Author's Note: Neither Zachary nor Daniel are far from what one might call "flamboyant" gays. They're both masculine enough; hopefully, that's evident through the text. Nicole, although a lesbian, she behaves like a boy, but she can be girly and she dresses like both. Also, the default teller of this story is Zachary, but occasionally perspective switches to Daniel. In such chapters, Daniel's name occurs in parentheses after the title of the chapter. Perspective switches back to Zachary's when his name is in parentheses after the chapter title.

Another Author's Note: Although this is not my first story, it is the second serious one I've started; the other is abandoned, but left up for tearful recollections x amount of years from now when I'm wrinkly and old... Coincidentally, one of the main characters in that one is named Zachary, too. They are not the same people.

Last (Promise!) Author's Note: Please R&R!!

Chapter One

"Open your damn textbooks to page three hundred sixty-four, and make it snappy," barked Ms. Patterson. She was perhaps the world's most unsympathetic, fattest, and to no one's surprise, unmarried, biology teacher ever. As I recall, she was being especially bitchy that day, probably because she got herself dumped again by another of her depressed and terribly single coworkers, or something like that. Whatever. I groaned into action, stuffing all my notes, doodles, and other consequences of my boredom into my backpack, at the same time pulling out the abused textbook and slamming it down on my desk.

Best-est friend-slash-lover Daniel turned around from the desk in front of my mine; performing his choicest pout face for me; I countered with one of my finer selection of "I feel your pain" looks. He's not really my lover; that's just what my other best-est friend Nicole kept saying about us, and it kind of caught on with the rest of that school. That bitch.

"Today, most brilliant and studious pupils, we will be learning and discussing mammalian reproduction and sexual development. This chapter should be a breeze for all of you, I'm sure..." A few girls clustered in the back corner of the room giggled, texting someone else like crazy (and probably the person sitting next to them) on their shiny new Blackberries, and the guys from the football team. Don't ask me how they got into an honors class, because I do not know. They were quite busy guffawing and making obscene gestures to each other, stupid grins already on their faces.

"Besides," she continued, "all of you could use a grade boost from the horrendously sorry tests you turned in yesterday. Now, if you will..." She began to ramble, as was her usual custom. "...turn to page three hundred sixty-five and observe figure 17-3. I'm sure you all know what this is; nowadays, the majority of you will probably have had one or two of these down your throats by now, even the boys." She shot a nasty glance at me (for whatever reason I have no idea), then continued lecturing. "This, buffoons, is a non-exhaustive diagram of the human penis. Make sure you know all the proper anatomical names of the structures in each of the figures; you'll have a pop quiz sometime in the future, and I will not except the terms dick or cock for "penis," nor cum-pipe or piss-tube for "urethra," or any variation thereof, no matter how tempted your vulgar minds may be."

I grimaced at the picture in front of me. The particular one that the authors had decided to photograph (yes, photograph) was absolutely hideous, and I know ugly penises: I'm taking P.E. Daniel turned around and started talking to me while Ms. Bitch wasn't looking.

"What d'you think about that one," he said, holding his book up for me to see, as if I didn't already have a perfectly useless copy right in front of me. I had no idea what his preferences in penile aesthetics were, so I toned it down a bit.

"I don't know," I said, "it's kind of ugly, I guess."

"Kind of? It's goddamn repulsive, Zacha! Who would want to put that thing in their mouth? Definitely not I." He made a gesture as if he was offended, like I'd precariously assumed that he liked putting ugly penises in his mouth.

"Ms. Patterson?" called out some girl. "My father and mother don't think it's right for girls to study the male, um, organ; they said it was un-Christ-like and it will start me on the path to the devil. Can, I mean, may I please be excused from the unit?"

"Not unless I have spoken with your parents, Hannah, or gotten a written and signed note asking for you not to participate. Until then, you'll continue with the regularly scheduled classroom assignments. So, about the project..." I should have known that it would be Hannah Allen who would have the problem studying the "male organ." Ms. Patterson was not very big on devout Christians, and neither was myself nor Daniel nor Nicole, for that matter. It's not like I don't have a reason for not liking Christianity; the religion spreads hate and lies about gays (like me), and other "undesirables" of the clergy under the guise of "charity" and "love for thy neighbor," and I'm tired of them stuffing their religion down other people's throats, trying to "save" everybody and such. Grr.

Anywho, Ms. Patterson's rejection of Christianity was the only thing that earned her any points, at least in my book. Daniel turned around again.

"I've just discovered something!" he exclaimed. "I really don't like that Hannah girl,"

"Hey, it's not nice to hate her just because she's a Jesus-freak. Hate her for something else, like her ridiculously enormous glasses or her hideous brown and white backpack, and let the Jesus-iness be the icing on the cake. Besides, is it right to hate me just because I'm g-...?" Yep, I nearly said the g-word. So what if he doesn't know. It's none of his business anyhow. Well, it kind of will be/is, but still. I'll get around to telling him sometime or another. I hope. Unfortunately, he caught on to my slip-up.

"Because you're what?" he asked, eying me curiously. "Tell me, I need to know."

"Because, I don't know, nothing, I guess."
"Oh, I don't think so," he said, "Just tell me, will ya?"
"I don't know, maybe. Just not now, okay?"

"Fine." He sighed and shrugged. I felt guilty for letting him down and not telling him, but what can I say? We were smack in the middle of biology, and about to be assigned another project. Ms. Bitch picked that moment to give us the assignment.

"Just like when we have studied every other chapter, you will all have to do a project relating to the subject material. This time shall be no different, except you'll all select a partner to do this one with. Be sure you've selected someone whom you get along with; this project will require several days' work to complete."

Without turning, Daniel reached back his hand immediately for me to slap (for unnecessary verification that I would be his partner), and I acquiesced to his wishes, more depositing my hand on top of his than slapping it; I admit, I only did that to prolong my touching him (retain all criticism for the end, please!). Strangely enough, he didn't pull back his hand, and we just sat there, awkwardly, waiting for the other to do something. A few minutes later (not long enough), he did. He wrapped his fingers around my hand, yanked it (and the rest of me) forward so that I was hardly still in my desk, and started doodling on it. Doodling! Oh well, it wasn't the first time he'd done it.

I inched up even further in my desk, however painfully, to see what he was drawing on my oh-so-ticklish palm. He was drawing cute little hearts in purple and pink ink and writing, "I love Daniel Toberman!" in fat bubble letters all over my hand.

"What the hell are you doing to my precious hand?" I rasped into his ear, "Someone's going to see that, and all end up all bloodied up by some thugs in an alley!"

"Oh, shut up!" he whispered back laughingly, "I making it all perty for you. Pink looks good on you! It matches your eyes." Of course, Ms. Congeniality took that precise moment to look over at us and observe all the pretty-picturing, whispering, and my rather awkward position in relation to him and to the desk.

"Mr. Snowdon, what may I ask are you doing?" The whole class gathered there attention and focused it on me and my rather incriminating position. Oh no. "What is it that your special friend is drawing on your hand?" She started stalking over to our desks in the back right corner of the room, pushing all the bacteria in the air away with her fat, I'm-not-really-pregnant-but-it-looks-like-it stomach. I wonder when the last time she had a tea party with her vagina was. They couldn't have talked much lately.

"Might I have a look at your hand, please?" Without waiting for me to decline, she grabbed my hand (yanking me fully onto my desk, that time) and read it. She made an attempt at a giggle, but ended up with a malicious snorting sound.

"Shall I read it to the class?" she asked politely. Daniel turned an unhealthy shade of red and I looked fearfully at her, pleading silently with her not to do it.

"Hmm," she said, "where should I start? Oh, yes." She made one of those disgusting throat-clearing coughs. "Ehem. Heart heart heart, "I love Daniel Toberman," heart heart heart, "Zacha loves Dan-Dan," heart heart, heart heart."

The class burst into laughter. I could have sworn I heard the word "fag" crop up at least twice. Daniel had long since passed red and was now a very unwholesome shade of purple, and I was getting there too.

"Now, Zachary, is there anything else you'd like to add to the great philosophical magnum opus being written on your hand? The class certainly seems to be enjoying it. What do you think, class? Would you like to hear some more? There's much else on this hand, quite interesting actu..."

Ding-dong. Thank, uh, whatever that the bell rang when it did. Luckily, the class was more interested in going to their next class then hearing the more provocative things that Daniel had scrawled on my hand. Everybody else grabbed their backpacks and purses and walked noisily out into the hall; we stayed put, in shock. I could see his emotions switch violently from utter humiliation to rage.

"YOU FILTHY BITCH!" he bellowed. Ms. Patterson looked as if she was about to have a heart attack. I wouldn't be surprised if I had one either; that was not usual behavior for Daniel. He continued.

"Do you know what you've done to us!? There are these little things called "rumors" in this school, you may have heard them, and they'll be about us and all around the school in five minutes! Why the fuck did you do that:!?" The stupid woman stood there right in front of our desks, dumbfounded expression on her face; for some reason she was blinking especially quickly.

"I, uh, I was, um..."

"You were WHAT!? We don't live in Sweden, you know! Vi talar inte svenska! People here discriminate against anyone even supposed or rumored to be gay, and this was only a joke! What do you think will happen now!?" Only now did it seem like the idiot woman was collecting the shattered pieces of her resolve and haphazardly gluing them back together.

"Now, you wait just one minute! You may not talk to a teacher, especially me, like that! I don't care what will happen to you two fa-, you two boys, you should have thought about that before writing those nasty things on his hand!" There was hardly anything nasty at all on my hand, just a testament of my undying, eternal love for him, that's all.

"Zachary Snowdon, you will receive detention for not paying attention in class today," she turned to Daniel, "and you, you will go to the office and way for me there so we may have a discussion concerning your punishment with the principal. Now get out of my classroom, the both of you." We did as commanded. Daniel grabbed his backpack and slung it violently over his shoulder, catching it through the loop on the other side with his arm. I put the strap of my bag over my shoulder and followed him out of the classroom. We walked a little bit towards our next class, without saying a word.

"Oh, fuck..." he said. He stopped and leaned up against the wall, let his knees buckle, and slumped to the floor, head up against the wall. The late bell had rung long ago, so I sat down next to him.

"I'm sorry for getting you into all that," he said. "I shouldn't have written those things on your hand. Now you're going to have a load of shit to deal with from everyone else in English."

"It's fine," I said. "It's hardly your fault at all; if that bitch hadn't read it in the first place, we wouldn't be in this situation. You don't have to apologize." He took my hand, sliding his fingers in between mine, and squeezed it.

"Thanks," he replied, "You're a good friend. I'd better head to the office; she's probably already there, chatting up a storm with the principal about how awful I am." He lifted up our hands and rattled them to draw my attention. "You'd better wash this off, before anyone actually sees the evidence. Hurry up, too! If you're any later, you'll only be Ms. Stella's favorite student by only a tiny bit." He snickered playfully.

I got up first, then took his other hand and pulled him up into my arms, giving him a warm and cozy hug. I could feel his muscles relax at my touch. We stood there embracing for a good minute or so; then he laughed a bit, to my surprise.

"Why are you laughing?" I asked, smiling as a result of his contagious chuckle.

"I'm still taller than you," he said.

"What!?" I asked, my voice full of jokey exasperation, "You've been taller than me since fourth grade, and you still are? Let me see." I surveyed the evidence. "Only by like two-thirds of an inch." He chortled and pulled away, winked at me and turned around, heading towards the office.

"Toodles! Tell Nicole everything that happened!" he shouted back to me.

"Will do! Have fun, and don't forget to ask her what our project is!" I continued on the way we were going, speeding off to English, hardly able to wait to tell Nicole what the evil bitch did to us. Grr.