A/N: So my computer broke, then was fixed, then needed another part. And school began to suffocate me. Such is life. I decided to make up for it with some—well, read the chapter. Sorry for the wait, thanks to those who are still reading! I'm thinking about changing the description of the story (again!) but I don't know for sure just yet. Hm. This chapter is all about Harris and Tommy. And maybe a smidgeon of Sam. Sorry for the mistakes, I was in a hurry to get this one out after the wait. Enjoy!
Chapter Four: Lay On, Nancy Drew
Sleeping past noon always felt wasteful to Harris. It was like missing most of the day, and while he didn't have the best track record lately when it came to good days, it was still a waste.
Which was why, at two in the afternoon, he glared at the world from the front porch, half naked. He hadn't done any more than brush his teeth, ignoring his bed head and even a pair of pants just so he could go outside and pout. So far, it was a good stress reliever.
It was Sunday, and Harris had been giving Sam the silent treatment since Friday night. It was immature, he knew, but he didn't think he could talk to Sam without bursting into tears, and then he really would be a five year old girl. Anger was his biggest problem, and it wasn't one he was used to dealing with. As far as fights went, the worst had been when Harris was six and he couldn't have a new bike. He'd managed to give Sam the cold shoulder for six hours until Sam finally distracted him with a new (and cheap) video game.
Somehow, he couldn't see some old video game working this time.
Harris didn't even know where Sam was; he'd left sometime in the morning, way before Harris could be bothered to wake up. He'd gone to bed early the night before with the soul purpose of missing the creepy rocking chair. When he'd gone to sleep, he wasn't expecting to sleep for more than twelve hours, even if it did make it that much easier to ignore Sam.
Harris barely jumped, even though it took him by surprise. Tommy wasn't in sight yet, and his voice had come from around the side of the house. Harris looked down at his almost bare body, and cursed his own luck.
He saw Tommy before the other boy saw him.
"Hey," Tommy greeted cheerfully, eyes sliding over Harris quickly. "You're not wearing pants."
"No." And of course, he was the kind of guy that blushed all over. The red on his stomach seemed that much worse above his faded green boxer shorts. "I'm not."
"Well, to each his own." Tommy shrugged. "I wanted to come earlier, but we had to go to mid-morning service. Church is a pain in the ass—sorry lord—but my mama is really into that kind of thing, so we don't really have a choice."
"I guess you're lucky, then, because I just woke up anyway."
"Guess that explains the get-up." Tommy scratched at his head and looked up at the sky. "I wanted to apologize again. I hope you're not in too much trouble and things have cooled down. I figured a couple of days would be good enough."
"Seriously, don't worry about it. Up until the part with the cops, I had a good time. I now have a favorite ice cream. And my dad and I are…not speaking right now."
"Giving him the cold shoulder, huh?" Tommy had been standing over by the end of the porch, but with a grin he began to walk towards the steps. He was wearing the same black shirt he'd worn Friday night, and a pair of nice slacks.
Harris wondered if there was any circumstance in which Tommy wouldn't look good. He also wondered if he would ever get his dignity back. "I guess. I don't really want to talk about it." But he really did, before he spontaneously combusted from holding everything in.
"Well, if you change your mind, I got all day. I'm kind of grounded, but I told mama I was helping a neighbor with some yard work."
"Lucky for me, my dad took me off yard duty."
"Guess you won't have to worry so much about breaking your back, then." Tommy smiled, wide and slow, eyes moving along the front porch and landing on the rocking chair. "I didn't think that piece of junk would still be out here."
"Yeah, it's been rocking every night we've been here. My dad says its possums or something, totally gross, but I haven't seen anything."
Tommy gave him a sharp look. "Just rocking? No wind or anything?" To himself, he said, "No, I guess there wouldn't be."
"It's been driving me crazy, and kind of creeping me out. It always happens after midnight."
"Sounds like you got a ghost problem."
Harris laughed. "Yeah, maybe that's it," he said in his most sarcastic voice.
"What, you don't believe in ghosts?"
"Are you kidding?"
"'Course not. Plenty of places around here are haunted."
Harris bit his lip, holding in his laugh. "I just bet. Look, do you want to come in? I'm feeling a little exposed here."
"Sure man, whatever."
Feeling extremely self-conscious, Harris spun around and padded back into the house, leaving the door open for Tommy. When the other boy closed the door, he started up the stairs, stopping when he realized Tommy was still following him. "Uh, could you wait down here? I'll just be a second."
"Oh." Tommy's cheeks turned red. "Yeah."
With his own blush, Harris continued upstairs calmly, breaking into a run when he got to the top.
He had no idea what he was going to wear, because he hadn't planned on dressing to impress. He pointedly ignored his yellow zoo shirt, and after digging through his still unpacked duffle bag, came up with a plain grey shirt. He caught his reflection as he struggled his way into a pair of old jeans, and nearly tripped on a pants leg.
Bed head was a serious understatement, and even with more than half a days sleep, there were still dark spots under his eyes. He looked like he'd been beaten, and it was in no way cute. Cursing, he combed his fingers through his hair until the bleached mass passed for acceptable. There wasn't much he could do for his eyes, except maybe put raw steaks on them, so he let it slide.
Harris rushed back down the hall and fumbled his way down the stairs as quickly and quietly as possible. He didn't see Tommy anywhere. "You still here?"
"Yeah, I'm in the kitchen."
"Okay," Harris said, trying to saunter into the room, "so I'm feeling a little bit more open minded, now that I'm wearing pants. Lay the ghost theory on me."
"It's not really a theory."
Sifting through the cabinets, Harris looked for his peanut butter. "Please. Ghosts are something people talk about around campfires. They're not real."
"Maybe you don't think so, but a lot of people 'round here do. 'M just saying, you could have yourself a haunted house."
"Well, did Miss—my grand—that woman ever say anything about it?"
"No. But sometimes spirits just show up. Could be restless, needs closure."
Harris snickered. "Okay, Miss Cleo."
"I'm being serious."
"Well, if you want to talk about this stuff, I will personally start a fire out in the yard and we can roast some marshmallows and tell some ghost stories."
Tommy grinned at him. "I have a better idea. Why don't I sneak over tonight, and you can show me what's happening."
"Are you sure your dad the cop won't show up?"
"Oh, he loves ghost stories."
Harris shot Tommy his dirtiest look. "Yeah, I bet he'd just love to tell us some good ones in jail."
"Hey, I said I was sorry." Tommy picked at the knee of his jeans, looking contrite.
It was too cute, and Harris suspected Tommy knew that. "And I said all was forgiven. Hey, did you a jar of peanut butter when you came in here?"
Tommy made a face. "Yeah, it was lyin' around open and all, so I stuck it in the fridge."
"You can't put peanut butter in the fridge!" Harris rushed to the fridge, nearly pulling the door off when he opened it. He pulled the jar out and cradled it against his chest. "It gets nasty."
"It already was."
Harris dipped two fingers into the jar before pushing them into his mouth. And maybe he was going out of his way to gross Tommy out, but it was also creamy goodness. It seemed to work, because Tommy made a gagging sound and looked away. Harris rolled his eyes.
"So, how sure are you this house is haunted? Why would someone be coming around in the middle of the night to sit around in an old rocking chair?"
"Well, it does have a nice kick to it. I sat in it once."
"Great," Harris said flatly, "maybe we can sell tickets. My front porch will be like an amusement park. We need to pursue serious leads if we're going to solve this mystery."
"Okay, Nancy Drew, why don't you tell me your theory."
"I'm going to pretend that didn't just happen—"
"Why Nancy," Tommy cooed in a falsetto voice, "you sure have been eating a lot. You'll never fit into your dress for the spring formal at this rate."
"Are you on crack?"
Tommy grinned, but it faltered when his phone began vibrating in his pocket. Harris watched him grimace when he saw who was calling, but he flipped open the phone anyway. "Hi, ma. Yeah, I'm helping him with some work. Aw, but Harris needs help with the gutters. Okay. Yes ma'am. I'll be there in a few minutes." He closed the phone and gave Harris an apologetic smile. "Sorry, my mom wants me home to help with dinner."
"It's not even three yet."
"Pot roast," Tommy said, as if it explained everything. It was probably Southern code for 'none of your business.'
"Don't you have…sisters?"
"Yeah, but none of them can cook."
"And you can?"
"I know my way around a kitchen." Tommy hopped off of the counter and stretched. His shirt rode up a little over his stomach, but with his head tilted back, he missed the spot of drool trailing down Harris's chin. "Anyway, maybe I'll cook you some good Southern food sometime. Right now, I gotta get home before my ma kills me."
Harris wiped at his chin distractedly, just managing not to smear peanut butter all over himself. "Okay."
"So I'll see you tonight?"
"Huh? Oh, yeah."
With a small wave, Tommy was gone, and Harris stared at the empty doorway, fingers covered in the sticky brown mass, and a goofy smile stuck on his face. "Yeah, later."
It was near midnight when Harris realized he didn't know how Tommy was planning to sneak into the house. He kind of thought the old throw-a-rock-at-the-window was classically romantic, but Tommy seemed like the kind of guy who would somehow stroll right through the front door without being noticed, and if he was, he'd just give a friendly wave.
Because seriously, who wouldn't want Tommy walking into their house? Sam would definitely freak out, but he had passed up dinner and hidden in his room since he'd gotten back late in the afternoon. Harris hadn't made any attempt to talk to him; just thinking about it made him angry.
Harris was leaning against the window frame, squinting out into the yard. He had his flashlight in his back pocket, just in case something caught his eye. He kept thinking he saw shadows moving at the edge of his vision, but every time he turned, he didn't see anything.
That whole thing about the dark playing tricks on peoples was so true. Harris sighed, and decided to take a rest. He turned towards his bed, and almost ran right into Tommy.
"Shi—" Tommy slapped a hand over Harris's mouth, but it didn't help his heart any. He hadn't actually expected Tommy to just appear. He tried to talk, but it came out muffled against Tommy's hand. He rolled his eyes and pulled Tommy's hand down. "How did you get in here?"
"Secret entrance," Tommy whispered. His eyes were bright in the dark of the room.
Harris supposed ending up in dark places with Tommy was just a trend he was going to have to deal with. "Seriously, I didn't even hear the door open."
"Yeah, I'm kind of stealthy." He held up his dark blur of a hand. "I brought some lemonade."
"You kind of almost gave me a heart attack. And anaphylactic shock."
"I'm allergic to citrus. Lemons, limes, oranges, things like that."
"Oh. Well, uh, I guess there's more for me?"
"Did you bring it in a thermos?"
"I thought that you southern folks usually brought it out in a nice pitcher."
"I didn't want to risk dropping it in the dark." Tommy brushed past him to look out the window. "Anyway," he whispered, sounding embarrassed. "So you see anything yet?"
Harris swatted at his wide shoulders until Tommy moved out of the way. He leaned against the frame, giving Harris plenty of room to take back his lookout spot. "Nope. The chair thing doesn't usually start until later. Do you," he laughed a little, "do you sense any spirits?"
"I can leave if you're going to spend the whole time pickin' on me."
"Okay, okay, I'm sorry." A quick blur in the yard caught his attention. He could barely see, but it looked like a giant white-grey rat. "Oh my God, is that a possum?"
Tommy crowded beside him, pressing his hands against the glass and looking through them. "Sure is."
"It's the ugliest thing I've ever seen. And I can barely even see it."
"I guess you haven't seen an armadillo, then."
"Wait, what is that?"
Tommy laughed, and when he moved back, there was a big white spot from his breath on the window. "I'm surprised you didn't see them on the side of the road on the way down here. Their kinda yellow, and their body's like a shell. I think they're kinda cute."
"It's like you have mutant animals here."
"Because New York doesn't have its own weird animals."
"Yeah, well—" Another shadow appeared in the yard.
All Harris heard before being pulled sharply to the side was a garbled hiss from Tommy. Less than two seconds later, a small spot of light appeared on the wall opposite of the window. Tommy was holding Harris flush against him, both of them holding their breath.
Twisting in Tommy's arms, Harris looked up at him. His nose bumped against Tommy's chin, and he really hoped he didn't spit all over the other boy when he spoke. That would be too embarrassing. "Do ghosts carry around flashlights in the middle of the night?"
When Tommy answered, his breath was warm against Harris's cheek. "Well, Miss Sadie was afraid of the dark."
Harris caught the words 'well' and 'dark,' but was focused more on their sudden proximity. Tommy seemed to be perfectly comfortable, because his hands had dropped to Harris's hips. It would take one small tilt of his head and a little height to get their lips together.
So Harris pushed up on his toes and titled his head.
For a second, nothing spectacular happened. Harris pressed his lips against Tommy's, eyes dropping shut. It was a tense moment, until Tommy whined low in his throat and moved forward, lips parting. He'd obviously brushed his teeth before coming, his mouth a sharp mint flavor, and as his hands clutched at Harris's hips, Harris began to wonder if three seconds into the first kiss was too soon for tongue.
Or even if knowing a guy for less than a week was enough time to wonder about the proper wait time for slipping a little tongue. It was hard to think of anything to clearly with Tommy's lips moving against his, soft and a little wet.
A tongue ran across his lower lip as Tommy's hands snuck under his shirt, rubbing at the skin just over his pants. Tommy laughed a little into his mouth, pulling back slightly. "You ever eat? I feel like I could get paper cuts from your hip bones."
Harris blushed, and was profusely glad for the darkness. "Yeah?" He poked at Tommy's stomach. "Not everyone can have six packs."
"Mm." Tommy found his mouth again, giving him three quick kisses. "More like five and a half. I'm working on that last little bit. Plus, maybe I like paper cuts." He pushed his thumbs in, as if to illustrate his point.
Harris made a noise that was just a little too loud, and he suddenly remembered what they were doing. Or, what they were supposed to be doing. "Oh, shit! We didn't see who was outside!"
"Yeah but they almost saw us. Why would anyone be snooping around here?" Tommy hadn't stopped rubbing his thumbs in circles over Harris's hipbones.
It was more than a little distracting. "You tell me."
Tommy pulled Harris closer, and found his mouth again in the dark. "Right now?"
"I guess it can—" Wait, Harris thought, as he was pulled into another kiss. There could have been a murderer wandering around the front yard, but Harris couldn't really say no to making out. He slid his hands up Tommy's chest and around his neck, while Tommy's hands moved around to his lower back.
It was better than any experimental kiss Harris had shared with friends in New York. It was better than anything ever. He slid his tongue against Tommy's, fighting back a smile when the other boy moaned. One of his hands moved up into Tommy's hair, tugging gently on it.
Tommy broke away once more. "So hey, I kinda like you."
Harris trailed kisses along his jaw, focusing on the spot just below his ear. "That's good, because I kind of like you back."
"Yeah," Tommy breathed, "that is good."
"Yeah. I'm gonna kiss you again."
Harris nodded as he licked his lips. "That's cool."
And it was, until the sound of breaking glass echoed throughout the entire house. When Harris began to breathe again, he realized it wasn't his window that had shattered. He pushed away from Tommy, looking out into the night, and saw a shadow disappearing into the woods.
"Are you okay?" Tommy didn't seem to realize there wasn't a pool of glass in the room. He reached blindly for Harris in the dark and ended up poking him in the eye.
"Ow! Shit, yes, I'm okay."
The door burst open, and light flooded into the room. Sam stood in the doorway, chest heaving. "What happened? Are you okay?"
"Oh man," Harris groaned, holding a hand over his stinging eye. "I really am living in a Nancy Drew novel."
It was wildly inappropriate, but Tommy began to laugh, which was when Sam noticed him. "Harris, what is he doing here?"
Harris turned up his nose. "Tommy, could you tell my dad some lunatic just broke a window in the house?"
Sam cried, "What the hell?" at the same time Tommy said, "Uh, no."
Two seconds ago he had been making out, and Harris wanted nothing more than a time machine so he could go back to that moment. "Okay, okay, let's go see what happened."
"Son, I hope you have a good explanation for this."
It took Harris a moment to realize Sam was talking to Tommy, who ducked his head and mumbled, "I'll be sure and think of one, sir."
The three of them went downstairs, Harris feeling like he was dreaming. It felt like his life was getting progressively more ridiculous as the days went by. He could only imagine what tomorrow had in store, and it didn't involve him and Tommy doing dirty grown up things. Which totally sucked.
Sam was the one who discovered the broken window. Not surprisingly, it was the window beside the high backed chair. Sam had turned on all of the downstairs lights, giving an extra glow to the room. There was glass everywhere, and in the middle of it all, there was a brick.
There was a single sheet of paper wrapped around the brick, and Harris had to hold back his snort. It was almost too clichéd. Tommy was the only one wearing shoes, so he stepped carefully through the glass and snatched up the brick, a bemused expression set on his face. He unfolded the note slowly, humming a little after reading it.
"Huh. It says 'Get Out.'"
Harris groaned. So Nancy Drew.