A/N I'm going to take a second to be proud of myself for sticking to this two week deadline even though I've barely been home to do more than sleep all week! I hope this update is okay though, considering I am pretty sleep-deprived. ALSO: Allow me to take a moment to whine about how this story totally reminds me of summer because that is when it is set and that is when I started writing it and sometimes I get sad 'cause I miss summer and this whole cold weather/school/life thing isn't the greatest. But yeah, thank you guys for reviews and alerts and everything, especially you anon reviewers whom I can't personally thank, which sucks. This will have to do, I guess. I love you, you are all fantastic, enjoy! :*

Nico has somehow miraculously managed to convince me to sit down and play a game of chess with him, which kind of sucks because I'm complete shit at chess. I haven't actually played since I was about ten years old—I stayed as far away as possible from Chess Club in high school and I don't even know if my college has a Chess Club (although they have a club for fucking everything, so it's not unlikely.). I am not a naturally-gifted chess player, nor have I gained the skills to be a good chess player throughout the course of my life; therefore Nico has destroyed basically all of my fucking pawns by now (and it's only been maybe thirty minutes) and I haven't touched any of his.

"This game sucks," I inform Nico wisely, but he's just smiling irritatingly as he knocks off another one of my pawns with his horse thing and I don't even know how this game works and I don't even know what's going on.

I had asked Nico to explain it to me, to remind me about the rules again, but then he just went off on some fucking tangent making up a story about some fucking make-believe kingdom in order to explain the rules of chess so I just told him to shut up and start. Because he wasn't helping.

I sit and stare at the chess board silently for about two entire minutes, and it's totally quiet and all I can hear is the sound of the clock ticking, but then Nico finally says, "Hey. Ivan. Hey. Are you going to do anything?"

"I can't even play chess," I whine, looking up at him. "Why the fuck are you making me do this?"

"You said you were bored so I suggested it and you said okay," he says, looking kind of pouty, but Emerson is coming into the room with his laptop as Nico speaks and he sits down beside me and almost slams his laptop on the ground in front of him.

A couple of chess pieces fall over and I say, "Um."

Nico says, "Hi to you too," and reaches over and puts the pieces back on the board.

"Do you know," Emerson says, without even apologizing (which is uncharacteristic for him), "how much more difficult it is to rent a car when you're under 25 years old?"

I've never had to rent a car before, so obviously I say, "No."

He just gives me a look and then he turns his laptop towards me and says, "Everything's so much more expensive—there is this fucking young renter's fee," and I look at the laptop and at the different prices for the cars and we're fucking college students and who came up with this road trip idea anyway? Right, me. That was me. That was my Brilliant Idea For The Summer. But Emerson's still saying: "because people who are under 25 are more likely to get into accidents," and he definitely looks at me and I definitely wince and I definitely say (like a complete idiot), "Oops."

Emerson just stares dejectedly at the laptop and then I say, "We can split it, though. The price. Obviously. You aren't paying all of it, that's stupid. I can even pay for the whole thing. Because. Um. Sorry."

We both know that the second part of that offer is a complete lie, because I can't really pay for the whole thing, but I can pay for part of it. That part is true. Emerson still says, "I mean, you don't have to," but it's finally my turn to give him a look and then he just says, "Okay."

"It's weird how you can vote and pay taxes and stuff but you can't rent a car," Nico muses from the other side of the chess board, his elbow on his knee and his chin in his hand.

Emerson sighs and says, "It's stupid," but I say, "It's because of people like me."

"If I was Emerson, I wouldn't let you drive at all the way back. Or ever. I wouldn't let you drive ever," Nico says seriously, glancing up from the chessboard at us, and I flip him off but at least Emerson manages to crack a smile.

Emerson still looks ridiculously worried, though, and I reach over and brush the back of his hand with my fingers (he doesn't clench his hand into a fist and it doesn't feel like some weird jolt goes through my fingertips and I don't just bring my hand back to my lap, except he does and it does and I do) and say, "Hey, it's okay. I'll—we'll split it and you can drive and I'll sit there and be quiet and we'll get home in one piece and—we'll be fine."

He nods, dropping his gaze from me to the chessboard, and then he starts laughing and I completely forget about what we were even talking about for a second in my annoyance and I say, "What?"

Nico is saying, "I know, right?" and they're both laughing and it's one hundred percent unnecessary because nobody plays chess now anyway. Chess is not a thing that people do. Chess is for old people who were alive back in the fucking Middle Ages, which I obviously was not, and I don't think that there is any reason for me to be ridiculed just because I cannot play this stupid game.

Nico has just informed Emerson that it's still my turn, and Emerson looks at the chess board for a minute before moving some piece that I can't even fucking identify and killing one of Nico's pawns—finally, and I say, "Where the fuck did that come from?"

Emerson just says, "This is kind of pathetic."

I don't even bother to dignify that with a response and just sit and wait, cross-legged and hands folded, for Nico to take his turn, which he does much more efficiently than I tend to do. But before I can even move, Emerson has taken over again, and he already seems to be making more progress within two moves than I had made in half an hour.

I decide that I will just sit and watch them, then, because they seem to be having a much more interesting game than Nico and I were having (because that mostly consisted of Nico making a move and then me wondering what the fuck "that one piece with the spikes" is even called and Nico telling me that "they are not spikes and it's a rook, Ivan, do you even know what spikes are?").

Emerson's laptop and our rental car are pushed to the side and forgotten and I fist bump him every time he manages to get one of Nico's pieces and even if he doesn't get the game completely equal, he at least stalls for a while before Nico manages to checkmate him. Which is more than I can say for myself.

It's still kind of weird; I can tell. Even Nico can tell, and I can tell that Nico can tell that there is some sort of slightly awkward tension between us but he's nice and doesn't say anything about it. By the time I woke up in the morning, Emerson was already awake (which isn't saying much even if he went to sleep after me), but I did happen to be in time for breakfast—which was homemade pancakes and eggs and milk and/or orange juice and it was great because 1. I generally don't even wake up for breakfast and 2. when I do, it's never homemade pancakes.

I wouldn't mind staying at Nico's house forever if it resulted in homemade pancakes.

I had mentioned it, though, and Emerson said that he was perfectly capable of making me pancakes, and I was going to tell him how gay that sounded but then I figured that that is currently a slightly touchy subject, so I just stuffed an obnoxious amount of pancake into my mouth and gave him a thumbs up in the pretense of being unable to speak.

Emerson then went off to shower or something and I began to complain about being bored, which was when Nico dragged me off to play chess with him, which clearly didn't end well seeing as I can't play chess.

Chess is Not My Thing.

After we've decided that we're done with chess, Nico skips off to put the game away and Emerson and I go back to the laptop to rent a car—and obviously we rent the shittiest, cheapest one that we can find, but it's something and as long as it gets us back home without breaking down, then we're more than happy. It kind of sucks that Emerson's going to be the only one driving it, but it costs more to add extra drivers and anyway they probably wouldn't even want me driving the car considering I just crashed Emerson's. I figure I don't really deserve it.

And anyway it's not like it's a particularly great car.

At least for now, we've at least mostly managed to put everything else behind us, but it only lasts until I stupidly reach over him to grab my phone and it's not even like that's a big deal because I've fucking climbed all over him for my phone or a book or the remote before but suddenly it's like I have this restraining order, like I need to stay at least one foot away from him at all times or else my dick is just yelling at me to jump him and my brain is saying that I am an idiot.

So I snatch my hand back and say lamely, not looking at him, "Can you pass my phone?"

And he says, not looking at me, "Okay," and he passes me my phone, and then he says, "I'll—uh. Go get the car."

And I say, not looking at him, "Okay."

And he says, not looking at me, "Okay."

And I clear my throat and he gets up and leaves and I rub my eyes and click on an unread message in my phone, which is from my friend Jamal back at school and it reads, 'are you dead?'

I finally reply, 'almost.'

I have this irritating sense of déjà vu when we're standing at Nico's doorstep again, bags packed and ready to leave, only the car is different this time. And I'm not going to be driving it.

Nico says brightly, "Well, knowing your guys' track record, I should be seeing you soon, right?"

Not funny. I am not laughing. Emerson, on the other hand, is grinning, but I just shove Nico lightly and say, "You think you are hilarious, don't you?"

"Shut up. Put up all our pictures on Facebook because I want them, okay?" he says, and Emerson assures him that he will, and then I'm—of course—being pulled into a stupid group hug and everyone is assuring everyone that we will all keep in touch until our dying days and apparently this is true because as soon as I go to load the bags into the trunk, I receive a text from Nico saying, 'Hi!'

With an obnoxious amount of exclamation points and all.

Emerson's still standing at the door, talking to Nico about something or the other, and I jog back over to make sure that they aren't shit-talking me behind my back but by the way that Nico abruptly stops talking to give me a huge smile, I am pretty sure that they were.

"Hi," I say very deliberately, holding up my phone in front of Nico's face, and he waves. I roll my eyes and stuff my phone back into my pocket and bump Emerson's shoulder with mine and say, "You ready?"

He says, "Yeah," and we say bye to Nico one last time before finally going over to the car and getting inside. I glance out the window at Nico as Emerson starts the car and he blows me a kiss and I can't help but grin and flip him off and he makes a heart with his hands and then we're all waving and then we're leaving.

It's hot, so I put the windows down and reach over and tentatively play with the music system (because it's some sort of weird compulsion for me; if I have nothing else to do I change radio stations or songs or whatever else) but I'm almost overly careful because it feels like if I touch anything, it'll break. Which is stupid.

The radio station I picked switches to advertisements about a minute later and even if there's still that as well as the sound of the wind it's really quiet—weirdly quiet, and it's not like Emerson and I are never quiet around each other, but there's a difference between awkward quiet and regular quiet and this is definitely awkward quiet and I don't like it. So, obviously, I say, "Hi."

Emerson says, "Hi."

I say, "Wanna play a game?"

I see him glance at me through the corner of my eye and he says, "What kind of game?"

I shrug and slouch down and say, "I dunno, whatever kind of game. I'm bored. We still haven't found Hawaii and Alaska."

He doesn't say anything for a moment and I glance over at him and he looks kind of confused and I say, as though he's a complete idiot (which he's not), "The license plates," and he says, "Oh."

"Do people in Alaska even drive, anyway?" I say, and when he doesn't respond, I continue, "I mean, isn't it always snowing and there's always ice everywhere, right, so I guess they must just all have those wagon-sled-things that their dogs pull everywhere."

"Yeah, because everyone in Alaska lives in a fucking igloo," Emerson says dryly, and he sounds like he's trying not to laugh.

I shrug, smiling a little, and I say, "I wanna go to Alaska."

"One day," he tells me.

"Yeah, I took you to Niagara Falls so you'd better take me to Alaska. One day." The radio station is finally playing music again, but I have no idea what song this is and I have no idea what station I even stopped on so I compulsively reach over to change stations again.

"Let's think about this for a second," Emerson is saying carefully, though, and I look over at him, and he's still talking: "How much easier is it to get to Niagara Falls than to Alaska?"

"There are planes," I say, waving my hand dismissively. Then, "What's there to do in Alaska?"

"Um, I mean, I'm sure there's cool things to see. And stuff." Which basically means that he has no idea.

"And stuff," I repeat, grinning, and I lean back in my seat and stare outside the window. There are less cars on the road now than there were the last time we left so we're moving a little faster, and Emerson's saying something but I'm not really listening and I interrupt, "This driving thing is so fucking boring. Why can't we just teleport everywhere?"

Because he's nice he doesn't even mention the fact that I just rudely talked over whatever he happened to be saying and he just tells me, "Jesus, Ivan, you were the one who wanted to do this in the first place."

I shrug and say, "I mean, it's cool when we stop at places. Because, I mean, Cedar Point was the best—it was the best, right? Right?" There's silence for about two whole seconds before I say, "Right?" again, and I continue to do so until Emerson finally nods. I can tell he's trying to stop himself from smiling, but then I finally go on: "And Niagara Falls was great and even fucking Chicago was pretty cool but this part. This part is dumb. There is nothing to do in a goddamn car."

"The—you know, the car is kind of a necessary part of a road trip," Emerson says, and I sigh loudly. He rolls his eyes. "What, exactly, did you think that this part would be like?"

I open my mouth, which is when I realize that I have no answer, and I close it again. He starts to laugh a little, but I do not, because this is not funny. It's boring.

"Just go to sleep, Ivan," he tells me. Except I'm not fucking sleepy, but I just lean my seat back even further and grab a pair of sunglasses from the glove compartment and shove them on my face and close my eyes and Emerson says, "Why did you put on sunglasses?"

To which I reply: "Because it's sunny. Shut up, I'm sleeping."

I'm not sleeping, though, but Emerson takes the chance to change radio stations again and the music is suddenly boring enough that I think I could potentially fall asleep.

It must actually happen, or I must at least doze off for a few minutes at some point, because Emerson's shaking me and I'm opening my eyes and pushing the sunglasses off and I look around and we're at a rest stop.

"Food!" I announce immediately, unlocking my seatbelt and getting out of the car. I'm inside within minutes and Emerson is soon behind me and he says, "That was quick."

"I'm hungry," is my explanation, and I look around and there's a kind of mini-food court in this place and I decide that I am in the mood for a typical burger-and-fries combo so I head off towards the Burger King section. Emerson makes his way over to what looks like some cheap Chipotle rip-off, but, hell, whatever makes him happy.

I step up to the counter and the cashier says, "How may I—" but in the middle of his question, he does a sort of double take and gives me a weird look and I say, "What?"

"Uh," he says, and he lifts his fingers to his upper lip before quickly dropping them and saying, "It's—um. How may I help you?"

I stare at him, and he stares at me, and I stare a little more and then I finally say, "Is there something on my face?"

"Well," the cashier says, and he blinks.

Neither of us says anything for another moment, and then the cashier says, "Well, um. Yeah."

"Um. Where? Is it?" I ask kind of stupidly, and he reaches up with one finger and points at his upper lip again, and I rub at my own and then he's shaking his head and I'm saying, "What?"

He looks like he's trying not to laugh or something now, and he says, "It's—you have, kind of—" He leans in a little closer kind of abruptly, and I frown, not sure whether to take a step backwards or ask him what the fuck he's doing or just leave and go to Emerson's stupid not-Mexican Mexican place but then the cashier says, "I think it's Sharpie."

I blink at him.

He says, "You have," and then he makes a gesture that I assume is supposed to look like a mustache on his face and he says, "Drawn in marker."

"Are you shitting me?" I say, and then I attempt to find something with some sort of reflection in which to look at myself, but there's nothing in close proximity that looks like a mirror and then I just fumble around in my pocket for my phone and kind of manage to see myself in it and I think I can faintly make out a fucking mustache drawn in Sharpie on my face and then I look over sharply at Emerson, who's actually standing there and watching me and laughing.

"Wow. Wow," I say, and I think the cashier is fucking laughing, too, and then I snap my order at him and he tells me how much it is and I pay him and then while I'm waiting for the food I stalk over to Emerson and point at my face and I say, "What are you, five years old?"

He says, "Sorry, I'm sorry, you were just—you were asleep and I couldn't help it."

"How the fuck am I supposed to take this off? Emerson," I whine, but he's still laughing and I feel like I'm going to start laughing now, too, only that's stupid because none of this is funny. This is immature and completely ridiculous and this is not something that anyone who is older than five would do. This is certainly not something that Emerson would do. I cannot, for the life of me, think of any reason for Emerson to draw a fucking mustache on my fucking face while I was fucking sleeping.

"I feel like," he's saying now, "since we didn't know each other when we were twelve, I have the right to act like a twelve-year-old this once."

"That might be the most stupid justification of something like this I've ever heard in my entire life," I tell him. And it's true, even if I'm not sure how many other justifications of "something like this" I've actually heard.

"Okay, whatever, it was just funny," Emerson says. He's still grinning, and I can feel myself about to smile, too, but I don't want to so I just turn around and stalk back to Burger King like a drama queen and grab my food and I don't even bother thanking the guy behind the counter, who still seems to think that this entire situation is absolutely hilarious.

Which it's not.

I grab some napkins and some condiments and some salt and some (a lot of) pepper and I sit down at the first empty table I see and I pout and wait for Emerson to come join me, which he does within a minute. I am carefully peppering my fries and he unwraps his burrito and as soon as he does, I reach over and dump a whole packet of pepper onto his burrito and then he just stares at it for a moment and then he starts cracking up, and.

And I slouch and pout.

"You are so stupid," he says, but he says it all affectionately and that's annoying and nice and extraordinarily gay all at once so I kick his shin lightly under the table and he kicks me back and his knee knocks into mine and then the toe of his shoe is pressing into my foot. I'm about to ask him what the fuck he's doing but then his ankle is suddenly kind of locked around mine and it's kind of uncomfortable but kind of not all at the same time and over the table, he just grins at me innocently and I stuff more-than-a-handful of beautifully peppered fries into my mouth and very pointedly concentrate on not choking on them.

Our legs stay pressed together for the entirety of the meal.

I've taken a shitty picture of myself with my phone and texted it to Nico, asking him whether he thinks I look good with a mustache, after which I immediately scrubbed my face so hard that my skin ripped apart, and I think that I have finally managed to rid myself of Emerson's stupid drawing—at least for the most part. The mustache is probably still faintly there, but I frankly cannot be bothered to spend any more time trying to get rid of it (it'd probably be a futile effort at any rate), so we are now walking back to the car. My hands are shoved into my pockets and we're next to each other but I'm walking about a foot and a half away from him, as though that restraining order has come into effect again. And it's stupid, really. There's no reason for any sort of restraining order—literal or figurative—so I force myself to inch closer and then we're finally actually walking next to each other. Why it had to take so much fucking effort, I have no idea.

Only I do.

I glance over at him and he's staring at the ground as he walks and I swallow and say conversationally (stupidly), "So, uh, we don't really have time to stop anywhere, do we? I mean, other than rest stops. If we want to get the car back in time."

He looks up at me and he says, "I mean, we could probably stop at one or two places if you wanted. As long as they're on the way, yeah, we can't go out of our way for attractions or whatever, because." Because the less time we keep the car the cheaper it'll be. And as college students, cheaper is always better. Actually, as human beings, cheaper is always better. I don't think it's necessarily a college student rule. More universal. Unless you happen to be one of the Kardashians.

Emerson and I are not Kardashians.

"So if you found anywhere you wanted to stop on the way," Emerson says, "then, sure."

I nod, and then I think about how the fact that only Emerson can drive this car kind of sucks because we're going to have to stop somewhere for him to be able to get at least some sleep and if I hadn't been a complete idiot then I could've been driving during those hours, but instead we will be wasting the time sleeping. I don't know if we're going to want to shell out $50 each for a motel, though, so we'll probably end up just pulling into a rest area for a few hours.

We get into the car and Emerson starts the engine and we're on our way again. I pull my phone out to discover that Nico has texted me back, and it reads, 'Holy shit, I'm going to blow this up and frame it and put it all over my room and jack off to it every night.' And that's fucking disgusting but I can't stop myself from laughing a little as I reply, 'damn straight, just what I wanted to hear.'

I drop my phone onto my lap after I've sent it and glance over at Emerson and I say, "Hey, Emerson?"

He says, "Yeah?"

And were you trying to play footsie with me while I was eating a burger and you were eating a shitty burrito and that's not fair because you told me we're not doing this kind of thing and I feel like I am getting Very Mixed Signals from you right now and what do you even want from me and were you actually trying to play the worst footsie I have ever experienced in my entire life with me all seem like extraordinarily idiotic things to say, so I settle for, "How many people have you dated?"

He says, "Um."

"Just wondering," I say stupidly.

He doesn't say anything for a moment, and then he clears his throat and says again, "Um." Then, "Well, there was—Steven. Last year."

"Yeah, he was fucking annoying," I say, and Emerson glances over at me and frowns and I hold my hands up in front of me slightly defensively and say, "I'm just saying! He was always around and it was irritating."

"We were together, so yeah, he was always around," Emerson says, and he sounds kind of confused.

"And," I continue. "And he would always give you fucking flowers. How much gayer can you get?"

"That was maybe two times, Jesus, Ivan."

"And," I plough on steadily, "he'd always leave his shit around the apartment, like, I'd go into the fucking bathroom to have a fucking shower and then Fucking Steven's gay-ass conditioner would be in the fucking shower—why the fuck did he bring his conditioner over? Couldn't he survive a shower every once in a while without his fancy designer conditioner? Do they even make designer conditioner? Why does he even use conditioner? What the fuck is conditioner?"

Emerson's laughing now, and I say, "To be perfectly honest, I think he just left his shit there on purpose as an excuse to come back and make out with you or something. Which he didn't need an excuse for, considering he was your boyfriend or whatever, but clearly he seemed to think that he did." I tap my fingers on my knee, attempting to think of more annoying things that Fucking Steven had done, and I think that my phone vibrates, but I am currently too occupied by reminiscing about Fucking Steven to check what more Nico has to say about my mustache. "He'd always be fucking cooking, too. Like, I'd get back from class or work or something and then there'd be Fucking Steven in the kitchen and he'd be making something and then you'd be like, isn't he so cute, making a nice meal for us, and I'd be like, what the fuck, I want a burger. He practically lived with us and that was stupid, because he wasn't paying rent or anything."

"Was this just all an excuse for you to rant about my ex-boyfriend?" Emerson asks me, and I give him a shut up, I'm not done talking look, so he shuts up and looks back at the road, an amused expression on his face.

"He was always so fakely nice to me, too," I say, and Emerson feels the need to interrupt me by saying: "Is 'fakely' even a word?" but I do not even acknowledge his question; I just continue, "I mean, he'd smile and always be all, Hi, Ivan, it's so great to see you, how are you, whenever he saw me, but it was so fake. I could honestly hear the bullshit behind his it's so great to see you's whenever he talked to me. So obviously, I was always just like, well, it's not great to see you, fuck off."

"Wait, seriously?"

"No," I admit, slouching into my seat. "But he definitely didn't like me and I don't know why because I'm the best."

"Um, I can think of a lot of reasons why people wouldn't like you, actually—"

I am not even remotely interested in hearing these so-called "reasons," so I interrupt Emerson to say, "And you'd always go out with him."

At which Emerson looks at me (with that Ivan, you're an idiot expression, of course) and says, "I mean. Yeah. We were dating. That's what you do."

Right, because I would fucking know. Except, that's not even exactly what I mean, so I say, "That's not what I mean. I mean you'd always go with him to parties and shit, not even just regular dates, but you never come when I ask you if you wanna go to a party. Or whatever." And now I'm starting to sound really stupid again, but I can't stop myself from continuing to talk. "I mean, yeah, we go to games and movies and concerts and normal stuff, but you don't come for. Other things."

"I do sometimes," Emerson says. "But that stuff's just not really my thing. You know that."

"Yeah, but." I blink and stare down at my hands, and why did I even get myself into this? I don't talk about things. "Even when you do you kind of avoid me. Or. Go somewhere else. You don't. I mean. I don't know. I don't." I pause, and then I say, "Never mind." I can tell that I am going to stop making any sort of sense soon (if I haven't stopped already) and before Emerson can even say anything, I say quickly, "You never answered my question."

He says after a moment, "Right." Then, "So, yeah, there was Steven, and then I was kind of off-and-on with that guy in freshman year—"

"Adam, right?" I say. Emerson blinks at me and nods and I say, "He was kind of tolerable. At least, compared to Fucking Steven."

"Okay, one, since when do I need you to approve my boyfriends?" I just shrug, and Emerson says, "And, actually, Adam was kind of a dick."

I wave my hand dismissively and say, "A kind of tolerable kind of dick. Go on."

Emerson stares at me, but he just shakes his head and apparently decides not to push it and then says, "I didn't really date a lot of people in high school. Just one."

"Just one," I repeat.

"Yeah, well, I mean. High school relationships." He shrugs. "It was—whatever. I came out my sophomore year, and it wasn't all horrible or all rainbows and unicorns, either, but, yeah. I wasn't the only gay guy in the school, but it wasn't like there was a huge posse or anything." I snort softly, and he smiles a little before he keeps going. "It was sort of incestuous, actually. Um, the group of gay people, I mean. I think by graduation we'd all at least hooked up with each other. Which is, yeah, dumb, but it wasn't a huge school and meeting people wasn't all that easy." I'm trying not to think about the fact that I'm thinking about Emerson hooking up with people right now, and I'm trying not to internally whine about the fact that he does not want to hook up with me, and then I force myself to listen to him again and he's saying, "I only actually had one serious boyfriend, though, in high school."

I don't say anything, until I say, "Me too."

And he says, "You too what?"

"I was only with one person in high school, too."

And then Emerson says, "Wait, really? You? Were actually with someone?" I frown at him, and he says, "Do you even know what a relationship is?"

"Shut up," I mutter, staring down at my hands again. "We weren't even actually together, I don't think. I mean, well. Okay. The thing is. She thought we were together, but I didn't, so that got kind of awkward. And she was dumb. And clingy. And annoying. And. No. I was sixteen or whatever anyway. Thought I was the shit. It was stupid."

Emerson just nods, and every time I look at him now there's this little voice telling me about how nice his profile is and then I have to take a minute to call a meeting with my dick and my brain and inform them that this is Not An Option. This time's meeting goes something like this:

Good afternoon, Dick. Good afternoon, Brain. We are here to discuss (again) why anything involving Emerson Evans and Ivan Makarov's relationship going further than simple best-friend-ness is Not An Option. This is Not An Option because Emerson likes boys who will bring him flowers and who will cook for him and who won't look at other people or think about other people and who wear gay conditioner and who actually know what a relationship is. Also: Emerson thinks that Ivan does not know what a relationship is. Also: Ivan does not want a relationship, and Emerson likes relationships. And he likes boys who like relationships. Ivan does not fall into this category.

Relationships are Not Ivan's Thing.

Therefore, this is Not An Option. So, Dick, if you would kindly fuck off, please and thank you.

Meeting adjourned.