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Frosted Orange

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Bram dragged his fingers lazily up Simon’s side, feeling the soft fabric of his t-shirt bunch up. He couldn’t believe this was real. Simon’s phone rested on his chest as he typed out a quick text to his sister. Simon could probably feel Bram’s heart racing under it. Even in the darkness of Simon’s room, Bram could see the flush in Simon’s cheeks and the redness of his lips. His hair stood up from where Bram’s fingers ran through it. Bram’s hands were shaking as he dragged them back down to touch the small spot of exposed skin on Simon’s back.

And he was hard. And Simon was too. So there was that. He couldn’t bring himself to stop touching Simon.

When Simon finished his text, he picked his phone up off of Bram’s chest and set it on the table on his bed. He could see Simon smiling as he dropped his head against Bram’s chest. Bram brought his hand back up and ran his fingers through the soft hairs on the back of Simon’s neck. Simon let out a long, content sigh.

“I don’t want to move.”

Bram chuckled, and he felt Simon do the same. He felt giddy and awake and alive. Simon lifted his head.

“But we should. I’m–” Simon let his sentence trail off as his cheeks flooded with color. Bram bit his lip, smiling.

“–Yeah,” Simon said, dropping his head back on Bram’s chest and laughing. It was all strange and new and embarrassing, but somehow, Bram was still smiling. Simon looked up and pressed one more quick kiss to Bram’s lips before climbing off of him. Bram sat up against Simon’s pillow, and looked at the line of Simon’s stomach exposed when he stretched.

“Uh, there’s a bathroom down the hall if you need it…” Simon scratched his cheek. “I’ll use the one downstairs.”

“Okay.” His voice was raspy from not using it. Simon waited while Bram stood and stretched. Bram followed him out of his room.

“Right there,” Simon said, pointing down the hall. He turned towards the stairs, and before he started walking, Bram grabbed his arm. He pulled Simon to him, and just because he could, kissed him one more time.

When he pulled back, Simon was smiling.

“See you downstairs?” Bram asked.

“Yeah.”

Bram let his hand fall to his side and walked to the bathroom. He walked by Simon’s sister’s room, and spent a second looking at the posters on the wall and the empty guitar stand next to her bed. He smiled at the memory of Simon’s surprise of his sister’s talent.

Inside the bathroom, Bram went right to the sink. He twisted the cold faucet and as he waited for the water to actually get cold, he looked at the random clutter on the sink. It was different from the bathroom at his house that was clean and everything had a place; this looked like it was constantly busy and lived in.

Bram cupped his hands under the stream of water and leaned down to wet his face. Drips fell off his nose as he rubbed his closed eyes. The thought of 3D ultrasounds did the trick. There was a towel hanging behind him, so he dried his face off on the fabric that smelled faintly like Simon’s clothes, before turning back to the mirror.

His mouth felt worse than it looked, so he shut the light off and headed downstairs.

On the main floor, Bieber sat up as Bram walked towards him. He didn’t get up, but Bram could hear the thumping of his tail hitting the back of the love seat. Bram sat on the empty cushion next to him, and chuckled when Bieber stretched to be petted. He ran his fingers through Bieber’s fur as he heard footsteps coming from the basement stairs.

When Simon appeared in the doorway, he chuckled at Bieber. He was already on his back with his tongue lolling out.

“He’s shameless about belly rubs,” Simon said. He crossed the room and grabbed his backpack. “Bieber, get down.”

Bieber listened right away, and Simon took the spot right next to Bram. Bram’s cheeks prickled with color as he looked at Simon’s mouth. His lips were still red, and he must have done very little to fix his hair.

“Who do you have for AP Chem?” Simon asked, dropping his backpack on the coffee table.

“Miller.”

“Nice, me too,” Simon said, pulling out his textbook. “I actually am super behind on all of my homework, so if you wanna try to tackle a little of this worksheet from today, I could text you a picture of it later so you have the answers.”

Bram looked down and laughed. “I actually finished it, but I can help you with it if you want.”

Simon looked like he was about to say something, but got distracted by Bieber sitting up and perking up his ears. A second later Bram heard the garage door opening. Simon set his textbook on the coffee table between them and flipped it open to a random page.

There was a small commotion while the Spier family came into the house. Nora was at the front of the group carrying a guitar case; she headed right for the stairs. Simon’s older sister was right behind her, carrying a drink carrier in one hand and holding Theo’s with the other. She looked nervous as Theo looked around the room with a smile. Simon’s parents followed Alice and Theo inside, but cut across the living room to the couch.

While Simon smoothly lied to his parents about what they were up to, Bram pretended to be invested in the homework in front of them. Simon’s mouth still looked red, and Bram knew his parents saw it too. He cleared his throat and bit his lip.

“Souvenir cups, as promised,” Alice said, setting the drink carrier on the coffee table. Some of the tension between Simon and his parents seemed to fade, and they both left the room. Alice sat on the couch and pulled Theo down next to her.

Next to him, Simon made an excited noise and sat forward to grab both of the cups. He handed one to Bram and sat back in the love seat, close enough that their arms brushed together. Bram still felt like he wasn’t touching Simon enough. He slid closer so his knee was against Simon’s. Simon took a long drink from the cup and let out an obscene noise. Bram took a drink to hide the color that was probably filling his cheeks.

“Oh my god, you are officially my favorite sister,” Simon said after he swallowed.

“Rude.” Bram and Simon turned to see Nora coming down the stairs. She had glasses on and her hair was pulled up, and the sudden resemblance to Simon surprised Bram. He wondered for a second if his little fetus brother-slash-sister would look anything like him. Nora sat on Alice’s other side with her feet tucked under her, and leaned into Alice.

“Hey, rockstar,” Alice said quietly, leaning in to hug Nora.

“How long are you guys in town for?” Nora asked.

“Just the weekend,” Alice said. She looked at Theo and smiled, and then turned to Simon. “So, how was homework?” Alice grinned when Simon started choking on his beverage. Bram took another long drink of the Frostie.

Maybe he wasn’t so excited about having a sibling.

Simon invited him to stay longer that night, but Bram knew his mom was expecting him home soon. After they chatted with Alice and Nora a bit more, Simon walked him outside.

Simon touched the back of his arm as they walked down the front. “What are you thinking about?”

“Little Fetus,” Bram answered truthfully. Simon smiled. “You and your sisters seem like you get along really well.”

“Sometimes,” Simon said. “Sometimes they’re actually the worst.” He paused to laugh. “And sometimes they plot behind your parents back so you get a few hours of alone time with your boyfriend.”

Hearing Simon say boyfriend made Bram’s stomach flip. It would never get old. He squeezed Simon’s hand and smiled at him. They walked to the driver’s side of Bram’s car.

“Would your neighbors be weird if I kissed you goodbye?” Bram asked.

Simon shrugged, and Bram kissed him anyway.

With Simon’s sister being in town, Bram wasn’t expecting to hear from him until school on Monday. He was surprised when his phone lit up with a text from Simon the following afternoon. He was getting an early start on his descriptive essay for English; it wasn’t technically due until next month, but he was excited to start it.

We didn’t take kissing selfies for tomorrow.

Bram smiled and leaned back in his desk chair.

Facebook will be so disappointed.

He watched the three flashing dots until Simon’s reply came up.

What are you up to?

The essay for English. Are you spending time with Alice?

Four texts came from Simon all in a row. The first one was emojis, one nerd face and one winking one. The next said, If watching bachelorette reruns count as spending time together, then yes. That was followed by, I’d rather be having a redo of last night.

The fourth one said: And the like. Complete with another winking emoji.

Bram sank in his chair and typed back.

You’re not grounded anymore, right? Before he could talk himself out of it, he sent another one. I know you hate all movies, but if you wanted to suffer through one, I promise it’ll be worth it.

He asked his boyfriend to a movie. The familiar happy ache filled his stomach while he waited for Simon’s reply. On his laptop, he opened a new tab and pulled up movie times for the theater in the Perimeter Mall.

His phone lit up with a text from Simon, a single word:

Sold.

After texting Simon with a time to meet, Bram set his phone down and continued to chip away at his English essay. Until his phone lit up again. He smiled at all of the star emojis that his cousin added behind her contact info on Christmas.

Bram Bram, mom’s freaking out because Facebook says u have a boyfriend??? Why didn’t u tell me?

Bram typed a quick response, grinning.

Did you tell them about Chris yet?

Her reply came back instantly.

Hell no. Nice try. I want details, B.

He chuckled at Starr’s reply. After a few attempts, he sent her a quick, vague message and told her he’d tell her more the next time they hung out. It still felt too new and too surreal to put into words.

Since the English essay didn’t seem to be happening, Bram left his bedroom and went to find his mom in the kitchen.

“Need help?” he asked as he stepped into the brightly lit room.

She turned and nodded towards the stove, motioning for him to stir the simmering pot. “How’s the essay?”

“I’m making progress.” After a minute, he used his best casual tone and added, “Is it okay if I go see a movie with Simon tonight?”

His mom shot him what he was starting to refer to as her ‘Simon Smile’ and said, “When am I going to get to meet this boy, Abraham?”

Bram chuckled. “Only when I can trust that all of the photo albums are locked away.” When she rolled her eyes, he said, “I could see if he can come over for a bit before the movie.”

While his mom finished putting dinner together, Bram sent Simon a text suggesting the small change of plans. Simon’s reply came while they were eating, and he waited until they started clearing their plates to check it. He sent Simon his address between drying dishes.

When he got a message from Simon that he was on his way, Bram rushed to his room to change. He pulled a sweater on over his t-shirt and reapplied deodorant. The doorbell rang as he finished brushing his teeth, and he raced into the living room to beat his mom to the door.

Simon looked nervous, but smiled when Bram did.

“Hey, come in,” Bram said as he stepped aside. He didn’t realize it had started raining.

“Thanks.” Simon pulled his glasses off and wiped them on his sweatshirt pocket. Bram could see the art of the Elliott Smith t-shirt under it. Simon pushed his glasses back on and Bram threaded their fingers together.

Simon looked around while Bram led him through the living room. “Your house is so clean compared to mine,” he commented quietly.

“I like yours,” Bram said. He lifted Simon’s hand and kissed the back of it. They walked into the kitchen and Bram made eye contact with his mom. He watched her eyes flick down to where they were holding hands. Bram squeezed tighter.

“Um, this is Simon,” Bram told her. His voice shook. “Simon, this is my mom.”

Simon let go of Bram’s hand and held it out to his mom. “Hi, Ms. Gr–” He froze. “Uh...” He looked at Bram with wide, frightened eyes.

His mom started laughing. “Call me Regina, Simon.” As soon as his mom dropped Simon’s hand, Simon took a step closer to Bram. Bram touched his fingers to Simon’s wrist.

“What time will you be home?” his mom asked him.

“The movie starts at seven,” Bram said. He looked outside; with the rain and it being winter, it was already dark out. “Eleven?”

His mom laughed. “How about ten thirty?”

Bram rolled his eyes. “It’s a Saturday.” Simon smiled at the exchange. Bram looked at Simon for a second, before turning back to his mom. “We have plans after.”

After a moment’s pause, his mom gave in. Bram gave her a quick hug goodbye before leading Simon back to the front door. Simon pulled his hood over his head as they made a run for Bram’s car. Inside, Bram leaned over and pressed a slow, soft kiss to Simon’s lips.

Simon was smiling when he pulled back. “So, what are our plans after?”

Bram grinned at him. “You’ll see.”

“I’m just saying, if it’s ‘make out in your car in the mall parking lot’ we can totally skip the movie and go straight to that.”

Bram leaned over the seat and kissed him again.