A.N.: A story full of cliche written for some contest quite some time back, for your enjoyment (I hope).
WARNING: This is GBLT/LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) themed fiction.
Betaed by lovely diluain, go check her stories. Now. *whispers* You won't be sorry.
Make me believe
Casper Jones, looking straight ahead, ran between a wide brown building on one side and a large empty parking lot, which was always packed on school days. His high school, a place packed with many memories, good and bad.
He turned the corner, his feet carrying him toward the playground - the silent witnesses of his worst moment in his life when he had lost his best friend.
How can you even say that to me? You are disgusting.
Casper shook his head to get rid of the unpleasant images and set his iPod louder. There was no point in remembering the things that happened more than four years ago.
He glanced at the men playing basketball, appreciated the toned chests and muscles that flexed under the hot summer sun. His eyes slid over the brunette with long hair tied in a low ponytail who had just scored and was now high-fiving his teammates.
Joshua! Casper's body froze for a moment before he picked up his pace. Damn it. Damn it. The last he had heard of Joshua, he was doing very well at collage and had just gotten a great offer to work in some well-known computer firm as an apprentice. That news, which explained Joshua's absence in their little town, was the reason why Casper had come home when his father asked him to come take care of him so that Aunt Liza, who usually watched over him, could take a breather, even though he could have stayed in New York and gotten some dancing gig,
He heard somebody calling his name; he looked left at the court, seeing Joshua coming to the chain link fence that framed the playground, calling him and waving at him. He turned ahead; ignoring the calls, he stubbornly continued his run. A sigh of relief left him as he came to the end of the playground and turned right, toward him home.
The distance that would normally take him fifteen minutes, he had done in seven.
Damn it. He wasn't ready to see Joshua again.
Casper slammed the entrance door behind him and slid down to the floor. He wrapped his arms around his knees.
Joshua Warren, not the most popular guy at their school, but the funniest and the kindest one. His best friend until Casper had told him how he felt, on the playground, just a day before graduation.
"Casper, is that you?"
"Yeah." Casper stood up and peeked into the living room where his dad turned his wheel chair toward the sliding door, a book face down on his lap. "Just came back." He leaned on the doorframe. "I'll take a quick shower and then we can watch that movie together."
"That's sounds fine." Casper's father rolled his chair forward. "Do you want something to eat?"
"Popcorn would be great."
"Okay." Casper's father nodded before he wheeled into the kitchen that was separated from the living room by a long counter.
Casper went upstairs, took a shower and then returned downstairs to the living room. His father had already put a big bowl of popcorn on the table, set the DVD player and moved to the couch.
Casper threw himself beside his father and as the film started to play, he tried not to occupy himself with the things he thought he already buried in the past, but seeing Joshua again, even if it was just for a moment, had brought up the forgotten pain. He closed his eyes for a moment, exhaling a long breath.
"What is it?" his father asked.
"Nothing." Casper said and grabbed a handful of popcorn.
The doorbell rang.
"I'll get it." Casper stood up and stuffed the popcorn into his mouth as he went toward the door. It was the probably the old man three houses down, who came to visit every time he felt lonely and that was quite a lot; four times since Casper had arrived a week ago. But Casper's father hadn't minded the company and neither had Casper, and besides, Richard was fun. He opened the door and not even looking to see who it was he waved to the man to come in, mumbling over the food in his mouth. "Hey, Richard, maybe we should give you a spare key."
That isn't Richard's voice. Casper looked up, his eyes met cobalt blue irises, deep as the ocean, with baby blue diamonds glistening in them. He frowned, his heart skipping a beat. Joshua. "What are you doing here?" He hadn't intended to say that, but it just slipped from his mouth.
"Is that the way to greet your best friend?" Joshua smiled.
"Former best friend." Casper scrutinized the face with that charming smile he used to know so well, and he resented the fact that it still managed to accelerate his heart beat. His gaze slid over wet hair, a headband holding it away from his square face, and the red T-shirt and sweatpants, which looked damp wherever it touched the skin. He licked his lips, determined to get rid of Joshua as soon as possible. "What do you want?"
"Could we talk?"
"Talk. And make it quick, I'm in the middle of something."
"Casper, who is it?" Father yelled from the living room.
"Nobody," Casper yelled back.
"Mr. Jones, it's just me, Joshua."
"Oh, Joshua. Come in. Come in. Casper, why don't you invite him to join us?"
"Because he's leaving." Casper half-closed the door, so that Joshua couldn't get in, at least not without using force.
"No, I'm not," Joshua said.
"Oh, yes, you are." Casper narrowed his eyes at the brunet. "Now, if you want to talk, talk."
"You are not going to cut me any slack?"
"Why should I? And what are you even doing here? Didn't you find me disgusting?"
Redness covered Joshua's cheeks. "About that... That's why I came over. I'm sorry." He shuffled his feet, looking at the wooden floor of the porch. "I didn't mean it that way. I always wanted to tell you that, but you left town so quickly..."
"Then how did you mean it?"
"I was just surprised and... you know that at that time my parents were going through their religious phase, and how they dragged me to church and filled my head with all those prejudices; I think some of them rubbed off on me."
Casper rolled his eyes. He knew how extreme Joshua's parents were; every year they obsessed about something, devoting all their free time and resources to it. One year they were into Yoga, another it was climbing, then martial arts or painting. The year of Casper and Joshua's graduation, they had been into Christianity. But Joshua never took them seriously, he actually found that amusing and always made jokes about how they did everything wholeheartedly, but not wholeheartedly enough to stick to it more than a year.
"Actually I'm not interested in your excuses. You said what you said, and if you didn't mean it, you could have apologized before, not four years later. But thank you for stopping by anyway." He didn't wait on Joshua's reply, but shut the door in his face. A sour smile curved his lips for a second before he returned into the living room, hoping that this was the last he would see of Joshua.
Casper had known that he would run into Joshua sooner or later, but what he hadn't counted on, was Joshua waiting before his door every evening just when he was about to go on his daily jog. Even when he switched from evening to the morning, that only gave him two days of peace before Joshua was on his heels again, running beside him, trying to get past the music in Casper's ears.
After two weeks Casper had had enough. He stood on the porch, glaring at the brunet who leaned on the mailbox beside the short path that led to the house.
In the past he had always hoped that Joshua would try to seek him out and patch their friendship, but time passed by and there was nothing from Joshua. He started to think that maybe he was as disgusting as Joshua had said, and an idiot, because who else would tell his best friend that even though he didn't expect anything from him, he just thought Joshua should know that he had been in love in him for the past three years? It was so stupid and naive, and he needed a more than two years and the support of his friends to stop beating himself up over it .
Casper sighed and hung the headphones he was about to put in his ears around his neck. He went toward Joshua, annoyed that, even though he didn't want to, he was about to forgive the bastard just to get him off his back. He rubbed his forehead. Yes, he liked the idea that Joshua wanted his forgiveness, but it was too late, and also, since he was still attracted to Joshua –and hated that – Joshua had better not count on them hanging together. "Okay, you won. I forgive you. Are happy now?"
"Good." Casper put his headphones into ears, turned his iPod on and started to run.
Joshua followed him.
Casper frowned, but he didn't stop. He continued running his usual path, ignoring the nuisance behind him – well, that is, until he ended up back home and Joshua wanted to come into the house with him.
"What the hell are you doing?"
"Aren't you going to invite me in?"
"Why should I?"
"Because we have a lot of catching up to do," Joshua said.
Casper narrowed his eyes.
"You forgave me," Joshua said.
Casper raised his brows.
"Doesn't that mean that we are friends again?" Joshua leaned forward, one hand on the door frame, the other on the wall.
It seemed to Casper that Joshua towered over him, but how was that possible? Wasn't he taller than Joshua by an inch? "No." And why was he so close? Invading his personal space. He could feel the heat spreading over his body and his cheeks. He was probably blushing like crazy. At his age! Damn it!
"Joshua, we are not teenagers anymore. And we can't replace four years of silence." Casper pushed Joshua away and turned to escape into the house. "We can't be friends anymore."
Joshua grabbed his wrist and stopped his progress. "When I said you were disgusting, I actually meant me."
Casper slowly faced Joshua, his brows furrowed together.
"I never meant to say that to you." Joshua released him and stepped back. "I always planned to apologize to you, but there were no opportunities and before I could gather the courage to seek you out, the time just passed so quickly." He leaned on the fence behind him. "I only wanted your forgiveness, and for us to be friends again. Not necessarily good friends, but friends. You know, without any complication and just..." He looked at Casper. "But then for the first time you pushed me away, and even though I should have expected something like that, it hurt more than I imagined."
"What are you blabbing about? And what did you mean when you said that you actually meant yourself?"
"I liked you too and it terrified me. I'm not gay and since I always knew you were, I thought for a little while that I got it from you. But I never found you disgusting; it was me. I was the weak one, the one who couldn't face what I felt while you did."
Casper blinked. "Of all the stupid... "
"Yes, I know. It's stupid to think of sexual preference a disease, but that time when my parents were dragging me to the church, I got those pamphlets and... It's stupid and I'm ashamed of it."
Damn. Casper combed though his short blond hair. Now he had to forgive Joshua for real, and then all those feelings he had worked so hard to suppress might surface again.
"But, I still like you." Joshua said.
"Okay. Thank you for stopping by. Bye." Casper rushed into the house, shutting and locking doors behind him just in case Joshua got the weird idea to follow him.
He wasn't getting it, was he? Casper tried not to stare at the top of Joshua's head that peeked over the back of the couch. To use his father to get to him – how low. He sighed, went around the couch and put the glass bowl with popcorn on the coffee table, then sat down on the edge of the couch, as far away from Joshua as he could. Not that that helped. In the middle of the movie Casper's father announced that he was tired and Casper helped him to his bedroom. After Casper returned to the couch Joshua started to inch his way toward Casper.
"What do you think you are doing?" Casper growled when Joshua's side touched his.
"Watching a movie." Joshua gave Casper a smile, stretched and put his arms across the back of the couch. His hand touched Casper's shoulder.
Casper jumped up and faced Joshua. "I don't appreciate your jokes."
"I'm not joking."
"Why are you doing this to me?" Casper fisted his hands. "Even when we were children, you always pushed me into things that I didn't want – I'm not a child anymore, I don't appreciate it and I want you to stop."
"I only pushed you into things that you did want, but you were too afraid to try them. "
"That's not true."
"Yes, it is." Joshua grabbed Casper's hand; he forced him to uncurl it and laced their fingers. "You always enjoyed them in the end, didn't you?"
"Liar." Joshua pulled him between his legs.
Maybe he had, but that didn't change that he wanted nothing to do with Joshua right now. He couldn't. He really couldn't. Casper glared at Joshua, because that was the only thing he could do. "You hurt me."
"But when you apologized, I forgave you."
"Because I forced you." Joshua tugged Casper down. "But there was no other way; you would have taken too long otherwise. "
"You wanted to be my friend again; I let you." Casper's forehead touched Joshua's.
"Only because I was too persistent." Joshua took Casper's free hand and entwined their fingers.
"And doing this? What do you want now?" Casper straddled Joshua since there was only thing he could do with Joshua holding onto his hands.
"I want to be your lover."
"What?" Casper blinked. He ignored his heart starting to flutter in his chest. He didn't want that – no way – because Joshua had already hurt him. And now when he thought that he was already beyond the pain, here he was again, like four years never happened. He was again full of false hope like that day on the playground when he had waited for Joshua, ready to tell him about his feelings, harbouring the hope that maybe they would be returned. He was not going there again. No way. "Why?"
"Because I like you, because I missed you so much and because I'm not going to wait another four years."
"You can't force me."
"I don't intend to."
"If I were forcing you then you would have pushed me away, but you haven't."
Damn. He got me there. Casper tensed his jaw, then relaxed, his shoulders dropped down.
Casper looked in those deep, blue eyes.
"It's going to be okay, I promise." Joshua released Casper's hand and tiptoed his fingers up Casper's arm, cupping Casper's neck. "I promise."
His will was really too weak, Casper thought as Joshua's lips captured his and he opened up to a sweet kiss. But there was something in Joshua's voice that told him that he meant it, that told him that Joshua would try to do anything in his power to make good on his promise. And inside him ice started to melt and all the feelings he had suppressed for four years, pretending that he was alright, spilled forward and he drowned in them. He had never really stood a chance against Joshua. Damn.