It wasn't easy living with a secret but Jonathon believed he was doing a good job hiding it. He had a girlfriend, was captain of the rugby team and held a reputation that everyone in town respected so he thought he could soar through his senior year in high school without anyone finding out the truth.
But then Timothy walked into Morgan Hill Academy with a nonchalant attitude, incredibly soulful eyes and a bodacious confidence about his sexuality. Jonathon was smitten the moment he laid eyes on him.
He liked Timothy, tried to get in his good graces and felt terrible whenever other students mock him.
One day after P.E., they were left alone in the locker room since their classmates and the rugby team had already rushed over to Ms. Tebbit's class. Jonathon felt compassion swell in his chest when he saw Timothy press a wet towel against his swollen face – a sickening result of the dodge ball Conner had deliberately hurled toward Timothy when he had his guard down. Jonathon felt a pinch of guilt when he recalled how he laughed with his classmates in his ass of an attempt to hide the deep concern he felt for Timothy.
"Need some ice?" he asked, hoping he'd have a reason to touch Timothy and already imagining himself holding a cold pack against Timothy's eye, his other hand cupping Timothy's cheek, but his heart sank when Timothy shook his head.
"No I'm good." Timothy turned his face away and Jonathon took that as a silent cue that he should leave the other boy alone.
He didn't leave the locker room right away though. He lingered at the doorway, listening to the sound of clothes rustling. He had this urge to watch Timothy peel off his P.E. uniform, wanted to undress Timothy with his bare hands and—
Jonathon pushed the lewd thoughts out of his head when he felt the beginning of an arousal and dashed across the hallway, filling his mind with anything disgusting just to ease the problem building up inside his dark pants.
By the time auditions for the spring senior play rolled in, Jonathon was harboring this massive crush for Timothy until it became futile to ignore the feelings. Problem was he didn't have the nerve to tell or even show Timothy how he felt.
The courage he'd been seeking suddenly rushed into him during a play rehearsal. Jonathon was sprawled on the floor pretending to be unconscious (as was required of the character he played) but listening intently while Timothy said his lines so perfectly, his words curling around Jonathon's heart.
Through his partially closed eyes, Jonathon watched Timothy hold this purple flower prop against his face and winced when something liquid spurted straight to his cornea.
It was hard to explain what happened next but there was a sharp tug at Jonathon's heartstrings and he could no longer resist the desire to pursue Timothy. It was even harder to explain why Shakespeare-like verses flowed out of his mouth like a second language.
"I thirst for thy lips," he told Timothy when they were at the town's fair that night and seeing Timothy's face turn an adorable shade of scarlet made Jonathon yearn to kiss him more.
It was almost like… almost like he lost control of his own actions. The need to be with Timothy every second pulsed through his veins and he just couldn't damn stop it. He was falling for Timothy. And falling fast.
There was this other guy who was after Timothy – someone called Max – and Jonathon's gut twisted with jealousy, making him feel so irrationally possessive like he was some animal protecting his mate. So he ended up claiming his right to Timothy's heart through a fistfight with Max.
Jonathon disliked brawl. He wasn't confrontational by nature, but his blood boiled with rage that he couldn't stop himself from swinging punches across Max's face. Timothy was his and no one else could have him. No one else.
He won the fight but there was something gnawing at the back of his mind. Was it guilt? Was it obsession? Was it some feeling he didn't have a name for? Jonathon couldn't tell.
That night, he and Timothy stayed hidden in the woods. Every moment spent with Timothy eased the ache burning in his chest. It felt like they were lost in their own world. But they had to return to reality somehow. They had to be at the school play.
The play was remarkable. The stage design was awesome. Timothy was simply amazing.
Jonathon could feel the thrill flowing off from the cast members and the anticipation thrumming from the audience. His character was supposed to be in some magically forced slumber so he had his eyes close but he was aware of Timothy's presence on stage. The poetic words falling out of Timothy's lips were like a comfortable blanket that swathed around Jonathon's body.
The stage effects left Jonathon in awe. He gazed up at the ceiling, watching the water drizzling down from the sprinklers like rain. Few drops brimmed in his eyes and he had to blink them away. Then he felt a weight leave his body – the same feeling he usually had whenever he woke up from a strange dream.
It confused him to hell why Timothy murmured "good-bye" before the scene wrapped up so he sought him out after the curtain call. Panic boiled in his belly when he couldn't find Timothy anywhere. "Have you seen Timothy?" he asked Russ, his fingers clutching the curve of Russ' shoulder tightly like he was literally trying to squeeze the information out of him.
"Ow! Gently, dude. He's up at the attic dressing room," Russ said with a scowl.
Jonathon felt a rush of relief when he finally found Timothy. Without warning, he grabbed Timothy by the shoulders from behind and when Timothy whirled his head around, Jonathon brushed his lips against Timothy's in a chaste kiss.
After the play, they went straight to Cooper's place. Jonathon was a little surprised that Cooper invited Timothy and wondered if Cooper had some tricks up his sleeves. But he didn't notice anything devious in Cooper's expression when he asked them both to come.
The party was… well, normal – rowdy but in a more civilized way. The guys from their English Lit class didn't seem bothered by the fact that Jonathon and Timothy acted like a couple all night. They even kissed in front of the entire rugby team and the guys responded with whistles and catcalls and Cole even yelled, "Get a room, lovebirds!"
"You can take it to my room, if you want," Cooper said, a Cheshire cat-like grin splitting his face.
"Shut up." Jonathon just shook his head and pulled Timothy close but loosened his hold when he felt Timothy tense beside him.
They didn't stay long. Timothy said he was tired. "You could stay if you want. I can call Frankie and ask her to pick me up," he added and the thought of having Timothy's friend pick him up made Jonathon feel useless.
"No. I'll drive you home. I'm totally dead beat as well." Jonathon wondered if he was being too clingy but Timothy wasn't complaining, so….
When Jonathon pulled up right in front of Timothy's house, they both remained in the car for a minute or so before Timothy asked, "Would you like to come in?"
"Tempting but…" Jonathon knew he was a fool to turn down the offer but he knew he shouldn't acquiesce because he wasn't certain if he could keep his hands off Timothy if they were left alone, "I have to get home before my parents send out a search party." It was a lie. His curfew wasn't until two in the morning since his parents knew he was out partying. But he knew he had to say something to keep a safe distance between them. For now.
Jonathon had to be extra sentient and keep all his senses functioning when he returned to school on Monday. Sure, his schoolmates seemed to accept the fact that he and Timothy were together during Cooper's party but they might have been under some sort of alcoholic influence.
Everyone seemed to be acting normal but Jonathon couldn't help but think that there was something different in the air.
"Hey lover boy, where's your boyfriend," was how Cooper greeted him. There wasn't any mockery in Cooper's tone, just the same languid attitude that often made him seem like an asshole.
"Don't know. He said he'll meet me here," Jonathon explained, eyes sweeping across the hallway in search for Timothy. Seeing that his boyfriend wasn't anywhere in sight, he shoved his things inside his locker and followed Cooper to their chemistry class.
He didn't get to see Timothy until lunch. He found him sitting on his usual table. Alone. He snuck up behind him, said, "Haven't seen you since this morning," and settled his food tray on the table.
"Sorry. Got here late and had to rush to my first class." Timothy tossed some fries in his mouth.
"I hope this doesn't mean you're avoiding me," Jonathon said in jest and a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth when Timothy rolled his eyes.
They didn't have any lessons in English Lit. Ms. Tebbit said they all deserved a break for a job well done. Timothy acted less distant after and even stayed to watch rugby practice.
"Are you sure you don't feel anything different?" Timothy asked on their way home. "No weird feelings like what happened in the last few days were nothing but a dream or a nightmare?"
"You mean like the way Cole claimed that he had the most bizarre dream about sleeping with Cooper?" Jonathon steered the car into the road leading up to Timothy's place.
Something crossed Timothy's face that resembled the look of guilt. "Yeah. Something like that," Timothy said then quickly averted his gaze out the window.
"No. No weird feelings."
S.A.T. results loomed over the senior class and before they knew it, every senior student had their heads filled with college preparations.
Jonathon got the acceptance letter from Cornell and Timothy's face fell when he found out. Jonathon's panicked thought of 'Oh shit, he has college plans elsewhere' made him feel dangerously woozy.
"I um, " Timothy started and he kept rubbing his hands against his thighs like he was nervous or something, "I was planning to head over to L.A. after graduation, find a job and maybe get into a state college."
Jonathon sighed in relief. No solid plans. Good. "Maybe you can head over to New York instead? With me." He belatedly felt guilty for sounding so selfish.
"I don't know, Jonathon. I…" Timothy climbed out of Jonathon's bed and began pacing around the room. "Well, we've been dating for only a month. Do you think it's wise for us to just… I don't know… change our plans?"
The words stung somehow and doubt crept stealthily at the back of Jonathon's mind, making him wonder how serious Timothy was about their relationship. "I was only suggesting that—I mean…. There are state colleges in New York. Maybe you can even try to apply for full scholarship. And I'm pretty sure there are tons of job opportunities there."
"What about you, Jonathon? Would you be willing to go to California with me instead?"
That felt like a sharp punch right across his face.
Would he? Jonathon could have said 'yes' and everything would be fine and perfect but his mouth refused to work. His heart seized when Timothy shook his head and said, "I thought so," and walked out of Jonathon's room without another word.
For the whole week, Timothy didn't talk to Jonathon. Or maybe he was waiting for Jonathon to talk to him first but Jonathon was too much of a coward.
It seemed like Jonathon was back to square one: figuring out how to best approach Timothy and wondering what the heck he should say.
Brooding at home wasn't exactly how he wanted to spend Friday night. But he was too caught up in contemplation to be anywhere else. He carefully weighed his options for the future, plans he had carefully crafted over the past year. He had a gut feeling that his parents – his father especially – wouldn't be pleased if he gave up Cornell. He had chosen to go to that university and altering his plans so he could be with Timothy seemed irrational.
Long distance relationship might work, but since he and Timothy hadn't been together that long, there wasn't any guarantee.
Frustrated, Jonathon collapsed face first on the couch, buried his face in a throw pillow and groaned loudly. That was how his mother found him.
"Problems?" she asked and placed a cup of hot tea on the coffee table before settling on the seat adjacent to where Jonathon was sprawled over.
"Mom? Would you kill me if I give up Cornell and choose a college in California instead?" Straightforward was the game, Jonathon thought. Why couldn't he be the same to his boyfriend then?
"Does Timothy have anything to do with this?" She lifted the cup with practiced ease and took a sip of her tea so calmly as if they were talking about the weather.
"You might think this sounds absolutely ridiculous, but yes. Sort of?"
"You're father might," she said perfunctorily, the china clinking as she settled the cup back on the table. "I wouldn't resort to something barbaric but I might ground you until you can provide for yourself if you said you would give up college altogether."
"I'm not. I won't. I'm… I'm just changing schools. Probably. Maybe?" Jonathon wasn't entirely confident about what he wanted at this point.
His mom's soft gaze swept over his face like a caress. "Well, it's you who wanted to go to Cornell, sweetie. Your father and I only wished for you to get a proper college education and hoped you'd choose a school you think you'd be happy with."
She had an excellent point. Jonathon reconsidered his choices and didn't realize he had fallen into silence until his mom spoke again. "Didn't you get accepted at UCLA as well? They even offered better scholarship options, right?"
"Yeah." Now that his mom had brought it up, Jonathon recalled that the only reason why he chose Cornell was because of its rugby program and most of his teammates in Morgan Hill had their hearts set on going there.
Jonathon thought this was probably the craziest decision he had made and doubted it was for the best. It wasn't like he would lose a lot if he gave up Cornell though. His mother was right, there were other universities all over the country that were willing to accept him and he just chose that one due to peer pressure.
Would choosing a school in a state where his boyfriend preferred to live be any different? No. But his head would explode if he didn't make up his mind soon.
He rushed out of his room and almost flew down the stairs, yelling, "Mom, I'm going over to Timothy's." When he yanked the front door open, he was startled to find Timothy standing at the porch with his fist held up in the air as if he was about to knock.
"Timothy," Jonathon said as soon as he shook out of his momentary shock.
"Hey." Timothy lowered his arm, shoved his hands in his pockets and began to rock on the balls of his feet. "I was just um… I mean can we like—talk?"
Once they were in the privacy of Jonathon's room – where this misunderstanding all began, he reckoned – Timothy started blathering. "I was wrong to put pressure on you, Jonathon. I'm so sorry. I just…" he started pacing around and Jonathon couldn't help but feel a wave of déjà vu wash over him, "I was afraid to hope that you'd still want me around after all this – high school, I mean. It seems you've got your life planned ahead and I may not have spectacular plans like you do, but I thought I knew where I wanted to go but then… I don't know. Maybe all I wanted was a one-way ticket out of this town."
Jonathon's heart clenched painfully upon seeing Timothy's confidence deflate right in front of him with a look of uncertainty framing Timothy's face. He itched to reach out and wrap his arms around Timothy but the other boy seemed intent in digging a hole in his bedroom floor. He parted his lips to say something that he hoped would appease his boyfriend but Timothy went on rambling his apologies.
"Again, I'm sorry. I've done a lot of thinking, talked to my mom, talked to Frankie and realized that maybe…" Timothy lifted his eyes to meet Jonathon's gaze, sincerity swirling clearly on the surface of his eyes, "well, maybe moving to New York wouldn’t be that bad."
Jonathon wasn't sure if he heard it right, didn't even know what Timothy meant. He gaped at his boyfriend, eyebrows drawn in the middle and lips pressed together in a tight frown. "What?"
Timothy's eyes fell on the floor and when he raised them back up to Jonathan in a shy, calculated manner, Jonathon's breath hitched. "I uh… I've considered moving to New York with you after graduation—well, at the end of our summer vacation, actually. That is if you don't mind?"
"Are you serious?" It was early to look far into the future but knowing that they would be off to a promising start (at least) made Jonathon's heart swell with bliss.
Timothy gave him a sly smile and nodded in response. "You're lucky you're damn irresistible, Jonathon Cordon."
Pushing all reservations and qualms and uncertainties aside, Jonathon hopped off his bed and took two strides to reach Timothy. He grabbed Timothy's arm, his other hand curling around the back of Timothy's head, and without preamble, he pulled Timothy's head down so he could claim Timothy's lips in a long and searing kiss.