seba. You're not ready for marriage."

"I know that, Paris. But it's a nice idea. And maybe nine months from now I will be ready. I can't say I'm at all repulsed by the idea of marrying Braelyn. Although it doesn't seem like that's gonna happen anymore."

I don't bother lecturing him on how there's no way in hell that he'll be ready for marriage anytime soon. I'm more concerned about his drama queen act. That's an act that is usually reserved for me to use how I please.

"Okay," I say. "You're being overly dramatic here. It's a break, Seba. A freakin' break. That's all it is. You're not broken up yet. Worry about marriage when you're boring people who have nothing better to do because you've gotten so wrapped up in each other that it's not like anyone else would ever want you. Or at least, wait to think about it till after you two are off your break. Which you will be," I stress. "Just give her time. It's not like she's not going to come around. Until then, it'll do you good to be deprived of some action for a little while. You can finally see what's it like to live in my shoes."

Seba snorts. "Yeah, right. 'Cause you never get any. You know I love you, and all--I mean, you're my-"

"Say it," I urge, devilish grin on my face. I can feel my eyes twinkling. Trippy feeling.

He glares at me. "Legoman," he continues. "But you're a man-whore. A man-slut. Un salop."

"Gee, thanks, Seba," I say sarcastically. "Don't hold back any of your feelings in fear of letting me get hurt. And make sure to repeat the point many times just in case I don't understand it. You're a pal."

"Paris," he groans. "The point is, it's not about the sex with Braelyn. Which is another reason you don't need to bring that up here."

"And the first reason would be?"

"That you sleep around to some extent, and can't say that me not getting any would be like how you live."

"I do not sleep around!" This makes me indignant. Definitely indignant. "Every girl I've slept with has been my girlfriend. At some point in time."

"Yeah, like two months before. With the sex taking place after the break-up. Isn't that right?"

I huff, crossing my arms, and looking to the sky. "Sometimes," I admit.

"Aw, don't pout, Paris," Seba laughs. "You do it well, but why pout over something you enjoy?"

I grin. "You're right. But I'm not un salop, Seba. I can't believe you'd suggest it."

"It's the only justification to you going out with some of those girls. Gorgeous, willing, but lacking in the personality bit. No offense to them."

"Just being brutally honest, hey? There's only one Braelyn in the world, and you've got her. So two out of three qualities isn't bad."

"I don't have Braelyn anymore, remember?" he says quietly. Shit. Back to that.

I stand up. "Let's continue this inside. I'm coming to realize this is going to be a long discussion since everything's leading back to Braelyn. My room?"

Seba, too, stands up, nodding. "Yeah, okay."

I unlock the door, and we both step inside of my house. I kick off my bowling shoes--seriously, they're genuine bowling shoes stolen from the bowling alley by none other than Sebastian himself. The very roots of his life of crime. Okay, so that crime does make up his whole criminal life. That's fine though. The point is, he stole bowling shoes for me. It takes a real friend to steal bowling shoes for you. Sebastian kicks his scuffed up Circas across the rug, and onto the hardwood floor. His socks have excess hanging off his toes, but he doesn't care, only pads his way up the hardwood stairs, and turns right into my room.

I race up the stairs, careful not to slip this time. They're tricky buggers, all polished, and smooth, and slippery as hell. I prepare to slide across the doorway to my room, much like Tom Cruise in "Risky Business". The hallway floor is also this oak hardwood. I think it's oak. Anyway, to prepare, I decide if I'm going to be Tom Cruise, might as well really be him. Also known as, might as well take off my pants. I fling the black Dickies pants--Seba's too-small pants that he lent me--onto the banister of the staircase. Let my parents figure out that one.

"Paris?" Seba's voice floats out of my room's doorway. "What you doing? Even you can't get lost in your own simple design house."

I run from the stairs, and about two steps before my door, I slide, arms out, fixing Seba with a smoldering, sexy stare. Ooh.

He stares back, a frightened look on his face. I walk to the door after I've completed my slide. Brilliant, I must admit. Seba still has his same facial expression.

"So?" I prompt. "Sexy or what?"

"I'm just happy you didn't hit a wall," is his reply.

I fling the door closed with a huff, and throw myself onto my bed. My room's not too special. You enter into what I call my own hallway. A narrow bit of room, about the width of a hallway, and maybe fifteen feet long. The whole room's painted an off-white beigey color. My family moved here last year, and never really painted my room. I sleep in here, and that's about it. In the main area of the room, there's an oak dresser with a rectangular mirror and a TV. Some posters and pictures and all that normal stuff take up wall space, make it less beige. The bedspread is a black and light green plaid. I don't really care either way about it; my mom picked it out. There's the duvet couch, a light green thing. A shade brighter than Seba's eyes, actually. Matches the chair that sits beside the closet door. The closet is the reason I have the hallway. My sister's room is next door, with a narrow hallway of a closet, then there's my normal closet. Takes up the fifteen or so feet. All this is on a plushy light grey carpet. And that's about it. Good enough for mine and Seba's heart-to-hearts. 'Cause they happen so frequently, and all.

I don't bother moving from lying on my back while I call out to Seba. "Take a seat, my dear Sebastian. On the couch. The bed is reserved for those who have faith in me."

"So just yourself, then?" he cracks. But he sits down on the couch across from my bed. Obedient lil' tyke, that he is.

"Ha. You think about what you implied with that, and get back to me." I wiggle my eyebrows suggestively.

He groans, but then stands up, and paces, throwing his hands in the air for emphasis. "See, you're a man-whore. Everything's about the sex to you. Slut."

"Shut up, bitch."

"I think not, salop."

"Oh, French? I can do that. Tru du cul."

"I think I can out-French you, Paris. I'm only fluent in the language. Also your teacher."

"Then insult me, dammit!"

He sniffs. "I do not need to stoop to your level." Falling back down on the couch, he props his elbows on his knees, holding his head up with his hands. "So. Braelyn. We can have a meaningful conversation for once."

"That's bullshit; we've had other meaningful conversations," I protest. I manage to push my body up to so that I'm actually sitting up on my bed. There's no headboard or anything like that. But it's against a wall. So I lean back against pillows and wall. Okay combination, really.

"Today's meaningful conversation : Braelyn. Now, tell me something. Please." He's almost begging with his eyes. Which look up to meet my own eyes. Seba has these amazing light green eyes, a minty color. Right now they make him look like he's lost all hope, and could cry at any given moment.

I sigh. "Okay. You want to know my advice to you?" He nods. "Forget about her. Let me talk before you protest, 'kay?" Another nod. "Don't dwell on her. She could have her own reasons that she needs to sort out, and maybe it's not fair for her to drag you down into her own mess. She could realize that. Or maybe she's realized that she's been playing you unintentionally, and can't give you all that you deserve. Which is a lot, 'cause if I was a girl, I'd so do you."

"You'd do anything," he mutters not quite quietly.

"Oh, but I'd do you good. Repeatedly. Which means you'd be pretty damn special. Or another reason she could want a break? You won't like this one, but maybe she doesn't feel the same about you compared to how she used to feel. It happens. As people grow up, they change. It's a fact. Not always a nice fact, but you got to accept it. Or she could have a totally different reason. It doesn't matter. The point is, she wants a break. You give her one. If she wants you, she'll come back one way or another. If not, well, you'll figure that one out too. You don't need her, Seba. Well, maybe you do, 'cause you've been close with her forever, too, but you don't need to be her fuck-friend or whatever you two were."

"We were in love," Seba tells me.

"You don't need to be in love. Let her figure out whatever it is she needs to figure out. Obviously there's something if she wants a break. Ya hear me?"

He nods, albeit miserably. "I hear you. I don't like it, though. I can't just wait."

"We'll find other stuff to do. You can get ready for snowboarding. We can cruise. I can kick your ass at whatever game we play. We'll party it up with Gabe. He's always got a party going on," I say, naming one of our friends. "The point is, you'll live. Right?"

"Yeah." Not too enthusiastic, but I don't give a shit. He's as good as admitted that he'll end up fine at some point.

"Now, what I want to know is why the hell it took you days to tell me about this break. You were just beating yourself up over this whole thing inside, weren't you? Silly Sebi-kins; all you needed was some Paris logic."

"Paris logic, that's kinda scary. An oxymoron, we'll say." Seba actually grins as he's saying this.

"Fuck you. You're an oxymoron."

"D'you even know what the word means?"

"Yeah, it means shut the hell up."

"That's exactly it," Seba mock-agrees. "They teach us a word in school to sum up that phrase in only one word. It's genius, really."

"Hey, oxymoron you sideways."

"Kick you in the oxymoron," Seba immediately retorts. He stands up from the couch, rotating his ankle. "Foot's asleep," he explains.

"Ah, good ol' foot fuck."

Seba gives me a strange look. You'd think he wasn't used to me. "I don't even want to know."

"You're sick and twisted," I inform him. "For Christ's sake, I didn't mean that literally."

He shrugs. "As interesting as it is to discuss your strange sexual acts, I've got to go. Big supper with Mom and her husband." He makes a disgusted face. Once again, his facial expression ends up looking like a little kid's.

Seba is actually an attractive guy. I don't really appreciate his looks, and neither do the ladies, being that for all of high school, it's been obvious that only Braelyn is really allowed to appreciate his looks. Not that I'd appreciate anyway, but other girls sure as hell would. He's pretty tall, standing at six feet even. He's pretty muscled because he takes his snowboarding seriously, and therefore works out. I used to do that with him, but stopped for reasons beyond my control.

That's not the point. The point is Seba's physical looks. His shoulders are pretty broad, and, like his nose, have light-colored freckles all over them. His nose and shoulders are the most freckled places of his body. That I'm aware of, at least. He's got sun-streaked light brown hair, kinda like it's gold-streaked at times, and it's just a bit wavy. You can only notice if it gets unruly. He grew out of spiking his hair, now letting it lie flat on his head, but still has it at a length where it could be spiked. I say he lets it lie flat, but the truth is, he usually has bed-head. It works for him though. He's got pink lips--nothing too special there--, straight off-white teeth with one top front tooth chipped from a snowboarding "mishap," a smaller-than-mine nose, and those green eyes. I guess the eyes are the most distinct part of him. If you were to just look at him for the first time, that's what you'd see. Sebastian Étaîn.

The Sebastian Étaîn who is now staring at me. "Um, Paris? I've got to go. So whenever you're done studying me. Don't make me shoot you down twice tonight."

I shake my head. "Don't think I could handle the rejection. Okay. I'll see you out."

I follow him down the stairs, but he pauses on the bottom step, looking bemusedly at his pants that are still flung over the banister. "Those mine?"


"Your parents will realize that those are boys' pants. That you don't own. Making you look queer. You know that, right?"


"Your intention?"

"But of course. Only good things come from my Tom Cruise impression, obviously."

Seba snorts. "Obviously," he echoes. He steps onto the entranceway's rug, hands on his hips. "Where the hell are my shoes?"

"Here," I say, whipping one at him. He snatches it from the air as it zooms towards his left ear. He's holding it in his hands when the other shoe hits him in the face, and bounces into his arms as well. "Off the backboard," I crow, doing a victory jig.

He glares. "Thanks, Paris. I appreciate you passing me my shoes."

"Hey, anytime," I say genuinely. I hold the door open for him. "I'll talk to you within the next twenty-four hours, okay?"

"Yeah, I know. See ya, dude."

"Oh, and Seba?"

"Yeah?" He's already down the steps that lead up to the doorstep.

"Think about what I said, will ya?"

"About Braelyn?"

"No, about the foot fuck," I say sarcastically. I roll my eyes, pulling a Seba move. "Yes, you dumb fuck, about Braelyn. Think about not thinking about her."

Now it's Seba's turn to roll his eyes. "Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Okay. I'll try. See ya, Sian." He's cutting across my family's too-long lawn. Didn't cut it. I mean, I didn't. Obviously. I live in suburbia, so next thing you know, there'll be people protesting that I'm upsetting the neighborhood. Meh. Can't be bothered to care.

"Bye, Seba," I call to his retreating back. The slight inclination of his brown head is enough indication that I know he's heard me.

It's only after I close the door again that I realize that Seba never answered my question about why he waited so long to tell me about Braelyn. He changed the subject so neatly, like he was ready for it. I lean against the door frame.

Tricky bastard.