It’s sort of wild how little Sam’s life actually changes when he and Peter start dating.
Like sure, okay, there’s changes. There’s lots of little things. Lots of him and Peter things. Like now whenever Peter’s over, his dad makes Sam leave his door open and his mom sure comes up to “check on them” a lot (which, joke’s on them because Mrs. Maldonado is both super chill with them dating and also works late a lot so they just go over to Peter’s house if they want to fool around. And they do. A lot.) and the two of them going almost anywhere isn’t just hanging out anymore, it’s A Date. Even if they’re just hanging out and working on homework or getting breakfast together before the Morning Show.
But at the end of the day their relationship is mostly the same as it was when they were just friends, and sure, Sam’s stomach still flip flops when Peter calls him his boyfriend, and the fact that he can just hold Peter’s hand or kiss him basically all the time still kind of blows his mind, but they’re still just Sam and Peter.
Which also maybe explains why even them telling people they were dating was met with relatively little fanfare other than, “finally!” (Randall Synder and most of the Morning Show Crew), “Does that mean you’re going to stop texting me about Peter’s eyelashes 24/7” (Gabi), and “Wait I thought you guys were already dating” (Dylan).
So when Sam wakes up to the text from Gabi, dont forget us little people now that youre famous along with the link to a Buzzfeed article entitled “The Guys Who Made American Vandal are Dating and They Are Couple Goals AF,” he mostly just feels pleased that the world is finally taking notice of the momentous event that is him and Peter dating.
He scrolls through the article, which starts with a short blurb about American Vandal and who they are. The rest of the article isn’t even much of an article, just a compilation of tweets and Instagram posts from his own accounts or their friends’ with one-sentence captions after each one gushing on their supposed couple goal-ness.
There’s the picture Emily Hershey had posted with Sam in front of the teleprompter he’d used to ask Peter to junior prom (during preshow rehearsal of course, since Sam knew Peter would be annoyed at disrupting the integrity of the Morning Show even for such a brilliant and grand romantic gesture). That’s followed by a whole series of pictures of them actually at prom, Peter hanging over his shoulder and kissing his cheek, doing dumb poses at the photobooth, the two of them cuddled up on the couch at after-prom, the silver crown Sam had found discarded from one of the dudes on Prom Court practically slipping off his head as he laughs at something Peter says.
Sam recognizes Gabi’s Instagram post of him holding the giant bouquet Peter had gotten him for the opening night of the spring play, her caption when the bouquet from his bf is bigger than Sam’s head (and his ego) #lovethisdork #breakaleg #HHSdramadept.
There’s even a couple of his own tweets, one from just last week, Waited in line for forty five mins to get film fest passes for @PetRMaldo so he could study for an exam #truelove.
And while Sam agrees that a lot of them are really cute, he’s not really sure how much they’re actually Couple Goals AF and how much straight people just have their bars too low for their partners. Like some random picture of them holding hands at a party that Dylan posted or Peter tweeting that they’d gone to the movies together to see the Oscar shorts don’t exactly seem like major goals to Sam, personally.
And sure, maybe it’s a little weird that some buzzfeed employee had spent an afternoon creeping through their accounts, but Sam can’t help but find himself charmed by the whole thing. It’s a sweet reminder of how nice the last five and a half months have been, and he texts the article to Peter without a second thought before hopping in the shower.
Since he’s leaving for pre-camp CIT training at Miniwaka next week, Sam’s been trying to spend as much time as possible with Peter in between his shifts at the independent movie theater. He’s also been spending a ton of time hanging out with Gabi, who’s home for the summer from her first year at Berkeley and won’t be at camp since she snagged some fancy computer science internship.
Even though Peter and a weirdly invested portion of their American Vandal audience had been way off base about him having a crush on Gabi, she’s still one of his favourite people in the whole world and it had been harder than he’d expected having her away at college. He’s planning to text her and see if she still wants to go mini golfing sometime this week, but he’s distracted by a series of texts from Peter.
How do we get this taken down? Emailing the “writer” right now
This is going to be such a huge mess ugh
Well. Sam hadn’t been expecting that. He frowns down at his phone, considering for a long moment before sighing and going to find his shoes. Trust Peter “Drama Queen” Maldonado to make a dumb buzzfeed article into some world-shaking event. He’s probably just unhappy with how they talked about the doc, or annoyed that this means everyone will only ever see him as the American Vandal guy.
Which is stupid, because Peter’s crazy talented and is probably going to win an Oscar before he’s 25 at this rate, but Sam knows he worries about those kinds of things even if he doesn’t really have to.
Mrs. Maldonado lets him in and sends him upstairs where Peter’s in the attic, even though it’s not really an attic, it’s just a big long room taking up most of the second floor of Peter’s house. But when they were kids it had seemed a lot cooler to call it the attic, so the name’s just kind of stuck.
“Hey it’s me!” Sam calls up the stairs. “I’m here for the obligatory boyfriend crisis de-escalation.”
Peter turns and shushes him, his phone pressed to his ear. “Sorry,” Sam mouths more than says and flops down in the window seat.
Sam watches Peter pace up and down the room, nodding along to whoever he’s talking to. “Uh huh?” Peter says, “Yeah? Yeah…..That makes sense….Okay. Yeah, thanks so much, bye.”
He hangs up and looks over at Sam in exasperation. “Ugh.”
“Good morning to you, sunshine,” Sam says, standing and leaning in for a kiss only to have Peter start off in the other direction.
“So this is a huge mess,” Peter says stormily, putting his phone on the desk. “Apparently anything posted on social media that isn’t behind a privacy filter counts as public forum so they could take whatever they wanted and didn’t have to consult anyone.”
“I mean, we knew that though,” Sam says. “We pulled a ton of social media stuff for Vandal and we never had to get anyone’s permission. Besides, it’s not like it’s a big secret we’re dating. I know you like to keep your twitter more professional or whatever, which is fine but like, c’mon dude. The article will circulate for a bit, everyone will know we’re the best couple in the universe and then it’ll die down.”
Peter looks up at Sam like he’s grown an extra head. “Are you kidding right now?”
“Oh my god, you have no idea, do you,” Peter says.
“Pete, you really need to dial back the drama,” Sam says but Peter’s already pulling up his browser and frantically typing.
Sam is pretty sure what he’s going to show him; as much as American Vandal going viral had been pretty cool, it had also lead to a bunch of weird little internet subcultures, including some gross meninist types and a particularly fanatical following of mainly teenage girls who were obsessed with the idea that Dylan and Peter were secretly dating. Neither of which were going to have nice things to say about Peter and Sam dating.
But that wasn’t exactly new. Even though Peter didn’t really like to post about his personal life on twitter, he’d never had a problem with Sam being pretty open about it on his, which had meant they’d already been subjected to some gross and pointless commentary.
He figured even if it was happening on a broader scale it wasn’t going to be any worse than someone with the account handle @maldwell4ever commenting gross stuff about Peter wanting to have sex with Dylan on his prom posts. Or when they’d gotten some straight white film review YouTubers complaining about how American Vandal was “too political” now that they were dating, which was stupid because 1) they hadn’t even been dating at the time and 2) they’d been gay literally the whole time.
That’s not what Peter shows him though, turning the screen around so Sam can look at a whole series of tweets. A lot of them are retweets of the buzzfeed article, and there’s a pretty clear pattern among them.
so wait your telling me sam was on campus and had a crush on peter? He totally did it so peter could make a movie #samdrewthedicks
Not to sound crazy but this kind of makes me think Peter did it to get Sam’s attention #peterdrewthedicks
You investigated mac and dylan and christa and van but not yourselves? M’kay #samandpeterdrewthedicks
Peter is looking at him expectantly, arms folded snugly over his chest. “There’s a lot more. A lot.”
“Oh-kay,” Sam says, still not sure exactly what about this is upsetting Peter so much. “I mean, yeah they’re wrong and it’s sort of dumb but like, babe, there are people who are still denying that the dicks even existed much less the idea that we did it. This is not the lowest rung of Vandal related stupidity.”
“It’s not— are you even reading them?” Peter says, jabbing at the screen in frustration.
“Yeah, they think we did the dicks as some sort of bizarre flirtation or they have really poor reading comprehension and think we were together when we were making the doc and it was us who did it the whole time.”
Peter sighs and rubs his eyes like Sam is being incredibly difficult.
“Okay, what? What are you so upset about because all I see is people being kind of dumb on twitter and that’s nothing to write home about,” Sam says.
“They’re questioning our integrity. The whole point of— look, obviously I have biases and I try to address that in the work and be upfront about them but it’s still in the best interest of any documentarian to present to the audience as fairly neutral, right? But now our whole relationship is public knowledge which means whatever we do from this point forward will be filtered through that knowledge,” Peter says.
Sam frowns, tapping his hand on the desk. He gets what Peter is saying, at least sort of, that the more people know about them the more they’ll be held accountable for any personal biases they might have. But that doesn’t exactly seem worth Peter’s panic over a stupid buzzfeed article. Especially when they’re not even working on another documentary project.
But on the other hand, as much as he tries to deny it, Sam knows how sensitive Peter can be to what other people think of him, especially what other people think of him as a filmmaker. He remembers after Mackenzie Wagner had ripped into him last year the way his shoulders had gotten tense and his voice had gotten so small and sharp, the way it always did when he was really trying not to cry.
So Sam decides to play good boyfriend because even if he thinks this is all a bit overblown, Peter is clearly stressed out by it. “Hey, c’mere, come sit down,” Sam says and beckons him over to the window seat, patting the spot beside him until Peter sits with some clear reluctance.
Sam puts an arm around him rubbing his back until he feels Peter relax a little bit against his side. “It’ll all blow over soon, I promise.”
“I know,” Peter says, finally giving in and resting his head on Sam’s shoulder.
“Email buzzfeed and tell them you’re going to do an investigative documentary on how they keep stealing other artists’ content for their videos. Though I don’t know how actually investigative it’ll be since everyone already knows about it,” Sam jokes, and then more seriously, “Also, I mean, this was going to happen at some point, better now than when we’re actually working on some project.”
Peter lifts his head off Sam’s shoulder. “Uh, what do you mean this was going to happen at some point?”
“Oh no, I didn’t mean the— not that the buzzfeed article was going to happen at some point, honestly that was way out of left field. I just meant, like, we were going to have to tell people at some point.”
Peter blinks at him and adjusts his glasses. “Uh, why would we have to tell people?”
He says it like this is obvious and Sam feels all the blood in his body turn to ice, even though the sun is warm on the back of his neck through the window.
“What do you mean ‘why would we have to tell people’? I mean sure, okay, we wouldn’t have to but were you really just….were you honestly planning to just never admit that we were together?”
Peter stands, crossing his arms again, defensively. “Don’t turn this into like— it isn’t about you, it’s about being professional and not letting, not letting who I am as a person get in the way of the meaning of the work.”
Sam scoffs. “Sure, yeah okay, no room for your boyfriend in your professional spray-painted dicks investigation.”
“I mean yeah, kind of,” Peter says. “Look, it’s not personal—”
“Yeah, well it fucking feels personal,” Sam snaps and he can feel his face getting all hot and splotchy and he is not going to fucking cry over this. “God this is literally, only you of all people could turn this into a negative.”
Peter takes a half step back. “What does that mean?”
Sam scoffs. “I’m just saying maybe the fact that you took a dumb listicle literally about how good of a boyfriend you are and turned it into a bad thing is some really advanced mental gymnastics. Sorry you’re, like, ashamed of our relationship.”
“Wait whoa, I never said I’m ashamed of anything, what the fuck Sam. Also, uh, the fact that you’re okay with people creeping through your Instagram feed for a pathetic attempt at some quote unquote “journalism” kind of feels like you care a lot more about getting brownie points for how amazing you are at relationships than my feelings.”
“Sorry a bunch of idiots on the internet made you sad Peter, but uh, if you can’t handle that maybe you should reconsider your career goals,” Sam says, even though he knows it’s not nice or productive or any of the buzzwords that come up in online articles about how to resolve conflict with a loved one.
“Maybe I should reconsider this relationship,” Peter says, mostly under his breath, soft enough that it takes Sam a long second to realize what he’s said, a small broken noise falling out of Sam’s mouth without his permission as he takes a step back.
He feels like he’s been slapped.
Actually it probably would have hurt less if he’d been slapped.
“No, I didn’t—” Peter says, suddenly frantic. “Sam I didn’t mean that, I don’t know why I said that—”
“I should go,” Sam says. “I should really go.”
“Sam—” Peter says.
“No you’ve made yourself perfectly clear, I uh, I completely understand,” Sam says. “I’ll leave you to it.”
“Sam,” Peter says again, pleading, but Sam knows if he stands there any longer he’s going to burst into tears, letting himself choose the coward’s way out.
And then, as if he’s playing some third person video game, it’s like he sees himself walk down the stairs, say goodbye to Mrs. Maldonado, walk the same path through their neighbourhood that Sam has walked a thousand times from Peter’s door to his own, and collapse immediately onto the living room couch.
There’s a series of texts from Peter on his phone, and he keeps staring at them, willing them to make literally any sense. Peter keeps typing, the dots appearing and disappearing and reappearing over and over again until finally, finally he’s left with a message his brain can make sense of.
Sammy please talk to me
He drops his phone on the floor and covers his eyes with his arm, trying to will himself into unconsciousness.
He doesn’t really come back to himself until around lunch time when his older sister Lindsay comes home and starts banging around in the kitchen while she makes herself lunch.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” she says, gesturing with a square of her peanut butter sandwich. She still smells like the pool, chlorine and hot pavement and sunscreen, and she shoves his legs until he moves over and makes room for her.
“What’s wrong?” She asks again and Sam hopes he doesn’t look like he’s been crying. Because he hasn’t been. Mostly.
Sam shrugs. “Peter and I had a fight.”
Lindsay snorts. “Didn’t you guys just have some article written about what perfect boyfriends you are?”
“Yup,” Sam says, popping the p and trying not to sound too bitter.
“Well that sucks,” she says around a mouthful of sandwich. “But hey, it’ll all work itself out probably.”
“I don’t know,” Sam says, holding a throw pillow to his chest. “I think we maybe broke up? I’m not sure he just, he said this thing about— and uh, it sort of sounded like, maybe he doesn’t want to be with me anymore.”
Lindsay blinks at him. “No offense Sam, but that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Peter is, like, head over heels in love with you, you should see the way he looks at you it’s disgusting. And I mean that in the nicest way possible.”
Sam shrugs. “I don’t know.”
“Just talk to him, dumbass,” Lindsay says, giving him a hard slap on the shoulder and going to put her plate in the kitchen.
Sam groans, because he knows he should. And he wants to, honestly. Peter’s the only person he ever really wants to talk to when he’s upset with his parents or Gabi or whoever. But it always leaves him in a weird uncomfortable place when Peter’s the one he’s mad at.
That was such a big part of why he hadn’t talked to Peter for three days after the whole Gabi theory video fiasco. It was a lot less about being mad at him, even though Sam had definitely been mad, and a lot more that not having anyone to talk it out with.
Especially because he couldn’t talk to Gabi about it, since how exactly was he going to tell her “Peter made a whole segment of the documentary about the theory that I spray painted 27 dicks on a car to get prom cancelled because he thinks I’m in love with you just because I hate your douchebag boyfriend because he’s a douchebag and also I think I might be gay.”
Which, at least Sam can talk to her about this, even though he thinks her response is going to basically be the same as Lindsay’s. And it’s not bad advice, it’s just, the thought of having to talk to Peter right now, the thought of what the end of that conversation might be makes Sam want to crawl into bed and never come out.
And as tempting as that is, Sam somehow manages to find the energy to peel himself off the couch, grabbing his phone off the floor — Peter’s stopped texting him, and he’s not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing — and sets off towards the beach.
Even with her new internship, Gabi still works part time at one of the little food carts that crowd the beach during the summer, but it’s more overcast than it was this morning and the beach isn’t particularly busy, so she’s just leaning against the cart when she catches sight of him and waves.
“Heyo, man of the hour!” She calls and Sam winces. “Oh god, I know that face. What happened?”
“Peter hates the article.”
Sam sighs rubbing a hand over his face. “He feels like now that people know on a large scale that we’re a couple, it clouds the work or whatever. I guess a bunch of people are tweeting about the idea that either of us did the dicks or both of us, which, like, people being dumb on the internet isn’t exactly new.”
“Yeah totally,” Gabi says nodding. She’d had her fair share of weirdos on her Instagram commenting about how she and Sam should hook up.
“Anyway, we started fighting because like, he lives in some la la land where I guess we’re just never going to tell people we’re together or whatever, which made me feel like shit. So then we were both being all snippy and then. I said like, if he can’t handle people on the internet saying shit about him, like, maybe he should reconsider going into film and then he was like,” Sam cuts off abruptly as a group of preteen girls walk by, laughing loudly.
“He was like what?” Gabi prompts.
“He was like,” Sam swallows around the lump in his throat, struggling to keep his voice level. “Well maybe I should reconsider this relationship.”
“Jesus,” Gabi says, straightening up. “So what did you do?”
“Oh I totally ran away like a coward,” Sam says, trying to cut the tension, but the joke falls so flat it may as well have belly-flopped.
Gabi tilts her head. “You just left the conversation like that?”
“Well he started, like, saying he didn’t mean it but, like, he’s not me, he doesn’t just say shit for the sake of saying it.”
“Okay, but running away isn’t going to fix it. You need to talk to him.”
“Ugh, that’s what Lindsay said too.”
“Yeah that’s cause we’re both smart women who care about you,” Gabi says. “Have you guys been texting at all at least?”
“Well he texted me, but I haven’t been responding,” Sam says, embarrassed.
“What do you want me to say?” Sam says. “That I’m terrified if we talk he’s going to dump me? Because, uh, that’s really what all this feels like, sorry I’m not tripping over myself to walk the metaphorical plank.”
Gabi sighs and rubs his arm. “Hey, listen. First of all I really freaking doubt that is going to happen because you and Peter care about each other so much and I think you’re both too stubborn to give up over some dumb buzzfeed article, of all things. But whatever’s going to happen you’re not going to solve it by ignoring him.”
Sam sighs, looking out towards the water. She’s right, and he knows she is. But he can’t get Peter’s words out of his mind, how upset he was over people knowing they were dating in the first place. Can’t help but remember that of all the posts in that stupid article, only a single post had come from Peter’s accounts.
“Go talk to your boyfriend, Samuel,” Gabi says. “And then text me about mini golf, it’s time for your annual ass kicking.”
“You’re right,” Sam says resignedly. “Thanks for listening to me whine.”
“I’m always right,” Gabi says, giving him a shove. “Besides, I probably owe you at least another three whines from how much you had to hear about Brandon’s bullshit.”
“Suuuuuch a douchebag,” Sam says, and Gabi swats at him again while he pulls his phone out.
He’s half expecting the messages from Peter to show up on his screen notification, but instead he has half a dozen missed calls.
“What the fuck?” Sam says, unlocking his phone (7376) and tapping into his call history. There’s one from a number he doesn’t recognize and then five calls in the last hour from Dylan Maxwell. Which does not bode well for him, because while he and Dylan are on good terms most of the time, Dylan also happens to be insanely protective of Peter.
Still, Sam must be feeling brave or something because he listens to the voicemail Dylan’s left, along with one from the Buzzfeed writer wanting to know if he wanted to do a follow up interview (which he promptly deletes).
“Uh hey Sam, it’s Dylan, look Peter has some stuff at my house that needs to get picked up because we’re like redoing the floors and it’s in the way. He’s not answering my calls so if you could tell him to come get it or come get it. Like he’s my bro but this is kind of a dick move what the hell.”
Sam sighs through his nose while Gabi stares at him expectantly, having pulled out a popsicle from the cart’s freezer. “I gotta go deal with some Dylan nonsense, I’ll text you about mini golf?”
Gabi nods, unwrapping her popsicle. “Yeah, yeah, go deal with your nonsense.”
Sam sets off towards Dylan’s, trying to convince himself the reason he’s going over rather than trying to get ahold of Peter is because he’s already close by, why not do Peter the favour? Besides, if Peter’s not answering Dylan’s calls he’s almost certainly not going to respond to Sam’s.
Even if he had sent Sam that sad text practically begging him to talk to him.
But Sam pushes that thought to the back of his mind, plugging in his headphones and letting music tamper down his fear and anxiety about Peter, (nevermind that Peter was the one who made him this playlist).
It takes a weirdly long time for Dylan to answer the door when Sam knocks, and he smells like a truly bizarre combination of weed and cake batter.
“Hey man, come on in,” Dylan says giving him one of those weird slapping bro hugs straight guys do.
“Are you baking?” Sam asks, as he steps inside and the cake smell intensifies.
“Oh yeah, we just made cupcakes,” Dylan says. “Spencer was supposed to bring weed so we could make edibles but he forgot so we just made normal cupcakes. You want one?”
“I’m good,” Sam says, but Dylan’s already banging off towards the kitchen and he returns with a lopsided but otherwise normal looking funfetti cupcake covered in chocolate icing.
“Here you go, brother,” Dylan says and Sam follows him down the hall towards his bedroom.
He knows the year since Vandal came out hasn’t exactly been easy for Dylan. After everything with Shapiro and Mackenzie and not getting into Boulder he’d been in a pretty bad place. But ironically spray painting that dick on her driveway had lead to him being assigned one hundred hours of community service, most of which Dylan had done with a learn-to-skateboard program the city ran for underprivileged kids. And that in turn had lead to a full time position with one of the skate shops that sponsored the classes.
Say what you like about Dylan Maxwell, but when he cares about something he really does put in one hundred and ten percent.
Which is why Sam feels a little bit stupid in hindsight when he asks, “So what exactly did Peter leave here?” and Dylan opens his bedroom door to reveal Peter sitting on his bed very sadly staring down at his phone.
Peter looks up, and shit he’s got his glasses off that shit always makes Sam’s heart do a loop de loop. “Uh, what’s going on?”
Sam really wishes he wasn’t holding this cupcake because there’s really no way to look cool and not totally thrown off by his weird stoner friend apparently conspiring to get him and his boyfriend in the same place, completely unbeknownst to said boyfriend.
Dylan practically shoves him into his room. “I got your back, Pete,” he says. “You talk this shit out. Take as long as you want.”
He turns to go and then says, “Oh but actually I wasn’t kidding about the floors getting re-did so you gotta leave in like twenty minutes so I can finish getting my shit off the floor or my mom’ll flip.”
Then he leaves for real, leaving Sam, one earbud still in his ear and a cupcake in hand, staring at Peter who goes scrambling for his glasses off the nightstand and stands, wiping his hands on his pants.
“Hi,” Sam says finally, very quietly.
“Hey,” Peter says, his voice filling with relief as he takes a step closer to Sam, and then seems to reconsider and takes a step back.
“Cupcake?” Sam offers, because he doesn’t know what the fuck to say. Because this isn’t anything like the stupid Vandal videos fight because they’re dating now and that means they can’t just brush stuff under the rug when talking about it feels too big and scary.
It helps though that Peter laughs, a sort of half exhaling kind of laugh, but it still makes Sam feel a bit better as he shakes his head. “Nah I already ate like two, they’re pretty good.”
“Dylan Maxwell, champion baker,” Sam says, setting the cupcake on a tiny patch of clear desk space and wiping his hands on his pants.
“Do you wanna sit down?” Peter asks, which is very sweet honestly, but Sam just shakes his head, the silence dragging between them until.
“I’m sorry I didn’t text you back,” Sam blurts. “I know I should have, I just, I thought if I talked to you, maybe you’d say something I didn’t want to hear.”
Peter tilts his head, taking another step closer. “What do you mean?”
“You literally said you should maybe reconsider this relationship,” Sam says, gesturing uselessly between the two of them.
“Sam, you can’t think— I didn’t actually mean that. I was just, I was just mad and being stupid and trying to get the last word in.”
“I mean, but if that’s where your mind jumped… I don’t know, maybe there’s some truth to it.”
“Sam,” Peter says. “There’s not, I promise there’s not. I mean, unless I guess, obviously if you don’t want to anymore…”
“No, god no,” Sam says, and he doesn’t remember moving closer but he must have because suddenly Peter is right there, right on the edge of being close enough to touch.
“I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I’m so sorry I said that, I promise I didn’t mean any of it. I was just freaked because of the article and all those tweets and just knowing like...well once people know, well…”
“Yeah once people know they view the work differently, I get it.”
Peter shakes his head running a hand through his hair. “I mean, they do, and they will, but more than that, when the day comes that you realize you don’t want to be a part of it anymore...”
Sam frowns, “A part of what? The docs or like,” he gestures between them again and Peter looks away, eyes cast on the floor.
“I mean, both I guess.”
Oh? Oh. That explains some things, a lot actually.
“You don’t want people knowing we’re together on a large scale because you think I’m going to break up with you,” Sam says flatly, and he can hear the truth of it, or at least what Peter thinks is the truth of it the moment it’s out of his mouth.
Peter shrugs, his arms wrapped protectively around him again. “I mean, yeah.”
That melts the rest of Sam’s lingering anger and awkwardness, pulling Peter towards him and into his arms. There’s a terrifying moment when Peter’s surprised or thrown off, going tense before hugging Sam back, his chin hooked over Sam’s shoulder.
“You know all day you’re the only person I wanted to talk to about this dumb thing,” Sam says. “The only person.”
“Me too,” Peter says and his fingers trace an abstract pattern on Sam’s shoulders. “I’m so sorry.”
“Hey,” Sam says pulling back. “It’s okay, we were both dumb and said shit. But we’re okay, right?”
“We’re okay,” Peter says, smiling softly, ducking his head like his happiness is something to be embarrassed of. Which just won’t fucking do, so Sam tips his chin up and kisses him, pulling him forward by the hips because there’s too much space between them.
When Peter pulls away Sam chases his mouth for a second, but when he opens his eyes and catches the look on Peter’s face he stops. “What?”
“I uh,” Peter starts, “I may have done something kind of dumb. In an effort to make a big romantic gesture.”
“Oh!?” Sam says, immensely pleased, “What did you do?”
Peter sighs, sitting on the edge of Dylan’s bed and pulls open the recordings on his phone, pulling up the most recent and holding up his phone so Sam can hear it.
There’s nothing for a long second, just the sound of someone breathing softly and then,
“Hi you’ve reached Stacey Frazier, writer for Buzzfeed Pop Culture, please leave me a message with your name and contact info and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can BEEEEEEEP”
“Hi Stacey, this is Peter Maldonado, I’m just returning your call about doing a follow up interview. I do need to uh, talk to Sam about it first but well, I’m on board if he is. You can reach me on my cell or at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Peter looks up at him expectantly as the recording ends. “I just wanted to make sure you knew that I’ve never ever been ashamed of anything, and that— ”
Sam never finds out what the other part is because he’s practically throwing himself on top of Peter, the two of them going sprawling sideways over Dylan’s bed and Sam’s kissing any part of Peter’s face that he can reach, landing a few sloppy kisses more on his chin than his mouth before Peter seems to get the idea and is kissing back, the phone falling somewhere in the tangle of sheets as his hand comes up to cradle the back of Sam’s head.
“So I guess you like it,” Peter says breathlessly, and Sam huffs out a noise that’s somewhere between a sigh and a laugh, kissing him again, less frantic and sweeter. Peter sighs against his mouth and maneuvers them so Sam’s not hanging half off the bed. They’re very quickly moving towards doing something, or probably several somethings, inappropriate in Dylan Maxwell’s bed, Peter’s hands finding his ass and Sam sliding a hand up Peter’s shirt.
So maybe it’s a good thing when Dylan comes barging back in.
“Oh whoa whoa, cool it guys,” Dylan says, and Sam freezes, painfully aware of the way that he is literally lying on top of Peter, having to crane his neck over his shoulder to even look at Dylan. “You know I ride or die with you two all the way, but you gotta go so I can deal with shit.”
“Yeah of course man, sorry,” Peter says, and then as an afterthought takes his hands off Sam’s ass.
“No worries dude,” Dylan says, picking a packing crate off the floor. “I get it, makeup sex is wicked hot, and honestly I’d be cool with you guys using my room, it’s just that if this shit isn’t off the floor before my mom gets home she’ll probably actually kill me.”
Sam tries to roll off of Peter as gracefully as possible, which is not very graceful at all, and offers Peter a hand to pull him up off the bed.
Dylan gives Peter a big affectionate slap on the back and Sam says “I think we can find our way out, see you later man,” before he can think too long about the whole thing.
Peter drove to Dylan’s so they’re backing out of the driveway before Sam lets the reality of Dylan being okay with them fooling around in his room really hits him. “God, who would have thought Dylan Maxwell would be, like, number one ally of the year, helping you trick your boyfriend into coming to talk to you and ready to sacrifice his bed for some sweet, sweet gay make-up handjobs.”
“That isn’t what happened though,” Peter says thoughtfully when they’re set off towards his house (Sam’s house is closer but Sam’s house also has Lindsay. Peter’s so lucky he’s an only child).
“Are you honestly telling me you weren’t like thirty seconds from giving me a handy?”
Peter smacks at him.
“Hands on the wheel, Peter,” Sam jokes and Peter makes a melodramatic exasperated noise as he signals and turns into their neighbourhood.
“No I mean, I didn’t tell Dylan to get you to come over. I actually didn’t even tell him anything,” Peter says. “I guess he just put together from me being sad that we’d had a fight.”
“Oh. That is. Weirdly very adorable,” Sam says. “And he was gonna make you edibles wasn’t he?”
“Yeah that was the plan,” Peter says. “Didn’t turn out, but the cupcakes were nice.”
“God, those Maldwell weirdos can never find out about this, they’ll have a fucking field day...”
Peter laughs, pulling into his driveway and shutting off the engine. He unclips his seatbelt while Sam continues. “I mean, remember when they photoshopped Dylan over me in a bunch of our prom photos? That was batshit.”
“Sam,” Peter says, leaning over the gear shift and running a hand over the side of Sam’s face, down his arm. “Please stop talking.”
“Look I’m just saying— ” Sam starts but Peter cuts him off with his mouth, their teeth clacking ever so slightly but Peter takes this mostly to his advantage gently biting Sam’s lower lip in the way he knows drives Sam crazy.
“My room or attic?” Peter says, pupils ever so slightly blown behind his glasses, which are tipped pretty far to the right from where they’d pressed against Sam’s nose.
“I vote for your room because it has a door,” Sam says, unclipping his seatbelt and going for the door. Also he was still a little scarred from a few weeks ago when he and Peter had gotten a bit carried away making out during the boring parts of The Social Network and Peter’s mom had come upstairs to see if they’d wanted a snack. She hadn’t said anything at the time, but they hadn’t exactly been subtle, Peter’s shirt on inside out and Sam with a throw pillow on his lap, which is probably why Peter had texted him the next morning that he’d found condoms, lube, and a pamphlet about safe gay sex in his bathroom drawer.
Peter tugs him by the hand to his room, both of them laughing between kisses as Sam tries to get his shoes off because he was in too much of a hurry to take them off by the door. It feels a lot less urgent than when they were at Dylan’s house, the two of them still fully clothed as Sam sucks a mark onto Peter’s neck, Peter’s hands having snuck up the back of his shirt and he runs them over his back encouragingly.
“Sammy,” Peter sighs when Sam pulls back to survey his handiwork, his pupils blown dark.
“You should take your glasses off,” Sam says, leaning forward and kissing Peter on his jaw, tracing a path from that spot to his mouth. Peter pushes himself up on his elbows and Sam doesn’t even remember having straddled him but, uh, he sure is now.
“Wait, there’s uh,” Peter swallows, “there’s something I wanna say. Just, uh, give me a second.”
Sam nods, sitting back on his heels, waiting as Peter licks his lips and stumbles over words, “I just uhhhh, sorry this is like, weirdly hard to say. I had it all totally planned in my head but uhhhhh.”
“Hey,” Sam says, leaning forward and kissing him once, very gently. “It’s okay. I know.”
“Yeah,” Sam says, “I love you too.”
Peter’s eyes go wide and he scrambles up so he’s sitting up properly. “I— I uh, I was just gonna say I want to suck you off, but uh,”
“Oh fuck,” Sam says, his heart dropping into his stomach even as his dick takes serious interest. He’d thought he’d been totally safe to drop that, especially since he’d been wanting to say it for at least two months, but there just never seemed to be a right moment and Sam had been terrified to say it before he knew Peter was ready to say it back.
“No, no, no, no, oh my god, Sam,” Peter says, reaching for him. “No, I love you too, I totally love you.”
“Oh,” Sam says. “Okay good, crisis averted,” he melodramatically pretends to wipe his brow and Peter laughs at him, grabbing him by the shirt and pulling him in for a kiss before he’s hauling Sam down and flipping their positions. Peter pulls his shirt off and then helps Sam with his, running a hand over his clavicle where the blush runs down from his neck.
“You’re so blushy,” Peter remarks, taking his glasses off and setting them on the shelf above his bed.
“Yeah, that’s white privilege for you,” Sam says, reaching for Peter’s hand where it rests on his chest, just over his heart.
“I love you,” Peter says.
Sam grins up at him. “That is very fortunate because I also love you.”
“So about the second thing...” Peter says, running the hand that was resting on Sam’s chest down to rest right over his fly.
“Oh yes please,” Sam says, his hips involuntarily bucking up into Peter’s hand. Peter smiles and shushes him and Sam lets everything in the world narrow down to just them.
It’s a while later, when Sam can finally put together a string of words that isn’t just Peter or please or fuck.
“Holy shit,” Sam says between breathless pants. “Holy shit we really are couple goals AF.”
Peter smacks him with a pillow, but he’s laughing when Sam retaliates, throwing the pillow back before pinning Peter to the bed.
“You like meeee,” Sam sing- songs, “You want to kisssss me.”
“Don’t make me regret it,” Peter says. “I’m kidding, I’m kidding.”
Sam pretends to huff but he can’t quite pull it off, collapsing beside Peter and leaning in so close their noses touch.
“I love you.”
“I love you too,” Peter says, leaning in for a kiss and then sitting up to fumble around for his glasses.
“Honestly we should probably send that Buzzfeed writer a thank you card.”
“‘Writer’,” Peter says, with such vitriol Sam can hear the air quotes, and he laughs and pulls Peter back down with him.
“I love you.”
“I know, I love you too.”
“No I mean,” Sam looks pointedly down. “I love you.”
“Oh! Oh, yeah, okay,” Peter says, and Sam gently pushes him back and starts kissing his way down from Peter’s mouth. “You’re right we should definitely send her flowers.”
Buzzfeed Pop Culture Sits Down with the Adorable Couple Behind “American Vandal”
On March 15th 2016 in Oceanside California 27 penises were spray painted on cars in the faculty parking lot of Hanover High School. Sophomore Peter Maldonado’s quest to uncover the true vandal spawned the YouTube documentary series that would later go on to be picked up by Netflix. Maldonado’s “American Vandal” became the viral breakout hit of 2016, but it’s his adorable relationship with co-investigator Sam Ecklund that’s been garnering the two attention lately. Buzzfeed sat down with the two to discuss “American Vandal,” bad relationship advice, and what we can look forward to from the pair in the future.
I think it’s easy to see in Vandal that even before you were dating you guys have a really easy camaraderie and tight friendship. How long have you been friends?
PM: Oh wow, I guess like—
SE: — Since we were nine—
PM: — Yeah we were in the same fourth grade class and it was a 4 & 5 split class so there were only a handful of us who were in fourth grade so we got really close.
SE: Shout out to Mrs. Cooper for letting us be desk buddies [laughs].
It can be really tricky to transition a friendship into a relationship, especially that first date. What did you two do to make the occasion special?
SE: Okay so Peter and I actually disagree on what our first date was—
PM: I asked you out! I asked you to go to that Netflix launch party with me!
SE: Yeah but you didn’t, you didn’t indicate that it was a date—
PM: I texted you “heyy” with two ys—
SE: — Oh my mistake—
PM: — You were the one with the “heyy” memes
SE: Anyways our first real date was when I asked Peter to go with me to winter formal, because I actually said “like a date” when I asked him.
PM: Okay, okay, alright.
What made you want to make that move from friendship to a relationship?
SE: I feel like for me it’s really hard to pin down like a specific moment. I was talking to Gabi [Granger] about things I was looking for in a partner you know? And I said this whole list of things and she said something like ‘well that sounds like you just want to date Peter,’ and I was like, oh shit yeah I do [laughs].
PM: Mine is weirdly also Gabi related. We were at her birthday party in the summer and she was having it at this roller rink, so Sam shows up and he’s wearing these stupid knee pads and I just remember I looked over at him skating and had this moment of just realization—
SE: Yeah and I got you the slushee
PM: Yeah I was sitting down and he came and brought me a slushee and I just kind of knew then.
SE: Awwww. You liked me.
PM: I really did. Stupid knee pads and all.
There’s a lot of bad relationship advice floating around out there, what’s the worst piece of relationship advice you guys have ever been given?
PM: Dylan [Maxwell] told me one time if you’re having a fight you should just have really athletic sex because afterwards you’ll be too tired to care.
PM: Uh that time I went to his house and he, uh, made me cupcakes.
SE: That’s actually not the worst advice I’ve ever heard. I don’t know if this counts because it wasn’t given to us, but I remember my sister’s friend one time saying that there’s no excuse for your boyfriend to not text you back within an hour and I thought that was just crazy. People are busy!
What’s an ideal date night for you two?
PM: Not mini golf.
SE: Oh my god, don’t drag me.
PM: Sam isn’t that competitive normally but we went mini golfing recently and—
SE: Mini golf is serious business.
PM: I’ve never been so stressed out in my life.
SE: My sister and Gabi and Gabi’s brother have an annual mini-golf tournament and it’s a big deal.
PM: They’re SO intense about it, it’s honestly scary.
SE: For real though I think our ideal date is probably when Peter inevitably wins an Oscar and we get to go to all the afterparties. Or just any date, honestly. Just being together and having fun.
Is there anything that you find surprises people about you as a couple?
SE: That we’re gay.
PM: Or that we weren’t dating before.
SE: Yeah it tends to be one extreme end of the spectrum or the other.
What has the fan reaction been like? Do you think you’ll continue to make films together now that you’re in the open about being a couple?
PM: It’s been pretty positive. We get really nice messages from other LGBT kids sometimes.
SE: And we’ll definitely continue working together. I think even though we’re dating now we’re still pretty real with each other as far as filmmaking and investigating goes.
PM: Yeah the work really comes first.
Do you have any upcoming projects? Can we look forward to an “American Vandal” season two?
PM: We’re currently keeping our eyes and ears open. We get a lot of fan submissions for ideas but nothing that’s really piqued our interest yet.
SE: You can’t really force these kinds of things.
PM: It’s like dating: you want to wait until it’s really right before you commit.
PM: Also it’s hard to top the twenty-seven dicks
SE: Yeah, that too.