He’s not entirely sure when it started.
It’s been ages.
Maybe it was from that moment when they first met, Reed hiding in the junkyard, his eyes just a bit too wide, voice speaking just a bit too fast. Talking in scientific terms that were still miles over Ben’s head.
Maybe it was the first time they had a sleepover. When Ben had laid next to his best - his only - friend in the cramped twin sized bed, and willed his ever beating heart to slow down.
Maybe it was the homecoming dance, that they’d skipped together. Sitting in the back of his truck in their ill fitting suits, sharing Reed’s first beer and Ben’s hundredth.
Or maybe it wasn’t until the end, until he was dropping Reed off in New York and trying to pretend that it didn’t hurt. That he hadn’t punched the distance between Reed’s new school and the junkyard into his GPS too many times to count, staring at the miles between them while attempting to reassure himself that the distance didn’t matter.
“-and then she smiled at me, at least, I think it was a smile. Not too big, you know, but her lips turned up just a little at the edges-”
Listening to Reed talking about someone else - about the wonderful Sue Storm - hurts most of all. Because Ben knows everything about Reed, they’ve never kept secrets from each other.
At least, Reed’s never kept secrets.
Ben doesn’t think Reed is physically capable of not saying whatever is on his mind the second it comes to him.
Ben, on the other hand, has been keeping that one secret close to heart for too long.
There’s no easy way to say that you’re in love with your best friend.
Especially when they aren’t in love with you.
“-Victor says Sue’s normally like this. Playing hard to get or whatever, I now it sounds absurd, you can tell me I sound absurd.”
“You don’t,” Ben insists, even if it makes his throat tight.
“Good, good. I’m glad. Listen Ben, I think I might really like her.”
He hopes his voice doesn’t sound bitter when he says, “Sounds like it.”
Either Reed misses the tone or he isn’t as obvious as he thinks he is, because Reed continues undisturbed. “I wish you could meet her Ben. Then you’d understand.”
He doesn’t mention that technically he has met Sue Storm. The adopted daughter of the professor who had been there to see their science fair project. Instead he makes some non-committal noise, one he hopes can pass for vague agreement.
For a second later, Reed speaks up again. “Next time you come to visit, I’ll make sure to introduce you.”