It's a funny thing, really, how Shayla and I got together.

And if you wanted to get really nitpicky about it, I guess you could say that you'd have to go back to when we first met. But I won't pull a Scout on you and give you a two-page-long history of my city. No. I'll just give you the basics.

It was back in about halfway through the eighth grade, when Liz, the head of the little "group" that consisted of me and my friends, decided to throw a New Year's Eve party. She was so sweet, then. She invited nearly everyone in our group-thing, including Jimmy, who everyone thought to be the slightest bit gay.

There was soda and chips and cheese, as there is at every decent party. As surprising as it is, there were no drugs or booze to be found (unlike most teenagers, we were smart enough to stay away from that shit). There was lots of candy, though, and decorations. Colored paper mache over the lights, streamers and balloons thrown about. The spectacularity of all these things were dimmed, however, when Shayla walked into the room.

Her hair was black, long, and beautiful, caressing her body in waves until it reached her waist. Her eyes were dark and expressive (like mine, I suppose), and her skin the color of milk chocolate. She was not in our troupe at school; I had never seen her before, and assumed that she knew Liz through some force unbeknownst to me.

She was not the last of the guests to arrive. There was Elise, the girl with the pixie-cut flaming-red hair, and some other girl I didn't know. Once everyone was accounted for, many a soda can were passed around, games of Chubby Bunny commenced, and of course, Truth or Dare.

After having dared Liz to inhale helium and then sing the Barney song, it was her turn to choose a victim. And since the girl had not started a conversation all night, she picked Shayla.

"Shay-la" Liz cooed, vaguely sounding like a cat, "Truth or Dare?"

Shayla's chocolate cheeks quickly changed to a dark shade of pink. "Uhh..." she squeaked, "dare?"

It was then that the voices on the TV started to count down, and the lights started to make their way from the top of the screen. Our voices began to chant with theirs, except for Shayla, who was too shy to do anything but grin hugely, her braces catching the light.

The new year came in with a thousand cheers, Liz's parents kissed in the kitchen, and Jimmy let out a satisfied whoop. I grinned at Shayla. "Start of a new year, innit?" She replied with a smile and a nod.

With the new year came a new friendship, with Shayla and I sharing smiles through constant e-mails and corny jokes. We didn't get to see each other that often (going to different schools and all), but we made plans when we could.

Winter passed, as did spring, and my middle school days were finally over. The best part about it? It was discovered that Shayla, most of the "group" and I were all going to the same high school. We all danced and sang a bit, got teary eyed for Liz (who would not be attending with us), and said our summer goodbyes.

Summer was really, really hot. And really, really, really boring. Most of my friends were on vacation, which left Shayla to entertain me. It was when two weeks of summer had passed that I invited her to come to my house for the first time. She replied with a shy "sure", was packed in an hour, and arrived at my house in two.

"Hey," she murmured to me as she walked through our doorway, "thanks for inviting me over." She laughed. "I was really bored." She gave a nod to my parents, they gave her a nod back, and she followed me into my room.

"Gahhhhh," I groaned, flopping onto my bed once my door was shut, "Summer's supposed to be awesome, but so far it's been...bleh." Shayla stuck out her tongue, then joined me in the bed flopping. She blinked her eyes for a while, then muttered "Your walls are off-white. And the flaked off part kinda looks like a kitty..." she giggled. "You ghetto kid."

I laughed along, half fakely, then rolled over, staring out my window. "'S not my parent's fault the economy sucks..." I picked at a pile of dust, watching the particles stick to my finger, then blew them off. "Having a house that we own would be nice."

The change in Shayla's expression was blatantly obvious, her eyebrows pinching together and her lips pursing a bit, in concern. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it offensively."

I shook my head, still looking out the window. "I didn't take it as one. Just got me thinking." I rolled back over, facing her now, and smiled. "Wanna go do something fun?" Shayla looked at me, curious, and nodded. I ran out of my room, past the kitchen, and down the hallway, shouting "Mom, let's clean the trampoline!" I bolted out the door, then jumped over the steps leading to our backyard, and stopped when I came to our trampoline, slightly out of breath. Shayla was peering through the back doorway, looking to see what the rush was.

"Clean the trampoline?" The look on her face was skeptical, what part of cleaning a trampoline sounded "fun"? I made a "come hither" motion with my hand, throwing off my sandals and crawling onto the trampoline (which is giant-sized, by the way). Shayla followed suit, cautiously, with my mom walking behind her, smiling. Once Shayla and I were on the trampoline, my mom grabbed a hose, switched on the water, and aimed it toward us.

"It's cleaning time."

That's when the water games began.

One sunset and many glasses of water later, Shayla and I stood in my living room, wet to the bone, our clothes clinging to us like a burr to a dog. I shook my head furiously, my hair (which was long, then, like Shayla's) spraying water all over the place, and making me look like quite a scene. Shayla simply wrung her hair like a towel, creating the smallest mess on the floor as she could. I watched her, grinning, then moved a stray strand of hair out of her face. "Fun enough for ya?"

She looked at me, worried, but nodded. "What am I going to do about my clothes?"

I opened my mouth, closed it, then chewed on my lip. "We can wash them, I guess. And I could give them to you next time I see you, or..." I blushed, "you could stay the night." I glanced at her, then stared at the floor. "But only if you want to."

She looked at me, and gave me a true, genuine smile, her braces glowing in the light of my living room. It was then, I think, that I first fell in love with it. "What a retarded question." My heart clenched, and I put myself in defense mode, readying myself for any negative comment she might aim towards me. "That'd be awesome."

My head shot up, nearly giving me whiplash, and my fingers began to twitch. "Well, uh," I smiled sheepishly, "I guess you should call your mom, then." She did so, explaining that she wouldn't have to be picked up at 9 (as planned), but would be spending the night. "You can wear my jammies," I suggested. "They're not that huge." She nodded, then settled things with her mom.

That night, dinner was made for four.

Which was great, really, because it put Shayla and I in great moods, full and happy and ready to talk the night away. We sat on the floor of my (recently cleaned) room, my lamplight turned to dim, and laughed. "Your parents are kinda weird," she stated, letting out a quiet yawn, a high-pitched "ah" sound. "But they make good food." She rubbed her stomach, then looked at it quizzically. "Oh yeah. Forgot these weren't mine." She picked at her (but really my) pajamas, thinking, her hair falling in front of her face again. I had the temptation to put it back behind her ear, and did so, my pale hands a sharp contrast to the chocolate colour of her face. After that, the silence between us was a bit awkward.

"I, we could, uh..." I stuttered, then hung my head. "I really have nothing to talk about." I looked at Shayla apologizingly, wishing that she would have an idea of what to do.

"It's okay." She yawned again, stretching her hands in the air. "I think we're just tired."

I nodded, then stretched as well. "You can have my bed, if you like." I got up, got a sleeping bag from a cupboard, then returned to my room. Shayla was sprawled out on my bed, staring at my ceiling again. Inwardly, I smiled, then set my sleeping bag on the foor. I sprawled out on that, then, not even bothering to crawl inside it, due to the heat. "Night, Shayla," I whispered, yawning.

"Night."

Forty-five minutes later, I was still awake, staring at my ceiling as Shayla had done. The flaked of part of it really did look like a kitty, now, as it had looked like a dog half an hour ago. I sighed, rolling on my side for the millionth time, once again glancing at the numbers on my digital clock (11:11). "I wish Shayla was awake," I murmured, not really believing the superstition that came with the time.

"You are too?" came the reply, startling me a bit. I saw the silhouette of Shayla sitting up on my bed, and I got up to turn on my light. She crawled off my bed and sat next to me, her eyes showing that she was just as awake as I was. Her button-up jammy top was a bit loose, showing a bit more than she intended, and I blushed, a wave of hormones washing over me. She noticed where I was staring, and gave me a look. "I..." I breathed in, then spoke. "I think you have nice tits."

She knew I was bisexual, but I think the remark caught her a little off-guard. "Uh...thanks."

Suddenly, a new wave of emotion washed over me, changing my mood from excitedly erratic to calm and a bit morose. (To be honest, I think it might have been a sugar rush from dessert). I locked eyes with Shayla, demanding her full attention. "Can I...touch?" My face was void of expression, and my mind was preparing itself for rejection and immense embarrassment.

I nearly had a heart attack when Shayla pulled her arms out of the sleeves of her top, letting her shirt drop down to her waist, exposing herself to the world. "This is me," she muttered, then took a breath.

I touched her, delicately, gliding my hand among the softness of her skin. My cheeks were bright red, stained with embarrassment, as were hers. Her eyes followed my hand wherever it went, visibly showing her tension when I reached somewhere new. My heart was beating loudly, rapidly, coursing throughout my entire body, and I wondered if she could feel it through my fingertips.

Her nipple, bare and naked in my eyes, stood out to me. I fought the urge to poke it, knowing how upset it would make her. My eyes traveled farther down her chest and across her torso; lean, pulsing with each breath she took. The unfairness of the situation struck me, then, and I removed my own shirt, exposing my bare chest in all it's glory. "Here's all of me," I murmured, taking my hand off her chest and crossing my arms under my own. For the first time, I contemplated how fucked I'd be if my parents walked in.

Shayla's hand shook as it reached toward me, paused, then traced the scar I had made on myself not too long ago. "Why?" she asked, and I shuddered, her hands feeling like fire wherever they connected with my skin.

"Stupid reasons," I replied, closing my eyes and silently granting Shayla all the freedom she wanted. Her hands touched my breast as I had touched hers, feeling and sensing and learning. She cupped one of my breasts, then squeezed it gently. "So soft..." she murmured, then moved her hand back to the top of my breast, inspecting a skin spot. I placed my hand on top of hers, holding it there, then breathed gently. I moved her hand off my chest, then hugged her, the whole of her skin pressed against mine. The sensation was warm, soft, comfortable, and I held her for a while.

"You're kinda strange," she stated, after we had let go, looking at each other. Once again, we found nothing to fill the silence with, and sat awkwardly for a few seconds.

"I think you're beautiful," I blurted, then turned away in embarrassment. When I turned back around, I looked at Shayla inquisitively. "Why did you let me do that to you?"

She shrugged, rolling her bare shoulders back into her back. "Because I trust you, I guess."

Her answer caught me by surprise, and I stared at her for a good long while. Then, leaning forward, I kissed her on the forehead. "Bless you, child," I whispered, kissing her again, "bless you." Softly, I kissed her lips.

It all began when she kissed me back.