Chapter 10: Realizations


"You took me to the zoo," I deadpan. What a weird kid.

"Yep," he replies simply.

"What made you think to come here?" I ask, starting towards the admissions office. Believe me when I say that it's not as if I won't enjoy being here, it's just…this has got to be the last place I ever expected Jesse to take me. Points for originality, I guess.

"Well, I figured that you belong here with the rest of the animals," Jesse replies mock seriously.

"Hey!" I slap his arm lightly while pretending to be offended, but a smile breaks out on my face.

He just smirks in my direction, pulling open the door to the admissions office and holding it open for me. The unexpected gesture sets loose a butterfly in my stomach. Weird.

A plump blonde haired lady, probably in her late forties, sends us a kind and inviting smile from behind a large oak desk. The room is cluttered with shelves of brochures and the like.

"Hello there boys, will you be on your own today or would you like a guide to show you around?" she asks sweetly.

"We'd like to be alone," Jesse says in that deep voice of his and once again, butterflies go a little crazy somewhere inside of me. I have to remind myself not to make excuses because they seem to pop up like a reflex.

"Alright then," she smiles. "Will you be paying together or separate?"

"Together," Jesse says before I can answer.

When I realize what Jesse's doing, I quickly reach into my pocket to grab some money, but before I can set it on the counter, I feel his fingers wrap tightly around my own, holding them in place. I look up to see Jesse shaking his head at me.

Not letting go of my hand, he reaches his unoccupied hand into his own pocket and skilfully pulls the bills out of his wallet with one hand before handing them to the lady, who laughs at our antics. Then he takes my hand and guides it back into my pocket with his hand still holding mine. I reluctantly drop the money because it makes me feel funny to have Jesse's hand in my back pocket.

"If I'm going on a date with another guy, I get to be the man," Jesse says. I don't speak for a moment because I'm so surprised that Jesse would say something like that in front of somebody other than our parents. I would think that he'd want as few people as possible thinking that we're dating when we're not, but he says it in front of the lady like it's nothing at all.

"But I'm the one who wanted to go on a date in the first place," I argue. He just narrows his eyes and continues to stare at me. I can tell that he's not backing down any time soon. "Ok, fine. How about we pay for ourselves then?" I try.

"No way." Jesse shakes his head. "I'm paying. It's done," he says and I look toward the lady behind the counter for help. She glances between us amusedly before putting Jesse's money into her cash register. Jesse throws me a smug look and I just roll my eyes at him.

"Alright, I'll need to put stamps on the back of your hands," she says. Jesse and I both put our hands on the counter while she stamps them. Afterwards, we're handed a map of the zoo and told to have a good time. Jesse holds the door for me again as we leave.

"So, where do you want to go first?" Jesse asks me as we start walking along the trail.

I take a look at the map before telling him that I'd like to see the monkeys. He nods and folds up the map, sticking it in his pocket.

"Don't you think it's a little cruel, caging up all these animals just so we can look at them all day?" I ponder aloud, actually considering it for the first time.

"I guess so. I never really thought of it that way. I always thought of it as providing a home for animals while giving people educational experiences. I mean, they usually try to recreate the animal's natural habitat to make them more comfortable. But I guess you're right. It is a little mean." He appears to be deep in thought. My mind starts to wander as well, reminding me of the last time I went to a zoo.

"I haven't been to the zoo since…well, since I was really young. My father took me."

Jesse looks unsure about whether or not to speak before asking, hesitantly, "What…happened with your dad? If you don't mind me asking."

My chest tightens a little, but I find myself replying anyway. "He couldn't handle having a gay son," I mumble. I know there's more to it than that, but I don't want to go into any details with Jesse, not quite yet.

I suddenly feel arms around me, but I didn't see them coming. Jesse pushes me tightly against his firm chest and, oh God, it feels good. Even when we were just pretending for our parents, I always loved Jesse's hugs; so warm and firm and safe. Maybe the last characteristic is a result of his height and size, but I appreciate it anyway.

"I'm so sorry." For a fleeting moment I think about Jerrica's challenge and conclude that Jesse could be a really good potential boyfriend…if he wasn't straight that is.

I used to always think that Jesse was cold and apathetic, and I always wondered how him and Micah could be such good friends. They both seemed mostly unaffected, aside from a little anger on Jesse's part. But now I understand, and I have to wonder if I've misjudged Micah too, because Jesse seems like a really good friend. A little stoic, a little careless at times, but he treats his friends right.

"Jesse…we're…friends, aren't we?" I ask. I've been wondering about this very thing for quite a while now, but I suddenly find myself worried about his answer. He's given me quite a few mixed signals and I really want him to say yes.

He pulls away, releasing me from his embrace and starts walking again. I look up at him for an answer, becoming increasingly anxious, but he looks away."Yeah, Corbyn. I think of you as a…friend." He seems to struggle with the last word a little bit, as if there's a word he would rather use, but decides not too.

Before I can think too much on it, he turns toward me with a fake smile and says, "We're here. Let's go see the monkeys."

We enter into the 'monkey domain' so to speak, and it's amazing. The whole place is decorated like a jungle with vines and so many trees. Maybe Jesse was right about me belonging here, because damn, I just want to be over there right now.

There's a guy selling bananas by the door and I give him money for a few, handing one to Jesse.

I see one particular monkey eyeing my banana and I approach him to hand it through one of the available spaces. He takes it greedily and starts to peel, making funny noises and looking way too fucking cute. I turn to Jesse, wanting to share my delight, only to see that he's peeled his banana and has polished off about half of it. I can't help but chuckle as I watch him, and he seems to hear it because he looks up at me and the guilty expression on his face is probably the sexiest thing I've ever seen. I'm not sure how somebody looks sexy while pulling such a face, but Jesse manages to. His expression looks as if I've just caught him doing something really naughty.

"You're not supposed to eat the banana." I laugh at him. "You're supposed to feed it to the monkeys."

He just shrugs and says "I was hungry," before continuing to eat. I'm sure there are quite a few monkeys glaring at him right now, but I can't seem to look away long enough to check.

"Can I see the map?" I ask him, intending on choosing our next location. He hands it to me and I open it up, but before I can even get a good look at it, it's gone. Torn right out of my hands. I look up sharply and see a monkey holding my map and howling in it's monkey laughter. I should have known better than to put anything of value that close to a monkey exhibit.

"Hey! Get back here you sneaky little fucker!" I shout at him. A few of the surrounding parents glare at me while covering the ears of their children and Jesse snorts before taking a hold of my arm and pulling me toward the door.

"Come on Corbyn. We can manage without the map. I'm more worried about what all those angry parents are going to do to you if we don't leave," he jokes. At least I think it was a joke, but looking back into the room I'm not so sure. Apparently I've tainted their children. Pft.

"But we don't even know where we're going," I complain, still angry at that stupid, thieving monkey.

"That's okay, we'll figure it out," he reasons. "Hey, let's go there." He points toward the closest building and we head over.

It happens to be a Tiger Exhibit, self guided by an audio tour. Jesse and I put on the headphones and go through it. We're shown Siberian tigers, Sumatran tigers, and several others with names that I forget as soon as we move on to the next. Jesse, for some reason, finds my jumpiness around the tigers humorous, and scares the shit out of me probably ten times throughout the whole tour, making growling noises and popping up out of nowhere. Let's just say that I'm relieved when it ends.

Once we've finished the audio tour and returned our headphones to the rack, Jesse and I head up a random path, hoping to find another exhibit to make fun of. But, after about fifteen minutes of walking and no sign of any exhibits, I begin to worry a little bit.

"Jesse, maybe we should turn around and back track, because I have no idea where the hell we are."

"No, no. Look. Up there is a little brown building. Come on," he persists and pulls me along with him. On the way toward the building, we pass a deep looking pond with a sign beside it saying 'Stay out of the water'.

"Hey Jesse, let's go skinny dipping," I joke. He grins and starts walking toward the pond, stopping about a foot away from the water's edge. Oh, no. I wasn't serious. "Jesse, you know I was just kidding, right? Even if you strip down, I am not going in there."

Even as I say this, I walk closer and closer to the water until I'm standing right next to Jesse. He smirks down at me. "Are you sure about that?"

I'm about to tell him that yes, I'm sure, but he takes a step back and then jumps at me. To get away from him I lean backwards, but end up losing my balance, swinging my arms to no avail. Jesse just laughs while I plunge into the freezing cold water. Holy hell that's cold.

When I resurface, I immediately find Jesse with my eyes and glare at him the best I can while my teeth chatter uncontrollably.

"F-fuck, fuck, fuck. D-do you have any idea how c-cold this is?" I chatter and push wet hair out of my eyes.

"You know I wasn't actually going to push you in, right?" He rolls his eyes in amusement.

Reminding me that not only do I have terrible balance, but I'm also very gullible does not help his case at all. I swim over to the edge of the pond.

When I place my hands on the ground by his feet, I get an idea. "You think this is f-funny, do you?"

"Hell yeah," Jesse answers and laughs again.

"I'll show you funny," I mutter before grabbing Jesse's calves and pulling him in too.

I watch with satisfaction as Jesse comes back up sputtering and shivering, looking a little shocked that I would do that to him. His black hair is plastered to his face and neck, and now it's my turn to laugh.

"Oh, you are so going down," Jesse warns before putting his hands on my head and pushing me under the water. He only holds me down for a few seconds before letting go.

I let myself float to the water's surface and when I open my eyes, I'm looking straight into Jesse's. We're really close and I unconsciously stop breathing while we stare wordlessly at each other. When I finally run out of air I inhale sharply, still unable to look away. My breathing is a little fast to make up for the previous lack of air.

Jesse doesn't look away either. He glances down at my lips and, Oh God, he's not going to…kiss me, is he? When he looks back into my eyes, I can't seem to do anything to discourage him, and I'm not sure if I even want to. We both subconsciously lean closer.

"Hey! You guys aren't allowed in there!" someone yells, breaking whatever trance we were in. Jesse jumps away and searches for the source of the yelling.

"Do you hear me? Get out immediately! Didn't you see the sign?" The man is wearing a uniform and is clearly an employee. My guess is that he came from that brown building up ahead.

Jesse hops out of the water and reaches for my hand, pulling me out as well. Then he starts to run, guiding me along by the hand.

"Hey! Get back here! I need to escort you off the zoo grounds!" The man yells in a pathetic attempt to make us stop.

Jesse pulls me into a cluster of trees that leads to more and more clusters until we're completely surrounded. We keep running and running even though we're probably just getting even more lost. The only sounds I hear are those of our laughter and the squeaking of our wet shoes.

We're both panting by the time we break through the trees, and I bend over at the waist to catch my breath, finally letting go of Jesse's hand.

"Hey…look…there," Jesse manages between harsh breaths.

I look up and follow the path of his finger all the way over to the admissions office where we started.

"Thank God." I sigh in relief. I really was scared of being lost for a while there. Jesse makes a noise of agreement and we both start walking toward it.

I hear a growling noise and it takes me a moment to realize it's origin. My stomach.

"Hungry?" Jesse asks, even though it's pretty obvious.


"You should have eaten your banana." He tsk tsk's at me.

I just roll my eyes.

"Let's get changed and then we can find someplace to eat. I'm sure they've got a restaurant around here somewhere."

When Jesse and I approach the admissions office, we spot the Front Entrance Gift Shop close by and decide to buy some new clothes so that we don't have to drive all the way to our respective homes before getting some edible goodness in our bellies.

"Panda or Giraffe?" I ask Jesse, holding up the two shirts, both with a picture of an animal and the name of the zoo printed underneath.

He looks thoughtful before pointing to the one with the Giraffe. He still hasn't picked one yet, so I continue to look around.

"Hey Jesse, how about this one?" I snicker and hold up a pink shirt with a peacock on it.

"Oh yeah. That's definitely my color," Jesse says sarcastically and flutters his eyelashes.

He doesn't wait for my answer before picking up a t-shirt with a snow leopard on the front and heading over the till to pay for it. Earlier, we had decided on buying matching black sweat pants with the name of the zoo printed down the left pant leg. Seriously, we should get paid for advertising this establishment so thoroughly.

It's only when Jesse and I pull out our money that we realize it's also sopping wet. The cashier looks unhappy but takes the money regardless. Then we're off to find some food.


"Is it just me, or is everyone staring at us?" I whisper to Jesse as we wait in the concession line at the movie theater.

"Don't worry. Everyone's just jealous of our sexy clothes. And that we match," he whispers back. I snort and step up to the counter, still hungry even after our dinner at the zoo.

"A large popcorn and two cokes please," I tell the kid behind the counter. He has a 'holier than thou' expression on his face and he sneers at us even though he can't be more than about twelve.

"Are you two on a date?" He laughs to himself as if what he said was really funny. I share a look with Jesse, who nods his head in understanding of my silent question: should we mess with him?

Jesse puts his arm around my shoulders and rubs his nose affectionately along my temple.

"Yes, and if you don't hurry up and get our food, we'll have gay sex right here in front of you," I say seriously. Well, he seems to think I'm being serious. The kid stops laughing abruptly and his eyes widen. He darts off to make our order. Jesse and I laugh quietly while we wait. His arm remains around my shoulder even until we take our seats in the movie, which is a little surprising considering how public the movie theatre is. I wonder what he would do if somebody from school saw us.

"I can't believe you convinced me to see a scary movie." I groan. "Do you have any idea how much physical pain I can accidentally inflict upon you while watching a scary movie?"

Jesse just rolls his eyes at me. "I'll be fine."

"No, seriously, I'll claw at you, I'll jump on you, I'll scream in your ear, and I might even bite you, but none of it will be on purpose," I warn him.

"I'll take my chances," he says, obviously thinking that I'm overreacting. Oh, how wrong he is!

I settle close to Jesse's side when the previews end and the movie begins, anticipating some life-scarring horror. I can faintly hear the dialogue of the movie over the pounding of my heart.

Something attacks from the shadows on the screen and I can't see what it is, but it's enough to make me grip Jesse's arm tightly, probably cutting off his circulation.

He continues to munch away on popcorn, seemingly unaffected. Every once in a while he glances at me in amusement, but the movie doesn't seem to scare him terribly much.

When the background music gets suspenseful and I know something terrifying is about to happen, I decide to reach for some popcorn, thinking that when I feel the need to scream, I can just shove some in my mouth and save Jesse's eardrums. But when I put my hand in the bag, I quickly recognize the feeling of another hand underneath mine instead of popcorn.

I can see Jesse's head turn infinitesimally in my direction with my peripheral vision, but I don't move my hand away and neither does he. The feeling of Jesse's hand, for some reason, brings me a vivid memory of that day in my room when Jerrica caught us making out. The feeling of his hand on my stomach, on my chest, touching my nipples. It's so real that I can almost feel it right now. The feeling of his tongue in my mouth, then his lips on my neck. His crotch on my thigh-

I pull my hand away quickly and try to steady my breathing. Holy fuck, this guy turns me on with just a touch of his fingers. He's too fucking perfect.

I get up and head to the bathroom, not looking to see Jesse's reaction to my departure. I hope he isn't offended.

I turn the tap on and splash water on my face, looking in the mirror. A groan escapes my throat. Why did I have to blow it? That probably would have been my perfect opportunity to test Jerrica's theory, to see Jesse's reaction to going on a real date. My reaction to going on a real date. If I hadn't moved my hand, I could have found out once and for all.

But he's probably in there right now thinking that I ran away because we touched hands for a few seconds. Jeez, I'm such an idiot.

When I go back into the movie and sit down, Jesse doesn't look at me. He isn't eating popcorn anymore either. I don't know if it's because he's embarrassed because of my 'reaction,' or if it's because he's grossed out by the whole thing, and this isn't what he wanted.

I don't even notice when scary parts of the movie play, nor do I hear any of the blood curdling screams of the actors and actresses. I can't really pay any attention to the movie at all. I just sit there, replaying everything over in my head and hoping to God that I haven't ruined absolutely everything just now. I sigh in relief when the lights come back on, signifying the end of the movie. Jesse and I walk silently to his car before hopping in and heading toward my house.

By the time we pull into my driveway, it's after nine. Nobody says anything, but I don't get out because I can't leave things like this.

"So I had a really good time." I wince slightly at the sound of my voice, extra loud because of the tense silence we've been sitting in for so long.

"Yeah…sure you did," Jesse mutters.

I really did have a good time, up until I ruined it anyway. But even then, I still wanted to be around Jesse, I just wanted to fix us. I need to find a way to make sure he knows that.

I lean over and grab his chin, turning it in my direction. I'm a little surprised at my boldness, but I need to get through to him somehow.

"Jesse. I had a really good time," I stress to him, trying to show my sincerity through my eyes.

"Really?" Jesse asks quietly, confusedly.

"Really." I continue to stare into his eyes, hoping to convince him. At this moment, staring into his gray eyes and holding his chin lightly, the feeling of stubble under my fingertips, as cheesy as it sounds, all I want to do is kiss him. The urge is so strong that my eyes trail down to his lips and I lean forward until we're very close.

When I look back up from his lips to get some sort of go-ahead from him, I notice that he's sitting so rigidly that he could be frozen, and his eyes are wide with surprise. The expression on his face brings me back to reality, but I've gotten too close to his face to play it off as nothing, so I swerve until my lips press against his cheek.

Since a kiss from me was not something he wanted, if his initial expression is anything to go by, I hope he'll take my cheek kiss as a friendly one, but deep down I know that it's too late for that.

I pull away and reach for the door handle, avoiding his eyes. I don't want to see his reaction because I have a feeling it'll make things even more awkward.

I mumble a goodnight and jump out of the car as fast as I can manage. Jesse doesn't reply, so I just close the door and run up to my front porch, letting myself in.

All I want to do when I walk through the door is go up to my room and curl up in my bed. So when I see my mom waiting for me, sitting on the living room couch, I know where this is going and I don't have the patience to deal with it.

"Where were you?" she asks.

"I was on a date with my boyfriend. Now that you and Joshua know about us, there's no reason for us to hide our relationship. We can finally be together, really together." I don't mean for it to come out harshly, but I can't help it. Bitterness laces my voice, and I realize that I'm taking my anger out on her when the person I'm really mad at is myself. I messed everything up. The whole situation just pisses me off.

"Corbyn," she sighs. "I don't think you and Jesse together is such a good idea. If your relationship gets too serious then it'll only hurt more when you have to break up," she says hesitantly, probably afraid that I'll blow up in her face. And I don't disappoint.

"NO! Jesse and I are in love, and just because you can't fucking see it, doesn't mean that it's not there. What the hell gives you the right to decide that your relationship has more of a right to last than mine? Huh?" I calm myself down slightly, but I just have so much anger inside. I can't help but sneer my last words. "It doesn't matter anyway, because Jesse and I will be together even if you and Joshua get married. You can't stop me from being with the one I love just because it makes things more convenient for you."

With that, I storm up the stairs and slam my door closed. Almost immediately I feel terrible for being so mean to her, especially since this whole thing between me and Jesse started out as a scheme to break up her and her boyfriend.

That thought causes me to pause. 'The whole thing between me and Jesse started out' that way. Now…well, now I like him more than I should, and apparently more than he thinks I should, too. Unless there's another explanation for everything that happened in his car. Unless there was an emotion behind his actions other than 'What the hell are you doing?' because that is exactly what it looked like to me.

The weird thing is, I could have sworn that Jesse wanted to kiss me when we were in the pond today. But if that were the case, he would have been a little more cooperative in his car, wouldn't he? Ugh, confusing guy.

In any case, I've finally discovered my feelings for Jesse, and I'm going to hate admitting to Jerrica just how right she was. About me anyway, not about Jesse. The sad thing is, it doesn't even matter. My feelings won't change anything, at least not in a positive way. I would have been better off not knowing.

I get up and head to the bathroom to brush my teeth, but stop when I hear something that sounds like crying. That can't be right.

I follow the sound right up to my mother's door and place my ear against it. Sure enough, I can hear her sobs through the wood. I'm struck with another heart clenching guilt trip, but I know that there's nothing I can say to her that would make anything better. At least not tonight. She's most likely drowning in misery at the knowledge that her relationship with Joshua will most likely fail. I'm such a terrible son. Even if she hasn't treated me like she should, hasn't shown me much love for the past two years, she doesn't deserve this.

Suddenly I know what I have to do. I have to make things right.


Hey! Here's another chapter. Lots of Corbyn/Jesse in it. ;) Anyway, what did you think? Did you like the date? Pretty please leave me a review and tell me! I love you guys so much!

Ps. Sorry if I got a few things wrong about the zoo. I haven't been in FOREVER, so I don't remember much. :P


Anonymous reviews:

Kenyora: AHAHA! Well, I can't have you slowly decompose and rot away, can I? :P So I guess I'll keep writing this story. You have no idea how happy your review made me :) Thanks so much!

lola: lol, sorry. I can't make them boyfriends quite yet. But I hope this chapter gave you a little feel for how a relationship between them would be. Except without all the hot scenes, if you know what I mean. You'll have to wait for all that. lol. Thank you so much for the review! :D

art monkey: Haha, I act like that too. Especially for scary movies when people walk backwards while being hunted and you're like "Don't do that, stupid! He's right behind you!" lol, or things like that. But I totally know what you mean. :P And yeah, Corbyn's clueless nature can be kind of cute, but I'm glad that he's finally starting to get over it. Anywho, thanks for reviewing!

Jazz: I try, I try. Haha, just kidding. Thanks so much, I hope you like this chapter!

K: Well, I hope the date lived up to your expectations :P Thanks so much for the review!

Bee: Aww, thanks! I'm so glad you like it. I was talking to another reviewer who said that she was addicted to it too, and we came up with the idea of starting a support group. lol. So, you can totally join if you want, haha. Thanks for reviewing! :D