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Pool Daze

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“Steph,” Tim hisses, eyes darting across the pool. “ Stop that.”

She makes a slurping noise as she pulls the popsicle from her mouth, but some of the juice drips down her chin in a lewd, blue line. Still, it doesn’t look nearly as bad on her as it would on him, but when Tim attempts to subtly look at the guy across the pool, he’s still watching them. Him. Watching Tim.

“What’s the issue?” Stephanie asks, mouth purple from her popsicle--her third that day, and Tim would regret this later because sugar and Stephanie did not a good relationship make--eyes still on the guy across the pool. “He’s looking, so it’s obviously working.”

Tim groans. “He probably thinks we’re idiots. And I’m not deepthroating my popsicle.” No, he was letting it melt down his hand, the rivulets leaving his hand and wrist sticky. He sucked some of it off, realized what he was doing, and then groaned again. “We should have just introduced ourselves.”

“He started it,” Steph counters. Him and his hot brother. Where’d he go, anyway?”

“He’s talking to the redhead in the pool.”

“Which one?” Steph cranes her neck, trying to see through the mass of people in the pool. Tim sighs, looks at the guy across the pool again, and then sighs some more.

He doesn’t know when his life became this, but Tim knows there are better things he can be doing at seventeen than sitting around a public pool, eating several popsicles a day, and making eyes at the hottest guy he’s ever seen. At the very least, he’s going to run out of money buying so many damn popsicles. “Why don’t we just try talking to him?”

Stephanie’s ability to raise one eyebrow is one of the things Tim envies most about her. He’s tried to train himself into it, but no dice. “Does he look like someone you just talk to?”

“He’s reading Jane Austen,” Tim snaps. “I don’t think he’ll think we’re losers.”

She squints over to where the hot guy is lounging under an umbrella, book in hand and looking, well, hot. Tim had only seen what he was reading--a worn copy of Pride and Prejudice --when he’d gotten their third popsicle. Tim is about to look away again when the guy’s eyes dart up, meeting his. They stare at each other for a few seconds, in that weird realm where you’ve been caught watching someone but don’t want to look away first, before commotion in the pool distracts both of them.

Steph says, “Go buy him a popsicle. Everyone likes popsicles, right? And if he says you’re weird you can just say you saw him staring at us and thought he’d want one.”

“Sure,” Tim nods. Then, “Wait, why me?”

The sigh she gives is long-suffering and dramatic, and Tim needs absolutely none of the sass she’s about to give him. “Be cause he seems like more your type than mine. Besides, I think the brother is way cuter.”

The hot guy’s brother is cute, but Tim has also been paying attention to the youngest brother, a kid of about ten, who glowers at everyone who comes near the older brother. How Stephanie managed to miss that, Tim will never know. “Ooooookay. I don’t think I can do it.”

“You can,” Stephanie says with a confidence Tim doesn’t feel. “Now go, dude. I have faith in you.”

So Tim stands, conscious of the hot guy’s eyes on him, and very conscious of the concession stand worker’s concerned gaze as he buys his fourth and final cyclone of the day. Tim’s hands shake only a little as he makes his way across the wet concrete, dodging towels and little kids. Hot guy is watching him outright now, book by his side.

“Hi,” Tim says as he comes up to the hot guy’s chair. This close, he can see freckles on the guy’s face, and how his wet hair curls around his ears, messy in a good way. His stomach is lined with muscle, which Tim could see before, but now he sees the sweat or water beading along his skin and wow, he’s so good looking. Worry creeps into him, and Tim feels foolish in his long swim trunks, probably looking like a pale, skinny mess in front of this guy.

Still, hot guy sits up and gives Tim a crooked smile, dimple showing in one cheek as he says, “Hey. I’m Jason.”

“Tim,” he says, holding out the popsicle in a stiff fist. “Did you want this?” Steph would probably groan if she heard him. Did you want this, really Tim? But before he can die of humiliation, Jason reaches forward and plucks the popsicle from his grasp. His calloused fingers scrape across Tim’s own fingers as he takes it, leaning forward quickly to catch a drip.

“How did you know I wanted a popsicle, Tim?” Jason asks, a smirk on his face and humor--not unkind--in his voice. The sound of it makes Tim’s insides flutter, and he plops down on the opposite chair before he passes out or worse, swoons.

“Just a hunch.” Tim shrugs, face probably red. Jason’s smile doesn’t disappear, even as he starts to lick the popsicle, and for once, Tim is glad he followed Stephanie’s advice.