Eli looked hurt at first, and I immediately felt guilty even as confusion replaced his initial reaction.
“Too far?” he asked, not able to meet my gaze.
This level of insecurity was not something I had expected from him, but I could understand it.
“I just…don’t see…how you could possibly…” I took a breath, “be attracted to me like that.”
He looked up faster than I had expected, causing my head to sort of twitch back in surprise.
“Wait, so, you…don’t regret the kiss?”
I wanted to laugh, still feeling his lips on mine in a ghost kiss.
“I worry you will,” I replied.
His mouth fell open in a small “o” as the confusion greatened in his gaze.
“But I kissed you first,” he eventually spoke. We were close again, and he was playing with my shirt.
“And so did the other two in my past, only come to find out they didn’t really want to do it in the first place.” I had to admit, he wasn’t acting at all like they had. They’d put as much distance between me and them as they could muster under some guise or other. This guy was staying as close as he could get. I so badly wanted to just let go of this fear I had, to enjoy the moment as long as it lasted, but a greater part of me wanted to keep me safe, and I was having a hard time ignoring the logic of it.
He looked up into my eyes now.
“Why do you think I can’t be attracted to you?” He asked.
Here we go, I thought.
“Because I’m not your type.”
I’d seen the guys he’d been with at school once he’d come out. They were your muscular, attractive types. I wasn’t lanky, but I wasn’t exactly good-looking, either. I wore whatever made me comfortable, not whatever was deemed stylish. I ate like it was my last day on earth. I didn’t work out. My manners needed work. I had a lot of anxiety and insecurity issues.
Those guys had been gods.
“Those guys were chosen by my friends, not by me. I didn’t have the guts to tell them no. I wasn’t attracted to them at all. You don’t really know my type, Luke; just what the school deemed should be my type.”
I swallowed; worried I had pissed him off.
“I’m sorry. I—”
“I don’t blame you. That’s what getting to know each other is for. I’ve been interested in you for a while, I just never found an opportunity to do anything about it before.”
“You mean until our director…”
His eyes met mine. “Remember when you saved that kitten?”
I remembered instantly and was fucking floored.
“Dude, that happened sophomore year!”
Two years ago!
Eli looked sheepish.
“Just…we were in the middle of some random English test, and all of a sudden you leapt out of your seat. The teacher yelled at you to sit your ass back down, but you said something about a kitten, a kitten of all things, and ran off. Everyone watched as you reappeared outside the window. I’d never seen anyone climb a tree so fast. I was so sure the kitten was going to jump but it never did. It also didn’t run from you. The whole thing was over in less than five minutes but the fact that you willingly sacrificed a test grade to save an animal…not many would’ve done that; certainly nobody else in our class. It was amazing. I wanted to talk to you after, I wanted to say how awesome I thought you were, but my friends kept getting in the way. Time after time I’d come close to approaching you, and time after time something would get in the way.”
He’d had a crush on me far longer than I’d ever had one on him…all because I saved a cat?
Two fucking years...
He smiled and looked self-consciously down where his hands had stilled against my chest. Could he feel my heart beating faster than normal? Could he feel me struggle to breathe correctly? Could he feel the flutters in my stomach? Could he feel how badly I wanted to believe him?
“When you started looking my way more than usual, clearly interested, I was thrilled.” He looked up at me. “How’d that start, by the way?”
I swallowed. It was so stupid…
“It was awhile after you came out. Junior year I think is when it started. I…it’s really stupid.”
Eli just waited, patient, curious.
I sighed; I might as well get this over with.
“It was during gym. And it was one of those days were the gym teachers just did not want to put in the effort so they brought out some supplies and let us do whatever we wanted. I was playing badminton with a bunch of friends but you; you were on the other side of the gym, playing a game of basketball. I don’t know why I was even watching, I love badminton and I usually give all my focus to it when I play but there was a lot of commotion going on over there.
“I watched as the opposing team engulfed you, only to have you somehow make your way out and over to the basket. And then you fucking leapt into the air, higher than I’d ever known it was possible for you, or anyone really, to jump, and easily dunked the damn ball, landing smoothly on your feet seconds later. It was the most graceful thing I’d ever seen. After that, my crush grew as I learned how nice you were to everybody and how you would help anyone that had dropped their books, tripped, or gotten lost. Stuff like that.”
“Luke, I don’t understand. How is that stupid?”
“I just…everybody always focuses so much on physical traits and I swore I’d never be like that but the thing that brought my attention to you was something physical and I just feel so…guilty.”
“You noticed me because of something physical. Your crush grew because of my personality. There’s the difference. You like me because I’m a nice guy, not because I’m a nice-looking guy.”
I nodded. “You are cute, though; I feel like that should be said.”
“You’re cute, too.”
Immediately I rejected this.
“Very cute,” he interrupted, leaning in again. He didn’t kiss me though. Instead, he hovered just inches from my lips, seeing what I would do.
“You really like me?” I asked quietly. “You’re sure?”
He smiled. “Luke, I’ve never been more convinced of anything in my life.”
Everything within me wanted to be logical about this, which meant putting up those defenses and keeping him at arm’s length. I wasn’t worthy. I didn’t deserve this. He could find someone so much better.
…But I’d never felt this way about anyone else…and I…really…really liked it. So, I did the scariest thing I’d ever done in my life. I took that leap of faith and I kissed him.
It was even better than the first time.
As the kiss progressed, I felt the strangest urge to sit down; I felt like I was going to fall at any moment. I remembered that we were currently standing right by some tables, managed to slide a chair out, and slowly lowered onto it. He adjusted smoothly, straddling my lap; our kiss never broke through all of this. Now that I felt more secure, I let my hands roam. Oh, I kept it above his waist, but he was thrilled nonetheless, something I knew by the way the kiss became more passionate.
It was when thoughts of sex began to run through my mind a few minutes later that I decided enough was enough. I began to see images of me stripping off his clothes, then mine, here and now, then me lowering him onto his back, and then—
I pulled away. “Okay,” I mumbled.
Both of us were breathless.
Both of us were aroused.
Both of us had apparently had the same line of thought because he immediately got off of me, pulled up a chair, leaned back in it, looked up at the ceiling, and closed his eyes. He was working to calm himself back down, and he muttered something about needing a cold shower.
“Sorry,” I felt necessary to say.
He laughed up at the ceiling.
“I think you’re the only person in existence who’d be sorry for arousing someone.” He sighed and looked back down at me. “You constantly surprise me.”
I shrugged a shoulder, looking down at my hands. I couldn’t help it. Nobody had ever been interested in me before. I didn’t really...know...what to do with that.
“Let’s go out tonight.” I looked at him about to answer but he wasn’t done. “On a date. Officially.”
He was asking me out?
Oh…crap…my crush was asking me out. All at once the past, what was it, ten minutes or so, all sank in. I’d been making out with him?! I’d dared kiss him back?! What the hell had gotten into me?! No. I had to stop this. He…I…
“Luke. Luke!” He leaned forward, grabbing my hands and squeezing slightly. “Luke, breathe. What’s wrong?”
“I am,” I said with great difficulty. “You can’t…like me. You can’t…you deserve…better…”
His mouth was open slightly, his face an expression of shock mixed with confusion, until suddenly it wasn’t. His mouth set in a firm line, his expression now one of determination.
“You listen to me, Lucas Sullivan. I may be popular, and you may be not, but that doesn’t define us. It shouldn’t define us. We are just two male teenagers who happen to be mutually attracted to each other. Fuck what the school thinks. I want you, you want me, and we finally got our opportunity. Please. Let’s see where this goes. I want to date you. I want to be more. You are worthy, I swear you are. Please?” He freed a hand to place on my cheek. “Please, Luke, be my boyfriend.”
I swallowed hard. Those beautiful blue eyes with such beautiful passion in them. I remembered the passion that had shone when we’d been rehearsing the play so I knew deep down it’d feel absolutely amazing to be loved by him, knew there’d be no limit to it. He’d try his damnedest to give me the world; I wanted that, so badly. I wanted to give it back; he deserved to be loved much the same. This anxiety, though, was making things far more difficult than they should be.
“I want to,” I said softly.
“Anxiety,” I choked out.
He moved his hand from my face and returned it to my hands that rested in my lap. “What is the anxiety about?”
He...actually wanted to know? Nobody had ever bothered asking before. Abruptly he stood up and got on my lap again. Not straddling me, but sitting sideways, one arm around my shoulders, his free hand in one of mine, letting me play with it as I spoke, my free arm around his waist so he wouldn’t fall off somehow.
“Uhm. Well. I’ve never had anyone actually date me before. Or be interested. I don’t know what to do with all of this…information. Or these feelings. I don’t know how to be a boyfriend. I’ve also not come out yet at school and the way your friends beat me up I’m not sure I want to, but you’re already out, and it wouldn’t be fair to hide this when you’re proud of who you are, and I want to be proud with you, and…I just…” I ran out of steam, falling silent with a little sigh.
“Luke, put a little trust in me. Be my boyfriend and I’ll show you what a liar your anxiety is. I’ll show you just how very worthy you really are. I can show you how amazing love really is.”
I looked up into his blue eyes, and though it scared me shitless, I said:
“Okay. I’d love to be your boyfriend.”
He beamed, and leaned down to kiss me.
...I could get used to this.