Thanks for all the lovely reviews!
Well, this is the last chapter :( I'm kind of sad to finish it, but I have like a dozen other stories that are just begging to escape my brain. This is actually the first romance I've attempted to write. Usually I write fantasy stuff or really crappy poetry bitching about my "shitty" life (Jason is an angsty bastard for a reason :) Anyway, I hope you guys like the end. If you're interested, I'm probably going to start on Skye's story right away, though it will probably be a one-shot.
"You're w-what?" Even if Simon's hands hadn't still been pinning me to the wall, I wouldn't have been able to move. Every ounce of my anger was forgotten as my mind went into overdrive, attempting to translate Simon's confession into something understandable.
"Don't make me say it again," Simon snapped, but his voice was slightly less hostile and his eyes looked away from mine.
"But you're in love with someone else. That's what you said that day in the bathroom at the café. You said you knew about unrequited love, right? How could you change your mind so fast?" My voice was shaky and afraid and I hated it, but my mind had yet to catch up with my mouth.
"I didn't change my mind. It was you. It's always been you." Simon sighed and his hands slid down my arms to rest gently on my shoulders. My arms dropped uselessly to my sides.
"Why?" I asked sharply, and Simon looked at me again. His eyes studied my face, expression carefully blank before he dropped his gaze back down.
"Good question," he said with a shaky laugh. "I don't know why, Jason. You were such a dick to me, but I guess I was to you too. And I saw you with your friends and you were like a different person." Simon paused and stepped back to sit on his bed. I didn't move. "When I first met you, I was used to people seeing me as perfect. It used to drive me crazy, and I wanted so much to just start screaming and never stop, just to make them shut up about how admirable I was, overcoming my mother's death and being such a good son. But you never saw me like that. It was novelty at first, I suppose, to have someone constantly insulting me instead of praising me. It sounds so ridiculous now, but I actually enjoyed fighting with you."
Simon laughed again and buried his face in his hands. I wanted to go to him, to comfort him, but I didn't know what to say and I didn't think I could move. "When they said you'd tried to kill yourself, it hit me pretty hard. I knew I loved you and that you hated me and it was all hopeless, and that just made me angry at everything. I wanted to hate you back for trying to leave me, but even when you were screaming at me, I couldn't manage it. I know I shouldn't have kissed you, but God, I couldn't help it."
I slid down the wall until I was on the floor, my eyes huge as I stared at Simon. He was silent for a long time, calming himself, I suppose. I struggled to stand up again, because collapsing on the floor seemed like such a weak thing to do. Simon lifted his head again and pushed himself to his feet, offering me hand. I hesitated before taking it and letting him pull me to my feet.
"Jason," he whispered. I shuddered and he kissed me softly before stepping away again.
"I have to think about this," I said. Simon nodded, wearing a smile that didn't reach his eyes.
"It's all right, Jason," he said. "I told you before I understood, and I meant it."
I couldn't speak anymore, so I just turned around and walked out. I felt numb, as though it wasn't me walking into the kitchen and asking my mother for a ride home. It wasn't me who patiently accepted a goodbye hug from my mother. It wasn't me who fell onto my bed without bothering to change my clothes and cried myself to sleep for no reason I could give myself.
I woke up at two in the morning. It was a sudden thing, not the way I usually turned off my alarm clock and drowsily faded between dreams and reality until I forced myself to roll out of bed and slowly shift into total consciousness. My eyes opened and I was wide awake, just like that. I stared at the ceiling for a few minutes before I climbed out of bed and stood up. I'd basically refused to think about everything the day before, because my mind couldn't comprehend it all. Now, though, Simon's words hit home. He was in love with me. Perfect Simon I'd sworn to hate forever loved me. It didn't seem possible.
I walked down the stairs slowly, feeling trapped in my own mind. I couldn't stop thinking about Simon. Why had he told me, when he knew I was in love with Skye? Why had he let anything happen between us at all?
All I could think was how much I had to see Skye. My father had grudgingly returned my keys the night before when it was apparent that I'd really spoken to my mother again. It felt almost wrong to get in my car again, after I'd grown so used to Simon's. It smelled vaguely of fast food, and I found myself missing the lingering scent of Simon's cinnamon air freshener.
I'd been driving to Skye's, but suddenly I found myself pulling alongside Garret's house, staring at Simon's window. It was dark. He was probably sleeping, but I didn't see how he could be when I couldn't manage it.
I nearly turned off the car and ran into him, before I reminded myself that I needed to see Skye. I would only make things worse if I went to Simon now, and I didn't want that. If I could understand nothing else, I did know that I didn't hate him anymore and I didn't want to hurt him.
I knocked on Skye's door before I remembered it was two in the morning and his whole family was probably asleep. I bit my lip nervously when Regina opened the door, wrapped in a silky red robe. Her eyes widened when she saw me, and the sleepiness in her eyes faded as she ushered me inside.
"Are you all right, Jason?" she asked softly. I nodded, not trusting myself to speak. Regina wrapped an arm around my shoulders and gave me a gentle hug. "I'll wake Skye for you."
"Thank you," I choked out. She just smiled and nodded. A few seconds later, Skye appeared in front of me, hair a mess and eyes blinking confusedly in the brightly lit family room.
"Jason, what's wrong?" he asked when he spotted me, immediately lifting a hand to feel my forehead. I almost laughed at his actions. Did he think a fever the most likely explanation for me appearing at his house at two in the morning?
Instead, I grabbed his face and kissed him. I hadn't planned it – actually, I have no idea what I'd planned, only that my mind was insisting that I see Skye – and it didn't last long. Just a second and I was jerking away to stare at Skye in surprise, as though he'd been the one to unexpectedly kiss me. I suppose I'd expected kissing him to be perfect. It wasn't bad, really, but all I could think was that it wasn't Simon.
"Fuck," I said suddenly, while Skye gazed worriedly at me. "I'm in love with Simon."
"Well, yeah," he said slowly while I gaped at him.
"What?" I could say no more than that, but Skye seemed to understand.
"Jason, I've seen the way you look at him," Skye said, as though that explained everything. I just continued to stare stupidly at him until he took pity on me and ushered me into a chair. "Is it a bad thing, to be in love with Simon?"
"Yes," I said quickly.
"Why?" Skye asked.
"Because," I said sharply when I no good reason came to me. "How the hell did this happen?"
"How it usually does, I would guess," Skye said with a sympathetic smile. "What bothers you about it, Jason? Are you afraid of being gay, or is it just Simon that you don't want to be in love with?"
"Neither," I admitted. Apparently, even Skye was confused by that one. He didn't seem to have any words of wisdom to cure me with. "I guess I'm just shocked."
"I can see that," Skye said softly, taking the seat across from me. I blushed and leaned heavily against the chair's back.
"I'm sorry for, uh, kissing you," I said quickly, and Skye smiled.
"You're forgiven, though I wouldn't mention it to Gage if I were you. He's rather jealous of you, I'm afraid."
"Oh?" I felt my blush spread and Skye laughed softly but said nothing. "Well," I murmured after a few moments, "I suppose I should let you go back to sleep."
"I suppose," Skye said, rolling his eyes.
"Sorry for bothering you. And thanks for…listening," I said as I stood. Skye shrugged and hugged me tightly. It felt good, but not in a sexual way. There was such comfort in being wrapped up in someone else's arms, a safety I wasn't used to feeling.
"You did the same for me," he whispered, patting my back once before letting me pull away.
I made myself wait until ten the next morning before I jumped back into my car and drove straight to Graham's house. If I wanted an honest opinion, I knew Graham was the one to see.
He was, predictably, sleeping when his mother led me up to his bedroom. I quickly remedied that by pouring a glass of cold water on his face. He shot out of bed sputtering and threw a pillow at me. He wouldn't speak to me until he'd dried off his face and changed out of his soaked shirt.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" he asked exasperatedly as he dropped into his desk chair, wearily rubbing his eyes.
"Do you think I could possibly be in love with Simon instead of Skye?" I asked abruptly. Graham groaned.
"You did not throw water on my face just to ask me that," he muttered. "You're an idiot, Jason. Seriously."
"Answer me," I whined, and Graham groaned again.
"Yes," he said. "Can I go back to sleep now?"
"But why?" I asked.
"Simon's hotter?" he suggested, yawning widely. I just glared at him. "I don't know, Jason. I have no fucking clue how your mind works, and frankly, I don't want to. But I can tell you that I never really thought you were in love with Skye. I think you were infatuated with him, but I don't think it was love. You didn't even know him, really."
"But I hate Simon!" I protested. Graham smirked.
"Do you?" he asked wryly. "And how many times have you slept with him this week, Jason, or do I even want to know?"
"What does that have to do with anything?" I snapped.
"Nothing, I'm sure. But I've never seen you laugh as much as you do with Simon. I've certainly never seen you so easily manipulated." Graham sighed when I glared at him again. "Not manipulated in a bad way, Jason. You need to laugh more. You've always thought too hard about everything."
"I have not," I argued automatically. Graham laughed.
"Well if you didn't already believe you liked Simon, you wouldn't be asking me about it, so I really don't know why you're bothering arguing, Jason." I slumped down onto the floor at the foot of his bed.
"Neither do I," I admitted. Graham slid his desk chair forward so he could reach down to pat my head.
"What are you gonna do about it?" he asked. I shrugged.
"Simon told me he was in love with me yesterday."
"Did he?" Graham raised one eyebrow in a quizzical way. "What did you say?"
"I went home," I muttered. "I told him I had to think about it."
"But you don't think too hard, right?" Graham asked dryly.
"Well, you're had time to think about it now. You know Simon likes you back. What excuse could you possibly give not to be with him?"
"I don't know," I whispered. Graham sighed and smiled sympathetically at me.
"Then think some more."
I took Graham's suggestion to heart and spent the rest of the day on the beach. Maybe Graham was right and I did think too hard, because I paced back and forth across the sand for hours and barely noticed the time going by. Simon loved me. I was pretty sure I loved him too, but what if I was wrong? God, I wasn't even sure I knew what love was. Maybe I wasn't even capable of feeling it. I'd certainly never loved Heather.
I dropped down onto the sand and stared at the water. Usually, I found it comforting, but for some reason watching the waves in constant motion only made me feel slightly dizzy. I wanted to talk to Simon, but I was afraid to before I'd had a chance to sort out my own emotions.
I though back to our earlier conversation – well, argument, really – about my mother. Was I jealous of him? Well the obvious answer was yes, but it went deeper than that. I think when we were younger, I really had believed he was perfect. And I resented him for it, because I wanted to be him. He had friends and he was talented in everything he tried. Garret and my mother absolutely adored him, as did every other adult that met him. Compared to him, how could anyone have seen me as worth anything?
I shook away that thought, knowing where it would lead. I might not think my life was too great, but I didn't want to lose it. Oddly enough, my attempt at suicide had really only left me to realize how much I wanted to live. It made no sense, really, but the scars on my wrists were reminders of all the reasons why I couldn't let myself be so pessimistic anymore.
With a sigh, I pushed myself to my feet and made my way back to my car. The fact that I was freezing didn't register until I turned on my car and the warm air hit me. I glanced at the clock, and then did a double take. It was eleven. Had I really been there that long? It didn't feel like it.
My stomach growled loudly and I made a quick trip to McDonald's. Not my favorite dining establishment, but I just felt like eating a greasy mess that cost next to nothing. I ate in my car, parked outside the restaurant, because I didn't feel like dealing with people.
My father was sitting at the table in the kitchen when I walked in. He called me over and I went, though grudgingly.
"Jason," he said gruffly.
"Father," I replied, feeling mildly confused. He looked uncomfortable, but not really angry, which was a nice change.
"How are you?" he asked. I almost smiled. I recognized his stalling tactics.
"I'm all right. How are you?"
"Fine, thank you." He paused for a long time, and I patiently waited him out. I was feeling rather generous for some reason. "I just wanted to say…well…I'm proud of you for…for sorting things out with your mother. I know you blame her for...everything that happened."
For a long, long time, I could only stare at him. He was fidgeting in his chair, and he'd stuttered a lot, but he'd very nearly apologized to me. And he'd said he was proud of me. I couldn't remember the last time I'd heard those words from him, if I ever had.
Without thinking, I dove forward and hugged him. He awkwardly patted my back. He looked relieved when I pulled away, but he didn't say anything, and for him that was a big deal. He should have been spouting off about how unmanly it was to hug or something.
"Good night, dad," I said, and he nodded. I was grinning stupidly as I raced up the stairs. It was midnight by now. I started to get ready for bed, and then stopped. I wanted Simon. I wanted him so much it was like being smothered. I couldn't breathe unless I had his arms around me.
But it was too late to be going to his house, my mind reasoned. I'd have to wait until morning.
I took a quick shower and crawled under the covers, but I couldn't sleep. I tried to read, but my mind wouldn't focus. I took another shower, and then went downstairs to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. If that didn't calm me, nothing would.
I watched the television for awhile, but it was too boring. I even brought out some math homework, but that only made me feel nauseous so I quickly put it away again. I sat down at my computer and surprised myself when I typed "how to say I love you" in the search bar.
"Prick," I muttered to myself, but that didn't stop me from reading through the links.
When my father knocked on my door at seven, I realized how long I'd been staring at my computer screen. I decided to go to church with him, as a way to pass the time. He looked rather surprised by my easy agreement, but said nothing about it. He even offered to take me out to breakfast after church, but looked thankful when I declined.
I made myself wait until ten again before I drove to Garret's. On the way, I mentally reviewed everything I'd read on the internet. You're supposed to say it while maintaining eye contact and holding your partner close, because it makes the moment more intimate. And you're not supposed to say it in the midst of a passionate encounter, because it might not seem as real.
I banged on the front door with a bit more force than necessary. My mother answered, a wide smile on her face. It widened further when she saw me.
"Jason!" she shrieked, pulling me inside and hugging me. I forced myself not to squirm. "What are you doing here?"
"Actually," I said in what I hoped was a casual way, "I'm looking for Simon."
"Simon?" she frowned. "What do you need with Simon?"
"He's supposed to help me with some math homework," I said, before I remembered that I was the shittiest liar on the planet. I became interested in the potted plant beside the door so that I wouldn't have to look at her.
"Oh. Well, Simon's at a friend's house for the day." I felt myself deflate, but forced a smile for my mother.
"Okay. Could you tell him to call me when he gets back?" I asked. She nodded.
"Of course," she agreed. "Do you want to stay for awhile, Jason? We could watch a movie or something.
"Uh, no thanks. I have…stuff," I said vaguely. I saw her face fall. I could hear Simon's voice in my head and silently cursed him for causing this guilt trip. "Well, maybe for a little while."
"Great!" She led me into the family room, pausing before the enormous collection of DVDs. "What do you want to watch?"
"You pick," I offered. I spent (read "wasted") the next two hours of my life watching the most boring movie on the planet, some romantic comedy with no real plot and jokes that made my ears bleed. I managed to find a reasonable excuse to leave once it was over, telling her I had homework that needed doing. It was the truth, though I doubted I'd actually do it.
"Don't forget to tell Simon to call me," I said as she walked me to the door.
"Of course not, Jason. You'll come visit again soon, won't you?" She looked so hopeful, I couldn't bring myself to disagree.
"Sure," I said, and I was fairly certain it wasn't a lie.
I spent all of Sunday in my house, sitting by the phone. In my mind, I was working out a speech of exactly what I'd say to Simon. It kept changing as time went by. When my father started giving me suspicious looks and I went upstairs to hide in my bedroom with the phone, I thought my planned speech sounded quite eloquent.
My eyes spotted the envelope of photos on my desk and I picked it up. On top was the one of the two of us, where Simon had planted a wet kiss on my cheek at the last minute. Staring at the picture, at my helpless grin, any doubt I'd felt was gone. I loved Simon. He made me happy, and I wasn't going to analyze everything, I was just going to accept it.
The later it got, the more hopeless I felt. When it hit midnight, I knew Simon wasn't going to call me. Yet I couldn't bring myself to hang the phone back up. I fell asleep at about one with the phone on the pillow next to mine.
I woke up with a start and realized it was morning and I was late. I'd forgotten to set my alarm. Again.
Cursing wildly I threw on some clothes and took off out the door at a run. I knew I was driving way too fast, but I was desperate. Simon had to be at school, and I had to see Simon.
I signed in at the office, where the secretary frowned unhappily at me. How she recognized me with all the students who'd visited her desk before, I don't know. I ignored her disapproving look and rushed out the door when she was finished, checking the clock on the wall on my way out. It was lunchtime. I took off toward the cafeteria at a run.
I automatically headed to my normal table, but Simon wasn't there. Skye, Graham, and Michael all gave me strange looks when I dropped my backpack to the floor and scanned the room for Simon.
"Hey, Jason. Where were you?" Skye asked quietly.
"Slept in. I'll be right back," I said absently, my eyes finding Simon and locking in. He was looking at me too, face unreadable. I had no idea how the fuck he managed it, completely turning off like that. I'd never be able to do that.
I walked across the room and stopped in front of his table. The orange haired girl sitting next to Simon glared at me. She looked like she was wondering what my insides looked like and wouldn't mind investigating.
"Hi," I said, and conversation amongst Simon's table died as everyone turned to stare at me. I wanted to turn and flee, but Simon's gaze held me in place.
"Hi, Jason," Simon replied. "What's up?"
"Can I talk to you?" I had a strange desire to dive over the table and tackle him, but quickly pressed it down.
"Sure." He stood up and walked around his table. We started out of the cafeteria, but only made it as far as the nearest pillar before I couldn't keep from speaking anymore.
"I'm sorry," I said quickly, and Simon stopped walking to look at me.
"For what?" he asked slowly.
"Being a stupid prick?" I suggested. Simon smiled slightly, but it was still so hesitant I wanted to reach out and touch him. "You were supposed to call me yesterday," I said suddenly.
"I know. But I didn't get in until midnight and I thought that would be too late."
"I was awake," I whispered. Simon's eyes widened slightly before he looked at the ground and took in a deep breath.
"Jason, I can't keep things the way they are. I know how you feel about Skye, and…"
"I don't really love Skye," I interrupted. "Besides, Graham says you're hotter."
"Graham said that?" Simon looked shocked for a few seconds before he shook his head, as though shaking off that thought. "Well, it doesn't matter. What I'm trying to say is, I don't want to keep messing around with you when it doesn't mean anything."
"But it does mean something," I protested. Simon smiled sadly.
"You don't want a relationship, Jason, and I can't accept anything less anymore."
"I do too!" I cried. Simon looked uncertain for a few seconds before he shook his head again.
"You hate me, remember?" he said softly. "And besides, you'd never be willing to tell anyone about us, and I refuse to hide anymore."
"I love you," I snapped, before I remembered I'd had a speech. Well, fuck that. Simon was going to drive me crazy. At least I seemed to have stunned him into silence with those words. "I was an idiot before, Simon, all right? But I love you, even if you are a prick. And I don't care who knows it."
"You're not serious," Simon whispered. I couldn't stand the uncertainty in his eyes. I meant to be gentle, but suddenly I was pushing him into the pillar and kissing him hard. His hands wrapped around my waist and pulled me in close.
"I'm perfectly serious," I told him, and he grinned suddenly. This, I thought, is right. "I love you, Simon."
"I love you, too, Jase." He rested his forehead against mine. "Everyone's staring at us."
"Do you mind?" I asked. Simon just smirked.
"Jason!" I heard the shocked voice of my English teacher and reluctantly pulled myself away from Simon. I spotted familiar blue eyes gawking at me from a nearby table and winked lewdly at Heather.
"Well, at least she'll leave me alone now," I muttered, and Simon laughed.
For our offensive pubic display of affection, Simon and I were sentenced to after school detention. I could hardly bring myself to care. Now that I had Simon, nothing else seemed to matter. Everything was perfection
The basketball coach was in charge of us that day. He apparently didn't know what we were serving detention for, because he sent us both outside, alone, to pick up trash from the football field. I pulled on the gloves he offered and Simon carried the bag.
"Do you think he'd notice if we slipped behind the bleachers for a few?" I asked as I tossed an empty cigarette carton into the bag. Simon smirked at me.
"A few what? Seconds? Minutes? Hours?"
"Days," I decided. "We should disappear for days. Think of all the new things we could try."
"God, Jase, you really do have one track mind," Simon told me. He paused, glanced at the door the coach had just disappeared to. "Let's go. I never miss an opportunity to learn something new."