Steady As He Goes

2.

Breathing heavily, Kiernan tried to regroup as he grasped to understand what just happened. If this was a joke, they were taking it a bit too far. Oakley kissed him! If this was a joke, wouldn't the basketball player have been to grossed out to do that?

They would have to be real assholes. Standing up, Kiernan brushed off his pants and headed for the door, a faint glow still glowing on his cheeks. That was his first kiss. He had to force himself to keep from smiling, but he had the feeling that getting his first kiss from the king of the school was something he was going to remember for a long time, even if it was some messed up prank.

Not to mention, there were about twenty witnesses, a lot of whom were from Oakley's inner circle. If it was true... if the Mercer Oakley really liked him...

What would he do?

His heart started fluttering in that light way that feels like the wind has been knocked out of you. In all his life, he never believed he would have a boyfriend during high school, especially not in this small town. The only other out gay guy was Shin, and their friendship was too important for survival to risk ruining it with sex.

Oh God. Shin. He would lose his shit if he knew what just happened. He would be so jealous. Smiling, Kiernan imagined the look on his friend's face as he found out that Mercer Oakley had told Kiernan to feel his bicep.

A fresh blush spread across Kiernan's face as he walked down the hallway, his fingers burning at the memory of touching Mercer's muscular body at the basketball player's insistence. He had to admit, Mercer had the best body around.

He flipped out his cell, and tapped out a quick text demanding to know where Shin was. In a matter of seconds, a reply came back saying that the other teen was ditching class in the library. "Shin..." Kiernan muttered, reminding himself to lecture his friend again about missing too much school.

Quickly walking across the quad towards the school, Kiernan almost missed the glances other kids were throwing him as they milled around. After he caught on particular freshman openly staring at him, he stopped and growled, "Shouldn't you be in class?" The freshman squeaked, and ran away.

After reaching the library, he quietly searched his way through the stacks, looking for Shin's telltale dyed-red hair. Finally, he saw the shock of maroon in between Human Sexuality and Home Ec. "Shin!" he whisper-hissed, and then rolled his eyes when he saw what Shin was reading.

"Is this even allowed in school libraries?" Shin asked, waving around a tattered copy of 'The Joy of Sex'. He leaned in towards Kiernan with a conspiratory expression. "And FYI, hetero sex is disgusting."

"I'll make sure to avoid it, then." Kiernan said with a smile, grabbing the book from Shin's hand, and stuffing it back on the shelf. "Now listen, I have something crazy to tell you,"

Before he could get his next sentence out, someone else stepped into the same aisle. "Hey!" she shouted. It was Kelly Teeger. "What are you two doing?"

Kiernan and Shin stared at her for a moment, confused by her accusatory tone. "Conversing?" Shin said finally.

"Kiernan," Kelly said, ignoring Shin, "You shouldn't spend to much time alone with him." As she said this, she poked a finger at Shin's chest. "It'll start rumors."

"Excuse me, bitch?" Shin replied, slapping Kelly's hand away with an offended gesture.

Kiernan stepped in front of him before Shin started cursing Kelly out, and turned to speak to the cheerleader. "Shin's my best friend..." he trailed off. Why was he explaining himself? There was the slight chance, the smallest possibility... that he didn't want Mercer Oakley to think Shin and he were dating.

"Yeah, but," Kelly replied, eying Shin with suspicion, "You're always alone together."

"So?" Shin muttered from behind Kiernan, sticking his lip out in a pout.

"So," Kelly said with an edge in her voice, "Kiernan doesn't want a bad reputation," As if a storm had passed, her expression lightened, and she smiled at Kiernan, "You're coming to LazerMaze tonight, right?" Without waiting for a reply, she turned and flounced away down the aisle.

"What the fuck was that?" Shin asked, pulling at Kiernan's arm. "You were invited to LazerMaze?"

LazerMaze, an arcade slash laser tag facility, was the only form of entertainment in their town besides the movies. The "popular" kids would go there once a month as some ridiculous kind of tradition that only popular kids seemed to have.

"I guess... I was?"

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That night, Kiernan got a facebook message from Kelly telling him that she would pick him up in an hour. Rushing to the bathroom, he stared at himself in the mirror, wondering if he should take a shower. It was probably fine, he had one that morning. With a quick comb through his hair, he raced back to his room to finish his homework. His mom wouldn't have any complaints about him staying out late if he didn't have anything work left.

Mercer Oakley was going to be there. Hell, that was the whole reason Kiernan was invited, presumedly. If the basketball player tried to kiss him again... Kiernan felt faint at the thought. Maybe he wouldn't graduate a virgin.

Almost tripping on a shoe as the thought of having sex overwhelmed him, he made his way downstairs to tell his mom he would be leaving in a couple of minutes.

"You're going to LazerMaze?" she asked dubiously, taking a glance at her watch.

"Mom!" Kiernan practically shouted at her, "I'm almost seventeen!" He leaned in on her armrest, and tried to implement the glossiest puppy eyes in his repetior. "Let me have a life!"

"Fine, fine!" she said, holding her hands up in defeat. "Do you need some money?"

Kiernan smiled, and quickly held his palm out. "Ten for laser tag, probably a little more for food."

With a sigh, she dug into her pocket, and pulled out a twenty. "So, Shin is driving you?"

"Well... no," Kiernan replied. "I'm going with a couple of other kids."

His mom looked like she had more questions to ask him, but refrained when they heard the distinct sound of a car horn out front. "Ok, son, I hope you're not hurting Shin's feelings... but have fun!"

"Thanks, mom." Kiernan replied flatly as he moved for the front door. He hadn't even considered how Shin might be feeling about him hanging out with the cool kids. He was sure to understand, right? Kiernan was investigating the possibility that Mercer Oakley had a crush on him!

Still, the feeling that he was betraying his friend nagged him all the way down the hallway, and exploded in his gut when he saw Kelly Teeger and two of her best friends waiting outside in a convertible Mini Cooper. "Hey, girl!" Kelly shouted at him.

"Ok," Kiernan replied, clamoring down into the car. "You know I'm a guy, right?" he asked. If not, that would be awkward.

"Of course, silly!" Kelly replied with her tinkling laugh as she switched the ignition and took the car out of park. "but we're al girlfriends here, right?"

Kiernan wasn't quite sure what she meant, so he stayed quiet. As the three girls started gossiping about how some bitch from the town over was eyeing Ander at the Wal-Mart, he slipped out his phone and started a text to Shin apologizing about being so nonchalant about LazerMaze.

"Is that to Shin?" Kelly said, looking at him through the rearview mirror.

"Yeah," Kiernan replied as he clicked send.

"Look, I'm sorry about earlier," she said, "It's just, you know, if I was spending a lot of time talking to Mercer alone in the library, it would bother you, right?"

That made no sense, but Kiernan decided to play along. "Ok?"

"You just don't want people to think you're... easy or anything."

She was actually implying that he hanging out with his best friend made him a slut. "Kelly, you do realize that gay guys can just be friends, right?"

Giggling nervously, she smiled up at him through the mirror. "Of course Kiernan! But you know how high school is!" He really had no idea what she was talking about, but he let it go. It wasn't like they could force him to stop hanging out with Shin.

Reaching LazerMaze, they stepped out of the car to find a group of teenagers already standing outside of the building. Ander and Oakley were at the center of attention, of course, being the tallest and most popular. "Hey!" Kelly shouted, waving at them, "Look who decided to come!"

Kiernan felt a mortifying blush spread across his face as the entire group turned to stare at him. Maybe this was a huge mistake. He waved, and hid slightly behind the girls.

As everyone paid for their ticket, he felt extremely aware of where Merc was standing at all times, and even though the basketball player looked like he was trying to get closer to Kiernan, Kiernan found himself edging farther away as his nerves took over his motor functions.

Reaching the window, he felt a hand on his waist. His heart nearly jumped up his throat when he realized that Merc had sidled up to him, and had encircled his body with his long, muscular arm. The taller teenager had even hooked his thumb into the corner of Kiernan's pocket.

"I'm paying for both," Merc said to the girl behind the window, holding out a twenty.

Kiernan was too stunned to object, and watched as the girl handed over two wristbands without even a blink. He could feel the numerous eyes of the other kids watching them as Merc grabbed his hand, and slid the neon green wristband on to Kiernan's wrist, and the put the other on his own.

"They're the same color because we're playing for the same team," Merc said, staring down at him.

That was... incredibly cheesy. Kiernan almost smirked at him, until he realized that Merc meant they were on the same LazerMaze team as he noticed that half the group had the same neon green bands.

Stepping inside, Kiernan was assaulted by the flashing lights and roaring metal music of the arcade center. Almost immediately, all of the boys peeled off, heading for the games. Kiernan stepped forward to join them.

"Where are you going?" Kelly asked, grabbing his arm.

"I thought the guys were..."

"The girlfriends don't go to the arcade center," another girl replied, although she sounded slightly annoyed by this. "but I kind of want to play-"

"It's guy time," Kelly cut in, "We go hang out in the food court."

Kiernan watched this exchange with growing incredulity. "So," he said, talking over them. "I am... not one of the guys?" He said this jokingly, but his smile quickly fell when Kelly nodded at him un-ironically.

"Right?" she said, "I mean, if you're going out with Oakley..."

"I'm not," Kiernan replied with a short tone, "and even if I was, I would still be a guy." He crossed his arms. "I would still be a guy if I was dating The Rock."

"Oh, he's sexy," another girl giggled. Kiernan rolled his eyes... even if he kind of agreed.

"Anyway," he said, "Sexist segregation aside, why am I considered one of the girlfriends?"

Kelly let out a sigh of frustration, "Kiernan! Don't take it so seriously, we're just here to have fun!" She shook her head at him as if he were being silly, and grabbed his arm, dragging him towards the food court. "Besides, wouldn't you rather hang out with us girls then those guys? All they do is talk about sex."

He would rather be hanging out with Shin in his room, but that was beside the point.

Two sodas and a hamburger later, Kiernan stepped up to go pay his bill. "Wait," Kelly replied, handing him a ten. "Merc told me to give you this for food."

Kiernan stared at the bill, and then up at Kelly. "Seriously?"

"It's only polite, right? That the guy pay for the bill?" Again, said with total seriousness. He opened his mouth to protest, but just shook his head. Walking up to the counter, he pulled out his mom's twenty, and handed it over with the receipt.

He and the girls headed down the laser tag area when their group number was called, and found the guys already suiting up. Merc looked like some kind of space-pirate, in a sexy way. Kiernan almost felt his annoyance evaporate when he saw that Merc had decided to only wear a wife-beater under his laser tag vest, his muscular back rippling through the fin fabric for all to see.

"Hey," he said with a nod of his head.

Merc picked up a smaller vest, and walked around the other teenager before Kiernan had a chance to think of anything witty to say. His mouth went dry as sandpaper as Merc slid the vest over him, and brought his arms around Kiernan's waist to click the latch in place. Kiernan could feel Merc's breath on his ear. "Stay close," Merc said with his deep voice, "and I'll take care of you."

Kiernan hated to admit it, but his legs had turned to jelly.

Wordlessly following the group into the almost pitch-black of the laser arena, he almost immediately lost track of Merc when the buzzer sounded, and all of the kids quickly leapt in opposite directions. Kiernan ran to the closest cover and listened as laser shots and yells of triumph laced the air.

Looking around, Kiernan almost screamed when he saw a laser pointed at his face, only to have the wind knocked out of him as a large something pushed him to the ground, and then almost as quickly had him on his feet running. "In here," Merc said.

They had found a narrow space to hide in, and now Kiernan found himself pressed chest to chest with Merc, the taller teenager's hand pressed against his mouth. "Sh," Merc said, leaning forward so that he was talking closely to Kiernan's ear. "We don't want them to find us."

Kiernan brought his hand up, and pulled Merc's away from his face. "Thanks," he said, wondering if the other teenager could feel his heart pounding through his chest. Thank god the thick laser tag vests stood between them. "but I can take protect myself."

He started to edge out the gap, however Merc placed an arm against the wall beside his head, blocking him. "From them, maybe." Merc said with a small smile, "but what about from me?" He lightly brushed Kiernan's hair out of his eyes with his hand. "Can I kiss you?"

"Oh," Kiernan replied, raising his eyebrows. "You're asking now?"

"Are you mad about last time?"

Kiernan tilted his head in annoyance at Merc's nonchalant tone. "That was my first kiss," he said, "so I didn't appre-" He was cut off as Merc leaned forward and captured his lips in a consuming kiss, the taller teenager's tongue fighting for entry into Kiernan's soft mouth.

'His breath is minty,' Kiernan considered idly as his hands involuntarily reached up and gripped Merc's shoulders. He let Merc press further into the kiss, and felt a twinge in his groin, not to mention something hard pressing against his leg.

"He's actually turned on," Kiernan thought, erasing any doubt that this was for real. Great, and he just ate a double jalapeno cheeseburger.

Feeling himself being pushed harder against the wall, Kiernan returned to reality to find Merc slipping his hand down the back of Kiernan's pants, grasping at as much warm flesh as he could, his other hand pushing up the vest as he ran his fingers over Kiernan's nipples.

This was spinning out of control. Kiernan was not ready for any base past first, and he was two overwhelmed by Mercer Oakley's intimidating presence.

"Merc-" he tried to say, turning his face from the other teenager, only to have Merc start sucking on his neck. "Ah!" he gasped in pain. He pushed Mercer away roughly, and brought his hand up to his neck. "Did you just give me a hickey?"

"Sorry," Merc said, hearing the slight trepidation in Kiernan's voice. "I should have stopped." He looked down, and shuffled awkwardly when he noticed his hard-on. "I guess I got carried away, I didn't realize how hot making out with you would be."

Kiernan would have rolled his eyes, but how can you, when someone compliments your make-out abilities? He looked down as well, blushing. "Maybe wait for permission next time," he said finally.

"There's going to be a next time?" Merc replied with a smirk, as he stared down at Kiernan. He brought his hand up, and rubbed a slight trace of saliva from Kiernan's lip with his thumb. "It better be soon."

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(a/n)

Hey, guess what? I'm a big fat liar. This is going to be longer than a two shot.