A/N: I do NOT own Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Okay? Kay. And this will not be made into a story, so don't even ask. I just needed a break from writing my other stories and this one-shot is what I came up with. Hope you enjoy it!
Duck Duck Chicken
Peter walked along the beach, staring down at the sand as he wandered. It was cool and pleasant between his toes, and on any other day it would have been enough to make him forget about the day's events. But not today. Too much had happened in only a couple of hours for Peter to forget with just a walk. Not even the cool ocean breeze that blew gently across his face or the sound of the waves could help. Everything about the day had sucked too much.
First, Peter had found out that his parents had mutually decided to get a divorce, something they had been talking about for a while now in secret, and they had left it to him to choose who he was going to be staying with. The decision was an easy one—he would be staying with his father—the only hard thing about it was explaining to his mother why he didn't wanted to stay with her. How could he have possibly told her that the only reason he wouldn't go with her was that he couldn't leave the New England Oceanside house for some middle-of-the-city apartment in New York? He couldn't. So, Peter had lied, saying that his father needed someone who could cook for him or the man would starve, which wasn't entirely untrue. And his mother had bought it, actually agreeing with him.
Peter then had gone to school, thinking that everything would be fine after he saw his girlfriend, who would no doubt give him sympathy after hearing about his parents. But when he had opened his locker, he had found a note taped to the door and realized that wouldn't be happening. The words 'It's over' were written clearly on it in her handwriting. Peter could no longer count on her to be there for him.
And to make matters worse than they had already been, during lunch Peter had found her and his best friend kissing in the library, behind the bookshelves. They hadn't seen him, but he had seen enough to know that he couldn't rely on best friend anymore, either.
There were other littler things, too, that had added to Peter's miserable mood. A failing history grade, not making the school's baseball team, and being locked in the gym equipment room by some senior were just a few to name. But everything had added up to put Peter where he was now—walking along the beach, feeling depressed and mad at everything, including himself.
Peter kicked at the sand, letting out an exasperated huff. The waves lapped against the shore and the wind blew his hair back. It did a little to relieve his aggravation, but not much. The sky was a grayish blue, only a little lighter where the sun was already behind the houses in the west. On the horizon of the ocean, if Peter looked hard enough at the darker part of the sky, he could see a few bright dots of light. He realized it must be late if the stars were out.
Letting go of his sneakers, Peter dropped down in the sand next to where they landed. He stretched his legs out in front of him as he stared out at the Atlantic, wondering if there was anything he could have down to prevent any of the events that had happened that day. But after a while of thinking, he knew there wasn't.
His parents had been drifting apart for a while now; Peter just hadn't realized it, though there were plenty of signs. He couldn't have stopped it even if he had noticed. And he had no clue what had gone wrong with him and his girlfriend. Peter had done everything right, or at least he had thought he had. Maybe she had just gotten tired of having a boyfriend. But then why had she been kissing his best friend during lunch? Peter quickly pushed the thought that they had been sneaking around together before now out of his mind.
He fell back on the sand, huffing again, but winced when the back of skull hit something hard. Frowning, Peter reached behind him and took a hold of whatever it was. He got ready to toss it, thinking it was a seashell, and then stopped at the last second when he realized it was a cell phone.
Peter looked at it for a moment, wondering who had been careless enough to lose their cell phone on a beach before flipping it open. The background screen made his eyebrows come together in a puzzled, yet cynical look. The picture was of a rubber duck with devil horns and a mustache that appeared to be drawn on the picture with a marker. Peter didn't know what to think of it, so he just pressed the menu button to see if he could find the contact info of whoever owned it. But he had somehow managed to press a wrong button somewhere, and ended up in the pictures the owner had taken.
Fueled by his curiosity, Peter began browsing through the pictures. There were many of them, and each one was of a different person—kids, adults, the elderly—in different place—the grocery store, a restaurant, or just on the street—and never a specific gender. It looked like each picture was taken at random. Peter was actually intrigued by them despite the fact that it was a little weird. Whoever had taken them had managed to catch people in their daily routine and made it looked strangely artistic even with just the camera on the cell phone.
He clicked through a few more pictures (a woman in a business suit talking on her cell phone as she got into her car and a little girl eating a lollipop on a park bench) and then froze. Peter stared at himself on the tiny screen in confusion and slight paranoia. The picture showed him walking down the sidewalk, smiling as he looked off to the side at someone who couldn't be seen. He looked closer and saw that his hand was holding someone else's and he realized the person cut out of the picture was his ex-girlfriend. It had been taken about a few days ago; Peter remembered taking that walk with her.
After seeing the picture of himself, he began to feel the full creepiness of the pictures. When it had only been pictures of complete strangers, Peter hadn't thought much of it. But now it made him feel like someone was watching him and Peter didn't like it. He regarded the phone warily, wanting to throw it into the ocean. He was just about to too, when he heard the sound of fast footsteps approaching.
Peter looked over his shoulder to see a boy about his age jogging towards him. Whoever he was didn't look familiar, but Peter couldn't honestly say that he had never seen him before. He might have, for all he knew. But he had never been good with remembering faces. Or names, which were even harder for him. Though, as the boy got closer, Peter was pretty sure that he didn't know him.
"Hey," the boy said in a British accent that Peter was pretty sure was fake. "Have you seen a—"
He spotted the cell phone in Peter's hand and a smile spread across his face.
"Lovely!" the boy exclaimed, grinning at Peter now. "You found it!"
"Yours?" Peter questioned as he gave him a weird look, but the boy didn't seem to see it as he nodded happily.
Peter watched him suspiciously. "Do I know you from somewhere?"
"Um…" The boy leaned forward with squinted eyes and his head cocked to the side as if doing that he would be able to see Peter better. After a few seconds, he puckered out his lips as he stood up straight again, making a funny face. "Nope. Never seen you before in my life."
"Then why do you have a picture of me on your cell phone?" Peter asked slowly with raised eyebrows.
The boy's eyes widened and he just stared at Peter for a moment. Then, without warning he snatched the phone out of Peter's hands and started running the way he had come, shouting "Gottagobye," without any pauses before Peter even had a chance to blink. And by the time Peter came back to his senses, the boy was already out of hearing range, even if Peter shouted. So, he just watched him go with a confused and weirded out stare, wondering who the heck that kid was.
The next day, Peter was staring out the window in his English class. He was still thinking about the strange boy from the previous night, unable to get him off of his mind. It wasn't clear to Peter whether it was because of the picture or because of the boy's reaction when Peter had asked about it. Maybe it was both; he didn't know. But whatever it was, it had kept him up for half of the night.
Peter turned away from the window when the bell rang and looked at the teacher standing in the front of the room. The man had graying brown hair neatly brushed back, a hard face, and piercing, cold eyes hidden behind oval glasses that clearly conveyed a single message—No nonsense. In Peter's mind, every English teacher should have been more like the one standing at the front of the room.
"I want an explanatory paragraph on foil characters and how it applies to Of Mice and Men," the man said in a tone that was as strict as he looked. "If you did the homework last night, this should be no problem. You have fifteen min—"
The door creaked open, interrupting the English teacher, and everyone's eyes flickered towards the boy who slipped into the room. Peter went slack jawed when he recognized him as the strange boy from the beach. He stared at him in slight bewilderment, too many thoughts flying through his mind for him to hang onto just one.
"I take it you're Derek Lori," the man said, glaring down at the boy with disdain, "The transfer student from London, correct? And… you're late."
"Got lost. Sorry," the boy said with a grin and the same accent he had used last night when he had talked to Peter. "And yes. I'm the transfer student. But I would very much appreciate it if you didn't call me Derek."
"Oh?" The English teacher raised an eyebrow. "What do you want to be called?"
The boy grinned, "Duckie."
The classroom filled with giggles and whispers from the students except for Peter, who was still staring at Derek—Duckie?—with a weird look. The man at the front of the room with the British boy raised a hand toward the students and the classroom fell silent.
"I will not call you that," he told Duckie, his tone clipped.
"Why not?" Duckie asked with a half smile that seemed more mischievous than questioning. "Everyone else calls me that. It's my nickname."
"I don't care," the English teacher said. "I'm not going to call you that, Mister Lori."
Duckie made a thoughtful noise in the back of his throat. "I suppose 'Mister Lori' will also work. Even though it reminds me very much of my father—the raving lunatic who made me come here in the first place."
Several more people snorted with laughter and Duckie glanced around the room with a smirk. But when his eyes passed over Peter, he did a double take, staring at him for a while before a large grin spread across his face. Peter's eyes widened as Duckie waved at him, making everyone in the room give them a confused look, including the teacher.
"Do you two know each other?" the man asked, looking at Peter then at Duckie.
"No," Peter said at the same time as Duckie said, "Yes."
The English teacher raised an eyebrow again, this time though at Peter, who looked down at his desk to avoid making eye contact. Making a noncommittal noise in the back of his throat, the man turned back to Duckie.
"Take the empty seat next to Mister Evans," he said before turning his back on the British boy completely. "And the rest of you start working on that paragraph."
Peter looked up in time to see Duckie already halfway to his seat. Their eyes met and the British boy grinned slyly as he sat himself down at the desk before looking away from him. The way Duckie was behaving confused Peter when he compared it to how the boy had been the night before. Last night, Duckie had run away from Peter, but today it seemed like he wanted to be near him. Even though they were completely opposite reactions, Peter found both equally weird. And when Peter added the pictures on Duckie's cell phone into t he mix, he knew that he had to be wary around this kid.
Peter glanced at the British boy out of the corner of his eye, taking in his appearance for the first time. Duckie was the complete opposite of him in looks, it seemed. He had straight black hair that was slightly curly at the ends, long enough to cover just the top of his forehead and ears, while Peter had short blondish-brown hair. Duckie's eyes were a startlingly blue, framed by long black lashes that were definitely more interesting to look at than Peter's caramel ones. There was also a light dusting of freckles across his pale skinned cheeks and nose, whereas Peter's freckles were hidden by his tan. But overall, Peter thought Duckie had a nice face and was quite attractive.
Looking away from him, Peter stared down at his desk in disbelief. Had he just thought that about Duckie?
He shook his head and started to work on the paragraph his English teacher had assigned before being interrupted. But as Peter wrote, the prickly sensation of being watched began to distract him. He ignored it the best he could as he finished up the last couple of sentences to his paragraph. Without even looking, Peter knew that Duckie was the one who was watching him and he would not give the strange British boy the satisfaction of meeting his gaze. Not until he was done writing, at least.
The English teacher told everyone to pass their paragraphs forward just as Peter finished writing the last word of his. As he handed his paper to the person sitting in front of him, his eyes seemed to flicker to the side of him on their own accord. And once again, he made eye contact with Duckie. The boy was grinning that impish smile of his at him again, too. Peter looked away from Duckie, feeling uncomfortable.
"All right," the man at the front of the classroom began. "Does anyone know what the literary element allusion is? No? Well, in literature it's a reference to a person, event…"
Peter didn't hear anything else the teacher said since he was too busy trying to ignore Duckie, who would not stop staring at him.
"Did I thank you?" Duckie asked from Peter's left. The British boy had been following him all day long, but this was the first time he had spoken. "For finding my mobile?"
Peter gave him a weird look, probably the first time he had acknowledged him since English class. He had hoped that if he had ignored Duckie, the strange boy would have gone away. But it seemed that taking pictures of random people wasn't the only quality of a stalker Duckie possessed. The boy was trailing after Peter like a duckling would follow its mother. Peter blinked at the thought. Was that how Duckie had gotten his nickname?
"No, you didn't," Peter mumbled, turning his attention back to the sidewalk. "You were too busy running away."
"Oh, right," Duckie said then laughed a little. "Well…thank you."
Peter grunted to show that he heard him before folding his arms across his chest. They continued walking, neither one of them saying anything, and Peter silently wondered if Duckie planned on following him all the way to his house. He glanced over at the British boy suspiciously from the corner of his eyes to see that Duckie was already staring at him with that smirk of his.
"You know…I didn't recognize you at first," Duckie told Peter, his eyebrows coming together when a piece of hair fell into his eyes. He blew at it a couple of times before brushing it away with his fingers when air proved to be ineffective.
"What are you talking about?" Peter asked, giving him a weird, guarded look.
"The picture," Duckie said with a grin.
Peter shifted uncomfortably. "Why do you have a picture of me?"
"Same reason I have pictures of all those other people," Duckie smiled, his blue eyes glinting. "I like to people-watch. I've got loads of pictures of random people."
"That's really creepy," Peter stated as he took a step away from Duckie. "You realize that, right?"
Duckie laughed, but nodded. "Yes. But if you saw what I do to the pictures, you'd understand."
"Okay then…" Peter said, turning away from the British boy that wouldn't leave him alone. "So…why didn't you just tell me that yesterday?"
"I already told you," Duckie smiled widely at him. "I didn't recognize you."
"Um…?" Peter's face twisted in confusion and Duckie laughed.
"Before yesterday, I had only seen that picture of you, which you're smiling in," Duckie explained. "Yesterday, you weren't smiling. You had this look of absolute wretchedness on your face. I remember everyone I see even it's just someone I pass on the street. But because you look completely different when you're not smiling, I didn't recognize you."
"So…if you had recognized me, you wouldn't have run away?" Peter asked slowly.
Duckie began nodding but stopped, a thoughtful look coming across his face. After a moment, Duckie shook his head. "No. I ran away because I felt like it."
"Oh…kay…" Peter said under his breath as he walked away from Duckie toward the front door of his house, relieved that he could finally get away from the weird British boy. But then he heard the footsteps following him and Peter turned back around, giving Duckie a narrowed eyed look. "Why are you still following me?"
"I don't know," Duckie shrugged with a calm and amused look.
"Well, then…stop!" Peter told him, getting aggravated.
"You shouldn't make that face," Duckie said, his face screwed up like he had a bad taste in his mouth. "It really doesn't suit you. You should smile more!"
Peter gaped at him for a moment, unable to make sense of the boy in front of him, before turning away from Duckie and walking back up to his house. He knew Duckie was still going to follow him, but he didn't bother telling him not to since he knew that it wouldn't have stopped the British boy from doing it anyway. So, after unlocking the front door with his key, Peter walked into his house and left the door open for Duckie as he made his way into the kitchen. The sound of the door closing drifted into the kitchen to Peter's ears and Duckie walked in shortly after, grinning. Peter did his best not to look or even acknowledge him as he poured himself an orange juice.
It was completely silent in the kitchen when Peter put the jug of juice back in the refrigerator. If he hadn't known better, he would have thought that Duckie had left. But the British boy was still there. Peter could feel Duckie staring at him from a seat at the kitchen counter. And he made sure that he kept his eyes down when he walked over to take a seat himself.
Staring at the counter top, Peter took a sip of his orange juice. It was still silent in the kitchen, which surprised Peter. He had thought that the British boy would have kept talking after following Peter into the house. But the only noise Duckie had made since telling Peter to smile more was just a little hiccup that caught Peter's attention and made him forget he wasn't suppose to look at Duckie. And once they made eye contact, Duckie grinned.
"Where are your parents?" he asked and Peter thought it was a normal enough question for him to answer.
"Work," Peter told him as he raised his glass to his lips to take a sip.
"Oh…right," Duckie nodded, that impish smirk playing on his lips again. "Have you ever kissed a boy before?"
Peter choked on the orange juice he had just swallowed. Coughing, he pounded his fist against his chest a few time as he stared at Duckie incredulously. The British boy just grinned at him, his eyebrows raised questioningly as he waited for Peter's answer.
"No!" Peter gasped out. "What kind of question is that?"
"Why not?" Duckie cocked his head to the side with a curious expression.
"Why not what?" Peter asked, staring at him in confused disbelief as the British boy grinned back.
"Why haven't you kissed a boy before?"
"Because!" Peter exclaimed as he pushed himself from the counter. "I'm not gay!"
Duckie laughed. "So?"
"So! There's no reason for me to kiss a guy when I'm not gay!" Peter told him, almost yelling.
"Oh? Is that your reason?" Duckie asked, raising an eyebrow and laughing again. "Because I think it's because you're a chicken."
"What?" Peter hissed as he took a step toward Duckie. "No, I'm not!"
"Yes," Duckie said with a nod. "Yes, you are. You're a chicken."
"I am not a chicken!" Peter told him but the British boy just smirked at him and made the sounds of a chicken. He glared at Duckie, starting to feel a loathing for him.
"Peter's a chicken," Duckie stated happily, his grin mocking Peter. "A big fat chicken."
"I am not!" Peter growled, taking another step closer to Duckie so he was standing right in front of the boy. "And I'll prove it to you."
"Oh?" Duckie smirked up at him. "I doubt it, 'cause you're too chick—"
Peter hadn't given Duckie a chance to finish his sentence before he placed his lips on top of the British boy's. The kiss only lasted for a couple of seconds, but it was long enough to make Peter's point. After he pulled away, he stared down at Duckie with an 'I-told-you-so' look on his face. Duckie grinned up at Peter for a moment then stood up. Grabbing his bag, he started walking out of the kitchen.
"See you tomorrow, Peter," Duckie said with a wave. And as he disappeared down the hall, Peter stared after him. He couldn't believe what had just happened. But when the sound of the door closing jolted him out of his daze, the reality of what he had done sunk in.
Peter had just kissed the strange British boy…because he had been called a chicken.
Picking up a handful of sand then letting it slip through his fingers, Peter stared out at the ocean. He watched the waves as he tried to make sense of what had happened in his kitchen the day before. It was still bothering him, and the more he thought about it the more embarrassed he got. He had skipped school just so he didn't have to face Duckie. But, for the whole day, Peter had sat on the beach thinking about the strange British boy, which was just as bad in his mind. And to make matters worse, he wasn't sure if he had hated kissing Duckie. A part of Peter's mind told him that he had actually enjoyed it.
Three seconds—that was about how long the kiss had lasted. But thinking back on it, Peter felt like it had been longer. It had been different, too. Kissing Duckie, even if it was just a quick peck on the lips to prove his point, had been a lot different to Peter than kissing his girlfriend—ex-girlfriend. Peter couldn't exactly say what it was, but it was there. Something about kissing Duckie had a weird thrill to it that hadn't been there when Peter had kissed girls. But what was it? Was it because Duckie was a boy?
Peter covered his eyes with his hand and shook his head. What that heck was he thinking? He needed to put the whole situation out of his mind, never to think about it again. But to do that, he would need to avoid Duckie for the rest of his life since just seeing the strange British boy would make him think about it. And for some reason, Peter didn't think he could do that, even if he really wanted to, and he didn't know why.
Sighing, Peter rested his arms across his knees and laid his head on them. A boat was far out in the ocean, only a silhouette to Peter as he watched it sail across the horizon. He closed his eyes as a soft wind blew into his face, relaxing a little. And for a moment, he forgot about Duckie and what had happened the previous day. But when a shadow fell over him, causing Peter to look up, everything came back.
"You look wretched," Duckie stated before dropping down in the sand next to Peter. "Didn't you hear me when I said you should smile more?"
Peter didn't say anything, but gave him a suspicious glare before turning his gaze back to the ocean.
"It really suits you better," Duckie said, nodding. "But there must be a reason for you to be scowling like that…Does it have anything to do with why you weren't at school today?"
Once again, Peter didn't say anything. He kept his eyes glued on the water.
"Oh. I get it," Duckie said with the mischievous grin on his face again. "You're mad at me."
Peter snapped his head toward the British boy and narrowed his eyes at him, but remained silent.
"Yup. That's it," Duckie smiled, tilting his head to the side. "And that's why you weren't at school. You were avoiding me."
Peter looked away from Duckie, wanting to tell him that he wasn't mad. But he wasn't sure if that was completely true. He was too confused about everything.
"But the question is why…" Duckie made a thoughtful noise and was silent for a moment. "I'm sorry, Peter. But I can't think of anything that I did to make you angry."
"You didn't do anything," Peter grumbled, refusing to look at the British boy. "It's what I did."
"Wha—oh…" Duckie said then began to giggle. "This is about what happened in your kitchen yesterday, isn't it?"
Peter hugged his knees to his chest and didn't reply. Glancing out of the corner of his eyes, he could see that Duckie was grinning at him, his blue eyes dancing. He quickly looked away from the British boy.
"Don't worry about it, Peter." Duckie told him, placing a hand on his arm. Peter tensed and stared at Duckie's hand like it might start burning him. "No one except you and me know about it. And besides, it's not like it's going to happen again. I know you're too chicken to kiss me for a second time."
"What?" Peter hissed and yanked his arm from Duckie's grasp. He glared at him angrily. "I am not!"
"Oh, yes you are," Duckie said in a sing song voice. "You can't kiss me again because you're a chicken."
"No! I'm not a chicken!" Peter told him.
Duckie smirked mockingly at him and Peter felt his fists clench. Moving so he was kneeling in the sand, Peter stared down at Duckie with narrowed eyes for a moment before leaning down. Their lips touched together for a second time. But this time, the kiss lasted for more than a couple of seconds, and it wasn't just a peck on the lips like the first one had been. This was a real kiss; like the ones Peter had shared with his ex-girlfriend that were more than just lips touching but less than French kissing. What was different, though, was that Peter wasn't kissing his ex-girlfriend. He was kissing Duckie, another boy. And Peter liked it; it better than any other kiss he had had.
At that thought, Peter pulled away from Duckie and stared at him incredulously. The British boy grinned at him, just like he had yesterday, and then stood up. As he walked toward the houses along the beach's edge, Duckie turned around so he was walking backwards and waved to Peter.
"Bye!" Duckie said before he turned back around, jogging away. And Peter could only gape after him, unable to believe that he had kissed him again.
The next day it happened again; then again on the day after that. And each time it happened, the kisses would last longer and became less than lips touching lips. By the fifth time, Peter realized something as he had watched Duckie walk away from him down the beach. Not only had they made out—tongue and all for about three, maybe four, minutes—he had been tricked into doing it.
Duckie wanted Peter to kiss him. And that was why the British boy kept telling him he was a chicken. He had figured out that Peter couldn't stand to be called that then used the knowledge to his advantage. Every time Duckie and Peter would talk, the British boy would purposely bring up the previous kiss and then say Peter was too chicken to do it again. He knew Peter would immediately say he wasn't and to prove it, Peter would kiss Duckie. So basically, Peter had brought the whole situation upon himself since he had shown Duckie that he would kiss him every time he was called a chicken.
But when Peter had planned on confronting the British boy with this revelation of his, Duckie hadn't been at school. Nor had he shown up at the beach when Peter was sitting out there by himself later that day. The day after that was the same too. But Peter had heard the reason why the British boy was nowhere to be seen; Duckie was home, sick.
Somehow, Peter had found out where Duckie lived and had decided that he would go there to confront him. But as Peter stood at the end of the walkway that led up to Duckie's house, he couldn't bring himself to do anything more than just stare at it. He didn't even know why he didn't want to do it anymore or why he felt nervous. Glancing down the road three houses to his house, Peter had the thought of just walking away and forgetting about it since it would probably be easier to avoid Duckie. But Peter didn't move. A part of him knew that he wouldn't be able to do that.
Despite the mind tricks the British boy had played on him, Peter had actually missed Duckie the past two days. It was because, for the past week, he hadn't really spoken to anyone besides him. Peter had stopped talking to his best friend after finding the kid in the library with his ex-girlfriend. And talking to his ex-girlfriend was the last thing Peter wanted to do. Duckie had been the only one he had held a conversation with for more than a few seconds. So in strange sort of way, Duckie had somehow become his friend.
Peter took a deep breath and began walking up to the door with his hands in his pant pockets. As he walked up the front porch steps, he got the urge to go home again. No one had seen him yet so he could leave without being questioned. He couldn't bring himself to turn around, though. Instead, Peter continued to make his way up the rest of the steps, pulling his hand out of his pocket to knock on the door. But it swung open before his fist even made contact with the wood.
Duckie stood in the doorway wearing clothes covered with paint and paint smeared across his cheek, giving Peter a curious look. Peter gaped at him for a moment, temporarily forgetting why he was there, before pulling himself out of the daze. Frowning, Peter took in the British boy's appearance.
"You don't look sick," he said.
"Sick?" Duckie repeated, confusion briefly passing over his face before recognition took its place. "Oh…right. I haven't been in school…"
"Yeah," Peter said slowly, giving him a weird look. "So…why?"
Duckie smiled. "Come along. I'll show you."
He grabbed Peter's wrist and began pulling him through the house before Peter had a chance to say anything. The British boy dragged him all the way up to the attic, making him trip several times on the steps. Peter stared at Duckie incredulously when they finally stopped at a door, but he didn't notice. Duckie didn't let go of Peter's wrist either as he opened it, tugging him along behind him when he walked in. The sound of the door closing behind him brought Peter back to his senses and he yanked his arm away from the British boy, glaring at him.
"What the hec..." Peter began but drifted off as he looked around the room for the first time. "Whoa…"
He gaped at the easels and canvases that surrounded the room, looking at all the paintings. They were incredible, like nothing Peter had ever seen before. Walking up to the closest one, Peter took it in as he finally understood the purpose of the pictures Duckie took.
Peter's eyes roamed over the one in front of him. It was on a canvas about eighteen inches by twenty-four, the paint still wet. The main focus of the painting was obviously the figure in the middle of the canvas that was completely black, like a silhouette. As for the rest of the painting, it was the surroundings of that silhouetted person, the colors blended so it looked like the focus was blurred. Not a single face or feature could be made out perfectly, only the general shape of things could be seen.
The actual picture was lying on the floor next to the easel and Peter bent over to pick it up. He stared at the photo for a moment before looking back at the painting. If the picture had been edited so the man in the center smoking a cigarette was blacked out and everything else around him blurred, it would have looked exactly like the painting. Peter gazed at the other paintings and pictures, and found that it was the same for every single one of them.
After spending another moment looking at the paintings, Peter turned back to Duckie, who was still standing near the door, grinning at him. Peter couldn't help but smile back as he said, "These are really good."
"Thank you," Duckie said and Peter thought he could see a light blush on the British boy's face as the boy walked over to an unfinished painting. He sat down on the stool in front of it, his back toward Peter. "So…why are you here?"
The question reminded Peter of the reason he had showed up at Duckie's in the first place and he cleared his throat nervously, even though he wasn't exactly sure why he was nervous. "I need to talk to you about something."
"Oh?" Duckie asked, glancing over his shoulder and raising an eyebrow at him. "What?"
"You need to stop with your mind tricks," Peter said, surprised with himself that he had managed to be so blunt. "You know…Calling me a chicken just to get me to kiss you."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Duckie told him, not looking away from the canvas, but Peter didn't need to see his face to know that he was smirking. He could hear it in the British boy's voice.
"Yes, you do," Peter said as he walked over to him. "You've been tricking me into doing it ever since you figured out that I don't like being told I'm a chicken."
Duckie looked at him with a grin on his face. "Is that what you think?"
"Yes." Peter nodded.
"Well then…" Duckie began, turning back to his painting. "I guess you're right."
Peter opened his mouth, ready to argue with him when what Duckie said sunk in. He stared at the British boy, slightly confused. "What?"
"I said you're right," Duckie repeated as he carefully painted the black outline of the middle figure. He glanced at Peter out of the corner of his eye as he dipped his paintbrush back into the cup of paint he held in his hand. "I did it just to get you to kiss me."
"Why?" Peter asked, his voice laden with disbelief.
"I don't know," Duckie said with a shrug and a small grin. "Maybe because I like you?"
"You barely know me," Peter told him, giving him a flat look. "How can you like me?"
Duckie let out an airy laugh. "I know enough to know that I like you."
"How?" Peter asked, getting slightly aggravated. "I've only known you for a week and I've barely talked to you. It's always you who doesn't shut up. You couldn't know enough about me to decide that you like me."
"Peter," Duckie said, sounding a little bit exasperated. "Talking isn't the only way you learn things about another person. How they act about certain things shows a lot too."
"What are you talking about?" Peter stared at the British boy with narrowed, confused eyes. Duckie sighed and set down his paintbrush to look at Peter again.
"Just by watching your reaction to things, I can tell a lot about you." he said. "Like…the way you immediate flip over any paper you get back in History tells me that you get bad grades in that class. And then there are these two kids—a boy and a girl—that whenever they walk past you, you avert your eyes and get this miserable look on your face. I'm thinking that at some point the three of you got into a fight, is that right?"
"No," Peter told him without thinking. "They are my ex-best friend and my ex-girlfriend. She broke up with me to be with him…"
"Oh…" Duckie said, looking away from him. "Well, I was close…But my point is, is that I don't need to know everything about you to know that I like you."
"I still don't see how you could, but whatever," Peter stated, his eyebrows coming together. "Just stop. Stop calling me a chicken just to get me to kiss you, okay?"
"All right. I'll stop," Duckie told him with a nod, picking his paintbrush up and painting another black line.
"Good," Peter said as he began making his way toward the door.
"But…" Duckie said before Peter walked out of the room, making him stop and turn back around. "What will I do to get you to kiss me?"
Peter stared at the British boy, unable to believe him. "Nothing. You're not going to trick me into doing that anymore."
"Oh?" Duckie laughed and stood up, walking over to Peter. He smiled impishly. "Why not?"
"Because!" Peter said as he quickly racked his brain for a reason. Strangely enough, he couldn't come up with one. "Because…um…um…"
Duckie giggled. "You enjoyed it, didn't you?"
"No!" Peter exclaimed, taking a step back away from Duckie.
"Yes, you did! I can see it in your eyes," Duckie told him as he poked him on the bridge of his nose. Peter swatted his hand away, blinking as Duckie smirked at him. "You're just too chicken to admit it."
"I am n—" Peter narrowed his eyes at the British boy and frowned. He growled, "Duckie! You said you wouldn't do that!"
"No," Duckie said, still with the mischievous grin on his face. "I said I wouldn't call you a chicken to get you to kiss me. I called you a chicken just now to get you to admit that you liked kissing me."
Peter shook his head. "But I di—"
Duckie didn't give him a chance to finish before he pressed his lips against Peter's. He kept them there for a moment before pulling away. A large grin spread across his face when he saw Peter's stunned expression. Peter blinked a few times to get himself out of his daze then looked down at Duckie, the nervous feeling coming back to him when his caramel eyes met the British boy's blue ones. Swallowing hard, he opened his mouth then closed it when no sound came out. Peter waited a few seconds before trying again, this time with better results.
"I…I guess I kinda do…like it," he told him, struggling with the words. "Kissing...you, I mean."
"Tell me something I don't already know," Duckie said through a laugh, grinning. And as Peter continued to look at him, he couldn't help but smile and start laughing himself, causing Duckie to tilt his head to the side. "Yes. That face really does suit you better."
Peter gave Duckie a weird look, about to say something, but then thought better of it and just kissed him again instead.