I found Ivan sprawled out on my bed, on his back. He was too tall for it – so was I, actually – and his long legs – black Air Forces still on – dangled over the edge, skimming the laminated wooden floor. His eyelids were closed, and his left hand rested casually on his abdomen. The elbow on his right arm was bent, extending from under his head, as he rested it on his palm. His chest rose and fell rhythmically in slow, even breaths.

I ran my towel through my wet hair briefly – and then tossed it at him.

He flinched as it landed square on his face.

I snickered through my nose.

It was a good thing I'd dried off and put my boxers on in the bathroom or I'd have walked into my room stark naked, like I usually did. He'd probably already seen me naked in the locker room showers at school, but that was school, we had to get naked in front of each other there. It was only mildly embarrassing at school.

Naked in my room, alone with him, it would just be awkward. In fact, it still felt kind of awkward only being in my underwear. I quickly shuffled through my drawer for some pants.

He pulled the damp towel off his face and sluggishly tossed it back at me. "Finally," he mumbled through a yawn, sitting up and stretching out his long limbs. "Jesus, Cam, what are you, a girl? Why does it take you half a fucking hour to shower?"

I threw the towel back at him and he dodged it. "What, you want a play by play of my shower routine or something?" I teased with a smirk. "Want a little new material for your jerk off sessions?"

The tips of his ears turned pink, and then the color gradually diffused to his face and neck. He turned away from me with a frown, suddenly seeming really interested in the potted plant my mom insisted I keep on my window ledge.

I felt a little bad. I mean, I didn't mean to embarrass him. But then again, I felt a little surprised. Ivan rarely blushed.

It also kind of increased that awkward feeling, and I hurriedly pulled on my jeans.

There was a long – awkward – silence, before he stood up from my bed and stretched again. I busied myself with my t shirt drawer, rifling through it unnecessarily, avoiding having to look at him.

He cleared his throat before saying in a low, gruff voice, "I'm giving you ten minutes tops. If you're not ready by then I'm leaving without you."

I saluted him with my index and middle finger – still not looking at him – as he walked out of my room, closing the door softly.


You see, Ivan's my best friend.

Ivan's also openly gay.

No, I'm not a girl.

And no – I'm not gay too.

Ivan James and I have been best friends since Elementary school.

I moved to Beaumont, California, from Connecticut, at the beginning of third grade. Unfortunately for me, Lucas Cunningham, self professed school bully, decided he didn't like me, 'cause I looked like a girl', as he had so eloquently stated, and so he picked on me.

Honestly, I did look like a girl. My dirty blond hair was practically golden back then, and longish, falling in loose waves down to my shoulders. I had – and still do have – lips that were too full, and way too red for a guy, and well, girls always tell me they wish they had my eyelashes. Apparently, I don't need mascara.

Having a unisex name like, Cameron, probably didn't help either.

So back then I had an androgynous look, and that must have annoyed ole' Luke, because he dedicated his time to making my first few weeks in Beaumont a living nightmare. I kept my mouth shut about the bullying though, because, well, I thought he'd get bored of me after a while. I figured I'd just ride it out and take it until that happened.

Although… Lucas threatening to stab me in the eye with a pencil, if I told anyone, might have been another reason.

I'd noticed Ivan almost immediately after I walked into the classroom on my first day.

He was one of those kids that you just couldn't help noticing. He was tall, even back in third grade he was taller than most of the class, and his hair was coal black – or maybe it was a really, really dark brown – but it looked black, and it hung in shiny curls that were constantly falling over his forehead, and that he'd always toss away or push back when they did.

His hair might not have been a big deal, however, if his eyes weren't the lightest, clearest, most startling shade of grey I'd ever seen in my life. They reminded me of the moon, two little full moons shining out of his eye sockets. Maybe it was the contrast of his dark hair and his olive skin tone that made his eyes stand out so much, but fuck me, they were striking.

He was popular, unsurprisingly, and I'd watch him in the playground from afar, wistfully and in awe, as flocks of girls and guys followed him around and hung on to his every word. I remember wanting to follow him too, but I was painfully shy, and honestly, he was a little intimidating to me. He was always so calm and cool, he was smart, and he was charming and funny too. He exuded confidence, even only in third grade. I mean, you could tell that he was confident just by the way he walked.

I wanted to be friends with him, but I also wanted to be like him, and I guess I wasn't the only one, seeing as I noticed a lot of other guys in class mimicking his mannerisms, but I was small for my age back then, I still hadn't lost my baby fat in my cheeks and my stomach, and I looked like a chick. I thought he was way out of my league so I didn't even attempt to make friends with him.

He didn't really pay much attention to me during my first few weeks at school. Heck, nobody – apart from Lucas – did. I was just, "that quiet new kid from Connecticut. I think he's a boy."

On my first day at school, when I'd stood up in front of the class to be introduced, I noticed him staring at me with those sharp eyes of his. He'd gazed at me long and hard, appraising me from head to toe in a way that made my already rosy cheeks burn scarlet, and then he looked away from me, like he wasn't interested in me anymore, like he'd sized me up and decided I wasn't worthy enough to be friends with him.

I never noticed him looking at me again after that.

So Ivan pretty much ignored me at first – that is, until the day he ended up rescuing me.

And when I say rescue, I'm not exaggerating. Lucas Cunningham was a sick, sadistic little fucker back then. Picking on me at school probably wasn't enough for him anymore, so he followed me as I walked home one Friday afternoon, jumped me, knocking me head first into the sidewalk, and then kicked me repeatedly in the stomach. I think he must have even knocked me out because the next thing I knew, Ivan was crouched over me, shaking me gently, and Lucas was gone.

"Hey, Cam, you ok?" he'd asked me softly, and I remember being confused as hell, wondering who the heck 'Cam' was, because no one had ever called me that before. It was always just, 'Cameron'. I was also confused because, well, I didn't actually remember my name for a while after I got knocked out. Turned out ole' Luke had given me a concussion.

Ivan walked me home, my arm hung limply around his shoulder as he practically dragged me, because I was so dizzy I could barely walk. We even had to stop once so I could throw up all over someone's neatly trimmed hedges. When he'd gotten me home, I remember lying on the couch in the living room with one eye cracked open, watching him in admiration as he explained what had happened to me to my mom. He even knew what a concussion was back then, and told my mom he thought I had one.

Lucas Cunningham had gotten expelled from Beaumont Elementary for what he did to me, because I ended up in hospital for three days. My stomach was all bruised up where he'd kicked me, and there was a huge bump on my forehead where I'd hit it on the sidewalk. It was probably thanks to Ivan that Lucas had gotten expelled, because the fucker tried to deny the fact that he had anything to do with putting me in hospital. Ivan had backed up my story.

But that wasn't all Ivan had done.

Lucas Cunningham was seen sporting a nasty looking shiner for days after he'd kicked the shit out of me. He refused to tell anyone how he'd gotten it.

I know Ivan had given him that shiner.

He never confessed to it, even years later when I asked him about it, but I vaguely remember the way he kept flexing his fingers while he'd half dragged me home. Then, when I went back to school a week after the incident and he asked me to sit next to him in class, I caught a glimpse of fading purple bruises on his knuckles. He'd tried to hide it from me when he caught me gawping, quickly shoving his hand under the table, but he was too late.

The gratitude, the admiration, the respect I felt for him after seeing those bruises on his knuckles – bruises he'd gotten because of me, for me even, only intensified.

After the incident, when I went back to school, he asked me to partner up with him for assignments, he sat next to me in class, he hung out with me in the playground, we walked home together after school – turned out he only lived a couple blocks away from me – and on weekends he'd stay over at my house, or I'd stay over at his.

We basically became inseparable.


There was a party tonight at Lucas Cunningham's house. We weren't friends with him or anything, and he'd stayed away from me after the incident in third grade, but it was one of those parties that anyone and everyone went to. Invites weren't necessary. I wasn't really into parties, but Ivan was, and because he was my best friend – and now my ride, seeing as I'd totaled my 2005 Honda Civic a couple of months back and couldn't afford a new car – he always dragged me along too.

I made it downstairs exactly eleven minutes later, just to piss him off.

And boy, he looked pissed alright.

He was sitting in the recliner in the living room with the TV on, except he obviously wasn't watching it. Instead, his feet were up on the coffee table, and his hand was up by his face, absently stroking his left eyebrow with his index finger.

He only did that when he was mad or upset about something.

I frowned as I approached him – with caution. He could be a dick when he was pissed about something and I wasn't in the mood for that shit. "What's up?"

He shook his head, a curl falling over his furrowed brow, and stood up from the recliner. "Nothing." The muscle in his jaw twitched. "You ready?"

"Um, yeah. Let's go."

He was having these sudden mood swings quite often these days, I noticed, and maybe I was the cause of them.

Did I do or say something to piss him off? I didn't think I did.

He was silent as we drove to the party, turning the music up loud so I couldn't make conversation. See? A fucking asshole when he's pissed. After a long, uncomfortable moment of tense silence, I turned down the music and glanced at him from the corner of my eye. His scowl deepened, his dark eyebrows almost knitting together, but he kept his eyes on the road – ignoring me.

"Did I do something to piss you off, man?" I asked. "I mean, shit, sorry I took like, an extra minute to come downstairs, I didn't think it was a big deal –"

"It's nothing to do with that," he snapped, interrupting me. "Seriously, Cam, you honestly think I'm pissed off 'cause you took eleven minutes to get ready?" His voice was incredulous. "Are you fucking kidding me?"

Ok, so at least I knew it was definitely something I did. I thought back to the past half an hour, thinking about what the hell I did or said that could have riled him up. Throwing my towel at him? No, he was fine with that. He threw it back. Waking him up? No, he hadn't even meant to fall asleep…

Then it hit me.

And I felt like a fucking idiot for not knowing. He'd gotten all pissy after I made that comment. That comment about him needing new material for his jerk off sessions…

"Shit." I sighed. "I was fucking with you, man. You're not mad at me 'cause of that are you?"

He scowled, his grip on the steering wheel tightening. He knew what I was talking about alright. Trouble is, I didn't get why that comment had made him mad. I mean, guys at school were always saying shit like that to him. It didn't usually bother him.

It was in the last semester of freshman year that Ivan decided to come out of the metaphorical closet. In true Ivan fashion, he was so fucking cool and confident about it that most people couldn't help but be cool about it too. Don't get me wrong, people were shocked as hell that he was gay, because Ivan was probably one of the most masculine guys you could ever meet, and though he never really dated much, most people just figured that was because he was picky or something.

His 'coming out' didn't diminish his popularity at all. In fact, if anything, it made him more popular, because people were so impressed that he was so 'brave' to come out in high school, and in freshman year for that matter. I had to agree with that; the guy had balls.

Of course, seventy five per cent of the female population of Beaumont high was disappointed with the news. Ivan's good looks had only enhanced with age, and girls were crazy for him, but he'd never even had a girlfriend. There was speculation over why that was, but no one had ever even entertained the idea that it could be because he wasn't into chicks. Like I said, most people just thought he was picky.

The girls got over it quickly though, because now that they knew he wasn't into them they weren't intimidated by him anymore. They could be friends with him. They probably thought he could be the 'gay best friend' that they all seemed to want. Except Ivan was nothing like the 'gay best friend' types you see in chick flicks, so again, they were sorely disappointed.

The guys were a little more weirded out over Ivan's coming out, naturally, but they too got over it after they realized that Ivan was still Ivan regardless of his sexuality. Well, most of them did anyway. There were a few homophobes who wouldn't come near Ivan – or me for that matter – after Ivan came out. But to be honest, in general I think guys were secretly thrilled with the news, because if Ivan was gay, he was no longer competition. And Ivan had been fucking stiff competition despite the fact that he barely even dated, because if a girl was into Ivan James you should probably forget about trying to date her.

Other guys – guys who were still hiding in the metaphorical closet, and guys who were glaringly gay and open about it, were also secretly thrilled…

I didn't have a problem with him being gay. He told me first, even before he told his family, a few months before he officially came out, so I'd gotten over the initial shock of it months before everyone else. He was still the same Ivan, my best friend, and he turning out to be gay didn't change that.

The only thing that bothered me a little, was the fact that people began to think I was gay too, and that Ivan and I were a couple.

Getting accused of being gay when you're not is pretty annoying, not to mention the fact that it really fucks up your chances with the girls, because seriously, what girl would want to date me if they thought I was actually into guys?

But Ivan, like the best friend he was, managed to dispel that rumor; and the question of my sexuality was rectified – except for the occasional jokes and comments – mainly by girls – about how Ivan and I would make a cute couple. To be honest, and without sounding conceited or whatever, I had to admit it was true. Ivan was tall – about 6'4 – and he was lean and muscular. I was tall too, though shorter than him at 6'2, and I was a little more muscular than him seeing as I was on the football team. And with Ivan's exotic good looks, and my All-American pretty boy good looks, we'd make one fucking hot couple.

If I happened to be gay that was…

And I wasn't.


Ivan still wasn't talking to me when we arrived at Cunningham's party, and I thought that was pretty fucked up of him because I hadn't even really wanted to come in the first place. He was the one that fucking talked me into it, and now that he wasn't talking to me I'd have to find my own entertainment for the night – meaning I'd have to hang out with, and talk to people I didn't feel like talking to.

He tossed me his car keys, and without even looking at me, muttered, "Look for me whenever you're ready to go," before sauntering off into the large house and disappearing out of sight.

I was always the designated driver after a party, even though it wasn't my car, because I didn't drink much. Football was going to be my meal ticket into college and I didn't want to mess that up by fucking up my body with alcohol and drugs.

Ivan on the other hand, wasn't into organized sports and had filthy rich grandparents who were gonna pay his way into college. He usually got shitfaced drunk whenever we went to a party, and if someone was passing a joint around he'd never refuse a hit. He smoked a pack of Malboro Red's a day, and did a few lines of coke every once in a while. I didn't like it, but what the fuck could I do about it, apart from tell him how bad all that shit was for his body? Besides, he already knew that anyway. He just did what the hell he wanted, whenever he wanted.

I sighed wearily, and contemplated sitting in his car for the whole night. I really didn't feel like partying tonight.

And then I had a better idea.

I pulled out my cell and texted him:

'Not in a partying mood. Gna take ur car with me bck 2 my place. Is that ok? I'll come bck to pick u up l8r. Cam.'

He responded with:


So, I got in his car and drove home.


About four hours later, my alarm woke me up.

I checked the time: 3:30AM.

I hadn't meant to fall asleep, but I knew I probably would, so I had set my alarm. I needed the alarm 'cause when I fall asleep I'm practically dead to the world. An earthquake could be ripping my house in half and I'd probably snore right through it. And if I fell asleep there's no way I'd hear my cell ringing even if Ivan tried to call – and he'd probably be too drunk to call – so he'd be without a way to get home. Someone would offer him a ride anyway, if that happened, but still, I'd feel bad about it.

I got off my bed stiffly, and stretched, finding myself still fully clothed. I'd fallen asleep on top of the comforter while listening to my iPod.

I went into the bathroom to take a piss and freshen up a little, brushing my teeth and splashing my face with cold water, before running my fingers through my hair a little. Then I threw on a hoody over my long sleeved t shirt, put on my Nikes and grabbed Ivan's car keys. He'd stay at mine if he turned out to be too drunk to go home – and he usually was.

I pulled up to Cunningham's house again.

The party still seemed to be in full swing, which was fucking perfect. Not. I didn't have the energy to make small talk with intoxicated people from school while searching for Ivan. And in this huge house it was gonna take me a while to find him. I tried calling him, but of course, he wasn't answering his cell.

"Fuck," I muttered, as I walked through the front door.

To try to make myself less noticeable, I slipped on my hood and kept my head down. It seemed to work. I checked every room on the ground floor where the party was based. Ivan wasn't in any of them, so I darted up the stairs to the second floor. I hated doing this, because upstairs was where the bedrooms and bathrooms were located, and at a high school free-for-all party with drugs and booze and horny teenagers – well, you can guess what kind of things went down in those two rooms.

The first door I came to was slightly open, and with the noises coming from behind it, I certainly didn't need to look in there to see what was going on. Next door was locked, so I doubt anyone was in there. Third door was a small bathroom, and when I poked my head through the half opened door, I found a guy slumped against the bathtub, passed out, one sleeve of his shirt rolled up to his bicep, a needle on the floor next to his limp hand.


I shook my head as I took in the sight. This was why I hated parties and drugs and all of that shit. I really hoped Ivan hadn't done heroine before, but knowing him, it was likely that he had. The thought of him doing that to himself made me feel physically sick. But Ivan had issues – stuff he didn't ever talk about, but I knew anyway because I could see them for myself, and that was no excuse for his drug use or alcohol abuse, I know, but I sort of understood why he did it. I guess it helped him escape it all for a while.

The rest of the rooms were empty, thankfully, so I made my way up the stairs to the third floor –

And stopped dead.

Ivan was gay, and I knew that. It didn't bother me in the slightest. I also sort of knew that he'd been with guys, even though he didn't ever tell me that he had, even though I'd never seen him with guys, and that didn't bother me either.

So I didn't understand why… why this bothered me.

Ivan was at the end of the hall, his back pressed against the wall, some guy pressed against him via his mouth. They were kissing, though, honestly, kissing isn't the best description. Tongue fucking would be more apt to describe what they were doing.

And that wasn't all they were doing.

My eyes were drawn to some movement going on below their waist, and I glanced down – to find Ivan's jeans halfway down his long legs. He hardly ever wore underwear under his jeans, I knew, and I guess that was the case now because there wasn't a trace of any.

The guy – who I could only see the back of – had his hand furiously pumping between both of their bodies.

And Ivan was groaning, and –

Holy fuck.

I turned away from them, dashing back down the stairs to the first floor, where I leaned heavily against the wall.

What the fuck was wrong with me?

Why did seeing that shock me so much? Why did I feel fucking… mad about it?

And mad wasn't all I felt.

I was breathing fast, I knew, and it wasn't only because I'd just run down one flight of stairs.

I looked down at myself, at my crotch, at the outline of my cock, straining against the denim.

I was hard. Like, really fucking hard, and the only images running through my mind, over and over, were Ivan's jeans down around his knees, Ivan's hips thrusting into that guy's hand – the small glimpses of Ivan's dick I'd caught. And all I could think about was the fact that he was kissing the guy too, and he was groaning, and –

And how I wanted to kiss him like that, how I wanted to be the one who made him groan like that.