A/N Sorry this chapter took so long in coming. I've been working on Bright Lights Black Rainbows (which you really should read if you haven't yet) As always thanks for those lovely reviews, I do so appreciate them. They make me giddy. This chapter was like pulling teeth, it was tedious, hopefully it doesn't show in the writing, but it probably does. You'll have to point out the glaring problems to me. Those of you who have read BLBR, you might go back and read chapter 9 again as I had to revise it adding an additional 1900 words. okay read on

The Fallback Guy

chapter 4

When I saw you I fell in love and you smiled because you knew William Shakespeare; Romeo and Juliet

"What are you doing? Izzy looked at me as I paced back and forth.

"Nothin'." I chewed on a fingernail.

"Then sit down. You're making me tired. Everything's gonna be just fine."

"What, I'm not nervous. I'm cool. I'm laid back. I'm..."

"Babbling like a fool."

I looked at my watch for the twentieth time in like 3 minutes. Christopher had just called Izzy and said he was on his way. I think I might have had a mini-stroke. I let out a huge sigh and plopped down on the couch.

"You need to take a pill." Izzy looked at me smiling.

"What's so funny."

"Nothing. You're just acting like a girl, that's all."

I gave her a sour grimace. "I'm just getting into character." I said drolly.

"Ha, that's cute." Izzy shook her head, laughing. "I don't know why you're so worried."

"Well, first off, I'm not worried. I don't know why you keep saying that and second..."
"I don't keep saying that. I just said it once."

"...And secondly, I have a sneaking suspicion that you're trying to play cupid."

Izzy started to respond then stopped.

"J'accuse!" I pointed a finger at her. "Traitor." I bellowed.

Izzy laughed. "You know, when you start in with the french, I know you're covering. Let me play devil's advocate. If, and I'm stressing the word if rather strongly here, If I was playing cupid, what's wrong with that?"

"First off, it's Christopher Maddox."

"Uh huh, and what's wrong with Christopher Maddox. He's hot. He's smart. And most importantly, where you're concerned he's gay."

"Yeah, but he's in-the-closet gay. If we got together, we'd have to hide it from everybody."

Izzy pretended to hold a phone to her ear. "Hello Pot, yeah this is the Kettle. You're black."

I felt obliged to follow. I brought my imaginary phone to my ear. "Hello Izzy, yeah uh, this is Henry. You're a bitch."

"What are you afraid of?"

I started to reply but was interrupted by the doorbell.

Izzy jumped up and ran for the door. I turned and watched and I have to admit, part of me hoped she would trip on the way to the door. Just a tiny part of me.

She pulled the door open and I'm certain my jaw dropped. I don't want to say Christopher looked any different, I mean, not that I've even noticed him outside of school, but still, there was something about him that was different. Izzy took the pizza boxes from him and looked over her shoulder at me.

"Well get over here you oaf and take something."

"Huh? Oh yeah." I ran to the door and took the plastic bag of sodas and his backpack. I couldn't help but notice his arms, the muscles taut. No. No. This is not gonna happen. You're not falling for this guy. I averted my gaze, but everywhere I looked, there was something else. His legs, one bandaged with an ACE bandage, were nicely sculpted. Not the least bit hairy, almost smooth. He wore a white tank top that was stretched over his frame nicely. And his dark eyes sparkled with a mirth that made me think he knew I was checking him out which made me blush. So what if he's hot. Looks aren't everything.

We settled back in the living room. I sat as far away from him as possible.

Christopher looked up at me. "I hope you don't mind. All I got was pepperoni. I didn't know what you liked". Izzy was already shoving a piece in her mouth, the sauce dripping down her chin.

"Pepperoni's cool." I said nonchalantly.

Izzy snorted. She'd be laughing out loud if it weren't for the pizza. Traitor.

"Plates! We need plates." I gave Izzy a look. "Could you help me Izzy?"

I grabbed her arm as she stood and guided her through the living room and to the kitchen.

"Oh my God!" She pulled her arm from my grip. "Could you be any more obvious? And what the hell was," she lowered her voice an octave or two, trying to do an impression of me. "Pepperoni's cool." She laughed. "You might as well have grabbed your crotch and spit on the ground. Or challenged him to an arm wrestling match." She took me by my shoulders and shook me. "Newsflash. He knows you're gay. Don't make an idiot of yourself trying to prove otherwise." And with that she turned and went back into the living room. I stood there, watching after her not knowing what to do. I heard them talking and laughing together and I felt a twinge of jealousy. I took a deep breath and started back into the living, only to remember I had come into the kitchen for plates. I almost smacked myself in the forehead.

I put the plates on the coffee table and sat back at the far end of the couch. Izzy glared at me and gestured for me to scoot closer. Reluctantly I stood and grabbed a plate and two pieces of pizza and sat down again, this time closer. I could smell his cologne. I recognized the scent but couldn't remember the name of it, only that it made my toes curl it smelled so good.

"So..." Christopher spoke in between bites. "I was thinking we could just read through one time, just to familiarize ourselves." He put his slice of pizza on a plate then grabbed his backpack. He pulled out a copy of the script and a copy of the cliffs notes. I almost scoffed. Cliffs Notes? Really? Fortunately I held my tongue as he pulled out a gargantuan leather bound complete Shakespeare, filled with all kinds of notes and bookmarks with little Post Its flags sticking out of practically every page. He was a little hardcore. I could see the spine of my little paperback copy peeking out from under his leather bound edition. Izzy and I must have both been looking at him. "What? He looked at his pile of Shakespeare and grinned sheepishly. "I'm really just a big nerd."

Yeah a big nerd with big sexy brown eyes, a killer body and those lips. Oh God. oh God. oh God. "Glasses! We need glasses. To drink." I jumped up and ran to the kitchen. I felt their eyes on me but I didn't care. "Ohgodohgodohgod." I muttered to myself, leaning against the counter by the sink. "this is not good. You need to chill. Chill!" I took a deep breath "Okay."

I smelled his cologne before he said anything. "You okay?"

I turned too fast, banging my hip on the counter. "Yeah," I whimpered.

"Can I help?" He reached above my head to one of the open cupboards and pulled down three glasses. I could feel heat rolling off of him.

"Ice. I need ice." My voice croaked.

Christopher stopped and stared at me. He leaned in closer. Uh oh. "Am I making you uncomfortable?"

I could barely shake my head, unable to break our eye contact.

"Izzy told me that she told you. "

"Told me what?" One of his arms was touching mine.

"Told you that I'm gay."

"Yeah. So..."

"So, if that makes you uncomfortable..."

His cologne was intoxicating.

"No. No, it's cool." like the pepperoni's cool? "I mean it's fine. We're aces." Aces?

Christopher leaned away from me. "Good. Cuz I don't want to screw anything up."

He pulled the freezer door open and a gush of cold air slipped past us. I breathed it in as I watched him filling our glasses with ice, as if he were in his own kitchen and not mine. "Here." He handed me two glasses and we went back into the living room.

We finished the pizza and started reading our lines. Our first read through was just what Christopher had suggested, familiarizing ourselves with the lines. Although it was clear Christopher needed no familiarization. He knew his part word for word as well as ours.

After the first read through he had pulled a dvd out of his backpack. "It's from the International Shakespeare Festival. It takes place in Germany near Dusseldorf. They built a duplicate of the Globe theatre and every year they have a Shakespeare Festival in June and July. We went this summer." He hopped up off the loveseat and inserted the disk in the player. He came back and sat down between Izzy and Me on the couch.

I tried to focus on the play, listening to the lines, trying to pick up whatever it was that Christopher was trying to show, but my concentration was a bit blunted by his proximity to me. Leaning back, his shoulders brushed mine and his bare arm was again touching me. I don't know if he was nervous, but his leg was rocking back and forth, each time brushing mine. I watched him out of the corner of my eye. He seemed very intent on the television. He'd smile every now and then, shake his head at something I must have missed completely then leaned forward again as if he were waiting for something. I never saw what it was, but it had clearly come and gone as he sat back, releasing a big sigh and letting his hands drop. The fact that one of them landed in my lap was the last straw. The slight touches and brushing, the intoxicating scent of his cologne, his proximity in the kitchen and on the couch, all of it resulted in a sudden and obvious reaction on my part. Christopher looked down at his hand sitting in my lap and pulled it away quickly.

"I hafta..." I turned to run for the kitchen, only my leg was tangled up with his and I fell into his lap, my crotch brushing his knee. The blush prickled up my neck and ears as it washed over me. I didn't know where to put my hands, but at the moment they were on his chest as I pushed to get away from him. He had a pained look on his face and I realized I my erection was currently stabbing into the compression wrap around his hamstring.

I don't know how I got from there to the bathroom. I just know that I was sitting there, listening as the front door opened and closed, heard a car door open and close and then the car drive away. I sat waiting for Izzy to come in and try and cheer me up. I waited about 5 minutes then felt a bit aggravated that she was making me suffer. This was all her fault anyway. She invited him over, she was trying to play cupid. I opened the door and looked into the living room. No one. I heard water running in the kitchen. "Izzy! You are in so much trouble. If you ever play cupid again. I don't care if he is hot. I don't care if he is smart. I don't care if he's got the sexiest brown eyes I have ever seen! You are not..." And the words died in my throat. "...Izzy."

Christopher stood in the kitchen, a dish towel thrown over his shoulder as he rinsed one of the plates. He placed it in the draining rack and picked up the third plate, washed it rinsed it and place it in the rack as well. He pulled the towel off his shoulder and dried his hands. He hung the towel to dry and then turned to me.

"Okay. The way I see it, we can take this one of two ways. The first is I can leave and pretend I didn't hear what I just heard."

I was nodding my head. Yes, let's pretend this never happened. Let's pretend I didn't nearly hump your leg like a dog.

"Or."

I stopped nodding.

"I could kiss you."

He took the few strides between us and I backed against the wall. I thought back to what Izzy had asked me before Christopher arrived.

"What are you afraid of?"

I looked at him. "I've never..." I looked down, embarrassed.

Christopher lifted my chin and his eyes were sparkling again and the smile on his face made me want to cry. I tried to look down again but he held my chin firmly. He leaned in and kissed me and at first my hands were on his chest, almost pushing him away from me. Then I was tugging at his shirt, pulling him to me. His lips were soft, the kiss tender. He started to pull away and all I heard was a gutteral "UNH" come from me as I pulled him back to me, wrapping my arms around him and holding him tight. I'm sure there was supposed to be breathing in there somewhere, but when our kiss finally broke, I gasped for air and slid down the wall, my legs weak. He was looking down at me, an eyebrow arched.

"You've never what? If you tell me that was your first kiss." He staggered back a few steps to the freezer and pulled the doors open. He leaned his backside into the cold. I could see his chest rising up and down, breathing heavily.

"It was my first boy kiss." I smiled tentatively.