*gasp* What's this? Another chapter of NoJo! It can't be! But alas, my sweet lil' smut-peddlers, it is. Enjoy, even though it's relatively smutless. I hope to keep up the momentum and deliver the chapters I've promised many of you. As always, review or receive spanks. But you'd probably like that, wouldn't you? You deviant little perverts. Much love!

"Joe, sweetie, are you awake?" Mom's lilting voice floats across the darkness.

"Yeah," I grunt. I've been awake for most of the night, mind racing and heart wilting with rejection.

"Oh, well, how are you feeling?"

I feel the bed shift, dipping down on the left as she sits down gently. I'm grateful for the black-out shades on my windows, otherwise Mom would see my face and know something's wrong. Without the ability to judge my features, I can fool her by tone alone and avoid an investigative interrogation. I don't have the strength for it right now.


"Did you want to stay home?"

The silence creeps in heavily, like oil clinging to fabric. I don't want to go to school, but even more so I don't want to hang around here all day wallowing in misery. School could be a distraction at least. "No, I'll go insane."

She chuckles lightly, brushing my hair from my eyes, even though she can't see the beloved baby-blues in the darkness. "Okay, but I don't want you driving, so I'll--,"

"Noah can take me," I pop up, the idea springing out almost instantaneously.

"Uh, okay. I'll ask him."

"No, Mom. It's okay. I'll ask him," I grasp her hand, shaking it lightly; "I'm the one who's begging a ride."

I hear her snicker, "This is true. I think he's still sleeping, so you can probably get a few extra minutes sleep."

"I'll do that."

Mom leans down, amazingly accurate in the dark, to kiss my forehead before shuffling off the bed and out the door. As soon as I hear the latch, I jump out of bed, hitting the nightstand with my knee, rattling its contents and my joint. I ignore the pain and limp to the bathroom door to find Noah's standing at the other end, bleary eyed and yawning.

"Jesus, are you okay?"

"Yeah, just ran into my nightstand."

"Okay." He yawns, jaw stretching wide as he turns back to his room.

"No?" I step into our bathroom.


"Mom doesn't want me to drive. Can you give me a ride today?" Another step closer, but he doesn't seem to notice, even when I come within touching distance.

Drooping against the doorjamb, his hazel eyes are blinking slowly while his brain wakes up, languidly closing for several moments, "Yeah, yeah. I can do that." Once again, he turns to his room but halts when I call his name again, light brown brows screwing together. "What?"

I grasp his neck, crashing our mouths together again and he shocks awake, roughly shoving me backward, "Goddamn it, Joe!" Before I can stop him, the door slams harshly in my face and I hear the tumblers lock into place.

"Noah, open the door," I plead, knocking gently with one hand, the other trying the knob to no avail. "Please, Noah."

But he doesn't answer, even though I know he can hear me.

Just silence, long oppressive silence. "Damn it, Noah. I'm not fucking with you, okay? I just didn't realize…" the words trail off into a frustrated grunt.

Realizing a fruitless venture when I see one, I trek back to my room, throwing the locks.

My closet is an avalanche of jeans, t-shirts, and a welter of other items collapsing on top of my head as soon as I open the door. Tossing off the initial cavalcade of cotton and denim, I wade into the articles searching idly for something to wear. Not a minute passes before there's pounding on the adjoining door.

"Joe! Open up, damn it!"

"Just se—Ah, crap." In my scramble, I trip over a random t-shirt. I manage to stay mostly upright, though end up slamming into more than reaching the bathroom access. The hard wood of a door and the frontal lobe do not a happy couple make, "Ow."

Rubbing the throbbing skin just above my left brow, attempting to soothe the pain where my head made contact, I unlock and open the door. Noah's hazel eyes are inexplicably cloudy and burning like coal, their usual light dampened somewhat.

"Hey, Noah."

"Didn't realize what?"

"Huh?" The question is strange. I feel like I should know the answer, as though it's perched precariously at the edge of my tongue, caught behind my teeth.

"You just didn't realize what?" His voice is low and deeply serious. My stepbrother wants nothing less than a straightforward answer; no bullshit, not that I want to give him a bullshit answer.

I should know this. I do know this, but the answer is…distant, just out of focus, like waking from a dream. The concept is there, fully formed and understandable, but for whatever reason I can't mold it into words or an explanation. Noah should realize what I need to tell him. I swear he's fucking psychic sometimes, but his trippy mind powers seemed to have checked out at the moment, or he's torturing me.

I would think my actions spoke loud enough to deafen us both, but perhaps he needs the expressions, the language, to give him proof, evidence. I want to, but it's clogging my throat, too thick and substantial to waste with words.

I reach out, fingertips threading through his unruly tresses still lightly tangled from his pillow. My hands wrap around the nape of his neck, the rise and bend filling the hollow of my palms, as though it were made for my touch. Noah's eyes darken, his brows tensing together but he doesn't pull away, even when I lean closer, brush our lips together, and then the words fall out, "Did you sleep with Nurse Andy?"

He draws back, eyes wide in disbelief.

Just had to fucking ask, didn't I? Goddamn it.

"Joe! Fuck, what the hell does it—-…you don't even know what you want. And even if you did…" There's a curious smirk on his lips, the lips he keeps refusing to yield to me. But there's no joy or mirth attached to it. It's the kind of smile you give when you can't think of what else to do, when you're at a loss.

Shaking his head, he turns away and strolls toward his room.

"Noah…" My voice sounds vacant, bouncing off the tile walls, knocking back into the small space separating us.

He spins around, throwing up his arms, "No, Joe. I don't know what this is, but I refuse to take part in it."

I charge forward, reaching out, but my fingers are painfully met by the wood of his door. I pull back, rigorously shaking my injured digits, willing the nerves to calm. "Noah?"

Dead silence.

"Noah?" Instinctually, I pound against the door. "Noah!" But he doesn't respond. I can't even hear him shuffling around on the other side.

The length of floor back to my room stretches out infinitely, becoming too much to traverse, but I do anyway. For a split second I consider staying home, but the moment passes and I know it doesn't matter whether I'm here or at school. Today is going to suck out loud, no matter where I'm located.

I don't spend the usual time getting ready, because frankly I don't give a shit. I feel like hell has slammed a battering ram up my ass, both physically and emotionally, and didn't even have the courtesy to use lube. Plus I'm not looking to impress anyone. Jeans and a basic black v-neck, checkered Converse shoes and I'm good. There's no noise coming from Noah's room when I slip back into the bathroom to brush my hair and teeth. The lack of sound makes me speed up my routine, though. Regardless of whether we're pissed at each other or…whatever, I still need a ride. Hopefully, he hasn't left yet.

I don't know what the fuck is wrong with me. Everything that happened yesterday seems unreal, lost to space and time. The incident, in retrospect, seems more like temporary insanity, a heated indefinable moment. Still, I want to try again and for an instant, at least, it appeared Noah did too. Then I had to open my big idiotic mouth and suck every ounce of intelligence from the room. But I need to know. Don't ask me why.

All I know is Noah and I are at odds and despite anything else, we need to fix it. I need to fix it.

Noah's at the breakfast table, reading the paper of all things and sipping at his coffee. His hazel eyes don't glance up, even when Mom greets me brightly, "How are you feeling?"

I shrug; gaze pinned to Noah's tensing form.

Mom's soft velvety touch sweeps down my neck, calling my attention, "Are you sure you want to go to school?"

Nodding absentmindedly, I assure her, finally pulling my eyes from the slender man at the table, "I'm fine, Mom…Promise."

She pouts sympathetic but says okay before strolling to the breakfast table with the coffee pot. Jim looks up smiling as Mom refills his mug, weathered hands rubbing her hip lovingly. "Thanks, babe."

"Sure," she chimes, bending down to kiss him. "Noah? You want a refill?"

Finally, my stepbrother graces us with his darkened hazels and smiles at her, "No, I'm fine. Thanks."Ever so briefly, his eyes dart to me, glaringly full of a confusing mix. Then he reabsorbs into whatever news article he's reading without skipping a beat.

I just stand there, unsure of what the hell to do. I'm not hungry and I don't drink coffee, but I can't let Noah out of my sight, in case he decides to ditch me. It's a highly unlikely event, but still…

Instead, I remember the glower I'd received just moments ago. Annoyance, irritation rang clear as bell in his hazel gaze, but there was something else. Confusion? Anger? Sadness? I have a sneaking suspicion all three are involved. It's just a matter of how much and in what order.

"We'd better get going." Noah's voice snaps me back to reality as he peeks at his watch, folding his paper and standing while draining the last of his mug. "You comin'?" He brushes past me quickly, grabbing his bag from the counter.

"Yeah," I answer distractedly. The next moment Mom's in my face, spraying it with kisses and handing me my bag. Fuck, it's heavy. The sudden weight makes my head spin and strains my shoulder.

"Have a good day, baby."

I chuckle mirthlessly, "Bye, Mom…Bye, Jim."My stepfather gives a simple salute and I head for the door, struggling to shoulder my bag.

Noah's beat-up Monte Carlo is idling in the driveway; his lengthy form slumped in the driver's seat in resignation. Elbow propped on the windowsill, a single finger from his left hand supporting his head, he watches with greenish eyes as I stroll to the car. The door wrenches open with a loud shrill, evidence of its disuse, and I slide in, gathering my bag in my lap.

I don't know why I thought he'd leave me here. Noah's not a dick.

"Um, thanks…for the ride."I can't quite meet his eyes, reduced to sidelong glances. This is fucking stupid, but stupid seems to be the only game in town at the moment.

He shifts into reverse, peeking over his shoulder but not at me, "Sure."

The school isn't far, maybe fifteen minutes in bad traffic (meaning more than three cars on the road) but it seems longer, because the gigantic ass next to me refuses to talk. It's pissing me off. A lot.

"Listen, Noah--,"

"Don't talk. I don't care. Whatever that was, it's over. Just let it go."He won't even look at me while trying to blow me off, the fucker.

"We need to--,"I start again, but he interjects harshly.

"No, we don't, Joe."The frustration is apparent, but at least he glares at me this time.

I stare at him, disbelieving his insistent denial. I'm pissed. Fuck this. I shift in the passenger seat, setting my eyes on the car in front of us as we roll into the parking lot, a rolling heat filling my lungs. "Fine, fuck it."

Noah scoffs but I ignore him, bounding out of the car as soon as it's in park. I don't glance back once, not over my shoulder or out the side of my eyes. Noah can go fuck himself…and Nurse Andy…or that fucking Snuggles Fabric Softener teddy bear for all I care. I just beeline it into the main hall, determined to hunker down in first period and sleep through the day, or at least whichever classes my teachers will let me.

"Joey!!"A high-pitched squeal issues beside me before I'm essentially clobbered into a locker. The noise and the sudden movement send the world spinning a bit and though my stomach's in turmoil. I remain sure-footed. It takes several moments to realize it's Candy, in her ankle-breaking heals and high-end cosmetics.

I grunt when her body connects with mine, "Ugh, careful."

She hardly notices, just continues in her ear-splitting child-like voice. "What happened to you this weekend? We were supposed to hang out."Her delicate mouth pouts, bottom lip punching out obscenely though her voice is anything but innocent.

"I, uh, hit my head; ended up in the hospital."

Candy steps back, finally freeing me, with (what I think is) a genuine gasp. "Oh, my god. Are you okay?"

I just chuckle lightly, "Well, yeah. I'm here, aren't I?"

"Oh, poor baby," she leans into me once again, stroking my hair with her manicured nails, the fingers of her free hand working the fabric of my shirt, bunching and stretching it, "What can I do?"

I gather her hand from my torso, kissing the palm causing her to swoon. Yeah, I'm pretty bad ass. "I'm fine, really. Don't worry."

"Oh, goody. How about tonight, then? Think you can make it up to me?"Her voice is almost indecent for public consumption, but I can't deny the thrill it gives me. The implied sentiment is shooting straight to my groin.

I wrap my arms around her, bringing us closer, her thigh slinking between my legs. Undeniably, my cock twitches. "I don't know. I'm not supposed to do anything…strenuous."

Her pout is enticing, makes me what to bite her lip. "Maybe I can come over and nurse you back to health."

Candy's slender thigh pushes further in, grazing my groin. Unfortunately, her word choice brings Andy Vail to mind and any potential hard-on is quickly defeated. Then, as if on cue, my gaze catches Noah stalking down the hall. His hazel eyes drink in the scene of Candy and I, nearly fondling each other. With a familiar eye roll and arrogant head-shake, he strolls on by without a word.

Suddenly reminded of my fury, I disentangle myself from the hot blonde covertly dry humping me with her forthright thigh. "Maybe when I'm feeling better, but not tonight."

When I see her face, drawn and slightly wounded, I feel like a jackass and bend to kiss her gently. I don't need another person pissed at me, especially one that could cure my current state of blue balls. She seems more hopeful after the affection, but still walks away a little deflated. Kind of like my dick. Fucking Nurse Andy, cock-blocking-son-of-a-bitch.

The first half of the day moves pretty fast, probably due to the fact that nearly every one of my teachers lets me sleep through class. Each simply woke me at the end, handing me notes of reading assignments or worksheets for homework. The only thing I stayed fully awake for was lunch: chicken tenders and tater tots. One of my favorites, but it's completely ruined when my wandering eyes focus on Noah across the cafeteria, surrounded by a large group, all clamoring in a chaotic cluster-fuck.

He's smiling and laughing with his artsy-freaktard friends, one of which is leaning so far into his personal space it look like the kid's trying to ride Noah's lap. But my stepbrother isn't stopping him.

The kid is lanky, way too lanky, like a walking skeleton. Though he's covered in layers, some sort of black-purple striped hoodie and a jacket, I swear I can see his bones sticking out, like a bird carcass stripped of meat. His whole look is affected, all emo-outcast-on-the-fringes mentality, from his anime hair cut complete with multi-colored panels to his ridiculous amount of jewelry. I swear there isn't an orifice or appendage that isn't adorned in silver or leather ornaments. I just assume it's to distract from the guy's face, a mask of road gravel covered in gravy.

They're pouring over what looks like a sketchpad, giggling and trailing fingers across it. Noah keeps pointing and touching the paper, his lips forming words I can't hear but obviously inciting spastic-like seizures out of this kid. His lean torso bends and he kind of sways, almost as if he's too weak to support the weight of it, clasping the sketchpad and attempting to take it from Noah's hands. Of course, my stepbrother doesn't let him, just grins while his mouth speaks out of earshot.

It's sickening how this kid is fawning over Noah. All the while, Noah is doing nothing to discourage it.

I'm not hungry anymore, opting to trash the rest of my food.

My head's beginning to hurt, building at break-neck speed. It's then I realize I haven't had any water today. I stop by the vending machine by the door to grab a couple bottles, passing Noah's table on the way out but I don't look. However, that doesn't save me from hearing the saccharine giggles echoing from emo-boy's throat.

"Stop making fun!"Emo-boy squeals, seriously squeals. Noah's voice is thick, slow honey by comparison.

"I'm not making fun. It's good. I just don't know why you picked me."

"Because you're hot!"

Noah just laughs at that, sending a glacial stab through my chest.

Head pounding and the contents of my stomach dangerously close to the top of my throat, I stalk out shoving a dose of Tylenol in my mouth with a chug of water. I down the two bottles in less than ten minutes, strolling around campus to burn time until English class. It doesn't take too long for others to start filing into the halls, so I head toward the second floor for my favorite class. Woo. That's sarcasm, by the way.

The only upside is Noah's in this class, granted only as a T.A. but still. In truth, I dread it as much as hope for it. I'm not expecting a big heart-to-heart or even a casual talk, especially since Noah's primary job is to file and grade papers and basically be Mrs. Turner's butt-monkey gopher, but maybe I can get Noah to actually look in my direction.

Shakespeare. Nothing against the guy, I suppose a lot of it is poetic in context, but I hardly understand what the hell people are saying in plain English, let alone iambic pentameter. Mrs. Turner, however, is in love with Bill Shakespeare and has gone on this tangent of 'exploring the many interpretations of Shakespearean language,' which equates to watching a shitload of movies. WOO! Not sarcasm, by the way.

I usually take these times to pelt Noah with spit-wads, until he glares at me or flips me the bird. Occasionally, he'll retaliate with staples, which actually hurt more than one would think (Especially when struck in the eye; Noah thought that was particularly funny), but somehow I didn't think that would fly today. I'd be lucky if I even got the standard Noah-hazel-glower.

Half an hour into class and he hasn't so much as glanced up from the book his nose is buried in, because of fucking course, he lucked out and doesn't have his usual butt-monkey gopher duties to perform. But God forbid he pay attention to me in any form.

Great, I'm pouting again. Ech.

I give up. My head is pounding and my chest burns like ice, so I simply collapse at my desk letting the sleep take me over.

My next class drags on and I jump at the bell, taking what feels like hours to realize what it meant. Finally, seeing fellow classmates gathering their books and papers, I understand that I'm free. Dragging to my feet, I shoulder my bag and exit the room, nearly colliding with a tiny freshman girl just outside the door. Grumbling an apology, I feel the daggers of her stare at my back but whatever, she's just a freshman.

Heading toward the gym, I'm the first in the locker room and the first one changed and on the field. It's a good thing though; I have to talk to coach.

He's standing on the sidelines, perusing a clipboard. Coach Niles looks at me from beneath his gray brows, age-worn face pinching together in contemplation, "How you feelin', Bates?"His watery blues cast downward once again.

"Good, Coach."

"Well, that's excellent," he comments without looking up, checking something off of his clipboard, "But until I get clearance from your doctor, you're on equipment."

"But, sir--,"

His weathered hand pops up into the air, halting me, "Equipment, Bates. And you can help the rookies with plays."

I know it's futile to argue. Truth is, my brain is grating against the walls of my skull causing the world to spin and twist my stomach, so physical exertion is probably not my friend at the moment. I resign to passing the time trying to teach the freshman and sophomores the best way to run interference, throw accurately and fight for the ball. It only aches a little bit that I'm not on the field right now.

In my absence, Josh Harper, Noah's secret cock-smoking buddy, is taking full advantage. He's screaming like a neutered gorilla cracked out on heroine. A couple of times I see him wrack a few helmets with his stick. I assume to assert his dominance. Harper should just pee on the field. It would probably involve less time and effort.

He's a fucking moron. I take great pleasure, a slow warmth replacing the icy cold in my chest, when Coach Niles rebukes him a couple of times, telling him to tuck his balls back into his sack or he's going to lose 'em. Serves Harper right.

Practice finishes without further incident and I gather everyone's equipment, checking it in and putting it away in the security closet before heading into the locker room. The crowd's already thinned by the time I make it to my locker, peeling off my jersey. While not slicked in sweat and dirt, but I still worked up a little perspiration. It's not enough to reek, so I forego the shower and start slipping back into my street clothes.

Lacing up my left shoe, the deafening silence is shattered by the unmistakable and resonating click of the large double doors. There's some shuffling a few rows over and I realize I'm not as alone as I thought.

A few seconds later Noah's distinctive voice drifts softly over the lockers, "I'm here. What'd you want, Josh?"

I still, to listen intently and keep my presence undiscovered.

"I didn't think you'd come."His voice is uneven, somewhere between elation and aggravation.

"I had band practice, plus I'm waiting for Joe. What do you want?"

"Have a nice lunch today, with your lap-warmer?" Josh asks, making no attempt to hide his irritation. I hate that I'm kind of in agreement with his sentiment. I reconsider my opinion of emo-lunch boy, but the very memory of his face and the intimacy between he and my stepbrother renews the glacial stab in my chest.

So, yeah, emo-boy sucks…Wait, I didn't mean---fuck, never mind.

I hear Noah sigh heavily, the same one he uses with me when he's had enough. "Is that what you wanted to talk to me about?"

The silence is riotous, humming against my ear drum, as I wait for Josh's response. I swear I can hear his feet shuffling, as though he's shifting nervously between them.

Finally, he answers in a voice that's meek and wholly uncharacteristic. "Did you tell…um, anyone about us? About what we…do?"

My stepbrother's obviously put out, his next words dripping with disdain, "What, that we fuck each other?"

I think Josh just gasped. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. Jackass. Noah can be pretty bad ass sometimes.

"No, I haven't told anyone."I can hear the eye-roll.

"Then what was Bates talking about last week?"Josh hisses through clenched teeth. I don't have to see him to know his jaw is bone-breaking tight.

I take a large amount of joy in his misery. Granted, my tirade last week had only been meant to fuck with his head, to get him out of No's face, but it's an even sweeter victory to know Josh is still freaked.

Ha-ha-ha-ha. Douche.

"He was just fucking with you, Josh. He didn't know anything."Noah sounds almost reassuring. It pisses me off. Harper doesn't deserve reassurance.

"Bates seemed pretty damn sure."

"Josh! He doesn't know, okay? Jesus, remove your tampon."

"Fuck you, Noah." Immediately there's some shuffling, like something fell to the floor but I can't see.

Then I hear Noah groan, "Whatever."

"Wait, No. Don't leave."Josh calls my stepbrother back, using my nickname for him. I know it's not original or unique. In fact, it's the natural one to use; just his name, shortened. Still, a fire blazes to life in my belly that Harper, robo-douche deluxe, has used it.

"What do you want, Josh?"

There's a sudden metallic rattle and I startle, nearly toppling over and screaming like a woman. I don't, because I have balls but it still scared the shit out of me. It isn't until two seconds later I realize that Josh must've pinned Noah to the lockers in some lame attempt at affection.

"Don't freakin' kis--Josh! Get the fuck off me!"I hear a solid thump, presumably from Noah's hands pushing an amorous neutered gorilla away.


"Because I'm seeing someone."

My heart stops. I know the next question and I know what Noah's answer will be, but still a seed of hope blossoms in my chest, like some fucking psycho-stalker fan-girl.

"Who? Fucking emo-boy?"

Okay, Josh and I think far too much alike for me to feel comfortable in my own brain. I need a lobotomy, or better yet give it to Harper.

"No, you don't know him."Noah's about two seconds from punching something or someone. I can hear his teeth grinding. My hope is beginning to wilt. God, I should just grow a fucking uterus.

"Who?"Josh insists, unaware or uncaring about the fire he's stoking. Moron.

"You don't--,"


"His name is Andy, you ass. You don't fucking know him, so fuck off."

Hope is now dead and I have a uterus. And I think I've gone up a cup size. Gross.

Noah's monstrous feet stomp toward the door, an echo of slamming metal in his wake as he storms through the doors. I hear Josh roughly shove items into his duffle, banging his locker shut before exiting the room. As soon as he's gone, my lungs shudder out a breath I didn't realize I'd been holding. Without hesitation, I finish dressing and packing the rest of my uniform to head for the parking lot.

Noah's sitting in the driver's seat, reading a book, when I make it to the car. His eyes simply scan the pages, even when I slide into the passenger seat. Without a word, Noah closes his book, setting it between us on the bench seat, House of Leaves, and then turns over the engine.

I cast sidelong glances, waiting for him to talk but he's silent as the grave. I must be hormonal, due to the new uterus because his calm is fucking irritating me. Somehow, I manage to speak without punching him in the face, "So you're just not talking to me, or is it to people in general?"

He smirks, like he just won a bet, "Did you have a good day?"His hazel eyes briefly meet mine full-on, the question asked in the most flippant tone.

"Oh, fuck you, Noah."

The smirk grows exponentially into a smile that nearly cracks his face. Shaking his head, he stares forward again, "Never gonna happen."

Defeated and pissed off, I fall silent, determined to beat him at his own game. But we both know Noah's the one in control here.

Fucking uterus. I think I have cramps.