The Difficulty of Growing Up

Chapter 7

The next morning, Blake was up early trying to go through the events that happened last night. He knew it wasn’t another one of his dreams, but it sure did feel like it. He thought that in some way this has messed up his whole friend-making quest. Well, of course it’s messed up. Carl Foutley has somehow become attracted to him. He should be happy with the event knowing how long he has been blindly pining over the tall, childhood foe. But alas… he was deeply troubled. As much as he was thankful deep in his heart, he couldn’t be in such a relationship as of yet. Blake had been absentmindedly walking in circles around the middle of his room for a good amount of time. He could only tell because his legs were starting to lightly cramp up.

“Curses…” He whispered to himself. “Why did this have to happen now instead of three years from now…” He wouldn’t be able to have a good relationship as of now. He couldn’t dare go out on dates with Carl or even be seen in public for that matter. He couldn’t even control his racing thoughts about the matter. What would this even make them?! Still friends? In a relationship? He’s fantasized about this kiss many times in the past but he couldn’t possibly handle this situation comfortably now that it actually happened. Should he act normally when he went to Carl’s house? He would have to try. Carl Foutley… Even when they were on happy terms, He still manages to drive him to insanity. “Curses!” He sighed as he looked at his alarm clock. 10:40 am. He had been pacing and talking to himself like a crazy person for three hours now. Blake ran his hand through his bed-head and stalked into his personal bathroom to get ready for his normal family brunch at the country club and his rendezvous with Carl.

For Carl, the next day started like a normal weekend. He gave the chain back to Ginger and he watched new episodes of 'The Hall of Strange' during breakfast. Hoodsey was forced to accompany his mom and Dodie at the mall so he wouldn't be over today but that only meant that he could spend more time with Blake Gripling since he was coming over after brunch with his family at the country club. Carl kept the walkie talkie with him just in case Blake heads over early. He still wore the necklace that Blake gave him the night before, mindlessly running his fingers over the encased spider every so often as he watched his show but he kept his mind busy trying to think what to do while Blake was over today. Is Blake going to be normal or is he going to act weird because of what happened? Have they established a relationship or just put a weird tack into their friendship? It was too early to tell, indeed. Carl sat on the couch thinking about the possibilities barely paying attention to the woman who collects shrunken heads on TV. He ran through what happened last night, blushing to himself. Eventually, He decided to go up to his room and get dressed for the day, just in case Ginger came into the living room to find him red faced for no reason. He enjoyed that kiss immensely and the fact he kissed back made him feel even better. He wondered what Blake saw in him. He knew he shouldn't question it but as far as he could tell, Carl was nothing less than a major jerk to him. He doesn't deserve Blake's attention but he still stuck to him, trying to gain his approval for all those years. He even went to the graveyard with Carl to pay their respects to Mrs. Gordon on the one year anniversary of her death. He stood by Carl when he broke down crying at her headstone whilst talking to her. That's not one of Carl's best memories but still, Blake was there. He nearly forgot the many times at Blake's house they had heated arguments that resulted in pillows being tossed at each other what they often called 'plush wars'. One time, Carl tackled Blake down to the ground and pinned him because he shoved Carl with force. He was being difficult with the results of a dare long forgotten. Blake wasn't nearly strong enough to retaliate. After being told he couldn't breathe, he got off the boy and he almost instantly retreated away from him, face all flushed. Carl had almost forgot that moment. There was always something different with Blake. Hoodsey wasn't there for any of this, of course. He always went home early due to his mother's strict curfews. He was pretty sure she set those curfews so he couldn't spend that much time with Carl to begin with. They were always unnecessarily early.

Carl turned the radio on and the music blared loudly as it usually did on the weekend. His mother and Dave wasn't home due to work. Ginger was always either in her room or at the Bishops house to do homework with Dodie and Macie. So Carl was always left home until he made other plans with Hoodsey. As far as he could tell, they were just going to chill here so he cleaned up the room a little and he prepared snacks and glasses of soda since he was expecting Blake over soon. He carried the tray up to his room as the walkie talkie crackled lively.

"Come in Carl!" Blake said loudly.

"This is Carl. What’s up Blake?" Carl spoke into as he picked it up. Setting the tray on his dresser.

"Winston and I had just left the Country Club, I have been trying to get a hold of you for ten minutes now."

"I was just down stairs, I guess I left the walkie talkie up in my room, Sorry, Blakey-boy." Carl said with a small laugh. He plopped down excitedly on his bed.

"Quite alright, no need for the apology. I should arrive in approximately three minutes."

"Understood." Carl said definitely. The walkie talkie died on the other end so he threw his mindlessly behind him, landing on his pillow. He numbly listened to the guitar rift pulsing through the air from his radio. He grinned to himself as he picked up a book about medieval torture devices Blake gave him last month, he was doing a project on a select few. He had read a full chapter when the doorbell finally rung. He hopped off the bed and ran downstairs to answer. Ginger obviously wasn't home she would have been at the door already, she was probably at the mall with the Bishop family. As he opened the door, Blake peered up at him happily with a small blush hinted at his cheeks. Carl invited him inside and they both ran upstairs as usual.

"Great placement." Blake commented as he peered up at his own painting. Carl grinned as he closed the door behind him.

"I thought so." Carl said as he sat back down at the end of his bed he fiddled with his new camcorder. Blake grabbed a glass of soda and sat down in his usual beanbag chair.

"Very nice piece of equipment you got there." Blake said as Carl pointed it at him after he turned it on. He smiled at him while staring at him through the projection screen on the side.

"Ginger got it for me." Carl said cheerfully as he roamed around the room looking at the camcorder's point of view. Eventually, he turned it off and turned around without looking at Blake. He placed the camcorder on his CD holder next to his radio. He was stalling, nervously looking through some choice CDs. He heard Blake sigh lightly, it had a nice tinkling tone to it. Sounded musical, He longed to hear it again. He switched the CD out mindlessly not paying attention to what he put in, immediately air guitar and bass bounced off the walls loudly almost startling himself. Carl looked over at Blake and he was flipping through a magazine he had next to the tray of refreshments, suppose he was used to the loud music by now after coming over almost regularly. He took a moment to shamelessly stare at him.

"How was brunch?" Carl asked after he had shook himself out of it, walking over towards and passed Blake, plopping down on the end of his bed.

Blake gave a small smile. "My father was able to join us for once, so it was full of catching up since he hasn't been home since summer vacation. It was nice. You and Hoodsey should meet him. He was inquiring about friends."

"I would like to meet him since I know the rest of your family, including the help you have hired." Carl laughed. Blake smiled at the magazine, avoiding Carl's gaze obviously. Carl's smile fell a little. "Are you okay?"

Blake looked up at him and his face flushed a little. "Of course." Blake muttered, sounding uneasy. He picked up his glass and sipped it politely, Carl took in his elegance before turning to the book he was reading before Blake's arrival. He assumed Blake just wanted a moment to relax so he hung himself backwards off the end of the bed turning him upside down and began reading once again. Every few sentences he peaked over the top of his book to glace at Blake in front of him. Carl read a chapter mindlessly. He was just turning pages, not paying attention to anything in the book except for a select few pictures. Blake sighed once more causing Carl to drop the book landing above his forehead. Blake stared down at him as Carl smiled sheepishly before sitting up, causing a minor head rush. Blake stared at him as Carl turned around and picked up the book which was a few feet from him.

"What are we?" Blake asked seriously.

"Huh?" Carl asked still recovering from the head rush, dropping the book on his bed. "I knew something was bothering you. Spit it out."

"Well…" Blake's face turned a bright pink. "Last night… I mean… We both were drinking and… well…"

"I only had one sip." Carl said with a raised eyebrow. He sat on his knees next to Blake.

"Still… I really don't know how you are with alcohol in your system." Blake said worriedly.

"Neither do I, But I assure you I don't think I'm that much of a lightweight if at all. I didn't feel anything from it. Everything that had happened last night was totally honest, Trust me." Carl grinned. Blake smiled nervously as he grew pinker.

"You’re just acting like everything never happened so I was just wondering…."

"Things shouldn't be that different." Carl muttered as he glanced at the carpet beneath him, his face suddenly feeling hot. Blake stood up suddenly and walked over to his window. Carl glanced up at him, he had his back turned to him and his arms crossed. Carl felt confused again. Why was he acting like such a drama queen? He stood up and walked over to him. He swiftly blocked Blake against the window/wall with his arms as Blake turned around to face him. Carl felt a little angry but more confused than anything. Blake looked up at him with wide eyes. "What do you want me to act like, Blakey-boy?"

Blake took a deep breath as he looked around him, Carl leaned into him more leaving only inches between them. Blake whimpered lightly out of instinct. Carl hung his head slightly keeping his thoughts at bay, the whimper made him melt inside and he looked pretty endearing when he was all flustered like he is. He looked Blake in the eye with a smirk spread across his lips. Blake hyperventilated slightly.

"Scared, Gripling?" Carl asked huskily.

"Not even… Just… a tad claustrophobic..." Blake squeaked and gave a nervous laugh. Carl's smirk grew and he backed off giving Blake space. He turned and grabbed a glass of cold soda from the tray and gulped it down, not realizing how thirsty he actually was. Blake sighed in relief and leaned against the wall for a minute, taking deep breaths. Carl grabbed Blake's glass from the floor and handed it to him kindly. Blake smiled up at him and took it into his hands, sipping it gently.

"If you were wondering… I still like you." Carl said finally as he sat on his bed. Blake walked over to him and offered a small smile as he sat next to him. "Were you looking for a relationship?"

"That's a rather loaded question, Carl. How do I put this…" Blake said quietly, thinking. "I do want one but I am a little anxious…" Carl's face fell completely for a minute, he felt a bit rejected. "I completely adore you, Carl. It is just that our form of relationship isn't exactly welcome in society though."

"That doesn't matter, Blake." Carl said quickly looking anywhere but at Blake. "It's either you want to be with me. Or you don't which is it? …Because I know I want to be with you." Carl was feeling like his heart was being ripped right out of his chest. Blake placed a hand on Carl's cheek and forced his head to turn and look at him. He studied his face for a good minute before carefully leaning into him, placing a gentle kiss on Carl's lips. Carl was dazed for a second and a blush made its way across his face before reciprocating keenly. Blake released a small moan as he gently bit Carl's lower lip, causing Carl to groan softly. Carl placed a hand on Blake's waist and pulled him closer before Blake suddenly pulled away, breathless leaving Carl wanting a little bit more. He laid his head on Carl's shoulder as he composed himself. Carl ran a hand through Blake's slightly messy hair. Carl cleared his throat softly. "Will you have me, Blake?"

Blake sighed before lifting his head up and away from Carl. He grinned at Carl when he looked him in the eye. "Of course I will." Carl smirked at Blake as a sudden wave of relief swept over him. Carl suddenly pinned Blake down to his bed before smacking him lightly with a nearby pillow. Blake laughed a bit before taking the pillow away from Carl.

"Don't play with me like that ever again, Gripling." Carl said before placing a peck on Blake's cheek.

"My apologies. Forgive me?" Blake pouted playfully.

"Of course… For now, that is." Carl smirked at the young Gripling under him before he lifted himself off of Blake and sat at the end of the bed. "You shouldn't worry about what 'the society' thinks though, Blakey-boy."

Blake sat up and looked at Carl, frowning a bit. He placed a hand on Carl's shoulder, grasping Carl's attention. "The thing is… For a long time, my family relied on their flawlessness to gain the ultimate social status. We just got our status back last year… If our society finds out that the son of the Gripling family was gay... We would be set down low like we were four years ago when father got arrested… If this gets out, then my family would never forgive me. I might even get exiled from the family all together… I don't have the freedom that you have, Carl… I wish I could just simply ignore like you can but I simply cannot."

"So… we are in secret." Carl stated like he knew this was how it was going to be. This idea nagged him in the back of his mind for a few days now when he actually started thinking about being with Blake.

"Unfortunately." Blake said. "If it were up to me, I would toss it all away to be with you publicly. I mean… Well after high school is finished and I move away from my family's residence for college, then I wouldn't really be watched as much… I could very much do whatever I want... If you are still up to it at that point."

"I can feel the torture already." Carl joked. This definitely wasn't ideal but at this point he would do anything for Blake. This was insane but he would do it without a second thought.

"So y-you're agreeing?" Blake asked with wide eyes.

"What did I just tell you?" Carl laughed. "I want to be with you. You make me go insane already, why not make the situation to match?"

"We'll fight." Blake stated negatively trying to hide his amused grin.

"We do anyway." Carl smirked.

"This will make your life a continuous, tragic strand of disappointments."

"So?" Carl shrugged. Blake frowned at him.

"You told me not to play with you. You are practically setting yourself up to be played with." Blake said clearly irritated.

"I'll live, it’s not like you will be doing it on purpose!" Carl snapped, standing up and grabbing Blake's shoulders firmly. "Stop fighting me. Just let us be, I clearly don't care what you have to do just as long as we talk about what has to be done to keep your name clear. I just want you." Blake just stared at Carl with tears brimming. Carl felt his heartstrings tug at him, no longer feeling irritable but quite the opposite.

"I’m just trying to forewarn you. I-I don't want you to compromise your own happiness just to be with me. I-I…" Blake said quietly, voice cracking in an upset manner. Carl loosened his grip but still kept his hands on Blake's shoulders.

"I won't compromise my happiness because I feel I won't be happy unless I have you." Carl said in a near whisper. Blake choked back a sob as the tears silently escaped his eyes, quickly dripping onto his lap. He smoothly pulled Blake into a firm embrace letting Blake quietly sob into the crook of his neck. He truly did fall for Blake very hard. Never would he have thought the circumstances could have gotten that deep. He just spilled his guts out to Blake, He just hoped this wouldn't get too out of hand. Agreeing to this type of situation was so unlike him. Carl Foutley always did everything he could to not be caught up in tense situations. When he did get caught in them he handled them with his remarkable cunning and just slip past it. Not this time. He is unfamiliar to these things when it came to affairs of the heart, but something was telling him he was going to be put through one hell of a ride.

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