Caramel Macchiato





truths



"I put the rest of them upstairs, honey. Remember, under your bed," Jack's mom says as she put on her shoes.

"Oh right," Jack says, only half-listening. He is embroiled in a killer game of Gran Turismo and is so, SO close to the winning. Beside him, David is also violently tipping his controller right, then to the left, then up, then right again.

"All right, you two boys behave," his dad says as he helps Jack's mom with her coat. "We'll be back in a couple hours. Lock the door behind us, 'kay?  And don't use the stove."

"Okay," Jack says automatically. David clucked in disappointment as his car went veering wildly off the ramp and lands upside-down into a murky pond. They heard the door click shut and David watches Jack in heavy concentration.

"So, you have more games upstairs?" David prompts.

Jack nods, swerving wildly as another car tries to side swipe his. "Uh-huh, under the bed, I think mom put 'em in a box. Do you wanna--?"

But David has already hopped off the couch and is heading upstairs. He collapses beside Jack's bed, and peeks under, hoping to not see a war-type disaster. Then again, Jack's mom was practically Martha Stewart, and as David suspected, everything is packaged in stacks of neat boxes.

"Let's hope she labeled them as well," David says, reaching out and randomly pulling a couple boxes. One of them reveal a nest of rolled up ugly patterned socks that Jack would probably never wear. The other is an assortment of pens, pencils and markers, set aside for the new school year and promptly forgotten in September. David grins and pulls out another box. It's a shoe box, but instead of runners, David finds an assortment of odds and ends. He is about to replace the lid when he spots the words 'Las Vegas" scrawled on a piece of paper.  Taking a closer look, David realizes with a small nostalgic leap in his chest that it's his step dad's address. David peers again into the box. There are some sheets of poetry and movie stubs and a two dollar bill. There are some baseball cards and letters and the Pen Pal ad cut out from the Wizard magazine. "The little pack rat," David says, extremely amused. He pauses and picks up a copy of Paradise Lost, and smiles wide, wondering if he could love that kid anymore. He makes a note to mention the book to Jack when he gets downstairs. The bottom of the pile, though, distracts David from the happiness of Milton; picking the official document up carefully, he scans it three or four times before slowly replacing it back into the box.

His last swipe under the bed produced the box of video games, which he takes downstairs.

**

Jack's parents get home with dinner in tow and the two boys finish up their game of Grand Theft Auto so they can eat. Dinner at the table is still vaguely alien to David; he hardly ever had dinner at the same time as his parents, and it was never, ever at the table except for holidays. 

They dig into the Chinese food and listen to Jack's mom and dad converse about plants and getting storm windows. When Jack's dad starts wistfully talking about the vintage car his friend was selling, David pipes up, "That's what I miss the most about home, driving about. Love to drive. I had a motorbike."

Jack's mom looks surprised. "You parents gave you a motorbike?"

"Well, I bought it myself, so there wasn't anything mom could really say. Besides, I was a better driver than her." Jack's parents laugh politely. "I only wish I drove it here. Then I could give Jack a chance to drive it, y'know. For fun." David stared out the window, avoiding Jack's eyes.

Jack's mom laughs. "Ohhh, no you don't, mister. Even when Jack gets his license, I would not let him drive a motorbike."

David feigns surprise and this time stares straight at Jack. "Oh. You mean - Jack doesn't have his license yet?"

Jack's mom laughs again and says blithely, "Of course not. I mean, I didn't think - you can't get your license at fourteen in Nevada, can you?  I thought it was sixteen for all the States." She smiles fondly at Jack. 


Jack's been having a great day, there was hardly any homework for either boy, and he spent most of the afternoon playing his favorite video games with David. And Chinese for dinner? It's one of his favorites. He likes to watch David eat rice, because he always tries so hard to scoop a bunch up on his fork to get large mouthfuls in.. but because a fork only holds so much, about half of it ends up back on his plate.
 
Jack is almost finished with his meal, only a few pieces of bourbon chicken left. He rolls one in his rice and pops it in his mouth when David starts to talk about Jack driving. Shit.
 
I only wish I drove it here. Then I could give Jack a chance to drive it, y'know. For fun.
 
Jack freezes at the turn of conversation, his jaw moving slowly, chewing in automatic. He doesn't look at David, he stares at her mother, willing her not to say anything. But...
 
Ohhh, no you don't, mister. Even when Jack gets his license, I would not let him drive a motorbike.
 
Jack's insides tighten up, and he almost bites his tongue. He tries to think of something to stop the conversation.. something, anything that wouldn't sound too suspicious. But before he can utter a single noise, David's staring at him...
 
Oh. You mean - Jack doesn't have his license yet?
 
He looks away from David quickly, and to his mother. 'Oh god, mom, don't say it. Don't say why...' he thinks, and hurriedly swallows the piece of chicken. It sticks in his throat and doesn't seem to want to go down all the way.
 
Of course not. I mean, I didn't think - you can't get your license at fourteen in Nevada, can you? I thought it was sixteen for all the States.
 
And there it is.
 
The piece of chicken finally makes its way down his throat, and he starts coughing from it, even pretending he's choking on it a little. Jack pushes his chair back and stands up, "Bathroom..." he mutters between coughs, and he hurries from the room and for his upstairs bathroom. When he gets there, he leans over the sink, his arms straight and hands holding onto each side. Surely David won't be mad.. all he has to do is apologize... right?


About fifteen minutes after Jack bolts from the table, David helps Jack's parents clear the dishes and then slowly heads upstairs. 'You put this on yourself chiquito,' that annoying voice of his father echoed in David's mind. 'You had to show the nino up like that.' David decided - his dad was definitely the devil on his shoulder.

David knocks on Jack's bedroom door and enters, noticing the bathroom lights were on, the door slightly ajar. He backs up and sits down on the bed. "Hey. Brought you a fortune cookie," David calls to the half-closed door. "Um. Jack? Come on out, I wanna talk to you."


Jack spends those fifteen minutes pacing around the bathroom. He knows he should go back downstairs, this probably looks bad.. but the expression on David's face. David, who thinks 14 year olds are babies. David, who he... and who he lied to. Shit.
 
And David, who is apparently now in his bedroom and wants to talk to him. Startled, Jack steps out of the bathroom. He lingers in the doorway, apologize , his mind tells him. But he can't seem to get his mouth to work, and stares stupidly at the older boy sitting on his bed.


David watches Jack creep out of the bathroom. 'Like a cur with his tail between his legs,' he thinks immediately, and suddenly feels like a parent sternly waiting for their kid who came home after curfew. However, he is extremely curious to hear what Jack has to say. The expression on Jack's face looked as though he killed his pet and ate it. "Hey. So?" David briefly considers saying more, but all in all, he'd never been one for words anyway. Keeping it short had its advantages.
 
 
Jack's knuckles go white from holding onto the door frame so hard. He tries to gauge David's feelings by his expression and body posture, but can't seem to get much from it. He takes a moment before answering, trying to think before he talks, but it all comes out kind of jumbled anyway, "I.. when I originally wrote to you. I never thought.." Jack struggles, trying to explain, and waves a hand, "Never thought you'd be here like this, you know? I thought. You wouldn't want to write to me.. if I wasn't older." Jack blushes of embarrassment and bites the inside of his cheek. He waits for David to say something.


David stares intently at Jack. He was obviously taking this whole thing really hard. Jack's skinny shoulders were hunched forward, his face a mask of agonizing shame. Jack really really wore his heart on his sleeve, there was no doubt about that. It was a perfect picture of being contrite, but David knew he was a wicked boy. He folded his arms and tilted his head back, looking down at Jack from over his nose. Despite David sitting, he knew that just made him seem taller, and Jack shrunk even more against the door frame.
 
"Well. Jack. A lie is a lie. And despite the fact that you couldn't foresee that I'd show up unannounced at your doorstep and you would have to take me in and feed me and clothe me, you still should have told the truth. Utterly, utterly shameful." David sprang up from the bed and slowly prowled in from of Jack, his arms still folded. "I mean, sure, it was all good and well for me to show a lofty, worldly, wise sixteen-year old the wonders of beer and fighting and girls -- but I certainly can't do that with a fourteen-year old. How d'you think that'll make me look?

"I'm already broke and funny-looking; hanging out with a fourteen-year old would only seal my fate as the bottom rung in the popularity ladder at school." David looms closer and points a finger at Jack. "And you know how badly I want to climb that ladder. No no no no no, I think some changes have to be made around here." He taps his finger to his mouth. "From now on -- I get to use the bathroom first in the morning. In fact, I want free reign of your shower, cause I like stalls way better than tubs. And.... when you mom serves dinner? I get first pick of the pork chops. And when he go to the mall? If we both want to buy the same shirt -- guess who'll get to buy it? You got it. The only sixteen-year old in this room. Comprende, small stuff?"
 
 
Jack apparently misses the joke in all this, because his expression goes from ashamed and worried to stony. His nostrils flare a bit, and try as he might against it- his cheeks tinge pink. "David, don't do this.. please? I'm sorry.. I am, I wanted to tell you, I just.. I don't know, never knew when a good time would be. But if you think I'm too little to.. be with, you're wrong." Jack moves away from the door frame, and away from David so he isn't so close. "I'm fourteen and not sixteen, but. I'm not little.. I'm not small stuff. I've taken care of myself in a lot of ways for awhile now, and I was moved up a grade because I study and try hard. And.. I'm not a kid or a baby, okay? So.. so stop calling me kiddo, and don't look at me like I'm just some amusing kid. I can't... I don't like it." Jack's lips press together in a tight line, and he forces himself to keep his eyes on David. He looks very serious indeed.


David is floored. Obviously the kid is so caught up in his own guilt, he missed the entire undertone of teasing. Yet again in his life, David vaguely wonders if his version of sarcasm is just not evident enough for people to catch. He sighs, and surveys Jack. It was true, then; most kids who are smart enough to be moved up a grade usually have the least amount of common sense. "Hey, um, Jack? Did you ever stop to think that I looked at everyone like I'm amused? And that I call everyone 'kid'?" Well, every girl, David amends to himself. But then, he didn't really talk to many of the guys at school anyway. "Maybe I'm just an all-round condescending bastard who thinks he's better than everyone else, huh? Ever considered that? I know you're used to 'fancy treatment' because you were all 'moved up a grade', but don't think you were at all special to me. Until today, I didn't know the horrid truth. I thought you were one of the sixteen-year old gang." David leans in again, hoping - praying - Jack would catch the satire here, "You know, normal, not all freaky fourteen."
 

Normally Jack catches onto David's teasing and sarcasm, but right now his emotions are so whacked that he completely misses the satire. And right now his anger is getting the best of him. It feels like everything turns to ice when David says he was never special to him, he doesn't realize how out of context he's taking that remark. "I don't get fancy treatment! And fine.. fine, if I'm not special to you, and just a freak, just.. you can just leave! Go back to Las Vegas for all I care! They probably miss the hell out of you!" Jack's fists are clenched and he wants to hit something. But he isn't going to cry.. there's no way he'll let David see him so vulnerable right now.


David curses himself inwardly for being such an insensitive lout. Here the kid was totally suffering under then strain of this one, this little harmless, practically adorable lie, and David was just stringing him along and toying with his emotional state. David sighed and folded, sinking to the floor. 

"Jack... Jacky. Up until I was about seven,  I thought both my parents loved me. Dad was home, mom was working, everything was good. When dad left, I thought he stopped loving me. Mom started crying at night. Every night. Every single night, and even though she thought I didn't notice,  every time she brought a new boyfriend that I'd have to meet, she'd say 'This is the one, Davy, everything's gonna be different now'. It never was. She lied. Because she only picked assholes to be my new daddy. And when I got older and she finally got married to my step dad and she stopped crying and convinced herself that it was what she wanted, she said 'I don't understand why you don't like him, Davy, don't you want me to be happy? Your father won't have me, let me have Sean.' And I couldn't say anything to her, because I realized right then and there that she was lying, to me, and to herself. And the whole reason I hated my step dad? Was because one night we were yelling and he said 'Your mom didn't want you anyway, Davy. You were an accident, y'hear me? You weren't supposed to be'. 

"I've grown up in lies, Jack. I have grown up a lie. So kid, in the grand scheme of things? You trying to act a little older than you actually are is only human. It's not a lie. It. It was just something you thought you needed to do to make a friend. Okay? I think it's adorable. Alright? Now will you stop balling your fists up like that and see what your fortune is?" Pleadingly, David held up his hand to Jack, the fortune cookie balanced on his palm. "You don't want me to leave."
 
 
Jack stares at David as he tells his story, and his anger dissolves away as if it never existed. Jack wants to reach out and touch David so badly. He wants to convince the older boy that no, he's not a mistake, he's not a lie. No way. His parents are all clearly idiots for not cherishing every waking moment with him. He wants to tell him horribly sappy romantic things. And sure, that might work for passionate star-crossed (male and female) lovers, but not a twerpy fourteen year old and his straight best friend.
 
Jack slowly lowers himself to the floor, sitting tentatively next to his friend. He reaches his hand out for the cookie, his fingertips brushing lightly along David's palm as he takes it. He doesn't say anything about what David just told him, not now. Only, softly, "No, I don't want you to leave." He looks down at the cookie, and cracks it open. He reads the fortune on the paper strip...


David smiles appreciatively as Jack delicately takes the cookie. When Jack cracks it open, David flicks out the strip and reads out loud:  "You are destined for a difficult but interesting life." David smiles even more. "Y'know what you're supposed to add after each fortune, right? 'You are destined for a difficult but interesting life in bed.'  And you being the way you are, I'm not at all surprised by this fortune." 

David laughs, and rolls it up deftly between his fingers, dropping it back in Jack's hand. "Look, I'm sorry I had to unload on you like that. You were feeling so guilty, you couldn't even tell I was being sarcastic. But I admit, sometimes I take the joke too far. Mom always said my caustic tongue would land me in trouble one day. Anyway, Jack," David earnestly put his hand on Jack's knee, his thumb making circles on Jack's kneecap. "There's no reason for me to be mad at you. But I think it's just the cutest thing that you were feeling so guilty about it. Boy you can get your hackles raised. Anyway. Um..." David isn't sure how to say this, but since they were all about the truth-telling now, "Listen, you can get mad about this too, if you want. The whole reason I found out is because I accidentally opened that shoe box of yours when I was looking for the games. Yeah, I saw my Vegas address in there, and so I got more curious and then I saw your birth certificate, and... yeah. I'm sorry for prying. I've always been something of a junior detective. I'm sorry, kid."
 
 
Jack just about melts at David's hand on his knee. He wonders when little touches like that are going to stop being so stomach-turning. He smiles at David, starting to cheer up, and then. His birth certificate. He wasn't expecting this. No no no.. not a fun topic. He tries to maintain his smile, but it's hard. "Oh, that. Yeah. It's no big deal." And he hates himself, because that, he supposes, could be considered another lie. He pauses, and he changes his mind, because David just spilled his guts out to Jack honestly, and so doesn't he owe him the same in return?
 
Jack clears his throat a bit, "Well uh.. maybe not.. maybe a little bit of a deal." His voice lowers and wavers slightly, and he leans closer to David, "I guess you aren't the only one who wonders why their parents don't want them, huh?" He sighs, and tries to change the subject, "I don't blame you for looking through the box, it's another thing I should have told you."


"What? No, silly, you shouldn't have told me." David shakes his head like a dog. "I mean, you didn't have to if you didn't want to. It's your personal business, Jacky. And I need to be reprimanded, believe me. I'm not above looking into people's medicine cabinets. Heh, I've already looked through yours. Still using children's chewable Tylenol's, huh?" David laughs and very nearly draws Jack closer, to hug Jack against his chest. He stops himself just in time to kind of halfway jerk at Jack's arm, pulling Jack closer. But David then just paused and watched while Jack unsurely straightened up again. David has the sense to look embarrassed. "Heh, sorry about that. Don't take this the wrong way, but sometimes I forget you're not one of my girl - uh -  friend-girl-friends. With girls, it's always easy to be a lot more affectionate, y'know? Sorry. Anyway, so, ah. You don't know your real folks, huh? Do your parents know them?" David looks interested, hoping he's not stepping on iffy territory here.
 
 
Jack laughs about the chewable tylenol, and starts to shove David in return for his teasing. He instead gets pulled toward David by his arm- but, that's it. He straightens up, looking slightly confused.
 
He worries his lower lip for a moment, "I don't know them, no. Either do my parents. I was given up for adoption when I was almost five. And sometimes. Um... sometimes I like to think I can remember them, but I can't, really. I don't know what happened, why they.. gave me up, but. Maybe they died or something." Jack shrugs a bit, and nudges his foot to David's playfully, trying to keep the mood from becoming too sad (for him at least).


David nods, understanding and thoughtful. He can feel for the kid. If he was given up as a baby, it probably would have been easier on him, but as it stood right then one-third of his life was spent with people who Jack didn't even really know. It must be weird, but David figured that Jack probably didn't give it too much thought. David wanted Jack to think about it, though. He was a big believer of catharsis.  "Maybe one day -  if you want to -  we can find out why, Jacky. I'm not called junior detective for nothing, after all. We can make a list of Things To Do When We Turn Eighteen: Number one- find out what happened to Jack's folks. Number two- Find out what happened to David's dad. Number three- Find out what happened to Baby Jane." David grinned and held out his hand. "Deal?"


Jack nods and takes David's hand, gives it an obligatory shake. Without letting go, he can't seem to make himself, he admits, "I've never really told anyone else what I told you." His voice becomes somewhat hushed, and he leans in a bit closer, still clutching his friend's hand. Maybe David won't mind if he talks about it, if he unloads a bit.
 
"My mother was blonde, like me.. I remember it. And she always smelled like a mix between strawberries and vanilla.. like she worked in one of those Bath & Body Work shops, y'know? And.. and I used to think she'd come back for me, when I was a kid, just like out of a psychology book. Those books, they're pretty accurate sometimes."
 
He moves closer, leans his forehead against David's upper arm so he doesn't have to look him in the eyes , "Sometimes I think.. I think I don't love my parents. My adoptive parents. Because.. it just all seems fake somehow. And you know how, you'll see on those shows.. that's what the adoptive parents worry about? And the kids reassure them and say 'no no, I love you.. you raised me, you were there for me'. But I can't feel that.. sometimes. I feel just.. fake, like I don't belong. Isn't that stupid? I was only five... I shouldn't.. but it's like, they just don't care. Why did they adopt me?
 
"You know why I have all this crap.. the tree house and the computer and the fucking twenty dollar a week allowance? Because they try to my love.. I can tell. Right out of the books. The paper route wasn't their idea, it was mine. Gives me something to do, something to work at. They never check my homework or look at my tests. Why do you think that one Halloween dance I told you they wouldn't wait up, and they didn't? They just couldn't have kids and are trying to be normal."
 
"That's why you can stay." Jack looks up at David again, feeling slightly worked up. "Do you think most normal parents would let this happen? No, but it makes me happy so they probably think.. probably that I'll stay out of their hair. But. This one time I slept two nights out in the tree house and didn't come inside once, and neither of them checked on me." He finally stops his rambling, and leans his forehead back against David's shirt sleeve, not bothering to care what he thinks. Jack mumbles against the cloth, "Your dad left you, and your mom might as well have, too... have you ever felt like you don't love anyone at all?"


David listens wordlessly as his friend spills all the hurt and sadness that had obviously been bottled up in him for ages. David realizes; at least he had friends to vent to in Vegas, if he wanted. Not that he ever really did, but...Jack. Jack had no choice but to keep it bottled up.  All the kid has is that odd little dog. And now it finally all came gushing out, like a broken dam. On another tangent in the back of his mind, David is pleased that he's comfortable enough for Jack to lean against; in a situation like this, it wouldn’t do to be physically uncomfortable for the kid. He needed as much accessibility as David could give him.

David ignores the last question, preferring to treat it as rhetorical. Instead, he addresses everything else Jack has confessed. "Dude, I'm.  That's terrible, I honestly had no idea. When I got here and saw your house and your parents and your… your everything, I thought you had the life I always wanted. Hmm. I guess, in the end, no one is ever really happy with what they have, huh?" David speaks softly, not wanting to alarm the volatile little Jack. Pondering, he absently leans his cheek against the warm softness of Jack's head, and when he starts to speak again, his breath blows against Jack's hair. 

"I didn't know your adoptive parents gave you this much grief. But I've seen them, Jacky. I think they love you, they're just. Well, they're rich, like, working people. Like, they're the kind of people who wanted a kid, because it was the next step in their lives. They got the education, the jobs, the house, the car, next step: kid. Then the kid's pet. Soon, you'll get a white picket fence, I can see it. I guess the only way they know how to love you is to buy you stuff, cause they don’t know how to make you happy themselves." David gently takes Jack's shoulders and pulls him away, looking at Jack's face. He really liked Jack's eyes; their blue was bright now, sad but defiant.

"Look, Jack. Appreciate what you got, kid. You don't have to be satisfied by it, because I think you deserve way more. You should have a lot more love, and, and stuff. But you should definitely appreciate what you got." David licks his lips and presses them together, trying to find away to make the kid feel better. Lectures don't usually make people feel better. He decides to go on a limb and be conceited. "Besides," he says brightly, "I'm here, aaaand contrary to popular belief, I think you're very special. And not in the Olympics way. Just, special."  He looks a little embarrassed. "I'm always worried that you think I’m just buttering you up, cause, you know. You let me live here. But I mean it. I know I mean it, because when I think about Vegas, and my friends and school, I don't miss it in the least."

Suddenly tired, David leans back, stretching and arching out against the carpet. "You 'n me, kid. That's how it can be. But," he points a finger mock-warningly at Jack. "Don’t go all Heavenly Creatures on me, okay? Okay."
 
 
Jack listens closely to David, and considers what he says. He feels a little guilty, because he does appreciate what he has.. he knows he's a lot better off than a lot of people. He just didn't think much about what he was saying, it all came out, and it felt good to tell someone. Not just someone, but David.
 
He smiles softly when David says he's special to him, and he thinks it's probably one of the best things anyone's ever said to him, because that's what he wanted. Jack lowers onto the floor and lays on his stomach alongside David, still smiling. "I'm glad you don't miss home.. I wouldn't want you to feel lonely. And. ... Thanks, for listening, and everything." Jack looks down at his hands a moment, and then back to David's face. He feels tired from unloading, and is done talking about it, "So what's 'Heavenly Creatures'?"


David is pleased that Jack seems a lot less agitated and a lot more calm. It makes him comfortable and sleepy. He pauses to think about just how odd it is, that he's only known Jack for a couple months and their comfort level is way up there. 'It's all about the fate,' David muses to himself. He realizes the the utmost satisfaction that he has absolutely no regrets coming up to Rhode Island.

"Hmm?" David realizes Jack's speaking. "Oh, it's a movie about these two chicks who think everyone's against them, so they have like, their own fantasy world and stuff. And they bathe together, it's kinda hot. And you think they're all just cool but a little crazy, but then at the end they beat one of the girl's mom to death with a brick. It's disgusting, 'specially because that mom was the nice mom." David stares at the ceiling. "And y'know what? It's a true story, and the chicks are both out of prison now. Yeah. One of them is an equestrian teacher and the other... I dunno, writes or something. Like, they're both normal, after something like that. It's kinda creepy. That poor mom. She was the good mom."


Jack folds his hands on the floor and rests his head on them. He's laying close to David, so close he can smell that incredible and distinctly-David smell. He feels relaxed, his eyelids feel heavy. His listens to David explain the movie, blinking a few times about the ending. "Hm," he replies, and after a long pause he laughs, that small laugh that you could almost call a giggle."But they took a bath together? How did they both fit? It must have been a big bath." He laughs again, apparently finding this more interesting than the murder.


"Heh. Girls are small, I guess they could fit. Plus, girls are all soft and stuff, so they wouldn't poke each other with their elbows and stuff. I'm guessing. Girls dig that kinda stuff. I saw a couple of my friend-girl-friends kiss and stuff." David sat up a bit. "Actually, I thought it would be kinda hot, but when I talked to Ro - he's a friend of mine - about it, I just felt kinda weird. He thought it was really hot. But I guess I was so used to seeing them, like, like my sisters that it just didn't seem right. Anyway. Belinda became a stripper and Lucy went off... I dunno. Somewhere." David settled down again. "No one who grows up in Vegas ever wants to stay in Vegas. But anyway, I don't wanna bore you with my stupid life." David's eyes roamed up Jack and he looked at him curiously, and a little hopefully. "Are you feeling a bit better, pal?"
 

Jack looks thoughtful.. there's a lot about girls he doesn't understand. He's never had one as a friend, really, and he hasn't ever spent a lot of time observing them. Though, he admits to himself, he has seen more of the girls at his school since David started attending. Girls, several of the same in particular, always find an excuse to come visit David while they're eating lunch at school. It's not bad or anything, and really, Jack can see why they'd want to. David is nice to them, he's undeniably charming, and treats them with respect that most of the other guys just don't. David and girls seem to get along really well. And in fact, now that he thinks about it, David doesn't seem to hang out with the guys at all. That's sort of weird. He stores that thought for later, maybe he'll ask David about it tonight before he leaves, or. Jack replies, "I don't think your life is stupid.. I like listening to you. And yeah," he smiles sheepishly, "I am feeling better. ..Uh.. want to stay in my room tonight? You don't have to, or anything, but..." 


"Sure," David says a little too fast and then is promptly horrified at himself. "I mean...I'm wide awake. All the excitement tonight and stuff. Say, since your parents obviously don't care if I take you out and get you drunk and stoned and laid, how about we go get some coffee." David sits up and grins a little frantically. "Mmmmmm, coffeeeeeee. No offense to ma and pa Lowry, but their decaf stuff just is unholy, my friend." He scrambles up and searches in his pockets for change. "I think I got enough...."
 

Jack blinks at David, and sits up slowly. He laughs at his franticness. "Okay, coffee's good." Jack scrambles to his feet, looking for a sweatshirt to pull over his t-shirt while trying to put his shoes on, "Stoned, though? Do you have drugs?" Jack looks at David curiously, attempting to unknot some major knottage in his shoes. It still surprises him sometimes to hear David talk about things he's so unfamiliar with. He wonders how one would even get drugs in his area, he's never seen anybody use them. But, he supposes you can get them anywhere.


David looks sideways at Jack, a funny look in his eyes. He had just popped into his room to his a jacket, and was now shouldering it on. "No... I was just kidding, Jacky boy." David and Jack trot downstairs, and Jack informs his parents they're going out. In the den, the boys hear a vague "Be back by 10:00" before they're out the door and on their way to the coffee shop. "I had an uncle - more of a godfather, my dad's best friend - who did heroin. It, uh, wasn't a pretty sight. And when my mom had money, she got into it for a while too. Cause she's stupid. And my dad smoked pot, which, all in all, wasn't that bad. But I didn't like it, I thought it kept him away from me, cause he was always busy hanging out with his friends and smoking up. I think.... I took ecstasy once. At a rave, with my girlfriend. It was cool. But that's pretty much it." David kicked at some leaves. Pretty leaves of different colors, all stacked neatly about the sidewalk. Even in the dark, it was amazing. "Don't really like drugs, not even drug store pills. My mom takes antibiotics and gets sick a lot; I take none and I don't get sick. There's a sort of poetry in that."

They get to the coffee shop and David let's Jack sit down while going to get the coffee. He pushes over a caramel macchiato for David and sips his own. "Why, you want to try drugs?"
 
 
Jack idly blows on his coffee to cool it down, and shrugs at David's question, "Nope. They can mess you up.. I think the beer is enough, thanks." He smirks, "You're kind of funny when you drink, you like to talk a lot. And you ended up calling 'spaghetti', 'spaghelli'." Jack sips at his coffee and makes a noise of appreciation. "So, riddle me this, Batman.. earlier, when you were talking about girls bathing together, it made me think of something. You don't have really have any guy friends at school... just me. And. I just wanted to let you know that if you want to have friends outside of school besides me, that's okay. I know it must be kind of weird, having to live with my family, but you have your own room... and I don't mind if you hang out with someday else. I won't bother you." Jack smiles assuringly, though truth be told if he had it his way, he'd keep David to himself forever.


"Well to be quite honest, I don't think I'm really their type. Like, Catholic private school?" David makes a face. "It's not exactly my kind of crowd. All the smart kids are total nerds, all the popular kids are typically annoying, all the badass kids are try-hards. The religious clique freaks me out and the computer geeks have nada social skills. Sometimes I think you and I are the only two who don't fit into the cookie cutter. In fact, I wish those girls wouldn't keep hanging around us all the time. I'd rather be by myself, or like, well - being with you is the same as being by myself, so. I'm just a novelty, I'm hoping it'll wear off one day. It's embarrassing."

David looks at Jack carefully.  "Are you okay with that? I mean, no offense, but you didn't seem to have any friends before I came around. Like, you weren't hated or nothing, but you only hang out with me after school." David grins teasingly. "Did I supplant someone? Oh, I hope so. I've always wanted to come between two best friends." He puts on a lofty, amused look. "I know it would surprise you, considering just what an amazing and awesome catch I am, but back at home, I was the dork of my crowd. Yeah. Really. I liked to stay at home and play LAN computer games and watch Star Wars with Ro - only the last three, of course - and pretend to be the Knights of Ni and everything. I'm used to being by myself." David leans forward, his eyes lazily lidded, his smile as warm as his coffee. "And like I said -- by myself means with you. Just you, Jack."
 

Jack laughs at David wanting to come between best friends. His fingers trace nonsensical patterns on his coffee cup between sips, and when David leans in the urge to just kiss him is hard to ignore. Jack leans back in his seat a bit and returns the warm smile, "I just want to be with you, too. Which is why I am. Sorry, but you didn't come between me and anyone," he laughs again, "I don't really dig anyone at school, I totally get what you're saying. Most I ever talk to are Semper and Philip, and my cousins." Jack takes a sip of coffee, and sighs softly, "I wish those girls would bug off, too. I've known most of them since elementary school... they would always cry when you threw the dodgeball at them in gym class. From how you describe your old girlfriends, seems like all girls aren't deficient.. maybe just the ones around here. So hey, just you and me.. I like that," Jack grins, a bit goofily, really, and takes another drink of coffee to stop himself. "And you know, it seems like.. well, aside from you leaving Las Vegas.. that I came between you and those Ro guy. Who was he? I keep hearing you mention him, but you've never really told me about him."


"Semper and Philip, dude, I gotta meet these guys one day." David laughs. "And no, not all girls are like this. Some of them are pretty cool. My ex-girlfriend was the coolest, and Belinda was pretty awesome. She was hard, man. Tough." David finds himself adoring the sweetly comical grin on Jack's face. It's like Jack can't help himself when he talks about him and David, together against the world. David is fine with that, it's how he wants it to be. It's always nice to know there's someone to watch your back. And after Jack's little bouts of defiance, David's sure Jack could definitely hold his own. He gulps at the hot coffee. "Oh, Ro, uh, Hiroshi. He was my best friend back home. We were friends since we were kids; he's half-Japanese, I'm half-Latino, so we thought it was hilarious to become friends and make up a half-way club. He's a badass punk, man," David grins fondly, remembering. "He taught me how to street dance and I taught him how to skateboard. His dad's actually my godfather, yeah. But they moved to New York about a year ago."

David idly rips up a napkin. "Have you ever been to New York? I've only been there once, to visit my dad, but man. It's like. It was like I was born to live there. I don't know how I ended up in Vegas, because I should be in New York." David stares at the formica table for a bit, thoughtfully. "So, how old didja say Sampy and Philip were?"


Jack arranges the pieces of David's ripped napkin into a random design. "Semper," he replies with a laugh, "And don't ask me two totally different questions at once.. you're going to get me all confused." He winks at David.. and abruptly feels like a dork, because. He just winked. "...Er. Well anyway, no, I haven't been to New York, I've never been outside Rhode Island. Pretty lame, huh? I guess my family just doesn't like to take trips. But. I'd love to visit New York.. they have lots of musicals and plays and stuff. I mean.. to see Les Mis live? Wow..."

Jack drips some of his coffee onto the napkin pieces and watches as they soak it up. "Maybe someday we can go. Take a trip or something, right? After high school. We could even try to find your friend Ro." Jack grins up at David, and then answers his other question, "As for how old Philip and Semper are, I'm not sure. If I had to guess, though, I'd say early-twenties. Also. Well.. I don't know if it's supposed to be a secret or anything," his voice lowers and he doesn't even realize it, "but I think they're dating. I saw them kiss a few times." Jack can't help it, and blushes just thinking about it.


David nearly chokes when he hears Jack mention musicals and actually specifies one, but David keeps it to himself.  David had been suspecting that Jack was... that way for a little while now. If he compared Jack to his friends, there were a lot more resemblance's between him and the girls than him and Ro, Ro being the straightest guy David has ever known.
 
When Jack brings up musicals... that just kinda confirms it. What David isn't sure of, though, is if Jack knew it himself. At fourteen, would someone know a thing like that? David supposed so, only he had gotten a crash course in sexuality at fourteen, so.

"Semper, right," David mutters under his breath as Jack amusedly corrects the funny name. Then Jack leans in conspiratorially and mentions that the two bookstore guys are indeed gay. Something inside of David flares up, but he shoves it under the lid.

"So.. you mean these two are, like, gay?" David blinked. "What are they a couple?" David adds silently. 'I hope they are. A normal couple. I really hope they are.' He leans forward intently to listen carefully to Jack's response. He suddenly felt a fierce wave of protectiveness surge over him.


Jack frowns a bit, he supposes the reason he told David about Philip and Semper was to get his reaction. He knows a little about homophobia, not first hand or anything, but he knows that it exists in the world. And he wants to know how David feels about the whole thing, because, what if someday David found out he was.. well.. gay? And in the back of Jack's mind something is still protesting that, no way, he likes GIRLS. But damn, what if David found out and was disgusted? Jack couldn't bear the thought. So Jack nods, "Yeah, like a couple. They've never told me one way or the other.. but the kisses I saw weren't exactly, uh.. casual. And they look at each other." Jack pauses, trying to think of a way to explain it. "They look at each other like they're in love.. real love, y'know?" Jack keeps his eyes on David's, hoping he won't see disgust in them.


David breathes an inward sigh of relief. So Jack just accidentally walked in on the two guys kissing, it wasn't as though they were purposely doing it in front of the kid or anything. And the way Jack described it, it sounded like the really only had eyes for each other and were only interested in a 14-year old kid for the amusement factor. He noticed Jack looking at him a little funny, and relaxed his shoulders a bit. "Sorry, kiddo. Didn't mean to get all harsh and stuff. I just... I don't easily trust adults, I guess, to be smart. Especially if they like to hang out with 14 year old kids. But, but," David waves his hand, before Jack could protest on Semper and Philip's behalf, "Obviously these two guys are just guys and what, you think they're in love and stuff? That's cool. I'm glad. It's good you have friends to hang out with. Having older friends has it's perks, that's for sure." Then David remembers that Jack never tried beer until David had handed him one, and David giggles.


Jack smiles, feeling relaxed again. He's glad David didn't say they were gross or anything. Under the table he playfully nudge-kicks David's foot with his, "What's so funny?"


David pushes his hand against his mouth to stop giggling. "Oh, dude, it's just you. Like, what would you use older friends for? You don't smoke or drink or go clubbing. And that's the only things grown-ups are good for." David thought and looked excited, "But, oh hey! They could feed you food you parent's don't usually feed you. Like, twenty Twinkies in a row or something. I guess that's... kind of a perk. For you anyway," David leans forward and playfully shoves Jack.


Jack laughs, and falls back against his chair. It's so strange the way David's mind works sometimes. He supposes Las Vegas made him so untrusting. After he stops laughing, he replies with a grin, "Geez Daisy.. not all adults are creeps. I don't hang out with them to use them... I hang out with them cause they're nice." He looks thoughtful for a moment, "No Twinkies, but Semper gives me free ice cream and books sometimes. I think they have a coffee machine there, too.. if you want to go sometime." In retaliation to David's shove, Jack plants his sneaker on the front of the seat of David's chair, and shoves forward.


"I suppose they're not all creeps." David shrugs, grateful when Jack switches subject to the bookstore boys. "That would be kinda cool. Not that I'm a big book reader or anything, but it sounds like fun to just hang about. Do they have video games? We should have, like, competitions and stuff. We need some fresh blood, we're too good with each other." David grins. When Jack shoves his chair back, David takes it as their cue to leave and gets up. The store was closing in a few minutes anyway, and David hated to inconvenience the storechick.


Jack gets up as well, and tosses his almost-empty coffee cup into a nearby garbage. "I have a couple books I'll bet you'd love, if you gave them a chance." He smiles sweetly to David, and opens the door for him. Following David out of the coffee shop, Jack shoves his hands into his pockets to keep them warm, and takes up his usual position on David's right. He doubts David has noticed this, but they have this odd sort of natural habit of walking positions.. David is almost always on the left, and Jack on the right. "I don't think they have a video game thing at the store, though.. just board games. Bet I can kick your ass at Scattergories," he replies with a grin.


"I'll bet you could," David says congenially. "The only board game I played was Monopoly, and I was 8 and I cheated and claimed I was just playing like real tycoons play. Oh and Trivial Pursuit, because mom wanted me to be super smart when I grew up. I have no clue about other board games. Huh. I didn't know people still played those things." They walk in comfortable silence for a while, David setting the pace as slow and meandering. The night isn't as cold as it had been in the past few nights. "Oh! That reminds me, back to my incessant prying and speaking of books -- dude, you read Paradise Lost! I love that book, it's wonderful. I read it a couple times. My ex-girlfriend had given it to me to read, and I read whatever she gave to me. Chloe. That's her name." David suddenly finds it very odd that he hadn't mentioned her name until now. It didn't feel as bad to say her name out loud as he thought it would. He smiles at Jack. It must be the present company.


 Jack feels slightly affronted, he likes board games. Hmph. As they walk in silence, Jack muses about what it would be like to stroll along like this while holding David's hand. He smiles to himself, entertaining such thoughts until David's 'Oh!' startles him back into reality. "I love that book, it's so interesting and intense. ...Chloe, hmm. Y'know, that's a pretty heavy book for someone who isn't much of a book reader," he grins and nudges David's arm with his shoulder. "She must have been a smart girl. A great girl to get you to read anything, too."


David blushes slightly, but is glad it's dark. He smiles gently. "I've had this weird fascination with heaven and hell since I was a kid. I'm not really sure why. Anyway, when Chlo found out, she bought me Paradise Lost for my birthday. Then I asked my mom for Dante's Inferno. Then dad sent me a posterbook of Hyron..Herm...that Bosche dude? The one who painted those pictures of Hell? God, good books. I want to read them when I get older, too, because I'll probably understand them better. But, yeah. Chloe was a great girlfriend." David sighs. "I really was in love with her." He glances at Jack. "Can 14 year olds be in love? I mean, have you ever felt that way, in your 14 years of existence?"


Jack starts to reply about heaven and hell.. books, a safe topic. Then his breath catches and, fuck, he's glad it's dark. His expression is probably one of embarrassed horror. It would probably give him away, he thinks, and he keeps his face forward and slightly away from David. He swallows hard. Love? He tries to consider if he feels love for David, because no one's come as close.. David is the only one possible. Love, though? A soft laugh catches in his throat, and he licks his lips to wet them. "I don't know.. maybe. Seems to me it would be hard to love."

'But maybe not,' he thinks. Maybe not as hard as it seems, because, for godssake he can't stop thinking about David. He used to like to be alone, to go out in his tree house and just sit, and watch birds, and now.. he hasn't felt that itching tug to just get away. Not from David, at least. He hasn't stopped at the bookstore in weeks, because every morning David doesn't come with him on his paper route he hurries back home, knowing David is probably still sleeping, and he knows lots of amusing ways to wake his friend up. He doesn't skip gym any more, because it's fun with David in the class. He's been agonizing for weeks on the perfect present to get David for Christmas, and for once, he's looking forward to Christmas. He looks forward to a lot of things. Oh hell.


David looks surprised, he had always taken his friend for a romantic, not a cynic. They get home and trot upstairs. But David still doesn't want to leave Jack. He changes and brushes his teeth and then just feels it is just right to follow Jack into his room and climb onto the bed. Jack, still puttering around in his closet, doesn't look like it's a strange thing for David to do, so David nests. David's common sense is telling him he'll just hang out for an hour or two more, then head back to his room. David's... something else, is secretly hoping he'll just fall asleep in Jack's bed. "So how would it be hard to be in love? I'm pretty sure I was. Pretty sure."


Jack pulls his current sweatshirt off. It's always very warm in his bedroom because his bedroom is on the second floor. He shrugs out of his sneakers and pants as well, sporting a pair of plain black boxers. He knows David's in the room, but he also knows that it's okay for guys to see other guys like this, and he doesn't want David thinking he's modest like a girl. Besides, they've had swimming class together. .. 'And,' Jack thinks, 'I've officially thought too deeply into this'. He tosses his sweatshirt and pants into the hamper, pulls an old t-shirt from the closet, and turns to face David at his question.

Jack shrugs, "I just think... when you love someone-- if you love someone, you become really vulnerable, you know? And.. how do you know you can trust the other person to treat you good? What if you want to be with them forever, but they leave you? It's so much.. so much invested in someone else." Jack frowns a bit, and pulls his shirt over his head.


David frowns as well. "Well just because you're not sure if someone would love you back doesn't mean you shouldn't love them. Weird. And here I thought you'd totally be the idealistic one. I guess you are, in a strange Jack-like way." David doesn't notice how appreciatively he's watching Jack change until he feels a mild disappointment when Jack puts on a new t-shirt. 'Pervert', he chides himself. 'The kid's 14.'


Jack supposes it is weird, and smiles a bit sadly. He clicks the light off, leaving the room dark, but touched by soft moonlight from the two windows. He climbs into bed next to David, pulling the covers up over himself, and half lays/sits against the pillows. "I guess... I wish I could be all Moulin Rogue, y'know? And have someone be that important. I just. It seems kind of scary, too." He sighs, and turns his head to look at David, whose features are highlighted in silvery-white, "But I also guess, when you fall in love, you really don't have a choice, do you? It just comes, and it eats you up inside until it's practically all you can feel." Jack is quiet for a long moment, and then, feeling a bit embarrassed to have admitted such a thing, adds casually, "I suppose that's what it would be like, anyway."


David's ears rush with blood and his face heats up so much that he thanks the darkness over and over again. "Yes, Jack. That's exactly what it's like," David says, his voice low, and a little hoarse. And suddenly, it all just clicks in his mind and makes sense. And David forgets about past love and the pain surrounding it and realizes that this was all new and he's new and different and yet, it suddenly all made sense.  But yet--

"Oh god," David says, because it hurts in a whole new way. Jack breathes in softly, about to speak, but David lies down and turns his back to Jack, quickly muttering 'good night' underneath his breath. He was close, too close, to pulling Jack closer and pressing his lips against Jack and doing a ton of other things that his mind was replaying right now. But there was something nagging in the back of his head; not his dad's voice, but something smaller but altogether more insidious, whispering - "it's wrong, you're wrong, don't make him wrong too. It's wrong, you're wrong, don't make him wrong too." over and over until David silently spoke it to himself, like a mantra.

And yet, despite the mantra, he still didn't leave the room.


Something about the way David's voice sounds when he responds makes Jack shiver. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, willing away the ever-familiar feeling of longing. Jack then hears David say something about god, and it almost sounds like a sorrowful moan. He turns, almost on his side, in concern, placing the tips of his fingers on David's shoulder, "David," he whispers, "are you okay?" He bites his lower lip, worrying it, he hopes he hasn't somehow upset his friend. He must have brought up some unpleasant memories or something. He pulls his hand away after a long moment with no response. Somehow Jack doubts David could fall asleep that fast, but if he wants to be left alone that badly Jack will let it go. He shifts so he's laying on his back once more, closes his eyes, and, worried, waits for sleep to come.


Quietly, once he hears the warm and regular breathing from Jack, David turns over and surveys the other boy. His eyes are easily adjusted to the dark and he can make out Jack's features clearly. The younger boy does not look at peace. Neither does he look like he's having a good dream.  Jack is frowning heavily, looking as though he has the weight of the world on his skinny shoulders. His mouth is curved in a petulant and disturbed upside-down 'u'.  And not even sleep could soften his features.

David idly plays with the sleeve of Jack's t-shirt and, still staring at Jack's face, surmises that it was definitely his doing. If he didn't... if only... if he had just. 'Okay, so let's make a list, David,' he says to himself, 'Of all the reasons why you think this is possibly becoming some sort of an actual relationship with. A. Boy. One: the way Jack looks at you. He's like a puppy dog. A cute puppy dog. Two: the way you treat Jack. It's like you were with Chloe, when you first met her. Three: the fact that you wanted to kiss him. Okay, so I think we got my feelings for him straightened out. Four: the way he accepts you. He'll let you do anything to him. Face it, kid, Jack Lowry esq. is in love with you.

David flops back onto his pillow and stares up at the ceiling.  His mind slowly filled with denial. It just couldn't be true.