Yes, I know. I should be updating my other stories, but I'm kinda blocked. Everything I write for any of my other boys seems to sound utterly ridiculous several minutes later. However, a new story popped up out of nowhere. Please enjoy, review and let me know if I should continue.

When our parents started dating halfway through our ninth grade year, you can imagine my enthusiasm. Insert sarcastic eye roll here. They'd met at some freaking PTA meeting or something, though how my mother knew about the damn meeting I have no idea, because God knows I didn't tell her. Apparently they'd hit it off and within weeks were acting like a couple of lovesick teenagers. It was pretty sickening. The last thing any kid wants to see is his mother receiving a tongue bath from the local grease monkey. Shudder.

Granted, I was happy for my mom, finding someone who treated her so well after the hellish divorce my asshole father put her through, but did it have to be Noah's dad? Yeah, he owned the most successful, locally owned, auto shop in town but still. Jim's a nice guy and we can talk cars but I have absolutely nothing in common with Noah. A fact made even more glaringly apparent during intimate 'family' dinners, which our parents forced on us, hoping we'd bond. But he's so far down the social ladder that he's in another time zone; along with all the other theatre freaks and show choir geeks. I mean he plays guitar and wails on the drums hardcore, which is cool, but I hardly hear anything other than emo-complaint rock emanating from the makeshift studio at the back of the house or echoing from his adjoining room. Gag. Though, I have heard the occasional Beatles song or Metallica riff, but it always seems short lived.

Yeah, we all live together. After a year, Jim popped the question to my incredibly elated mother, surprising her with a huge-ass diamond and a sizeable house. I about crapped myself when I found out we were moving, not far but moving nonetheless. I know it was necessary, because otherwise Noah and I would've ended up sharing a room, which I think I can safely say neither of us wanted; because neither of our houses were big enough. We do have to share the bathroom that connects our rooms, but here it is six months later and so far so good. Hell, I've even come to like having Noah around, though I'll never admit it out loud. He's a good musician, even if his taste in music sucks, plus he's kind of funny, in a world of indignation George Carlin kind of way, and there's the added benefit of a live-in tutor, because school is not my forte, but that's at home.

At school, we don't really interact. Everyone knows we're stepbrothers and I caught some shit at first from my meathead friends, especially when we first moved in together, but it's cooled down now. Still every once in awhile, one of the stupid assholes makes some asinine comment about dropping the soap in the showers after lacrosse practice or rubbing against fellow players in the huddle, but I usually shut it down either with my mouth or my fist, depending on who it is. It's the main reason I don't really talk to Noah unless necessary, which pisses my mom off something fierce. Jim doesn't seem to care one way or the other, though he does back Mom up when she glares at him with her big blue eyes; but Noah doesn't go out of his way to talk to me either. We're just two guys in different social circles who happen to live in the same house.

Still, I don't like seeing Noah being hassled and I've taken to kind of watching his back, whether he realizes it or not. He's a good kid, boring and weird, but good.

"Let him go, Josh," I call after my teammate, his hands fisted into Noah's black over-shirt.

"Stay out of it, master-Bates," my teammate sneers over his shoulder.

"You look ridiculous, man." The statement caught his attention though his eyes remained pinned on Noah, fists holding my stepbrother to the wall. Noah doesn't really look that intimidated though. "Beating up the queer just for being queer doesn't make you look macho, dude. It's kind of like beating up a chick."

"Fuck you, Joe," Noah spits out, eyes tearing away from Josh for the first time, a fiery glint in his hazel gaze.

"Shut up, Noah. I'm helping," I retort to my helpless stepbrother. Okay, he's not really helpless. Noah's just mellow. He'd much rather just take the hits and move on than deal with the drama of an all-out brawl.

Hell, at 6'0" even, he's taller than me but only by an inch, with a solid frame, not muscle but not really fat either. It wouldn't take much to shape him up, but that would mean he'd have to give up the Ding-Dongs and guitar for exercise and protein shakes. That's not going to happen. I am sort of jealous though, because the kid eats more junk than a goat, but still manages to remain relatively trim. I work out like a motherfucker and if I drink more than three beers I end up in a higher weight class, hence the 'no-party' rule during wrestling season.

Noah just scoffs and rolls his eyes at me, sinking back against the wall, obviously not unsettled at all by Josh's threatening grip. It's rather amusing to see my teammate, in all his 5'9" steroid-enhanced glory, pressing Noah into the lockers. The brunette doesn't even seem worried, more bored than anything else. Josh pipes up, "Yeah, fuck off, Joe."

"C'mon man," I say, placing a hand on my teammate's shoulder, "You don't want to do this. It's not going to help any. In fact, it's probably only going to hurt you rep, man."

Josh's head whips around, "What are you talking about, Bates?"

"Think about it. Hassling the queer for being queer doesn't make you necessarily look less queer by comparison. In fact, it may cause people to think you're secretly queer, acting out against that which you can't admit to yourself." I'm fucking with him now, but Josh is a moron. Insert evil laugh here. I mean a real Grade-A, wears-Velcro-straps-because-shoelaces-confuse-and-anger-him idiot. It's a wonder he's actually about to graduate, though he did have to repeat his freshman year. Laugh derisively.

Noah grunts disapprovingly, "You wanna say queer one more time, Joe. I don't think they heard you in ancient Persia."

"Shh," I shush him, before pointing to myself, "Helping." He rolls his eyes again, head collapsing back against the lockers with a resonating thud.

"Nobody thinks that," Josh says, genuine fear in his darting eyes, surveying the surrounding crowd.

I exaggerate a doubting hiss, "I don't know, man. I bet if you asked any random ten people in this hallway, at least seven of them would speculate that's the reason you insist on harassing poor, defenseless Noah." My stepbrother's eyes shoot daggers in my direction.

Josh's face falls, his sneer disappearing as his hands loose Noah's wrinkled shirt. The caveman stalks off, head low without another word. With the potential for a public beating now gone, the crowd quickly disperses. Noah's wavy light brown hair falls into his face, the band which usually holds it broken somewhere on the floor. He bends down to pick up his discarded bag, shouldering it as he stands again.

Hazel eyes connect with my light blues, "Thanks..."

"No problem—," I begin but his deeper tone cuts me off.

"I didn't think anyone could make Josh more of a paranoid homophobic, but you've managed it beautifully," his voice tremors with sarcasm while his fingers form the universal sign for 'ok.'

I'm a little put off. I mean I just saved his ass and this is the thanks I get, "Aw, man. Don't worry about it. He's not going to touch you again."

Noah gives me a look like I just dropkicked a seven year old, "Yeah, that's the problem." He pushes past me, headed toward the exit.

"What?" I say turning around, utterly confused when it dawns on me. I jog to catch up, "No fucking way." I can't help the laugh that follows.

His eyes burn into me, demanding I shut up. Of course I don't, "Since when?"

"Joe…" His voice is tired, annoyed.

"C'mon, since when?"

He sighs, running a hand through his waves, pulling them out of his face, "Ninth."

"OH!" I start laughing into my hand, utterly amazed that Josh, resident badass, is a cock-smoker. I can see Noah crack the tiniest grin, in spite of himself. "Really?"

"Man's got a mouth like a Hoover," Noah smirks, unlocking his car and sliding inside.

"Aww, dude, that's an over-share." I can't help the shudder. I do not like the image of Josh attached to Noah's groin. Cringe.

"Hey, you asked," he's obviously amused, turning over the engine of his beat-up Monte Carlo.

"Just for confirmation, not details," I move to close his door for him when I suddenly remember, "Hey, can you tell Mom I've got a late practice tonight. I don't know if I told her." I know I hadn't, because I didn't have a late practice but rather an…anatomy lesson with Candice Burke. My mom does not like Candy, as a person or snack-food.

Noah rolls his eyes in familiar fashion, "No, you don't. I heard Candice tittering on about your date. I'm not lying so you can pork the homecoming queen."

"Tittering? Really, that's the best word you could pick?"

Noah's hazel orbs just glare at me. After a few moments I break the silence begging, "C'mon, dude. I'll owe you a solid. Truly."

He just huffs an indignant sigh, "Fine, but don't ask me to cover for you when you start pissing razorblades and need to visit the free clinic, because you contracted gonorrhea."

See, told you, he's kind of funny. "Are you speaking from personal experience? Do we need to hold a seminar at home about safe sex?"

He ripped the driver's side door from my hand, slamming it shut with a hardened defiant stare but also the tiniest smirk, "Dick."

"I'm sure your dad wouldn't mind gathering some pamphlets! I know Mom will buy you condoms!" I call after him as he speeds away, knowing he hears me through his open window. Also because he flips me off before turning out onto the main street.