Clay's a liar.
Will kisses him anyway.
They're standing by the lake, at the edge of the police line, and watching a body get fished out. Jake cracks the worst jokes, the ones that piss Will off, and Carlos stares blankly ahead. This isn't his first dead body.
Will bumps Carlos with an elbow, gives him a look like you cool, man?
The answer's probably no, but Carlos nods anyway, because he will be, if you give him enough time.
Will does and stares ahead, but his eyes always go to the same place — to Clay.
That pisses him off, too. He grabs someone, blind about it, just reaches for the nearest person who looks like they might know whose body that is, whose family's gonna be messed up this time around.
"Max," the guy says.
Will's first thought is: fuck. His next thought is: good riddance, the prick.
It slips out, and Jake calls him on it. It doesn't matter. Will stares at Clay with a question in his eyes that Clay never answers.
"I left you with him, right." Will's not asking. He's giving Clay the benefit of the doubt here.
Clay nods. "Yeah," he says.
Will holds out his hands like a question: so what happened? Clay doesn't take them, though, just stares at the cuts, the split skin, and tosses another question back.
Clay sleeps around. It's a thing that he does. No big deal. A string of girls don't matter, because Clay never sticks around. Will doesn't like to think about what it means for him. What it'll mean for him come May when Clay graduates and is gone. When it's just Will and Clay's friends and an empty house in a stupid, too-small town.
Will doesn't like thinking about Clay, but it happens — in English, in Biology, in every stupid class and at lunch when Clay squeezes Will's leg under the table and talks about asking Aisha to the prom.
Fucking Aisha, of all people.
They're brothers, and they kiss. They're brothers, and they fuck — in Will's room, in Clay's room. They did it in the kitchen once while Ma was at work.
Clay blew his load all over the cabinets, said, "Leave it," with a smirk as he stroked Will's cock 'til it started to hurt, 'til Will wanted to come again and bucked into Clay's fist.
Will's a sophomore, Clay's about to graduate, and they're watching a body get fished out of the river. It's the first time Will realizes how reckless Clay is, how Clay wrecks things. Mostly girls, but Will is caught up, too, another piece of debris left behind, aching and kiss-bruised just the way he was the first time Clay bent over him and said, "Never have I ever kissed my baby brother."
"I wanna fuck you," Will says, because they're going to be late anyway.
Clay's never been on time for anything. Ma says he was late for his birth, kept her in labor for two days of pure agony.
As much as it pisses Will off, Clay always leaves him waiting, wanting, desperate and fucked up. This time, it's Will's turn.
Will reaches for the lube, reaches for Clay, and wonders what it would take to get Clay to stay.
Clay's never gonna talk about it, so after the funeral, Will says, "I don't even remember the shit that went on that night. Except maybe the ride home."
It's a lie. What Will remembers about that night is Clay. Clay's tongue in his mouth, Clay shoving him against a tree and knocking the breath out of him only to swallow it up, Clay's hands everywhere.
That time, it was Will's turn — Will's turn to leave, to push, to make Clay chase after him.
So he'd pushed Clay away and laughed, knowing they were going to fuck later. In the woods, the car — it didn't matter, Will was going to give it up, panting Clay's name, and Clay was going to bend, swallowing up all the space between them like he couldn't get close enough.
Then Max was there, looking from Clay to Will and back again. "Wow, Clay, really? Your own baby brother?"
"It doesn't matter," Clay says now. "No one gives a shit. It doesn't matter."
Will looks at him. What about us? he thinks. What about me?
It wasn't an accident. Max came out of nowhere, snide and smug and fucking creepy, and Will had punched him, kept going 'til Clay pulled him off and said, "Go. I'll take care of this."
Clay stayed with Max, and he stays with Aisha. The two of them wander off, leaving Will behind. He hangs with Jake for a while, says, "I think I know where I wanna go."
"Yeah?" Jake asks. "Where? Let's make it happen, buddy."
Clay goes to the prom with Aisha. He fucks her, too. Will knows because he can taste the dry, bitter taste of latex on Clay's cock.
"Wanna fuck?" Clay asks.
Will bites Clay's mouth in revenge — for asking, for not telling — and takes the lube from Clay's hand. He's messy, tells himself it's on purpose, but it's because his fingers are shaking as he screws them into Clay, one at a time until Clay's goading him to, "Pick up the pace."
"Not like this," Will says, finally, unsticking the words from his tongue. "I wanna see your face."
"Watching cheap pornos again?"
"Shut up, and turn around."
Clay flops onto his back and throws an arm over his eyes. It's good enough up to the end when all Will wants is for Clay to look at him, to feel what Will's feeling as he fucks his brother on a bed they used to share.