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New Houses

“Gable Cask would like to be your friend.” Declan read off the screen of his computer.

“What the hell?” He inquired to himself.

He didn’t expect Gable to even bother looking for him, especially after the impression he’d felt he had made.

The moment he accepted the request, his inbox lit up with a message from Gable, without missing a beat.

“Hey,” the message began, “Thanks, for adding me back so quickly. It was cool seeing you again.”

He clicked the reply button with such rapid motion, that it seemed almost involuntary.

“Hello, Mr. Cask,” he smiled at his own wit, “Sorry for being a complete spaz, I don’t get out much... I don’t have many friends.”

“What am I saying?” Declan thought... Delete. Delete. Delete. He digressed; he didn’t want to make a bad impression worse.

“I didn’t mean to leave so quickly, my mom just wanted me home.” He typed, “We should definitely hang out some time, though; it was nice catching up.” He clicked send.

It wasn’t but five minutes after, that he saw Gable had read his message. Two minutes later, he had a response waiting in his inbox.

“Haha, no worries. It was kind of spastic, but we all have those moments,” the message began, “I’m down to hang out. Catching up, for as little as we did, was cool. What’re you doing this weekend?”

The exchange lasted well past their bedtimes, and though both had been advised to go to bed by their mothers, they kept messaging back and forth. It was as though neither one of them could bring themselves to end the conversation.

“Alright, well, I have to go to sleep, Declan.” Gable’s last message read.

Declan replied and shut his computer down. The smile on his face was radiant; he could barely bring himself to sleep that night… He had never felt so smitten by a person before.

Why did he message him so intently? The feeling within the confines of his stomach, although unwelcome, gave him the outmost exhilarating of notions. He actually felt wanted… Important.

“Did you put him on your top ten?” Toby joked.

Declan furrowed his brow, and flared his nostrils. Was it necessary to joke about something like that? Dr. Anderson was quick to dismiss the comment, and proceeded to warn him that his outburst and comical inquiries weren’t warranted.

Toby had a smug look on his face; he always sat leaning forward, hands clasped. He hung his head and shook it in a jokingly manner.

It was then he remembered why hated it here; if this were to continue, he’d rather not be here. He didn’t like having to divulge this much of his life to strangers, nor did he want to make friends with any of them.

He wanted to be back in that gym. He wanted to continue training. Sure, an injury was going to keep him out of competition, but it wouldn’t keep him from working out.

Almost involuntarily, he had convinced himself that he could continue to train high bar, and begin to upgrade his skills on rings, parallel bars, and even pommel horse, since he was going to be out of the leg events for a while.

It’d be the perfect plan and silver lining to being sidelined: He could work on strengthening his upper body, gain some much needed experience, and, if he developed the physical endurance to form full routines, he could contribute even more. Hell, he could be all-around again.

Maybe, they’d let him call Coach Johnson after this… He could pitch his new training plan, and he’d help him get out of here sooner. Perfect.

“Declan, you can go on.” Dr. Anderson signaled him.

Every day, after that first message, went by like a blur. Declan and Gable would message each other deep into the darkest hours of the night and well past the time the Sun surged its early rays through their respective windows, until they exchanged cell phone numbers.

After that, their conversations were never-ending. Inadvertently, they were creating a connection far deeper than socially acceptable. However, that didn’t stop them. It was as if it were an innate mutual understanding.

Soon, they began entrusting each other with small tidbits they’d never shared with anyone before.

Perhaps, it was the fact they’d been friends for so long, that they allowed themselves to speak with absolute and unbridled candor.

For Declan, it was the first time he felt as if he mattered. Getting ‘good morning’ texts, and messages asking about his day really made him feel… Well, wanted. The exhilaration that would overcome him the moment he realized he had received a text from him was unparalleled. No one mattered more than Gable to Declan… Subconsciously, he was growing addicted to him.

However, Gable always had a way of bringing the conversation back to his heterosexuality and his obsession with girls. It almost unwarranted, and standoffish… Forced even. Declan tried to not think too much of it, but it always struck him as curious.

As the summer grew older, they rapidly transitioned from estranged friends to confidants. It was ritual for them to run out of battery before mid afternoon, by the constant ebb and flow of text messages.

Declan had learned to hone his attraction towards him; he’d meticulously edit a text time and again, until it was seemingly innocent. He didn’t want to lose Gable’s friendship; it had become paramount, it was his life. He couldn’t bear the idea of not being able to talk to him.

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