Chapter 15: Take What's in Front of You

Some of Darren Keegan's favorite moments were the ones in the early morning before the Lone Pine opened to the public for the day. The California sun rising in the distance, illuminating the mall through its many glass windows with an orange and magenta glow. The smell of coffee shops starting their early brews. The coming to life of all the electric signs, games, and shopfronts as he strolled throughout the walkways of his most prized creation. He liked to make his rounds here and there, stopping in to greet the employees on shift and crack a couple of jokes before heading out on his way to the next. It was the only time this place really felt like his own, but that was alright. It wasn't exclusively for him, anyway. Certain things had made him aware of that now more than ever.

He frankly hadn't known if this endeavor would work out or not. Financially, sure, he was dumping a lot of his money here, never to be seen again, but he'd anticipated that. What he hadn't been able to predict was whether or not fulfilling this pipedream would fill the void within him that had grown larger and larger over the years as what he supposed was an objectively successful businessman. Darren Keegan—businessman. What a laugh. He couldn't pinpoint when that transition between lackadaisical fun-lover to corporate mogul occurred, but he'd definitely lost himself somewhere along the line. He always figured that by now he'd have been married with the whole two point five kiddos, but once his allegedly revolutionary security software had taken off, it hadn't slowed down enough for him to realize just how much of his own life he'd missed as he ran with it. Not until that conversation with Alex one chilly Winter morning.

He'd kept in touch with Alex as well as Dave over the years, and they even met up still from time to time, as rare as that was becoming. They'd give him a hard time about how he was some big hot shot now who was too good for his high school pals, but he could tell they were genuinely happy for him. Dave had some success in his own right, a little surprising for how much of a shameless fuck-up he'd been in his youth. Now he managed a recording studio in L.A., still living the single life after his second divorce, but seeming happy. Alex had married ten years back and settled down, still working as a bartender like he had in college with two young kids to support and nary a complaint to be uttered. One average day a couple of years ago, Darren had been thinking of him after some t-shirt in a novelty shop in Burbank reminded him of an inside joke from way back when, and he just had to text Alex about it in that moment.

It was a normal conversation. How's the job? How's the wife? How's getting old treating you? Alex talked about his kids, and when Darren commented that they must be getting big by now, Alex sent over a picture of his eight-year-old boy dressed in one of Alex's shirts all the way back from the eighties that he'd managed to hang onto. It was a He-Man shirt. Darren was sure he even remembered Alex wearing it around while they were pre-teens. Passed down like a torch to a new little rascal for the future of fun and trouble that was surely ahead of him. And Darren's heart had just...seized up, looking at that photo. When Alex's kids were babies, it was easy to look at them and smile and say, "Me too, one day". But now that they were older, now that he could easily pick out Alex's features in that little boy's face and envision his actively progressing childhood, it hit him like a ton of bricks. He was nearly fifty years old, and the last vestiges of a life he actually wanted to be living were still back there in his teens. Not ahead of him.

For months afterwards, he'd found himself spiraling into a gradual but lengthy depression. One that seemed to worsen with every meeting. Every phone call. Hell, every email. He didn't know how long he'd been in sleep mode just passing the days with basic functions as he rose the ranks from millionaire to billionaire, but he was awake now, and it was harrowing to behold. Where had the time gone? He hadn't even dated since his late twenties, never mind made plans to start a family. Everything was always eventually. Eventually this, eventually that. Eventually happiness, but not just yet. He was forced to think hard in order to keep himself sane. What could he stop putting off? What could he do now to stop feeling like this? What could he accomplish that would alleviate the many years of regret and stagnation, if only for a little while? And so, without consulting any party he suspected would protest against his efforts, he began creating plans for the Lone Pine Mall, named for the mall of his most beloved boyhood film.

He only had one moment where, in the process of his building, he stood and wondered just what the hell he was actually doing. The shrewd ladder-climber he'd unwittingly become shouted at him that he was a grown man dumping an unjustifiable amount of his hard-earned wealth into a psych ward-worthy midlife crisis, and he almost listened. New expenses kept cropping up, new problems arose daily, new setbacks, new doubts, new criticisms from those who knew him. And that was to say nothing of how the papers made him out to be. Mostly it was excitement for the new mall, sure, but there was always that thread of implication of its founder being a total whackadoo. And maybe he was, but he was okay with it now. Better to be a happy nutjob than the miserable picture of rationality. So what if he was tanking his fortune here? Where else was it going to go when he inevitably died of a heart-attack one night alone in some lavish beachfront home?

But here it was. Built and beautiful. A monument to a new worldview that was determined to put fun first and business second from here on out. And it felt good. Maybe he'd underestimated the value in moving back to his home town, or maybe he'd underestimated the damage living purely for work had been doing to him, but either way, things were just right here. He felt like he was sleeping better, eating better, finding fewer gray hairs. It was almost as if recapturing his youth had been a literal occurrence. But better than that was the effect this place seemed to have on everyone else. Darren took the coffee he'd snagged from a vendor along his walk and leaned over the first-floor railing to oversee the empty skating rink. Boy, was he sorry that skate-off was over with. He thought about making it an annual tradition, but Katie Dawson was probably angry enough at him already for the three million he'd 'lost' the first time around. That was alright, though. There would surely be plenty of other crazy schemes to try in order to entertain himself up to his twilight years.

The mall was just opening as he made his way back up to the office attached to his penthouse, figuring he'd better get a head start on all of the boring bits of his day before he could get back to doing what he liked best. Bueller was waiting for him, fat feline gut squashed across a now crumpled stack of work papers in the center of the desk. Darren smirked, wandering over to pet him. "Believe me, kid, I feel the same way about this stuff. Get the heck outta my office, though. Come on, fatty." He heaved the cat up into his arms and lugged him over to the door that led back to his living room, shoving him through it before shutting it and ignoring the displeased yowls that followed. With that he flopped into his desk chair, adjusting his glasses and peering down at his cat hair laced paperwork blearily.

A few minutes later, there was a knock at his door. "Yeah," he said without looking up.

"Mr. Keegan," greeted Jackson's voice.

"What's up, Jackson? Quittin' time already?"

"In just eight short hours. I got a lady here who says she's your ten o'clock?"

Darren looked up. "Ten o'clock...ten o'clock, who's that?"

"Says her name's Parrish."

"Oh." Darren blinked, setting his paper stack down. "Oh, right! Yeah, n—of course, send her right in."

"You got it."

Darren hurriedly shuffled his things aside and cleaned up a little in preparation for company, not so secretly happy for the excuse to ignore that junk for now. Someone would probably get on his case about it later, but this was worlds more important in his opinion. He stood back up as a woman was led into the room. Darren paused, forgetting for a moment to introduce himself. She was awfully pretty. Delicate figure, short blonde hair, and sort of a classy, middle-aged starlet kind of vibe. He looked behind her as Jackson slipped out and shut the door.

"Er, hello!" Darren said quickly, coming over and holding out his hand. "Sorry, I uh, I'm having a bit of a morning here. Darren Keegan. You must be Lucky's mom."

She seemed a little out of her element, looking around and tentatively taking his hand to shake it. "Yes, that's me."

"Well I'm thrilled to meet you in person. Please, have a seat." Darren gestured to the chair across from his desk.

She did so, slipping her purse off of her shoulder and setting it beside her as she sat. "Thank you for meeting with me. I'm sure you're extremely busy, so I won't take up too much of your time. I just wanted to...well, I wanted to see for myself what this was all about. I hope you don't take any offense, but this whole thing is a little objectively...unusual."

He held up a hand, leaning against the desk. "Say no more, Mrs. Parrish—I totally understand. He's your kid, you've gotta check it out."

"Uh, it's Ms., actually."

"Oh." Darren held up his hands. "I-I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to assume."

"That's alright. Look, Mr. Keegan. I appreciate your understanding, but I know this is probably a pain in your neck. It's just that my son didn't tell me anything about this. Not that there was a contest, not that he was competing. He just comes home one day and drops it on me that he's supposedly won two million dollars. I'm just trying to make sense of it."

"I mean, I shocked that he didn't tell you," Darren said, holding a hand to his chest. "I guess it's sort of second nature for kids to wanna hide stuff from their parents, maybe, but gosh. That kid is crazy talented—I don't know why he'd wanna hide it."

"Lucky can be a little more private than I'd like sometimes," she admitted, eyes downcast. "But that's my fault. I work a lot, so he doesn't get a lot of face time to talk to me about things even if he wanted to."

Darren pointed at the wall that faced the mall lobby. "Well he sure wasn't shy on that rink, I can tell you that. He really put his whole self on display out there. Anyway, he's a great kid. Polite, smart, friendly. I'm really glad those two were the ones to make it into the finals. They deserve everything they got."

Ms. Parrish thought for a moment, nodding. "Don't get me wrong...I think he deserves everything in the world, but I'm his mother. Of course I think that. And Blue, well...he's had things hard enough. They both have, in their own way."

Darren frowned. "Is...everything alright? With the kids?"

She looked up, seeming hesitant.

Darren waved the question off, going around to sit back in his desk chair. "Sorry, I don't mean to pry."

"No, it's fine," she dismissed. "The boys are doing well. It's just that some things sort of all transpired at once that..." She stopped for a moment, looking out at him with a distressed face. "You see, Blue lives with us now after some trouble at home. I don't think it would be right if I blabbed about too many details, but when certain facts came to light, I really didn't have a choice but to take him in. Which means that I'm effectively condoning my son living with his boyfriend at seventeen, and that's a lot to handle. No one should live with their high school sweetheart while they're still in high school."

"Sure," Darren agreed, concerned. "Is Blue okay?"

"I guess time will tell. But he's safe at least."

Darren blew out a breath. "Wow. Gosh, I feel bad. I didn't know anything like that was going on with him. It's extremely generous of you to house him."

"Well, my son's crazy about him. And he's a sweet boy, despite everything he's been through. I guess maybe that's where I'm skeptical about this whole thing, whether or not I want to be. I don't even know how to explain this... I guess it's just that my safety net for Lucky is so much smaller than I wanted it to be. Raising him alone hasn't been easy. And I know it's almost technically over—the raising part, I mean—but I worry so much when I think about his future. Not that that's new; I've worried for seventeen years. But I still thought I had time. Time for things to get better, more stable, but then we get one major setback just as he's about to be an adult, and now I have virtually nothing for him. Lucky's just like any kid. He's going to go out there and make stupid decisions and get himself into terrible situations because that's just part of growing up. But his mother should be able to help him when he does. I can't express how scared I am about what might happen if I can't. Then we throw Blue into the mix, who has even less than Lucky ever did, and he's going to need things now—medical care, school supplies, therapy, and I..."

Darren waited patiently, lips parted.

She looked up and met his gaze, suddenly seeming embarrassed. "God, I am so sorry. I-I don't know why I'm vomiting this all over your lap like this, I must sound like some high-strung nut."

"No, no—honestly. Please, go on."

She sighed. "I guess my point is that...I'm having a hard time accepting this. That it's real. Because I've just worried for so long that I'm even worried about what will happen if I stop worrying."

"Ms. Parrish, I completely understand," Darren replied, holding up his hands. "But this is real. Lucky and Blue earned their money. They worked hard for it. Harder than I thought just a couple of teenagers were even capable of, and I can promise you: I didn't work nearly that hard to accumulate those two million dollars in the first place. That's why I had no problem flinging it at some contest just for kicks."

She was silent for a long moment before continuing. "Mr. Keegan, I really don't know what to say."


She nodded. "Okay...Darren, then.

Darren shook his head. "You don't have to say anything. I-I'm honestly just glad to know that this whole thing did more for others than it did for me. See...I don't have any children. Not to get too personal here, but it's not like I never meant to. It's just that one day, you wake up after a couple of decades with your nose to the grindstone, you're forty-nine, and you realize that...well. It's like you said. You thought you had more time."

She gave him an empathetic look.

"So...maybe you can just look at this whole thing as a favor to me. Letting some guy, weird as he may be, leave something behind so that he can feel like he made a difference in some kids' lives. Even if they weren't his. It'll make me feel important."

"...Thank you. For what you did for them."

"No, thank you. I mean without you, there'd be no Boys George."

There was a long stretch of silence in which they stared at one another before she finally responded. "...I'm sorry, what?"

"Oh. That was their team name during the competition. The Boys George."

"That's what they called themselves?" Her breath hitched and she held a hand to her mouth as a laugh broke out. "That's so stupid. I can promise you my son was the one to come up with that."

Darren laughed in turn, leaning over his desk. "I thought it was brilliant. Those kids are sharp. They did all of this themselves—I'm just some lousy middleman. But you really can stop worrying, Ms. Parrish. Those kids are getting their safety net and thensome."

"It's Dana, actually."

Darren smiled. "Well, Dana, is there anything else I can do that would put your mind more at ease?"

She looked back at him with a strangely guilty face. "You can accept my apology."

"Apology? For what?"

"For all the things I said about you and this mall when it was being built."

"Oh." He looked down at his desk for a moment. "Well hey, don't worry about that. Couldn't've been any meaner than anything my accountant's said to me about it. Or my mom, frankly."

She laughed quietly. "It wasn't my place to say anything. I guess it's just a decade I've got a personal vendetta with and I was projecting. It's none of my business how people want to spend their money, and anyway, I do have some good memories of the eighties."

"Yeah?" Darren grinned. "Walking around here bring any back?"

"Sure. Boy, the kids with this fashion...what were we thinking back then, huh?"

"Ooh, I'm not sure I should admit to you how long I rocked the Flock of Seagull's cut in high school..."

"I definitely had my hair teased up enough that I got dirty looks in movie theaters," she recalled with a soft smile. "Which was a lot. There wasn't much else to do in Iowa."

"Yeah? We had kinda the same problem around here back then. Were you big into movies?"

"Oh, sure. It's been so long that I don't remember many, but back in the day, I was a huge fan of scary movies. I think I must've seen every horror movie that came out in theaters between eighty-five to ninety-five."

"Eighty-five? You couldn't've been old enough."

"Oh, I wasn't. Me and my friends used to sneak in. I always managed to convince them, but they hated it. My friend Stacey would refuse to sit next to me in the theater because she knew that as soon as something scary happened, I'd grab her to try and make her scream."

Darren cackled. "So you were a hellraiser, it sounds like."

"I had my heyday, that's for sure... I can't begrudge my Lucky much without being a hypocrite."

"I have to admit, I'm a pretty big horrorhound myself. I remember when I was about...I guess thirteen or so, all of us went to go see Reanimator, and boy, that really freaked me out. I had this old black cat at the time and she died just a few weeks later. You can bet I buried her real deep after that."

Dana made a slight intake of breath. "Reanimator, wow. It's been years since I thought of that movie... My friends and I would rent the tape on movie nights all the time, and they'd always tell me that they thought I looked just like—"

"Barbara Crampton," Darren finished in realization, snapping his fingers and pointing out at her. "Yeah, I totally see it!"

She shook her head with a sigh. "It definitely feels like another life by this point."

"Yeah...I guess it does." Darren looked down, biting a thumbnail in thought for a long moment. "Say, uh, Dana, would you...happen to be interested in watching the kids' dance routines?"

She looked up in surprise. "Watch them? You mean they were recorded?"

"Sure, naturally. I got the whole competition—didn't wanna forget a minute of it. There were some killer numbers these people pulled off, and some of the best came from Lucky and Blue. I'd be happy to show it to you. You know, provided you've got the time."

Dana hesitated, looking at the clock on the wall. "Well...I guess my errands can wait. If you're not too busy."

"No, not at all." Darren stood and directed her to the door. "Just come on this way to the effects booth where I've got it all stashed. Heck, I'll even burn you a copy if you like."

She stood, gathering her things to follow him. "Thank you, yeah, I-I'd love to see what they were doing."

Darren held the door open for her, waiting for her to walk through. "Ah, you'll love it. And believe me, once you see them, you won't wonder for a second why they're winners."

Dana paused in the doorway to give him a curious look. "You know, don't take this the wrong way, but you're really nothing like I thought you'd be."

He stared down at her just as curiously. "That's a good thing, I hope."

She smiled at him again, tucking her hair behind her ear before heading out the door. Darren swallowed, clearing his throat as he quickly fixed his hair in an adjacent wall mirror before hurrying out after her.

Summer wore to a close in Landon Heights much the same way it had done so every year in its past. The days felt shorter and the high of responsibility-free carelessness was withering away under the impending promise of another full school year, gradually sapping the spirit of some and renewing the enthusiasm in a final burst for others. Normally Lucky would be on that train, desperate to recapture the fun of Summer one last time before resigning himself to drudgery and boredom, but not this year. This year, to hell with the worries. He couldn't care less what season it was or what tedium lay ahead anymore. Because even though the best Summer of his life was ending, it just meant that the best Fall of his life could begin, followed by the best Winter, the best Spring, and then the opportunity to go back and top them all when Summer began anew. Lucky Parrish was certainly nothing if not an optimist. Especially with a big fat stack of cash in his figurative back pocket and a pretty little partner in crime to share it with.

Blue had healed up nicely, leaving no external scars, and when his body had rejuvenated itself, he seemed like a brand-new person, too. Maybe he was still a little shy in social settings and maybe he still swore like a sailor, but Blue no longer lived up to his name by way of being brooding and melancholy. He now lived up to it like the ocean—calm and free at long last. And he began to branch out in ways that Lucky didn't exactly expect. When Lucky snagged the cash Darren Keegan had handed them, insisting to his mother that he was just going to use it to buy some new clothes for Blue (and pissing her off royally when he used the remainder to stock the house up on groceries) Blue had made some interesting wardrobe choices to say the least.

He hadn't really seen Blue in much besides what basically amounted to workout clothes, competition costumes, and eighties themed outfits for the mall. Well, and his birthday suit, but he couldn't very well wear that outfit out and about. With the ability to freely choose all his own pieces, Blue ended up with a look that was somewhere between punk and eboy with his graphic band t-shirts, flannels, cargo pants, and crop-tops. After some coaxing, he also admitted that maybe the 'stage make-up' of his he liked to adorn was more than just a performance tool to him, and with encouragement, slowly became comfortable incorporating some make-up here and there when he wanted to feel a little more smoldering. Lucky liked it. Blue somehow managed to make the feminine look masculine, to the point where he could no longer see painted nails or eyeliner as anything but boyish. He was just so outlandishly beautiful that he owned anything he touched, and as he came into his own style, that just got truer and truer.

Blue forewent his fashion sense today, though. Instead, he'd thrown over his new look in favor of jeans, a white t-shirt, and a blue zip-up hoodie to try and look the part of a certain high school delinquent opposite of Lucky's John Bender. Lucky himself was just busy sitting on his bed and yanking on some clunky boots to top off his ensemble when Blue handed him down a handkerchief. Lucky took it, grinning before tying it around the top of one boot. "Your attention to detail never ceases to amaze me," Lucky said, fumbling with slightly too-tight fingerless gloves.

"Can I borrow your white shoes?"

"What white shoes?"

Blue bent over and popped back up with a pair of sneakers in his hand. "Found these in the back of your closet."

"Whoah, didn't know I still had those. Will they fit you?"

Blue held one down to his foot. "Mmm, yep."

"Well then shit, baby, what's mine is yours."

Blue flipped the shoe over to study the size curiously. "How old were you when you last wore these, anyway?"

The answer to that was twelve, and he'd grown out of them about six months after his mother bought them, but Lucky decided that Blue probably wouldn't love that fact. "Uhhh, wasn't that long ago. Stick 'em on and let's go, I'm dying for some free pizza."

"What if I want tacos?"

Lucky stood, reaching out and patting his cheek. "Then we're getting tacos."

Blue smirked and forced his shoes on, rifling into the closet to dig something else out. "Quit indulging me or you'll turn me into a brat."

"I got news for you, pal—you're dating the wrong guy if you don't wanna be worshipped like the king you are. As long as I'm around, you get whatever you want. End of story."

"In that case," Blue said as he wrapped the sleeves of the denim jacket he'd found around Lucky's waist and tied it there. "I want free pizza. Let's go."

Lucky snatched his sunglasses and obediently headed off down the stairs where they leapt into the truck, ready to get to the Lone Pine Mall for the last Saturday of Summer break. It was as crowded there as they expected, but that didn't bother Lucky any as he parked in a far-off space down the lot. He antagonized Blue on the long walk to the mall's front, hopping around him in circles, shouting the song lyrics at the top of his lungs, "I wanna be an airborne ranger, I wanna lead a life of danger" as Blue grabbed at him to try and stop him while laughing that sweet laugh of his. By the time they made it inside they were both giddy and out of breath.

"I can't believe you don't like my singing!" Lucky cried.

Blue wheezed another laugh and jammed his hands into his jacket pockets. "I love your singing. It's just that it fucking sucks."

Lucky burst out laughing himself this time, folding up is sunglasses and hanging them from the collar of his shirt. "Okay smartass, I don't see you dropping an album any time soon, either."

"You've never heard me sing."

"One day I'm gonna."

"The fuck you are." Blue used both hands to shove him towards the skating rink with pretend roughness. They dropped down to a bench near the rink and began to switch out their shoes for skates, looking around in anticipation of company that finally came just as they were done. Lucky nearly fell over as someone skated into him and hands grabbed his arm. He stumbled to turn around and see Ramona clinging to him.

"Watch where you're going, douche!" she snapped with a smile.

Lucky took in her appearance with amusement, noting her outfit of grays and blacks with a scarf around her neck and her tousled dark hair in her face. "Boy, you look hot. Literally—do you have heat stroke in that getup yet?"

"Tell me about it," Ramona said, fanning herself. She was quickly followed up by June-Marie, looking pretty in a pink blouse, dark skirt, and calf-high boots. Her hair was even red for the occasion.

"Hey guys!"

"Hey Juney," Lucky greeted, grabbing Blue and pulling him onto the rink with them as they filed in. "Did you dye your hair?"

"It's temporary," she chirped as she twisted a lock around her finger.

"At least we think it's temporary..." Ramona teased.

June-Marie swatted at her lightly. "Stop! You're making me paranoid!"

Ramona skated away with a taunting smile to avoid the swat.

June-Marie stuck her tongue out at her before turning back to Lucky and Blue. "I can't believe I actually get to skate out here with the infamous Boys George. I hope I can keep up."

"Hey, we're not the ones who won," Lucky pointed out.

"Yeah, you really kicked our assess good," Blue added.

She shrugged a shoulder modestly. "How ya feelin', Blue? You look a lot better than the last time I saw you."

Blue touched at his face with the back of a hand and nodded. "Good. Pretty much back to normal now."

"Better than normal," Lucky decided. "You know how nervous I am to bring this kid to school with me looking like this? He's gonna cause a drought from all the thirst."

"You might, too," Ramona said. "I heard Hannah Matthews saw some of your newer pics now that you're ripped and she's been flapping her lips to anyone with ears about how much she wants a piece."

Lucky tsked. "Told you she liked me. How do you think I should out myself? School assembly? Next football game? Should I wait until prom?"

"I think you might have it covered," Ramona decided, swinging back to grip June-Marie by the waist and pull her in. "People are already starting to talk. Rumor has it that I'm heartbroken."

Lucky frowned. "Aw, does that mean we can't have a dramatic, public breakup?"

"No luck, Luck."

Lucky folded his arms with feigned indignation. "Can't come out, can't break up. All I want is to make a scene, is that so much to ask?"

"Mmm, you can still come out to Decker," Ramona offered, hiking a thumb over her shoulder. Lucky's eyes followed it to Decker and a couple of his friends on the other side of the rink, laughing obliviously at something. "He is definitely too dumb to have gotten the memo yet."

"He's not dumb. He's just..."

"Stupid?" Ramona hedged.

"Yeah, that's the word."

"Well do you guys wanna dance or what?" June-Marie asked, wriggling in place like an excited Yorkie.

Lucky glanced at Blue before slinging an arm around his shoulders. "You two go on ahead. Me and Blue just got one place we need to hit up, first."

"We do?" Blue asked.

"Yeah. We'll meet back up with you guys right after."

"Okay, well make it quick," Ramona ordered. "I've only got about two dances in me before I overheat and die."

"Five minutes." Lucky saluted her as she and June-Marie skated off, leaving the pair of boys to their own devices.

Blue was looking up at him inquisitively. "Where's this place we've gotta go?"

Lucky began to steer him around the other direction. "Right this way, my liege."

"Hey! Parrish!"

The two turned back around, looking across the rink to see that Decker had spotted them, waving an arm and trying to beckon them over. "Looks like we got caught," Lucky said.

He could feel Blue try and pull from his grasp. "Maybe you should go over there without me."

Lucky tightened his arm, refusing to let go. "No way, why would I do that?"

"Because you know those guys, and they don't know you're gay, so..."

"Blue," Lucky tittered. "Hey, they're all gonna know come Monday. And that's okay. It's gonna be fine, I promise. I'm proud as hell to have snagged you, and what did you say to me a few weeks back? If anyone has a problem with it, they can go fuck themselves. Right?"

Blue was obviously still reluctant, but let Lucky drag him over nevertheless.

Decker was waving at them as they approached, him and his pals dressed as a terrible approximation of Devo with overturned planters on their heads. "Luckster, what's up?" Decker asked, clasping Lucky's hand in a hard shake. "Haven't seen your ugly mug in a while."

Lucky shrugged. "I've been busy. But it's our last weekend of fun, so I figured I couldn't miss it."

"No shit. One more lousy year, right?"


Decker gestured to Blue. "Who's this dude?"

Lucky yanked Blue in closer, smiling wide. "This is my boyfriend, Blue. Blue, this is Decker."

"...Hey," Blue uttered nervously.

Decker stared at Blue emptily for a long moment before furrowing his brow. "Your what now?"

"My boyfriend," Lucky repeated. "Met him over the Summer. He's gonna be going to our school. Treat him nice for me, yeah?"

"Uh...are you being serious or are you fucking with me?"

Lucky stared back at him confidentially. "I'm serious."

Decker gaped dumbly. "So what you're saying is..."

Lucky waited for a long moment. "Take your time."

Decker's eyebrows shot up and Lucky assumed he finally got it. So he was a little surprised when Decker grabbed him by the shoulders, knocking him and Blue apart as he leaned in. "You're saying Ramona's single?"

"Nn...huh?" Lucky took a turn at gaping like a moron for a moment.

Decker grinned, letting Lucky go and clapping Blue hard on the shoulder as he moved off. "Great to meet you, man. Seriously."

Lucky whipped around as Decker skated off, mouth hanging open in aborted protest. "Well...shit. Guess June-Marie's gonna have another ass to kick."

Blue rubbed his slapped shoulder in confusion. "That went...good. I guess."

Lucky laughed and set a hand on his back. "What did I tell you? You don't need to worry."

Blue gave him a good-natured snort and shook his head. "Let's just go find the girls before that guy ruins their night."

"Ray and June can handle themselves for a minute, but first," he reached out, taking Blue by the wrist and pulling him along the rink. "Come with me."

Blue went along with it, deciding not to question Lucky's dubious intent as he guided them to the other side of the rink. Lucky dragged him to a relatively open area and stopped, looking around before carefully pushing Blue back a few steps.

"Right I think this is just right."

"What?" Blue finally demanded. "What's here?"

"You don't recognize it?"

Blue's head swiveled around cluelessly. "Recognize what? The rink?"

Lucky held out his arms. "It was right here, on this spot, in June. This is the exact spot we met."

Blue looked at the ground around him, then gave Lucky a warm expression. "Shit. So this is where I first started to annoy you, huh?"

"This is where you smacked into me and reminded my repressed little brain that I am terminally gay."

"I did?"

"Duh. It took me a while to admit it to myself, but the fact is that ever since I first saw you, I haven't been able to look away."

Blue looked down with a smile and Lucky could see a light blush. When he looked back up, he moved in a little closer. "Wanna know a secret about that day?"

"Yeah, lay it on me."

He reached down and began to fidget with the sleeve of Lucky's tied-off denim jacket in a sweet, demure manner. "I singled you out because you could obviously dance. But...the only reason I even saw what you could do was 'cause I was fuckin' staring at you anyway. Checking you out as soon as you stepped on this rink."

Lucky laughed. "Oh, you thought I was hot, huh?"

"Wasn't wrong."

"Well I mean I just saw you dance like a minute before that—you really don't think I had a hardon for you from the start?"

Blue seemed surprised. "Even with as much of a dick as I was to you?"

"Sometimes it was kinda part of the turn-on, actually. I like it when you boss me around."

Blue laughed huskily. "Guess you'd have to."

Lucky lifted his hands up and cupped Blue's jaw, eyes raking over his features affectionately before he kissed him with as much passion as he publicly dared. Blue sank into it and wrapped his arms around Lucky's body, gripping at the shirt over his back hard. When they broke apart, Lucky was a little breathless, resting his forehead against Blue's contentedly. "God, am I ever glad you saw my undeniably immaculate moves that day..."

"Yeah?" Blue asked, pecking his lips again.


"Well...if you're that good..." Blue slowly pulled away, skating backwards from him. Lucky followed Blue's hand as it raised, and suddenly saw that he was holding a pair of sunglasses. Lucky's sunglasses. "Prove it."

Lucky slapped a hand over the front of his shirt where they had been resting before shooting a look back to Blue. Blue waggled them in response and Lucky bit his lower lip with a grin. Then Blue took off, and Lucky responded in kind, hot on his tail, down for whatever chase, whatever dance, whatever challenge, and whatever fun was planning to come his way—ready to make the best memories of his life.

Song Inspiration: "Gloria" by The Midnight

Thank you for reading!