Down at the bottom of the hill Gabe was pouring the last bottle of water over the snow ramp. Between Gabe and Pete the ramp had gone from being a little drift that made the downhill slide a bit more exciting at the end, to what looked like a fucking death trap.
"That is going to be so fucking awesome," he said.
The closest person was Patrick Stump, Pete's pet freshman. The rest of the party was either piling onto Ashlee's four wheeler for the slippery ride up the hill (Pete) or dragging their sleds and their asses up the hill on foot (everyone else). But Patrick still looked around, like he was checking to make sure Bob wasn't talking to somebody else.
"Oh," Patrick said. His voice was muffled beneath a couple layers of scarves. Between them and the hilarious brimmed, ear-flapped hunter's hat he was wearing, all Bob could really see of Patrick was his eyes. Then Patrick turtled deeper into the scarves and lifted his innertube up and propped it on his head, tilted down so it partly covered his face. Bob couldn't even see his eyes then. "It's fucking dangerous, is what it is. You people are all insane."
Bob just grinned. Patrick was shy, except for how he'd tell you exactly what he thought, even if he thought you were a complete moron for thinking Pete and Gabe's Mountain of Death Slide sounded fun.
"Can't argue that," Bob said.
Patrick shook his head. He was probably scrunching his face up in a long-suffering grimace beneath his layers. Bob knew that look. It was slightly adorable.
Dropping his plastic saucer sled, stepping on it to keep it from taking off down the hill without him, Bob pulled off a glove and dug around beneath his jacket. He'd stuffed his cigarettes and lighter into the pocket of one of his hoodies; it took him a second to find which one.
He stuck a cigarette in his mouth and then reached over and thumped Patrick on the shoulder, holding up the pack of cigs in offering when Patrick looked at him.
The offer was just for the sake of politeness; Bob wasn't surprised when Patrick shook his head and didn't take one. Patrick was in jazz band with Bob -- jazz band was normally for upperclassmen only, but Patrick was some kind of musical genius; even though he preferred guitar and piano he could play every fucking instrument in the world, and play just about any song by ear after hearing it only once or twice. Patrick was as passionate about playing music as Bob was, too, which meant that even outside of practices and band trips, Bob ran into Patrick a lot in the band room. Bob went there to hide out and jam on the drum set; Patrick went there to write music and be bugged by Pete, who followed him everywhere.
So Bob had had plenty of opportunity to watch Patrick. He knew that Patrick didn't duck into the bathroom or cut class for a smoke; didn't drink when somebody smuggled booze on a band trip; was not scared of spiders (he had to kill one in the music room when both Bob and Pete refused to get near it); and didn't smoke up when Joe Trohman brought weed to Pete's parties.
He also knew Patrick hated having to take off his ever-present trucker hat for class and concerts; despite being shy, had a wicked sense of humor and a penchant for hitting people who pissed him off enough; and had a mouth Bob had to work really hard at not staring at.
Occasionally Bob thought he'd like to find out what Patrick could do with that mouth. Bob did not, however, know if Patrick was into guys, and Bob was not the sort of person to ask around about that sort of thing. That was fine, though. Bob liked hanging out with Patrick even if kissing wasn't an option.
Joe Trohman finished slogging up the hill and stopped beside Bob, leaning on him and wheezing.
"Holy shit." Joe pointed at the ramp. "That looks fucking amazing."
Vicky was right behind him, half-dragging a laughing and stumbling Greta up over the rise of the hill.
"Trohman, I bet you fifty bucks you pussy out before hitting the ramp," Vicky said.
Joe stood up straight and planted his mittened fists on his hips. "What do I look like," he said archly. "An idiot? No way in hell I'm taking that bet."
Disentangling herself from Vicky, Greta patted Joe on the arm. "That's right. We can stay up here where it's safe while the rest of these dumbasses kill themselves on that stupid thing."
"Bob'll take it," Vicky said, flashing him a grin. "Won't you, Bob."
Bob blew out a last mouthful of smoke and flicked the cigarette into the snow off to the side. "Fuck yeah. I'll probably break something, but." He grinned back at her. "It'll be totally worth it."
Vicky laughed and high-fived him.
Bob heard Patrick mutter something that sounded like "stupid"; when Bob cocked an eyebrow at him, and Patrick realized Bob had heard, he froze for a moment and his eyes got big and startled. Then his eyebrows drew together in a glower, and he actually lifted his chin out of his scarves to make sure Bob got the full force of his scowl. "Well, you are."
"Still not arguing," Bob said, stifling a grin.
The four wheeler crested the hill a little ways down from them. Pete jumped off while it was still going and loped over to them while Ashlee pulled the four wheeler well away from the incline. Gabe was still a few feet down the hill, on his way up.
"Who's first?" Gabe shouted.
Joe dropped his sled to the snow. "I'll do it."
Gabe laughed. "You don't count, Trohman, you'll take a dive before you get to the ramp."
"Yeah," Joe said. "But I want to be down there where I can watch you morons kill yourselves from close up."
He dropped onto the sled and went skidding down the hill. A couple of feet before the ramp, he rolled off his sled.
He was too close to the ramp, though, and instead of stopping he swished up it and got flung a few arm-flailing feet before crashing to the snowy ground.
Bob was laughing his ass off, watching Trohman flounder to his feet and do victory arms when suddenly a Pete-shaped blur came out of nowhere. Pete launched himself at Bob; Bob had to wrap his arms around him to catch him and steady him so that they wouldn't both go tumbling to the ground.
While Bob was keeping them upright, Pete planted a sloppy, slippery, strawberry lip balm-flavored kiss on him, dead center of his mouth.
Bob made a "mmph" sound. He got a handful of the back of Pete's coat and pried him off.
"What the fuck Wentz?" Bob was still laughing, because Pete was Pete and there was no point in taking the weird shit he did seriously.
Pete cackled and twisted out of his grip to go drape himself over Patrick.
"Your lips looked dry, Bobert," Pete said. He grinned, all teeth. "I fixed it."
Shaking his head, Bob pressed his lips together to spread the lip balm around a little. It did feel nice.
But he still said, "Yeah, next time just give me the stuff instead of laying one on me, okay?"
Pete didn't hear; Patrick was flailing away, trying to get Pete off him, and Pete was clinging and laughing obnoxiously.
Vicky had already taken off down the hill. Her aim was off, though, so she only took a little of the ramp before going off the side. Bob gave her time to get her sled and get out of the way, only half paying attention to Gabe sweet-talking Greta out of her sled and Patrick finally dumping Pete to the ground. Bob saw Patrick lean down to scoop up a handful of snow, pack it, and nail Pete viciously in the face with it before Pete could get up.
Which was a little odd, because Pete seemed to be one of the few people who could bug the shit out of Patrick and not trigger his temper.
But Bob never had a chance to find out what had pissed Patrick off so hard. Vicky was clear of the ramp, and Gabe gave Bob a thumbs up to let him know he'd wait for Bob to go first.
Kicking his sled out in front of him, Bob let it get going before he dove onto it. It was his trick for getting up speed right away; by the time he got to the bottom of the hill the world was a blur around him. He hit the iced ramp dead center, shot up it and fucking flew.
He yelled as he rocketed through the air. Two thoughts hit him at once: best ice ramp ever, and oh shit, I'm gonna land in the street.
There was still snow in the street, but the plows had been through and flattened whatever wasn't pushed to the gutters into piles. He broke his wrist when he landed, and Greta had to drive him to the hospital.
It was still the best ice ramp ever, though.
Until the next weekend, anyway.
It snowed again during the week, and Pete and Gabe made plans to build another ice ramp, aimed away from the street. Bob wrapped his cast in a plastic bag and met them out there. It was probably not the smartest thing in the world to do, and Patrick called him an idiot a dozen times at least.
But Bob didn't re-break his wrist or anything, and the extra pain was totally worth it. Best ice ramp ever.