"Yee-haw! Get along li'l doggie!"

"I hope you fall off that horse."

I glanced over at my best friend in the whole wide world, Beck. He was sitting on the wooden fence, watching me ride my horse, Jentle. Pronounced Yen-tle, by the way. I had a thing for Yiddish-sounding names. Weird, I know, but screw you.

"Aw, come on, Beck," I pouted. "You don't really want me to fall off Jentle, do you? You hurt my heart so. See?" I clutched my heart and made a dramatic noise. "It bleeds!"

Beck laughed, shaking his head. "Fucker," I heard him mutter.

"Aw, Beck, I know you love me," I teased. I saw him blush, but I plowed on, pretending to be ignorant of his red cheeks. "Why do you keep doing this to me? If I die one of these days, you're gonna feel sooo bad!"

Truthfully, I already knew he was in love with me. I mean, who can resist my charm, really? It didn't matter to him that we were both guys, I guess. I think I first noticed it when I was dating my fifth - or was it sixth? - girlfriend, Jessica.

Man, he hated her. And Beck doesn't hate people! Well, normally. I guess Jessica was a exception, though. But, anyway, he couldn't stand to be around her. Whenever she or I said "I love you" to each other - even though we didn't really mean it - he would flip out. He'd just get this cute little pout, turn red, cross his arms, and stomp off in a huff. Hell, half the times I had told Jessica I loved her had been just to see Beck pout like that.

And, when we broke up, I've never seen Beck so happy. Hell, he threw a fucking party!

You know, at first, I didn't really know what to do about Beck's crush on me. I was a little weirded out, truthfully. I mean, hell. We're two guys! Not to mention, my parents would probably kill me and feed me to the cows if I even hinted at the fact that I was gay - which I'm not.

Then again, I always enjoyed looking at Beck in those tight little black skinny jeans of his -


I glanced at Beck, blinking. "Yeah?"

"I wanna go swimming."

I gave an exaggerated sigh. "Right now?"

He grinned. "Yes, right now."

Rolling my eyes, I side-stepped Jentle until he was standing right next to Beck. "Hop on," I said, giving him a dangerous grin.

He hesitated for a fraction of a second, then expertly hopped onto the horse, settling behind me. Keeping his hands impersonally on my shoulder, I couldn't resist the temptation. Kicking Jentle into a trot, Beck nearly fell off at the sudden jerk, giving him no choice but to wrap his arms around my waist or fall off.

We rode across the corn field through the tall green stalks on a little dirt path to the big creek on the edge of the property, and I pulled Jentle to a stop a few feet away from the edge. Dismounting, I led him over to a tree, then tied the reins to a branch, giving him enough slack so he could eat grass.

Standing on one foot, I yanked off my boot, then switched feet and yanked off the other. Tossing my baseball cap to the ground, I tugged off my shirt, then began working on my belt and jeans.

In nothing but my underwear, I ran into the clear water, letting out a loud whoop. Diving beneath the cold water, I grabbed onto a heavy rock and stayed beneath the surface for as long as I could, finally shooting to the surface when my lungs began to burn.

Gasping, I shook the water out of my eyes, then glanced at Beck, grinning deviously. The water only came up to mid-chest at the deepest area, but if you weren't careful, the current could sweep you away. Beck was always a little hesitant of the water at first, but once he was in, he'd gradually get used to it.

Today was no different. He stood on the shore, staring at the water with a grimace. Taking a deep breath, he slowly entered the water, walking towards me. Once he was a few feet away he stopped, his arms held out away from his sides and above the water, a pained expression on his face.

"You know, you're the one who wanted to go swimming," I informed him with a grin.

He growled, baring his teeth at me. "Shut up!"

Smirking, I locked eyes with him as I slowly began sinking beneath the surface. He watched me with suspicious eyes, his lips tightening.

"Dirk, you better not-" I heard him say before I fully submerged, completely under water.

Lunging towards him, I wrapped my arms around his thighs, then suddenly stood and tossed him in the air, laughing as he screamed and hit the water with a splash, quickly sinking.

He coughed as he resurfaced, choking out water and trying to breathe as I stood there and laughed at him. Once he managed to get some air, he wiped his eyes and began glaring at me, obviously wanting to yell at me, but he couldn't because he was still coughing.

Swimming leisurely backwards, I watched as he came after me, splashing and failing to move fast in the water. Snickering, I turned around and quickly swam back to shore, walking out of the water and heading for the grass.

Plopping down, I stretched my legs and leaned back on my hands as I watched Beck make his way slowly towards me, a death glare on his face. Grabbing a rock, he chucked it at me, but I quickly dodged it, sticking my tongue out at him.

"Bitch," he muttered as he sat down heavily beside me, flopping onto his back and breathing hard.

Plucking a handful of grass, I made a little pile on his stomach, then began picking more grass and creating more piles on his chest and torso. He closed his eyes and held still, simply breathing softly.

I'd nearly covered all the skin on his torso and was beginning to work on his arms when he suddenly sat up, the grass either sliding off him or sticking to his wet skin. Grimacing, he wiped off all the grass he could get, then stood and headed back to the water.

Washing off, he came back to shore and grabbed his clothes, pulling them back on. I slowly followed his example, taking my time as he finished and waited impatiently, tapping his foot and crossing his arms.

Dressed, I walked over to Jentle and grabbed his reins, untying them. Beck managed to mount the horse before I could, and sat up in the saddle with a satisfied smirk on his face. Shaking my head, I grinned at the ground, then began walking back to the barn, leading Jentle beside me.

Beck kept kicking me lightly in the back, dodging me when I tried to swat him. I finally managed to grab his ankle, and held on for a few more yards.

"Come on, Dirk," he whined. "Get on the horse. We're going too slow!"

"Too slow, eh?" I smirked as I turned to him. "Here, hold this."

I handed Beck the reins, grinning wider as he looked at me in confusion. Pulling my hand back, Beck's eyes widened as he realized what I was doing. He managed to get out a, "No, don't-!" before I smacked Jentle on his rump.

The horse took off with a snort, flying along the little dirt path back to the barn, Beck's scream echoing through the air as he tried to hold on. Laughing, I began running after them, managing to reach the barn just as Beck was shakily sliding off Jentle.

Spotting me jogging up, he waited until I was within distance to take a swing at me, narrowly clipping my nose. I ducked back and grabbed his wrists, snickering as he struggled.

"You bastard!" he yelled.

"You wanted to go faster," I said innocently, smirking.

"I didn't mean for you to do that!"

"Oops," I said, giving him a shit-eating grin.

Growling, he yanked his wrists out of my grip, crossing his arms and huffing. Turning, he stalked off towards the barn entrance, leaving me alone with Jentle and the other animals in the barn.

Chuckling, I quickly took Jentle's saddle and bridle off, hung them up, then brushed him off. Slipping his halter on, I led him out to the pasture, then let him go so he could hang out with the other horses and graze.

Dusting my hands off, I headed to the house, taking my boots off at the door. Jogging up the stairs to my room, I found Beck's clothes on the floor, the sound of the shower coming from my bathroom indicating he was in there.

Grabbing some clothes, I set them on my bed as I waited for him to finish. When he finally came out, dressed in some clean clothes, I slid past him and into the bathroom, quickly taking a nice hot shower, washing the creek water off me.

Once I was finished with that and dressed, I walked into my bedroom to find Beck missing. Going down the stairs, I found him in the kitchen, flipping through a magazine and eating a PB&J sandwich.

I made my own sandwich, then sat down beside him and ate in silence, reading the magazine over his shoulder. My mom came in from outside, dropping her gardening gloves beside the sink and hanging up her hat.

"Hey, boys," she said, grinning.

We both made noncommittal sounds, entranced by an article about jellyfish we were reading. Scoffing, my mom began washing her hands, then dried them off and began cooking lunch.

"You're dad's in the office," my mom said, setting a plate of food in front of me. "Take this down to him."

Sighing, I grabbed the plate and headed down into the basement. My dad was sitting at his desk, typing away at his computer. He glanced up as I came down, his eyes zeroing in on the food.

"Oooh, lunch time, is it?" he asked, grinning.

I love my dad, I really do, but sometimes he intimidates the hell out of me. At six foot six, he towered over the rest of my family, and with a permanent tan and weathered skin, it was easy to tell he was a working man. Behind his 'redneck' exterior, though, was one of the smartest minds I've ever met.

He created his own website for our ranch, allowing people to contact us through the web. We board and train horses, along with selling cattle and farming crops. He's the one who manages the books and does all the accounting, while I, my brother and some farm hands do most of the work. His father started the business, but he expanded and grew it to what it was today.

My brother, another success story, lives on a house on our property, and he owns a business in town that sells and rents tractors, sports equipment, and hunting & fishing gear. But when he's not at the store, he's usually here helping out.

I set the plate down in front of my dad, careful not to spill anything on the papers littering the desk.

Once that was done and I talked to my dad a bit about one of the horses we'd just took on for board, I headed back upstairs.

"Come on," I said as I walked past Beck, lightly cuffing the back of his head. "Let's go."

Grabbing our plates, he stuck them in the sink, then obediently followed me outside. We headed to my big old Ford truck and hopped in, then roared away from the house, down the driveway, and onto the road to town.

It was a fifteen minute drive, with nothing but farmland and fields for miles around. Once we hit civilization, I had to slow down as we entered the city. I pulled into the parking lot of the local video rental store.

"Alright," I said as I hopped out of the truck and headed towards the door. "I feel like a theme. What's the theme, Beck?"

He hummed, following me into the shop. "How about...a Jackie Chan marathon?"

"Nah," I said, looking around. "I'm feeling...funny."

"I think that might be indigestion."

I reached back went to smack the back of his head, but he quickly ducked.

"That's not what I meant," I growled.

He sneered at me, flipping me off. "I know."

Making a funny face at him in return, I whirled back around and headed for the comedy section.

"What about..." he said, skimming his finger along the spines of the movies as he sauntered towards me. "Jackass: The Movie."

"Saw that last week," I said, dismissing it.

Sighing, Beck turned around and leaned against the shelves holding the movies, his arms crossed and a bored expression on his face.

"Why don't we just go to the cinema and see a new movie?" he asked.

I glanced at him. "Are there any good movies on?"

"How am I supposed to know?" he asked, giving me a small glare.

Grinning cheekily at him, I grabbed the collar of his shirt and dragged him out of the store. Letting him go so he could get into the truck, I drove us to the theater, grimacing with distaste at all the cars in the parking lot.

"No," I simply said, shaking my head. "No."

Beck sighed, rolling his eyes. "Fine. Then let's just go home."

I groaned, letting my head flop back against the head rest and rolling my head towards him. "But-but," I said in a pathetic voice. "I wanna go out with you."

I saw his cheeks redden and his eyes widen as he quickly glanced away from me, making me grin. Wanting to push him farther, I said in a whispering, suggestive voice, "We could always go to a hotel. I bet we could find a way to entertain ourseves."

He froze, then began shaking in what I at first thought was laughter, but then he turned to me with glaring eyes and I saw he was crying. Feeling panic erupt in my chest, I slammed on the brakes, heedless of any other traffic.

"Beck-" I muttered, my hands tight on the wheel. Holy shit, he's crying!

"FUCK YOU!" he yelled, then shoved open the door and lept out of the truck.

Quickly putting the truck in park, I jumped out after him, feeling bewildered. The fuck did I do? I was just teasing him! Why's he fucking crying?

"Beck!" I said urgently, jogging around the truck.

He was simply standing there, his entire body shaking, his arms around himself and his head ducked down. I cautiously reached for his arm, nearly choking as he jerked away from me.

"B-Beck, come on," I said - no, I pleaded. "What-? What's wrong?"

"You!" he said sharply, covering his face with his hands. "You're what's wrong!"

I felt my chest clench in something I'd never felt before, something painful. "Beck, what'd I do? Huh? Tell me, Becker."

"You-you say those things," he finally bit out after a few tense seconds, staring at me with wounded eyes. "A-and, I know you-you know about me. That I-that I-I...I l-l-l-like you! And, you-you're so cruel when you say those things! Constantly teasing, and-and laughing at me!"

I felt like I'd been punched. Full on, no holding back, right hooked. Taking a few seconds to catch my breath, I let my arms drop uselessly to my sides.

"I-I'm sorry, Becker," I said seriously, sincerely. "I didn't know...I didn't know I hurt you. I'm sorry. I won't tease you like that any more. It was unfair, and I'm sorry. A-and, I would never laugh at you like that. Please-please don't be mad."

After a few seconds, he nodded, his arms going back around him to hold himself in a protective gesture.

"Let's go home," I said, waiting until he nodded and hauled himself into the truck before I made my way to the driver's seat.

The air was awkward on the drive home, and I kept glancing at Beck, but he simply stared out the window, not looking at me.

We were about a mile from my house when Beck finally spoke.

"How long have you known?" he asked.

How long did I know he liked me. I knew that's what he was asking.

I sighed, my hands tightening on the steering wheel. "I-I don't know. I think I began to get a hint of it that summer we went camping by ourselves, then realized it for sure during the reign of Jessica."

He was silent a moment, then he turned to me with wounded eyes. "But...that-that was years ago. And-and, you didn't say anything? You knew all that time, and you didn't say anything? You just let me continue embarrassing myself? For what? Your amusement?" His voice got increasingly louder and hysterical as he spoke, making me wince.

"No, I-"

He cut me off with a sudden sob he quickly choked off. "I'm such a fucking fool," he burst out angrily, fresh tears sliding down his cheeks. "Pathetic!"

Turning to me, he punched my arm with all his strength, making it go numb for a few seconds, before erupting in pain.

"And you're an asshole!" he screamed. "How could you! I though you were my friend! And you've just been laughing at me behind your back! Yanking my chain because you were bored!"

"That's not true!" I yelled back, pulling the truck to the side of the road and putting it in park with one hand, the other arm useless. Rubbing the spot where he'd punched, I turned to him with angry eyes of my own.

"And what about you?" I asked back. "You've fucking 'liked' me for so long, yet you didn't tell me! I'm your best friend! I would have supported you and shit! But, nooo, you keep one of the biggest things of your life a secret from me! And you think I'm being cruel?"

Letting out an incoherent roar, he kicked open the truck door, then jumped out and began stomping away. I jumped out after him, quickly gaining on him. Grabbing his arm in a tight grip, I forced him back around towards me.

"Don't you run away!" I said, my jaw clenched.

"Why not?" he yelled, trying to jerk his arm free. "I'm not gonna sit there and let you hurt me!"

"I won't hurt you!"

"You already have!"

He fell to his knees, nearly bringing me down with him. Catching my balance, I stared down at him, all my anger deflating. I kneeled down in front of him, my grip on his arm loosening to a mere touch.

"Beck," I said softly. "What I did...What I did was wrong. And, I'm sorry. But, you're my best friend, man. I-I guess I was just a little hurt that you didn't tell me. I'm sorry."

He looked up at me with red-rimmed eyes, giving me this heart-breaking smile. "I'm so disgusting, falling in love with another guy."

I snarled, glaring at him. "You are not disgusting! Don't you ever fucking say that! You're Beck, my best friend, I won't let anyone say that about you, not even yourself!"

Before I could react, Beck suddenly tackled me, wrapping his arms around my middle and burying his face against my chest. After a brief hesitation, I set my hands on his back, awkwardly patting him. Dammit, I was never good at this comforting stuff.

"I'm sorry I yelled at you," he said quietly, his voice muffled.

"It's okay. I deserved it."

"No, you didn't," he said, tilting his head back to look up at me. "When you-you found out about me, you could have broken off our friendship or stopped talking to me. But, you didn't. You still stayed my friend."

"How noble of me," I said with a dreamy sigh.

Scoffing, he leaned back, a small grin on his face. Wiping his eyes on his sleeves, he sniffled, running his hand through his hair. "We-we're still friends, right?" he asked in a small voice.

"Do you really need to ask?" I said, grinning at him.

Smiling, he glanced down at his hands folded in his lap, picking at a loose thread on his shorts. "Thank you, Dirk, for not pushing me away. A-and, I don't expect you to return my feelings or anything," he quickly added in a rush. "I-I just want everything to be normal again."

Nodding, I said, "Yeah. And, no more teasing from me, 'kay? Well," I amended with a thoughtful look. "Not too much teasing."

Beck shoved at my shoulder, knocking me to the ground. Chuckling, he stood, then dusted himself off, and I quickly did the same. This time, the rest of the ride was a little less awkward, and I was able to pull into the driveway without any incident.

We headed into the house then up to my room. I began looking through a stack of movies I had in my room, then settled on 'The Pink Panther.' We flopped onto my bed to watch it, resting our heads on the wall as we laid down.

Halfway through the movie, Beck started to rest his head against my shoulder - something he's always done for years whenever we watch a movie - before he realized what he was doing and jerked back up. Sighing, I turned my head towards him, raising an eyebrow.

"Does this mean I've been fired as your personal movie-watching pillow?" I asked.

Beck stared at me, a small blush rising on his cheeks. "N-no, I-I just thought - "

"Beck, we've been friends since we were in diapers. I was there during all the embarrassing moments of your life. I've been there when you're parents fought, when they got a divorce, when you had nightmares, and when you went through that crazy emo phase. You think this is going to make me uncomfortable? Besides, I've known about it for a while. If I was uncomfortable, I wouldn't have let you use me as a pillow for all these years."

Biting his lip, Beck stared blankly at the TV screen, then, slowly, he rested his head lightly on my shoulder. Rolling my eyes, I jostled my shoulder until he laid the full weight of his head on me, his body pressed against my side. Wrapping his arms around my arm, he settled against me, giving a content sigh.

I closed my eyes as I felt his warm weight against me. I was going to have to be careful these next few days. I had a feeling Beck was going to get all awkward and shit, so I had to make sure he knew he was still my friend and that I wasn't judging him. I'd keep at it until things where back to normal.



"...For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."

I gave a sigh of relief. Finally! It's over!

Now, don't get me wrong. I have nothing against God or anything. But, sweet turkey, couldn't he have made church more interesting or something? Is that too much to ask?

Shaking my head, I tugged at the collar of my shirt, feeling like it was choking me to death. My mom quickly spotted me, and swatted my hand with her purse, giving me a little glare.

"What?" I asked fiercely back. "I'm gonna die in this thing!"

"We're in the house of God! At least wait until we're in the truck before you start unbuttoning you shirt," she hissed back.

Growling, I flopped back in the pew, glaring at the old woman's gray hair in front of me. Beck snickered in the seat beside me, quickly disguising it as a cough when I turned my glare on him.

Once we finally managed to leave and make it to the truck, I immediately undid the first few buttons of my shirt, freeing my neck from the choking confines. Gasping dramatically, I panted, praising the Lord for letting me live to see another day. Beck loosened his shirt in a more quiet manner, sneering at me.

"Okay, now that that's over," I said, leaning forward and sticking my head between my parents in the front seat. "Ice cream!"

In exchange for going to church, my parents always promise me ice cream, or candy or something. Shallow, I know, but I wouldn't go to church if I had nothing to look forward to at the end. So, we drove to the ice cream shop and hopped out. I practically ran inside to get out of the heat, skidding into the cool building and staring at the menu above the counter as if it were Jesus.

I ordered a hot fudge brownie sundae, while Beck got a home-made vanilla waffle cone with sprinkles. We sat at a separate booth than my parents, giving us some privacy. I quickly ate the ice cream before it melted, then began going at the brownie, dipping it in the little ice cream that had managed to melt.

"So," I said, scraping up the last of the ice cream from my bowl. "What should we do for the rest of the day?"

"Actually, my stepmother's sister and her kids are coming over to visit for a few weeks. They're supposed to arrive a little later today, so I have to be at the house to greet them," Beck said, grimacing.

Beck was never really good at meeting new people. He'd always go all shy, and turn red whenever someone tried to strike up a conversation with him. It'd be cute if it wasn't so annoying.

"Want me to come and protect you from the mean little step-family," I teased, shaking my spoon at him.

He bared his teeth at me, waving his ice cream dangerously close to my face. Grinning, I lunged forward and took a bite out of the waffle cone, chewing it smugly. Sticking his tongue out at me, Beck stuck his nose up in the air with a little huff, resolutely ignoring me.

Soon after, we finished and left the shop, heading back out into the blistering heat. I was sweating nearly two steps out the door, and seriously wishing I could take my shirt off and slip into a pair of shorts, but I'd have to wait until we got home to do that.

Beck and I decided to ride in the truck bed rather than the cab, letting the wind cool us as my parents drove home. Leaning back against the tailgate, I tipped my head back and waved at a car behind us. I felt something bump my foot, and righted my head in time to see Beck adjusting his position so he sat at a right angle from me, leaving back against the wheel well.

His dirty blond hair was blowing in the wind, and he had to keep flicking it out of his face. I watched him with narrowed eyes as he sighed, his shirt clinging to his thin torso and accenting every little contour and muscle. Now, I've seen Beck without his shirt on - hell, I've seen him naked - but, for some reason, seeing him now, I felt...aroused.

Frowning, I looked away, staring out across the fields as we drove past them. Something wasn't right. I shouldn't feel like this. This was Beck! He's-he's like my brother! I-I can't feel attraction for my brother!

Swallowing, I quickly shoved the worry out of my mind, trying to distract myself by counting all the cows in the field we were driving past before they were out of sight.

Once we arrived back home, I was my worry-free self again. Hopping out of the truck, I stretched, then leisurely made my way inside.

"Ah, sweet air conditioning," I breathed, holding my arms out in the cool house air, nearly whacking Beck in the face as he tried to walk past me.

Shaking his head, he ducked under my arm, heading upstairs to my room. Jogging after him, I entered the room and shut the door, then began peeling my clothes off.

"Okay," I said as I began digging around in my closet for some cooler clothes. "It's too hot to do anything outside, so, I suggest...Xbox. A...shooting game. Yes."

Beck chuckled, nodding his head. "Alright. But I get first controller."

I frowned, then let out a dejected, "Fine."

We ended up getting so engrossed in the game, Beck missed the time he was supposed to go home, and we only remembered because his stepmother called and told my mom. Stopping and saving the game, we headed to the front door, tugged our shoes on, then headed outside and to my truck.

We drove the five miles to his house with the windows down and the music blasting. Pulling up to his modest two story house, I parked next to his dad's mid-life-crisis-mobile, then turned off the engine. We got out of the truck and made our way to the front door, entered the house, then promptly tripped over some bags on the threshold.

We both landed on the ground with a vicious thump, hitting various body parts on the hard ground. Groaning, I laid there for a second, my left elbow tingling and my head spinning.

"Oh god," I groaned. "I think I've got a concussion."

"I highly doubt that," Beck said, sitting up and rubbing his knee.

"Oh, and you've suddenly become a doctor, have you?" I asked, squinting at him.

He shoved me, then got to his feet, lightly toeing one of the bags. "I think my step-family's here..." he muttered sourly.

"No shit, Sherlock."

Standing, I dusted myself off dramatically, then stepped over the bags and headed towards the family room. There, I found Beck's stepmother, dad, two little sisters, older brother, and four other people I didn't know. I'm guessing they were the elusive step-family. There was the mom holding a baby, a boy about our age, and a girl who looked to be his twin.

I immediately zeroed in on the girl, raking her over with my eyes. Thin waist, silky black hair, green eyes and a nice rack. Oh, yeah, my kinda gal. Smirking, I sauntered into the room, all attention coming to rest on me. Taking my hat off, I held it to my chest as I bowed, giving a little flourish.

"Ladies and gents, I have arrived," I announced.

"Ohmygod, that better not be Bobby," the girl said with disgust.

Bobby was Becker's real name, but, I mean, come on. Bobby just doesn't fit him, so I simply changed his name to Becker, AKA Beck, and it's stuck. Well, most people call him that, anyway. Excluding his family.

"No, that's Dirk, Bobby's...friend," Carol - Beck's stepmother - said with distaste, giving me a sour look.

Beck shoved me out of the way, stepping past me and into the room. "I'm Bobby," he said, nodding politely.

There were introductions, but I didn't really pay attention. Sneaking out of the room, I made my way to the kitchen and began digging around in the fridge. Grabbing a soda, I hopped up onto the counter and began drinking it, thinking.

Beck and I had a strict no-family-members dating policy. I couldn't go after any members of his family, and he couldn't go after any of mine. Although, since he's gay, I don't really have to worry since the only male members I have around here are my dad and twenty-three year old brother. But, I mean, his stepcousin is hot! Does she count? Is she family?

Beck walked into the kitchen, and I was suddenly overwhelmed with a sharp feeling of shame and guilt. Confused, I frowned down at my drink, swinging my legs. Beck hopped up beside me, then stole my drink from me and began gulping it down. Gasping, he tossed the empty can across the room and cleanly into the recycle bin.

"I know what you're thinking," he said conversationally.

I tensed, fighting an unexplainable blush. "Oh?"

"No, you can't go after her. She's my stepcousin. Still family, though not blood related."

I felt a mixture of disappointment and relief, confusing my already spinning mind. Okay, way too many emotions I'm feeling here. Emotional overload. OVERLOAD!

My mind went on a tangent of robot voices yelling "overload!" before I was jerked back to the real world by Beck's stepmother coming into the kitchen. She gave us a tight smile, her eyes looking at us with disapproval as we sat on the counter. Grimacing, Beck jumped down, and I slowly followed him.

"Well, boys," she said. "Why don't you take Stephanie's and the kid's bags to their rooms, please?"

She told Beck which rooms everyone was staying in, and he tried to hide his grimace as she told him his stepcousin, Josh, would be staying in his room. Once she left, I turned to Beck and asked, "Who's Stephanie?"

He stared at me, then scoffed, shaking his head and grinning. "My stepmother's sister."


"C'mon," he said, leading me to the front door to grab the bags. We carried them to the correct rooms, ending up at Beck's room last. He set his cousin's bag down on the floor, then looked around, a pensive expression on his face.

"I think Josh and I are supposed to share beds," he muttered.


"Well, there's only one bed in here," he snapped, then grimaced. "Sorry."

"Wanna stay at my place?"

He sighed. "I don't know if Carol will let me."

"You don't have to ask her. We could sneak out," I said, wiggling my eyebrows and striking a 007 pose.

He snickered, nodding his head. "Alright. But, let me clean my room a bit."

"Gotta hide your porn?"

He glared at me, but I just laughed. Scoffing, he quickly got to work while I simply flopped onto his bed and waited for him to finish organizing everything. Even though there wasn't much to do. I swear, Beck has one of the cleanest room's I've ever seen. Everything has a specific place, and nothing's ever out of order. I sometimes rearrange his stuff just to see if he'd notice, and he always does.

Smirking, I reached out with my foot and skewed a pile of books on his desk so they weren't aligned perfectly. When Beck glanced at me, I gave him an innocent look, but his eyes quickly locked on the crooked pile. Growling, he fixed them, making sure the spines were in a perfect line (OCD, anyone?), before kneeling and sliding halfway under the bed.

He came out with a single sock, which he tossed in his clothes hamper. Dusting his hands, he gave his room one last final look, then nodded. "Alright, let's go."

We headed out towards the door, but we ended up getting caught as we passed the living room. Pausing, we turned to Carol with guilty expression. Her lips were thinned and she had a dangerous look in her eye, but she was smiling sweetly.

"Bobby, Dirk," she said. "Why don't you take Josh and Cassandra out and show them around town?"

Completely ignoring the fact that she just volunteered my truck for the trip, she turned back to Stephanie and began talking with her. Sighing, I waited for Cassandra and Josh to stand and walk towards us, before we all headed outside and to my truck.

Beck was forced out of his customary spot in the passenger seat, and ended up squished beside me as the other two tag-alongs squeezed into the front seat beside him. Grimacing, I started the engine, the blaring music making us all jump as it screamed to life, reminding me I'd forgot to turn the volume down earlier.

Beck quickly turned it down, then leaned back in his seat. No one really said anything as I drove, so the ride was awkward. Be the time we reached the city, I felt like I was gonna blurt out something stupid, so I nudged Beck, trying to tell him silently to do something.

Getting the message, he began pointing out different places to hang out; the ice cream shop, the bowling alley, the skating rink/arcade, a few fast food joints, a restaurant that had great hamburgers, the cinema, and a bunch of other places.

"Don't you guys have a mall here or something? Macy's? Or, please God, a Starbucks?" Cassandra asked, looking around with distaste.

"That's all in the next city over. This city's too small to have one," I said.

She scoffed, folding her arms over her chest. "This visit's gonna suck," she said clearly, not even trying to be quiet.

I frowned, feeling a little pissed at her attitude. I mean, yeah, this isn't the biggest city around, but we know how to have fun. There's no need to judge it before giving the city a try. My earlier attraction for her dimmed a bit, but was still there nonetheless.

Beck suddenly began flicking through stations on the radio, a nervous habit of his. He settled on a pop station, making me grimace, but I didn't say anything. I drove all the way through the city out of the city limits, then pulled into a big truck stop and pulled up to the gas pumps.

"Beck, go inside and pay," I said, handing him a wad of cash.

He gave me a grateful smile, knowing I was giving him a chance for escape. We hopped out of the car, and I pumped the gas while he went inside. Leaning against the truck while I waited, I crossed my arms, wondering what the hell we were supposed to do with two 'city kids.' I mean, this isn't a middle-of-nowhere, redneck, everybody knows everybody, cliche hick town, but it is kind of small. I like it, but to two city kids, this must seem like that kind of place.

Hearing a click, I glanced at the display on the pump, seeing it was done. Once I put everything away, I stood by the driver's side door and waited for Beck. He came out a few seconds later carrying a plastic bag that swung as he walked. Reaching me, he bumped me out of the way, then hopped into the truck. I quickly followed him, then started up the truck and pulled out, heading back to town.

"I got candy," Beck announced, shaking the bag.

Opening it, he pulled out a Snickers, handing that to me. I opened it with glee, chomping down on it. He grabbed a Reese's Peanut Butter cup for himself, then handed the bag to Josh.

"I wasn't sure what you guys wanted, so I got a few different kinds," he added.

"Thanks," Josh said, looking through the bag for a bit, before pulling out a 3 Musketeers.

He held it out towards Cassandra, but she sniffed at it, shaking her head. "I'm on a diet."

I nearly choked on a peanut. A diet? I mean, sure, the girls around here go on diets, but they never turn down a free candy bar! By God, she's like something from another planet!

Beck muttered a little, "Oh," then took the bag back, sticking it in his lap.

The rest of the ride was awkward, so I turned up the volume to mask the silence. We all let out a collective sigh when I drove back down the driveway to Beck's house, parking the truck. Opening the doors, we all got out, but Josh paused a few beats while Cassandra headed straight back inside.

"Look," Josh said, glancing at Beck. "I'm sorry about my sister. She's a real bitch, and, well, she didn't really want to come here, so she's in uber-bitch mode right now. But, um, thanks for showing us around, at least."

I watched with narrowed eyes as Beck nodded, glancing down at the ground as a blush spread along his cheeks. Josh didn't notice it, though, as he turned and headed back inside, but I did. Throwing my arm over Beck's shoulder, I leaned on him, my heavier weight nearly making his knees buckle.

"So, you ready to head to my place?" I asked.

Beck was silent a moment, struggling to stand straight. He finally managed to pry himself out from under my arm, jumping away from me with a glare. Brushing his shoulders off, he suddenly frowned, staring at my shoes.

"A-actually, I think I'm gonna go ahead and stay here," he said, making something in my stomach curl sourly. Jealousy, I realized with angry surprise.

"I thought you didn't want to sleep in the same bed with a practical stranger," I pointed out.

He shrugged, rocking on his heels. "I can sleep on the floor or something. Besides, he doesn't seem that bad."

I was silent a moment, trying to fight back a flash of unexplained anger. "Fine," I managed to bite out. Pasting on a teasing smile, I chuckled, lacing my fingers behind my head and staring down at him. "Don't let him rape you in the middle of the night," I said with a wink.

Growling, Beck whirled on his heel and stomped inside, slamming the front door shut and leaving me all alone. I stood like that for a few more moments, then slowly let my hands fall to my sides. Frowning, I walked around my truck and levered myself into the driver's seat, starting her up and slowly driving back home.

What the hell was that about? Why the hell was I feeling jealous? What do I have to be jealous about?

No...that was...that was anger. Yeah. I was just angry, and annoyed he'd bailed on my offer to stay at my place. Yeah, exactly.

Ha. Ha. Yeah...Exactly...

I wasn't jealous.

I kicked the vending machine, cursing the damn thing. Freakin' thing stole my money!

Growling, I gave it one last slam, before turning and stomping back to my truck. Revving the engine, I roared out of the small grocery store parking lot and flew through town, heading towards a little dirt road that went straight to the river side.

Tree branches reached for the sides of my truck as I drove down the narrow, pot-hole filled road, the branches scraping along the doors and truck bed. I finally entered a little clearing, and pulled up next to a big boulder. Parking, I hopped out, then kicked my shoes off. The ground was cold since everything was enveloped in shade from the huge trees towering around the clearing, their branches forming a canopy.

I listened for a second to the toads and the crickets near the waterside, along with the sound of the leaves in the trees swishing in a soft breeze around me. Sighing, I finally felt peaceful for the first time in a while.

The last few days, I've been...well, snubbed seems like a good word. Beck's become good ol' buddy-buddy with his step-cousin Josh. Whenever I first hung out with them, I was ignored.



So, tired of that, I simply stopped coming over to Beck's place.

He still hasn't bothered to contact me.

It's been three days.

I went to kick a nearby tree, when I remembered I wasn't wearing shoes and quickly changed direction, kicking some overgrown grass instead.

"I sound like a freakin' love-sick teen," I muttered angrily. "And I'm not!"

Sighing, I tugged off my shirt, then pulled off my socks, leaving me in nothing but shorts and my ever-present John Deer hat. Slowly, I walked into the cold river water, staring out across it as I walked knee deep. The mud was squishy beneath my feet, and oozed beneath my toes, making my grimace. Dropping to my knees, I reached beneath the water and scooped up some mud, flinging it a few yards away.

Finding a clam shell, I pulled my feet from beneath me and sat down, the water coming up to my neck. Examining the shell, I tried to pry it open, but the little bugger was holding on tight. Tossing it, I stood, water dripping off me, and headed back to shore. Flopping onto the thick grass, I laid down, staring up at the canopy of leaves above me.

Beck and I used to come here all the time. He and I are the only ones who actually know about this spot. I like it because there's no trash, nobody ever comes here, and it's peaceful and quiet. Nothing but the sounds of nature. It's calming. I usually come here whenever I need peace away from people.

Suddenly hopping to my feet, I reached in my truck and turned the radio on, flipping it to a country station. Pulling myself into the bed of the truck, I laid down, spread eagle, and closed my eyes. Exhaling, I let my mind drift as I relaxed.

Before I knew it, I was asleep.

I mumbled something into my pillow as someone knocked on my bedroom door.

When they knocked again, I managed to lift my head enough to shout, "Go away!" before I was back face-down.

Heedless of my wishes, the door opened, and my mom stuck her head in. "Sweetie, you've got a call," she said.

Turning my head, I looked at her with bleary eyes. "Whosit?"

"It's Beck."

Growling, I buried my face back in the pillow. "Don't wanna talk to him!" I said angrily, my voice muffled.

"Dirk..." my mom said in that voice of hers. You know the one. Makes you feel like a shit-head.

I turned back to her, giving her a pleading look. "Don't wanna talk to him," I said pathetically.

Sighing, she nodded, then held the phone to her ear as she shut my door and left me to wallow alone.

It's been nearly a week since I last talked to Beck, and I was feeling pissed. I never realized how much time we spent together until now. I mean, I'm bored all the freakin' time now!

Yawning, I glanced at the clock, figure it was time to wake up for the day. I took a quick shower, got dressed, then headed out to the barn to do my Saturday chores. Letting the horses out to pasture, I filled their water trough and gave them some hay, then began mucking out all the stalls. I finished around lunch time, then went in to take a shower to wash all the sweat and barn smell off of me, then ate.

"Ah, Dirk!"

I glanced up at my mom from where I was sitting on the couch watching TV. "Yeah?"

"Can you go to the store for me real quick? I need some corn tortillas for dinner tonight."

Sighing, I stood, then headed out to the truck and drove to town. Parking, I got out and went into the store, heading straight for the isle with tortillas on it. I stared at all the different kinds of tortillas with trepidation. How the hell am I supposed to pick one? There's like twenty different kinds!

Grabbing a random brand, I turned, and was about to make my way to the register, when I nearly ran into someone. Yelping, I jumped back, staring at Beck in surprise.

"Dirk," he said with a wavering grin. "Hi."

I blinked, then said nonchalantly, "Hey."

He paused for a second, then looked around and licked his lips nervously. He opened his mouth to say something, but, before he could, I quickly cut in.

"Where's your boyfriend, Josh?" I sneered, exaggeratedly looking around.

Beck's eyes narrowed, and his back straightened as he stood up straighter. "He-he's not my boyfriend," he hissed, glaring angrily at me.

"Could have fooled me," I said, shrugging and crossing my arms.

"Don't be such an ass!"

I stared at him, speechless. "Oh, I'm an ass, am I?" I asked angrily.

Turning on my heel, I stalked towards the register, setting the tortillas on the conveyor belt with a loud thump. I nodded to the guy behind the register, someone I go to school with. He rang me up, then I paid him and quickly made my way outside.

Beck caught up with me just as I reached my truck. Grabbing my arm, he yanked my to a stop, forcing me to turn around and look at him.

"What is your problem?" he asked, his eyebrows furrowed.

I sighed, shaking my head. "Forget it, Beck."

I hopped up into my truck, slamming the door shut, nearly getting Beck's fingers caught. Jumping back, he hooked his fingers over the window sill, glaring at me through the open window.

"Dirk, come on," he pleaded. "Don't be like this. What's wrong?"

"Goodbye, Beck," I said, then put the truck in reverse and backed out.

He jumped out of the way, his eyes watching me as I drove off, my chest twisting painfully as I watched him grow smaller in my rear-view mirror. I suddenly slammed my fist against the door handle, then yelped as pain shot up my arm. Yelling angrily, I slammed on the gas, roaring down the road way over the speed limit.

Reaching my house, I quickly dropped off the tortillas, then went back outside and to the pasture. Whistling, I called Jentle over, then climbed the fence and jumped on his back. Holding onto his mane, I rode him bareback over to the gate, then leaned down and opened it. Leading him out, I turned back and closed it, then kneed him gently towards the corn field.

I rode leisurely through the tall green stalks, feeling them swish gently across my legs. Occasionally, Jentle would stop and nibble on the little patches of grass found here and there, and I would let him. Sighing, I closed my eyes and leaned forward against his neck as he meandered through the corn rows, ending up at the edge of the property and down by the creek.

I nearly fell off as he suddenly dipped his head, drinking from the creek. Sitting up, I slid off him and waited until he finished drinking. Grabbing his halter, I tugged him after me as I began walking along the edge of the bank.

I don't know what I was doing. I mean, I should have stayed and talked to Beck, but...God! I don't know what the hell's going on with me! I've practically lost interest in everything, and I can't stop thinking about Beck; him and me hanging out at the creek, climbing hay bales, going to the movies. Am I gonna lose that? Lose the only person on earth who can stand me longer than any of my own girlfriends?

Stupid fucking Josh. He's the reason Beck's been gone all the time, ignoring me. He's the one Beck's been hanging out with. He's the one who stole Beck from me.

I suddenly fell to my knees as I was hit with a realization.

I-I've been replaced.

Feeling the ground spin beneath me, I sat down on my ass, holding onto Jentle's halter with a death grip. He sniffed my hand, lightly butting his snout against my head, but I didn't feel it.

I have no real skills. I'm not smart, I don't have any talents, and I don't really fit in with my family. My dad, my brother, and my mom all have something that depends on them. My mom has her garden and her family, my dad has the farm, and my brother has his business. The only thing I ever had was Beck, and now he's gone.

Jentle suddenly nudged me more firmly, no doubt because I was dragging his head down with my grip, but I didn't pay attention to that. Reaching up, I scratched the little white mark on his forehead, pressing my cheek to his snout.

"At least I still have you," I muttered, kissing the top of his nose.

Jentle snorted, making me grimace. Giving a weak smile, I let go of his halter, allowing him to lift his head and give a small shake. Sighing, I fell to my back, staring up at the bright blue sky.

"I'm not overreacting, am I, Jentle?" I asked rhetorically.

Yes. Yes, I am. And I know I am.

But, I don't know why.

I mean, we've had fights before, sure. But, nothing like this. I miss him. I miss laughing at jokes with him, playing Xbox with him, going to Saturday night car races with him.

I miss him more than a friend should.

It-it's driving me nuts.

I-I shouldn't miss him this much. Hell, I've never even missed any of my girlfriends this much when we broke up. So, why him? What makes Beck different? Is it because I've known him all my life? Like a brother? Maybe. But...

I-I've had dreams of him. Dreams you don't have involving your brother.

Covering my face, I sighed, groaning. "It's all fucked up," I muttered.

I laid there for nearly an hour, listening to the sound of Jentle nibbling on the grass, along with the sound of birds and the gentle sway of the trees and grass. And hoof beats.

Wait, hoof beats?

Sitting up, I looked around, spotting Jentle standing still with his head looking back towards the direction of the house and his ears pricked forward. Following the direction he was looking, I spotted a horse trot out from the corn field, making it's way towards me. I narrowed my eyes as I locked eyes with Beck as he sat atop the horse.

He pulled up a few yards away from me, sliding off the horse with measured movements. Tying the reins to a nearby tree, he walked over to me, staring down at me with hands on his hips and a neutral expression.

"How'd you find me?" I asked.

He scoffed, sitting down beside me. "Please. Jentle was missing, but his tack wasn't. This is the only place within riding distance I'd knew you'd go to."

We sat in silence for a few moments, avoiding each others eyes.

All of a sudden, before I could stop, I burst out, "I'm sorry."

Beck looked at me in surprise for a few seconds, before giving a small smile and tilting his head. "I should be saying that."

I blinked. "Oh?"

He glanced away, his smile turning to a frown. "I've been ignoring you these past few days," he said softly. "I-I was just..."

He stopped, sighing. Pulling his knees to his chest, he began picking at the blades of grass, pulling them from the ground.

"I like you, Dirk," he said, swallowing thickly. "A-and, I guess I figured, if I hung out with Josh, I'd be able to get over you."

I felt my hands clench, but all I said was a quiet, "Oh."

"I-I was mean, and selfish, and I shouldn't have done that. I-I-I understand if your mad at me."

Sighing, I shook my head, my anger deflated and gone like the wind. "No, I'm not mad," I said quietly.

He turned his head and grinned at me, making something in my chest pound and twist, but not in a bad way. Stretching his legs out, he bumped the toes of his shoes together, making a small noise.

I let my eyes trail from his toes, up his legs, to his knees, across his thighs, then his lap. Quickly looking away, I leaned back on my hands and tilted my head back, stretching my neck as I stared at the sky.

"Did it work?" I suddenly asked before I could stop myself.

Beck turned and looked at me in confusion, his eyebrows furrowing. "Did what work?"

I straightened my head and turned it towards him, my eyes locking with his. "Do you still like me?"

He stared at me, his eyes locked with mine, the air tense. Opening his mouth, he paused, then licked his lips. My eyes flickered down to his pink tongue, and I felt my cheeks heat up as I suddenly flashed to one of the dreams I'd had, remembering all he'd done to me with that tongue.

"Dirk?" he asked quietly, his voice weird.

I skittered my eyes away from his mouth, staring out at the creek. "What?"

"Look at me."

"Nope, I'm good."


I jumped as his voice sounded right next to my ear, automatically turning my head towards him. I tensed as I found his face right there, gulping nervously, but I couldn't bring myself to pull away from him.

I watched as he crawled closer, his eyes never leaving mine. I felt his knees bump against my thigh as he placed one hand on my shoulder, using it to hold him up. Slowly, cautiously, he brought one knee up and across, straddling my thighs. When I made no move to push him away, he slowly sat down, settling his ass on my legs.

"You know," he said conversationally. "Josh is gay."

I tensed, my eyes avoiding Beck's as I resolutely stared at the creek over Beck's shoulder. "O-oh."

"He flirted with me."

I felt my eyes narrow as my fingers dug into the soft dirt beneath us. "Mmm," I hummed, my voice unhappy. Very unhappy.

Beck leaned forward, his chest pressed against mine as he laid against me, his mouth right next to my ear. "We slept in the same bed," he whispered, his hot breath ghosting across my skin.

I felt a wave of jealousy wash through me, making my throat close around a lump and my breath come out in a whoosh. Growling, I curled my toes and tipped my head forward, pressing my nose against Beck's shoulder. The scent of his laundry detergent filled my senses, along with some other scent that I instantly knew was simply Beck.

Closing my eyes, I breathed in deeper, feeling something stir within me. Beck wrapped his arms around my ribs, pressing himself closer to me, his heat sinking right through our clothes and straight into my skin. Sitting up straight, I planted my hands on his sides, meaning to shove him away, but I ended up pulled him closer as he slid his tongue along my neck.

"Beck," I gasped, my fingers tightening.

"I still like you, Dirk," he whispered. "I really like you."

Swallowing, I shook my head, bending my knees and inadvertently sliding Beck closer. He gave a breathy chuckle, tightening his thighs around my waist. Leaning back, he stared down at me with dark eyes, his hand coming up and tilting my head back, mischievously knocking my hat off and letting it fall to the ground.

"I'm gonna kiss you, Dirk," he said softly.




His lips were soft, warm and tentative as they pressed against mine. Cupping my head, he sucked on my bottom lip, his teeth nipping softly. Sliding his tongue along my bottom lip, I felt my lips part automatically, and he quickly took the opportunity to press deeper.

A strange sound erupted from my throat as I felt the tip of his tongue brush against mine, sending a spark straight to my groin. Grinning against my lips, he tilted his head and moved harder against my mouth, his tongue exploring.

Slowly, hesitantly, I began to respond, his wet heat intoxicating and driving my senses haywire, tossing my thoughts out the window. I let him take the lead, feeling somewhat lost and out of my league, but Beck knew what he was doing.

I jumped as I felt his hand slide beneath my shirt, feeling a niggle of panic set in. But, he simply rested it on my side, his hot palm like a cattle brand against my skin.

Time lost all meaning as we sat there, drowning in each other. Beck's taste, smell, warmth, everything surrounded me, sending fire through my veins and making my heart race. My fingers tightened in a way that must have been painful, but Beck didn't make a noise, simply pressed harder against me. I realized belatedly that he was trembling, and, to my surprise, so was I.

I flinched as I felt something hard press against my abdomen, the feeling foreign and weird, yet slightly thrilling at the same time. Gasping, I finally detached my mouth from Beck's, my lips tingling and swollen. Panting, I kept my eyes closed as I felt Beck's warm breath fan across my face, his chest heaving against mine.

He bumped his forehead against mine, bringing his hands up to rest on my shoulders. I heard him let out a breathy giggle, the sound somewhere between joyous and hysterical.

"Dirk," he whispered, nuzzling his face against my cheek. "Dirk. Dirk."

He kept repeating my name in that breathy, sweet voice of his, his soft skin sliding against my cheek. He began pressing feather-light kisses all over my face; my eyelids, my cheeks, my nose, my chin. It felt hard to breath, and I opened my mouth to take big gulps of air, tasting his sweet scent in the back of my throat.

"Becker," I croaked, my eyes squeezed shut.

He pressed his lips to mine, his hands threading through my hair and tangling it. Pulling back, he giggled again, his fingers tightening painfully in my hair.

"I've been wanting to do that for years," he said softly.

I opened my eyes, staring into his hazel orbs. They were sparkling with something I'd never seen before, making the little green and gold flecks in his irises stand out dramatically. He blinked slowly, his blond lashes sweeping up and down, brushing against his cheeks.

I've never looked at him like this. So close. So...pretty. He's always just been Beck. A dirty blond haired, hazel eyed, skinny male teen. My best friend. But now...

Now, his blond hair looked soft as silk, burdening me with the urge to softly stroke it. His boring hazel eyes were filled with life, the different colors swirling around as he blinked. His lashes were long and thick, and his skin was smooth and blemish free. His warm body fit perfectly against mine, and he felt like he belonged.

I closed my eyes and suddenly hugged him tightly against me, overwhelmed with an urge to never let him go.

I've never felt like this before. So...content. Happy. Jubilant. Joyful, and any other synonyms.

I've never felt this with Courtney, or Hannah, or Pauly, or Jessica, or...anybody.

It hurt, but...at the same time, it felt good. Like sour candy. It's so tart and bitter it makes you squint, but you still eat it. Same with hot sauce. It burns, but it makes everything taste good.

"I think I'm going insane," I muttered.

Beck chuckled, giving me an open mouth kiss on my neck that sent shivers down my spine. "Good insane or bad insane?"

"I'll have to get back to you on that," I said.

We were silent for a few moments, listening as the cicadas finally came out and started filling the night air with their buzzing. The sun was just beginning to set on the horizon, turning the sky pink, purple, and a mishmash of other vivid colors.

"Dirk?" Beck asked quietly.


"Can I stay at your place tonight?"

I hesitated a fraction of a second. "What-what about Josh?"

"He'll be fine on his own."

I licked my lips, blinking when I tasted Beck. Feeling my cheeks flush warmly, I squeezed my eyes shut as I became painfully aware of the tightness in my jeans.

"A-alright," I said thickly.

Beck grinned, kissing my cheek. "Don't worry," he said. "We don't have to do anything. Simply sleep. I-I miss laying beside you."

I felt one of my worries vanish as he spoke. Truthfully, I was just getting used to this. I don't really think I could do much at the moment with-with Beck. L-l-l-like, you know, that.

"I-I can handle that," I said quietly. "Sleep. Sleep is good."

Chuckling, Beck leaned back, staring down at me with one of the softest smiles he's ever given me. Running his palm along my cheek, I felt his fingers leave a trail of fire in their wake, making something curl with pleasure deep in my gut.

He suddenly reached around me, nearly falling, before he straightened back up, placing something on my head. I stared upwards, spotting the lip of my baseball cap.

"C'mon, cowboy," Beck said, flicking my nose with a grin. "Let's go home."

"Alright. Home," I echoed, watching as Beck stood.

Smiling down at me, he held out his hand, and I automatically grasped it, letting him haul me up. We stood only a few inches apart, but neither of us leaned away. Beck suddenly fell forward, letting his cheek rest on my shoulder as he wrapped his arms around my ribs.

I held him against me, pressing my nose to the top of his head, breathing in the heady, sweet scent of his shampoo. Beck tilted his head back, and, after a brief pause, I tentatively pressed a quick kiss to his lips, testing myself. When Beck responded positively - eagerly- I deepened the kiss of my own violition, feeling Beck grin and make a happy noise.

Pulling back before I got in too deep and never wanted to stop, I gasped, breathing hard.

"We should head back before it gets dark," Beck murmured against my throat, pressing kisses to the sensitive skin.

"M'kay," I breathed.

Giggling, he finally pulled away, taking a small step back. Winking at me, he turned, then walked over to the horse he'd ridden here and untied the reins. Mounting, he glanced at me, smirking.

"Coming, cowboy?" he teased.

Swallowing, I went over and grabbed Jentle's halter, tugging him over to the other horse. Letting go, I hopped up onto the horse, settling behind Beck, knowing Jentle would follow. Not bothering to think about what I was doing, I wrapped my arms around Beck's waist and pressed my front to his back, squeezing myself into the saddle behind him.

"Let's go home," I said quietly.

I felt Beck shiver as I spoke, making my lips curve up in a grin. Taking a deep breath, I proceeded to blow on his neck as he turned the horse towards the direction of the house.

And then - however cliched it may be - we rode off into the sunset.

"Stop blowing on the back of my neck!"

"You know you like it."

"I swear to God, Dirk, I will tell your dad about your secret beer stash!"

"You-you wouldn't!"

"I would!"

"...Little bastard."

He just snickered.

I continued to blow on his neck.

It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.