(-)---.Picture . Perfect.---(-)
"What?" Here we go…
"If you weren't dating Xander, would you date me?"
Shit… I knew it. He always brought this up.
"Damn it, Cal," I said sitting up to look over the edge of the couch down at my friend. "I told you to stop with this bullshit."
Cal looked up at me from his position on the floor. He was at work on an art project that was due at the end of the week in which he temporarily stopped working on to place his deep gray eyes on my light green ones. I could tell he was partially crushed inside from my demand, but I didn't care.
We were both juniors in high school, both going to the same school, but having two completely different class schedules. We never see each other except while in the hallway and after school. It sucks for both of us since we're the only friends we have. Everyone else doesn't want to interact with us unless they really have to. It does hurt, especially for Cal since he's so sensitive. Hence the art major.
Cal was what you would call a punk/goth, maybe emo; messy black hair that's cut in layers which fall into his eyes and give him such an innocent look. Black clothes that fit tightly over his slender body give you the impression that he's malnourished. Trust me, he's all but malnourished. He eats more than a body builder, but he can never gain any weight despite all his efforts. And the music he listens to is the weirdest crap I've ever heard. But sometimes I'll listen.
I'm not much into the 'artist' choice for music. I like more hardcore rock, pop, and Japanese boy bands. I was an English major, writing poetry and short stories about whatever comes into my mind. I have more notebooks than the Library of Alexandria. I dress with a little more color, but I'd be considered more goth than anything. Blacks, deep reds and greens and purple make up the colors I usually wear. I'm equally as slender as Cal and the same with the food goes for me. We're so far apart, but then so close.
That's why we live together in the same apartment in a building my aunt owns. But she leaves me alone mostly. She pays for our rent and gives us money for food and necessities. She does it to shut us up, and it works. The woman's rich, and if it weren't for me…
Nah… forget it. That's how much I really don't give a damn about her.
And damn me to hell because Cal gave me that baby look of his without even doing anything. I only glared at him and removed my body from the room and down the small hall to my bedroom and closed the door.
I leaned against it and slid down to the floor and tucked my knees up under my chin. I turned my head slightly to the left and stared at my boyfriend's picture for some time, all the while listening to what happened outside in the living room.
There was momentary silence and then the sound of ripping paper with a sigh. Cal had destroyed whatever it was he was working on. His artwork was beautiful, even the stuff he did that was crap. He doesn't belittle his work; he's just a perfectionist. Everything needs to be just right. That tint of red won't do – he tosses the entire picture and redoes the entire thing again. I envy him for it. I was never able to draw as good as him, and vise versa when it comes to writing.
I looked at the calendar just above my boyfriend's picture. Today was Thursday. The project he was working on was due tomorrow morning at nine for the weekend art contest at school. There wasn't a doubt in my mind that he'll win, no matter if he's redoing the piece or not. He could enter a scrap and still win. That's how phenomenal he was at his craft.
But the other thing I was looking at was the day of the announcements for first, second and third prize was the day Xander comes to stay for the summer. He'll meet me in the auditorium of the school and then we'd go out for the rest of the day.
I was worried.
Cal always brought up Xander and played a 'what if' game with me about him. "What if you never met him?" "What if" this and "What if" that. Cal was attached to me and always was since the day I saved him from the school bully in third grade. He was dependant on me, and help me, I was killing him. That's the last thing I wanted to do to him.
I knew Cal loved me more than as a friend. Hell, I woke up countless times in the past year to see him either sleeping soundly next to me in my bed or on the floor outside my bedroom door. He's not a Special Ed student, and he doesn't have a mental illness, that's just the way he was. Simple, little Calden: my 'unofficial' brother, my best friend…
That's it. My best friend. That's all we'll ever be, and I was going to make sure about that. I knew I was hurting him like this, but he needs to grow up and be on his own. Whether he likes it or not, I won't be around forever. I have my own life, and my own goals I want to achieve. Some of them I can't begin to go after with him constantly hanging onto my arm for support. I'll hold his hand, support him from a distance, but that's it.
I got up and locked my door. A habit I got into when Cal ended up in my bed for the uncountable last time. I slipped under my covers and snuggled in for the night. And if it was one thing I was better at than writing, it was going to sleep.
I woke up to my alarm and groggily got out of bed to turn the blasted thing off. I did a few stretches and grabbed my things and headed out of my room. I slammed into my door when I realized I had locked it the night before. I was never too aware in the morning. But one thing I'm always aware of is whether or not Cal was on the floor. Many a time I'd tripped over him, and I wasn't going to break an arm the day before Xander showed up.
When I opened the door to my room, I wasn't surprised at all to see Cal wrapped in his black sheet with a pillow across the threshold of my room. I gave him a quick glance as I stepped over him and headed to the bathroom for my morning rituals.
Once that had been done, I exited the bathroom and passed Cal as he made his way into it for his own uses. This was normal routine for the two of us. I went into the small kitchen and scrambled a few eggs for the two of us. I always ate before him and finished by the time he got out. Of course, by that time, his food was ice cold. It made me shiver because he liked it that way.
Once that was done, we cleaned up and gathered our things and out we went to the bus stop to wait for the city bus to take us to school. Even that was set into our minds. The bus came, we get on, we sit down – him by the window, me by the aisle – and he would lay his head on my shoulder and sleep for an extra twenty minutes as the bus made its way to our school.
The day wasn't bad, and neither was it good. I made sure Cal got to class and I'd race to make my own before the bell. Lunch came and we ate mostly in silence. Then the second part of the day went on all the way up to three in the afternoon where I would meet him at his locker or in the art studio and we'd go home and do whatever.
Today, I was standing outside of the studio when he didn't show up at his locker. I leaned against the lockers out there and listened to the small chatter he and the art professor made.
The professor, Stephens, was a petit man in his mid-forties. He was your average English man, sort of chubby, English accent, pressed suit and a little goatee to prove he has hair. He's as bald as a piglet... and just as pink. I hated him.
But Cal loved the man. According to him, Stephens admired his work more than anyone, and he was the beneficiary for him to submit his work into all these art contests. That's why I hated him: Stephens was using Cal's talent to make prize money. Cal kept the money, but Stephens was in it for the glory of saying he was Cal's art teacher and he taught the boy everything he knows!
The short, dirty rotten bastard. If it wasn't for Cal's small gestures to keep quite, I'd be all over the midget. He's shorter than I am, and I'm only five foot two. That's small to begin with. Stephens was roughly four eleven. And the other thing I didn't like was the fact Cal always came out of that room in a strange mood, very distant and slightly paranoid. He would never tell me what's happening and so I always left it and kept my eye on the man.
But Stephens wasn't the only one I was watching. His student teacher, Jacob Meanding, was the one I was seriously ready to hurt. I didn't trust him for dick to begin with and after two weeks of Cal seeing him after school to 'talk about his work' made me ready to go psycho on his ass.
But I had no proof that Cal was being treaded badly by either of them and Cal wouldn't say anything no matter how much I bug him about it. Otherwise, I'd sue their sorry asses and get them thrown away for scrap.
But nothing was going on today, and I was a little grateful for that. Cal came out of the room looking normal for once and he nodded in my direction saying we could leave now. We walked down the hallway and down the stairs and out of the side door.
When we got home, we did our homework, worked on some projects for the next week and ate a quick dinner from the freezer. After that, since it was Friday, we both sat down in front of the TV and watched Cartoon Network until we couldn't keep our eyes open. We laughed and talked about different characters in the shows we watched.
We finally called it a night at two in the morning. I put Cal to bed and made my own way to my room, but he called me before I could get out of his door.
"Akira?" Gray eyes looked at through the semi-darkness of his room. The streetlight outside his window threw orange shadows against the wall over his bed. He was sitting up, the covers around his bare shoulders and the light made his arms glow the same orangy color.
I knew what he wanted and I sighed to myself. I wanted to do it for him, but that would be putting hope into his heart and I didn't want to do that. I didn't want to kill him more than I already was. But the puppy look he gave me was different. It wasn't one made to get me to bend. This one I couldn't put my finger on.
"I'll be right back," I said quietly. I left his door open as I went into my room and changed into my grey pajama pants and a white pajama tank. I went back to his room and closed the door. He was right where I left him and I knew he was smiling. I walked up to the side of the bed and lifted up the covers.
"Move over," I told him. He did as he was told and I slipped into the covers with him and laid down. Cal instantly snuggled up against me like a cat and wrapped his arms around me, burying his head into the crook of my neck. For some odd reason, I liked it, and I rested my chin on his head and relaxed against him.
He fell asleep within minutes, and I felt it was safe to go. But with his arms around me as tight as they were, I didn't think I'd be going anywhere that night. So I stuck it out and went to sleep as well.
I woke up to a very annoying rapping sound. My eyes wouldn't open and my head hurt so bad and I didn't know why. I groaned a little at the sound and buried my head into the pillow, which smelled sort of like raspberries. I smiled and almost went back to sleep when that blasted rapping started up again.
I groaned my displeasure and tried to get out of bed, only to be pulled back down by two lean arms. I was fully awake by this time and I realized what had happened the night before. But the rapping wouldn't stop, and the time on the clock read nine in the morning. We had to get up in fifteen minutes anyway.
On the third rapping, I had pulled myself free of Cal's arms, which woke him up with a groan of his own. I stumbled a little on my feet and made it out of his room and down the hall to the front door. I unlocked it and opened it and was greatly unprepared for what greeted me on the other side.
Xander's really buff arms wrapped around my petit waist and lifted me up off the ground. I subconsciously wrapped my arms around his neck for support as he spun me around a few times in the hallway. When he finally put me down I was aware of more than just my lack of appearance. I was too excited and happy to finally be able to hold Xander again to care about anything else.
I looked into his deep brown eyes and ruffled his spiky brown hair like I used to and smiled so wide it was amazing!
"I missed you, Asian Baby," he said.
"I missed you too," I said, unable to hide my joy. He flashed me one of his jock smiles and leaned down to peck my lips teasingly a few times before I grabbed the back of his head and forced our lips together in one of the most heated kisses we'd ever shared. The moan that was educed from his throat satisfied me and I broke the kiss. He looked down at me and smiled again.
"You really did miss me, did you?" I nodded my agreement and smiled back. But then reality hit in the sound of someone clearing their throat. Xander and I turned our heads in the direction of the front door that was still open. At the head of the hallway that lead to the bedrooms stood Cal, in his black fleece pajama pants, hair mussed from the night's sleep.
The smile melted from my lips when I saw Cal glare dangerously at Xander. He never trusted Xander enough around me, and made it known to him. Just to equal the playing field, Xander hated Cal.
Xander took my hand and moved us so we were hidden by a wall. He leaned down to my ear.
"It's still here?" he hissed. "I thought you got rid of him the last time I came."
"He has a name," I hissed back, already getting into a bad mood. "And Cal has nowhere else to go. I'm all he has that's considered family."
Xander's brown eyes studied mine for a moment before sighing and shuddering at the thought. I led us back to the door and allowed Xander to bring in his things. Cal hadn't moved from where he was, except now he had his arms crossed over his chest and was leaning against the wall.
I past Cal by and gave him a warning to not start anything. He looked back at me with apprehension as I stopped beside my bedroom door. I nodded to Xander and kept my eyes on Cal. But the obvious sign of contempt between the two was that visible shove when Xander purposefully knocked into Cal's shoulder, almost throwing him to the floor. Xander looked down on Cal with a snarl forming on his lips before grunting and moving on into my room to discard his belongings.
I sighed to myself and locked eyes with Cal.
"Take your shower and get dressed," I said gently. "You have to be at the auditorium in an hour to register and set up your work."
He nodded and walked into his room. He came out a few seconds later and disappeared into the bathroom. I also heard him lock the door. He never locked the door when it was just me and him. But I could understand his concern. When I heard the shower going, I ignored the spraying water and listened for what I was worth.
I knew he was crying.
I walked into my room and leaned against the doorway and watched as Xander unpacked his things and placed them here or there like he was returning home. He looked at me briefly and smiled, but it withered away when he saw my emotionless face and eyes stare at him. I had my arms crossed over my chest, and my waist length night braid dangled behind me.
Xander stood upright from what he was doing and threw his arms up towards the heavens. He was annoyed now, I knew he was. This is what I dreaded when he sent word saying he was showing up this weekend. I was happy because I'd see him, but I knew the almost homicidal relationship between him and Cal would complicate things to no end.
"Damn it Akira," he said. "What?"
"You know what," I said flatly.
"I don't get it," he said. "Why do you look after Mr. Queer Emo anyway? I mean, he can live on his own without cutting himself, right?"
"Oh fucking hell, Xander!" I said rolling my eyes and my head. My arms dropped to the side as I took a few steps toward him. "Is that what you think? You think I'm babysitting him to make sure he doesn't fucking kill himself? You want me to stop watching him just so he could do that!"
"Damn straight." I couldn't believe my ears. I blinked a few times and shook my head. I looked at him for a few seconds before turning and walking out of the room. I walked down the hallway and stopped in front of the bathroom door. It was quiet inside. I got up close to it and knocked gently on the wood.
"Cal?" I called. "Are you okay?"
The door lock was hurriedly opened and the door was almost ripped from its hinges when Cal opened it and pulled me inside. He slammed the door, re-locked it and pushed me up against it. His entire body was flush up against mine, holding me to the door as his hands held my head and his lips landed on my own.
I struggled against him to try and get away, but he didn't let up on the pressure. His lips moved against mine in almost a seductive manner and I was falling for it. My jerks slowly stopped and my eyes closed and soon I was kissing back. Before I knew what was happening, Cal parted my lips and slipped his tongue inside my mouth to stoke and tease me.
When he stopped and pulled back, my mind caught up and snapped me into reality.
I opened my eyes and looked at Cal. He was dripping wet and was wearing nothing. His dark hair hung in long clumps against his pale face and his gray eyes were bright against the contrast. His cheeks were a little pink and he was breathing a little heavy, as was I.
"Cal…" He put his finger to my lips and softened the feature of his face to where he was almost going to cry again.
"I know what you're going to say," he said. "I just wanted to do that once before I lost the chance."
He stepped away from me and allowed me to stand upright. He unlocked the door and lifted his hand to it to tell me I was free to go.
"You should go get ready," he said. "You promised to come to the contest."
I nodded. I did promise, and I wasn't going to back down from it.
He closed the door behind me and re-locked it again. I made my way into my room where Xander was sitting on my bed, head in hands. I went over to my dresser and pulled out a pair of baggy black pants with green ribbons and a long sleeved black shirt with a v-neck collar and velvet straps that tie in the back. I took off my tank and pajama pants and dressed, not caring whether Xander saw me or not. It wasn't like we hadn't had sex by now. Truth was we'd fucked each other senseless the last time he came here.
Once I was done getting dressed, I pulled on my black and white converse sneakers and applied eyeliner and a new coat of black nail polish. I took out my braid, brushed out my hair and re-braided it so it looked decent.
When I was done, I looked in my mirror to see Cal in my doorway, dressed in his usual black silk shirt and tie with his tight faded black jeans. I nodded and got up. Xander was looking at me, irritation in his eyes from the sight of Cal. I gestured with my head that he should go on without me and I'll catch up. Cal just blinked once at me left. When the front door closed I turned to Xander.
"Where are you going?" he asked me. "I thought we'd spend the day without Captain Razor."
"Tough noogie," I said. "I'm going to his art contest at the school. And don't say anything about it. I've had this planned before you called and said you'd be here today."
"You never told me…"
"You didn't shut up long enough for me to tell you."
I turned but he stopped me.
"How long is the contest?" he asked.
"Then think about this: Who do you want to spend more time with: Me or him? I'll be at the school after the contest for your answer."
I stood there with my back to him for a few seconds and allowed what he was saying to sink in. I took a deep breath and walked out of the apartment.
Please continue to Part II.