Bill strolled down the hallway, nodding and smiling occasionally to fellow students and enjoying a general feeling of contentment that all was right with the world. He was blowing Hubba Bubba bubbles and had nowhere in particular he needed to be until gym class in half an hour. This was one of the few times during the week that he wasn't in class with Ted. They'd tried to get their schedules in perfect sync, but apparently intense brotherly solidarity and an epic rock and roll spirit weren't good enough reasons for the principal to change around their class timetables to their specifications. He'd even said it might be good for them to spend a little time apart. Bill found his logic to be flawed in the extreme.
He rounded the corner and found Ted sitting with his back to Bill's locker, his head in his hands.
Bill fell to his knees, reaching out but stopping just short of touching. "Ted? Dude? What's wrong?"
Ted lifted his head, looking dazed. "You're here. Finally. I just..." He gulped in air. "Dude, I just asked Missy to prom."
Bill widened his eyes as far as they'd go. Because on one hand, was Ted a madman? He was a mere freshman and Missy was... there weren't many ways to describe Missy. While they were young men of the world who had their feet firmly on the ground as they navigated the tricky and often confusing but occasionally bodacious highway of life, Missy was in the clouds, she was on Mount Olympus, she was freaking astronomical. She was out there. She was untouchable. She was choice. She was a fully full-on savoury babe.
"Dude." Bill sat back on his heels. "You've got balls of steel."
"Yeah. I think they just got squashed flat, though."
"I didn't even know you liked her."
"Like her?" Ted looked like he was considering the question for the first time. "Well, yeah. Everyone does. She's really pretty, and she's head of the cheerleading squad."
Bill frowned, seeing the idea of Missy as a hypothetical construct with new eyes. "Those are excellent optional extras, Ted, but have you ever, y'know, spoken to her before?"
"Spoken to her?" Ted blinked, thinking. "I once offered her one of my Skittles." He looked glum. "She said no."
"How about this time?"
Ted looked glummer. "She said no."
"Was she mean or did she let you down easy?"
"She was actually real nice. She patted my hand and everything. But it was an unequivocal no."
"Bummer," Bill said, and decided on Ted's shoulder for his patting, then he thought better of it and turned it into a manly squeeze. "You going to be okay?"
"Yeah," said Ted, leaning into the touch a little. "I just need a minute. There was this whole build up, then the crash and burn. It was a relatively nice crash and burn, but still." He gave a little smile, and Bill knew that things couldn't be all that bad. "Dude, seriously, it was like talking to my mom. She was all concerned that I was going to be okay and that she hadn't impeded my emotional development. She said it was nothing personal. She even called me cute."
"Oh. That was nice."
Ted nodded. "She likes older guys, is all."
"Ah. That explains it, dude. Otherwise no way she'd have said no."
Bill could feel his cheeks pink. He'd given away more than he intended, but then holding things back around Ted wasn't something he was at all used to doing. In fact, there was only one thing he'd ever not shared with Ted, one thing he'd sworn he was taking to the grave because letting it out could only lead to bad things, possibly even the worst thing. And the worst thing was... unthinkable. The worst thing would be losing Ted. And that was... still totally unthinkable. Bill wasn't entirely sure he remembered how to function without Ted there beside him.
"Sure. You're a total catch, Ted."
"Now you're just yanking my chain." Before Bill could figure out a way to respond that didn't totally incriminate him, Ted smiled. "But I appreciate it, dude. You're a good friend. The best."
Bill didn't feel like the best friend. He felt underhanded and greedy and his pants were most assuredly on fire because what he was doing right now may have been a lie of omission, but it was a most heinous lie nevertheless.
All his bravery, all his foolhardiness, all his belief in love, liberty and rock and roll, it all amalgamated into a single entity, making him throw caution to the wind, making him take that bull by the horns, making him finally, unexpectedly, risk it all for the chance at something more, something he'd wanted since time immemorial.
"Yes, Bill?" Ted said, open and honest and so very Ted that Bill's heart ached a little.
"It seems to me..." Bill took a deep breath and held it. He held it a little too long as Ted started to look at him funny, then started to look concerned. Bill let it out in one big gust. "You should go to prom with me instead."
Ted stared at him for a long, long moment. "Like... a date?"
"Pretty gay, dude. Although I guess it goes with the territory if you're serious. Are you serious?"
Bill nodded, his gaze dropping to Ted's sneakers. "Definitely serious."
"Woah," Ted said.
"I know, right?" Bill said.
He felt pretty shell-shocked. This was not at all how he'd foreseen the day going. This was a secret that he'd been planning on living with but never acting on. It wasn't something he'd been planning on blurting out at 2.15 on some random Tuesday afternoon at his locker in school.
This was a heavy duty life moment. He was totally going to blow off gym class and go hyperventilate behind the art building.
"Here's the thing, Bill. You and me..." Ted gestured between them. "We're best friends. You're like... the other half of me, dude. We've got the band and we've got school and it's nearly summer! So long as my dad doesn't make me get a job or we don't end up in summer school again, that is."
"Ted, is this going to be a long speech?" Bill asked, because he was pretty sure this was Ted trying to be a good friend and let him down easy, and he wanted to get a jumpstart on the art building freak-out before all the goths got there after sixth period and smoked him out.
"Shut up, Bill," Ted said. "I'm saying that we have a lot to risk losing, is all."
Bill hung his head. Ted was right. He was an impetuous fool and he'd probably just screwed up the best thing he had going in his life, all for the crazy hope that some part of Ted felt the same way. He felt like the bottom of his world was falling out.
"So," Ted said, "in summation: you should probably kiss me. If you're serious. Just so's we know one way or the other. Then we can figure out if we should go to prom together or not."
Bill sat very quietly and let his brain chew that one over. It chewed for a while. "Are you serious?" he finally asked, very quietly, not daring to let himself believe that this was a thing he might actually get to have.
Ted took a moment, his gaze straying from Bill's eyes to his lips and back again. "I think so, Bill," he said, sounding surprised but totally sure of himself.
Bill swayed in, ready to just take, because holy crap this was Ted basically offering himself up, but he managed to stop himself at the last minute, his hands fisting on Ted's shirt, in close enough that they were sharing air. The pull towards Ted was killing him, but he had to be sure.
"Serious serious?" he asked.
"You are taking this most calmly, Ted."
Ted shook his head a little, his bangs in his eyes. "Not calm, Bill. I'm about three states over from calm and driving fast."
"I'm gonna kiss you now, Ted."
Ted darted his tongue over his lips and Bill's stomach did a huge loop-the-loop.
"Go for it," Ted said.
His hands on Ted's face, fingertips in Ted's hair, Bill kissed him. For a long moment it was just a meeting of lips, but it was enough to rock Bill to this core because this was it. It was really happening. He made a soft sound of want and opened his mouth, making it into more of a kiss. Then Ted got with the program and kissed back, and that was when things started to get really interesting.
When they finally broke apart, Bill's chest was heaving because there really wasn't enough oxygen in this stupid hallway to let him function like a normal red-blooded teenager. He just knew that his cheeks were pink and his eyes were glazed and he was powerless to do a thing about it because he'd just made out with his best friend in the world. He knew he'd do pretty much anything just so long as they could keep right on doing that and so long as no one came strolling down this particular hallway until at least the next bell because that would be excessively awkward.
Ted's eyes were still closed. "Hubba Bubba," he said dreamily, and blew a large bubble.
Bill couldn't find anything to say. He was more than halfway to chubbing up in his pants and this was the first and only time that had ever happened at school when he was totally and completely fine with it.
"This has been a most unexpected interlude," Ted said.
"I know. I'm totally tardy to gym class. You think it'll have a happy ending?"
"No, doofus. Us."
"I expect so." Ted grinned. "It's us, dude. How could it not?"
"That depends. You want to go to prom with me or what?"
"Do I have to wear a corsage?"
"No, but I might try and get my hands in your pants at the after-party, so you should probably watch out for that."
"Oh," Ted said. "Well, I might let you, so you should probably watch out for that."
Bill grinned at him, happiness rising like a balloon in his chest. He shot Ted a quick air-guitar which was returned wholeheartedly. It wasn't up to their usual standards, but Bill couldn't seem to keep his hands off Ted for long, although the same seemed to be true for Ted, which really wasn't a problem as far as Bill was concerned.
Ted pulled him in but stopped just short of kissing him. "You should blow off gym class, Bill. I think we need to go hide in the janitor's closet and make out, like, a lot."
Bill nodded eagerly. "Just one thing, Ted," he said.
Ted looked up solemnly. "Anything, dude," he said, and actually sounded like he really meant it, and, seriously, Bill was the luckiest guy on the planet.
"Remind me to send Missy a thank you note."
Ted grinned. "Will do, Bill. Will do."