This was the last short story I wrote during lectures of my freshman year of college *sniffle*
Soyeah, I hope you enjoy :)
"Riker, calm down. You are going to send yourself into a panic attack," Miri sighed, looking at him in the rearview mirror.
"Not to mention cut off the circulation in my hand," Jeff snorted, attempting to stretch out his fingers within the confines of Riker's hand.
"Sorry," Riker breathed, loosening his grip on Jeff's hand. Jeff just smiled, squeezing Riker's hand slightly.
"Sweetie, you've already met Jackson. Why are you so nervous?" Miri asked.
"Co-stars," Riker gasped out. "What if they hate me, or judge me?"
Jeff and Miri exchanged a glance through the rearview mirror. Ever since the nightmares had started when Riker was twelve, he had become much more self-conscious. Getting put on medications hadn't helped and Jeff struggled everyday to try and restore his best friend's self-esteem to what it had once been.
"Riker, honey. They're all the same age as you, and I'm sure they will like you. Three of them are going to Westtown in the fall also," Miri said.
"That doesn't mean anything," Riker protested. Miri and Jeff both sighed and Jeff pressed closer to Riker's side.
"It's gonna be fine. I'll be right there with you, the whole time," Jeff said. Riker looked over at Jeff, blue-grey eyes wide and reflecting Jeff's green ones.
"Promise?" Riker asked.
"Promise," Jeff replied, smiling and hugging Riker as best he could while they sat in a car. Miri smiled back at them, shaking her head slightly. She was grateful for Jeff, who never once gave up on Riker, even when Riker was at his worst and trying to push Jeff away.
"Alright, you two. We're here," Miri said, parking the car. Riker immediately tensed up, burying his face into Jeff's shoulder even more. Jeff snorted and ruffled Riker's hair.
"C'mon. We'll be fine," Jeff said, climbing out of the car. Riker took a deep breath and followed, immediately latching onto Jeff's hand. Jeff gave Riker's hand a small squeeze and have him a reassuring smile. Riker gave Jeff a small smile in return before they walked inside. Jeff smiled, thinking back to when Riker used to be the more outgoing of the two of them, having taken Jeff's hand into his own all those years ago when they had met.
"Ah! There are the last two!" Jackson exclaimed as he walked up to them. Jeff smiled and waved while Riker just gave a small wave. Miri smiled slightly and placed a hand on top of Riker's head lightly.
"Nerves," she added. Jackson chuckled and shrugged.
"It happens," he said.
"Alright. I will see you two later," Miri said, turning Riker and Jeff to face her before kissing their foreheads. "Love you."
"Love you, Mom," Riker breathed.
"Love you too, Mir," Jeff giggled, hand still wrapped around Riker's. Miri waved and then walked back outside.
"Alright. Follow me and you can meet the others," Jackson said, starting to walk away. Jeff started to follow, tugging Riker along behind him. Jackson led them to a small area with a few couches where five other kids were sitting with a box in the middle of the room. One girl immediately looked up and looking over at Riker and Jeff.
"Are you guys gay? 'Cause you're adorable together," she said.
"Dylan," Jackson hissed. Dylan shrugged, still looking at Riker and Jeff.
"What?" she asked. "They are!"
"Issues, Dylan," one of the guys said.
"Shut up, Grant," she replied. Then, she looked over at Riker and Jeff. "You never answered my question."
"No, we're not. He's straight," Jeff told her, nodding his head towards Riker. Dylan sighed.
"Shame. You guys are adorable," she added.
"Dylan, honestly," Jackson breathed. Dylan just smiled innocently, leaning into Grant's side. "Alright. All of you. Sit on the floor in a circle."
"What are we? Five?" the other guy asked.
"Joey, shut your mouth," Jackson said as the rest of them laugh, slowly settling onto the floor. "Alright, now each of your grab a kitten."
"Remind me why we're playing with kittens," one of the girls asked.
"Because, Jamie, you are. Just grab a kitten," Jackson replied. Jamie shrugged and then grabbed a kitten out of the box. Jeff giggled and crawled over to the box, dragging Riker with him. Riker looked down into the box and smiled slightly, scooping up an orange and white tabby with green eyes. Jeff scooped up a kitten also and then settled back down next to Riker, who was cradling his kitten in his lap.
"Alright. Now, I want you guys to go in a circle and introduce yourselves," Jackson said.
"Wow. Just wow," the last girl breathed, rolling her eyes. Jackson shot her a look and she sighed. "Okay. I'm Lauren, and I feel like I'm back in elementary school right now."
"Lauren," Jackson hissed. She shrugged and the others snorted.
"Alright. I'm Jamie," Jamie giggled, scratching at the kitten's ears as the kitten curled up in her lap.
"I am Joey."
"Jeff," Jeff breathed, watching Riker out of the corner of his eyes.
"I'm Riker," Riker finished, smiling slightly as the kitten in his lap purred and rubbed against his hand.
"Alright. Now say one thing about yourselves," Jackson said.
"Oh! Um…my mom is vicariously living through me!" Lauren exclaimed.
"Same here! But, I will also say that my oldest sibling is twenty years older than me, and the one right before me is ten years older," Dylan said. Joey whistled, eyes wide. Dylan giggled and Grant shook his head.
"Okay. Fact about me…I have so many pets I sometimes think I live in a zoo," Grant said.
"So true," Dylan breathed.
"Hm. I guess I will say that I have a twin, but she lives with my dad in California," Jamie said.
"My turn, I guess. Uh…I'm gonna be an uncle soon," Joey breathed.
"Okay. I guess I'll say that my one sister and I have mutant ears," Jeff said. Riker immediately snorted with laughter, shaking his head.
"Way too self-conscious about your ears," Riker added. Jeff stuck his tongue out at Riker, who chuckled and shook his head again. "Anyway, I guess I'll have to say that today is not the first time I've been asked if I'm dating Jeff."
"Really?" Dylan asked. Riker and Jeff both nodded.
"The first time we got asked if we were together we were eight," Jeff said.
"Dang," Joey breathed.
"To make it better it was his mom who asked," Jeff snorted. The others all stared at them with wide eyes and Riker chuckled.
"Six years later and our parents still ask us if we're sure we're not dating," Riker added.
"That is hilarious," Lauren giggled. Riker and Jeff just shrugged, Riker still scratching the kitten's head as it purred in his lap.
"Were you even out when his mom first asked?" Jamie asked, looking at Jeff, who shook his head.
"Nope. Didn't come out until we were twelve. I still didn't really understand that stuff when I was eight," Jeff replied.
"That makes it even funnier," Grant snorted. Jeff shrugged again.
"How long have you known each other for, anyway?" Dylan asked.
"Since we were three," Riker replied, smiling as the kitten settled more into his lap.
"Damn, they got us beat, Dyl," Grant breathed. Dylan nodded in agreement.
"We've known each other since we were six," Dylan added.
"Still a long time," Joey said.
"Almost too long," Dylan breathed. Grant pressed his lips together and shoved her playfully, causing her to giggle.
"See, I could say bad things about Riker, but they'd all be lies," Jeff said. Riker snorted and shook his head.
"Only reason I don't annoy you is because our siblings do plenty of that already," Riker said.
"True," Jeff agreed. "But now we get to be the annoying freshmen siblings who embarrass their upperclassmen siblings."
"Oh my god, I wanna help!" Joey exclaimed. "I mean, if we're at the same school."
"Well, speaking Jackson said five of us are going to Westtown, and Dylan and I aren't, I would say you all will be in school together," Grant snorted.
"Win!" Joey exclaimed. "I want to annoy peoples' older siblings!"
"I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunities," Jeff said. "I know I am going to annoy Alyssa all the time during Midnight Swallows if I get in."
"Jeff, Alyssa alredy put in a good word for you, you'll get in," Riker said.
"She did for you too," Jeff said. Riker sighed, looking down at the kitten in his lap.
"You guys are going to try for Midnight Swallows also?" Lauren asked.
"He is. I'm not," Riker replied, jerking his head towards Jeff, who huffed out a breath.
"I convinced you to go out for Aladdin in seventh grade and Beauty and the Beast this past year. I will convince you to join Swallows with me," Jeff said stubbornly.
"I didn't actually do Aladdin though," Riker said.
"Yes, but you would have if it weren't for what happened," Jeff replied. Riker just shrugged, scratching at the kitten's ears.
"You guys bicker like an old couple. This is hilarious," Jamie giggled.
"So true. Too bad Riker is straight," Dylan snorted. Riker smiled and rolled his eyes and Jeff giggled.
"Sorry to disappoint you," Riker added.
"I'll live," Dylan replied, shrugging.
"You're so weird," Grant laughed, shaking his head.
"And yet you still love me," Dylan giggled, leaning against Grant's side.
"Questionable," Grant replied. Dylan pushed Grant playfully, who laughed.
"Well, you guys haven't killed each other, so I guess that's good," Jackson chuckled as he walked back up to them. They all looked up at him, expressions sarcastic. He chuckled again, shaking his head. "Alright guys, time for another game."
"Oh gosh," Joey breathed.
"Is it really a game, Jackson?" Lauren asked.
"No, not really," Jackson laughed. Then, he dropped a box of cards between them.
"Cards, woo!" Jeff exclaimed, causing the rest of them to laugh.
"Okay, you are gonna go around the circle, each of you picking a card and reading the question on it. Then, you will each answer the question," Jackson said.
"Question: why are we doing this?" Riker asked, lying down on his back.
"To get to know each other," Jackson replied.
"And because we're five," Jamie laughed. Jackson shot her a look and she smiled innocently as the others laughed.
"Whatever. Someone hand me a card," Riker said, chuckling slightly as the kitten climbed into his chest and curled up, still purring.
"There ya go, Rike," Jeff said, dropping a card onto Riker's face.
"Aw, thanks, Jeffy," Riker snorted, picking the card up to read it. "Alright, the question is, what is your favorite book? Oh gosh, ready yourselves guys."
"Why?" Joey asked.
"Because Jeff is a huge nerd," Riker replied as Jeff started giggling happily.
"I guess he can go first, then," Lauren said.
"Oh, yay! Well, I don't really have one favorite book. I am just obsessed with Harry Potter, the Inheritance Cycle, and Percy Jackson," Jeff giggled.
"Obsessed is putting it lightly. For the last Harry Potter premiere, he went dressed as a Hogwarts student," Riker said, scratching at the kitten's side as it purred on his chest.
"And you were a poop-head and wouldn't be Harry Potter," Jeff said.
"Just because I read the books doesn't mean I will go to the movie premiere as one of the characters. It was not Halloween," Riker replied.
"So you would be Harry Potter for Halloween?" Jeff asked.
"Oo, you just stepped in it, dude," Grant laughed.
"Eh, this is nothing. He forced me to be a cat this past year," Riker said, shrugging one shoulder.
"You made a very cute cat," Jeff said as the others laughed.
"I bet he did," Dylan added, throwing Riker a wink. Riker snorted and shook his head.
"Kids! Back on track!" Jackson called out.
"We're still getting to know each other, even if we're not following the stupid cards!" Jamie replied.
"Agreed!" Lauren added on.
"Plus, it was Riker and Jeff's fault!" Joey said.
"Hey!" Jeff exclaimed defensively.
"What? It was!" Joey replied.
"Don't question it, or you will get shunned for the rest of the day," Riker said.
"What?" Grant asked.
"If someone annoys Jeff too much, he shuns them for a day," Riker replied.
"You have got to be kidding me," Lauren laughed. Riker smiled and shook his head.
"I am not kidding. He's about to do it to me right now, I can tell," Riker chuckled, glancing over at Jeff, who had his arms crossed over his chest and nose pointed into the air. "He once did this to me and our friend Carter because we refused to shower after soccer practice, just to annoy him."
"Oh my god," Jamie giggled as Jeff glared over at Riker, eyes narrowed.
"That is hilarious," Joey snorted. Riker nodded and smiled again, still petting the kitten that was curled up on his chest.
"I've never met anyone who does that before," Lauren laughed.
"Now you have," Riker said.
"Dude, I can already tell school is going to be ridiculous," Joey snorted.
"Most likely," Jamie agreed.
"I can guarantee that. Carter is going to Westtown too," Riker said.
"Riker and Carter are complete dorks together. I don't know why I hang out with them," Jeff said, still refusing to look at Riker, who chuckled.
"Sounds like you guys have tons of fun together," Dylan laughed.
"Up until we trigger one of Jeff's gay-isms that make him freak out," Riker said. Jeff stuck his tongue out at Riker before sticking his nose back in the air. The others all laughed and Riker smiled, rolling his eyes. "Seriously though. All you have to do is ruffle his hair lightly and he freaks."
"And you guys are jerks because you know I spend time doing my hair," Jeff said, finally talking directly to Riker, who burst out laughing.
"Why do you think we do it?" Riker asked, causing the others to burst out laughing as Jeff narrowed his eyes at Riker once again.
"I hate you and Carter. So. Much," Jeff hissed. Riker just shrugged, grabbing the kitten off his chest and sitting up.
"We'll live," Riker added.
"You guys are so nice to each other," Lauren laughed. Riker shrugged and Jeff huffed a breath.
"Totally," Riker added.
"Alright. Let's choose another card," Grant breathed, leaning forward to grab a card and then reading it. "How many people live in your house?"
"Three," Dylan said. "Just me and my parents."
"Same," Grant said.
"Four. I have an annoying kid brother," Joey said.
"Six. My mom is remarried and I have two step-siblings, along with my baby sister," Jamie told them.
"Five. Twin siblings are annoying," Lauren huffed. The others just snorted, shaking their heads.
"Six, and I agree with the twin siblings being annoying," Jeff said. Lauren nodded and gave Jeff a high-five.
"At the moment, there are three. Used to be five, but my brother is twenty one and moved out and my dad's gone," Riker said. Jeff shot Riker a sideways glance, but Riker just shrugged slightly.
"That sucks," Grant said. Riker nodded.
"Yeah, it does," Riker added. Jeff sighed, glancing over at Riker again. Riker ignored him though, looking down at the kitten in his lap as he pet it.
"Okay, next question," Jamie said, reaching out to grab a card from the box. "Who is the most important person in your life?"
"Oh my god, what are these questions?" Lauren asked. "But anyway, I would have to say my baby brothers, even though they are super annoying."
"Same for me, except I only have one little brother," Joey said.
"I guess I'd say my dad," Dylan said, pulling her hair over her shoulder.
"Probably my older cousin, since she's there more than my parents," Grant said.
"My little sister. I've been told I care about her too much," Jamie told them. "But, I mean, she was little when my parents divorced and stuff."
"Makes sense then," Dylan said. Then, she looked over at Riker and Jeff. "Your guys' turn."
"My mom and Jeff," Riker answered simply, still scratching the kitten's side.
"Definitely Riker," Jeff said, crossing his legs.
"Damn, you guys are so sure of that," Joey said. Riker and Jeff shrugged, exchanging a glance.
"We've known each other since we were three. We've been through a lot together," Riker said.
"Yep," Jeff agreed, not mentioning that they were still going through a lot, just like they had been for the past year and a half.
"Alright, moving on," Lauren breathed, reaching out to grab a card. They all just smiled and rolled their eyes, preparing to answer more ridiculous questions.
"Okay, kids. Parents are here!" Jackson called out a few hours later.
"No, I'm comfortable," Joey whined.
"Same," Riker agreed from where he was lying between Dylan and Jeff, the kitten still curled up on his chest.
"Mmh, I'm so going home and cuddling with Mr. Chubby," Jeff breathed, starting to sit up.
"Mr. Chubby?" Jamie asked.
"My dog. He's fat," Jeff replied.
"Okay then," Jamie breathed, shrugging. Riker chuckled, grabbing onto the kitten and sitting up.
"It is easier not to ask. He was ten when he got Mr. Chubby," Riker added. Jeff made a face at Riker, who chuckled again.
"C'mon guys, time to go," Jackson said, walking up to them.
"Pleh," Lauren huffed, pushing up from the ground.
"You'll see each other soon, don't be so sad," Jackson chuckled.
"Oh hush," Grant said, getting up and then helping Dylan. Jackson chuckled and then looked over at Riker, who had the kitten clutched to his chest as he pet it.
"You know, you can keep the kitten if you want. They're my cat's kittens," Jackson told Riker, who looked up.
"Really?" Riker asked. Jackson smiled and nodded.
"You just made his day, Jackson. He knows Miri will say he can keep it," Jeff said.
"What am I letting my son keep?" Miri asked as she walked up to them with the other parents.
"A kitten," Riker said, smiling innocently at Miri, who smiled and shook her head.
"Easier than the dog you've been wanting since you were two," Miri said.
"And you don't have to pay for it," Jackson laughed.
"Oh, such a plus," Miri laughed. Riker just smiled, hugging the kitten to his chest.
"Thanks, Momma," he added.
"No problem, sweet pea," Miri replied, kissing Riker's forehead. "Now, you two ready to go?"
"Yeah, but hold on. I wanna say bye," Riker said before walking over to the others with Jeff.
"Hey, see you soon, dude," Joey said, clapping Riker on the shoulder.
"Prepare for the coming school year," Jamie giggled, hugging both Riker and Jeff.
"You got it," Riker said.
"Jeff, keep trying to convince Riker to join Midnight Swallows," Lauren said as she hugged them also.
"You betcha," Jeff giggled.
"We'll see you guys next time we come to set," Grant said as Dylan hugged Riker and Jeff.
"Don't have too much fun without us," Dylan added.
"Psh," Riker and Jeff said in unison before they all started laughing.
"Alright, bye guys!" Riker said, waving as he and Jeff walked off.
"Bye!" they all replied. Miri smiled as Riker and Jeff walked up to her.
"You ready to go?" she asked.
"Yep," they replied. She smiled again and kissed their foreheads before leading them out of the studio.
"So, did you guys have a good time today?" Miri asked once they were in the car.
"Mhm," Jeff replied.
"Feel better about it now, Rike?" Miri asked.
"Yeah," Riker said, smiling slightly.
"Good," Miri breathed, smiling also as Riker and Jeff leaned against each other and then fell asleep for the rest of the ride home.