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The Scarlet Letter

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CHAPTER ONE:
LOCKER NOTES

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It's not easy breaking up with your first boyfriend, especially for someone like Bill, who has always had a terrible time fitting in. Tom would know.

As Bill's older twin brother, Tom has seen the ups and downs from the very beginning. He was there when rugrats stole Bill's toys, when they pushed him into the sandbox and Tom chased them away; he was there when they got older too, when he bloodied his knuckles for his brother's honor; and he was there today – eavesdropping as a form of protection, just around the corner from the wall of lockers where Bill's boyfriend of three months had called their relationship quits – this time Tom could only ball his knuckles in white-hot anger. The guy told Bill that he wasn't ready to tell the world he was gay and therefore they shouldn't see each other anymore. Because his mother was getting suspicious. Tom could roll his eyes at such a poor excuse. Bill had pleaded, but ultimately said he understood, and let it go easier than Tom would have expected.

Now Bill is in Tom's arms, on Tom's bed, and he doesn't look so nonchalant about his recent break-up anymore.

"Tomi..." Bill whines pathetically, and Tom pets his hair. "Do you think he even liked me?"

"I think he did. Just not enough. And you deserve better."

This seems to calm Bill down, for he raises his head off the pillow and smiles at Tom.

"You're so sweet to me. I wish I could find a boyfriend who understands me like you do. Someone who'll fight for me like you, who might love me like you one day. But I don't think I'll ever find someone like that."

As flattered as Tom is, he scoffs. "Don't be such a pessimist. Of course you'll find love one day." He receives a swat on the arm.

"Coming from my brother, the ultimate whore."

"Yeah, you know, or do it like me, and find love for only one day!" Tom laughs. Luckily, Bill is laughing too now, and Tom hopes to keep it that way.

Unfortunately, it's not to be. Tom can't help but notice Bill's mood plummet as their days wind on. In the mornings before school, Tom takes to making Bill's breakfast, hoping that it'll cheer him up while they both pretend not to notice that Bill is melancholy or why. And then they walk to school together and Tom has to sit in the opposite corner of the same classes and watch Bill doodle away in his notebooks instead of taking notes. Of course he cheers him up again at lunch time; so that maybe Bill will be ok enough not to fall apart in their next class where he'll surely bump into his ex and then try to hide his tears behind a heavy textbook. And there's Tom again, fighting with how useless he's become, feeling completely inadequate as an older brother for not being able to take away that sadness. Because Tom really hates that these kind of days have become regular.

It's just not ok for Bill to be so down. It's lasting too long and it's not getting better. Weeks later, Tom's gotten the impression that it's got nothing to do with the break-up. The problem seems to be that Bill thinks no one will ever like him, much less love him like Tom. Or at least, that's what Tom's made out of Bill’s broken ramblings when Bill crawls into Tom's bed at night.

Tom really doesn't mind when Bill comes to him at night. They're used to coming to each other when feelings and words turn to shit, and Tom is even ok with the frequency of Bill's recent sleepovers. He tells himself it's better if Bill cries in his embrace rather than alone in the bedroom across the hall.

And it's on a night like this that Tom comes up with a plan – ill-conceived and desperate – for how to lift Bill's spirits and show him hope. 

The only class the twins don't share is Computer Science. It's a poor excuse for typing exercise since the teacher barely supervises, and she doesn't seem to care what students do as long as their assignments get done and they're not on Facebook. Tom usually spends half his time in this class texting under his desk – either Bill or a handful of girls which always seem to be on rotation. He's decided to spend today typing a love letter however.

An anonymous love letter for his brother, Bill. He prints it out quickly and takes a bathroom break in order to sneak it into Bill's locker.

The result is everything Tom had hoped it would be. Bill has the paper grasped tightly in his hand as they walk home from school together, and he's the happiest Tom has seen him in months. He's practically skipping at Tom's side, giddy as he quotes from the letter again and again.

"I wish you had more faith in yourself," Tom says. "See? Even that random chick thinks you're a catch."

"She seems a bit stalkerish – you know, to be writing actual printed letters – but I kind of don't mind. She seems thoughtful," Bill muses in a delightfully dreamy way. "Bet she's shy."

Tom chuckles. "Must be it."

"This is so cool, Tomi. I have a secret admirer. I wonder if she'll write to me again."

The funny thing is that Tom never considered what would happen after Bill read the letter. He'd only wanted to give Bill hope; as a way to show him he shouldn't give up on love.

But now he feels a mixture between guilty for lying and terrifically pleased with himself for having put such a glorious smile on Bill's face.

The happy side of him wins out over common sense, and by the end of the week, Tom is sitting in Computer Science typing out another anonymous letter for his brother.

Dear Bill,
I heard you've recently broken up with someone and I wanted to say that they must be blind, deaf, and dumb to not be with you. You're one of the coolest people I've ever met. I've seen you let your friends borrow pencils, and I love your smile. It's so sweet how you enjoy helping people, even in small ways. I think it's great. Or the way you pick pepperonis off your pizza – that's adorable. I do the same thing. :) I'm sorry I'm writing again – I know it's weird, so I won't do it again. But I just wanted to say I think you're amazing. 

As Tom and Bill walk home together that afternoon, Tom has a very chipper Bill by his side again; one who is blabbering joyously over the second scarlet letter he's received. Because Tom was cheesy enough to use red ink.

"I wouldn't mind meeting this girl. I hope she'll write me again," Bill says.

"C'mon, Bill, you don't even like girls."

"Well she doesn't know that. Anyways, maybe I'd like her. And even if not, I do like getting these letters. Think she'll write me again?" 

And while Tom had written that second one intending it to be the last, when he looks at Bill's smile – which he really does love – he can't help but melt a little inside and want to please him again. Even if it's completely bonkers.

So he writes more letters and he tries so hard to keep them short and sweet – unlike the first two that were supposed to be encouraging and uplifting – he fills them with compliments and velvet words, and the wilder they become the more Bill seems to love reading them. 

Soon the letters contain visions of long lost love and Tom has no idea what he's doing anymore. He knows he's losing control of the situation and his feelings as well.

Because the last couple letters he's sent Bill say he wants to walk with him along the water at the beach one day, and that he thinks Bill is really beautiful, and that he wishes he had the courage to take him out on a date and kiss him. And the thing that scares Tom the most is that he's realized he isn't lying in any of the things he's said in those letters; he wants them to be sincere and tries so hard to make them anonymous; and there he is pouring his heart out on paper for his brother. But he can't help it. 

Bill seems to be falling for his mystery admirer – he loves all the stories and admiration he's receiving, while Tom doesn't know how to stop writing flowery things for him. He wants so badly to see Bill in love like this. Wants so badly to be the one giving him that love. And yet, poor Tom has no idea how to stop this unhealthy vicious cycle he's created. Because he knows this isn't normal and this can't lead anywhere good.

It isn't long after that Bill catches him in the act. Right as Tom is wiggling the latest letter through the grate in Bill's locker door, Bill comes barreling down the hall towards him, and nearly knocks him down when they collide. 

"Tom!" he yells.

"Jesus! Keep your voice down or you'll get detention!" Tom hisses back. "What are you doing out of class?" He's got the letter half-way into Bill's locker, and if he moves an inch he knows Bill will see it and he'll be caught. He prays he isn't already.

Of course, praying is useless, because his incrimination is the very reason Bill's got him pinned against the locker door.

"Tom!" Bill lowers his voice but it's still sharp as a knife. "What the hell are you doing?" 

Tom panics and stutters and comes up with a few um's and uh's and Bill isn't buying any of it, so he shoves Tom out of the way and pulls away the note Tom had been hiding. It is of course, the latest love letter, for they are right in the middle of Tom's Computer Science period.

"I knew someone was dropping them off during this period," Bill declares. "I've been checking my locker more often and I put it together. Why didn't you tell me you know the girl you're delivering these for?"

Oh.

That, Tom wasn't expecting. A perfect opening. A way out of this mess. Maybe.

Or not.

Tom gulps at air that suddenly feels too thin. He's not thinking straight, or maybe he feels guilty, or most likely he finally wants to come clean – even if this is the worst way to do so. So he says, "There's no girl, Bill. They're from me."

And Bill has no idea what to say to that. He gawks like a fish out of water until a teacher rounds the corner and Tom decides to pull him into the nearest bathroom so they don't get told to return to class. In their little cubicle of privacy, Tom doesn't feel as brave anymore. He's got his hands in his pocket and he's looking down at his trainers, watching his own heels tap together in nervousness and wishing the action would really whisk him off to Oz. All the while, Bill's gaze is burning into him and he's waiting for his world to crumble.

Finally Bill nudges his shoulder, more kindly than either expected. "Are they really all from you?" he asks.

Tom swallows around the heart beating in his airway. "Yeah. I wrote them. I'm sorry." He raises his head and though he wants to lower this eyes once more, once they meet Bill's, he's trapped. "I wanted to make you happy. I'm so sorry I got carried away." And the anger that was there so recently is melting off Bill's face. 

Tom doesn't know whether to be happy or sad. He doesn't think he should be forgiven so quickly. So he's rather glad when Bill calls him a gigantic asshole and punches him in the shoulder. Though he wishes very much there was more malice behind the abuse.

"Tomi, I can't believe you wrote all those. They were so sweet. Read me the next one." And at those words Tom wants to die.

Bill thrusts the letter back into his hands and looks at him with a great big smile and Tom wants to crawl under a rock and actually die. Because he thinks Bill hasn't grasped the point of these letters yet – not what they mean to Tom at least – and he also knows that the latest message is something one should never say to his brother. 

"Um, I don't think I should. I didn't mean – um, I mean, I did, but I meant to – um." Tom has no more words. Anything he says is either a lie or sinfully inappropriate and yet Bill has this amused little smirk on his face, and it's naive and innocent and Tom feels so trapped. 

"Oh c'mon. Just read it. It's no big deal." 

It's a very big deal actually. Yet with no other alternatives presenting themselves to the elder twin, Tom proceeds to unfold and read from his latest valentine.

"Dear Bill." He pauses to look at his brother who's encouraging him onward. "Your lips look so kissable. I wish I could wrap you in a hug forever and never let you go. I just want to laze around with you all day and night and as long as we're together I would be happy. I hope I can make you happy one day. I dream that one day I really will be able to kiss you. You're so beautiful to me."

Tom gulps again and even though he's finished reading the page, he's terrified to look back up at his brother. There's no way Bill would find this cute or funny. This particular letter really did take things too far, there was no denying that.

"Tom, can I ask you something?" Bill says hesitantly and Tom nods. It's torturous that Bill waits until Tom looks him in the eye to finally ask his damn question. "Are you serious? Or are you putting on an act, playing the part of some girl?"

"Well, they might not have been from a girl."

"That's not what I meant, and you know it." Bill nudges his shoulder gently. 

There's something not right here suddenly – something much more not right than Tom has imagined thus far. Bill shouldn't be so forgiving, nor be so curious for such an answer. He should be smacking Tom to kingdom come, or be shipping him off to the loony bin pronto. And maybe it's the fact that Bill seems a little crazy now, just like Tom is a little crazy, which is what fuels Tom to admit his sins.

"I – I'm not kidding. And I'm not lying. I wrote all this shit 'cause I mean it."

Yup, Tom was right... Bill should definitely not be smiling right now. Yet he is, rather impishly.

"Tomi... you wanna kiss me, and take long walks on the beach with me, and take me out on dates?"

Tom nods.

Bill lunges forward, knocking his brother into the door of their bathroom stall and at first it's a hug, but then he crushes his lips to his. It's too much and too little all in one fell swoop and it's only by magic that Tom's brain reacts fast enough. Or maybe it's his heart, because he kisses back, and wraps Bill in his arms the way he loves to do, and Bill mewls into his mouth too sweetly for words. He's tugging at Tom's dreads and pressing his body into Tom's and it's heavenly. Better than anything Tom could have imagined. Because Bill feels so alive and vibrant and pulsing with love – love for him. It's more than anything Tom could have wished for. He rolls them around, until he's the one pinning Bill to the wall and invades his mouth with purpose. He's rewarded with Bill drawing him ever closer.

When they part lips, they join foreheads, resting against each other, and Tom says, "I want to treat you better than anyone ever will. I want to make you happy. You're mine and I don't want to share you with anyone. Ok?"

"You do make me happy. No one else comes close." 

Bill really could say more, but the class bell rings, interrupting their dreams of paradise, and bringing reality crashing down on them.

"Shit."

"Tom. Don't you dare say we should go to class right now. Let's get out of here." Tom seems to think about the consequences of skipping class a bit more than Bill, but he knows where his priorities lie; so it's not hard to agree to sweeping Bill out into the world where they can have their ever-lasting moments behind closed doors. 

From now on, Tom will always be with Bill. Bill doesn't have to fit in, Tom doesn't have to ward off undeserving boyfriends and girlfriends, and Bill has the true love he's always dreamt of. Tom has loved only Bill his entire life.


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CHAPTER TWO:
PROM INVITES

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So here's the thing... Tom and Bill's senior Prom was coming up.

And since Tom and Bill have been fooling around, they've actually been exclusive. And it would be really awkward if they were to take other people as their dates, but uh... It's even more awkward to take your brother as your Prom date. Especially since Tom had a reputation that required him to bring a girl. A really hot girl. Or several really hot girls.

So yeah. That's what's going on in Tom's mind as he watches Bill stir soggy cereal and chat happily to their mom at breakfast.

Bill is going on and on about what he wants to wear to Prom, which is in less than a month.

"And I want a red bowtie. Wouldn't that be adorable?"

Simone smiles and nods. "Are you planning on matching your socks to your bowtie?"

"Oh my god, that's such a good idea!" Bill exclaims in delight.

"I wish you'd dedicate this much effort and creative energy to your French homework, you know."

"Moooom," Bill whines, "Don't ruin my flow. I wanna go find a tie sometime this week, ok? And Tom still needs to get a whole suit."

Tom snaps out of his daze when he hears his name. 

"Honey," their mom says, "That's right, you haven't even got a suit yet. You're still planning on going to Prom, right Tom?"

"Uh... maybe." Tom replies and looks down into his own bowl of cereal. "I don't know, I'm not feeling it so much lately."

Bill swats his arm. "Don't be silly. Of course you have to go."

"Bill, let him decide for himself. Plus, I'm paying for your suits, and if I have to buy one less, that's savings for me!" she chuckles lightheartedly and Bill pouts. 

On the way to the bus – yes, they still walk to the bus stop even though they share a car – Bill reopens the Prom conversation and Tom is so perturbed by the upcoming dilemma of random-date or brother-date that he's actually annoyed by this. Because Bill doesn't seem to get the picture: people will expect them to have dates. Girl dates. Their mother had only asked Tom so far who he was taking and he had answered he hadn't found the girl yet. And no one expected Bill to find a boy so Simone had been kind and not asked the younger twin; and maybe that's why Bill didn't seem to understand.

"Seriously Tom, come with me tomorrow and try to find something to wear. We can stay out late cuz that Chem final is all the way on Friday."

"I don't feel like it, ok? I'll drive you if you want, but I don't see the point."

"You're seriously considering not going to Prom? Seriously?"

"Yes, seriously." And the annoyed frown on Tom's face tells Bill he should drop the subject for now.

Tom huffs and Bill walks beside him in silence, the annoyed feeling spreading into him as well.

Seriously, Tom wishes he could take Bill. But it's not like they could tell anyone they were an item. Hell, they hadn't even made it official between themselves yet. They said they weren't gonna see other people, which was a pretty big step for Tom, but that didn't mean they couldn't see other people for normalcy's sake. Like, taking girls to Prom as friends. There were a few the twins could pick from too, it wasn't actually that hard a task. And yet the more Tom thinks about it the more he hates it.

This is what University would be like too. Like, "Hey Tom, who are you taking to so and so party?" "Oh, I don't know, I'm dating my brother, but I'll take that cute girl from the first floor dorms that makes cute smiley faces at me when I see her in class and lead her on that I might actually sleep with her cuz that's definitely the gentlemanly thing to do." Tom scoffs to himself.

That scenario seems like torture to Tom and it's making him rethink his whole life now. What he really wants to say is, "I'm taking Bill cuz he's the best thing that's ever happened to me." But he can't, and never will be, and that's a very disturbing thought suddenly.

Sigh. The twins board the bus and Tom is staring out the window. And of course Bill can see the melancholy in his brother and he's not sure how to fix it. He knows it has to do with Prom, but that's about all he can figure out. Prom is supposed to be exciting, so why isn't Tom excited?

The next day when Tom has mustered up the will to drag his ass around the mall behind Bill, instead of just chauffeuring, the twins are in a menswear shop. As can be expected, Bill is busy looking at neckties and bowties and cufflinks and shirtstuds and who knows whatever else, and when he asks the sales clerk if it's possible to bedazzle a cummerbund, that's when Tom zones out.

He's trying to think of where their lives are going. "I'm dating my brother," he says to himself. And he wonders how he got here. It's not like he'd change it, but damn... it's crazy. And shameful. And crazy.

He rubs at his forehead and stares aimlessly at the home screen on his phone, and he can't even rub enough brain cells together to remember why he got his phone out in the first place.

He's thinking about the new spark between himself and Bill. Tom started it, after all. He was the one that practically wrote him love notes, and Bill fell for it. And it's been amazing since. Really it has. They've shared the most beautiful private moments since that first real kiss that Tom could have ever imagined. 

Like last night, when Bill came out of the shower with little rivers of water running from his long hair, down his torso, and soaking into the fluffy white towel wrapped low around his waist – he came to Tom then. And Tom loved being pulled into a wet hug and they kissed for several long moments, and Tom felt his heart soar with love and happiness.

And even though they hadn't been all too sexual yet, they have laid naked together, and fallen asleep cocooned in each other's arms. And Tom has woken up on several mornings since, the way he is now, pondering his new life with Bill.

Mainly that he can't imagine being intimate with anyone else anymore. Being with Bill was so much better already. They shared a connection unparalleled in anything Tom had even seen in the greatest love stories, and it had been that way since birth. This was just... something to consider more heavily now that the next level of their relationship was so taboo.

Tom opens the Pictures app on his phone and meditates over a picture where Bill is kissing his cheek. That in itself would be enough to raise flags for most people. He sighs and feels lost because though he may not be acting like it right now, what he really wants to do is shout from the rooftops how happy he is. And he knows that when it's just the two of them, Bill is happy too. Really happy, and Tom is so thankful for that. He wants to show the world the dazzling creature that his brother is. Or at least, be able to not lie to his mom and friends about who he's taking to Prom.

Ugh. Prom. If Tom really has to find some cheap girlfriend to parade on his arm for one exaggerated night, he'd rather just skip the whole thing at this point. The only person he wants to do that with is Bill. But obviously he can't. It felt cheap dating girls before, but now it's unbearable. And so even when they return home, Tom is bummed and excuses himself to mope in his room alone, while Bill goes to talk to their mom about how Tom didn't want to try on a single piece of clothing.

"Honey, don't bother him so much," Tom hears them talk on the way to the bathroom. "If he doesn't want to go, that's ok too."

"But I want him to go," Bill replies, and there's a audible pout in his voice.

In the morning, Bill doesn't bring up the topic of Prom again, but he seems more chipper than Tom would have expected. So Tom figures, maybe the way to go about this is he could drive Bill and whoever friends to Prom or something, so he could at least see his little brother all dressed up and smiling in his new bowtie, and then at least he wouldn't have to pick a date for himself. And that seems like a pretty good compromise, so he smiles along with Bill and feels pretty good about himself for the rest of the day.

Tom expects that to be his only victory, but as it turns out, he finds a mystery note in his locker sometime after lunch.

He reads it and his jaw drops, and he shows it to Bill immediately even though they're running late to their next class.

Bill smirks and says all too merrily, "I told you you had to go."

The note was a Prom invitation from someone who hadn't left their name.

Tom actually grumbles that Bill could be happy about something like this, but his thoughts shift quickly to who may have sent that note. 

He hadn't fooled around with anyone new lately, and he'd severely cooled his relations with the girls he used to flirt with. So he figures whoever this girl is wasn't getting the message that maybe Tom was no longer on the market.

Because in Tom's mind he was coming to understand that even though he and Bill weren't official, he was officially off the market.

"Girls are stupid. Who invites you to Prom and doesn't tell you who she is?"

"I wouldn't worry that much about it," Bill shrugs. "Just reply that you'll go."

"And how am I supposed to do that exactly?"

Uh, right... Bill hadn't thought about it that far. The anonymous note had left no further instructions.

The next day Tom receives a second note from his admirer however, and that seems to clear things up.

If you agree to go to Prom with me, show up at your regular bus stop at 7PM, and I'll meet you there. 

"Wow, that's not stalkerish, is it? This chick knows my bus stop!"

Bill chuckles. "Tomi. Calm down, they probably take the same bus."

Tom just rolls his eyes. "There aren't any hot chicks on our bus. And I'm not going with some fat girl just cuz she wrote me some paper. Actually, this probably proves she's one of the uggos and this is a ploy to make me curious enough to go with her instead of some hotter chick."

At this, Bill actually laughs. "Well, aren't you curious?" He wiggles his eyebrows suggestively and Tom scoffs.

"No."

Bill seems disappointed.

Did Bill actually want him to go with some ugly girl to Prom? Is that what he wanted?

It's been a few days and thankfully there have been no more Prom notes in Tom's locker, and Tom is happy about it, but Bill doesn't seem to be so much. In fact, he hasn't mentioned Prom once since that second locker note.

Nor has Tom however. Because Tom has been delicately avoiding the subject.

It came as a surprise to Tom then, that he received a third letter a week later, which was much longer than the last.

Tom, I invited you to Prom because I see a future for us to be together. I know it's crazy that I'm saying this, but I do, so I'm hoping you'll take a chance. If you don't want to go to the school party like everyone else, I'll understand. Hopefully we can go to Pasta Palace together. A little birdie told me you like pasta, right? Anyway, I'm really hoping you'll show up. :) 

"Tom, that's adorable, you have to go!" Bill exclaims after reading it over Tom's shoulder.

Tom huffs. "This is ridiculous. I'm not taking someone I don't know to Prom."

"But maybe you do. They take the same bus."

"Bill, for the last time, I'm not taking some ugly or underclassman girl with me. I'd rather not go. I just wish I could tell this loony to stop stuffing things into my locker."

Funny enough, the fourth note Tom's secret admirer leaves is tucked into his Chemistry textbook.

We have great chemistry. I'll be wearing red, so I hope you'll find a corsage to match my outfit. ;) 

This one, Tom crumples up and throws angrily across the room after he reads it. The balled paper hits their friend Georg on the head and he comes over as a consequence.

"Woah there," Georg says as he unfolds the paper, then chuckles. "This your way of asking me out? You'll be wearing red, will you?" he jibes.

"No!" Tom groans and snatches the thing out of Georg's hands. "It's some stupid stalker girl who won't take no for an answer about Prom."

Bill laughs but Tom throws him a reproachful look, so Bill purses his lips over his words.

"Hey, maybe you should go with her anyway," Georg suggests. "What's the harm? Crazy can mean crazy in bed too, eh?"

And Bill just can't help but cover his mouth to keep his laughter down this time.

"What the hell, Bill?" Tom seems to have had enough. Prom is less than a week away and Bill doesn't seem to care at all about how their current dating situation affects that.

"Well, Georg is right. Maybe this girl is wild in bed. You would like her, I bet." He smiles cheekily.

Tom really snaps then. But instead of speaking, he seems stuck. He gawks like a fish out of water for several moments, then gets up and chucks the rest of his lunch in the garbage. Then strides out of the cafeteria in a very pissy mood.

The irritable mood between the twins hasn't worn off by the time Prom comes around. What's worse is that Bill has told Simone about Tom's secret admirer and she now insists that Tom go with her. He doesn't trust himself to speak without blowing up in anger, so he opts for the silent treatment.

Tom has decided that since he's not talking to Bill for the moment, he will go and at least give the mystery girl her corsage and politely insist that he can't go to Prom because he's sick. Which is a lie. But then he could return home and crawl back into bed and not have to see who Bill would be going to Prom with. 

Because Tom is completely heartbroken; Bill admitted yesterday when they had a fight over the letters that he's taking someone to Prom and he wouldn't even tell Tom who. Like, an actual date.

Well that's fine then. Tom doesn't want to know who it is. He's going to stay right where he is in bed all night, and Bill can go out in his stupid cute tux, and dance all night with whatever stupid cute girl or boy Bill managed to date. It wasn't like the twins were a couple.

He stares at his bedroom ceiling and can hear Bill and Simone wandering about the house getting ready for the big night.

Tom doesn't understand what the hell just happened between him and Bill. Stupid Prom. They were so happy just last week, fooling around, and Tom was even considering their life together in college, but maybe he'd been really wrong and none of it meant the same to Bill. 

That didn't seem likely. Maybe Tom had misunderstood something. Either way, he'd still managed to ruin Prom.

He wasn't sure when he drifted off to sleep, but he was awoken by Simone. "Hey, sleepyhead. Bill just left. Aren't you getting ready? When are you meeting your date?"

"Huh? What time is it?"

"Time for you to get your butt up," his mom replies, and Tom is left to search for the time on his phone alone.

He stares at his phone for just a little longer and decides he has to do something about this. Bill couldn't go to Prom with someone else. He just couldn't. Right?

Hey. I'm gonna go drop off the corsage for that girl and then I'm coming to see you. Where are you? 

He bangs off the text to his brother and sends it before he can consider his actions further. Then calls to Simone to help him pick out one of Gordon's ties to wear.

"This is what you get for not shopping," she remarks while looking through her husband's neckties. Tom barely listens as he rushes to put on the only remotely formal outfit he owns. At least he's wearing a dress shirt.

What's worrying Tom more is that Bill hasn't replied to his text yet. He sends another. Bill, where are you?? 

Fucking fantastic. Bill took their car too. So Tom has to walk to the damn bus stop.

The sky has the faintest dim of night creeping into the horizon, and it's turning the air a bit chilly. Tom walks with one hand in his pocket and the other holding a paper box with a red rose corsage. He stares at the box and feels sadness and regret. He'd really messed things up with Bill, hadn't he?

When he rounds the corner to the bus stop he gets a text and instead of looking around for the girl, he reads it. Thankfully it's from Bill.

I love you, is all it says and Tom is bewildered. What does that even mean? He can't help but stop and stare at it, wondering how he should reply. A car horn snaps him out of his thoughts.

He looks up and there's the twins' car by the bus stop. Bill's getting out of the driver's seat and waving to Tom. They're close enough to talk now.

"Hey, what are you doing here? Where's your date?" Tom is really confused now but is glad Bill seems in a good mood.

"He just got here," Bill replies with a big smile.

Tom's smile evaporates. "Why'd you pick to meet him here if I'm meeting that girl?"

Bill laughs then. "Wow! I knew mom dropped you on your head as a child!" 

Tom's not pleased. "Excuse me?" he says; and it doesn't sound so much like "excuse me," so much as, "what the fuck is your problem?"

But the younger twin keeps laughing anyway. "Wow, Tom!" he wheezes. 

"I want to meet him! Stop laughing!"

"You're my date, you stupid fool!" Bill finally reveals. And Tom can't help but feel extremely stupid as everything clicks into place suddenly.

"Uh... You mean, you wrote the notes?"

"Yessss!" Bill says and he's smiling from ear to ear. 

"Oh." 

There's a bit of awkward silence then.

"Why on earth didn't you tell me you wanted to go together?"

"Tom. Seriously, you're so blind sometimes. I thought it was obvious that I wasn't planning on going with anyone but you, but then you went all pissy saying you didn't want to go and didn't figure it out, so I thought I'd do what you did to me and write you locker notes until you figured it out. But you're so fucking thick you got pissed off even more. I kept waiting for you to figure it out."

"Oh." Yeah, Tom feels really dumb now as he looks back at Bill's warm face and finally sees that red bowtie. "Well, I got you a corsage," he says and hands over the box.

"I know," Bill rolls his eyes not unkindly. "I made you pick that one out. Wasn't that a dead giveaway?"

"Don't rub it in. I'm sorry." Tom has a hard time looking up because he feels guilty, so he just busies himself with taking the infernal tape off the box that doesn't want to open. He can feel Bill's eyes on him.

The corsage looks a bit strange on a boy, but Bill discards his suit jacket and rolls up his shirtsleeves to match the fact that Tom's baggy outfit would barely pass at an entry-level interview, and smiles so broadly once the flowers are on his wrist that finally Tom feels his wits come back to him.

"God," he whines. "I'm sorry I'm an idiot. I only wanted to go with you." He looks around to make sure they're alone and then pecks Bill on the lips. They both turn a little pink because of how cheesy this is all turning out.

"I wanted to take you to Prom so much, Bill, you have no idea. These past couple weeks have been the best time of my life."

"Mine too."

A car drives by and they drop hands nervously. They shouldn't hold hands in public.

"Listen, I have an idea," Bill says. "Let's go to Prom and say that your date stood you up, the notes were a prank, and my date is older and had to cancel or some shit and let's just go without dates."

Tom looks his brother in the eye and considers it. "Alright. Fuck it. Even if it's strange and makes us look like idiots, it's not like we ever have to see these people again. Plus, now I know you're my real date." That lights up Bill's face like fireworks and Tom can't help smile also. "Just, let me drive. I don't know how mom let you take the car."

The swat on the arm Tom receives is deserved, but they both get in and drive off.


---

Chapter Text

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CHAPTER THREE:
TWIN TEXTS

---


Hi, Prom Date! the text reads. It's from Bill but Tom seems to have lost him in the crowd. He's hanging out with Georg and Gustav and their dates, and looks up to make sure the screen of his phone isn't visible.

"Have you guys seen Bill anywhere?" Tom is prompted to ask, loudly, because the music is blaring.

"Nah man," says Gustav. "Last I saw, he was with you."

"Lost your brother and your date then?" Georg jokes. Normally Tom would find the joke much funnier, but Georg didn't know how true that was. He lets it go in favor of typing something back to Bill.

Hey, where are you?

I found the alcohol!!

There's alcohol? Who brought it?

Come find me. I'm hanging out with David Jost.

That guy graduated last year.

Yeah, but he's trying to bang Cindy Chow, so he obviously brought alcohol. I'm in the parking lot. Just come.

"Hey," Tom interrupts the G's talking. It was rude that he hadn't been listening, especially since the girls seem a bit miffed, but they get over it quickly when Tom announces that there's alcohol in the parking lot. The G's are more than happy to come too.

By the time they get outside, there's a small crowd that's formed around the older boy's car. The trunk is open, there's music coming from the car radio, and Tom can spot two people with glass bottles in their hands.

Bill hugs Tom immediately and Tom can smell vodka on his breath. Their hug doesn't end until Tom peels his bother off him for propriety's sake. "Hey," Tom says, and there's a tone of warning in there too, not just a hello.

"Hey yourself," Bill replies with a cheeky grin. And right in front of Tom, he takes out his phone and starts texting.

The bustle of being in a crowd takes over and Tom gets a bottle shoved into his hand, so he takes a swig and passes it on to Georg.

It's not long before his pocket dings and he takes it out to read the text. It's from Bill.

Tomi, you look handsome in a tie. It's making me think of naughty things. Like, I want to pull on it. And then kiss you. And then more. You should wear a tie all the time so I can kiss you all the time.

Tom can't believe that's what Bill typed in the middle of this crowd! He looks up at his brother who's standing less than two meters away and who's biting his lip seductively. Like he's not even aware there are people watching.

Tom zones his friends out in favor of texting Bill again, but this time there's a bottle that keeps getting passed to him and with every text, he gets more drunk.

The only thing this tie is good for is to tie you up with it.

Oh yeah? And then what, Tomi?

I want you under me and I'll kiss you wherever you like.

Tell me where you'd kiss me.

I'd start with your mouth cuz I love your mouth so much. I've never appreciated that tongue stud of yours so much until now.

Just wait til you see what else it does.

You've never even given a blowjob before!

I can though. And I want to. Tonight.

Tom looks up at Bill. Bill is no further away than he was last time but his face looks more flushed as he looks back at Tom with smoldering eyes. It makes the blood rush below Tom's waistline and he licks his lips.

I'm gonna take the time to kiss every single part of you. Every. Single. Part.

The texts between them come slower now and Tom has a chance to pay attention to the G's, but he can't. His mind is wandering off into a world where him and Bill are naked in bed together.

I want you to take my clothes off right now.

Between the texts and the looks Bill is giving him, it's driving Tom insane. He's hard right now, and he's thankful his pants are so large otherwise it would be ridiculously obvious. He tries to breathe but what he sees when he closes his eyes is still Bill.

He gets another text from Bill.

I haven't told you something yet. It's a surprise.

Just like Bill. Him and his secrets. Tom smirks. 

What is it? Tell me.

It's a present. I can't tell you.

Then show me.

I'm going to. I want to show you so bad.

Is it something you're wearing?

Yes, and no.

You're killing me, Bill, I want to be with you. You look delicious.

You're going to love it then.

They share another look and then comes one more text from Bill: I hope. There's a slightly more uneasy look on his face now.

There's a hand being waved in front of Tom's face and it's Georg's. "Earth to Tom!"

"Hey man, sorry."

Gustav clicks his tongue in reproach. "You've been staring into space and at your phone for the last hour. Are you on something?"

"No, sorry. Must be the booze." Tom replies. But really, all he wants is to get out of here now. He wants to know what Bill's surprise is. It's eating him inside and because he thinks it has to be sexual, it's making his dick throb. He wipes a hand over his face and excuses himself saying he thinks he's gonna cut the night short. The G's seem more understanding than they would normally be.

Tom makes his way to Bill's side. He wraps an arm around his waist pulling him close, and whispers into his ear, "Let's get out of here." He can feel the shiver that runs over his twin from his words.

He can feel people watching him. He's never felt this turned on in his life. There are eyes on him and Bill, Bill is petting his neck and Tom's head is spinning. Bill leans into him even more and says, "Then what are we going to do?"

Tom isn't thinking straight. He pushes Bill into the side of the car and away from the couple Bill had been socializing with. Tom can feel heads turn when he does this. Bill puts his hands on his chest to keep some distance between them, but they're burning Tom through his shirt. It does absolutely nothing to help their situation because Bill insists on knowing what they're going to do. Aloud. It's a harmless question, but it doesn't look so harmless when accompanied by the desire drawn clearly on his face.

The elder leans in to whisper again. "You're going to give me that present." He ends with a lick to the shell of Bill's ear. Hopefully no one was looking too closely.

Bill swoons. It's too much. He wants to kiss Tom so badly. He stares into his eyes and hopes Tom can read his thoughts. He hopes Tom knows what he's asking for.

"Then we have to get out of here, Tomi. Come on."

"Where to?"

"To the car. We're going home."

They break apart reluctantly and the people around them turn their heads back as if they hadn't just been watching the twins get weirdly close.

Hand in hand now, they make quick and hardly apologetic excuses to a few friends that they're leaving. And then only minutes later they're making out in the backseat of their own car, in their own driveway. Tom no longer feels drunk from the vodka, but from Bill's mouth on his.

Bill's on top of him and grinding down and Tom can't wait to feel more skin. He's just so hard and worked up already. Their shirts are open and they're laying chest to chest, but it's not enough, and it's too cramped in here.

"Do you think Mom and Gordon have gone to bed?"

Tom checks the time. 1:30AM.

"Must have."

"Good. Come on."

As quietly as possible, they sneak into the house and Bill says, "Meet me in the basement in a minute."

Tom nods, happy that Bill doesn't plan on going to bed. He sheds his dressy clothes, not bothering to replace them with anything more than a pair of sweatpants, brushes his teeth, and makes his way downstairs.

Bill hasn't arrived yet, so Tom turns down the light, turns on the big-screen TV, and makes himself comfortable on the couch with a blanket.

Bill is taking way too long. It's 2:00AM by the time he joins Tom, but it's worth the wait. The elder's mouth goes dry when he sees his brother. 

His baby brother is wearing the red bowtie and red boxer-briefs and nothing else. When he swings a leg over Tom to straddle him, Tom can hardly believe this is his life. Bill seems a bit shy, but he's so mouthwateringly beautiful Tom can't keep his hands off him.

"You look amazing in red."

"Thank you, Tomi." They kiss more softly than before. "I wanted to look good for you."

"You always look good to me."

Bill smiles quaintly. He seems to be on a mission, or at least, he seems to have something on his mind, because after a few more kisses he pauses to say timidly, "Tomi."

"Yeah?"

"We're dating, right?"

Tom quirks an eyebrow. "Uh, yeah. I guess that's what you call this. I mean, I'm not dating anyone else, right?"

"Right. But like, we're kind of like a couple now, right?"

"We can be a couple. I would like that," Tom admits. "I can't really imagine going back to how things used to be."

That instantly makes Bill happy, Tom can see it. Like a weight has been lifted off Bill's shoulders.

"Ok, good."

Tom chuckles. "Yeah, I want to keep you for as long as I can. I've been thinking about University together more and more, and I'm starting to get used to the idea of us."

Bill smiles even brighter. "Good. 'Cause I don't want to go back either. You make me happy, you know that, Tom?"

"I'm never happier than when I'm with you." 

The moment is getting cheesy. Tom's dick feels neglected, but he knows they have all night and all their lives, so he doesn't force anything.

Thankfully however, Tom doesn't have to wait that long. Another make out session heats up and soon they're on the floor, laying naked between blankets, with the light of the TV coloring their bodies and throwing silhouettes of their twined bodies onto the wall opposite. Bill is working his kisses down Tom's body and they both know what's going to happen next.

When Bill wraps is mouth around Tom's dick, it's heavenly. He really does know how to use that tongue stud, instinctively, or maybe it's just perfect for Tom, because it's got him arching his back and struggling with what to do with his hands as his climax builds too quickly for him to control. It's better than anything he's felt in his life so far. Tom pants and Bill sucks him. It's like one of Tom's dreams, just so, so much better.

It's a surprise when Bill stops and comes back up to kiss Tom's lips. He's smiling and proud of himself, and seems to know he's stopped right before Tom could come.

"I want to do something else," he says mischievously. Tom has to catch his breath a bit because he was that close, but he gives Bill an inquisitive look. Bill kisses him and speaks clearly into his mouth. "I want you inside me."

That certainly snaps Tom back to alertness! "You what...?"

"Only if you want to also."

Tom blinks. "Yeah, I mean, yes. I do! I guess I just haven't thought about it."

"You haven't?" Bill says with a smirk and seems skeptical.

Words fail Tom as he struggles to say more than, "Well, uh, I –"

"Or did you want me in you?"

"No!" Tom replies too quickly, then recovers with a more polite, "I mean, I'd prefer not." Bill laughs and Tom's face colors.

"You really haven't thought about us fucking? You were the one that came on to me."

Suddenly Tom is shy. "Well, I love you. I just didn't think about that so much."

Bill is still much too cheerful to have the upper hand and it's not sitting so well with Tom. "So you thought about other things, right Tomi?"

"Obviously. Mainly, you know, what we just did. What I want to do to you. When we rub... you know."

"So what do you want to do to me, huh? You want to tie me up with that tie and then have no idea what else?" The younger twin is smug and on the verge of laughter.

"Well, no, but uh..."

"Hold on a minute, I'm gonna get something." Bill stops Tom mid-sentence and runs off up the stairs, and not even a minute later he returns with a jar of coconut oil that Tom is used to getting his breakfast eggs cooked with.

Before Tom has any chance to complain or question Bill's choice of lube, Bill straddles him again and asks, "Tell me, what did you want to do with this?" He punctuates this with a squeeze to Tom's still very hard dick.

Tom bites his lip and looks up at his brother. There's a playful sparkle in Bill's eyes as he works his hand over Tom now. It makes Tom want to do something to prove himself. He wants to be with Bill and rock his world. He worries his lip for a few more moments, drawing up the courage, and when he does, he just goes for it.

Bill's on his back in the next second, arms pinned above his head, and Tom is plundering his mouth. It's shocking and exactly what Bill has been dreaming of.

"Is this what your little surprise was then? That you want to be ravaged thoroughly?" Tom says into Bill's neck, between kisses. He's grasping at Bill's bottom and pulling him closer, and Bill is bucking into him, rocking together, and with the way his legs are wrapped around Tom, it's not hard to imagine them fucking.

The mouth Tom is working over Bill's body to make him pant moves to Bill's nipple, making Bill whimper now. Mainly, Bill can't stop saying Tom's name. And the lower Tom's mouth moves, the more breathless Bill becomes. He can't stand it anymore when Tom actually kisses a line down his dick instead of sucking him. Tom has other things in mind. Namely, that little hole that's beckoning him closer. He kisses it once and then laves a few fingers in saliva to play with it. 

Bill is tugging on his dreads at this point so Tom looks up. 

"Oh, sorry," says Bill, meaning about Tom's dreadlocks which he lets go of.

"It's ok," Tom grins. He recaptures Bill's mouth in his and sinks a finger into him at the same time, and Bill completely melts into his touch.

They take their time. There's no rush, and Tom wants Bill to be comfortable when he slides into him.

After Bill's been riding two of Tom's fingers, and Tom knows he's given his little brother a good prostate massage to loosen him up, Bill finally says he's ready.

"Right, uh... let me just..." 

"Apply lube to by dick," Bill kindly finishes Tom's sentence and watches him do just that.

Tom winks and moves back over Bill and Bill wraps his arms around Tom's neck. This is it. One last kiss and then they're one.

Oh. It's tight. Really tight. Bill shuts his eyes and tries to relax. "Slow, Tomi."

Tom moves slow. Slowly all the way in, and then finds a slow rhythm that Bill looks comfortable with. "You ok?"

Bill's breathing is irregular, but he says, "Yeah."

Making out slowly too gives them time to adjust to being connected. Each movement is smoother than the last as they build courage and tempo. Soon the thrusts are confident and their bodies are sweaty. Bill hooks his legs over Tom's shoulders, and the new angle makes him see stars, he can't even talk anymore. Not properly at least. "Tomi." It's a name he's been saying since his first word and if Tom keeps fucking him that way he's sure it'll be his last too.

"Tomi... Tomi, Tomi..."

"God, Bill." Tom wraps his hand over Bill and pumps in time with his thrusts. It's stimulus overload and Bill comes soon after, driving Tom over the edge with him. When the fireworks subside, the twins collapse into a pile of limbs, and aren't remotely mindful of not getting Bill's come over everything.

"Fuck."

"Yeah."

"I love not being a virgin anymore," Bill laughs after a few minutes. "We have to do that again."

"Yeah. Oh god, yes. Just not now. I don't think I've ever come that hard."

"I feel like jello."

"I was just going to say that."

They zone out and fall asleep before they know it, and it's Gordon going to work in the morning that wakes them in a panic.

"Shit! Shit, Tom, get up. I think it's morning!" Bill hisses.

"What?"

They're stark naked and covered in come on the basement floor. If Simone were to find them, they'd be dead.

Tom's head is spinning at being woken so rudely.

Bill's already standing up and putting his underwear on. He throws Tom his sweatpants. "Move before Mom gets to the kitchen otherwise we won't be able to sneak past her."

They make quick work of doing just that and Simone seems none the wiser when they all settle down to breakfast a few minutes later. After all, the twins have had lots of experience with surreptitious endeavors under their parents' noses over the years.

"So boys, how was Prom?"

Tom quirks an eyebrow in Bill's direction and Bill rolls his eyes, so Simone continues without a reply. "Are you glad you ended up going, Tom?"

The elder smirks. "Oh yeah." If it wasn't his mom he was replying to, he would have added, "Well worth the wait." But he didn't want to risk it.

"So who was your mystery girl?"

"Uh..." Tom isn't so cocky now. Bill kicks him under the table to come up with a lie faster. When he doesn't, Bill replies for him.

"Yeah, she turned out to be crazy. Hot but crazy, so we left early. But it was fun. Right, Tom?"

"Definitely. So much fun." He's looking his brother in the eye as he says it and they both know they're talking about the sex. God, if Simone only knew. Even when they got upstairs, Tom tried to accost Bill in the shower, and it took so much willpower to refuse. But it was fun. So much fun.

Their mom looks skeptically between them and drops the subject. Her boys have been playing the silent talking game since forever. There was no point trying to pull teeth.

Later in the day when the twins are alone again, Tom asks, "So what was the surprise you texted me about? The sex?"

"Actually, I got you cufflinks. But it's not like you were going to use them, and the more I drank last night, the more I wanted to fuck." 

"Cufflinks?" Tom shakes his head. "Fuck the cufflinks. You're the best present I could ever ask for."

---

Three months later, Tom and Bill are packing for college and the house is in a frenzy. Simone comes up from the basement with a pile of laundry.

"Hey Bill, I found your red bowtie in the basement."

"Oh, thanks Mom," Bill takes it from her with a guilty look and Tom laughs.

"And here's a pair of your boxers, Tom. I don't know how they ended up under the couch down there."

Tom's face plummets and Bill laughs even harder.

"I don't know what's so funny. You boys are going to have to learn to take better care of your things when you live alone."

She walks off shaking her head and muttering about irresponsible teenagers.

The irresponsible teenagers kiss passionately after their mom exits.


---

 

THE END.