36. Mitchell gives up.




I pushed open the door to my own house, unsure of what I'd find inside. Jason still hadn't come home by the time I'd gotten Will Jordy back on the street, convinced Sandy she could come out of the bathroom, waited for Jason's mom to return, and now I found the driveway full of cars.

One of them looked like Jamie's, too. Scowling, my mood got even worse when I found Jason sitting comfortably between Luke and Julie on the couch, the latter leaning hard on his shoulder.

"Hello," I said, wishing now that I'd slammed the door.

Jamie looked over from his conversation with Dad, his arm around yet another slutty girl.

"Hey, Mitch," he said casually. "There's still beer in the fridge, if you want."

"No, it's okay," I said stiffly. "What's going on?"

"We're celebrating," Dad said, gesturing with his beer. "Jamie-boy's getting married."

"Right," I said, shoving my hands into my pockets. "Real funny."

"It's true," Luke burst out, leaning forward on the couch. Julie tipped even farther into Jason.

Jason, the bastard, didn't seem to mind.

Luke was still talking. "See all our reactions are the same. Janiners, you're lucky."

"What, that Jamie didn't put money on it?" The fiancée grinned, looking pretty despite my natural tendency to dislike her immediately. "He lost three grand when he went down to Niagara with the boys."

"Shut up," Jamie said, leaning back grumpily. "I don't tell them all about the time you do stupid things."

"I don't do stupid things, that's why," the girl retorted, everyone laughing at Jamie's expression.

"You're marrying him," I said, gratified when the room grew quiet.

"Listen, Mitch," Jamie said, putting his hands on his knees, like he was about to get up. "I'm sorry I was a prick about the whole gay thing. I was a total asshole. I've gotten over it, and I'm totally cool with you and Jason screwing wherever you want. Hell, bring him to the wedding and you can hold hands and I'll personally tell anyone who says something to fuck off. Just, Jesus Christ, would you let it go?"

Surprised, I looked around the room. Dad was waiting for me to respond, Luke was smirking and Jason was avoiding my eyes.

"You told me I should rot in hell," I said, glaring at him. "Okay, fine, Jamie, whatever."

"Yeah, well, I realize that I was being an ass," Jamie said, leaning back. His girlfriend squeezed his leg, probably reassuring him. "But I'm still an ass, I just know that it's not that big of a deal."

"Okay. Whatever." I left the room, intending to head for the kitchen.

Jamie's girlfriend sighed loudly. "Well, at least you tried, Jamie. I appreciate it—and I know Laura will too."

Stopping in the hallway, I turned around again. "What the hell, is this some kind of attempt to impress your bitch? Goddamnit, Jamie, you're just doing this so she's not pissed at you."

"The fuck?" The girl stood up, taller than I expected. "Who the fuck do you think you are?"

"I'm fucking pissed," I said, about to put my hands on my hips, before realizing it made me look like a woman. I dropped them to my sides instead. "He expects that some little apology in front of fucking everyone is going to make things better?"

"Oh, I don't know, seems to be your way of working things out, according to your boyfriend," she rolled her eyes. "Maybe it runs in the family. Sorry, Jim."

Dad raised a hand to wave away her apology.

"Who the fuck cares?" I spat out. "You don't have to stay."

"Or maybe you're not giving your brother the credit he deserves," she said. "My sister's a lesbian, and he has no problem with that. Even explained the whole deal with you to me."

I pretended to look shocked. "Your sister's a dyke? Maybe he just hopes the two of you will start making out for him."

She slapped me across the face. "That's not even funny."

"Fuck," I muttered, taking a step back.

She stepped forward again, right in my face. "So how about you grow up and forgive him, unless you're pissed off for some other reason than the fact he was a little surprised and handled it badly. And I'm pretty sure that you're probably a little surprised and you're handling it badly, and your own fucking brother is going to forgive you by the time we drive home."

"Fuck off," I said.

"How about you fuck off," this came from Jason, surprising me. "Fuck. You. Janine honestly doesn't want you two to act like babies. Amazingly, Jamie's being more of an adult than you are about this."

"You're being more than a woman than she is," I said, turning on him.

"Then stop fucking treating me like one!" Jason's voice grew high at the end of the sentence.

The room went absolutely silent.

Luke cleared his throat, followed by Julie shushing him.

"I really am sorry, Mitch," Jamie said, still seated on the couch. "I was a big asshole."

"Yeah," I said, thankfully shifting my eyes from Jason to my brother. "I know."

"And I handled it badly, but god, I just…" Jamie shrugged, looking uncomfortable. "I didn't really know how to take it. I seriously am okay with it now. Even without Janine's sister."

I watched his expression for a minute, turning to his girlfriend. She wasn't looking happy, but far from looking as pissed as earlier.

"Yeah, okay," I said. This time, I meant it. "Really."

Jamie nodded, and I figured that pretty much was the end of it. I sighed, feeling better.

"Well," Dad broke in. "It's late."

"Yeah, I should go," Julie said. "It's, uh, late."

Shaking my head, I smirked over at her. "The awkwardness will stop once Jamie leaves anyway."

"Well, now I might stay," Jamie said, helping his girlfriend into her coat. "Except my old room has been turned into a gym. Which is screwed up, because no one uses it."

"I do," Luke said, throwing an arm into a flex. "Look at these pipes."

"Dude, Julie has bigger pipes than you do," I retorted. "And better pecs."

"Keep your eyes off my girlfriend's pecs," Luke said, throwing an arm in front of her chest to block it from my view.

"Boys," Dad said, stepping between us and holding his arms out dramatically. "Not in front of the guests."

"Yeah," Julie said, putting her hands on her hips. "I never want to see you guys acting like yourselves ever again."

"Yes ma'am," Luke said, stepping back when Julie made a fist and pretending to hit him in the gut.

"So Jason, you're staying the night, right?" Dad said, ignoring the play fight turning into something cute and coupley.

"No, I should get home," Jason said. "What with Sandy and all."

"Your mom's home," I said.

"Well then!" Dad said. "That's settled. Jason, you can bunk with Mitchell."

"Thank god," Luke muttered, only to yelp when Julie elbowed him in the ribs. Scowling, he rubbed his side.

"Grow up," Julie said. "Anyway, I'm going to head out now."

"Yeah, us too," Jamie said, wrapping an arm around Janine's waist. "Heineken gets her affectionate."

"Me too!" Jason said, flushing as all eyes went to him.

I was feeling more sceptical than amused like everyone else. "Yeah, definitely leaving now," Jamie said. "Have a good night kids."

"You too," Dad said, holding the door for them as they left. Watching them as they headed to the car, he missed Julie kissing Luke goodbye, including the quick breast fondle Luke snuck in.

Julie pressed him back against the closet door, and Dad pretended not to notice, smirking at Jason.

Jason laughed, for a reason I didn't know.

"Whatever," I said. "I'm going to bed."

"Okay, me too," Jason said quickly, following me upstairs.

"You sure?" I asked sarcastically, pushing open the door to my room.

"Uh, yeah?" Jason said, confused.

"Are you drunk?" I asked.

"No." Jason shook his head. "I had a beer. That, along with your brothers makes me act a little weird."

"Right." Ignoring his attempt to be cute, I pulled off my shirt. "So aren't you afraid I'm going to rape you?"

"Can't rape the willing," Jason mumbled.

"Right," I said again. "Whatever."

Turning my back on him, I heard him shut the door and sigh loudly.

"Listen, Mitch," Jason said. "I've thought about some things."

"Yeah?" Pants undone, I paused and looked at him.

"Yeah. Like, you know, this being gay business." Jason shrugged, sticking his hands in his pockets, then pulling them out again. He fidgeted when he was nervous.

I stuck my fingers through my belt loops. "You're only just thinking about it now?"

"No, I'm putting it into perspective," Jason said. "Like, coming out and all."

"And?" I pulled my jeans down, stepping out of them and leaving them on the floor.

"Well, it's not such a big deal," Jason said, hand nervously pulling at the neck of his polo.

I bit my tongue on a sarcastic remark. I didn't say anything.

"Cos, well, I told Janine, and it was totally cool. Like, she didn't care or anything." Jason laughed. "Of course, considering she only just met me and I'm some nobody who's dating her husband-to-be's brother…"

"Jase…" I broke in gently.

"No, don't," Jason said, dropping down on my bed. "I mean, god, my mom won't care. Or maybe she will. Not like she's around enough that it'd actually matter. Sandy knows. Your family knows. Fuck, Will Jordy knows. But you know what?"

He looked at me for a long minute, until I realized he was waiting for a response. "What?"

"I don't think any of it really matters. Fuck, we've got two fucking weeks left of high school." Jason rubbed his hand over his cheek, then over the corner of his mouth.

"Yeah?" I sat down beside him.

"And I think I don't care who fucking knows at this point." Jason flopped backwards, and my hands itched to feel his skin again.

"Yeah?" I smiled, keeping my hands to myself.

"And you know what else?" Jason pushed himself up by his elbows.

"What?" I turned a bit, bare legs brushing the material of his jeans.

Jason smiled wickedly, looking a hell of a lot like Will Jordy. "We've got exactly ten days to fuck in every single bathroom in that goddamn school."

I covered his grinning mouth with my own.