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Flowers, like red fire hydrants, like forbidden love, like The Girl Next Door, are a cliché. A big, yellow, 90 percent water cliché. Darel Coffman, much like the golden magnolias in his left hand, is also cliché. He is a nerd. A mathematical, scientifical, World of Warcraftical, glasses-wearing geek with a 4.2 GPA. He, however – unlike the magnolias – is aware of this awful fatality, but is very ignorant in how to ameliorate the situation. Then again, the only reason he views his persona as an awful fatality is because it has continuously halted any notions of him and his steady five year boyfriend coming out, as it were. In fact, it has halted any notions of true happiness since the beginning of the tenth grade.

Darel Coffman the Gay is not at fault, like one would expect. Darel Coffman the Nerd is. His inane love for the subtle way x substitutes into the quadratic formula, his adoration for the thrill of completing yet another quest with his level fifty-four night elf, and his insightful interest in R.A. Salvatore's Forgotten Realms are at fault. Not his mad lust for broad shoulders, angular necks, and tight male asses, but his nerdatude.

There is only one reason for this: Matthew Hobkins, his virus for the past six years, his obsession, his adoration, the true helicobacter pylori in his stomach giving him an ulcer, has been the coolest kid in school since the fifth grade. While one would think his rein over the student body would end with the beginning of the Second Kingdom (which is what Darel Coffman chose to call high school), it only strengthened, leaving Darel Coffman to ogle the ass of a king helplessly from the mob.

He did so for a year, assuming his glances and flat out stares unnoticed, because not only was he nowhere near Matt's league, he was not even on the king's mind. Why would anyone bother to notice a shaggy haired nerdy ninth grader constantly gaping like an open wound at the coolest thing since Windows Live Messenger, anyway? So Darel Coffman continued to stare, to dream every night, to feel that somehow, he would marry Matt one day, then he would promptly slap himself because the answer to question thirty-six was not I Heart Matt.

After six months of staring, however, Matt noticed, and Darel Coffman found himself with two black eyes and a broken leg, screaming blindfolded from the bottom of a dark well. If it weren't for the ten years of YMCA swimming lessons, he would have died. And, contrary to popular belief, it had not been Matt who had nearly murdered him, it had been his religious followers, his goons, his flunkies: the River High football team. This fact, while certainly bittersweet, gave Darel Coffman his first glimmer of hope.

Then, a week later (his parents had eventually found him), Matt came wondering into his hospital room. Whether by force or by choice, Darel Coffman couldn't give a damn, because Matt was carrying the first three books of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, and he hadn't read them in years.

Eyeing the books, he asked Matt what he was doing here. Matt promptly fell to his knees and laid his blond head over Dale Coffman's stomach, whispering are you okay? Are you okay, Darel? Darel Coffman wanted to say yes, he remembers wanting to say yes, but he couldn't. Matt had dropped the books.

When he voiced this vital point, Matt had laughed, hot breath pressing into Darel Coffman's stomach like warm water. He picked the books up and placed them beside Darel Coffman's head, who in turn asked how the hell Matt knew his name, where he was, and how he had so joyously come to be there.

Matt grinned and began explaining the technicalities of reproduction. Darel Coffman didn't laugh, so Matt stopped. He then went into great, eloquently clear detail about how he did not ask the football team to even touch Darel Coffman, that he is beyond flattered by any expressed affection, and how fucking absolutely sorry he is. It had almost been sweet—Darel Coffman had almost allowed himself the jubilance of shouting Score! in his head. The last sentence had been a killer, though.

"Um, Darel. You... you can't tell anyone I was here, you know?"

He had said that he did indeed know, and when Matt was on the elevator, Darel Coffman began to cry.

Three weeks later he was back in the Second Kingdom, cast, crutches, and enough biology homework to scare Charles Darwin. His friends had crowded him, knocked his books to the floor, and demanded sharpies. Thus his cast was massacred, turned into a calamity of names, hearts, and insiders, and Darel Coffman knew he would be okay. He just needed to let go.

Well, letting go of Mathew Hobkins was sort of like trying to let go of his own hands. They're a part of him. He can't. Darel Coffman tried, got a girlfriend named Jennifer, did her calculus homework and took her out every Friday night until she dumped his boy-loving ass, but Matt would always be there. And on January seventeenth, the day before Jennifer left him, Darel Coffman found the latest expansion to World of Warcraft in his locker: The Burning Crusade. He had been talking in extreme excess about its release date to his friends, who had furiously told him to kindly shut the hell up, but Darel Hoffman had not. And now it was in his locker.

He picked it up, and a pink piece of paper fell to his sandaled toes. He mildly noticed that it was the paper from the office as he levitated the parchment with his crazy motor skills, and almost had a nice visit with his breakfast when he read the top of what he now knew to be a letter:

happy birthday. don't worry, I didn't tell anyone.


There were two things wrong with this. One, Darel Coffman had done an outstanding job in fooling the entire outside world (save his parents) into believing that his day of nativity was August sixth, because he wasn't very fond of attention, and birthdays were surely a grand way to receive it in abundance. And second, the placidly scribbled name lying alone at the bottom. It couldn't say Matt. Not really.

But it had. And now what was Darel Coffman supposed to do? And hey, wait a damn minute, how did Matt know his locker combination? Not that it mattered. He couldn't keep the flower-power, girly grin off his face.

After thirteen minutes of repetitive reading, Darel Coffman, in what would appear to be an act of pure idiocy, but was in actuality the only arguably sane way to express the caterpillars coiling around his bones, flipped the pink letter to its back and whipped out his new Fluffy Feather Fancy Pen (fully equipped with a Happy To See You Butterfly) and began ruthlessly, blindly, writing his response.

You ignoramus. Thanks.

He dared not ask any questions, nor put his name down. Not after what Matt had said at the hospital. He just folded the note in two and made his way to Matt's locker, only tripping once over his verbose pants. Matt, however, would never experience the pure, unyielding pleasure of being referred to as an ignoramus, for there the football team was, steps behind the Nerdy Avenger.

They asked him what the fuck he thought he was doing.

Three hours later, Darel Coffman woke up locked in a dumpster.

While the smell was somewhere between deer urine and feet, it was kind of homey. He could see what the hobos were getting at. He did, however, seriously need to escape the steel box of forgotten peanut butter sandwiches, preferably before school ended. But Darel Coffman waited for two hours, spent said two hours screaming with his under-developed lungs full of fermented air, and no one came.

Darel Coffman kicked the ductile crate once, screamed like Penny Wise, and breathlessly admitted defeat. Fine. If the River High football team wanted him dead, he would happily die, and his parents could find him six months later, grass growing from his eye sockets at the local landfill. This was the second time, after all, maybe he needed to take the hint. They'd already started a facebook group about it, Darel Must Die, and Darel Coffman was not about to argue with facebook.

Just as he was about to lay his head down and sprout wings to his kingdom come, the lid opened, and Mathew Hobkins's head blocked the sun. A loud string of holy shit, holy fucking shit Darel came from those foxy lips, and two large hands crooked under Darel Coffman's arms, pulling him out like a confused cat. Matt asked the same thing he had asked last time: are you okay? Are you okay, Darel? but Darel Coffman didn't answer as his limp legs were pulled across the dumpster's edge.

He just slumped onto Matt like a dead worm and breathed.

Thirty minutes later, he woke up in a bed. His glasses had been removed, and he didn't really remember putting on a Powerpuff Girls tank top this morning, but he was certainly willing to shut up and deal if those were indeed Matt's hands on his back. And they had to have been, because that was his face, four inches away, and those were his bright blue eyes, wide like the plot hole in Romeo & Juliet.

Matt buried his head into his pillow and said I haven't got a clue, Darel, not a fucking clue, over and over again until Darel Coffman punched him in the ribs because love was supposed to be tough, right?. Darel Coffman kissed Matt's neck, much like one would the smallest water drop in the world, and told him thank you. He then, knowing that Matt held no interest in cohabitating this bed with another male, tried to get up.

Well, getting up from Mathew Hobkins's bed was sort of like trying to step out of his own feet. He can't. They're a part of him. So, Darel Coffman was thrown back onto the bed with heightened passion, stared at like Picture Puzzle, and mounted like a slide in biology class.

Mathew Hobkins then said three words that turned those caterpillars into butterflies on acid. The three words that beat out The Patriots Lost, (1)Construct Additional Pylons, and I Love You.

Matt said I need you.

Darel Coffman had walked home that night with a flashy red scarf warding off the eyes of anyone who might attempt to ambuscade his neck, and that following year, they were dating under the radar.

Also within said year, Darel Coffman had undergone many tragedies. One of which was being stripped naked, chained to a golf cart, and dragged down an abandoned dirt road. Another which was being tied to the train tracks behind the school, left to become a wad of mushed human flesh, screaming and crying. Locked in his locker for the weekend, regularly pushed down stair wells, duck taped to the bottom of a school bus (luckily not very tightly), knifed, thrown, kicked, punched, and all because he was a nerd who had, on one occasion, outwardly expressed his affection for The King.

And every Friday night, he would find Matt under his window, making near death completely and utterly worth it.

None of this, as mentioned before, has anything to do with Darel Coffman being gay. The River High football team was not homophobic, they were simply centered on the constant fact that Nerd and Cool do not mix, not ever, and were willing to go to great lengths to prove this theory correct. Mathew Hobkins had had the same feeling all through high school, and thus he did hide their relationship; but Darel Coffman couldn't mind, foxy lips and all, so they snuck around like ten year old boys in Victoria's Secret, dry humping, necking, and just talking alone.

Today however, five years later, they are in University, and it's Valentine's Day. Darel Coffman is holding a large fetish of magnolia's in his left hand, and there are enough clouds in the sky to kill a mockingbird. Something is driving him. Love, or maybe he just wonders, but something more frightening than the realization that you are indeed growing up is pushing him towards Matt's dorm room.

He knocks, and is yanked inside like the last run of a yo-yo.

Matt pushes his hair back. "You need to cut this."


"You look like a sheep dog, Darel."

"Well, it works with our sex life, doesn't it?"

"It's more like having sex with a carpet."

"Aw, I'm not hairy everywhere."

"Yeah." Matt grins and kisses his forehead. "Only where it counts."

Darel Coffman rolls his dark eyes and shoves the flowers into Matt's chest, sending him back a few inches. "Here. Happy Consumer Whore Holiday."

Matt blinks down at the flowers like the june bug who keeps flying for the kitchen light, but is instead met with some shit-eating invisible force field. He then glares hard at Darel Coffman.

"You're angry."


"What did I do?" Matt drops the meaningless flowers and fills his hands with smaller ones. "You never buy flowers. You think they're—what was it?"

Darel Coffman stares at Matt's bare feet. "An asinine way to pusillanimously establish that two people like to fuck."

"Exactly." Matt pulls him into a hug. "So what did I do?"

"And cliché. Flowers are cliché."

"Don't ignore me, nerd boy."

Darel Coffman isn't sure he should bother. It hasn't been mentioned, not once sense he'd woken up in Matt's bed, walked home trying to revive his decency, but it's been bothering him like a sleeping foot for five years. Hiding really isn't his thing, hence the six foot poster of the U.S.S. Enterprise (plus support vehicles) in his dorm room, but Matt doesn't want the beans spilt; doesn't want people to know he's been tonsil searching with the biggest nerd since George Lucas for over five years.

Darel Coffman doesn't like hiding, though. It makes him feel like he's doing something wrong, and the only thing wrong is inane assholes who feel the absurd need to feverishly divide teenagers, and now adults, into social classes based on equally inane clichés. Darel Coffman also doesn't like clichés, and hates being one, because it is the sole reason his boyfriend can only be called his boyfriend when the rest of the world is busy fucking off.


"I'm just..." He falls back onto the door, crossing his arms. "I am incredibly tired of pretending to have absolutely nothing to do with your life."

Matt yanks Darel Coffman back into his arms. "I know, I know."

"No, you don't know, because if you bothered knowing, it would quickly become apparent to you that giving a flying fuck about what some fatheaded children think is exorbitantly ridiculous."

Matt pushes Darel Coffman away. "That's not fucking it, you freak."

"Oh? Then what the hell is it, Matt?" Darel Coffman laughs. "What's the real reason you hide me? Is my skin too dark? It's not because you're gay; everybody knows that. So why the fu—"

"Stop it." Matt walks into Darel Coffman, bright blue eyes filled with something worse than anger. "You have no idea what you're talking about."

"Oh no, I understand this situation just fine, but I seem to be the only one willing to ameliorate it, you dick-loving fag." Darel Coffman's eyes widen with shock; he hadn't meant to say that quite so harshly. Apparently, he was much madder about this than he thought.

"Don't you fucking remember? How many times did you almost die, Darel?"

"What does that have to do with anything?"

Matt buries his head into Darel Coffman's shoulder, exasperated. They were never very good at fighting like a married couple. "Everything, you fuckstick."

"How does—"

Matt puts a hand over his mouth. "Listen. Why did they keep trying to kill you? Because Vanessa caught you doodling my name with hearts, correct?" Darel Coffman nods. "And that was it. That was all they needed to try and kill you, Darel. They wanted you fucking dead, and I had to watch you get hurt every other day because you had a thing for me." Matt stops and smiles into his shoulder. "I mean, I had a huge thing for you too, you know that, right?"

Darel Coffman feels the caterpillars coil around his bones, and he nods, mouth still hindered.

"You're smart, Darel." Matt kisses his forehead. "Think. What would they do if they found out we were dating?"

Darel Coffman removes Matt's hand, glaring at his head, which is still lulling like a tumor on his shoulder. "That's all?"

"What d'ya mean 'that's all'?"

"You're hiding me because you think they'll finally kill me?" Darel Coffman shoves Matt away and folds his arms, trying to look at least a little intimidating, but he isn't really getting any scarier than a candy-bar wrapper. "Matt, I'm almost twenty-one. I think I can handle them."

"Just like you handled them in high school?"

"I'm still alive, aren't I?"

"Only 'cause I saved your sorry ass every time."

"Well then, you can save it again!" Darel Coffman keeps his eyes on Matt's naked feet. "I don't care if they cover me in honey and feed me to a bear or lock me in a dumpster for a few stupid hours, because I love you and I'm sick of pretending I don't even know you!"

Matt's world just crashes around his forty dollar Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirt, and he chokes, "You love me?"

Darel Coffman snorts. "Well, yeah."

Matt grabs onto his wrist and yanks Darel Coffman down the hall, ignoring the confused questions as to what, exactly, he's doing. He drags Darel Coffman like a dead dog on a leash through small crowds of students, deafly hearing their shouts of watch where the hell you're going, because said shouts fade near the end when they realize who Matt is towing behind him.

"Where are we going?"

Matt ignores him. He needs to get somewhere crowded.

"Hello? Matt, people are staring."

Cafeteria? No, ew. Library? Pft, who goes to the library anymore?


"Student Union Building," Matt says into the clear air in front of them, and he makes a sharp left, leaving the dorms.

The sky is cloudy, but the sun it setting, giving everything a pinkish blue glow. Mathew, however, is no romantic, and does not fully realize the significance of kissing beside a dying sun, so he pulls Darel Coffman into the calmly crowded Student Union Building and throws him on a table.

Three hundred eyes are on them, and Matt lays on top of a very vexed nerd, smiling. He shouts, "I love you too, Darel Coffman!" for the entire room to hear, and kisses him straight on the lips. He runs two hands crazily through Darel's mad brown hair, pushes him harder and harder into the wooden table, and tries not to moan when Darel shoves an ever-familiar tongue into his mouth, because this is indeed a public place; but the moan comes. Matt then figures well hey, fuck it, and jerks his hips into Darel's, smiling like a cad and not bothering to ask himself why, because why is only good when you want to learn something, and Mathew Hobkins already knows enough for today.

He pulls his head back, bright blue eyes sunken with adoration, and whispers, "I love you too, Darel."




Happy Valentines Day, fools.


(1)This is from an old PC game called Starcraft.

So, I wrote this. Nicole edited it. I love her. Have a good one! (heart).