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It Feels Like Starting Over

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Sixteen is one hell of an age to be. At least Elliott thinks so, especially as he's riding around his neighborhood, driving his very first car. It feels as if a whole new world has opened up to him. He used to feel so left out when he had to ask Eric or Jared to give him a ride somewhere. But not anymore - those days were now over. He switches the disc in the changer to blink-182 and puts the song on 'What's My Age Again'. It's summertime, but the weather in Ohio feels great. The sun is shining down through his long blond hair, making it shine gold as he speeds out of Creek Crossing, making his way to Matt's place.

The windows are rolled all the way down and he's singing his lungs out; one hand on the steering well, the other hanging out the side of the car, tapping along to the beat of the song. The smell of backyard barbecues and freshly cut grass makes its way into the car as he turns into the next neighborhood, one that's definitely more pristine than his own. Everyone who lived in it actually had a backyard, and more space between their neighbor than he could ever imagine. There wasn't a 'zero-lot line' house in sight, and sometimes that bothered him.

He smiles broadly as he parks perfectly in front of house 2994 (not too close to the curb - and not too far away), and steps out of the car. It's an old thing, the car, the cheapest he could find that still ran, but it ran like a dream. He's grinning as he jogs up to the double oak front doors, careful not to trip over any of the outdoor plants Mrs. Traynor had set out so carefully. One time he had knocked over a pot of multicolored mums and she had gotten so angry at him that he wasn't allowed at their house for a week - a solid week! That woman was crazy if you ever asked him, but then again, no one did ask him. Matt still loved her though, but you could tell he knew she was slightly off her rocker too. Honestly, who puts thirty-seven flower pots out on their front porch? Rocking on his heels as he waits, he knocks twice on the door, looking around the front porch to see if she had put out anything new. Two roses were growing up on either side of the door, pots of purple and blue hues were placed on the left side of the door beside the rose, and pots of oranges and yellows were on the right. He starts to bend down slightly to see if he can smell a pink rose (it's just to see, come on, what else was he supposed to do while he waits on Matt's slow self?), and then the door swings open.

"Elliott! What are you doing here? I thought you were studying for the Physics final!" Matt exclaims, headset wrapped around his head and Xbox controller in his left hand. He's dressed in his New York Rangers shorts (he practically never takes them off unless he's at school - then he finally wears jeans like any normal, sane person), an old gray shirt and socks. He looks like he hasn't been out of bed for days, let alone taken a shower.

"Well, I was, but I just had to drive over here to see you," he says, emphasizing the word 'drive' and nodding his head behind himself. Matt cranes his neck to see and his eyes widen when they land on the silver Impala parked in front of his house. His jaw drops slightly, and the remote nearly falls out of his hand but he quickly recovers from the shock.

"Is that, yours?" he asks, dumbly. Elliott nods proudly, and turns around to look at it again with him.

"Bought it today, right after getting my license," he exclaims, unable to hold back his excitement anymore - he rushes down the steps towards it. "Well, are you coming for a ride or not?" he shouts, grabbing his keys out of the front pocket of his skin tight jeans.

"Let me get my shoes on for Christ's sake!" Matt yells, disappearing back inside the house. Elliott leans back on the car as he waits, listening to the sounds of summer - birds chirping happily, grass being cut by lawnmowers and edgers, and then the sound of shouting breaks him out of his peaceful trance.

"Hey, Elliott! What are you doing here?" Jared exclaims as he rides up the sidewalk on his skateboard, coming to an abrupt halt in front of him and kicking the board into his hands (a trick that he Elliott still hasn't learned to do yet - the last time he tried he thorough embarrassed himself in front of Beau (one of his other friends) and had been mortified to say the very least). Beau had laughed pretty hard, but seemed to realize that he felt bad so he stopped - didn't stop him from never trying it again in front of anyone, though.

"Nothing much, just waiting on Matt so I can drive him around in my car," he smirks, nodding backwards towards it. Jared's eyes (expression) do the same as Matt's, eyes widening and then jaw dropping slightly.

"No way..." he says, walking around the car with awe. "This is yours? All yours?"

"I own every bit of it," he replies, his pride bubbling up again.

"Can I ride too?" he asks eagerly, jumping up slightly in the air in excitement.

"Of course!" Elliott tells him, smiling as he sees Matt finally come out of the house again, this time wearing his Vans.

"I'm ready! Oh, hey, Jared! You coming along too?"

"Obviously," he says, trying to open the back passenger’s side door of the car. "Um, Elliott?"

"Oh, I'll unlock it," he says, opening up the drivers’ seat and hitting the unlock button once.

“Um, did you unlock it yet? Oh, shit, dude… It looks like it is unlocked - but it’s not opening… Have you ever opened this door?” Jared asked, peering inside the car window, long hair falling in front of his face.

“Well, I didn’t exactly check that door,” he mutters, guiltily. He feels like an idiot now, how could he not have made sure both doors opened before paying the guy? He really should have known better now that he thinks of it - the dude didn’t even seem like the kind of trustworthy person you would want to hang around. He had had lots of tattoos over his arms, wore a white tank top (that was way too tight for him, probably almost two sizes too small), and denim jeans with a military buzz haircut.

“Great, well, I guess I’ll get in through your door then, yeah?” he says, jogging over and now not seeming quite as impressed as he had two minutes ago.

The three of them finally pile in (Jared in the back seat - he’s taken up the whole thing and is lounging comfortably) and Matt in the front. Elliott takes a sharp turn and drives down the usual alley and across the school, over the bridge and across from Penny’s Thrift (from which he buys most of his clothes), and makes his way to where he knew he could show off his new ride to someone who would really be impressed (even if the passenger door doesn't open).

Eric is a lanky boy of seventeen with flaming red hair and a sense of humor that no one can combat. He is the class clown of the whole school, never taking anything too seriously, and he was one of Elliott’s favorite people because of this fact. He also has an amazing talent - he could shred on the guitar better than anyone Elliott knows. He's sitting outside Guitar World right now, taking his lunch break. He’s on the sole bench sitting outside the single concrete door (they’re in front of the back entrance), devouring a sandwich and reading what looked like some sort of electronics catalog. Elliott parks in one of the employee parking spaces and turns off the engine; Eric hasn’t looked up yet, he’s still taking large bites of what looks like a peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwich.

Elliott couldn’t help but think it’s just like Eric to choose the jelly that matches his hair color the best, and he mentally notes to tell him that joke after he shows off his car (and his shiny new driver’s license sheet - he hasn’t actually got the little rectangular plastic card yet, that will come in the mail in about a week or so - at least that’s what the DMV had told him).

“Yo, Eric!” Matt shouts, “Check out Elliott’s new ride!”

Eric finally looks up from the magazine and his jaw drops. He sets everything aside on the bench and slowly stands up, shaking his head and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

“Dude…” he says, clearly in shock over what he’s seeing. “She’s… She’s… So beautiful,” he says, slowly walking over to the car and looking at it like it's an actual person, a model so beautiful that he can't stop staring…

“Guess how much it cost,” Elliott says, proudly, as he watches Eric stride around it.

“Doesn’t matter,” he mumbles, eyes filled with car-lust. Matt stifles a laugh from behind Elliott.
Jared finally gets out of the car and stretches big.

“Aw yeah, it’s perfect for naps too… I just caught myself a power nap,” he says, stretching again, a patch of skin showing above the waistband of his jeans.

Elliott instantly looks away because he realizes he likes looking. It wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened - he’s having these odd urges to look and think about boys (more specifically his closest friends) in a way he totally shouldn’t be. He doesn’t like thinking of it too much - he’s just forcing himself not to look - and as long as you don’t think about your problems, they don’t exist, right?

But it’s too late, the image of Jared’s hip bones, the white skin stretched tight, lower abdomen muscles outlined perfectly, is etched within his mind and he can’t stop seeing it. He wills himself to start focusing on the car again, but it’s difficult when Jared is still standing within his eyesight.

“Dude, you were in there alone for less than two minutes. You couldn’t have napped. Gotten off? Maybe. Possibly - but only if you were already hard or something. I doubt anyone could go from nothing to finishing in two minutes tops,” Matt says.

“He better not have done that in my car,” Elliott says, looking at Jared accusingly - or at least he tries to, but it comes out as more of an adoring glare if anything. It’s like he has x-ray vision, he’s seeing Jared without his shirt on now in front of him, chest clearly visible and glistening in the high sunlight, heaving up and down slowly with each breath… What if he did get off in his car? Hell, Elliott doesn’t even think he’d be mad…

‘Snap out of it!’ he tells himself, hoping that he actually does.

“I didn’t, damn, you guys,” he says, rolling his eyes.

“Can I take her for a spin?” Eric asks, voice sounding as if he were in a daze.

Now, anyone in their right mind would not let Eric take their car for a ‘spin’. He was so infatuated with the thing that he might not even bring it back. Not that Elliott ever saw him as someone to steal, but it would probably be pretty hard to get him out of the drivers’ seat after he got there.

“Uh, no,” he tells him. “But you can ride around with us.”

“Yeah, and maybe you could go pick up Beau! I think his shift is almost over at Yogurtland,” Jared suggests, happily.

Beau would be the last piece of their little circle of friends. Somehow they had all ended up grouped together like this, ever since middle school. Even though Beau was way older than them, he had been included too. Beau was nine years older than Elliott (who is the youngest of the five) and four years older than Jared (second oldest).

“I thought his shift didn’t end until three?” Elliott says, fiddling with the keys in his pocket. He is itching to get back in front of the wheel - to do anything other than stand around idly. It was taking all he had not to just get in without the rest of them and drive…

“Nah, he gets off at one. Saw him yesterday and he told me they cut back his hours again,” Eric says, walking back over to the bench he was originally sitting in. “Speaking of work, my lunch break is almost over and I still have half a sandwich left.” He resumes eating, this time much quicker than before.

“Beau must be pissed. He was already upset that they took him back an hour before,” Jared muses, getting back inside Elliott’s car.

“Yeah, you should’ve seen him yesterday. He was kicking brick walls and shit. He’s been trying to find another job for ages but you know how that is right now…”

Elliott did know how that was. He had been looking for a part time job ever since his sixteenth birthday (he hasn’t told any of them, of course, he doesn’t want them knowing) and he hasn’t found a thing. Everything called for years of experience, and when the job didn’t it was full time or nothing. He sighs as he climbs back into the drivers’ seat as he thinks about it. He hopes them coming around to pick Beau up might cheer him up a little (but then again Beau never really did show anger when Elliott was around… Why was that?).

“See you later, Eric! Call me tonight after your shift ends, maybe we can meet up at your parents’ place!” Matt calls before climbing into the car and over Jared’s lanky legs.

“Get off me!” Jared exclaims. Elliott looks back to see that Matt is intentionally taking forever to crawl into the passengers’ seat - just trying to agitate his friend.

“That’s not what you said last night!” Matt howls with laughter, leaning forward and tickling Jared's stomach, exposing that bit of skin again…

“Shut up! Oh my God, stop!” Jared shrieks, kicking his legs against the sides of the car and covering his arms across his chest to try to avoid Matt’s tickling hands.

“You guys going to stay back there and act like children or can we go get Beau now?” Elliott asks, a bit annoyed. Annoyed with himself because he can’t stop thinking things about Jared’s stupid chest, and annoyed with the two of them because they were acting like total idiots in his car, when they really should be speeding down the road towards Yogurtland so they can reach Beau as he ends his shift. How awesome would it be if he pulled up right as he walked out the door?

“Fine, fine,” Matt sighs, finally heaving himself into the passengers’ seat, “But this isn’t over. I’m coming for you later, Warth.”

“DON’T CALL ME THAT!” Jared snaps, snapping his seat belt over himself.

“Would both of you stop it?” Elliott snaps, turning the key and the engine coming alive. Some of his annoyance fading away as the rumble of the engine made his pride swell up again, making him smile unconsciously. “I’ll kick you both out and go get Beau myself.”

Matt and Jared make eye contact and seem to make the (very wise) decision to stop being total idiots.

Left turn on June Street, right on Mayberry, two miles down he’s speeding five miles per hour over the speed limit and he feels alive. Jared and Matt are bickering again, but he’s in a state of bliss and he can’t hear them. He only feels the power beneath his fingertips and the rush of excitement through his veins…

He looks at the clock on the dash once he gets to Yogurtland - twelve fifty-four. Six minutes early - and it’s perfect.

Elliott parks in front of the store, turning off the engine (blink-182 stops playing and Matt complains about it, but once again Elliott is oblivious to all outside annoyances at the moment).

“You two stay in, I want to surprise him,” he says.

“Fine with me. I’ve got some things I need to talk to Jared about…” Matt smirks and sending Jared a hilarious glare that even Elliott can’t help but laugh at.

“DON’T LEAVE ME ALONE WITH THIS FREAK!” Jared exclaims, laughing afterwards. Elliott shuts the door behind himself and pockets the keys, shaking his head in shame that his friends were this stupid. He’s the youngest out of them all at sixteen, and yet sometimes he felt like he was older than any of them.

Yogurtland is a tiny shop, it’s sign was actually bigger than the width of the shop itself. The logo being a pink frozen yogurt cup filled to the brim with what appeared to be vanilla flavored yogurt and topped with several chocolate chips. The door chimes a high pitched ‘ding!’ he walks in, signaling his arrival.

Beau works the cash register, and is too busy taking an order to notice that he’s walked in yet. He’s wearing the standard pale pink apron and neon green hat, looking downright ridiculous paired with his black skinny jeans and shirt. His long dark brown hair is tied back in a bun, a look that should have been as ridiculous as the apron and hat, but isn't on him. There’s little wisps of hair sticking out of both sides because he didn’t even put it up right (that or he’s just had it like that all day long - Elliott isn’t sure).

‘Snap out of it,' Elliott has to tell himself again when he catches himself blushing despite himself.

He’s going to start chalking it up to being because he’s a horny teenager - it’s got to be. All the hormones rushing around inside of him? There’s bound to be enough to make anyone look at their friends the way he is right now. From the intensity of the attraction that he’s feeling right now that just has to be it. Something internal that will wear off eventually - he’s just confused. Right?

But the thing is, it isn't feeling like purely sexual attraction. It feels more like a crush - and that’s what scared him the most.

The woman in front of him finally decides what she wants to order (chocolate mint with strawberries and little bits of a crushed up Snickers bar), and then he walks up to the register. Beau is busy writing something down on a piece of Yogurtland printed paper and then looks up, starting his usual performance:

“What can I get you today?” he says, drowsily. But once he finally looks up to see who it is he drops the pen in his hand and it looks like he has to stop himself from jumping over the counter.

“ELLIOTT!” he exclaims, face lit up like a little kids’ on Christmas morning. “You’re the first friendly face I’ve seen all day. God damn, am I glad to see you,” he says, wiping a hand over his face and then through his hair (well, as much as he can do with it up in a bun) and smiles. “Today has been something else…”

“I’m sorry you’ve had a bad day,” he says, looking around the place. It’s nice, he thinks to himself, pretty clean - smells like cotton candy and fruit. He doesn't come there often, as he's usually at school when Beau is working.

“Eh, it’s just like, okay, this morning my mom starts on me first fucking thing about how I need to move out and I’m like ‘I know, Mom, I’m trying to save up’ and she totally cuts me off with that tone of hers. She’s like ‘you’re twenty-five years old, Beau, I want your ass out of this house within the month’.”

“No! Did she really say that? This month?” Elliott asks, checking behind himself to make sure there were no customers waiting in line behind him.

“Yeah, she did,” he sighs, looking up at the clock hanging on the wall to his left. It reads twelve fifty-nine.

“That sucks, man. What are you going to do?”

“Get an apartment, I guess, it’s all I can do…” he muses, leaning his back against the pink and green striped wallpaper wall behind him. “I’ve been looking right around the neighborhood where Matt lives - there’s this complex that doesn’t look too bad. I just need to find a couple of roommates because I definitely can’t afford it all on my own.”

“Yeah,” is all Elliott can reply with. He doesn’t know the exact feelings Beau’s having - yet - but he can imagine it sucks pretty badly. His eyes glance over towards the ugly clock and - finally - it reads one in the afternoon. “So, ready for a ride home?”

“Yes, but not home. Wait, who drove you here? Or did you walk?” Beau asks, taking off his uniform and carrying it in his arms. “I always ride my bike, but my mom dropped me off this morning so it’s not here. I was planning on walking-”

Elliott holds up the folded up piece of paper that is his driver’s license.

“Got this today,” he smirks as they walk out of the shop.

“GET YOUR FOOT OUT OF MY FACE - NO - NO!” Jared screams from within his car. Well, it could be worse, Elliott thinks, he could have no friends at all to share it with. And that thought alone is what calms him down enough to not rip apart both Jared and Matt when he gets in the car.

“You can ride in the front,” he tells Beau, turning around and looking at him as he walks backwards to the driver’s side door. “Oh, and also - you’re going to have to crawl through this side. The passenger’s side door doesn’t open,” he adds quickly, hoping the little fact doesn’t make it seem any less amazing.

But he’s pretty sure it doesn’t by the look on Beau’s face.

“You have your own car?” he asks, still rooted to the ground in front of Yogurtland, several people walking in behind him, which he doesn’t notice.

Elliott nods.

“Holy shit, dude!” Beau screams, running towards it. “SCOOT OVER!” he yells to Matt and Jared as he crawls through the car, situating himself in the passenger’s seat. “What are you waiting for? Take us somewhere, Elliott! Drive, baby, drive!”

He smiles as he climbs in, too, and starts the engine again - blink-182 blaring through the speakers as he does.

“Hell yeah!” Beau exclaims, taking control of the stereo and turning it up louder. The four of them ride through the town, screaming along every word to the song, windows down.

***

They pick Eric up later and all decide to crash at Matt’s place (he has the nicest (largest) house out of the five of them so it’s the obvious choice). Elliott parks once again in front, the five of them having to climb out single file out of the tiny one door car.

None of his friends seem to mind the fact.

It’s not until later that any of them ask him exactly how he got the car and how much it cost. After all, he is the only one out of them all to have a car of his own - and he was the youngest. So, naturally, it raised a lot of questions.

“Well, I was looking through the classifieds in the newspaper two weeks ago,” he says in the middle of chewing some of the homemade pizza Matt’s mother had kindly provided. He had to admit that when she was nice, she was really freaking awesome. She just has a nasty mean side to her, so don’t screw with her potted plants. “And I noticed an ad for a two hundred dollar car.”

“Two hundred?” Eric coughs, taking a quick drink of his Capri Sun and then continuing. “No way. How many miles are on that thing?”

“Around three hundred thousand I think-”

“Jesus, no wonder it cost nothing. And the side door doesn’t work, there’s no telling what else is fucked up on that thing,” Matt says. That’s pretty high talk coming from someone that doesn’t even have a car, Elliott thinks, but he’s not going to say it.

“Either way, we have a way to get around now,” Beau points out. He’s sitting on the floor, legs crossed, across from Elliott and beside Eric. Matt and Jared are sitting beside each other on the cherry leather couch (it’s hideous, really, but no one has the guts to tell Matt’s mother that - they’d rather sit on it and ignore the ugly color).

“Oh my God, you know what I just realized? The chicks are going to be all over you, dude. You’re probably going to have your first blow job within the week!” Matt exclaims, kicking his back with a sock covered foot. “You’re finally going to lose your virginity!”

“They never paid me any attention before, I highly doubt the fact I have a beat up car is going to change their minds about my face,” he says, uninterested in talking about any girls coming near his - well - crotch.

“That’s probably because they all think you’re gay or something!” he replies, and Elliott’s stomach does a flip. His mouth goes dry, too, and he’s not sure why he’s feeling so sick at hearing the word. He should just be laughing too, right? He’s not gay, no way, he’s just a lonely nerd who likes being single. Hey, it leaves his options open.

Right?

“Yeah, I guess,” he says, setting his plate aside (he’s not feeling very hungry anymore for some reason) and lying down on the rug in the middle of the living room, staring at the white ceiling with a sinking feeling in his chest, dragging him even closer to the floor, it seems.

“Oh, you know who you should ask or like, invite in your car first? Penelope Carter. Dude, that girl is so easy you could do her tomorrow. I think we’ve all done her already, right? Except for you, of course,” Matt says, and the rest of them start to nod.

“Yeah, I tried her but she told me she had an important event to get to or something,” Eric says, sounding as if he really believed her story.

“Last year, behind the school, been there done that,” Jared muses, finishing the last bits of his dinner. “Wasn’t that great, but hey, it was pussy.”

Elliott should not have cringed at the word - but he did. Is it normal to cringe hearing the names of those - parts of the female body? Especially when you’re a male? He wishes he could confide himself in one of them, but that would defeat the purpose. Besides, what if he was gay? Then they would know and probably be freaked out and never want to be around him again. There was no way in hell he was risking that.

“Penelope? I heard she has herpes,” Beau says, casually. Matt chokes, and Jared spits out some of his drink over the front of his shirt.

“What?” Matt asks, clearly terrified at the prospect that now he, might have an STD.

Then Beau starts laughing so hard that he’s crying.

“You should’ve seen your faces!” he practically screams, rolling around on the floor now, laughing.

“Oh, fuck you, asshole,” Matt snaps. “That’s not funny, STDs are serious shit.”

“Then maybe you should think about using a condom every once in a while, don’t you think?” Beau fires back. “Then you wouldn’t be so worried.”

“Whatever, I do use condoms when I have one handy. Anyways, back to the point, I think as a gift to Elliott for getting the car to drive us all around we should get the poor guy laid.”

“I’m right here,” Elliott says, still lying on his back, but glaring over at Matt (who’s sitting to his right). “And I don’t want to get laid, I’m perfectly fine being a virgin.”

“Oh my God, don’t tell us you’re waiting until marriage!” Eric exclaims.

“As if, I’m just not interested,” he replies, sitting up now. But then he starts thinking about it… Maybe having sex with a girl would be just the thing he needs to make him feel better again - make him confident that he wasn’t gay.

Maybe, it wasn’t such a bad idea after all. Sex can’t be all that bad, especially since it was all that most of his friends talked about. What was there to lose? (Other than his virginity…)

“Oh, come on, what guy isn’t interested in fucking a girl? unless you’re gay or something…” Jared laughs.

“I’M NOT GAY!” he exclaims, angrily. He’s lost it now, there’s no way in hell he’s gay and he’s going to prove it (to himself and his friends). “FINE! YOU KNOW WHAT? FINE! I’LL GET LAID! I’LL PROVE TO YOU THAT I CAN AND I WILL AND THAT I’M AS STRAIGHT AS ANY OF YOU!” he yells, storming out of the room and into the guest room that he and Eric normally shared. He throws himself onto the perfectly made bed, burying his head into the many decorative pillows that lay in the front. They smell like cotton and daisies and for some reason the happy scent makes him even more upset. He’s not sure how long he’s in there alone (ten minutes, maybe?), but then the old door squeaks open and he doesn’t bother to look. Instead he sinks his head even further into the scent of freshly washed laundry.

“Goway,” he mumbles into the pillows.

“This is my room too, you know,” Eric says, climbing onto on the bed beside him. “And besides, do you really want me to go away?”

“Yes,” he mumbles again.

“Well, too bad, I’m not,” he says. Elliott can feel him situate himself on the bed. He decides to calm down a bit, turning over and lying on his back instead of on his stomach. He hates this feeling - he feels so guilty over something he’s not even sure about. He briefly ponders confiding in Eric, but quickly dismisses the idea, after he remembers that it could cause him to lose his friendship. “Why are you so upset?”

“I don’t know,” he says, staring up at the ceiling again, this time able to focus on the fan which is spinning slowly.

“No one is making you get laid, dude. I totally won’t judge you if you don’t want to. I mean, it’s a personal thing, right? It’s none of our business. I think Matt was just trying to pester you. He feels pretty bad now that you actually left the room.”

“He should,” he snaps. “Damn right it’s none of you guys’ business. Jesus, I just - don’t want to. I like being alone and I’m happy this way - why change anything?”

“Exactly,” Eric agrees, getting cozier in the bed. “Damn, I forgot how comfortable this bed was… Matt’s mother sure knows how to make a house inviting. Other than that damn ugly couch…”

Elliott laughs despite himself.

“Yeah, it is pretty ugly.”

“Not as bad as your face, though,” Eric laughs, and Elliott laughs too - and playfully hits his arm.

“Look who’s talking!” he says back, and then Eric gets on top of him and they’re ‘fighting’; rolling around on the bed - a lot like Jared and Matt were in the back seat of his car hours ago. Eric’s trying to pin down Elliott’s arms, but he keeps squirming and trying to counter attack - left, right, no - Eric’s too fast, and he finally pins him down to the bed and laughs.

“Take it back,” he laughs, out of breath. Elliott’s laughing so hard he can’t even answer, just shakes his head no. “I’ll tickle you,” Eric warns, Elliott knees him in response, or at least he tries to, his knee isn’t anywhere close to Eric’s crotch, so he’s basically just kicked air. It happens in one, quick motion, Eric’s hands slide underneath Elliott’s shirt and he’s tickling his chest.

“FUCK, STOP!” Elliott laughs, writhing around underneath him, kicking nothing and gasping for air. “STOP!”

“TAKE IT BACK!” he yells, hands moving even lower on Elliott’s abdomen.

“NO, OH MY GOD, NO LOWER!” he screams, trying to push Eric’s hands away. He only manages one at a time, though, and Eric’s hands are venturing further down (most likely because Elliott told him not to in the first place).

“I SWEAR I’LL DO IT!” Eric laughs, right hand hovering over Elliott’s crotch. His left one being held in place by Elliott.

“FINE! I TAKE IT BACK, I TAKE IT BACK! JUST GET THE FUCK OFF ME!” he exclaims, Eric rolling off him seconds later.

“JESUS.”

“That was fun,” Eric muses, smiling broadly to himself.

“Yeah, because you won, it was.”

It’s not long before Elliott falls asleep, and he drifts away into unconsciousness swiftly, comforted by the bed and smell of clean…

He’s hot. Uncomfortably hot and sweaty, but that’s only because Eric is on top of him. They’re both shirtless, bodies pressed close together. Eric has his hand gripped tight in his hair, their lips colliding feverishly. He needs more - he needs to take his boxers off - he wants Eric’s touch there too.

Eric’s hips rock forward into his, their erections rubbing against one another through the tiny bit of fabric between them. Elliott moans into the kiss, Eric reacting by biting his lip and sucking it in between his teeth…

Elliott pushes up, up, up, feeling as much as he can on himself, Eric pressing back down. The only sound is their erratic breathing and the squeak of the old mattress underneath them, their moans mixing together in the hot air surrounding them…

The ceiling fan isn’t helping at all to cool him down, it’s so hot… Eric bites down on his collar bone -

“Oh my God, yes, Eric,” Elliott moans, hips jerking forward in erratic, uncontrollable bursts - Eric pushing back in time with him, as if their bodies in sync…

“FUCK!” Elliott shouts, awaking with a start. He looks around the room and adjusts his eyes to the light - it must be after ten in the morning, at least. He feels around the bed for Eric, but there’s no sign of him and he’s relieved. He wants to forget all about his - nightmare. He quickly gets out of the bed (not wanting to fall asleep again - he doesn’t want to have another one right now) and walks out of the room. He comes into the kitchen to find the rest of them sitting around the oak table, eating what looks like pancakes.
Elliott stomach growls at the sight.

“Good morning, sunshine,” Beau says, mouthful of pancake. “Eric said you were talking in your sleep - are you okay?”

“Wha - what?” he stutters, nervously looking around the room to make eye contact with Eric, who was standing over by the stove, grabbing another pancake from the large stack sitting on top of a white plate.

“Yeah, man. You seemed like you were getting hurt or something. I thought about waking you up, but I didn’t know,” Eric replies, sitting down casually at the table and diving into his food. “Thoutiheardmahnatho,” he says, chewing.

“What? Dude, don’t talk with your mouth full,” Matt scolds, pointing an accusing fork at him. “It’s gross.”

“I said,” Eric repeats, glaring across the table at Matt, “Thought I heard my name, though. I Thought I heard you say my name in your sleep,” he says, clearing it up.

“Oh, I, uh, don’t think I did. You weren’t even in the nightmare,” he replies, turning his back towards them as he loads up his plate with the delicious smelling food.

“So, what should we do this fine Sunday? I’m off work and it feels so good,” Beau says, leaning back in the wooden chair, two legs off the ground.

“Why don’t we go walk around the park? It’s really nice outside,” Jared suggests.

“GAY!” Matt yells, and the rest of them (minus Elliott, he gets a painful twinge in his stomach) start laughing their heads off. “No, I think we should spend it here playing my PlayStation.”

“You just want to hog it yourself and play Jak and Daxter, no way, dude,” Eric points out. “Now, if we were going to play a multiplayer game - that would be a different story…”

“Wait, my brother gave me his old GameCube the other day and a couple of games, maybe we could try it out?” Jared suggests again, this time earning very interested looks.

“You got a GameCube for fucking free?” Matt exclaims. They’ve all finished their breakfast and are making their way into the living room, the kitchen a mess behind them. Beau is last out of it, running past Elliott and jogging up to Jared.

“Well, not free… I had to mow the lawn for several weeks, clean his room, and do his laundry for about a month… But yeah, I have it.”

“Well, then, go get it! Damn, Jared, holding back on us! What kind of a friend are you?” Matt stammers, plopping himself on the red leather couch and grabbing the remote as he went. The TV flips on and it was playing a commercial for some type of handbag that had more pockets than anything ever before. Matt quickly switches it to football - the Dallas Cowboys and the Seattle Seahawks are playing a preseason game. The score currently 10-0, in the Cowboys favor.

“Oh my God, I’m not going anywhere,” Jared says, running over and sitting right beside Matt on the couch - they are so close they might as well be glued together. The couch was like that - it sunk down pretty far, and it was actually a funny sight - seeing them like that. Especially when Matt looks sideways to glare at him.

“Dude, you’re getting your GameCube. The game will still be on when you get back-”

“I’ll go during halftime!” he argues, green eyes glued to the television screen.

“If you give me the keys to your house I can go grab it,” Elliott suggests - eager for any opportunity to drive his car. Jared shoots him a huge smile (eyes not leaving the screen though until a commercial comes on) and tosses his keys over to him.

“The house key is the silver one. Go in through the back so Harvey doesn’t see you, not that he’d hurt you or anything, it’s just he gets in those weird moods now days… I don’t know. Anyways, the console is sitting on my desk in my room with the games stacked up by it - shouldn’t be hard to get,” he explains, situating himself even closer to Matt (which may or may not be intentional, Elliott can’t tell because the couch literally eats you alive anyways).

Harvey is Jared’s dog who was is erratic beast, at least in Elliott’s opinion. He used to be really sweet, but earlier this year he started acting like he didn’t even remember him and would growl and act aggressive . He never hurt him or anything, but Elliott was sure that it would happen if he provoked him just right.

“Can I come with you?” Beau asks just as Elliott is about to walk out the front door.

“Yeah, I could use the extra protection against that crazy dog of his,” he laughs.

The two of them pile into the silver car (Beau going in first and then Elliott because of the whole one door thing), and then he speeds off towards Jared’s house. Beau starts fiddling with the stereo, trying to find an acceptable song to listen to on the radio. He skips around several songs which were okay in Elliott’s opinion, but he’s being extremely picky today.

“I’ve been thinking about something,” Beau says, turning off the radio and focusing his complete attention on the conversation.

“Oh yeah?,” Elliott says, making a sharp left turn on Acorn Avenue. He’s driving a bit faster than he should (thirty five miles an hour when the speed limit is only twenty five), but it feels too good to stop. Besides, he doesn’t see any cops, so what’s the issue? He’s being extra careful, there’s no way he’d crash the car with Beau in it. He’s not that insane…

“You can play the guitar fairly well, right?” he asks, catching him completely off guard. He’s never asked him about his guitar hobby before - so it comes as quite of a shock. In fact, he didn’t even know he knows about it – as Elliott had only told Eric about it. He hadn't even made a big deal about it when he told him, just mentioned it casually in a conversation a while back.

“Uh, I guess? I play around with it,” he says humbly. “Play around” is actually a complete understatement for him. Whenever he wasn’t around his friends - that's what he was doing. He spent hours playing songs he liked by ear, his fingers now callused and used to the strain. He’s played for years, and it’s a huge passion of his - and also a huge shock that Beau is asking, still. “Why?”

“Okay, well, that’s good. I, uh, I hate saying it,” he mumbles, nervously looking out the side window (at least that isn't broken).

“Hate saying what?” Elliott quizzes, glancing sideways at him. He turns right on Firestone Lane - the road which Jared’s house was on.

“I kind of sing, just, you know, a little bit,” he stammers, finally looking over at Elliott as he parks the car and they come to a complete stop. “I do it in my free time, you know, and have sang since I was a kid. Like, two years old or something - at least that’s what my mother told me. Anyways, yeah.”

“Where exactly are you going with this?”

“Eric can play the guitar too,” he continues, fiddling with his hands nervously. “Like, I’ve heard him, he’s amazing. You should see him play the solos he does, his fingers move so fast,” he says, almost dreamily.

“Yeah, I know, I’ve seen him,” Elliott says, jealousy bubbling up within him more than ever. He feels almost obligated now - to show how good he is to Beau - to prove that he’s just as good (if not better) than Eric. He wants Beau to say stuff about him like that and get a dreamy look in his eyes…

‘Snap out of it.’

“Matt plays the drums,” Beau continues, snapping Elliott out of the self hatred spiral he was currently falling down. “And Jared picked up the bass about a year or so ago. So I was thinking that, hell, maybe we should like, I don’t know, play together sometime? It might be fun you know, I mean, we seem so in sync sometimes it’s almost to the point of being weird.”

Elliott knows what he’s talking about - and completely agrees. They finish each other's sentences, are thinking the same things a lot of the times, say the same things, like the same bands, games, sports…

“Sounds like a great idea!” he exclaims, unbuckling his seat belt. “Maybe today after the Cowboys game we could play around a bit. Or set up a time this week - it will take a while to get all the equipment where we need it. Probably best to have it be at Matt’s house since he already has his drums set up in his room upstairs - those would be a bitch to carry back and forth anywhere.”

He steps out into the sun, the warm sun feeling good on his skin - he loves the heat; the subtle summers of Ohio were some of his favorite times weather wise. Beau crawls out behind him (looking like a spider the way he has to pull out his long legs), shaking his hair like a dog when he gets out.

“Whew! You really need to try to get that door fixed,” he says, running a hand through his hair in attempt to tame it (he doesn’t need to, it looks good the way it is…).

‘Snap out of it!’

“I’m not the best with, um, fixing things,” he says, walking towards the back of Jared’s house through the tall grass.

The contrast between Matt’s and Jared’s homes was heavy. Unlike Matt’s clean front yard and decorated front porch, Jared’s yard was filled with weeds, grass unkempt for God only knows how long, and there isn't a flower in sight, unless you counted the flowering purple weeds right beside the curbside.

Elliott pushes open the gate to the backyard and Beau follows him towards the backdoor. He uses the silver key and unlocks it - thankfully not seeing any sign of Harvey.

“Let’s be quiet,” he tells Beau, and he nods in reply. They get in and out quickly, grabbing the console and games (Beau insists on carrying it all - Elliott’s not sure why but he thinks he’s trying to show off, but whatever), and then leave as quietly as they had come in. Successfully avoiding the dog and retrieving the new console.

“Look at this!” Beau exclaims, shoving a video game case in his face as he drives.

“Watch it!” Elliott playfully snaps, pushing away the case. “Just, tell me what he has. I’ll look at them when we get there,” he says, making a right turn back onto Acorn Avenue.

“Okay, well, Mario Kart, which is the one I’m the most excited about… And then he has The Legend of Zelda, FIFA Soccer, Madden NFL, and this like, LEGO Star Wars game.”

“LEGO Star Wars?” Elliott repeats, glancing over towards the cases in Beau’s hands. “Really?”

“Dude, he has Mario Kart. It’s been all the rage recently! Everyone talks about it at work-”

“At Yogurtland?” Elliott teases, Beau playfully punches his arm.

“Better than your job,” he snaps, looking back at the games. “I can’t wait to try it out!”

Elliott’s mind isn’t on the new video games, though. Ever since Beau had suggested that he and their friends practice music together he’s had butterflies in his stomach. It gets lonely just playing on his own; and he’s not going to even try to lie to himself - he’s daydreamed several times about him and the rest of his friends playing together in a band. He’s even made up a name for themselves in the daydreams (Settle the Sky - he really likes the sound of it but there’s no way he would even suggest the name to them if they ever asked him for ideas, he likes keeping it to himself). He feels so happy right now, he’s not even interested in driving anymore, he just wants to get back to Matt’s place so he can work out some of the details on when they’re going to practice - and to make sure the rest of them are down with the idea of it.

“So, when can we have like, our first official band practice?” he asks Beau, biting his lip afterwards.

“Oh, you really did like the idea? I was afraid you weren’t saying anything about it because you thought it was stupid,” he replied sheepishly. “I, uh, was thinking this Wednesday? Wait, no, I have a dentist appointment on Wednesday… How about Friday? Does that work for you? School let out last week, right? So you should be free at whatever time…”

“Yeah, Friday works for me,” he says, unable to contain the huge smile on his face.