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Vulnerable

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Grizz’s hands shook as he pressed down hard on the wound, but the thick, dark red blood kept oozing between his fingertips. It wasn’t stopping and if he wasn’t panicking before then he certainly was at that moment.

 

“Call the fucking ambulance!” he screamed. His eyes stayed fixated on the boy on the ground, watching as his chest rose and fell slowly, then slower, and then…nothing.

 

“Fuck, fuck! No, no, no. Fuck. Don’t fucking do this to me!” Grizz pleaded.

 

With one hand desperately trying to stop the blood loss, his other desperately searched for a pulse that wasn’t there.

 

“Please…fuck…please,” he was going to cry or vomit. Maybe both. This couldn’t be happening.

 

He didn’t know what to do. He kept his hands there, frozen. He heard the sirens in the distance but he still didn’t move. He couldn’t save him. He was dying, right there, right on the ground in front of him. He couldn’t even pay attention to anything happening around him, the voices, the sobbing, nothing. Because a life was slipping away right in front of him, right from his fingertips.

 

It wasn’t until his arms were being yanked away from the body did he finally look around. The first thing he noticed was the barrel of a gun pointed at him, and then the second police officer cuffing his wrists behind his back.

 

“You have the right to remain silent,” the officer spoke, and Grizz heard nothing but static.

 

---

 

*Several Months Earlier*

 

How could one person be so fucking beautiful? That was the first thought Grizz had when his eyes landed on Sam three tables away. It wasn’t like staring at Sam was an uncommon occurrence for Grizz. In fact, it had quickly become his favorite lunch time activity. Why eat when you can pine over a boy you’ve barely ever spoken to?

 

Grizz ignored his stomach as it rumbled. He knew if he didn’t eat then he’d have no energy for football practice that afternoon, but how could he possibly tear his gaze away from those blue eyes? That auburn hair? And, God, those perfectly pink lips? Fuck, he was screwed. The obsession he had with Sam was growing. It wasn’t in a creepy way, or at least he hoped it wasn’t. He just didn’t know how to handle the monumental crush he had.

 

Sam threw his head back in a fit of laughter at something his friend Becca said, and suddenly Grizz was jealous. He wanted to be the one to make him smile. Alright, that might have been a little creepy. He couldn’t be so possessive over someone he’s barely had one conversation with, and even then, it took him two years to actually work up the courage to speak to Sam.

 

Grizz could remember the party clearly. Sam was off to the side by himself, and Becca, who was almost always attached to his hip, was nowhere to be seen. Grizz took that as his chance to finally speak to him. He remembered approaching Sam and thinking he had a great way to get his attention. It turned out Grizz was a complete fucking idiot and would only make a fool of himself.

 

Google was a great thing, when used correctly, and Grizz thought he was being clever by learning a bit of sign language, but when he went over to Sam and started signing to the deaf boy, well, it all went downhill. He thought he was doing so well, he really did. He meant to ask Sam if he was having fun and if he wanted another drink, but Sam stared at him, completely lost.

 

It wasn’t until Grizz confessed about the app he downloaded and showed it to Sam that he was told of his mistake. Apparently British Sign Language and American Sign Language were too completely different things. Grizz was used to being one of the smartest people in the room, but at that party he had never felt more like a moron in his entire life, and he wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out when Sam promptly ended their conversation the second Becca turned up again.

 

Grizz cringed as he thought back on the memory. That was six months ago and he was so scarred by the interaction that he hadn’t even thought about speaking to Sam again. It was funny because he was one of the most popular guys in school. He was friends with almost everyone and never had a problem with going up to a complete stranger and talking to them, but Sam? Sam was different. Sam made Grizz’s insides twist and turn.

 

Clark slapped Grizz hard on the shoulder, breaking him out of his trance. Grizz coughed awkwardly and turned to his friends. For a while there he completely forgot he was sitting in the cafeteria with people surrounding him.

 

“You have a crush, dude,” Clark smirked.

 

Grizz tensed and looked anywhere except at Clark or Sam.

 

“What? No, I don’t,” Grizz’s tone was defensive and he cursed himself for it because he totally sounded guilty now.

 

“Relax,” Clark snorted, “I know she can be a little odd but Becca’s hot. I approve.”

 

The tension left Grizz’s chest. Of course, they thought he liked Becca, because the popular jock, star football player, apparent womanizer, couldn’t possibly, not in a million years, not if you fucking paid him to, have a crush on a boy, right? Grizz sighed to himself and cracked his knuckles, a nervous habit of his.

 

“That’s what I look for, Clark, your stamp of approval,” Grizz said but Clark didn’t even notice the sarcasm in his voice.

 

“That’s what I’m here for, Grizzy bear,” Clark said.

 

Grizz shook his head, glanced at Sam one last time, then looked down at his food so he could finally eat it during the last two minutes of lunch because he spent twenty-eight of those minutes being a fucking stalker. He cursed himself.

 

Being in the closet sucked sometimes. It wasn’t like he was afraid of coming out. He wasn’t. Well, not really. He was actually really looking forward to it, but in college. College, where he was miles away from this place. College, where people thought differently. College, where Grizz could just start over as himself. As Grizz who also just so happens to be gay. Not Grizz who pretended to be straight and slept with girls through high school then came out of the closet.

 

Grizz didn’t want the drama. He didn’t want to deal with backlash that high school would bring, and it annoyed him that there would even be backlash. He knew in the back of his mind that it wouldn’t be that bad. He knew his friends wouldn’t hate him or be disgusted by him, so he was lucky in that regard, but Grizz knew the way Clark, Jason and sometimes even Luke talked about Sam. Grizz knew they weren’t being vicious about it, but the offhand comments behind Sam’s back when they all knew he couldn’t hear them made Grizz sick to his stomach.

 

Gym class was the worst. You put a group of straight men getting undressed in front of each other and it’s fine, right? All of a sudden Sam walks in and everyone’s glancing at each other, an unspoken straight boy bond. Grizz was sick of. He was sick of the way they looked at Sam sometimes, even if they all claimed to be progressive and okay with gay people. Grizz knew that deep down some of them had a problem.

 

Grizz didn’t want football practice to be awkward. He didn’t want the guys turning around and hiding themselves on purpose in the locker rooms because they’re dumb jocks who think everyone wants to check them out. Grizz wouldn’t want to check any of them out anyway. They weren’t his type and he wasn’t some sex crazed pervert. Then again, sometimes the thoughts he had about Sam were less than innocent.

 

Grizz glanced up at the rest of his friends to see if any of them caught on that it wasn’t Becca he was looking at. Jason and Clark were oblivious, like always. Luke was too caught up trying to kiss his girlfriend, Helena. Then there was Gwen who just broke up with Clark, but was still part of the group. Her eyes locked with Grizz’s and she have a small smile before Grizz averted his eyes and went back to, well, pining over Sam.

 

---

 

The final bell of the day let Grizz know it was time for football practice and since his last class of the day was with his three best friends, he headed off down the halls with Clark, Jason and Luke. Grizz wasn’t paying much attention when Clark stopped suddenly and he ran right into his back.

 

“What the fuck, Clark?” Grizz asked.

 

“New recruit sign ups,” Clark nodded.

 

Grizz was actually interested. He usually tried to sign up to some sort of club or committee whenever he had the extra time and with his senior year almost up and college applications already in, he had a bit of spare time on his hands. There were a lot of sign up sheets and a lot of names on each one. Maybe he could sign up to something the guys were.

 

“Seriously?” Jason spoke, and Grizz saw what he talking about. Clark was signing up for student council.

 

“What? I like politics,” Clark shrugged.

 

Grizz didn’t say anything, and he still kept quiet when Jason and Luke ended up signing up for it too. They weren’t the right people for the job. Maybe Luke was, but the other two? They probably just wanted to fuck shit up, upset teachers, pick on kids. Not that they were mean guys, because they really weren’t, but they weren’t exactly the most serious or responsible people.

 

“You too, Grizz?” Luke asked.

 

“I don’t think so,” Grizz said as he scanned the other sheets.

 

“You gonna sign up for anything?” Jason spoke this time.

 

“Yeah, just gonna check them all out first. I’ll meet you guys on the field,” Grizz waved them off.

 

“Don’t be late. Coach’ll bench you,” Clark said, whacking his hand a little too hard on Grizz’s shoulder, and Grizz just nodded dismissively.

 

“No he won’t,” Grizz murmured to himself once the others were out of ear shot. Grizz wasn’t conceited, but he also knew he was probably the best player on the team, other than Luke who was quarterback. Grizz had gotten up to a lot of shit over the years and barely received a scrap of punishment for it.

 

Back to the task at hand. His gaze travelled over each of the clubs, some new, some ancient. When his eyes fell on a certain bright green sheet of paper with barely any names on it, he knew he had to sign his name. Environmental committee. Grizz wasn’t able to sign up last semester. He was too busy with college applications, but he was so passionate about the environment that he couldn’t skip past it again.

 

Grizz was a sucker for nature, for gardening, for getting into pointless arguments about climate change with his peers and yelling at dickheads who threw trash out their car windows. He was also in love with the purity of being outdoors and not having any distractions like phones or television. Sometimes he sounded like such a grandpa when he said those sorts of things to his friends, but he didn’t care what they thought.

 

Grizz took his favorite pen from behind the back of his ear. He often forgot he kept it there after class. He scribbled his name down. Gareth Visser. Not many people even knew his real name. He had been going by Grizz ever since the third grade.

 

He ran his hand through his getting-too-long hair and gnawed on his bottom lip as he skimmed over the rest of the clubs. Dance? Grizz would love to sign up to dance but the last time he showed an interest in dance, his mom put him in peewee football, which he guessed wasn’t so bad anymore since he was pretty sure it would get him a scholarship.

 

Poetry? That, Grizz could do. If there was anything that Grizz loved, it was poetry, and reading. Basically, anything that involved books. He signed up. He was so excited at the prospect of learning more about something he loved that he didn’t even notice the boy standing next to him until he spoke.

 

“Can I borrow your pen?” the all too familiar voice asked.

 

Act cool, act cool, act cool, Grizz chanted over and over in his head. He swallowed hard then turned to Sam. He opened his mouth to speak and when nothing came out, he signed the word ‘yes’. Thank God he knew at least that.

 

‘Thank you,’ Sam signed back, and that was pretty much the only other sign language he knew, other than ‘bullshit’, but somehow even with Grizz’s mind turned to mush with the boy next to him, he knew it wasn’t the time to use that sign.

 

Sam’s fingers brushed over Grizz’s as he took the pen, and Grizz was fine. Absolutely fine. He most definitely was not trying to remember how to physically form words because the air in his lungs was stuck in his throat and trying to choke him. He watched on as Sam signed up for the LGBT club. Sam’s name was the only one there, and it killed Grizz.

 

“What did you sign up for?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz still couldn’t speak, so he just pointed at the sheet of paper.

 

“Environmental committee, huh?” Sam pondered the choice and Grizz didn’t know whether he should have felt embarrassed about it or not. He decided to just nod like an idiot.

 

Sam quirked an eyebrow and tilted his head to the side, examining Grizz with so much curiosity, and Grizz wanted to die. 

 

“You know I’m deaf but I can read lips really well,” Sam pointed out.

 

Grizz was tripping, stumbling, collapsing all over his jumbled thoughts before his voice decided to start up again.

 

“T-trees are good,” Grizz stammered. Fuck! Trees are good? Was he high? Grizz wanted to crawl in a hole. Pull yourself together you idiot. “Uh, uhm…I mean, it’s always good to look after the environment. You should sign up.”

 

“You want me to?” Sam asked, tilting his head to the other side like puppies do when they’re trying to figure something out. Grizz wondered if he was being totally transparent with his crush on the other boy.

 

“Yes?” Grizz answered, and well, if he wasn’t being transparent then, he totally was now.

 

Sam nodded slowly, and without even arguing or thinking about it, he scribbled his name down right there under Grizz’s. Sam looked up at Grizz with a smile before giving the pen back, then without a word he walked off. Grizz watched him as he joined Becca and they started signing to each other, and that was the moment Grizz decided he was going to learn sign language.

 

---

 

A couple of days later Grizz found himself running down the hall after third period, chasing down a short girl with long, dark, wavy hair that went all the way down her back.  “Becca! Hey, Becca!” he squawked out, earning himself a lot of strange glances, but he didn’t care.

 

He caught up to her and she looked at him a little oddly before speaking, “Hey Grizz, what do you want?”

 

“Hi to you too, hey listen, I need a favor,” Grizz breathed in deeply, trying to catch his breath. He chased her all the way up a set of stairs and down a hallway, and he didn’t mean to seem desperate but it was a rare occasion when Sam wasn’t by her side and he needed to talk to her alone.

 

“Please?” Grizz remembered to add at the last second, because well, he didn’t want to seem rude, right?

 

“Depends what it is and what you’ll give me for doing it,” Becca said.

 

“Uh, well…what it is, is I uhm…I need someone to teach me sign language and you’re like the best at it,” he said, and he knew he should’ve probably thought through how to ask her that before he did it.

 

“Sam’s the best, actually,” Becca said.

 

“Yeah, but I’m asking you,” Grizz said with a smile that he used on all the girls he’d try to pick up at parties when he was desperately trying to be straight. He knew he could be a pretty convincing flirt when he wanted to be. Becca cross her arms over her chest and eyed Grizz quizzically.

 

“Why the sudden interest in learning ASL?” she asked him.

 

“I have a deaf cousin coming to stay with me and my parents and I’d like to be able to talk to them,” Grizz said quickly and that was actually an excuse it took him almost an entire day to come up with.

 

“What’s in it for me then?” Becca asked. She was definitely one to get to the point.

 

“Uh…I’ll…” Grizz shrugged and thought something up on the spot, “I’ll do your English homework for the rest of the year.”

 

“Jesus, Grizz, are you serious?”

 

“I like English. It’ll be easy. Come on, Becca, please?” Grizz was about to get down on his hands and knees. Sure, he could’ve just watched some YouTube tutorials, but he learnt better in person.

 

“All right, all right. Fine. After school today,” she said.

 

“Today? But I have football pr-”

 

“Today or nothing. I’ll text you my address,” Becca said and waved him off dismissively before walking around him.

 

Grizz watched her go before formulating an excuse to skip practice. He was about to come down with a severe case of food poisoning.

 

---

 

Grizz sat across from Becca at her dining room table. They had been at it for almost two hours and Grizz was more focused than he had ever been in his life. It was funny because he could barely get up the courage to speak to Sam and yet there he was learning how to speak to Sam.

 

“So, I think most of what you just learnt will get you through daily life, but you’ll probably have to download an app to practice or we can have more lessons?” Becca suggested.

 

“More lessons would be great, actually. If you don’t mind,” Grizz said. He definitely needed more because he felt like he was catching on quick, but this was an entire other language and two hours wasn’t going to teach him everything.

 

“I might have to make you do my biology homework too,” Becca teased with a smile.

 

“I wouldn’t mind,” Grizz shrugged.

 

“Course you wouldn’t, you nerd,” Becca laughed then changed the topic, “anyway, was there anything, like, specific that you want to know how to sign?”

 

Grizz chewed on his bottom lip as he thought about, and there was more he wanted to know. Becca had spent the past two hours teaching him how to hold a basic conversation, but Grizz wanted to talk to Sam and he didn’t want to bore him with ‘the basics.’

 

“I don’t know, uhm…like…what’s some nice stuff?” Grizz asked, unsure.

 

“Nice stuff?” Becca said and Grizz was sure she was mocking him, but he was determined to get an answer out of her so he ignored her tone.

 

“Yeah, I don’t know. Like…how do you tell someone you like them? Or…or say you’re on a date with someone. How would you sign to them?” he crossed his arms over his chest, suddenly feeling like a thirteen-year-old talking to their best friend about their crush.

 

“Do you plan on dating that deaf cousin of yours?” Becca joked, and Grizz knew it was a joke but he still panicked.

 

“No! No, no, I-I mean, like…one day, you know? I, like, I might meet a cute deaf girl and then what?” Grizz rambled. Fuck, she wasn’t buying this at all.

 

“You know,” Becca leant forward, voice lowering even though nobody was around, “I’ve only been doing this whole sign language thing or a little while. You’d probably be better off to learn from the best.”

 

“Uh?” Grizz hummed like an idiot. He knew where Becca was going with this.

 

“You should ask Sam,” she said.

 

“Oh, no n-”

 

“It’s fine, I’ll ask him,” Becca nodded quickly and went to get her phone out of her pocket.

 

“No, wait!” Grizz practically leapt over the table and latched onto Becca’s hands, stopping her from ending Grizz’s life. Alright, maybe he was being dramatic. When Becca stared at him with raised eyebrows, he slowly withdrew himself, but kept his eyes on her phone so she didn’t go texting Sam.

 

“Grizz,” Becca sighed, tilting her head to the side, “there is no cousin, is there?”

 

Grizz was panicking, although no-one would know that from looking at him. Grizz had a way of internalizing his feelings so he looked cool, calm and collected on the outside, but on the inside his heart was slamming against his ribcage. Becca was just looking at him and Grizz knew. He just knew that Becca knew.

 

It wasn’t even Becca clueing in that Grizz might just like Sam that made him panic. It was more that Sam could find out that he had this giant, massive, spec-fucking-tacular crush on him and it wasn’t okay because he was still in high school and this wasn’t the plan. He wasn’t supposed to actually like someone until he could do something about. This wasn’t supposed to happen until college.

 

“Don’t,” Grizz gulped, looking away from her, “don’t tell him.”

 

“I won’t,” her voice was softer now, no bossiness or teasing in it like she usually went for.

 

Grizz couldn’t even meet her eyes. He just looked down at his fingernails as he spoke. “Does he ever talk about me?”

 

“He thinks all the guys on the team are idiots,” Becca laughed, and Grizz’s heart dropped, and apparently so did his face because Becca was quick to speak again, “except everyone knows you’re the smartest guy in school. I’m sure Sam knows that too. He’s just not into the whole ‘hey bro, chest bump’ thing or whatever you guys do.”

 

“Neither am I,” Grizz murmured.

 

Grizz wasn’t looking at Becca so it took him a moment to realize her hands were moving, so when he looked up, he only caught the end of what she was trying to sign to him.

 

“What’d you say?” he asked quickly.

 

“That means,” she answered as she slowly signed what she was saying, “can you teach me sign language?”

 

“Oh, okay, right, okay, slower this time,” Grizz said and stared at her hands intently.

 

“All right, but, by the way, you’re asking Sam to teach you,” Becca said.

 

Grizz didn’t argue with that. He would probably chicken out and not ask at all, but the thought of having private ASL tutoring lessons with Sam? That would be okay with Grizz. If only he had the guts to ask.

 

---

 

Grizz got home late that night since Becca’s parents came home during their ASL lesson and insisted Grizz stay for dinner. He was sure they thought he and Becca were dating, and Grizz was fine to let them think that for the night.

 

He spent the entire walk home trying to figure out how he felt about Becca knowing he liked Sam. Technically, she was the first person who knew he was gay, and he outed himself on complete accident. He wasn’t very careful, and he was always careful. He felt like an idiot now. At the same time though, Becca was a really nice girl. He felt like he could trust her with this. She did swear not to tell Sam anything about this after all. He even made her pinky swear, and that’s some pretty serious shit right there.

 

Grizz slid his shoes off at the front door when he entered his house. His family wasn’t typically a ‘spend time with each other after work or school’ type of family, but his parents did expect him to at least greet them when he got home, so he went into the living room where they always were at this time; watching TV.

 

His mom was the only one to look up when he walked in. Her hair was as dark as his; the only feature he had inherited from her. Other than that, he was practically a clone of his dad and he hated it sometimes, especially around Christmas time when he’d have to endure seeing extended family and they’d always go on about how he was just like his father. He didn’t want to be like his father though. His father was cold, and Grizz was warm. His father was a bigot, and Grizz was progressive. His father thought gay men were disgusting, and Grizz? Grizz just spent his afternoon learning sign language so he could flirt with a boy.

 

“Where have you been?” his mother asked.

 

“At a friend’s house,” Grizz replied in a monotone.

 

“Name?” she was getting right to the point, being blunt, and Grizz felt like something was up.

 

“Becca. We were studying,” Grizz said.

 

“Oh, that’s good. I was concerned you already started your extra-curriculars,” his mom said.

 

“Why’s that concerning?” Grizz asked, ready to just leave.

 

“I got an email this afternoon from the senior coordinator, you know, just informing parents about which clubs their kids have signed up for. Environmental committee and poetry club?” Her tone was less than impressed and Grizz wanted to tear his hair out. He knew the school sent those emails but he thought, no, he hoped his mom would just leave him be.

 

“Kid like you should be focusing on football to get a scholarship. I don’t want to have to fork out for your tuition because you were busy rhyming,” his dad finally felt like joining the conversation and Grizz wished he had stayed quiet.

 

“I get straight A’s. I’ve got the best grades in my school, practically in the state. I could get a scholarship on that alone,” Grizz argued.

 

“Either way, I ain’t paying for your mistakes,” his dad grumbled and got off the couch. He left the room, probably going to search for his fifth beer of the night.

 

“Why poetry?” his mom asked in a softer tone once the two of them were alone.

 

“At least it’s not dance, right? Or theatre,” Grizz spoke bitterly.

 

His mom pursed her lips before going on, “I sent an email back to Mr. Johnston telling him to take you off the poetry club.”

 

“What?!” Grizz shouted, “you can’t just do that!”

 

“I told them you have too much to focus on with your grades and football,” her tone, still calm and soft, was pissing Grizz off. Didn’t she see how controlling she was being? Grizz was eighteen for fuck’s sake. How could his parents still have control over what he did in school?

 

“Bullshit.”

 

“I’ve kept you in the environmental committee though,” she chirped happily, “Some labor might do you good.”

 

“It’s fucking gardening, mom. Maybe I’ll wear a bright pink floral hat while I’m at it,” Grizz snapped.

 

Grizz could see the worry in his mom’s eyes and for a moment he let his anger slip and instead guilt set in. He knew his mom cared about what was best for him, but what she thought was best for him wasn’t the same as what Grizz thought was best for himself. She always went about these things so terribly. Grizz knew that deep, deep down, his mom knew he was gay, and he didn’t understand why it was such a big deal for her to try and stop it from happening. All Grizz knew was that he had to stay in the closet because he didn’t want to know what it would feel like to see that look of concern in his mother’s eyes turn to tears.

 

“Sorry,” Grizz sighed, “I’m just gonna head to bed.”

 

“You’re not hungry?” his mom asked.

 

“No, I ate at Becca’s. I’ll see you for breakfast,” Grizz said, then gave her a small, reassuring smile, because he honestly hated fighting with her, and then he headed upstairs.

 

Grizz showered, brushed his teeth, changed quickly and flopped down on his bed with a heavy sigh. He wanted to bury his face in his pillow and scream. He wanted to cry and let go of all the emotions swimming through his head. He wanted to climb out his window and float away to somewhere where he didn’t feel like he was confined to a box or being shaped like a piece of clay into what everyone else thought he should be.

 

Instead of doing any of those things, he lay there in the dark and practiced what he could remember of the phrases Becca had taught him.

Chapter Text

“Hey Grizzly bear,” Gwen spoke as she flopped down next to Grizz on the beanbag chair in a corner of the library. Her body squished against his, but Grizz didn’t mind. He liked affection.

 

“Lady Gwendolyn,” Grizz greeted, “what are you doing here? Don’t you have math?”

 

“Skipping it. What are ya readin’?” she asked and snatched the book from him. She took one look at the cover and Grizz knew she had no interest at all in literature so she probably didn’t even look at who the author was before thrusting the book back in Grizz’s hands.

 

“You made me lose my page,” Grizz mumbled.

 

“Boohoo. You’re such a nerd,” Gwen said playfully before resting her hand on Grizz’s thigh. Grizz wasn’t really sure what to think of that. They had always been kind of close friends but ever since Gwen and Clark broke up, Grizz noticed Gwen being more affectionate with him. He decided to let it slide and only deal with it if it became more of a thing.

 

“Are you just here to annoy me?” Grizz asked and went on without getting an answer, “does skipping have anything to do with Clark being in your math class or?”

 

“Maybe,” Gwen shrugged, “I don’t know. Break-ups are hard. You’re lucky you’ve never been in a relationship.”

 

“Yeah, lucky,” Grizz spoke under his breath.

 

Gwen rested her head on Grizz shoulder and sighed, “why haven’t you been in a relationship anyway? Do you have any idea how the girls at this school see you? You’d have a line a mile long.”

 

“Just trying to focus on school. Wouldn’t have a clue how to get a b-, uh,” Grizz coughed, “girlfriend, anyway.”

 

“It’s easy.”

 

“Oh yeah? How did you ask Clark out?” Grizz asked.

 

“I didn’t. He asked me out.”

 

“Right, so, how many guys have you asked out?” Grizz knew he had her there. Clark had been Gwen’s only boyfriend.

 

“Okay fine, you’re right. Maybe it’s not that easy,” Gwen gave up.

 

“What would you do though? Like, how would you ask a guy out?” Grizz asked, and in the back of his mind was Sam. Grizz didn’t think he would ever have the courage to even ask Sam to teach him sign language, let alone ask him on a date. The thought was ridiculous.

 

“Hmm, I wouldn’t. I’d just go up and kiss them. That’d get my point across,” she said.

 

“You can’t just go and kiss someone,” Grizz was a little frustrated because this was not the helpful advice he needed. He couldn’t exactly go and kiss Sam out of nowhere, as much as he wanted to.

 

“Sure I can. Watch,” Gwen said, and then before Grizz knew it, Gwen was kissing him.

 

He hadn’t even clued in that this was where the conversation was heading. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t want to hurt her feelings, because after this he was sure Gwen felt some kind of way about him. She wasn’t just proving a point. Grizz knew that the second her hand slid higher up his thigh. Fuck. He didn’t want to tell her he was gay either. And then there was the issue of Clark. Clark! Perfect!

 

Grizz pushed her back gently and shook his head, “Clark’s one of my best friends.”

 

“So?” she asked and leant in again, but Grizz turned his head.

 

“Gwen…”

 

Suddenly Gwen giggled and slapped Grizz’s chest lightly, “I’m just messing with you. I was just proving a point. Anyway, I should probably at least make an appearance in math. I am failing after all.”

 

Gwen stood up so quick that Grizz fell to the side. On instinct, he quickly reached out and grabbed her hand before she could get too far. Gwen looked down at him and he studied her face, praying that she wasn’t upset because he hated when his friends were upset, especially at him.

 

“Are we good?” Grizz asked.

 

“Of course we are. I’ll see you at lunch, okay?” she said, shaking her hand free of Grizz’s. She didn’t wait for a reply before she left.

 

Grizz groaned and covered his face with his hands. He could even count how many times this happened. He always had a lot of girls throwing themselves at him, probably because he was one of the only single guys on the football team. Usually Grizz could deflect, talk his way out of anything. He would tell girls that he was dating a girl from another school. He’d tell them he was focusing on school, which wasn’t a total lie. Occasionally, if he was drunk enough, he’d sleep with them just so people wouldn’t get suspicious of his sexuality. This had never happened with one of his friends though.

 

“Fuck,” Grizz muttered to himself. If Clark found out about this, he was so screwed.

 

At that moment, Grizz’s phone vibrated in his pocket. His heart leapt into his throat because there was no way Clark could’ve found out already, right? He sighed in relief when he saw the name on the screen. It was only Becca.

 

WHEN WILL YOU ASK SAM FOR LESSONS!!! – Becca

 

Grizz rolled his eyes. Becca had been periodically asking this same question for the past week, and for the past week Grizz had been thoroughly ignoring her, and why? Because he was a chicken. He was too scared to ask Sam for lessons because he was too scared that someone everyone would find out he’s gay. Grizz wanted to stick to his plan of coming out in college, so he was trying his damn best to forget about his crush on Sam. It was easier said than done.

 

I’m not – Grizz.

 

WHY NOT?!?!? – Becca.

 

Because! – Grizz.

 

I’M BRINGING SAM TO FOOTBALL PRACTICE. – Becca.

 

DON’T!! – Grizz.

 

I’m gonna tell him we’re checkin out hot guys on the team. Not a lie!! Maybe I’ll point out Clark to him cuz I heard he’s newly single. Maybe he swings both ways? – Becca.

 

Stop. – Grizz.

 

After Becca sent him a string of the girl shrugging emoji, Grizz gave up. She was an absolute nuisance. At least he could be thankful that she hadn’t told anyone he’s gay. Then again, she could’ve told Sam and just told him to keep it a secret. The thought had Grizz’s heart racing and suddenly he wanted to puke. Crushes were fucking hard.

 

---

 

It was football practice and Becca made good of her promise to bring Sam along. They weren’t the only ones watching, but they were sitting off to the side, mostly talking to each other and it looked like doing homework. Grizz noticed this because he spent more time paying attention to Sam than actually playing football.

 

“Are you kidding me, Visser? How could you not catch that?!” Coach yelled at him.

 

“Sorry coach,” was all Grizz said.

 

Clark, Jason and Luke kept giving him funny looks. He hadn’t played this bad in his entire life. It was a good thing it was just practice and not an actual game. Grizz let himself glance over at Sam one more time before swearing that he would stop being so obsessive. He wondered if he was even a blip on Sam’s radar. He probably didn’t even stand a chance. All Grizz wanted was to get to know the boy, and for the boy to know him back. Grizz felt that maybe, just maybe if Sam knew the real him that no one else knew that maybe he’d like him too.

 

Fuck. Grizz wasn’t supposed to be feeling like this. He wasn’t supposed to indulge in these thoughts. He was so torn between his head and his heart and he just wanted to scream. He felt sick, and the most annoying part was that he couldn’t even pin-point the reason why he liked Sam. He barely spoke to him. He didn’t know him, and yet there Grizz was, obsessing. Perhaps it wasn’t healthy. Maybe Grizz needed help.

 

“I expect better next time, Visser,” Coach snapped at Grizz.

 

Wait, that was it? Practice was over? Well, the rest of the team was walking off the field, but Clark, Luke and Jason were still standing with him, because after practice they always hung out for a little while longer, just talking and throwing the ball around.

 

“Five laps around the field and maybe that’ll teach you,” Coach barked.

 

“Wait, seriously?” Grizz argued.

 

“Go, before I make it ten! And Luke, you watch him. He stops early and you tell me, alright?” Coach asked the captain of the team.

 

“Yes, sir,” Luke said with a smirk. Jerk.

 

Grizz watched as their evil coach left the field, then he looked back at Luke who was just watching him expectantly.

 

“Oh come on, you’re really gonna make me do it?” Grizz asked.

 

“At least do three. He’ll know if you don’t,” Luke shrugged. Grizz rolled his eyes and gave in. He could use a good run actually. Maybe it’d get his mind off of Sam.

 

He was wrong. The moment he started running, all he could think about was how Sam was still on the bleachers. Was Sam watching him? What did Sam think of him? Did he look hot running? Did anyone look hot running? Did Sam even notice him at all? It was even worse when Grizz ran by Sam and Becca, and Becca let out a wolf whistle, and Grizz wanted to kill her.

 

Grizz did his three laps and when he got back to his friends, he was sweating and panting, looking like an absolute mess for sure. He pulled off his now drenched in sweat t-shirt and pulled the top half of his air into a bun. His hair was only just long enough to get some of it back. Grizz collapsed on the ground, breathing heavily. He hated their coach sometimes.

 

“Show off,” Clark spoke, and it took Grizz a moment to realize the comment was directed at himself.

 

“Hm?” Grizz questioned, then Clark nodded over at the bleachers where Sam and Becca were. Right. Crush on Becca.

 

“Fuck off, Clark,” Grizz snapped. He was not in the mood.

 

“Wait, you really have the hots for Becca?” Jason asked.

 

“No, I don’t,” Grizz’s breathing evened out but he still wanted to huff and puff in annoyance.

 

“Sam then?” Jason chuckled like an absolute oaf.

 

“No!” Grizz snapped with a glare, “yes, alright? Fine. You got me. It’s Becca. Fuck you guys are annoying.”

 

Grizz didn’t really know why he did that. He was just digging himself a hole, really.

 

“Okay Grizz, buddy. Time for the world’s best wing-man to step into action,” Clark said.

 

“What are you talking about?” Grizz sighed.

 

“Go long,” Clark said, holding the football and nodding towards the bleachers.

 

“Don’t be an idiot,” Grizz said.

 

“Trust me, this works every time,” Clark winked.

 

“I assure you, it doesn’t. Seriously dude, just fucking drop it,” Grizz sat up, and then he was on his feet. He really wasn’t in the mood for this. His feelings were confusing him enough as it was and he didn’t need his friends interfering, even if they didn’t exactly know what they were interfering with.

 

“Nope, too late,” Clark said, and then he threw the ball. Grizz watched as it flew right into the stands and landed with a crash between Becca and Sam, knocking their homework to the ground.

 

“You’re such a fucking tool,” Grizz seethed at Clark. He seriously didn’t know when enough was enough.

 

“Okay guys, just calm down. I’ll go get the stupid ball,” Luke said.

 

“No wait,” Grizz stopped him, “I’ll go.” Because honestly, it was a chance to talk to Sam, right?

 

“That’s my boy,” Clark said proudly with his award-winning grin.

 

“Shut the fuck up, dickface,” Grizz said through gritted teeth.

 

Grizz didn’t look back as he headed over to Sam and Becca. His heart picked up with every step he took. Sam had the ball. He didn’t look mad. That was a plus, right? Grizz looked at Becca. She just sat back with a cheeky grin on her face. It wasn’t until Grizz got right up to them did he realize he wasn’t wearing his damn shirt.

 

Sam tossed the ball to Grizz and it almost hit him in the face because the ball was the last thing he was paying attention to. His gaze fell onto Sam’s bright blue eyes.

 

‘Sorry,’ Grizz signed. Thank God for learning the basics.

 

“Don’t worry about it,” Sam spoke while he signed, and Grizz followed the movements of his hands because the way Sam communicated was so captivating to Grizz, and it wasn’t even because it was sign language. No, it was because it was how Sam talked. It was just Sam. And fuck, Sam’s hands. How could Grizz be attracted to hands?

 

Grizz glanced at Becca because honestly? She was being fucking distracting. She kept trying to subtly nod at Grizz and sign to him without Sam noticing. She wanted him to ask Sam. Grizz swallowed hard. Alright, maybe he could do this. He wasn’t asking him to be his boyfriend or anything. It was just sign language lessons. Completely innocent and not suspicious at all.

 

“Oh uhm…Sam,” Grizz spoke and looked at the boy to make sure he was watching him. “I, uh, I was wondering if…”

 

Grizz looked down at his own hands and slowly signed the phrase Becca had taught him. ‘Can you teach me how to sign?’ He added a ‘please’ for good measure. When Grizz looked back up and saw Sam had his head tilted to the side with his eyebrows furrowed in concentration, Grizz felt like an idiot and just wanted to take it all back.

 

“It’s cool if you don’t have time or whatever. I’m sure there’s an app or a book I can get,” Grizz spoke quickly.

 

“Slow down,” Sam said as he stared at Grizz’s lips, “I can teach you. But why? You going deaf?”

 

Sam was teasing him. Sam was fucking teasing him. Grizz’s heart swelled to ten times it’s size.

 

“No, I’m not,” Grizz held back a smile, “I just um…” want to talk to you in your language. Want to get to know you. Want to spend time with you. Want to grab your face and kiss you until neither of us have enough oxygen in our lungs. None of that came out of Grizz’s mouth though. “My cousin is deaf and he’s coming to town so I just want to learn.”

 

Becca rolled her eyes before shooting Grizz a glare. It was a look that Grizz returned to her, hoping Sam wouldn’t notice.

 

“Oh, okay,” Sam nodded.

 

“Okay?”

 

“Yeah, okay. I’ll teach you,” Sam smiled.

 

“Wow, really?” Grizz couldn’t believe it, “okay, okay cool, uh, when are you free?”

 

“Well…what afternoon don’t you have football practice or clubs?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz thought about it then swore under his breath before shaking his head.

 

“What about Sunday? Or…no? That’s dumb. You’re probably busy,” Grizz said.

 

“Sunday is fine. Where do you wanna meet. Yours?” Sam asked.

 

“No!” Grizz said a little too quickly. Taking the gay boy he had a crush on to his house while his homophobic parents were there? No way in hell. “Uh, how about your place? If that’s cool?”

 

“Sure, mine,” Sam nodded.

 

“Great! It’s a date,” Grizz said and then his eyes went wide and his chest filled with dread when he realized what he said, “uh I mean, not a date. I mean, it’s a date in the calendar technically, but uh, that’s, uh…”

 

Becca snickered next to Sam and Grizz realized he couldn’t dig himself out of this one. He just hoped Sam hadn’t caught on to his real intentions. And what the fuck were his real intentions? His plan wasn’t to date! That was meant for college. And yet, there he was, trying to spend time with Sam.

 

“I gotta go. Get my number off Becca and text me a time and your address, okay?” Grizz asked, because he was dying and couldn’t hang around to make more of an idiot of himself.

 

“Sure, Grizz,” Sam spoke, and Grizz just gave him a small smile

 

Grizz went back over to his friends and in true them fashion, they teased him, but congratulated him on talking to Becca. They slapped him on the back and ruffled his hair, but Grizz couldn’t even care enough to get upset over it, because on Sunday he was going to hang out with Sam, at his house, maybe even in his room, and Grizz couldn’t wipe the smile from his face.

 

---

 

Sunday couldn’t come fast enough. Grizz was absolutely buzzing. A mixture of nerves and excitement swirled around in his stomach and twice on the way over he thought he was going to throw up. He couldn’t back out now. He already sent Sam a text saying he was on his way.

 

Grizz stood on the front porch step, trying to calm his nerves. He wondered if this was how everyone else acted when they were going on a first date with someone they actually liked. Then again, this wasn’t a date. This was just a lesson. The nerve-riddled boy went to knock on the door but thought better of it. There were no cars in the driveway so Sam’s parents probably weren’t home and Sam couldn’t exactly hear a knock on the door. Instead, Grizz took his phone out and sent a quick text saying he was out front.

 

The seconds felt like hours but sure enough, Sam eventually swung the door open. Grizz’s breath caught in his throat, because Sam looked so much more casual just standing there in front of him than when they were at school, if possible. He was barefoot and wearing sweats and a hoodie. He looked so soft that Grizz wanted to cuddle him so badly. He had to tell himself not to.

 

“Hi,” Grizz let out the breath he was holding.

 

“Hey,” Sam smiled, and Grizz died. “Come on. Come in.”

 

Act cool, Grizz told himself. And with that, he took another deep breath and followed Sam into the house. He took his shoes off at the front door and left them neatly beside the other few pairs there as Sam had just told him too, and then he followed Sam, staring at his auburn hair as they walked down a hallway towards a set of stairs.

 

“Hey!” a familiar voice called out.

 

Grizz froze, and upon noticing Grizz had stopped walking, Sam stopped too and looked at him with his usual questioning tilt of his head. Grizz turned to the room where the voice came from and sitting there on the couch was Sam’s brother, Campbell. Grizz felt a little stupid because he didn’t even consider that Campbell would be there. The brothers were so different that sometimes everyone forgot that they were just that; brothers.

 

“Hey Campbell,” Grizz said, a little less happy now.

 

Campbell had his arm slung over a girl’s shoulder. Grizz knew her from school. Her name was Elle. They had English class together and tended to pair up whenever they needed to pick partners because Grizz loved English class and needed to pair himself with someone that wasn’t a complete moron. Grizz liked Elle. He didn’t even know she was dating Campbell. Now that Grizz thought about it, Campbell and Elle both hung out with Harry and the rest of the rich kid group. Elle had never talked to Grizz about Campbell before though.

 

“Hey Elle,” Grizz smiled at her.

 

She opened her mouth to speak but Campbell beat her to it, “Grizz, what the fuck’s up, dude?”

 

“Not a lot. We’re just working on a project,” Grizz said, and he hoped Sam didn’t question him on the white lie. He just didn’t want Campbell to know the truth. Grizz had always gotten such a weird vibe from Campbell. It was like the atmosphere always darkened whenever he was in the room. Elle seemed smart and sweet. Grizz didn’t get why she’d go for a guy like that.

 

“You guys are dating?” Grizz asked before he could stop himself.

 

“Three months now, isn’t that right, baby?” Campbell flashed a toothy grin.

 

Elle looked down at her fingernails and squirmed next to Campbell. She nodded though and gave a small smile. Maybe Grizz was looking into this too much. Just because he got bad vibes from the guy, didn’t mean he was bad. Grizz didn’t really know the guy that well. They were just acquaintances that went to all the same parties. It was just one incident that made up Grizz’s mind about him.

 

Grizz remembered the time in sophomore year at one of Harry’s famous parties where Campbell tried to drown a stray cat in Harry’s pool in the middle of winter. Everyone thought Campbell was just drunk and the cat lived, so they thought nothing of it, but Grizz was the one that fished the struggling cat out of the pool and took it inside. Grizz was the one who wrapped the cat in a towel and blanket before sitting by the fire for the rest of the night until he was sure it was okay. Grizz was the one who took the cat home because he became attached to it and didn’t want another person like Campbell to hurt it again. Grizz was also the one who ended up giving the cat to Gwen because his parents wouldn’t let him have a pet.

 

Grizz tried not to hate people, but that night he hated Campbell, and he still didn’t trust him. Grizz was so zoned out that he didn’t realize Campbell asked him something until everyone went quiet.

 

“What?” Grizz asked.

 

“I said,” Campbell repeated, “you drew the short straw being paired with the gay deaf kid, right?”

 

“No,” Grizz shook his head. There was no room for argument. Grizz had never said the word ‘no’ with such conviction in his entire life. Campbell just smirked at him.

 

Sensing that Sam was uncomfortable next to him, Grizz didn’t let the conversation continue. Instead, he took Sam by the wrist and tugged him away from the scene. Grizz lead the quiet boy up the stairs because, well, he didn’t really know where else they could go where Campbell wouldn’t bother them.

 

“Uh, which one’s your room?” Grizz asked, but when he looked at Sam, Sam was looking down at the ground like a wounded puppy, and Grizz just couldn’t have that. Without thinking too much, he brought his fingers to Sam’s chin and made him look up. Sam’s eyes fell to Grizz’s lips, and it took a moment for Grizz to realize that was because he needed to see what he was saying.

 

“Uhm, s-sorry,” Grizz dropped his hand, “I asked which one is your room?”

 

Sam didn’t speak. He just nodded for Grizz to follow him, so he did. The two boys headed to the end of the hallway and went through the last door. When it shut behind them, Grizz felt himself relax just a little. Only a fraction. He still had nerves bubbling up inside him.

 

“Well, this is my room,” Sam spoke.

 

Grizz nodded and looked around in wonder. There was nothing particularly special about the room. It was average, maybe a little small. Neat, but not too neat. There were still a lot of signs of a teenager living there, like the pile of clothes at the floor by the door, and the five empty glasses on the desk in the far corner by the window. His bed looked like a queen size and Grizz had to quickly push away his teenage hormones because, well, Sam’s bed.

 

Grizz turned back to Sam and made sure he was looking at him before speaking again, “Sorry. I didn’t mean to just assume we’d come in here.”

 

“Here is fine. Better than where my brother can bother us,” Sam shrugged.

 

“Is he always like that?” Grizz asked.

 

Sam didn’t say anything, and Grizz didn’t want to push it or make him any more upset. Grizz just went back to looking around Sam’s room and probably being a little nosy, but he was so starved for information about Sam that he wanted to soak up everything.

 

Grizz took note of the collage of photographs pinned to a corkboard. Most of them were of Sam and Becca. It was cute, but Grizz felt a little sad because he wanted to be in those pictures with Sam. It was thoughts like those that made Grizz feel like his crush was getting a little out of hand. After all, he still didn’t really know Sam.

 

Grizz’s eyes landed on the bookshelf and he went straight over, taking note of everything there. Sam liked romance novels, it seemed. Grizz was more into the philosophical stuff that really made him think about life, but romance novels were alright too. At least Sam picked good authors. There was one questionable book there though. Grizz picked it out and showed it to Sam.

 

“Fifty shades?” he asked.

 

“It’s not what you think. It’s Becca’s,” Sam laughed.

 

“Sure it is,” Grizz grinned and put the book back.

 

“I swear it is,” Sam said.

 

Grizz just nodded, keeping his back turned to Sam, because Grizz was blushing. His cheeks were on fire just at the thought of Sam reading a book like that. Grizz really had to keep it together and think of something else. He distracted himself by looking at the movie posters on the wall. Sam was into superheroes. Grizz noted that down on his mental list of ‘things I now know about Sam’.

 

Turning back to Sam, Grizz noticed him sitting on the bed, cross legged. He wondered if he was supposed to sit down too, and as if he read Grizz’s mind, Sam tapped the mattress in front of him. Without a word, Grizz went and sat in front of Sam, crossed-legged as well, and waited for Sam to do or say something.

 

“So first of all, I know I talk funny so if you can’t understand something just tell me,” Sam said.

 

“Oh, no, no. You sound fine,” Grizz argued. Fine was an understatement because Sam’s voice was the best thing Grizz had ever heard.  

 

“I don’t,” Sam shook his head.

 

“How would you know? You can’t hear,” Grizz said and he meant it as a joke, but for a split second his heart stopped because fuck. That wasn’t fucking funny.

 

And then Sam laughed. His head flung back and he laughed like Grizz was the funniest person alive. Grizz smiled back at him. He needed to see that laugh again and again. Feeling a bit more relaxed now, Grizz decided to get to the lesson.

 

“Anyway, how are we gonna do this?” Grizz asked.

 

“Well, what exactly do you want to know?” Sam questioned as he leaned forward a little.

 

“Uh, I don’t know. Maybe start with the basics like, hi, how are you, I’m great, thanks for asking,” Grizz said, even though Becca already taught him all of that. But, if they started from square one then they’d have to spend more time together learning, right? Sam smiled and nodded before shuffling a little closer so their knees were almost touching. Almost.

 

For the next little while, Sam taught Grizz the basics of sign language. They went through the alphabet. Grizz learnt how to sign Sam’s name, and Grizz watched in curiosity as Sam signed Grizz’s name. After that they went on to greetings, asking how people were, how to answer that. Sam taught him helpful phrases. Funny phrases. He even taught him a couple of swear words just for fun.

 

They pretty much covered everything Becca taught Grizz, only this time Grizz felt like he was soaking everything up quicker. Why? Because Sam was so freaking captivating. Grizz couldn’t take his eyes off him and was hanging off every word. After a while though, they got distracted and ended up just talking, not even about anything in particular. Just school, their friends, a movie Sam had a poster of in his room, books, their hobbies.

 

They talked about their families, even though Grizz let Sam take control of that topic because Grizz didn’t want to ruin the high he was feeling by bringing up his parents. Sam didn’t speak of Campbell. He just told Grizz of how loving and supportive his parents were and instead of feeling jealous, Grizz was happy for him.

 

Grizz found out so many things. Sam liked superhero and action movies. He liked comic books. He was a sucker for romance novels. He loved animals even though his family had never owned a pet before. He liked camping, which interested Grizz so damn much because he himself fucking loved camping and all he could think about now was getting Sam to go on a trip with him.

 

“It’s so hard to find other people our age who like camping. It’s like everyone panics at the thought of no technology or electricity like it’s going to be the end of the world,” Grizz said.

 

“I know. Are you going on the school trip?” Sam asked.

 

It took Grizz a moment to realize what Sam was talking about because he almost forgot about the upcoming school camping trip. It was supposed to teach everyone about survival and the environment around us, but really it was more of a bonding trip for juniors and seniors.

 

“Yeah, I am. I almost forgot about it,” Grizz said.

 

“It’s gonna be fun,” Sam smiled.

 

Grizz nodded but didn’t say anything. All he was thinking was that, yeah, it’ll be fun, especially knowing that Sam would be there, but Grizz knew he’d be stuck with Jason, Clark and Luke the whole time.

 

“Anyway, it’s really cool you’re doing this, by the way,” Sam said with a fond smile, changing the topic for the umpteenth time.

 

‘What do you mean?’ Grizz signed, probably fucking it up, but Sam got what he meant.

 

“Not many people go out of their way to learn ASL. Your cousin is lucky,” Sam said.

 

Right, his cousin. Grizz felt bad about the lie. He was in Sam’s room under false pretences and he hoped if Sam ever found out the truth that he wouldn’t be mad. Hell, Grizz wouldn’t be angry at Sam if Sam ever lied to spend time with him.

 

“You’re a really good teacher,” Grizz said, wanting to get the conversation away from his fake cousin.

 

Sam shrugged, “it’s my life.”

 

“Have you always been…you know?”

 

“Deaf?” Sam finished with a smile, “you can say it, you know.”

 

“Right, sorry,” Grizz smiled back at him, “have you always been deaf?”

 

“Since I was four,” Sam nodded. He signed as he spoke and Grizz watched his hands move, still trying to take it in.

 

“What happened?”

 

“Meningitis.”

 

“Fuck man.” Grizz didn’t think it was fair. For a kid to go through something like that? The world was cruel sometimes. The thought of little four-year-old Sam being sick had Grizz’s eyes welling up with unshed tears. Sometimes Grizz really hated how emotional he could get. He swallowed down the lump in his throat.

 

“I’m lucky, Grizz. It could have been a lot worse,” Sam reached out and put his hand on Grizz’s knee, giving it a comforting squeeze.

 

“I’m glad it wasn’t,” Grizz whispered.

 

“Me too.”

 

Grizz looked down at the hand that was still on his knee, and a second later Sam slowly let his hand drop to the bed instead. Grizz missed the warmth. He didn’t want to dwell on the gesture though so he looked up at Sam again.

 

“Was it hard learning sign language as a kid?” he asked.

 

Sam shook his head, “No. I barely remember, but kids catch on to these things quickly.”

 

“Quicker than I’m getting it at least,” Grizz said.

 

“You’re the smartest guy in your grade. I think you’ll be fine,” Sam rolled his eyes.

 

“I’m not,” Grizz shook his head, because he knew that grades didn’t have anything to do with someone’s intelligence, and Grizz did a lot of stupid things sometimes. “Anyway, can we go over the alphabet again?”

 

Sam nodded and raised one hand. Grizz raised his too and held his hand out closer to Sam’s so he could try and mirror all his movements. Sam started from the beginning and Grizz was doing pretty well too, up until they got to the letter ‘P’ and Sam smiled, shaking his head.

 

“What? What’d I do?” Grizz couldn’t help but smile back because honestly? Sam’s smile was infectious.

 

“Like this,” Sam spoke, and then he was touching Grizz’s hand. Sam guided each of Grizz’s fingers to where they were supposed to be, but Grizz wasn’t paying attention to that, because Sam was touching his hand and it took everything in Grizz’s power to not lace their fingers together.

 

Sam realized somewhere along the way that Grizz wasn’t paying attention anymore. When he looked up, Grizz’s eyes locked with baby blue ones. Grizz thought that maybe his crush on Sam didn’t have to be so one sided. All this afternoon taught Grizz was that he really, really liked everything about Sam. They spent hours just talking to one another and the conversation flowed so smoothly. Maybe this wasn’t all in Grizz’s head.

 

“Project, huh?” the voice came from the door and it made Grizz pull his hand away from Sam’s like he just touched a hot stove.

 

Campbell was standing there, door wide open. And what? When the fuck did that happen? Grizz didn’t know whether to be pissed off that Campbell interrupted them, or terrified about what Cambpell could have thought was going on.

 

“He’s teaching me sign language because I have a deaf cousin,” Grizz rushed the words out.

 

“Sure,” Campbell nodded. He didn’t believe Grizz.

 

“What do you want, Campbell?” Sam sighed. Grizz glanced at him then back at Campbell.

 

“Mom called. You’re cooking dinner tonight,” Campbell said. An obvious lie, but Sam didn’t argue it. The two brothers just stared at each other, and the tension in the room was even thicker than it was before Campbell so rudely ruined their lesson.

 

“I should go,” Grizz said, standing up off the bed.

 

“No, please stay. I didn’t mean to interrupt anything,” Campbell’s voice was menacing and Grizz hated him. He hated him for walking in. He hated the way he spoke to Sam. He hated the way he was speaking to him now. And he hated what he did to that cat!

 

“It’s getting late,” Grizz turned, making sure Sam was watching him, “School tomorrow and all. Uhm…I’ll see you soon?”

 

Sam nodded, then Grizz turned his back completely to Campbell so he couldn’t see what he was saying. Grizz half signed what he knew but mouthed the words silently to Sam. ‘I had fun. Also, your brother’s a dick. Text me if you need anything.’

 

Sam smiled and nodded, then Grizz turned back to Campbell who was still leaning against the door frame with his arms crossed. When Grizz went to leave, Campbell didn’t move.

 

“You know he’s a fag, right?” Campbell said, and Grizz wanted to punch him. He was a strong believer in violence not being the answer, but Grizz wanted to knock Campbell out in that second. Instead, he took a deep breath and calmed himself down.

 

“Can you move?” Grizz asked.

 

“I’m just saying, dude. You wouldn’t want people getting the wrong idea,” Campbell said as he stepped to the side, and the fact that Sam couldn’t see what his idiotic brother was saying was the only thing stopping Grizz from retaliating.

 

“I’ll keep that in mind,” was all Grizz said before pushing past Campbell.   

 

Grizz was torn between wanting to go back upstairs to stay with Sam, and wanting to get as far away from Campbell as possible. Since he would look like an idiot by going back up there, he picked the latter option. He slid his shoes back on and left the house.

 

It was getting darker outside as the sun set. The cool nights were as cold as ever since winter didn’t seem to be giving them a break any time soon. At least it didn’t snow here. Grizz was glad his house was only a couple blocks away from Sam’s. He was about to head in the direction of his home when he happened to glance the other way down the street. He saw a girl with familiar blonde hair walking away.

 

“Elle! Hey, Elle!” Grizz called out without a second thought. Elle didn’t stop or turn to him. Grizz thought maybe she couldn’t hear him, so he ran after her. “Hey, it’s getting dark. Let me walk you home.”

 

Still, Elle didn’t stop. She didn’t even look at Grizz when he fell into step next to her, and when he looked at her face, he realized why. Tears streaked her perfectly porcelain skin and her nose was red.

 

“Oh hey, hey,” Grizz stood in front of her, making her stop walking, “what’s wrong?”

 

“Nothing,” she shook her head, tucking her hair behind her ear hastily.

 

“Did he do something to you?” Grizz asked. He really didn’t get a good feeling about Campbell.

 

“No, nothing. It was…nothing. I was just a dumb fight,” she sounded like a little mouse, her voice a barely there squeak. This wasn’t the Elle Grizz was used to in English class.

 

“Are you sure?” Grizz asked sceptically.

 

“What do you want from me, Grizz? It’s not like we’re friends. Nobody’s my-,” she stopped, shaking her head. Grizz’s heart broke as Elle wiped the tears from her eyes. Now that Grizz thought about it, before Elle started hanging out with Campbell and Harry’s group, she used to sit by herself at lunch. Grizz asked her once to sit with his friends, but she rejected the offer, saying something about Helena not liking her.

 

“I just want to make sure you’re okay,” Grizz said sincerely.

 

“Whatever, I’m fine. Really,” Elle shrugged. Grizz didn’t buy it, but he did drop it, for now.

 

“Can I walk you home?” he asked.

 

“I live like twenty minutes in the opposite direction of you,” Elle pointed out.

 

“I don’t mind.”

 

Elle chewed on the inside of her cheek, then glanced back at Sam and Campbell’s house. No one was in sight. She turned back to Grizz and nodded, “Fine. Thank you.”

Chapter Text

The next day at school, Grizz made a beeline for the table Sam and Becca always sat at. They had other friends, sure, but ninety per cent of the time whenever Grizz was not so subtly staring at Sam, it was just Sam and Becca. That day, Becca was on her own. Grizz would’ve just waited until he found Sam, but he was a little impatient and really had to talk to him.

 

“Hey,” Grizz said when he got to Becca. He sat on the bench across the table from her, and she looked up, a little surprised to see him there.

 

“Hey, Grizz. What are you doing here?” she asked.

 

“I’m looking for Sam. Is he around?” Grizz asked.

 

“Mr. Dias kept him back but he should be here in a minute,” Becca closed the book she had been reading and watched Grizz intently, “so…how was your sign language study date?”

 

“Don’t say it like that,” Grizz said, because he was blushing already and he wasn’t used to someone knowing he was into guys. “You know, I don’t get how you figured it out so easily. I’ve kept this secret since I figured it out in sixth grade.”

 

“You’ve liked Sam since sixth grade?” Becca’s smile got even wider.

 

“No,” Grizz snorted, “No…I thought Clark was cute.”

 

“Clark? Really?” Becca laughed.

 

“I know, I know.”

 

“So what happened there?”

 

“He started talking,” Grizz shrugged, “a pretty face means nothing if I can’t connect with someone.”

 

“And you connect with Sam?” her voice was quieter. Grizz glanced around and spotted his friends a couple tables away. Jason and Clark were looking at him with knowing smiles. The thing was, they knew nothing.

 

“I don’t know yet. Maybe,” Grizz said because honestly, he was trying so hard to push his feelings down. He had been pining from afar for so long and just talking to Sam the day before made his heart beat so dam fast. He had to try and slow things down because he knew he was getting ahead of himself and he had no clue if Sam was interested or not. Grizz didn’t even know if he had it in him to date a boy anyway. It was all some unobtainable fantasy.

 

“So, uhm…did uh, did Sam say anything about yesterday?” Grizz tried to sound casual. He really did.

 

Becca’s lips tugged up before she put on a straight face and shrugged.

 

“What? Did he say something?” Grizz asked quickly.

 

“I dunno,” Becca lied.

 

“That’s not fair,” Grizz narrowed his eyes at her.

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Also, your friends are staring at us,” Becca nodded to the left.

 

“Yeah, about that…” Grizz sighed, “don’t, like, freak out or anything, but my friends kind of think I like you.”

 

“Right, so I’m a beard then,” she scoffed.

 

“Definitely not. I’m not the beard type of person. I was just giving you a heads up in case Jason, Clark or Luke say something,” Grizz said quickly.

 

Becca opened her mouth to speak but then looked past Grizz and waved. Grizz turned and saw Sam coming towards them. Honestly, Grizz found it a little harder to breathe whenever Sam was near. Today was no different.

 

“Grizz?” Sam spoke as he sat next to Becca, “what are you doing here?”

 

“I need to talk to you about something,” Grizz answered.

 

“Do you want me to go?” Becca asked.

 

Grizz was going to say yes, but he knew his friends were watching and he knew there would be questions if he ended up by himself with Sam. Maybe Becca really was a beard. Grizz suddenly felt so weak and pathetic. He wished he didn’t feel like this at the thought of people finding out about him, but he couldn’t help it.

 

“No, it’s fine, I guess,” Grizz mumbled.

 

“What’s going on? I feel like I missed something,” Sam spoke and signed. Grizz really wished he could sign well.

 

“You didn’t miss anything. I just want to ask you about Campbell and Elle,” Grizz said. His gaze flicked over to where Elle and Campbell were sitting with Campbell’s friends. They looked like a normal couple, happy even, but Grizz didn’t get a good feeling.

 

“What about them?” Sam asked with a tilt of his head.

 

“I just…look, it may be nothing, but do you ever get weird vibes from them? Or does Campbell ever say anything about their relationship?” Grizz asked.

 

“Campbell hates me. I rarely see them together,” Sam said.

 

“Did something happen?” Becca asked.

 

“I don’t know. Maybe. When I left yesterday, I caught up with Elle and she was really upset, like she was crying,” Grizz said, and even as the words left his mouth, he knew he sounded paranoid, but he couldn’t ignore the feeling in his gut.

 

“Relationships can be hard. They probably just got into a stupid fight,” Becca said.

 

“Maybe,” Grizz said and looked at Sam, “what do you think?”

 

Sam chewed on his bottom lip and Grizz looked into his eyes, trying to figure out what he was thinking. Sam looked concerned, maybe. Grizz couldn’t read him.

 

“Like Becca said, it was hopefully just a dumb fight,” Sam shrugged.

 

Grizz kept watching him. Hopefully just a dumb fight. Hopefully? What else could it be? Grizz’s gut instinct had the answer, but his head thought that maybe he was being crazy and his previously conceived perception of Campbell was making him think things were worse than they actually were.

 

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Grizz gave up, “anyway, my friends are waiting, but Sam, I’ll see you at environmental committee this afternoon?”

 

“Can’t wait,” Sam sounded cheerier.

 

Grizz smiled before standing up. He gave Becca a little nod and then headed over to his friends, and as he did, Grizz wondered if he was also friends with Sam now, and if he was then he decided that was a good thing, and probably all that Grizz would ever get out of Sam. At least he would get to know the boy better.

 

Grizz sat at the table beside Luke and everyone went quiet. He knew they had just been talking about him. Clark and Jason were across the table snickering to each other and Grizz couldn’t help but roll his eyes.

 

“Don’t you guys have anything else to talk about?” Grizz said.

 

“Don’t be like that, Grizz,” Helena said, “we just think you and Becca is actually kind of cute.”

 

“Hardly,” Gwen muttered under her breath, and Grizz didn’t know if the others heard it. He looked up at Gwen who was directly across from him, next to Jason, but Jason was too busy shoving food in his face now to pay attention to her, but Grizz saw the look on Gwen’s face. She looked bitter as she stabbed at her food with a fork.

 

“Hey,” Grizz whispered. He tapped her shoe under table and she looked up, a little startled. “You okay?”

 

“Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?” She shrugged.

 

I don’t know, Gwen, Grizz thought to himself, maybe because you kissed me and now things are fucking weird.

 

“Yeah, why wouldn’t she be?” It was Clark that spoke. He was looking back at forth between Grizz and Gwen, and Grizz felt guilty. He knew he didn’t want that kiss from Gwen but if Clark found out, Grizz didn’t think he’d listen to his argument.

 

“She’s just quiet, that’s all,” Grizz said and turned his attention from Gwen back to the group.

 

“So,” Jason said, speaking through the fries inhabiting his mouth, “Becca and you is like a thing now?”

 

“Not really,” Grizz shook his head.

 

“Why the fuck not?” Jason sputtered as he shoved more fries in his face.

 

“Because it’s not, and dude, slow down or you’re gonna make yourself sick or choke,” Grizz said.

 

“Yes, mom,” Jason rolled his eyes.

 

Grizz was over the conversation. He didn’t want to keep pretending that he was into Becca, because damn it, he wasn’t going to have a beard. He understood why a lot of gay guys did have beards but that wasn’t what Grizz wanted. He wondered if the girls he slept with at parties counted. He supposed they did. After all, only slept with them so people wouldn’t question him about his sexuality.

 

Fuck. He felt like a loser. All he wanted to do was go and ask Sam out on a date, but it was so complicated with his parents and not to mention the religious nuts that lived in this town. There were people like Helena who were good people and he knew wouldn’t have a problem with him, but Grizz had been to church a total of two times in his entire life and some of the people he met there wouldn’t be so accepting.

 

Grizz tried to forget about it because it was only lunch time and he really didn’t want to get into a depressed mood like he often did when he thought of being in the closet. It wouldn’t be long until school was over, he’s be in college, and he could finally have a bit of freedom.

 

“Did you guys see Miss Morgan put up the camping trip buddy sign ups?” Luke asked.

 

“Buddies? What are we, twelve?” Helena asked.

 

“That’s how they treat us. As if they think everyone’s really going to stay in their own tents,” Gwen said.

 

“Maybe they’ll put a teacher on patrol this year at night, make sure no one’s sneaking around,” Grizz added.

 

“We’ll find a way,” Luke said, and turned to Grizz, “speaking of which, I signed us up as partners. Helena and Gwen are together. I figure once the teachers aren’t paying attention, Gwen and I can swap. That cool?”

 

Grizz glanced up at Gwen. Sharing a tent with Gwen just because Luke couldn’t spend one damn night away from Helena? Grizz was actually jealous that he didn’t have someone he could sneak out to. Grizz had always been so jealous of Luke and Helena. They found each other so easily and were always so cute together. It actually made Grizz a little sick sometimes.

 

“Yeah, whatever,” Grizz said when he realized he had been quiet for too long.

 

“Thanks man,” Luke slapped Grizz’s shoulder and smiled wide. Grizz just nodded.

 

Grizz looked down at the wrapped-up sandwich that he didn’t even remember taking out of his bag. He didn’t even feel hungry anymore. He had this hollow pit of loneliness in his stomach. He hated when he got this way.

 

Grizz’s phone vibrated in his pocket. He frowned because the only people that ever really messaged him were already sitting at the table. He took it out of his pocket and saw that it was Clark.

 

Wtf is going on with u n Gwen?? – Clark.

 

Jesus fucking Christ. Grizz was not in the mood for this. He liked his friends, he did, but it was times like these when he was reminded of the reason why he wasn’t going to look back once he left for college.

 

What are you talking about? – Grizz.

 

The looks. Ur both being weird. – Clark.

 

There are no looks. You’re my friend. I wouldn’t do that to you. – Grizz.

 

Promise nothin will happen on the trip. – Clark.

 

I’m gay. I’m gay. I’M FUCKING GAY. Grizz wanted to scream. But, he didn’t. He replied calmly, and not like he wanted to throw his phone at Clark’s head.

 

Promise. – Grizz.

 

BROES BEFORE HOES!! – Clark.

 

Clark could be an idiot sometimes and he could see why Gwen broke up with him, especially if he went around calling girls hoes. Grizz rolled his eyes and didn’t bother replying. In fact, he couldn’t be bothered being at that table right now.

 

“There’s a book I wanna get at the library, so I’ll catch you guys later,” Grizz said as he stood up.

 

“Later, nerd,” Jason spoke, and the others had nicer farewells, but Grizz just responded to them with a wave of his hand. He just wanted to get out of there.

 

As he left the noisy cafeteria, Grizz felt the tension in his muscles leave. He thought it was so fucking stupid that he was in the closet to avoid drama, but at the same time there was all this drama because everyone thought he either liked Becca or Gwen. He just couldn’t win. All he wanted to do was keep flying under the radar like he always had.

 

“Grizz, hey Grizz! Wait up, I’ll walk with you,” the all too familiar voice of Gwen called after Grizz in the hallway. He spun around and he wanted to scream when he saw her chasing after him.

 

“What the fuck are you doing, Gwen?” he snapped.

 

“What? I need to go to the bathroom. It’s this way,” Gwen looked at Grizz like he was insane. Maybe he was.

 

“You can’t just follow me like that,” Grizz sighed, “Clark thinks we’re into each other.”

 

“So?”

 

“So…” Grizz trailed off. He didn’t have anything for that. There was nothing going on between the two of them and if Clark thought there was then that was his problem. The two of them weren’t even together anymore!

 

“You’re not still freaking out about that dumb kiss, are you? Because it was just a joke,” Gwen said.

 

“Yeah, I know,” Grizz nodded, and he started walking again with Gwen by his side.

 

“We all know who you’d rather be kissing though,” Gwen teased.

 

“Don’t-“

 

“What’s so special about her anyway? I mean, why Becca?” she asked. Grizz hated this.

 

“It’s not even a thing,” he sighed, “I don’t even want to date in high school, like at all.” He hoped Gwen would get the message.

 

“So, you’ll date in college then?” she asked.

 

“Probably.”

 

“Or will you see someone sooner like a Summer fling?” she asked, and honestly it was getting on Grizz’s nerves that she was so interested in his love life.

 

“I don’t know, Gwen,” Grizz snapped, harshly. He stopped walking and so did Gwen. She looked up at Grizz and it was like he just kicked a puppy.  

 

“Alright, I’m sorry,” she said softly, “I’ll just, uhm, bathroom.”

 

She walked off towards the girl’s bathroom and Grizz felt like shit.

 

“Gwen, Gwen, wait,” Grizz called after her, but she had already disappeared.

 

Fuck. All Grizz wanted to do today was plant some damn trees with Sam that afternoon, but all he ended up doing was hurt one of his friends. For the first time, Grizz considered actually telling someone that he’s gay. He was going to tell Gwen. At least then he could squash the crush she had on him and maybe make her feel a bit better about Grizz not liking her back.

 

The thing was, Grizz stood there outside the girl’s bathroom and Gwen was in there for a while. It was long enough for Grizz to talk himself out of it and continue on down the hallway towards the library.

Chapter Text

Grizz needed environmental committee. He really did. After Gwen followed him out of the cafeteria, it only made Clark all the more suspicious and in their next class together, all Clark did was interrogate Grizz. Grizz almost told him what Gwen did, but he didn’t want to get Gwen into any sort of trouble, even though Clark didn’t have a say in anything the girl did anymore.

 

Grizz really didn’t like drama at all, so he needed his nature time where he could just relax and forget about life. When he made his way out to the courtyard by the science buildings and saw none of his own friends, he was relieved. The only people he recognized were Sam, and two others, Gordie and Kelly who were friends of Sam’s. Grizz’s heart sank a little. He kind of hoped Sam wouldn’t have any friends here so he’d be stuck with Grizz.

 

Grizz was a little late and it looked like Ms. Chan was already half way through her speech about how important the environment was and what they were going to be doing over the next few weeks. Grizz stood next to Sam and gave him a wave when he got his attention. Sam smiled, and then started signing to him, but Grizz wasn’t sure what he said.

 

‘I’m what?’ Grizz signed back. He hoped he was doing it right. He had been practicing and trying to learn more all last night after he left Sam.

 

Sam smiled again and signed each letter of the word ‘late’. Grizz nodded slowly in understanding, happy to have actually understood, before spelling out ‘Mr. Dias’ to Sam, because Mr. Dias loved keeping students back, usually to praise them on their latest assignment which was what Grizz had to stay back for today.

 

“You’ve been practising,” Sam leant in and whispered. Grizz’s heart skipped a beat because, well, Sam was really close to him and praising him. He felt warm all over and could only nod.

 

“Gareth!” Ms. Chan spoke and Grizz jumped at the sound of his real name, “since yourself and Sam seem to be so chummy already, you can be my first pair. You’re on watering duties. Come here.”

 

Grizz wanted to kiss Ms. Chan for pairing him with Sam, even if it seemed like she was doing it out of spite. Grizz glanced at Sam who hadn’t been watching Ms. Chan.

 

“She’s talking to us,” Grizz signed and spoke, even though he was pretty sure he was making up half of what he signed, but Sam understood anyway.

 

Grizz headed towards the front of the small group and Sam followed. Ms. Chan was standing there with her clipboard as she marked off their names.

 

“Alright, you’re on watering duties today. There’s the hose there,” she pointed to the ground, “it is obviously portable. You can connect it to any faucet around the school grounds. Please be wary of wasting water and only use what you need and only on plants you know need it. Gareth, I trust you know which ones need it.”

 

Grizz did know. He loved biology class and Ms. Chan was his teacher, so she knew it too. Grizz wondered if she realized watering the gardens was a one person job, but he wouldn’t bring that up. He got to spend time with Sam and he was over the moon.

 

“You know it Ms. C.” Grizz said before picking up the hose. He nodded for Sam to follow him and they left the group. There weren’t that many people around. It was after school and most clubs and committees were indoors, so other than the couple of sporting ones, the environmental committee members were the only ones outside.

 

“So that’s all we do? Just water plants?” Sam asked.

 

“For today, at least. It’s important to keep them healthy,” Grizz said.

 

“Trees are good, after all,” Sam said, and it took Grizz a moment to realize he was making fun of him for what he said when they were first signing up.

 

“Yeah, yes,” Grizz nodded, “trees are good.”

 

Grizz felt a little more relaxed talking to Sam now. He was still a nervous bundle of energy but he felt like he could actually use his words now instead of stutter and stare at him like a complete moron. It helped Grizz a little knowing he would never actually act on his feelings for Sam, so it wasn’t like he was here trying to purposely make Sam like him. He was just making a friend, he hoped.

 

The two of them got to the first garden and Grizz attached the hose to the faucet before offering it to Sam with a questioning look.

 

“We can take turns?” Grizz shrugged, and Sam nodded as he took the hose and turned the water on.

 

Grizz shoved his hands in his pockets as he walked slowly around the gardens, making sure each plant had a sufficient amount of water.

 

“I feel like a bad person,” Sam said out of nowhere.

 

‘What? Why?’ Grizz signed.

 

“Because I never really thought about taking care of the environment before,” Sam admitted. 

 

“You’re not a bad person. You’re here now, right?” Grizz spoke and signed at the same time, well tried to at least. He decided he was going to try and sign with everything he said to Sam. He figured the more practice he got, the better, and he wanted to make it easier on Sam to understand what he was saying. Well, at least Grizz hoped it was easier. If he really sucked so badly then it could possibly be worse for Sam.

 

“Only because you convinced me to,” Sam said and knocked into Grizz’s shoulder.

 

“I’m converting everyone into wildlife warriors, one at a time,” Grizz said.

 

“Wild what?” Sam asked.

 

“Oh, uh, wildlife warriors,” Grizz said slower and it took him a while to sign each letter.

 

“Thank you,” Sam said, “and sorry, I can be annoying.”

 

“What? No you aren’t,” Grizz said, because Sam was the exact opposite of annoying.

 

Sam didn’t say anything. Grizz watched him as he watered each plant. He still had this desire to find out more about Sam. Yesterday was great just talking in Sam’s bedroom. Grizz never wanted the conversation to end. There was so much he wanted to ask the boy, but only one thing came to mind at that moment, and it was important to Grizz. Being able to communicate with Sam was important.

 

Grizz reached out and touched Sam’s arm so he’d look up at him, and Sam did so with that usual tilt of the head and questioning look on his face.

 

“Can I talk to you about being deaf?” Grizz asked, because he didn’t want to offend Sam. He had never spoken to someone who was deaf before and he didn’t want to annoy Sam by talking about it, if that’s even something that would bother Sam. Grizz had no clue. That was why he was asking.

 

“Sure.”

 

“Is reading lips hard?” Grizz asked. Sam looked a little taken aback, and Grizz thought he messed up, but then Sam gave a small smile.

 

“Sometimes. Depends,” Sam shrugged.

 

“On?”

 

“Well…sometimes it’s hard if it’s dark out or people turn away or if someone talks to fast or too much. Smaller sentences are better so I can catch it all,” Sam explained and Grizz nodded slowly. Really, all Grizz was trying to do was figure out the best way to talk to Sam.

 

“So, like, you don’t always understand what someone’s saying?” Grizz asked.

 

“I don’t always get the entire sentence. Communicating isn’t always words. Facial expressions help. And context. Like if someone randomly starts talking it’s difficult to catch on at first. Being in groups is hard too. By the time I figure out who is talking they’re half way through a sentence,” Sam said and he said it like it was no big deal. Grizz supposed it was just Sam’s life. It was what he was used to.

 

“So, one on one is better?” Grizz asked. That could explain why Sam is usually only around Becca at lunch.

 

“Usually. Long conversations can be tiring because I have to concentrate so much,” Sam said.

 

“So, like…this could be too much? Cause if I’m annoying asking too many questions then I-”

 

“You’re not,” Sam cut Grizz off, “it helps you’re trying to sign at the same time.”

 

“Trying?” Grizz laughed.

 

“Let’s just say you need more practice,” Sam teased, “but really, the fact that you’re trying is amazing to me. Your cousin is lucky to have you. Most people just shout at us and think that we can magically hear.”

 

“Dicks.”

 

Sam nodded, “either that or people get impatient and stop talking to me all together if I can’t understand.”

 

“I won’t do that. I promise,” Grizz said.

 

“What’d you say?”

 

“Oh, I said I won’t d-,” Grizz stopped, because Sam was laughing at him. Grizz rolled his eyes but couldn’t help but smile too, “so funny.”

 

“Sarcasm,” Sam pointed out.

 

“What about it?”

 

“You’ve got great expressions. It’s like I can tell your tone,” Sam said.

 

Grizz blushed, and he felt dumb because Sam could probably read a lot of people by their facial expressions, but for split second, he felt like it was just him. Grizz was quickly learning that talking to Sam made him feel like they were the only two people around, which, at that moment the gardens were empty, so they were.

 

“It’s easier to lip read people I spend a lot of time with, like Becca, because I’m used to the way she speaks,” Sam said.

 

“I guess we’ll have to spend more time together,” Grizz blurted out. And, fuck. Too much. That was too fucking much. Grizz was about to drown himself, but Sam didn’t even blink an eye.

 

“I’ll get used to the way you talk,” Sam said with a smile, and Grizz let out a deep breath.

 

“I didn’t realize it was so hard,” Grizz said dumbly.

 

Sam dropped the hose to the grass. He turned to face Grizz, then the next thing Grizz knew, Sam’s hands were covering his ears. Sam was touching him and Grizz didn’t know what to do. All Grizz could think about was Sam pulling his face to his and kissing him. That wasn’t what was happening though.

 

Sam’s mouth was moving, but Grizz could tell he was whispering. Grizz couldn’t hear a thing, but he understood what Sam was trying to do. Grizz looked down at the shorter boy, focusing on his lips, purely for educational purposes, of course. All too soon Sam wasn’t touching him anymore but Grizz could still feel the burn of his skin.

 

“What’d I say?” Sam asked with a smug look.

 

“Uh…I have no clue,” Grizz admitted defeat.

 

“It’s a talent,” Sam said. He picked the hose up from the ground and handed it to Grizz because it was his turn.

 

“What did you say?” Grizz asked.

 

“You’ll never know,” Sam was amused, and Grizz kind of loved it.

 

“Mean.”

 

Sam shrugged, then asked, “does your cousin lip read?”

 

Fuck, Grizz felt really shit about lying to Sam, but what was he supposed to do now? Admit that he doesn’t have a cousin and then Sam would probably hate him for lying or think he’s a giant weirdo? Because, really? Who lies about having a deaf cousin?

 

“Oh uh, no. Hence learning ASL, but it’s hard, like learning a new language,” Grizz said.

 

“It is a new language. You’ll get it. You’re smart,” Sam said.

 

“Right, so smart,” Grizz laughed with a shake of his head.

 

The two of them got back to what they were supposed to be doing. They were making pretty good time and Grizz knew they’d be done before the hour was up. The outdoor school grounds weren’t that big, so there wasn’t a whole lot for them to cover. The time flew by much too quickly for Grizz’s liking. He was enjoying talking to Sam.

 

“Have you always been into this stuff?” Sam asked.

 

“This stuff?”

 

“Yeah, like, nature.”

 

“I have. I was in boy scouts when I was younger and the survival training and outdoor stuff was always my favorite part,” Grizz told him, but it only made Sam laugh.

 

“What?”

 

“Nothing,” Sam shook his head.

 

“No, really, what?” Grizz smiled, because Sam was smiling, and if that wasn’t just the best thing Grizz had ever seen.

 

“I’m just thinking of you in a boy scout uniform,” Sam confessed.

 

“Hey, boy scouts is a serious thing, okay?” Grizz defended, but he wasn’t mad at all.

 

“You’re more of a nerd than I thought,” Sam teased.

 

“Oh am I?”

 

“Yep.”

 

“Yeah, well…” And then Grizz sprayed Sam with the water, making the other boy yelp and try to run away. Sam looked at him with his jaw dropped and his shirt littered with drops of water.

 

“Are you crazy?” Sam asked through his laugh.

 

“Maybe,” Grizz shrugged, “but that’s what you get when you be a bully.”

 

Sam tried to look angry with an adorable little frown that Grizz could see right through. Fuck, this boy was so endearing to Grizz. He melted with every little interaction. When Sam stomped towards him and took the hose from his hand, Grizz didn’t even put up a fight. Well, he didn’t, up until Sam sprayed his face with water.

 

“Hey! Stop!” Grizz went for the hose but Sam was expecting it. He jumped out of the way, almost making Grizz slip to the ground. He regained his balance and turned to Sam who had his finger on the trigger. One squeeze and Grizz would have another face full of water.

 

‘Don’t,’ Grizz signed.

 

“It’s your own fault,” Sam said.

 

“Okay…okay…” Grizz took a careful step towards Sam, “let’s not do anything we’ll regret.”

 

“I do what I want,” Sam defied.

 

Grizz narrowed his eyes in a playful glare, and instead of taking another slow step, he leapt at Sam, going low. Grizz wrapped his arms around Sam’s waist in a tackle. He spun the laughing boy around before they both fell to the ground. Grizz quickly had the upper hand. He straddled Sam’s hips and pinned his wrists to the grass below. Sam pouted and went to reach for the hose he dropped but Grizz had a good hold on him.

 

“You can’t run from a football player. I tackle people for a living,” Grizz said in victory.

 

“A living? You get paid?” Sam asked.

 

“Millions.”

 

“But you can’t afford a hair-cut?” Sam hit back, and damn, the wit. Grizz was impressed if not slightly offended.

 

“What’s wrong with my hair?” Grizz let go of Sam so he could sign at the same time. He only pretended to be hurt.

 

“It’s too long.”

 

“Well then I’ll shave it all off.”

 

“No, no, no,” Sam said quickly, “it looks good like this, but no longer.” And then Sam reached up and ruffled Grizz’s hair, and Grizz almost passed out at the feel of Sam’s fingertips. And then, the moment was over all too soon.

 

“Boys!” the authoritative voice of Ms. Chan echoed through the courtyard. Grizz’s neck almost snapped with how quickly he looked over at her. She had just come around the corner of the building and was giving her best ‘what the hell are you two doing?’ look.

 

“Sorry Ms. C, we’ll get back to it,” Grizz said. She pursed her lips and gave them a ‘you better’ look, before clutching her clipboard tighter in her hands and turning to walk the other way.

 

Grizz was tense, and not because Ms. Chan caught them goofing off, but because Grizz just realized that he was on top of Sam, and he was flirting with Sam and fuck, Sam was flirting back. Was he? Grizz didn’t know if he was imagining it or not. Perhaps Grizz wanted it so badly that he was making this into something it wasn’t. Grizz tackled his purely platonic friends all the time. Sure, ninety-nine per cent of those times was on a football field, but still.

 

Grizz was frozen, right up until Sam sat up, and Grizz shifted on his lap, and Grizz could feel a situation arising. He looked at Sam and holy hell, they were close. Close enough that he could just lean forward a little and-. No. Just, no.

 

“We gotta get back to work,” Grizz said in a small voice. It really, really didn’t help that Sam was looking at Grizz’s lips as he spoke.

 

“Okay.”

 

“Okay.”

 

Grizz didn’t move. He couldn’t move. He didn’t fucking want to move, no matter how much his brain was telling him to get the hell up.

 

“You kind of have to get off me,” Sam pointed out, and he put his hand on Grizz’s thigh to give him a little push, and Grizz knew Sam was trying to get him to stand up, but the touch sent a jolt of heat through his body, and yep, Grizz definitely had to get off of Sam, now.

 

“Right,” Grizz’s voice broke, “sorry.”

 

Grizz was up so quickly after that. He tried to play it cool, like nothing had just happened, because to Sam, nothing had happened. Grizz hated that the warmth of Sam’s body was gone, so on instinct he held his hand out to the boy on the ground, just to touch him again. Sam took his hand with an appreciative smile and Grizz hoisted him up.

 

Let go of his hand, Grizz, Grizz pleaded with himself, but no, Grizz’s body had other ideas. He held Sam’s hand for just a few seconds longer. It was just enough time to give Grizz what he craved, but not enough for him to raise suspicions. Those few seconds were nice. It was just nice. It was nice being around Sam. It felt natural and comfortable. For those few seconds, Grizz didn’t feel so scared.

 

Grizz forced himself to let go, and then the two of them got back to what they were supposed to be doing. They did it in silence and Grizz’s nerves were getting to him. He started to doubt himself, thinking he was being way too obvious. Part of him felt like getting away from Sam so he could think and sort out what he was feeling. Grizz used to be so good at compartmentalizing his emotions. With Sam though, he didn’t know which way was up and which was down. He just felt like a mess.

 

Grizz was a little relieved when environmental committee was over and the two of them could part ways. Grizz really did love being around Sam. He’d be around Sam all day if he had the chance, but that afternoon he didn’t trust himself.

 

They handed the hose back to Ms. Chan and checked out with her. The two walked side by side down the hall towards the car park. Grizz had paid enough attention to Sam to know that he didn’t have a car, and well, his mouth and body was working before his mind was. He touched Sam’s arm to get his attention before speaking.

 

“Do you want a ride home?” Grizz asked.

 

“No, it’s okay. I’ll walk,” Sam said. And Grizz’s stomach sank. Sam knew. Sam had to know. Grizz had a crush and he was so fucking transparent and now Sam knew and didn’t want to be around him.

 

“Oh,” was all Grizz could say.

 

“It’s not you,” Sam said as if reading his mind, “it’s…Campbell.”

 

“Campbell?”

 

“Yeah, he texted me before. He told me not to come home this afternoon,” Sam said, and what the fuck?

 

“Why?”

 

“He does that sometimes. Just easier to stay away,” Sam shrugged, as if this was a normal occurrence.

 

“What about your parents?” Grizz asked.

 

“They work late. It’s fine. I usually just walk around town for a few hours, or go to Becca’s, but she’s busy today,” Sam said.

 

This time, Grizz’s head was up to speed with his mouth, because really, this was a no-brainer.

 

“You’re coming to my house,” Grizz said, and there was no room for argument.

Chapter Text

Grizz wasn’t getting the time he needed to think and sort through his feelings for Sam. More importantly he wasn’t able to shut them down before he got carried away. He was still hanging on by a loose thread to this notion of not dating a boy and definitely not at all falling for Sam, but at the same time he revelled in the fact that he was going to spend an entire afternoon alone with the boy.

 

The ride to Grizz’s house was a quiet one. Grizz wasn’t really sure why Sam wasn’t talking but he had a good idea that it was because of Campbell. Maybe it was the water fight and moment they had, that Grizz wasn’t even really sure was a moment, that had gotten to Sam, in the same way it had gotten to Grizz. Maybe Sam was uncomfortable with how Grizz held his hand for a second too long, or stayed on top of him for much longer than he should have. Grizz had always been affectionate with all his friends so he didn’t see why it should be different with Sam.

 

Grizz glanced over at Sam who was staring out the window. He had been texting someone most of the ride home. Maybe Becca, or Campbell. Grizz wasn’t sure. He just hoped he didn’t cross a line today. Grizz tapped Sam on the shoulder to get his attention.

 

‘Are you okay?’ Grizz signed.

 

“Two hands on the wheel,” Sam signed and spoke back with a smirk.

 

‘Yes, Dad,’ Grizz signed, and honestly, he felt a bit pleased with himself when he knew how to sign things. 

 

“I’m fine. Campbell just gets to me sometimes. You’re lucky you don’t have siblings,” Sam said.

 

Grizz shrugged, “I always wanted a little sister. Someone to take care of.”

 

“That’s cute,” Sam said, and Grizz blushed harder than he had ever blushed in his life. He had to pull it together because Sam probably didn’t mean it in the way Grizz wanted him to.

 

“I’m sorry you gotta deal with Campbell,” Grizz spoke while looking at Sam.

 

Sam shook his head and didn’t reply to the comment. Grizz was relieved he wasn’t upset with him, but still, it sucked that Sam had someone like Campbell living under the same roof as him.

 

“Eyes on the road,” Sam said and lightly touched Grizz’s cheek to make him face the road.

 

Grizz was going to crash. He decided that was enough communicating with Sam for now because he couldn’t concentrate on him and the road at the same time and he really didn’t want Sam to die on his watch.

 

The two drove in silence until Grizz parked out the front of his house. Both of Grizz’s parent’s cars were in the driveway. He hadn’t really thought about the fact that they would be home. It was rare for him to bring friends home, but not that odd. Luke, Clark and Jason had occasionally stayed over and Grizz’s parents barely ever noticed. He didn’t want Sam to have to deal with them though, so he was going to sneak him in.

 

Grizz got out first and Sam met him on the sidewalk. Grizz was incredibly nervous as they walked side by side up to his house. It was a nice house and all, but Grizz couldn’t remember if his bedroom was in a clean enough state for visitors. He was usually pretty neat and tidy but his mind was racing trying to think if he could’ve left anything embarrassing laying around.

 

“Are your parents here?” Sam asked as they got to the door. Grizz stopped and faced him with a quick nod.

 

“Yeah, but they’re not really into meeting my friends,” Grizz said.

 

“We’re friends?” Sam asked.

 

“If you wanna be,” Grizz said, and on the inside he was screaming that he wanted to be Sam’s boyfriend, but on the outside he just gave a careless little shrug. Grizz held back a smile when Sam nodded his answer.

 

Grizz unlocked the door and stepped inside. He could hear the TV blaring from the living room so he knew his parents were where they always were. He turned to Sam and for the first time considered that maybe this was a bad idea. He didn’t want Sam to think he was hiding him from his parents, but the fact was that he was hiding his parents from Sam.

 

“Go upstairs. Second door on the left. I’ll be up in a minute,” Grizz said.

 

Sam nodded and did as he was told. Grizz waited until he heard the sound of the door closing before heading down the hall towards the living room. His parents were there, of course, his dad with his regular bottle of beer in his hand and his mom had her gaze locked on the television.

 

“Hey,” Grizz got their attention.

 

“Oh, I thought I heard you go upstairs,” his mom said.

 

“No…no, I uh, I started then came back to say hi,” Grizz said.

 

“How was school?” his mom asked. His dad didn’t say anything. He had only acknowledged Grizz with a quick dismissive nod.

 

“It was good, but I have a lot of homework to do so I’ll be up in my room most the night,” Grizz said.

 

“Alright. Not sure what’s for dinner but you can find something yourself, right?” she asked.

 

“Yeah, I will. Thanks,” Grizz mumbled.

 

When his mom turned back to the television, he took it as his cue to leave. He turned back down the hallway and raced up the stairs to his room. He swung the door open and his eyes landed on Sam who was at Grizz’s clothes drawers, and oh no¸ Grizz realized that he had in fact left something embarrassing out. Sam was holding Grizz’s framed collection of boy scout badges and patches from when he was younger.

 

Grizz groaned and bashed his head against his door. He liked scouts. That was why he did it, but he knew that other people thought it was for losers, and he really, really didn’t want Sam to think he was a loser. Grizz went over and sidled up next to Sam. The other boy looked at Grizz a little guiltily.

 

“Snooping?” Grizz asked.

 

“It’s not snooping if it was left out for me to see,” Sam said.

 

“Put it back, please,” Grizz whined.

 

“Nope,” Sam smiled, “you must be very serious about it to have it framed.”

 

“My mom did that when I was fourteen,” Grizz said.

 

Sam smiled and looked back at the frame. Grizz had a lot of patches and badges in there and Sam was taking them all in for much too long.

 

“Okay,” Grizz said and took the frame from Sam’s hands and kept speaking once Sam’s eyes were on him, “that’s enough embarrassing me for one day.”

 

“But I wanna see,” Sam said.

 

Grizz shook his head and put the frame back where it belonged, on top of the set of drawers. It had been on the wall originally, but had fallen down a couple of weeks ago. Grizz hadn’t been bothered to put it back up yet. He turned back to Sam who tried to get to the frame again, but Grizz took hold of his wrists and stepped forward.

 

“No,” Grizz shook his head.

 

“I bet you have your uniform still,” Sam said.

 

“No,” Grizz lied.

 

“Liar,” Sam giggled. He fucking giggled, and Grizz melted. He had to let go of Sam’s arms before he lost his mind. He gestured for Sam to follow his lead as he went and sat on his bed. Sam sat next to him, and well, now what? Grizz had friends in his bedroom before, but never Sam. Never someone he actually liked, not that he would do anything about it anyway.

 

“What made you start scouts anyway?” Sam asked. Grizz turned to him a little so they could see each other properly when they spoke.

 

“I regret telling you if you’re gonna make fun,” Grizz said with a small smile.

 

“Hey,” Sam said and rested his hand on Grizz’s, “I’m not making fun. Promise.”

 

Grizz looked down at the hand on his own and took a deep, calming breath. Sam let go in an instant. Grizz needed his hand to sign, after all.

 

“Uh, my granddad was a scout leader and he was, like, my best friend, so,” Grizz shrugged.

 

“Was? He…”

 

“Died. Yeah, few years ago,” Grizz said. His granddad was the only person in his family that he actually liked.

 

“Do you still do it now?” Sam asked.

 

“No, no. My dad made me stop when I was fourteen,” Grizz said.

 

“Why?”

 

“He said it was too gay,” Grizz said, and his body tensed when he realized what he just said.

 

Sam’s eyebrows furrowed together in concentration and Grizz hoped to god he wasn’t thinking Grizz was a homophobe, or worse, that he was gay. Grizz wanted to slap himself at his own thoughts because he knew it was ridiculous to think that being gay was worse than being a homophobe. It was wrong, but sometimes that was how he felt. It was how his parents always made him feel.

 

“That sucks,” was all Sam said, and he didn’t look mad, so Grizz hoped he dodged a bullet there.

 

“Yeah, yeah it does. I really liked it,” Grizz said solemnly.

 

“Maybe you can be a leader one day, then I could see you in your uniform,” Sam laughed.

 

Grizz rolled his eyes but couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. He would probably regret this decision, but he went over to his drawers, opened the bottom one and rifled through it before finding his scout shirt and dark red neckerchief. He turned back to Sam, showing them to him.

 

“There, are you happy now?” Grizz asked. Sam’s eyes were glistening with delighted amusement.

 

“Do they still fit?” Sam asked.

 

“Hm, maybe, I was a chubby kid,” Grizz said before he slid the shirt over the plain white one he had worn to school. He had filled out a lot in his shoulders over the past four years so it was a tight fit, but he managed to get the buttons done up.

 

“There,” Grizz said and did a twirl. When he faced Sam again, Sam was off the bed and taking the neckerchief from his hand. Grizz froze as Sam wrapped the thin material around his neck. Fingertips brushed along Grizz’s skin which broke out in Goosebumps. He couldn’t breathe. He really just could not fucking breathe as Sam stood close to him and tied the neckerchief.

 

“That’s better,” Sam said, “how do you not have a line of girls down the street?”

 

Grizz couldn’t do anything except give a little smile. He wanted to tell Sam that there were no girls, that he didn’t like girls and never had liked girls. He wanted to tell Sam that the only person he wanted lining up was Sam himself. But, he didn’t.

 

“I look dumb,” was all Grizz managed to say before he undid the buttons and slid the shirt off. He left the neckerchief on though, because well, Sam put it on him and he just didn’t want to take it off just yet.

 

“Anyway, what do you wanna do?” Grizz asked as he sat back on the bed and Sam joined him.

 

“I don’t know. What do you want to do?” Sam asked.

 

Kiss you. Really hard. Push you down on the bed. Get on top of you. Touch you. Make you moan. Grizz snapped out of it.

 

“You can teach me more sign?” Grizz suggested.

 

“Sure,” Sam nodded, “we can fix some mistakes you keep doing.”

 

“Oh great. I probably look like an idiot to you,” Grizz groaned.

 

“No. It’s like someone from another country trying to learn English so you correct their words,” Sam explained, and that made Grizz felt a little less silly.

 

“Alright, let’s do it.”

 

The two of them sat on Grizz’s bed, cross legged and facing each other, much like they had done only yesterday in Sam’s room. The first thing Sam did, which took a while, was show Grizz everything that he had been doing wrong. Grizz was trying so hard, but he knew he wasn’t perfect. After all, he only had one lesson with Becca, one with Sam and spent every spare second practicing with an app.

 

Once they went over what Grizz was doing wrong, Sam taught him some new phrases. Grizz really, really, liked Sam’s hands, so focusing on them definitely wasn’t a chore, and it killed Grizz every time Sam stopped and held his hands to manipulate them into the position they were supposed to be in for certain words. Grizz wanted to hold Sam’s hands for an eternity.

 

They were going at it for about an hour and a half when Grizz heard yelling coming from downstairs. His parents arguing wasn’t an uncommon occurrence. In fact, it happened most nights and usually Grizz just turned up some music, but he didn’t want Sam to know what was going on, so he just ignored it.

 

“Can you show me again?” Grizz asked Sam, because he hadn’t been paying attention.

 

“Sure, so it’s like this,” Sam said, and then repeated what he was signing.

 

Grizz copied him, then he heard his dad barking at his mom, throwing all sorts of insults, and she was yelling right back. They were volatile and Grizz knew to just stay out of it. He couldn’t help but flinch each time their voices rose.

 

‘Are you okay?’ Sam signed.

 

“Uh, yeah,” Grizz nodded, “I just…have a headache coming on, that’s all.”

 

“Oh, okay. You wanna stop?” Sam asked.

 

“No, keep going,” Grizz said.

 

Sam was silent for a moment before continuing on. Grizz was trying to keep all of his attention on Sam, but at the same time he couldn’t ignore his parents. He was hoping the fight would die down and they’d go to separate rooms, but it kept going on. It started about his dad not helping with chores, which went on to how his dad earned more money so he shouldn’t have to do chores, which somehow rounded on to how Grizz himself didn’t earn any money or do chores which was bullshit because Grizz was the one to do most of the cleaning around the house.

 

Sam had stopped talking and signing. Grizz spaced out and he didn’t even realize it. The other boy just had a questioning look on his face.

 

“Sorry, sorry, the uh…headache is getting worse,” and it was only half a lie. Grizz really was getting a headache listening to his parents fighting. He wondered if he should take Sam home, but he didn’t want him to have to deal with Campbell.

 

“Lay down,” Sam said and shuffled back.

 

“What?”

 

“Lay down, on your back. Put your head here,” Sam said and patted the mattress in front of his own crossed legs.

 

Grizz was a little wary, but Sam could tell him to do anything and he’d just do it without question, so Grizz did as he was told and lay down on his bed with his head close to Sam’s crossed legs. He looked up at Sam with a questioning glance.

 

“Close your eyes and relax. I do this with Becca all the time. She loves it,” Sam said, and when Grizz didn’t do as he was told, Sam sighed, “trust me, Grizz.”

 

“Okay, okay,” Grizz said, and he closed his eyes.

 

Grizz flinched a little when he felt Sam’s cool fingertips on his temple, but his skin was quick to warm at the touch. Sam rubbed each side in small, gentle circles. Grizz felt himself relax instantly and he was sure it was because his focus shifted from his parents to the fact that Sam was touching him.

 

Sam’s fingers moved across Grizz’s forehead, relieving every little bit of tension. Grizz could have happily fallen asleep right then and there. He let out an embarrassing moan and was glad Sam couldn’t hear it because he wouldn’t be able to live it down.

 

When Sam’s fingertips slid into Grizz’s hair as he slowly and firmly massaged his head, Grizz knew he was in heaven. He had somehow died, maybe during the car ride home, and this was his heaven. In that moment he felt like he and Sam were the only ones to exist. There were no parents. No Campbell. Nothing. Just Sam with his fingers through Grizz’s hair, making him feel more relaxed than he had been in years.

 

Sam trailed his fingers lightly back across Grizz’s forehead and down the sides of his face, down to his neck and back up again to his temples. There were those Goosebumps again. Grizz was usually a warm person, but he had shivers running through his entire body.

 

The bubble burst when Grizz heard a loud smashing sound downstairs. He snapped out of his trance and opened his eyes. He just wanted to stay there on his bed with Sam, but when another smash came, he knew he had to step in before things got worse and his parents ended up killing each other.

 

“My parents are fighting,” Grizz sighed.

 

“What?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz sat up, already missing the feel of Sam’s hands, and turned to face him so he could see him talk.

 

“My parents, they’re fighting,” Grizz admitted because he didn’t like lying to Sam as much as he already had. “Just, sorry…I’ll be right back. Stay here a minute, please. Just stay.”   

 

Grizz’s gaze lingered on Sam’s for a moment and he wasn’t sure what he was looking for. Did he think Sam would judge him? Pity him? No, Sam looked worried for him and maybe a little confused. Grizz patted Sam’s knee, silently telling him not to worry, gave a small smile, then got up and left the room. He took in a deep breath before going downstairs. He hated getting in the middle of his parents fights but once they started smashing things, it was only a matter of time before the entire house was a wreck and they’d start throwing things at each other.

 

“Too lazy to do the dishes, huh?!” Grizz’s mom screamed, “Might as well throw them in the trash and buy new ones!”

 

Grizz walked into the kitchen just in time to see his mom throw a dinner plate across the room near his father, right where the trash was. The plate smashed against the wall.

 

“Oh yeah, real mature! An’ guess who th’ fuck’ll be buyin’ the new ones! Not your shitty pay! Fuckin’ minimum wage!” Grizz’s dad slurred and honestly, it was just another Monday night.

 

“At least I don’t blow my wage on cigarette’s and beer!” his mom screamed and picked up another dinner plate.

 

“Hey!” Grizz shouted. He stepped into the room and his parents looked at him. “The neighbors are gonna call the cops again if you keep this up.”

 

“You!” his dad seethed and pointed a finger at Grizz, “it’s about time you get a job.”

 

Grizz had a lot of comebacks, the main one being that his dad specifically told him not to get a job because he had to focus on school and football. They had this same argument at least once a month.

 

“Can we all just go to separate corners of the house and chill, please? I’ll clean up in here,” Grizz bargained.

 

“Of course you will, because it’s not like your sack of shit dad will,” Grizz’s mom spat.

 

With that, Grizz’s dad saw red and stormed towards the plate-wielding woman. Grizz didn’t see any other option than to step between the two before it got even more out of hand. He had never seen his dad hit his mom before, and more often than not the drunkard just liked getting up in her face screaming. It was his mom with the fucking plate he was worried about.

 

“Get out of my way, kid!” his dad grabbed at his shirt and pushed him back.

 

“No, no, just fucking stop, Dad! This is ridiculous,” Grizz pushed back, and he wasn’t sure if his dad did it on purpose or if he was just drunkenly swinging his arm, but the bottle of beer the older man was holding swung up to Grizz’s face, clipping him on the corner of his mouth. Grizz lost his balance, falling against his mom who reached out to hold him.

 

“Look what you did!” his mom screeched, “he’s bleeding!”

 

“I’m fine,” Grizz said, but he could taste metallic on tongue. “I’m fine. It’s fine.”

 

His dad had gone quiet, having just realized what he had done, and then without a word he stumbled out of the kitchen, back to the living room. Grizz looked at his mom who was just glaring at the spot where his dad just left.

 

“Guess I’ll clean up the mess,” she said bitterly.

 

She was bitter? Grizz should be the bitter one. He wasn’t even part of the argument. He didn’t want to be, and he got hurt. At least it was over, which was what he wanted in the first place. Grizz went to the sink, spat out some blood and rinsed his mouth before leaving the kitchen without another word. When he got back upstairs, he stopped outside his bedroom door.

 

Grizz was shaking. It wasn’t the first time his parents argued. It wasn’t the first time they smashed things, but it was the first time they did it with someone else in the house, even if they weren’t aware of that. If Sam wasn’t there, Grizz would go into his room, lay on his bed and either read a book to calm down or crawl under his blankets and will his brain to shut off so he could sleep. But with Sam here, he had to plaster on a smile.

 

Grizz opened the door and Sam was still sitting on his bed, looking down at his own phone. Grizz stepped forward, closing the door, and waved to get Sam’s attention. Once he had it, he signed, ‘hey, sorry about that.’

 

Sam’s blue eyes went wide when he saw Grizz, and Grizz didn’t really know what else to expect. He kind of hoped that the cut on his lip was only on the inside, but apparently not. Damn, Grizz wished he had a mirror.

 

“What happened?” Sam asked as he leapt up from the bed and rushed to Grizz.

 

“What?” Grizz played dumb, and he was really good at playing dumb, but Sam wasn’t having any of it.

 

“Why is your lip bleeding?” Sam asked.

 

“Oh, oh this?” Grizz touched his bottom lip near the corner and sure enough there was a small amount of sticky red blood. “Uh, it’s not what it looks like. It was an accident…uhm…How do you sign ‘accident’?”

 

Sam ignored Grizz’s attempt at changing the topic and instead looked around the room before finding what he was looking for. Sam plucked a tissue from the box on the desk before going back to Grizz. Grizz almost wanted to flinch away when Sam reached out, but because it was Sam, and Sam had him wrapped around his finger, he stayed put.

 

Sam gently dabbed at the blood which had leaked down Grizz’s chin, cleaning it for him, and Grizz could hardly breathe. He wasn’t used to anyone caring for him like this, and it was stupid because Sam and Grizz had only been talking, really talking, for two days. Two days, and Grizz felt like Sam was the be all and end all of his universe.

 

The warm feeling in Grizz’s chest soon left and was replaced by shame. He was ashamed of his family. He was ashamed that Sam saw him like this because even though Grizz really liked Sam, Sam probably only saw Grizz as a guy he hung out a couple times. Grizz really had to get his head out of poetry and novels and back to reality.

 

“Did one of them hit you?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz didn’t know what to say. He never had to answer a question like that before, because his parents never got physical with him. It never went this far, but at the same time Grizz felt as though it had. They may not have ever made him bleed, but it felt like it sometimes. All Grizz wanted to do was pack and go to college, but he felt so, so trapped.

 

“It was an accident,” Grizz voice cracked, “it was just…”

 

Grizz’s emotions got the better of him and he cursed being an emotive guy. His vision went blurry and he had to close his eyes to desperately try and stop any tears from flowing because he didn’t want to look so pathetic to the guy he was crushing on. Grizz was convinced that Sam was going to run for the hills.

 

Grizz was wrong. Not a moment after he closed his eyes, he felt two arms wrap around his shoulders. Sam was hugging him. Grizz lost all control of his own arms for a few seconds, but his brain caught up and he hugged Sam back. Grizz tightened his grip around Sam’s waist and buried his face against his neck.

 

Grizz had never needed to be held so badly in his life. He was wrong; it wasn’t a bad thing that Sam was there during the fight. It was the best thing that happened to Grizz in a long time. In fact, Grizz had never felt more okay in his entire life.

 

“I like you so fucking much,” Grizz whispered, and he felt bad for saying it behind Sam’s back. It wasn’t right of him to do, but he wanted to tell Sam, just say it, even if he couldn’t hear, because Grizz didn’t have the guts to say it to his face, but he would have exploded if he didn’t say it out loud.

 

After a short while, Sam pulled back and blessed Grizz with a reassuring smile. The shorter boy tilted his head to the side, then Grizz almost saw a lightbulb flash above Sam’s head before he spoke.

 

“You wanna go get ice-cream?” Sam asked.

 

The suggestion came from left field, but Grizz wanted to be anywhere but there, so he nodded, “I really do.”

 

---

 

Grizz and Sam sat on the hood of Grizz’s car in the deserted parking lot of Izzy’s Ice-Creamery. Sam had a cone with two scoops of chocolate, and Grizz had his regular soft-serve vanilla with rainbow sprinkles. Izzy’s had the best ice-cream in town and Grizz was shocked when he found out Sam had never been there before.

 

“It’s not a big town, Sam. How could you have not been here before?” Grizz asked incredulously.

 

“I don’t usually like ice-cream,” Sam explained, but that just made Grizz more confused.

 

“Then why’d you suggest it?” Grizz laughed.

 

“Because,” Sam shrugged and pointed to Grizz’s lip, “thought it would make that feel better.”

 

“Oh.”

 

Grizz looked away from Sam and licked his ice-cream. Hanging out with Sam made him feel better. Sam made him laugh on the way over, and now he was feeling down again. It wasn’t Sam’s fault though. Grizz knew Sam would have questions. How could he not?

 

“Do your parents do that a lot?” Sam asked.

 

“Actual violence?” Grizz turned to face Sam again, “no…I mean, they’re pretty shit towards each other, but with me…it’s more like…I don’t know. Being unsupportive, not caring, yelling at me over nothing. Bullshit like that.

 

“Have you told anyone?” Sam asked.

 

“Nothing to tell. I’m eighteen. It’s not like it’s child abuse. I’ll be out of here soon anyway,” Grizz told him.

 

“I wish I was going to college in the fall too,” Sam said, and Grizz sometimes forgot Sam was a grade lower, probably because he always hung out with Becca who was a senior.

 

“You don’t like high school?” Grizz asked.

 

“I hate it.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Not all of us are popular,” Sam said with a teasing grin as he nudged Grizz’s side.

 

“You’re popular,” Grizz said. Popular to Grizz, at least.

 

“Am not.”

 

“Everyone likes you.”

 

“I get invited to parties out of pity,” Sam said and Grizz watched in fascination as Sam licked his ice-cream. Grizz snapped out of it and got back to the conversation.

 

“No, you don’t,” Grizz shook his head.

 

“It’s true. Either that or Becca is invited and I convince her to go and take me with her,” Sam laughed.

 

“Parties are overrated anyway. Give me a good book and a quiet room, and I’m all set,” Grizz said. And Sam. Give him Sam and he’d be set for life.

 

“No way. I’ve seen you at parties. You’re the life of it,” Sam said.

 

“No, alcohol is the life of the party. I’m just its host,” Grizz said.

 

Sam smiled wider, shaking his head at Grizz. The two of them sat there chatting, not going back to the topic of Grizz’s parents, thankfully. They finished their ice-cream around the time the sun began to set. It was still light enough for Sam to be able to read Grizz’s lips. The air around them got cooler and Grizz’s body usually ran hot, so he didn’t even notice it was cold until Sam wrapped his arms around himself.

 

“You’re cold,” Grizz dumbly pointed out.

 

“I’m fine,” Sam shook his head.

 

For a split second Grizz was going to suggested that maybe they should go home, but he also really did not want to leave. Besides, he had a better idea. Grizz signed for Sam to stay where he was, then he slid off the hood of the car and opened the back seat. Right there where Grizz left it was his varsity jacket. He snatched it up and went back to Sam, handing it to him as he sat back on the hood next to the shivering boy.

 

Sam took the jacket cautiously, maybe even a bit suspiciously, but Grizz just gave an encouraging look, pushing the jacket into Sam’s hands. Sam put the jacket on and even though it was over-sized on him, Grizz couldn’t help but think it looked really, really good. Like really good. Like, Grizz’s heart was pounding hard against his chest kind of good.

 

‘Thank you,’ Sam signed.

 

‘You’re welcome,’ Grizz signed back.

 

And fuck, this felt like a date. And double fuck, Grizz wanted to kiss Sam. But this wasn’t a date and he couldn’t kiss Sam and it wasn’t fair. Grizz wondered if he could sustain this friendship with Sam until high school was over and he was free, but even then Grizz was planning on moving across states to go to college. Grizz couldn’t see a way he could have what he wanted. It was easier to push everything down.

 

The two boys kept chatting until it got darker, and then Sam couldn’t see Grizz speaking properly anymore, yet Grizz didn’t want to leave the hood of that car. Apparently, neither did Sam, because he lay back against the windscreen and Grizz followed suit. It was comfortable and not awkward like it should have been seeing as they were new friends and Grizz’s mind didn’t seem to work properly around Sam. It just felt so natural to Grizz.

 

They stayed there for hours in their own little bubble, not wanting to go home. Grizz almost fell asleep and Sam did at one point, his head lulling against Grizz’s shoulder accidentally, and Grizz of course wouldn’t move a muscle. At almost midnight a security guard came by and told them they had to leave, and when Grizz dropped Sam of at his house and watched him walk to the front door still wearing his varsity jacket, he swore he would never ask for it back.

Chapter Text

Grizz sat by himself on the half-packed bus with his phone in his hand. Gwen’s puffy-eyed, red-nosed face was on his screen as he face-timed her. Gwen had come down with the flu just the night before the school camping trip and Grizz felt bad for her because she was always such a socialite, so Grizz knew she would be going crazy knowing she’d be missing out.

 

Grizz and Gwen were almost back to normal, so face-timing her wasn’t exactly an odd thing to do. Earlier that week at lunch time Grizz had sat Gwen down while Clark wasn’t around and had a one on one chat with her. Grizz still felt terrible for snapping at her outside the bathrooms the week before. Grizz apologized and explained to her that he was under the impression Gwen liked him, and it made him feel uncomfortable around Clark. That was a half truth. He didn’t go into the details of his sexuality. He did however make it clear to her in the nicest way he could that he only saw her as a friend.

 

Gwen, in true Gwen fashion, played it off as though she had never been interested in Grizz and that it was all one big misunderstanding. That was okay with Grizz because as long as Gwen knew the crush she had on him was completely out of the question then he didn’t care what she told herself to make it okay. Of course, it would have been easier to just tell her he’s gay, but he couldn’t make the words come out of his mouth.

 

Grizz was just glad that Gwen seemed to accept it and move on. She went back to treating him how she always had; as friends, and not following him around, flirting with him or kissing him out of nowhere. They hugged and made up, and then pretended nothing happened when Clark turned up for lunch.

 

“This won’t be as fun without you,” Grizz told Gwen through the screen of his phone.

 

“Oh please, I’m sure you and the boys will have plenty of fun out there in the wilderness,” Gwen’s croaky voice spoke back.

 

“Uh huh, are you sure you’re not faking it so you don’t have to come?” Grizz speculated.

 

“Uhm, excuse me, but I like camping, thank you very much. We all know Clark is the princess of the group,” she rolled her eyes.

 

Grizz laughed and nodded, “Yeah, you might be right there.” He remembered the high-pitched scream Clark made during their last camping trip when a spider dropped onto his arm from a tree, and how he demanded to be taken home or he would sue.

 

“Where is he, anyway? He’s not gonna go loco if he sees us talking, right?” Gwen asked.

 

“He’s further down the back with Jason. And Luke ditched me for Helena so…” Grizz shrugged. He didn’t really mind that his friends abandoned him. He got along with them and loved them and everything, but he often found himself detached from the group, even when he was with them.

 

“Aww, poor Grizzly bear, all on his lonesome,” Gwen pouted.

 

“Me? You’re the one home by yourself. What are you gonna get up to anyway?” Grizz asked.

 

Gwen went on to tell him of her plans to laze around and finish some assignments, and Gwen was a bit of a talker so it was easy for Grizz to get distracted. Grizz usually prided himself on being a good listener, but the second he saw Sam, his mind turned to mush. There Sam was, just casually stepping onto the bus, completely unaware of the way Grizz’s entire chest warmed at the mere sight of him.

 

It hadn’t been long since Grizz and Sam started talking, but Grizz already felt closer to the boy than anyone else at school, because in all honesty, Sam was the first person he really spoke to. Grizz never usually let anyone in to really know him. He kept people at a distance, sometimes subconsciously and sometimes on purpose, and sometimes he didn’t even know why.

 

Grizz was almost at the point where most of his friends were more like acquaintances, and Grizz didn’t mind because he was planning on leaving everyone and everything behind once college started. With Sam though, it was different. He wanted to know Sam. It was so easy to talk to him and Sam made Grizz actually want to talk about his family, his life and his aspirations. It was just easy. 

 

Every night that week when Grizz and Sam left school, they got straight into Grizz’s car and went to Izzy’s Ice-Creamery to sit on the hood of the car and talk or learn sign language, until the sun set and it got too dark. Then, they would sit in silence, just staring at the stars like they did the first night. Sometimes if they didn’t want the conversation to end, they would end up in Grizz’s car with the lights on.

 

On Tuesday night Grizz found out that Sam liked music, and Grizz felt dumb because he didn’t think people that were deaf could even enjoy things like music, but then they got in Grizz’s car and Sam put on one of his favorite songs. Grizz had never seen Sam smile so wide when the bass kicked in and the car vibrated. Sam even taught Grizz how to sign the lyrics. That was the best thing Grizz ever learned, and that night when he got home he compiled a playlist of all his favorite songs with the best rhythm that he would then give to Sam at school the next day.

 

On Wednesday night Sam opened up to Grizz about what it was liking being the only out gay kid in their school. All Grizz wanted to do was tell Sam that he was gay too, but every time the words tried to leave his mouth, they crawled right back in and he swallowed them whole. That night Sam talked and talked, and Grizz listened. Sam told him how scary it was to come out, but how it wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be in the aftermath, that there were a lot of supportive people surrounding him.

 

Sam went on to tell Grizz about Campbell and how Sam thought he was pure evil. Sam was scared of him and scared for Elle, even though he had no proof that Campbell was doing anything bad to her. Grizz tried not to get angry when Sam told him how much Campbell used to pick on him growing up, and even now. That night Grizz made Sam promise him that if Campbell ever hurt him or if he ever felt in danger, then he would text Grizz and Grizz would be there in a flash.

 

Thursday night rolled around and Grizz had football practice, but when he was finished and showered, he found Sam waiting by his car. That was when Grizz realized this would be a daily occurrence, and he wasn’t mad about that at all. That night they drove through a fast food restaurant to get burgers because Sam was sick of ice-cream. At that point Grizz was sick of ice-cream too, but he hadn’t had enough of Sam.

 

They still ended up in the parking lot of Izzy’s Ice-Creamery in the exact same car park. That night Grizz spent the entire night learning ASL from Sam, because Grizz wanted to know more and didn’t want to forget what he had already been shown. Grizz still wanted to communicate with Sam in his language more than anything, and every time Sam mentioned Grizz’s non-existent deaf cousin, Grizz died a little inside.

 

On Friday night Grizz’s parents weren’t home, so Sam and Grizz ended up on Grizz’s bed, side by side, eating pizza and watching movies on Netflix. That night it took everything in Grizz’s power to not kiss Sam. In fact, it took everything in him to refrain from even holding his hand. Grizz was falling apart with how much he wanted Sam, and Sam had no idea.

 

Grizz was so good at pretending to be straight. He was so good at being the typical ‘dude-bro’ jock that every time he accidentally brushed his arm against Sam’s or looked at his lips for a second too long, he would act as though nothing had happened and say something so pathetically hetero-normative that he hated himself for it. He even pointed out a woman’s breasts on the TV just to throw Sam off. Grizz wanted to drown himself after that. But still, all Sam did was laugh at him and then everything was okay again.

 

“Grizz! Grizz, are you listening to me?” Gwen’s voice sounded distant but it was still enough for Grizz to snap out of his momentary trance and look back at his phone.

 

“What?”

 

“Dude, whoever you’re staring at must be either really special or really hot,” Gwen said.

 

“Sam,” Grizz murmured and his eyes went wide when he realized what he said.

 

“I’m sorry, what?” Gwen asked quickly.

 

“What? Nothing.”

 

“Grizz-”

 

“Gotta go.”

 

“Grizz!”

 

“You’re delirious. Get some rest. I’ll come see you Sunday. I’ll make you chicken soup. Later,” Grizz said quickly, and then he hung up on her.

 

There was no time to worry about Gwen because Sam was getting closer, and the moment Grizz looked up, blue eyes locked onto his. Grizz smiled, trying to act as normal as he possible could. Sam gave a wave and just as he got to where Grizz was sitting, Becca came stumbling out of nowhere, running right into Sam.

 

Sam’s entire body lost balance and before Grizz could even brace himself, Sam had toppled over, right into Grizz’s lap, hands first. Sam’s hands were only on his thigh but Grizz was craving Sam so much that the tiniest touches seemed to set him off.

 

“Sorry,” Sam said quickly and pushed himself off, situating himself in the empty space next to Grizz.

 

“It’s okay,” Grizz voice squeaked, then when Sam was looking at him, he signed, ‘you okay?’

 

Sam nodded, but his cheeks were flushed red and Grizz tried not to look into it too much.

 

“Oh my God!” Becca said and touched Sam’s shoulder to get his attention, “I am so sorry. I’m such a klutz.”

 

“Yeah, real clumsy,” Sam spoke while he signed. Grizz noticed the little glare he gave Becca, and he wondered if Becca did that on purpose. Judging by the much too innocent smile on her face, she did. Grizz really needed people to stop interfering with his love life, or lack of for that matter.

 

“My bad. Are you two okay to sit together? I promised Kelly I would sit with her,” Becca spoke and signed. Grizz was jealous of how well she signed and wondered how long it took her to get that good.

 

Becca didn’t wait for an answer before sitting across the narrow walk-way from them, next to Kelly. Sam pushed his backpack to the floor by his feet then looked up at Grizz.

 

“Hi,” Sam waved.

 

“Hi,” Grizz smiled, and he felt like a twelve-year-old.

 

“Are you excited?” Sam asked.

 

“Yeah, I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks,” Grizz said honestly.

 

“Who are you bunked with?” Sam asked.

 

“Luke, you?”

 

“Gordie.”

 

“Cool,” Grizz nodded casually, but inside he wasn’t casual at all. Inside, he was so fucking jealous of Gordie, even though Gordie was probably straight and dating a girl in his grade, Cassandra.

 

“I saw you talking on the phone. I didn’t interrupt, did I?” Sam asked.

 

“Oh, no, no. It was only Gwen,” Grizz said.

 

“Oh.”

 

“Yeah, she’s uh, she’s sick,” Grizz told him.

 

Sam didn’t say anything and Grizz wondered why it was suddenly awkward between them. Their conversations usually flowed so smoothly and they were comfortable around each other, or at least Grizz was comfortable around Sam. Grizz figured that it was probably because there were a lot of people around and the two of them never spoke when others were around. Grizz felt like he couldn’t let his guard down, so instead he just decided to keep things light.

 

“So,” Grizz started and opened his backpack. He pulled out two things and turned to Sam, “we have two hours and I have cards or mini-chess.”

 

Sam smiled and pointed to the mini-chess board.

 

“Chess it is.”

 

Grizz propped his bag up on his right leg and Sam’s left so they could put the board on it between them. The bus started moving and the two boys began playing. The bus was noisy but Grizz felt like he was in his own little bubble when he was around Sam, like always. The awkwardness left quickly and comfort took over. Not to mention Grizz got a bit of a thrill over the feel of Sam’s knee and thigh against his since it wasn’t a very spacious bus.

 

‘Check-mate,’ Grizz signed for the third time in a row.

 

“Not fair. You gotta let me win at least once,” Sam pouted and Grizz really, really, wanted to kiss him.

 

“Nope. You gotta earn it,” Grizz said.

 

Sam rolled his eyes but smiled nonetheless, and Grizz swooned. The bubble was burst though when an annoyingly familiar, menacing voice came from the seats in front of them.

 

“Well, isn’t this just the sweetest thing,” Campbell spoke, and Grizz didn’t even realize Campbell was sitting in front of them because, well, actually, when the hell did that happen? Campbell had poked his head over the back of the chair to look at the two of them. He must have gotten there after Sam sat down, because Grizz lost track of everything around him when Sam came into the picture.

 

“Elle, baby, don’t you think these two are just the cutest friends?” Campbell asked, and the way he said ‘friends’ made Grizz a little sick to his stomach.

 

Grizz’s gaze dropped to Elle who looked like she could care less, then he glanced at Sam who had a confused expression on his face, probably because he hadn’t caught on that Campbell was talking to them until Grizz looked up.

 

“You agree, right Elle?” Campbell pushed.

 

“Sure, whatever,” Elle nodded.

 

“Is there a point here, Campbell?” Grizz sighed, because honestly what the fuck? Who did Campbell think he was? Grizz wanted nothing to do with him.

 

“Nope, just an observation. As you were,” Campbell said before he turned back around.

 

Grizz couldn’t get rid of the feeling of unease that suddenly consumed him. Anxiety was bubbling up which only got worse when he noticed Sam looking at him.

 

“What was that about? I missed it,” Sam said.

 

“Nothing. He’s just being a dick,” Grizz said loud enough for Campbell to hear. The other boy didn’t say anything. He just put his arm around his girlfriend and kept facing forward.

 

Grizz couldn’t bring himself to look at Sam. He knew Sam hated it when people wouldn’t tell him what he missed in a conversation. Sam told Grizz that himself just two nights ago. Grizz didn’t want to talk about what Campbell said though. If Campbell thought something was going on with Grizz and Sam, then did everyone else too? Was it only a matter of time?

 

“I’m feeling a bit motion sick, so I think I’m just gonna look out the window for a while and listen to music. That okay?” Grizz said, because he didn’t know how to nicely say ‘I’m a piece of shit that doesn’t want to talk to you right now in case your brother gets the wrong idea, which actually is the right idea because I have the biggest crush on you but don’t want anyone to find out because, as I said, I am a piece of shit.’

 

It didn’t really roll off the tongue.

 

When Grizz saw Sam’s nod, he took his headphones out of his bag, plugged them into his phone, turned on shuffle, and looked out window. Grizz just wanted to be back in the parking lot of Izzy’s Ice-Creamery with Sam, just the two of them, where no one could see them. Grizz wondered what Sam thought of him and if Sam even liked him or not. He wondered, and maybe even hoped, that Sam was having the same internal struggles that he was. Probably not.

 

Sometimes, Grizz wished he was straight, and that Sam was a girl. Those thoughts made him feel awful. Grizz knew in the back of his mind that it was okay for a boy to like another boy. He was just so scared of what everyone else thought. He wished that no one gave a shit if someone was gay. He wished everyone in the world viewed every sexuality as normal. Most of all Grizz wished he had courage, but he didn’t even have the courage to tell just one person.

 

Grizz wanted to cry, but swallowed it down along with the rest of his thoughts.

 

---

 

Grizz didn’t see Sam again until later that night. The day was a busy one. They arrived at the camping destination which was in the middle of nowhere, near some mountains. It took a one hour hike to get where they were supposed to be, and Grizz had re-joined his friends like he was meant to.

 

Everyone had to set up their own two-person tents, but Grizz and Helena ended up setting up their own, plus Jason and Clark’s because Jason, Clark and Luke were apparently useless. Grizz went around helping others too. He wanted to find Sam and help him, but he was across the other side of the camp site.

 

After everything was set up, everyone was split into four separate groups. Grizz was lucky enough to be with his friends, but not lucky enough to be with Sam, and Grizz thought maybe that was a good thing because when Sam was around, the only thing going through Grizz’s head was Sam Sam Sam Sam Sam Sam, and that could get distracting. Maybe a needed a Sam detox because it had been easy to keep his crush at bay when he wasn’t talking to the boy. Now that they were friends it was like the mini-Grizz inside Grizz that dealt with his love affairs had snorted cocaine and was bouncing off the walls and not giving Grizz a break.

 

Grizz shifted his attention throughout the day and focused on what his group was doing; learning about wildlife and fauna. They were taught about spiders, snakes, all venomous creatures, and what they were supposed to do in an emergency. Grizz found it all so interesting, and he felt like he was back in boy scouts again.

 

As the day went on, Grizz started missing Sam. He got through every day that week knowing that he would hang out with Sam that afternoon. Now, who knew when Grizz would talk to Sam again. It was like the end of the world, and Grizz was being dramatic. Most of all Grizz just felt bad for giving Sam the cold shoulder on the bus and he wanted to make sure things were okay again.

 

Dinner rolled around and there was so much commotion going on that Grizz couldn’t even begin to find Sam to apologize. He just ate with Jason, Clark, Luke and Helena. It wasn’t until after dinner that Grizz saw Sam. There were several camp fires burning with the just over two hundred junior and senior students spread out amongst them. Grizz noticed Sam sitting with Becca, Gordie, Cassandra and Kelly.

 

Grizz sighed and rested his head against Helena’s shoulder. She was used to it so didn’t move. Grizz hated the feeling of longing he seemed to always carry around with him. He was sulking but trying not to let his friends know it.

 

“I got it,” Clark spoke, “I’m gonna win her over at Fugitives next weekend.”

 

Clark had been going on about how he wanted to get Gwen back, and everything he came up with was so elaborate and ridiculous, and Grizz had listened to Gwen and all the reasons why she broke up with Clark and his inability to chill the fuck out was one of them.

 

“She always loved when I dominated at Fugitives. I’ll win the game and win her back,” Clark said triumphantly.

 

Grizz sat up, shook his head and before he could think it through, he spoke, “She’s not a prize to be won.”

 

All eyes shot to Grizz but the most intense was the glare Clark was giving him. Grizz regretted even speaking.

 

“You should just talk to her, man,” Grizz said.

 

“Yeah, you’d like that, wouldn’t you?” Clark sneered.

 

“What?” Grizz sighed.

 

“You want me to talk to her so I’ll fuck it up and you can swoop on in, right?” Clark said.

 

“Clark, I don’t think Grizz would do that,” Helena, an actual angel, spoke.

 

“Wouldn’t he though?” Clark asked.

 

And Grizz was tired. He was tired of Clark. He was tired of the Gwen drama. He was tired of everyone’s interest in who he did and didn’t like. He just wanted to take the heat off the whole Gwen thing so what he said next was complete word vomit.

 

“I like Becca, okay? Fuck,” Grizz snapped. He felt so wrong, dirty even, for lying, for using Becca like that, but he just kept going with the lie. “I like her, and Gwen knows. She’s been helping me so…whatever, man.”

 

“Helping you? You don’t need help,” Clark laughed, apparently forgetting that he was mad at Grizz. The lie worked like a charm.

 

“Yeah, dude, you’re an attractive young man. Just go get her,” Jason said.

 

Grizz wanted to scream. He felt like he was suffocating and he couldn’t be around them anymore. He really, really hated lying.

 

“Okay,” Grizz nodded, “okay, I’m gonna go hang out with her.”

 

“Oh shit, wait, I have a genius idea,” Luke said.

 

“What is it?” Grizz asked impatiently.

 

“Well, Helena has a tent to herself since Gwen is sick, so I’ll be in there, and you’ll have a tent to yourself. Just saying, you could extend an invite to Becca,” Luke said.

 

“Oh yeah, Grizzy’s gonna get some,” Jason said and held his hand out for a high-five. Grizz, playing the part, high-fived him back, and felt sick about it.

 

Grizz was just so desperate to get away from them all. Without a word he stood from his place next to Helena and ignored the jeers of encouragement as he crossed other groups of students. When his eyes fell on Sam and his friends, Grizz felt a little calmer. His friends, and Sam’s group, both had such different energies. Grizz really did like his friends, when they weren’t being annoying about who he liked. At that moment though, he really needed the change of scenery.

 

“Hey guys,” Grizz spoke when he got close enough and the others looked up, “mind if I join?”

 

“Of course, Grizz,” Becca said with a huge smile on her face, and if she didn’t chill out soon, Grizz was going to have to have a word with her.

 

Grizz sat on the ground with his back to the fire. He was next to Gordie who was sitting with Cassandra. Sam, Becca and Kelly were sitting on a log facing the fire. Grizz may or may not have sat in front of Sam on purpose. The two caught each other’s gaze and…fuck. It was still weird.

 

“So…what’s up?” Grizz asked the group.

 

“Maybe you can settle an argument for us, Grizz. None of us were in the wildlife talks today, so tell us, are there poisonous snakes out here?” Cassandra asked.

 

“Yes,” Grizz said bluntly, because well, there was.

 

“I told you all,” Becca said smugly.

 

“Great, so I’m gonna die,” Kelly said so dramatically that it made the group laugh.

 

“I know it’s cliché, but they’re more scared of you than you are of them. Leave them alone and they’ll leave you alone,” Grizz said.

 

The group went on to talk about something else, and Grizz naturally turned his focus to Sam who was more withdrawn than usual. He knocked Sam’s foot with his own, getting his attention. Sam looked up and Jesus Christ, he was beautiful. The light of the fire made his skin glow and his eyes flicker. Grizz almost forgot why he got Sam’s attention in the first place.

 

‘What’s wrong?’ Grizz signed.

 

“Groups. Hard to keep track of what people are saying sometimes, plus the lighting’s a bit weird,” Sam said.

 

Grizz shuffled forward and took his phone out of his pocket. He opened up notes and typed out a message.

 

‘They were talking about whether there are poisonous snakes out here. Spoiler alert, there are. Kelly thinks she’s gonna die.’

 

Grizz handed his phone to Sam who took it and read the message. A small smile played at his lips.

 

“What if I accidentally step on one?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz took his phone back and typed out a new message.

 

‘Don’t worry. I’m trained in survival and first aid. I’ll keep you safe.’

 

Grizz held his breath as he handed his phone back to Sam. It was almost like sending a risky text. Sam looked up through his long eyelashes at Grizz.

 

“Scout’s honor?” Sam asked, doing the salute.

 

Grizz laughed and nodded, doing the same, “Scout’s honor.”

 

Grizz leant back on his hands but kept his feet close to Sam’s, hooked around the back of his ankle, and neither of them dared to move.

Chapter Text

It was getting late. The teachers told everyone they had to be in their tents by midnight at the very latest. It was now just past eleven and most students had already headed to their tents, including Gordie, Cassandra and Kelly, leaving Grizz, Sam and Becca still by the fire, isolated from everyone else.

 

Grizz watched in complete jealousy as Becca sat in front of Sam, between his legs, and the boy with magic fingers gave her his infamous head massage. Grizz wanted to swap places with Becca, but with Jason and Clark sill up and sitting a couple of fires away, he knew that couldn’t happen.

 

“Feel better?” Sam asked Becca.

 

“So much,” Becca spoke, her hands in the air signing so Sam could see.

 

“Good, so you won’t mind if I head to bed?” Sam asked.

 

Becca’s gaze landed on Grizz in a questioning look. What the hell did Becca expect him to do? Tell him to stay? Sure, Grizz didn’t want the night to end. He was having the time of his life talking to them, but he couldn’t just ask Sam to sit out there longer just for him. Besides, Grizz was feeling kind of tired himself.

 

‘I guess,’ Becca signed, and that much Grizz could understand.

 

Sam released Becca from his grip and she was quick to turn to face the boy who just stood up from the log. It took Grizz a few seconds to realize she was signing to Sam without speaking a word, and Grizz couldn’t see a thing.

 

“Hey, hey, what are you saying?” Grizz asked.

 

“Mind your business, Gareth,” Becca snapped.

 

Grizz looked to her, then to Sam, only in time to see Sam roll his eyes at her before looking at Grizz. Grizz didn’t know what to do or say. He missed Sam already.

 

“Goodnight, Grizz,” Sam said.

 

‘Goodnight,’ Grizz signed.

 

Sam smiled wide and didn’t say another thing before walking off. Grizz watched him go, because of course he did. He was obsessed with the boy. Once Sam was out of sight and in his tent, Grizz groaned and fell forward, splaying himself on Becca’s legs.

 

“It’s not fucking fair,” Grizz whined.

 

“Oh Grizzy, babe, you’re doing this to yourself,” Becca said. She ran her fingers through Grizz’s hair and it just wasn’t the same as when Sam did it.

 

Grizz whined again and covered his face with his hands. Becca didn’t understand. She didn’t understand how hard it was for Grizz to sit there all night and only have the guts to touch Sam’s foot with his own. She didn’t understand how he was always thinking about people finding out, and at the end of the day Grizz didn’t give a fuck if anyone at school knew. It was just that once they knew, his parents would find out somehow.

 

“This is painful to watch,” Becca said.

 

“What is?” Grizz asked as he rolled onto his back and looked up at her.

 

“You and him staring at each other,” she said with a teasing grin.

 

“He’s not staring at me,” Grizz shook his head because the mere possibility of Sam liking him the way Grizz liked Sam was preposterous.

 

“Yeah he is,” Becca laughed, “you stare at him, he catches you so you look away, then he stares at you, and you catch him and he looks away. It’s one big circle.”

 

“He’s probably just looking at me because I’m a fucking creep,” Grizz said.

 

“You aren’t a creep, you’re cute,” Becca said.

 

If Becca, or Sam for that matter, knew just how much Grizz thought about Sam, then perhaps Becca would rethink that statement. Grizz had never wanted anything so bad in his entire life and he just didn’t know how to handle these feelings.

 

“Fuck,” Grizz sighed, “I just wanna hold his hand.”

 

“So do it,” Becca urged, “what’s stopping you?”

 

“It’s complicated with my parents, okay? I can’t come out,” Grizz said.

 

“You don’t need to come out to be with someone,” Becca pointed out.

 

“It’s not that simple,” Grizz said.

 

“It is though. I know Sam. He won’t out you if you just tell him. It could be between the two of you. Your parents don’t need to know,” Becca said.

 

Grizz knew in the back of his mind that what Becca was saying was true. Grizz trusted Sam. There was always that flicker of doubt though, that people would find out, and then his parents would and kick him out, and then he would be homeless. The thoughts snowballed every time until Grizz shut the door on even considering coming out. Besides, just because Grizz was gay, and Sam was gay, didn’t mean Sam automatically liked Grizz. Grizz couldn’t handle the rejection.

 

“Listen, you’re sharing with Luke tonight, right?” Becca asked.

 

“Mhm.”

 

“About twenty minutes ago I saw him sneak into Helena’s tent,” Becca said, and Grizz could see where she was going with this.

 

“Right…”

 

“So, you’re alone.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“So, ask Sam to join you,” she said like it was obvious.

 

“Yeah, right,” Grizz snorted.

 

“What’s the worst that could happen?” She asked. She fiddled with Grizz’s hair, soothing Grizz enough for him to think about it, and he really did think about it. His mind wandered to all the possibilities of how tonight could play out. What if Sam did like him? What if Sam came to his tent and kissed him? Or what if they just talked, or slept, or cuddled? The thoughts left Grizz with a warm feeling in the pit of his stomach, until one final thought squashed them all. What if Sam rejected him?

 

“You’re insane,” Grizz said and sat up. He didn’t want to think about this anymore.

 

“If you two aren’t together within the next week I’m going to have to take matters into my own hands,” Becca said.

 

“No, you won’t,” Grizz shook his head as he stood from the ground. He reached his hand out to help Becca up too. She took it and Grizz hoisted her up easily.

 

“Try me,” Becca said cockily.

 

“You won’t, because you promised you wouldn’t say anything, and you’re a good person,” Grizz said.  

 

“Damn it,” Becca grumbled, “damn you. But seriously. Get your shit together.”

 

“Becca, the only way anything is going to happen is if he makes the first move, and my parents spontaneously combust,” Grizz said.

 

Becca thought about it for a moment before nodding, “I’ll work on it.”

 

Grizz rolled his eyes and shook his head at her.

 

“Goodnight, Becca. Please try not to meddle in my life,” Grizz said.

 

“I won’t meddle in yours. I’ll meddle in Sam’s,” she said cheekily, and before Grizz could respond, she was out of there, heading in the opposite direction to her tent.

 

Grizz sighed heavily and decided to call it a night. He found his tent easily, which was empty except for his backpack, pillow and sleeping bag. He took his shirt off, leaving himself in his sweat pants, and fell to the pillow, covering himself with his sleeping bag because even though Grizz was usually warm, he knew the temperature would keep dropping overnight.

 

Grizz lay there, too awake to think about sleep. His mind could never really turn off once it was time for bed. He listened to the teachers telling the last few straggling students to head to bed, then things got quieter. Grizz tossed and turned, unable to get comfortable. It was near one o’clock in the morning when Grizz felt his phone vibrate. He thought it was just a notification from an app because who would be messaging him at this time of night? He was wrong though. He squinted in the light and saw a text from Sam.

 

Snakes can’t get in these tents, right? – Sam.

 

Grizz smiled fondly and typed out a response.

 

If you have it zipped up properly, you’re fine. – Grizz.

 

Idk if I do??? Tell my parents I love them. – Sam.

 

Grizz laughed, shaking his head. Sam could be so damn endearing sometimes. Scratch that, all the time.

 

Why aren’t you asleep? – Grizz.

 

Gordie kicks in his sleep. – Sam.

 

Grizz stared at his phone and lightly bit on his bottom lip as he thought about what to say next. Becca’s encouraging yet slightly annoying voice was in the back of his mind. This was his chance. He could ask Sam to come to his tent under the pretence of being a good friend. That was all Grizz needed to send the text.

 

Luke left me for Helena so I have a whole half a tent with your name on it if you’re interested? – Grizz.

 

Grizz held his breath as he waited for a reply. He almost wanted to turn his phone off and act like nothing happened. When the reply finally came, Grizz let out a sigh of relief which was quickly replaced by nerves.

 

Which ones yours? – Sam.

 

Third one from the last fire. Don’t get caught. – Grizz.

 

Grizz sat up and stared down at his phone, expecting Sam to message back that he wasn’t coming, but the message never came. Grizz couldn’t believe that he actually went through with it and asked Sam to his tent. Becca would be so proud of him.

 

It took only a few more seconds of sitting there for Grizz to go into panic mode because he was not prepared for this. He didn’t even know what he was supposed to be prepared for. They were just going to sleep, right? Or talk? They had talked before. They talked all the time on the hood of Grizz’s car, so it wasn’t a conversation he was worried about.

 

Grizz didn’t have a chance to fret about it any longer though because he soon heard the sound of Sam whispering his name. Grizz jumped into action and unzipped his tent. In the dark Grizz could see Sam’s outline as he stepped inside the tent and Grizz zipped it back up again. Grizz grabbed his phone and turned on the torch so they could see each other.

 

“No one caught you, obviously,” Grizz said.

 

Sam gave him a questioning look and Grizz waited for him to sit down before repeating himself. The two boys sat cross legged, facing each other, with the light on the ground between them, shining upwards and illuminating their faces.

 

“So, no one saw you?” Grizz asked.

 

“I don’t think so. Ms. Chan was half asleep by a fire and I couldn’t see any other teachers,” Sam said.

 

“Good, that’s good,” Grizz said, suddenly feeling a little awkward. Sam’s eyes flicked down then back up to Grizz’s face, and Grizz felt a bit self-conscious.

 

“How are you not wearing a shirt? It’s cold,” Sam said.

 

“I’m usually warm, remember?” Grizz said in barely a whisper. He didn’t want any of the surrounding tents hearing them, and Sam already usually spoke in a whisper anyway. Grizz wished he was good enough at signing that their entire conversation could’ve been in ASL.

 

“Right, that reminds me, I still have your jacket,” Sam said.

 

“That’s fine. You can keep it for a little longer, if you want,” Grizz said, and fuck, he was so damn smitten for this boy.  

 

“It’s the warmest one I have at home. It’s my go-to,” Sam said.

 

“You’ve worn it again?” Grizz asked. His eyes lit up with hope which he tried to push back down. He couldn’t be so damn obvious.

 

“It’s warm,” Sam shrugged casually.

 

Grizz smiled, looking down for a moment. His hair covered the light tint of pink which graced his cheeks. He looked back up at Sam and changed the subject before he got too carried away.

 

“So, did you have a fun day?” Grizz asked.

 

“Yeah, did you?” Sam asked back as he pulled his hoodie sleeves down over his hands.

 

“Could’ve been better,” Grizz spoke.

 

“Why’s that?”

 

“My friends can get kind of exhausting sometimes,” Grizz admitted.

 

“Why?” Sam asked, and Sam was kind of like that all the time, Grizz noticed. Sam was always so curious and that was why it was easy to talk to him about anything and everything.

 

“There’s this, like, drama going on with Gwen and Clark,” Grizz explained.

 

“Oh yeah?”

 

“Yeah…so basically Gwen and I are good friends and Clark thinks something more is going on,” Grizz said and it felt good to actually talk about this.

 

“Why?”

 

“Because…” Grizz trailed off. It didn’t feel right to tell Sam that Gwen had a crush on him because he didn’t want to embarrass her, so he decided on a half truth. “He just gets jealous when we talk, so like, every time I mention her he gets all angry and defensive. And today to get him to shut up I told him I like Becca.”

 

Sam gave Grizz the most confused look he ever had. Sam tilted his head to the side and Grizz felt like he was under a microscope being analysed.

 

“You…” Sam paused, “yYou like…Becca?”

 

“No,” Grizz shook his head quickly.

 

“So, you like Gwen then?” Sam concluded and if Grizz didn’t really like Sam, he would’ve been annoyed.

 

“No, I don’t,” Grizz said.

 

For a moment Grizz thought Sam was going to ask another question, but when he opened his mouth to speak, a giant yawn came out of it instead. Grizz couldn’t help but smile.

 

“You’re tired,” Grizz said as a matter of fact.  

 

‘Sorry’, Sam signed while yawning again.

 

“Don’t be. It’s been a long day. You should get some sleep,” Grizz said.

 

Sam didn’t say anything at first. He looked around before frowning, and Grizz wondered what was wrong.

 

“I didn’t bring my sleeping bag or pillow. I’m so dumb,” Sam said.

 

“Oh.”

 

And Luke took his own to Helena’s tent, of course.

 

“I’ll go get them and be back,” Sam said and went to get up but Grizz took hold of his arm, stopping him. Sam looked at him, his eyes dropping to Grizz’s lips, expecting an explanation.

 

“No, no. You might get caught and then you can’t come back,” Grizz said because he really didn’t want that to happen. There was only one solution and Grizz didn’t even think before speaking. He just wanted Sam to stay, so he offered, “we can share. I may be an only child but I’m great at sharing.”

 

“Are you sure?” Sam asked sceptically. Grizz let go of Sam’s arm and nodded.

 

“You don’t wanna get caught, do you?” Grizz asked. He scooted back a little and pulled his sleeping bag up on his lap before patting the spot next to him.

 

“Are you sure?” Sam asked again, “because I can just lay here.” Sam pointed to Luke’s cold, empty side.

 

“Don’t be dumb. You’ll freeze to death. It’s fine,” Grizz said, and he knew he was being bold, but he was also just being friendly, right? Friends could share a sleeping bag without it being weird or without Grizz being questioned on his intentions.

 

Sam didn’t move, and Grizz thought maybe he fucked up. As he watched Sam carefully, Grizz noticed the hint of fear in the boy’s blue eyes. Grizz wanted to ask what was wrong, but instead he just sat there, his offer still open.

 

“You’re not weirded out by being this close to me?” Sam asked timidly.

 

“Why would I be?”

 

“Because I’m gay. Straight guys like to keep their distance,” Sam said.

 

And Grizz didn’t expect Sam to say that. There were a lot of things Grizz could have said. He could have told Sam he was being silly and Grizz didn’t mind. He could have played it off as not a big deal. He could have even just agreed with Sam. The thing was though, in that moment where Sam’s eyes were so raw and honest, Grizz couldn’t bear to lie to him.

 

“Uhm…Sam, I’m…uhm…” Grizz looked down at his own fingernails as his head and heart battled with one another. He swallowed hard as his heart raced and before he lost his nerve or could talk himself out of it, he said something he had never admitted to anyone out loud before.

 

“I’m gay.”

 

Grizz kept his gaze focused on his hands in his lap. He couldn’t believe he just said that. He wasn’t prepared for it. This was all happening so much quicker than Grizz wanted it to, but he just couldn’t lie to Sam anymore. Not about this. And Grizz fucking liked Sam. He really liked Sam, so maybe deep down part of Grizz wanted him to know.

 

Grizz’s hands were shaking and Sam wasn’t saying anything. It felt like minutes had passed when it had probably been only seconds. Grizz always thought that when he came out, he would get one of three reactions; shock, disgust or ‘I knew it.’ They were the three reactions that scared him the most, because he didn’t want it to be a big deal. He just wanted people to say ‘okay, cool’, and move on.

 

Grizz felt like he couldn’t breathe and he was so damn scared as he finally made eye contact with Sam again. The thing was, the other boy didn’t give Grizz any of the three looks that he expected. Instead, Sam had the most calm eyes he had ever seen. A look filled with understanding and lack of judgement. Grizz felt like the hand squeezing at his chest all these years let go, just a little, but enough to make him feel like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders.

 

“Fuck,” Grizz gasped, and his cheeks were wet. Grizz went to wipe the stray tears but Sam beat him to it. Delicate fingers brushed away the tears as Sam inched forward, catching Grizz’s gaze again.

 

“It’s okay. Why are you crying?” Sam asked.

 

“Because…” Grizz murmured. He had no words because his feelings were always a complicated mess and he didn’t want to hash them out with Sam right then. He had just come out to someone for the first time ever on his own terms, not like Becca finding out on her own. Grizz finally took this step and he felt like that was enough for one night.

 

“It’s okay,” Sam told him again, and then Sam’s arms were around the crying boy.

 

Grizz melted into the hug. He clutched the sides of Sam’s hoodie and buried his face in Sam’s chest. Grizz felt like a child but more than anything he just felt okay. He wasn’t scared that Sam knew. He was just overwhelmed and letting his emotions get the better of him once again. It didn’t take long for him to calm down, especially with Sam holding him like he was.

 

Grizz was the first one to make a move to pull back, and truthfully, he only did it because he wanted to make sure the look in Sam’s eyes hadn’t changed. It hadn’t. Sam’s gaze drifted to Grizz’s lips, and Grizz knew that was Sam’s way of watching him talk, but fuck if Grizz didn’t want to just kiss Sam right then and there. Grizz just came out though. Admitting his crush wasn’t something he was going to do any time soon.

 

“So, anyway, no problem with sharing a pillow and a sleeping bag with another guy,” Grizz said with a small laugh.

 

Sam smiled and nodded, “Clearly.”

 

Grizz was dying to know what Sam was thinking at that moment. He wanted to ask Sam a million questions, but Sam had gone quiet, so instead, Grizz opted to lay down on his back, taking up just half of the pillow and sleeping bag. Sam crawled in shortly after, then Grizz, deciding the conversation had ended and would probably continue another time, turned off the torch on the phone, plunging them into darkness.

 

All Grizz could hear were his and Sam’s steady breathing. He finally had a moment to think. The entire past ten minutes felt so surreal. Grizz was afraid that he’d wake up and realize he was dreaming and he did not, in fact, have the courage to tell Sam he’s gay. Grizz told Sam he’s gay. Grizz came out, and a part of him wanted to run back in the closet and slam the door shut. Grizz was trying to push down the anxiety and just let it be.

 

As Grizz lay there he wondered if things would be awkward between himself and Sam. Actually, he wondered if things already were. There Grizz was, laying on his back next to Sam, barely touching at all, staring at the roof of the tent. Was Sam as wide awake as he was? What was Sam thinking? Grizz couldn’t shut off his thoughts.

 

“Stop thinking,” Sam’s voice came out of nowhere. And what? How did Sam know?

 

A cold touch placed on Grizz’s wrist made the boy flinch.

 

“Jesus, you’re freezing,” Grizz said.

 

He sat up and felt around for his phone, then turned the torch on so Sam could see.

 

“You’re freezing,” Grizz repeated. He propped himself up on his elbow and with his free hand he held Sam’s icy cold fingers. He trailed his hand up Sam’s arm, under the hoodie, to discover it wasn’t just his hands.

 

“I don’t have a varsity jacket to keep me warm,” Sam shrugged.

 

Grizz smiled so wide he thought his face would break. He chewed on the inside of his cheek to stop himself from doing it.

 

“Well, I’m a bit of a cuddler and I always seem to be warm, so…” Grizz trailed off and watched Sam expectantly. Grizz couldn’t remember the last time he had been so brave.

 

“I like being little spoon,” Sam told him.

 

“Works for me,” Grizz said.

 

Sam had a small smile on his face before he rolled onto his side with his back to Grizz. Grizz turned his phone light off and without hesitation, moved closer to the shivering boy. Grizz felt like he just won the lottery as he carefully slid his arm around Sam’s waist and settled next to him. Grizz really did try not to press his entire body against Sam’s but the temptation was there and Sam made no signs of protest.

 

Grizz figured that he could play it off as one friend warming up another friend. What he couldn’t disguise as pure friendship though was how he buried his face in the back of Sam’s neck and breathed in deeply. Sam smelled like, well, a forest and campfire smoke, but it was the best thing Grizz had ever smelled before.  

 

For a moment Grizz’s inner anxiety screamed at him that he was taking things too far, that this would make Sam uncomfortable and that it’d be weird in the morning, but Sam unknowingly shut that voice up when he slid his cold hand underneath Grizz’s warm one, and Grizz didn’t falter before keeping his fingers wrapped around Sam’s.

 

It was nice. It was just nice, and perfect, and Grizz couldn’t believe it.

Chapter Text

The next morning Grizz woke up before Sam did. The first thing he felt was warm breath on his neck that made his entire body burn up when he realized that it was coming from Sam of all people. It took Grizz a minute to catch his bearings but he soon discovered that at some stage during the night Sam had turned so they were facing each other. If Sam had been cold last night, he definitely wasn’t now, because it was hot in that tent. Really hot, and Grizz had a feeling it wasn’t because of the outside temperature.

 

Grizz was tired and his head throbbed because of it. His only desire was to fall back asleep. He closed his eyes and relaxed against Sam, and that was when Grizz felt it. Grizz was hard in his sweatpants. He was hard and pressing against the thankfully asleep Sam.

 

“Fuck,” Grizz breathed.

 

Grizz opened his eyes and without making too much movement he felt around for his phone. He found it and checked the time. It was five o’clock. They were told last night that they had to be up by seven, so that gave Grizz two hours too will away his problem. Reluctantly, he unwrapped his arm from around Sam and shifted so he was on his back. Sam had other ideas though, because he clung to Grizz, following his movements. Grizz found himself laying there, with a fucking semi, and Sam laying half way on top of him.

 

It wasn’t the first time he was turned on over the thought of Sam. It was the first time it happened and he couldn’t do anything to relieve himself though. If he were home, he’d just go have an extra long shower, but he couldn’t exactly do that where they were.

 

Grizz looked at Sam again, sleeping peacefully, and he had an odd feeling in his stomach. Part of him felt like the luckiest person in the world having the chance to just sleep next to Sam. But on the other hand, Sam wasn’t his. Sam was his friend, and as much as Grizz wanted to pretend they lived in a fantasy world where they were together and things weren’t complicated, he just couldn’t. Reality snapped right back into place.

 

Sam shifted in his sleep and Grizz hoped he wasn’t about to wake up, because he didn’t want this to end. Sam didn’t wake up though. In fact, Sam was apparently more of a natural cuddler than Grizz was. The fast asleep boy nuzzled his nose against Grizz’s neck, and Grizz couldn’t handle it. He felt wrong indulging in the way Sam’s hand was on his waist, and his leg hooked over Grizz’s. It felt wrong because Sam was asleep, had no control over what he was doing, and had no idea that Grizz liked him more than a friend. Grizz felt like he was taking advantage of him.

 

Grizz carefully removed himself from Sam’s grip, desperate not to wake him. He was successful. He shuffled at least a foot away from Sam and honestly, he missed the boy’s warmth, but he didn’t dare move closer again. He could look at Sam though, right? He was allowed to take note of Sam’s light snores, or how his mouth hung open just an inch, or how his hair was all ruffled and casual. Grizz was allowed to just look at him and take in his beauty without being too much of a creep.

 

It wasn’t long until Grizz fell asleep again, and when he was roused awake, he felt a weight on his chest and only took him a few seconds to realize it was Sam. Grizz wanted to cry out of frustration, and the worst part was that Sam had no idea what he was doing to Grizz.

 

No, actually, Grizz discovered the worst part was what made him wake up. He hadn’t even registered the sound of the tent’s zip until much after the fact. And he only realized he and Sam were no longer alone when the all too familiar voice of Luke broke the silence.

 

“Uh…morning?” Luke asked.

 

Grizz froze up as a wave of panic washed through him, and almost instantly he went into ‘pretend you’re fucking straight’ mode that he had almost perfected over the years.

 

“Oh, hey,” Grizz spoke in a tired, but casual voice. He looked up at Luke and shifted away from the still sleeping Sam. Luke’s face was one of confusion, with tinted pink cheeks. Oh, Luke was embarrassed? Grizz wanted the ground to swallow him up.  

 

“I feel like I’m missing something here,” Luke said, his gaze narrowing in scepticism.

 

“Oh? Oh! No, no,” Grizz laughed as he sat up and stretched, “it’s not what it looks like. Gordie was apparently kicking him in his sleep so I said he could stay. And then he was cold and…”

 

“And you’re a cuddler,” Luke chuckled, “I know. We’ve woken up like this before in case you’re forgetting.”

 

“Yeah, true,” Grizz said, and apparently neither one of them was going to point out that the last time that happened they were eleven years old. On the inside Grizz’s anxiety was clawing at his chest. He just needed for Luke to not look too deeply into this, and leave.

 

“Anyway…” Luke said a little awkwardly, “the teachers are waking everyone up. That’s what I came in to tell you.”

 

“Alright, cool. Thanks, man,” Grizz said.

 

Luke gave him a little smile, glanced at Sam, and then turned to leave. Grizz groaned and fell back to the tent floor once he was gone. He covered his face with his hands and scratched his fingers down his face in frustration. That was close, too close. It could have been a lot worse though. It could have been Jason or Clark who walked in, not his best friend. Luke seemed to buy Grizz’s excuses though, even though Grizz’s excuses weren’t actually a lie. Sam had been bothered by Gordie and he had been cold. Grizz was just thankful he wasn’t hard anymore, because that was something he did not want Luke to see.

 

“It’s fine. You’re okay,” Grizz whispered to himself.

 

Grizz looked to Sam, knowing he’d have to wake him from his peaceful slumber. Grizz sat up again gently rocked Sam’s shoulder. The boy stirred and Grizz thought he wasn’t going to wake up, but then his eyes opened. Grizz smiled down as he watched a flash of confusion cross Sam’s eyes, followed by realization of where he was. Sam rolled onto his stomach and buried his face in Grizz’s pillow.

 

Sam mumbled something incoherent and Grizz thought it was so cute that he momentarily forgot that he was panicking about Luke finding them. Grizz moved closer and shook his shoulder again. The tired boy rolled back over onto his back and looked up at Grizz.

 

“Do we have to?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz nodded, “teachers are waking everyone up.”

 

“They came in here?” Sam asked as he sat up.

 

“No,” Grizz shook his head, but he didn’t want to tell Sam that Luke saw them. He didn’t want to lie either so he stuck to the simple ‘no’.

 

“Guess I should go. Gordie’s probably wondering where I am,” Sam said.

 

Grizz nodded again and signed that that was a good idea. Sam looked around to make sure he wasn’t forgetting anything. He slipped his phone that had fallen from his hoodie pocket, back into it, then went to leave. Grizz had a sudden thought though that made him reach out and grab Sam’s arm. Sam looked back with a questioning gaze.

 

“Uhm…about what I told you last night. I haven’t…I mean…” Grizz sighed. It wasn’t that he didn’t know what to say. It’s just that he felt so damn pathetic for having to ask Sam not to tell anyone. Sam was out. He didn’t seem to care who knew about him, and there Grizz was, too scared to even admit to his best friend that he liked Sam.

 

“I won’t tell,” Sam said with a soft smile.

 

Grizz released his arm and just nodded. He couldn’t look Sam in the eye. Thankfully Sam left after that and Grizz could be alone with his thoughts. It always took him a little while to transition from being the Grizz that had a crush on Sam and would love nothing more than to just kiss him and obsess over him for the rest of his life, to the Grizz who was a straight jock and loved women, and Grizz knew he’d be spending the day with his friends so he had to get his head clear.

 

Grizz changed out of his clothes and into clean ones before he crawled out of the tent. There weren’t a whole lot of people around. Most were lining up to get some breakfast across the other side of camp, and a few others were sitting by the fires that were merely hot coals at that point.

 

“Grizz!” a slightly annoying squeal came from Grizz’s left. He spun around in time to see Becca rushing over to him. “Grizz, oh my god, did I just see Sam leaving your tent?”

 

“Yes,” Grizz spoke in a harsh whisper, “And can you keep your fucking voice down. Did anyone else see?”

 

“I don’t think so, but like, I was kind of waiting to see so,” Becca shrugged and gave an innocent smile before continuing on with her interrogation, “what’s going on? What happened?”

 

“Nothing happened. We were just texting last night and Gordie was kicking him in his sleep so he was uncomfortable. I offered him to stay with me. That’s all,” Grizz said. He looked around like the paranoid boy he was, but no-one was in ear shot, and they were whispering.

 

“So, you’re telling me you spent the night together and nothing happened?” she crossed her arms over her chest and gave Grizz the bossiest look. She wasn’t going to let this go.

 

“That’s exactly what I’m telling you,” Grizz said.

 

“Are you sure? Because you know I’ll probably just ask him,” Becca said smugly.

 

“Nothing happened,” Grizz spoke slowly and clearly, hoping the words would sink in.

 

Becca looked disappointed, and honestly Grizz was a little disappointed too. He wondered what would have happened last night if he had the guts to make some sort of move. Could he have kissed Sam? Did he even want to kiss Sam? Of course he wanted to, and in an alternate universe where his parents were out of the picture, then maybe he would have felt comfortable enough to ask Sam to kiss him. In this world though, under Grizz’s circumstances, where Grizz’s parents existed and he was so scared of coming out, he didn't want to kiss Sam.

 

Becca kept looking at him like she expected him to give her something, anything, and as annoying as Becca was about this whole thing, Grizz kind of actually liked being able to speak to someone about Sam.

 

“I…” Grizz paused before he went on and whispered, “I told him I’m gay.”

 

“Oh my god!” Becca practically jumped for joy, “and?”

 

“And nothing,” Grizz shrugged as he began to walk off towards the breakfast tables because his stomach was beginning to rumble angrily.

 

“Wait, so, can I finally talk to him about you? Like properly?” Becca asked.

 

“No, you cannot. He doesn’t know I like him,” Grizz said.

 

“Then tell him,” Becca whined as she latched onto Grizz’s arm like a child who wanted their mom to buy a toy they just passed at the mall.

 

“I can’t,” Grizz shook his head.

 

“Why not?”

 

“It’s complicated. Please, just…just drop it,” Grizz begged.

 

Becca sighed and rolled her eyes, but nodded, “alright fine, I’ll stop.”

 

“Thank you,” Grizz said, and the two of them went to get their breakfast together. All the while Grizz could feel Clark, Jason and Luke’s eyes on them, and Grizz felt like the worst person in the world when he felt relief over them thinking he liked Becca.

 

---

 

The morning went by quickly. After breakfast everyone was split into the same groups there were in yesterday to take on another fun-filled learning experience. Grizz had trouble keeping focus. He couldn’t manage to turn his mind off for five seconds. At least with his quiet mood, his friends knew to leave him alone.

 

By lunch time, it was time to pack up and go. Grizz and Luke made quick work of taking down their tent and packing up their things. The two boys lugged their things over to the bus, and when Grizz turned he came face to face with Campbell who was doing the same thing. Grizz had been lucky so far, other than the bus ride over. Campbell hadn’t been in the same group as Grizz and he was fortunate enough to not see him last night. With Campbell standing right in front of him in that moment, Grizz was reminded of his desire to punch him in the face every time he saw him.

 

“Hey, Grizz, my man. How is my future brother in law this morning?” Campbell asked as he clapped Grizz on the shoulder.

 

Grizz’s face heated and he glanced at Luke to see a confused expression on his face. Grizz was going to act dumb too.

 

“What the fuck are you talking about?” Grizz asked, and boy were his acting skill’s on point.

 

“Do you really want me to say it?” Campbell’s smirk made Grizz want to puke.

 

“What I want is for you to get the fuck out of my way,” Grizz said.

 

“Oh sure, sure,” Campbell stepped to the side, “but oh, just before you both go, I couldn’t help but notice we have this varsity jacket lying around at home. You haven’t lost yours or anything, have you?”

 

Grizz was more than annoyed now. It was difficult enough for him to deal with being gay and liking Sam, so what he really, fucking really didn’t need was Campbell giving him a hard time with all this cryptic bullshit.

 

“What the fuck do you want from me, Campbell?” Grizz sneered, and he hardly recognized his own harsh voice.

 

“Why so defensive?” Campbell said through laughter.

 

“Why are you being such a dick, Campbell?” Luke piped up, “Why don’t you go bug someone else?”

 

“Aww,” Campbell cooed, “now isn’t that just the sweetest thing? A couple of fags defending each other. Grizz, tell me, does Sammy know there’s another man in your life?”

 

Grizz was about to lose it. He had never been so mad in his entire life. Grizz wasn’t a violent person. In fact, he hated violence, but in that moment, as he stepped up to Campbell and got in his face, he wanted to punch him so badly. His fist clenched as he argued with himself in his head. One more snide comment and Grizz was going to knock the guy out.

 

“Fuck off Campbell, seriously. You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about,” Grizz spat.

 

“Don’t I?” Campbell challenged. That was it. Grizz was going to punch him. Well, he was going to, if Luke hadn’t stepped in.

 

“Guys,” Luke stood between the two, pushing Grizz back, “Jesus fucking Christ, guys. The fuck’s going on? Stop it.”

 

Campbell sauntered back, hands up in surrender, but that fucking smile that Grizz hated so much was still there along with a look of pure amusement. Grizz knew he shouldn’t let people like Campbell get to him, but he couldn’t stop the moron from getting under his skin. Campbell knew all the right buttons to push.

 

“Just trying to get to the bottom of the mystery jacket. Maybe I’ll ask Clark and Jason. Maybe one of them left it in Sammy’s room,” Campbell taunted, and with that, he turned and walked off.

 

Grizz was fuming. He turned away so he didn’t have to watch Campbell leave. Grizz ran his fingers through his hair, tugging at it in his frustration. He jumped when Luke put a hand on his shoulder.

 

“You alright?” Luke asked.

 

Grizz glanced up and nodded, trying to act normal. “Yeah, whatever. Sam and I are just friends, you know? That fuckhead is just being a dick.”

 

“You know…” Luke said hesitantly, “you can tell me anything, right?”

 

“Fuck, Luke,” Grizz threw his hands up dramatically, “I’m not gay. Are you forgetting when you walked in on me and Carla like, what, two months ago?”

 

Luke nodded, “Right, right. Duh. Sorry, I’m not saying you’re anything. Let’s just get back to others and help them.”

 

“Yeah, sure.”

 

The two of them left the bus area and headed back over to Jason, Clark and Helena, helping them finish packing up. It wasn’t long before everyone was lining up like a herd of cattle and being shuffled on to the buses. Grizz stuck by Luke’s side, or perhaps Luke was sticking to him. Now that Grizz thought about it, Luke hadn’t left his side since the Campbell incident and Grizz was dying to know what was going through his best friend’s head.

 

Grizz stepped onto the bus before his friends did and when he did, he looked down at the sea of faces, wondering where to sit. His eyes, naturally, locked on Sam’s, who smiled right at him. Sam was sitting by himself with Becca and Kelly in front of him. Grizz wanted to sit next to Sam, he really did, but the mere thought of doing that made his stomach flip, and not in a good way.

 

Grizz kept walking and made it to the back of the bus where a couple of seats were still free. He slid into one of them, with Luke sitting right next to him. Clark and Jason sat in front. They were like a couple of hyperactive toddlers all day and it was giving Grizz a headache. Usually Grizz tried to join in on the fun, but lately, and especially that day, Grizz just wanted to go to bed and hide under the covers.

 

The bus started up and Grizz stared out the window, watching the trees. He decided that if college didn’t work out then he’d just go live in the wilderness where no one could bother him. Perhaps Sam would visit him, or even live with him. Or maybe not. Maybe Grizz would get a dog and live alone his whole life.

 

“So, Grizzy, spill it,” Clark got Grizz’s attention. The high school heart throb of the group was hanging over the back of his chair, eyes focused on Grizz. Jason joined him with a coy smile on his lips.

 

“Did you hook up with Becca last night?” Jason asked.

 

Grizz sighed, and he was just so tired and so done with everything, he just nodded, “yeah, Jason. Sure.”

 

“Dude, how was it?” Jason grinned.

 

Grizz slumped in his seat. He felt like the biggest piece of shit in the history of time. He didn’t know why he kept doing this, why he kept using Becca.

 

“it was just a kiss,” Grizz tried to backtrack.

 

“Just a kiss?” Clark scoffed, “are you fuckin’ gay, dude?”

 

Grizz was so exhausted that he didn’t even care about the comment. He couldn’t even care enough to reply.

 

“Maybe he respects women too much to talk about them like that,” Luke stepped in, “like me, which is why you’ll never find out about what Helena and I do.”

 

“Little miss churchy? Probably not much,” Clark teased.

 

The conversation went on, and Grizz tuned them out. He was thankful to Luke for the change of subject, thankful that the heat wasn’t on him anymore. Grizz rested his head against the cold window and spaced out. It was only when his phone vibrated in his pocket did he come back to reality. When Grizz look down at his screen and saw a text from Sam, he didn’t know whether to open it not. He didn’t want to ignore Sam, but part of him felt like taking a giant step back from him.

 

Grizz opened the text anyway.

 

Lucky I have a chess app on my phone to entertain me. – Sam.

 

Sorry. ­– Grizz.

 

Why? – Sam.

 

Because I suck. – Grizz.

 

Want to go to Izzy’s tonight and talk? – Sam.

 

Grizz stared at his phone for a good five minutes after that text. He wanted to, so badly, but the thought gave him such a sick feeling in his stomach. He couldn’t stop thinking about Campbell’s taunting, and Clark calling him gay, and Luke walking in on them. All Grizz wanted to do was get up, march down the aisle to Sam, kiss him and then tell Campbell to go fuck himself. Instead, he sent a reply that was actually the truth.

 

Can’t. Told Gwen I’d go see her. – Grizz.

 

Grizz watched as the three little dots appeared and disappeared three times before a final text came through.

 

Ok cool. Next time. ­– Sam.

 

Grizz took his headphones out of bag after that and plugged them in to drown out the world around him with music.

 

---

 

Grizz knocked for a second time on Gwen’s front door. It didn’t look like her parents were home. They rarely were, if Grizz recalled. Clark used to tell him how easy it was hooking up with Gwen since her parents worked long ours and were usually gone on weekends. Grizz just felt sorry for Gwen that she had to spend her time with Clark instead. It wasn’t that Grizz hated Clark. He cared for him, but lately Grizz couldn’t stand the guy.

 

Gwen finally opened the door. She looked a mess, but Grizz would never tell her that. Her hair was in a messy bun. She was pale, red nosed, and had dark circles under her eyes. Gwen gestured at herself, obviously aware of her current state.

 

“You sure you don’t wanna date me?” she joked.

 

“Thought you didn’t like me,” Grizz said with a frown.

 

“Jokes, Grizzy bear, jokes,” Gwen’s voice was nasally and her throat scratchy. That was when Grizz remember why he was there.

 

“I made chicken soup,” he held up the container that was starting to burn his fingers.

 

“You’re such a mom friend,” Gwen said as she stepped aside so Grizz could walk in, and he did so before she swung the door shut.

 

“Your parents not home?” Grizz asked.

 

“Are they ever?” Gwen shot back.

 

“Right. Have you been eating?” he asked.

 

“Too lazy,” Gwen shrugged.

 

“Thought so. That’s why I’m here.” Grizz made his way to the kitchen and helped himself to a bowl and spoon. He dished out the chicken soup and slid the bowl across the counter to where Gwen was already sitting on a stool.

 

“What’d you end up getting up to this weekend?” Grizz asked as he watched Gwen have a spoonful of soup and moan afterwards.

 

“Mm so good,” she complimented, “and well, this weekend, I’ve been sort of talking to this guy.”

 

“Oh, there’s a guy now, isn’t there?” Grizz asked, and he was a little dubious.

 

“We’ve just been chatting online. There’s no way I’d let him see me like this,” she laughed.

 

“Online? You gotta be careful with that sort of thing,” Grizz said, and damn, Gwen was right. He was the mom friend.

 

“We’ve met before, just once. I was doing a tour of Yale and he was one of the guides. He found me on Facebook a few nights ago. His name’s Seth,” she said with the biggest grin on her face.

 

“So, he’s a stalker?” Grizz teased.

 

“Oh, shut up. You’ll understand when you find someone you really like,” Gwen said.

 

Grizz looked down, hiding whatever look might have flashed in his eyes. Grizz wished he could do what Gwen was doing. He would kill to be so open and be able to casually talk about the guy he liked. The thing was, Grizz probably could talk to Gwen about Sam.

 

“Wonder what Clark will say,” Grizz said absent-mindedly.

 

“Screw Clark. I’m sick of him thinking he still has a say in my life,” Gwen snapped.

 

“Okay, fair enough. I’m sure he’ll tone it down eventually. I think he’s just hurt, and like obsessed with you,” Grizz said.

 

“Uh huh,” Gwen rolled her eyes, “anyway, how was camp?”

 

“Okay, I guess,” Grizz murmured.

 

“Just ‘okay’?”

 

“Yeah…” Grizz leant against the counter separating the two of them and looked down at his nails, picking at them.

 

“Grizz…” Gwen spoke, and Grizz could hear the concern in her voice, “are you okay?”

 

Grizz shrugged, and he silently cursed himself for not putting on his usual act, but it was late and he was so, so tired. Too tired to fake it. He looked up at Gwen who had stopped eating, waiting for Grizz to say something, anything, and Grizz said the first thing that came to mind.

 

“I just feel lost,” he breathed out.

 

“Oh babe, did something happen on the trip?” she asked.

 

“I don’t know. I just…I don’t know. It’s just…the guys and…I don’t know,” Grizz was so torn between spilling his guts and just shutting his mouth.

 

“You can talk to me,” Gwen completely discarded her soup and walked around the counter to where Grizz was. Grizz sighed and ran his hands over his face, shaking his head.

 

“I can’t.”

 

“Okay…but just so you know, you’re like literally everyone’s favorite in the group,” Gwen said, and Grizz looked to her with raised eyebrows.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Well, you’re Luke’s best friend, Jason thinks you’re the smartest person in the world, and Clark idolizes you. He may not show it, but he does, so like, if this is about the guys then I’m sure everything will be fine and they’ll get over it,” Gwen told him.

 

Grizz didn’t see himself the way his friends did, and he was pretty sure Gwen was over-dramatizing things. It didn’t matter anyway because his friends had nothing to ‘get over’. It was Grizz that had to try and get over the mess of feelings inside him.

 

“I just want everyone to leave me the fuck alone,” Grizz said honestly.

 

“I’ll drink to that. Wanna get high?” Gwen asked out of nowhere.

 

“You’re sick,” Grizz pointed out.

 

“So?”

 

“So, we have school tomorrow.”

 

“And?”

 

Grizz thought about it for a moment, and no, he wasn’t a stoner. He only got high at parties, but at that moment he took Gwen up on her offer just so he could shut his brain off for a few hours.

Chapter Text

Grizz didn’t feel like himself for the entire week following the camping trip. The week before, spending every afternoon with Sam, was an absolute blessing to Grizz, and they grew closer as friends to the point where Grizz felt comfortable enough to come out to him. Grizz was supposed to want to be around Sam more, right? Instead, he found himself keeping his distance.

 

On Monday afternoon Grizz went to environmental committee and it wasn’t like he was purposely avoiding Sam at that point, but when it was time to partner up and Grizz was standing next to Kelly, he didn’t exactly put up a fight to move closer to be paired with Sam. And when Sam asked afterwards if he wanted to go to Izzy’s like they had done every afternoon last week, Grizz said he was sorry, but he was busy. It was a lie, and he hated lying to Sam.

 

The following day Sam texted Grizz during last period and asked him if he had plans after football practice that day, and when Grizz replied that he was tired and just wanted to go home, he realized he was actively avoiding Sam and he couldn’t help it because the thought of hanging out with Sam made his anxiety sky-rocket.

 

On Wednesday, Sam texted Grizz again while he was in class, and Grizz told himself that he’d make up an excuse and reply after class, but he forgot, or maybe he forgot on purpose. That afternoon he saw Sam walking home with Becca, and Grizz figured that Sam was better off with a good friend like Becca, not a coward like himself.

 

On Thursday afternoon Grizz felt the worst he had all week. Sam didn’t text him at all that day, and Grizz didn’t blame him. It wasn’t like Grizz was giving much back in communication at all. The last nail in the coffin was when Grizz went out to his car and found his varsity jacket on the hood. Somehow it felt like his and Sam’s friendship was over and done with, and it was all Grizz’s fault.

 

Grizz went home that night, locked himself in his room and wallowed in self-pity, which he knew he completely deserved in the first place. He just felt so sick about everything. The thing was though, Grizz felt more sick about losing his friendship with Sam, than he felt when he thought about hanging out with Sam and people finding out he’s gay. That night Grizz decided that he had to make things right again. He never felt more alive than when he talked to Sam and he needed that back.

 

It was Friday morning and Grizz walked into school with a different attitude. Of course, he was still scared about being found out, but was hiding himself really worth it when he jeopardized his moral integrity and his happiness? Or Sam’s for that matter, not that Grizz thought he made Sam happy, but he knew Sam had to have been mad at him for the way Grizz treated him. There had to be a balance Grizz could find, where he could still be friends with Sam but not have to come out. He would figure it out.

 

Grizz was on a mission to find Sam, and being the Sam enthusiast that Grizz had been for the last couple years, he knew exactly where to find the object of his desires; at Sam’s locker. Okay, so maybe Grizz wasn’t exactly a detective.

 

Grizz was right. Sam was leaning against his locker and talking to Becca, just like they did every morning. Grizz didn’t really know how to approach Sam. He had never been in a situation like this before, so he decided to act as casual as he could.

 

“Hey,” Grizz greeted Becca because Sam’s back was to him. When Sam noticed Becca looking behind him, he turned, his gaze falling on Grizz in a stoic expression. Grizz waved and gave an awkward smile, and signed, ‘Hi, Sam’.

 

Sam signed back quickly, not talking, and Grizz watched carefully but it was too fast, and then Sam was gone, walking down the hall. Grizz’s stomach dropped as he looked at Becca who remained.

 

“All I got was ‘hi Grizz’, and something about going somewhere?” Grizz asked.

 

“To class,” Becca nodded, “and honestly, do you blame him for not wanting to talk to you?”

 

“What’d I do?” Grizz asked dumbly. Really, he just wanted to see what Becca knew.

 

“Look, he hasn’t told me about your little confession on Saturday night, but he did say you don’t wanna talk to him anymore,” she said. She crossed her arms over her chest and gave Grizz the sternest look. He felt like he was getting in trouble with his mom.

 

“That’s not true. I just…I don’t know,” Grizz sighed.

 

“Well, get your shit together because he’s been miserable all week,” Becca said. Grizz felt like he had been punched in the stomach.

 

“He has?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“But…but why? We’re just friends. Friends are, like, too busy for each other sometimes, and it’s only been like 5 days, and it’s not like we’re dating,” Grizz rambled and honestly he just wanted to find an excuse to make himself feel better.

 

Becca’s face went red in anger as she huffed and ran her fingers through her hair. She glared at Grizz and Grizz was a little scared off her, he had to admit.

 

“Fuck, you’re so stupid, Grizz!” she snapped at him.

 

She stormed off down the hall after that and Grizz was left watching her.

 

“What?!” he called out, “what’s that supposed to mean?! Becca!”

 

All Becca did was wave her arms in the air in frustration and kept going. Grizz was just confused, and also realized he just shouted at Becca down the hallway and people were looking at him like they just had an argument, which he guessed was sort of true.

 

“The fuck are you looking at, Dewey?” Grizz grumbled.

 

Dewey, the scrawny kid who desperately tried to fuse himself into Harry’s popular rich kid group, didn’t say a word as he scurried away. Everyone else went back to what they were doing, and a grumbling Grizz headed off down the hall to the first class of the day; English.

 

The bell rang loudly through the building just as Grizz walked into the classroom. A few people were already in there, including the only person he bothered to talk to in English class; Elle. She had her head down as Grizz walked over to her, and when he sat down, he had to lean over to try and catch her gaze.

 

“Earth to Elle, you with me?” Grizz chuckled because she seemed a bit dazed.

 

“Yeah, hey Grizz,” Elle said in her usual soft voice.

 

It was only when Elle glanced up quickly did Grizz notice the dark patch underneath her left eye. It was purple in color, an obvious bruise, and poorly concealed with make-up. Grizz looked around to make sure no-one was paying attention to them before scooting closer to her.

 

“What happened to your eye?” Grizz whispered.

 

“Oh, nothing,” Elle looked up with a smile, “I just dropped my phone on my face last night while laying down in bed. Happens a lot, you know?”

 

Grizz nodded slowly, and he wasn’t quite sure if he believed it. Grizz didn’t know if his hatred of Campbell made him think that Campbell had something to do with this, or if it was the fact that Elle’s tone was the same one Grizz used when he was giving his “oh yeah, I’m totally straight and love women” comments.

 

Grizz didn’t have a chance to talk to Elle for the rest of class because the teacher walked in all too soon. It wasn’t until the bell rang and they packed up their things that he had the chance again. Grizz always walked Elle to her next class because his was right next door to hers.

 

“You must have a pretty heavy phone,” Grizz said as he caught up to Elle in the hall. She had tried to make a quick escape. Another red flag to Grizz.

 

“I just bruise easily,” Elle said, and Grizz had to give her props for sounding so casual.

 

“You’re probably gonna need to touch up that make up if you wanna keep it somewhat hidden,” Grizz said.

 

“Oh, yeah. I will at lunch. Thanks,” she said sweetly.

 

Grizz didn’t know what to say. It wasn’t like he could just ask her if Campbell did it, no matter what his gut feeling said. If he was wrong, he could look like a complete idiot. Although, what was worse? Looking like an idiot or letting your friend get hit by her boyfriend. Grizz was about to question her more when none other than Campbell came up to them and swung his arm around Elle’s shoulder.

 

“Hey Baby-doll,” Campbell spoke before kissing Elle’s temple as they walked, “what are you guys talking about?”

 

“Just the bruise under your girlfriend’s eye,” Grizz said without thinking. Campbell stopped, making Elle stop with him, and Grizz wasn’t going to back down so he stood his ground, stopping there in the middle of the hallway with them.

 

“Oh right, she’s so clumsy. Always running into doors in the dark,” Campbell said, giving Elle a warm smile, and Grizz wasn’t buying it.

 

Grizz almost called Campbell out on the lie, but then he caught the flash of fear in Elle’s eyes and the small shake of her head, and Grizz realized that calling Elle out on her lie would probably only get her in trouble. At the same time though, Grizz wanted Campbell to know that he knew something wasn’t right here.

 

“Sure she did,” Grizz said.

 

Campbell took the bait. Grizz could tell from the trademark smirk that played on the complete psychopath’s face.

 

“Elle, Babe. You run along to class. The big boys need to chat,” Campbell said, his eyes not leaving Grizz’s.

 

Elle didn’t say anything. She shuffled off down the hall, leaving Grizz and Campbell there staring at each other, and Grizz had no idea how he had gotten himself so involved with Campbell, but he hated it. He wanted nothing to do with the guy.

 

“Listen, Grizz, my buddy. I have to say that I am getting a little teeny tiny bit annoyed with you trying to like, what, intersect yourself into mine and my girlfriend’s lives,” Campbell said, his voice layered thick with fake kindness that Grizz saw straight through.

 

“I’m just concerned about my friend, that’s all,” Grizz said.

 

“There’s nothing to be concerned about. The girl is a klutz, always hurting herself,” Campbell said, and the fake nice tone was gone, replaced by a harsher, impatient one.

 

“Why so defensive, Campbell? Trying to hide something?” Grizz asked.

 

“Are you? You fucking fag,” Campbell retorted.

 

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Grizz said in a low voice.

 

“And neither do you, so how about you,” Campbell poked Grizz hard in the chest before going on, “stay the fuck out of my business and I’ll stay the fuck out of yours.”

 

If Grizz had a choice of keeping his secret or keeping Elle safe, he would pick keeping Elle safe and away from Campbell any day of the week. As Grizz stood there though, staring down at Campbell, he wondered what the fuck he was supposed to do. Elle made it clear she wasn’t going to speak out against Campbell, and Grizz had no proof. He just had a feeling in his gut. A strong feeling. A feeling he knew was right. Grizz couldn’t do anything until Elle wanted to.

 

“Fucking touch me again and I’ll-"

 

“You’ll what?” Campbell taunted, “you’ll hit me?”

 

Campbell grinned and backed away from Grizz, and all Grizz could do was keep walking down the hall and try to shake the feeling he got about Campbell and Elle. All he could do was keep an eye on her and hope he was wrong about their relationship.  

 

---

 

Lunch time rolled around and today wasn’t going the way Grizz wanted it to. Sam didn’t want to talk to him. Campbell was, in true Campbell fashion, a complete dick, and Grizz was about to find out Clark still had a problem with Gwen being his friend. It wasn’t entirely Grizz’s fault though because it turned out Gwen felt like being a bitch that day.

 

“Do you guys have any idea how hard it is to do a fucking biology assignment about a trip you didn’t even go on?” Gwen complained.

 

“I can help you,” Clark said, and maybe he was just being nice, but his tone said he was just trying to make himself look like a hero.

 

“I’d rather get help from someone with a brain,” Gwen remarked and turned to Grizz, batting her eyelashes, “Grizz…”

 

And fuck. Did she even realize she was doing this? Did she realize this would just make Clark more paranoid about the two of them? Grizz was pretty sure Gwen was doing this on purpose just to annoy Clark, like some kind of post break-up war.

 

“I’ll give you my notes later. Just copy and change the words,” Grizz said.

 

“Thank you, Grizzy,” Gwen said sweetly.

 

Clark was shooting daggers at Grizz, so all Grizz could do was shuffle a little away from Gwen and invest himself in his lunch, which he didn’t even feel like eating because he felt like absolute shit about how this day was going. Grizz was in a mood. He had been in one all week and he didn’t feel like himself. It was like someone else had inhabited his body and he was trapped in his head, watching himself be the worst version of himself.

 

“Grizz,” Jason snapped his fingers in front of Grizz’s eyes, making the boy look up. He wondered how long he was sitting there contemplating life for.

 

“Sorry, yeah?” Grizz asked.

 

“I asked if you’re playing Fugitives tomorrow. You still haven’t told us,” Jason said.

 

Fugitives was a game they, and most of the junior and senior classes played every couple of months. It was Harry who started it, and Grizz’s friends who continued it. Everyone would gather at Centurion park at midnight and be split into cops or fugitives. The fugitives had a task to do within two hours which changed every time they played, and the cops had to catch them.

 

“Midnight, right?” Grizz asked.

 

“You should invite Becca,” Clark said.

 

“And her friends,” Luke threw in.

 

Grizz thought about it, and well sure, he could invite Becca, and maybe Becca would invite Sam, but Grizz really needed to make things right with Sam first.

 

“Sure,” Grizz nodded, before taking his phone out of his pocket, only he didn’t text Becca like they all thought he was doing. He opened his messages to Sam.

 

Izzy’s? – Grizz.

 

Grizz looked over at Sam’s usual table, and there he was, sitting with Becca and also Kelly for a change. Grizz watched him as Sam realized he had a message and looked at his phone. Grizz’s heart tightened, and when Sam glanced up at him, Grizz dropped his gaze, not being able to bear seeing in Sam’s eyes whether he hated him or not.

 

Dunno. Might be busy. ­– Sam.

 

Please? – Grizz.

 

Don’t you have practice? – Sam.

 

After that. – Grizz

 

Too late and cold. – Sam.

 

Grizz sighed and closed out of the messages. He really fucked up. What else did Grizz expect though? He was a shit friend. He needed to make it up to Sam somehow, and it looked like he wasn’t going to get Sam to talk to him any time soon. Grizz sat there for the entirety of lunch, ignoring his friends and trying to think of something he could do. And then it came to him. He opened his messages again, but this time to Becca.

 

 Don’t let tell him I’m asking you this, but do you know Sam’s locker combo? – Grizz.

 

The reply came only seconds later.

 

Why? What are you gonna do? – Becca.

 

Try and fix things. – Grizz.

 

You better. 5, 32, 9. – Becca.

 

Thank you! – Grizz.

 

---


Grizz left the locker rooms after football practice with Luke, Jason and Clark. Grizz was nervous. He hoped Sam would accept his peace offering and be at his car waiting, just like they used to. Either that or Sam would think Grizz was an idiot. When they got to the car park, it was empty except for the other football players getting in their cars and leaving, or walking home. No Sam.

 

“See you at Fugitives, okay Grizzy?” Jason asked.

 

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll see you then. Later guys,” Grizz said, trying to sound like he wasn’t disappointed.

 

“Later Grizz,” Luke said, and they all said their goodbyes to each other, going their separate ways.

 

Grizz got to his car, and was so unbelievably lonely. He really thought Sam would be here, or at least he hoped he would. Grizz sighed and got in his car, sitting in the passenger seat. He took his phone from his pocket to see if he had any messages. He didn’t have any from Sam, but he did have one from Becca.

 

THAT WAS SO FUCKING CUTE. WHAT THE FUCK. GET MARRIED ALREADY!!!!!!! – Becca.

 

Grizz blushed. He hoped Becca had been the only one to see what he did. He hoped Sam found it as cute as Becca did, then again, maybe his gesture was too cute. What if Sam found it weird, like it was some romantic gesture. Wait, was it a romantic gesture? Grizz was over-thinking this way too much and his thoughts were only cut off when he heard the passenger side door open.

 

Grizz looked up in hope, his heart beating erratically, and then there Sam was, getting into his car, and wearing Grizz’s varsity jacket that Grizz left in Sam’s locker with a note attached. Grizz watched him carefully, trying to gauge whether Sam was mad at him or not. The other boy looked at Grizz with piercing blue eyes, and perhaps Grizz was imagining it, but he was sure he saw a small smile too.

 

“I got your note,” Sam said and signed.

 

“Too cheesy?” Grizz asked.

 

“Just the right amount of cheese,” Sam said.

 

Grizz had left his jacket in Sam’s locker with a note taped on it saying ‘in case you get cold’. Grizz was a little proud of himself for that, but he was so nervous at the same time.

 

“Thanks for coming,” Grizz said.

 

Sam just shrugged, not saying a word. Grizz had explaining to do, and while he wasn’t ready to tell Sam he had a crush on him, he owed him something. It could wait until they got to their usual spot in the parking lot of Izzy’s though.

 

Grizz started up his car and the two of them drove in silence. Grizz had to think of this as making up with a friend, not making up with a boyfriend like he seemed to be doing. He just had to apologize and hope Sam would just understand. Grizz felt like he knew Sam. He trusted Sam. He had to forgive him for shutting him out. Grizz didn’t know what he’d do otherwise. Yeah, Grizz definitely didn’t feel like he was just making up with a friend.

 

When they got to the parking lot of Izzy’s, at the back in their usual spot, they both undid their seatbelts, but neither of them made a move to get out of the car. Grizz didn’t feel like ice-cream anyway. He wanted to talk.

 

“I’m sorry,” Grizz started, turning to Sam who wasn’t watching him. Grizz touched the boy’s shoulder, making him look up. Grizz signed to Sam that he was sorry.

 

“I don’t get it, Grizz. You came out to me then you don’t want to be friends anymore?” Sam asked, confusion all over his face.

 

“No, that’s not it. I want to be your friend. I’m just dumb,” Grizz said.

 

“What’s wrong?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz chewed on his bottom lip and tried to think of how to word this without letting on to the fact that he had a giant crush on Sam and didn’t want anyone to find out, all the while trying to not sound like a complete dick.

 

“Luke saw us in the tent. I just…didn’t want him to get the wrong idea,” Grizz said.

 

“And what’s the right idea?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz froze at the question. Was Sam asking him what they were to each other? Grizz couldn’t comprehend, and he couldn’t answer. He felt like he was stuck in quicksand and was desperately trying to find a way out. And Sam was looking at him with kind eyes, not angry ones, and Grizz had to dodge answering the question, because he just couldn’t.

 

“You’re the first person I’ve ever come out to. I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing,” Grizz whimpered and if only Sam could hear how pathetically desperate his voice sounded, but he was sure Sam could see it on his face.

 

“Just be…you,” Sam said.   

 

“I can’t,” Grizz shook his head.

 

“So…you don’t want to hang out anymore?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz’s eyes widened as he shook his head, “I do. I do. I…I’m a fucking idiot, Sam. For worrying about what Luke thinks. I just needed to get my head straight.”

 

“But you aren’t straight,” Sam teased.

 

Grizz laughed and felt himself relax, because if Sam was joking then things were okay, right? Grizz really wanted to just reach over to Sam and hold his hand, but he didn’t. He rested his head on the headrest and watched Sam fondly.

 

“I’m really sorry,” Grizz said.

 

“I know,” Sam nodded and went on, “do you want to come over tomorrow. We can practice more ASL?”

 

And Grizz was going to say yes, but he had a better idea.

 

“Actually…I was wondering if you wanted to play Fugitives tomorrow night,” Grizz asked.

 

“Mmm, no,” Sam shook his head.

 

“Why not?” Grizz asked.

 

“I’d like to, but…I’d be a Fugitive as a new player,” Sam said.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Running around in the dark where I can’t see or hear with people chasing me?” Sam said.

 

And Grizz felt like an idiot for not realizing that might be a problem. The thing was, Grizz really, really wanted Sam to play. He had always wanted Sam to play. He always hoped he would just turn up one night but never did. There was only one solution to this little problem.

 

“Give me a minute,” Grizz said and took out his phone. He opened it to the group message he had with Jason, Clark and Luke. He added Harry who was one of the organizers and messaged them.

 

Hey guys, I have an idea. Can we change the time of fugitives to the afternoon? – Grizz.

 

What kind of dumb idea is that? – Harry.

 

Yeah idk man why? – Jason.

 

It’s more of a challenge right? Fugitives can’t hide as well in the day time. – Grizz.

 

True… - Luke.

 

Still fucking stupid – Harry.

 

Come on guys, I’m sick of doing the same shit every time. Let’s switch it up. – Grizz.

 

AGREED! – Clark.

 

Seriously Clark? Tf? – Harry.

 

Grizz is right. I’ll be a challenge for the fugitives. Then we have time to party at mine after. – Clark.

 

You had me at Party. Let’s do it. – Luke.

 

PARTY! PARTY! PARTY! Jason.

 

Fuckin fine! I’ll send out a new invite on FB. But if it sucks it’s Grizz’s fault. – Harry.

 

Grizz grinned at the screen and closed out of the messages. He looked back up at Sam who was watching him curiously.

 

“There, it’s changed to the afternoon now. Now you don’t have an excuse,” Grizz said.

 

“What?”

 

“I texted the guys. They said they’ll change the time,” Grizz explained.

 

“Because of me?” Sam asked.

 

“Well, I didn’t say that, but yeah,” Grizz nodded.

 

“I didn’t even agree to go,” Sam said.

 

“Please…”

 

Sam looked unsure, and Grizz just really, really wanted to spend time with him. Plus, he didn’t want to look like an idiot for changing the time for no reason.

 

“Aren’t you and your friends always the cops?” Sam asked.

 

“Usually. But…what if I be a fugitive with you?” Grizz offered.

 

“Really?”

 

Grizz smiled and nodded because he was thinking about how he could spend an entire afternoon running around with Sam by his side.

 

“It’ll be fun,” Grizz said.

 

“Promise you won’t abandon me,” Sam said, his eyes narrowing sceptically at Grizz.

 

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Grizz promised.

 

Sam went quiet, chewing on his bottom lip. And fuck, if Grizz hadn’t wanted to kiss Sam before then he really did now. Grizz didn’t make a move though.

 

“Okay, I’ll go. I’ve always wanted to play. Never really been invited,” Sam said.

 

“You can invite Becca, and Kelly or Gordie too, if you want,” Grizz said.

 

“I don’t think it’s really their thing,” Sam said.

 

“Okay,” Grizz nodded, “just us then.”

 

Sam smiled, and it just felt like everything was back to normal again. The day really had turned around from the shit morning Grizz had.

 

“Your signing is getting better, by the way,” Sam said, pointing to Grizz’s hands which had been signing, or at least trying to sign, as he spoke.

 

“Oh, really?”

 

“Yeah. In no time you’ll be able to sign well enough to your cousin,” Sam said.

 

“Right, right,” Grizz nodded. Sometimes he forgot about his imaginary cousin.

 

“When are they visiting, anyway?” Sam asked.

 

“Uh, next month,” Grizz lied.

 

And Grizz wanted to tell Sam the truth, that there was no cousin and he just really wanted to talk to Sam, but Grizz was afraid. He was afraid of Sam knowing he liked him, but more than anything, he was afraid that Sam would be mad at him for lying to him about it, and the two were already on rocky ground and had only just made up, so Grizz decided to keep his mouth shut.

 

The two of them sat there for the next couple of hours just chatting, nothing too heavy, mostly about what they had missed out of each other’s lives for the past week, and Grizz felt his anxiety leaving him with every second he was around Sam, and he just felt right again.

Chapter Text

It was Saturday afternoon and Grizz found himself amongst the other fugitives, listening to Harry explain the rules of the game. The aim as a fugitive was to basically not get caught, and the aim of the cops was to catch as many fugitives as they could. The adults in town didn’t really like when they played this game in the first place, and that was even when most of them didn’t know about it because it was played at midnight. Now that they were doing it in broad daylight, they’d all have more of a challenge of not getting into trouble.

 

It wasn’t dangerous and they weren’t exactly breaking any laws running around the streets. Most of the cops rode their bikes or went on foot. They had a rule of no cars after Clark almost ran over Jason last year. The only law they would break was when they had to break into places, but Harry made sure they changed locations every time they played so it was harder for the real police to track.

 

Grizz tuned Harry out because he already knew the rules. He was messaging the boys all about it last night. Luke, Jason and Clark all couldn’t believe Grizz was giving up on being one of the cops for the first time. Grizz just told them he was bored with being a cop. Running around with Sam as a fugitive seemed like a lot more fun, not that Grizz was going to tell his friends that though.

 

Grizz had been impatiently waiting for Sam to show up. Last night their friendship had gotten back on track. Things were back to normal, or at least Grizz hoped they were. He was beginning to doubt himself though as time ticked by and Sam still hadn’t shown up, but those fears went away the moment he noticed Sam’s dark red hair through the crowd. Grizz smiled and waved him over.

 

“Hey, almost thought you weren’t coming,” Grizz said to him.

 

“I don’t bail on my friends,” Sam shot back with an innocent smile.

 

“Okay, I deserved that,” Grizz couldn’t help but smile back.

 

Grizz turned his attention back to Harry who was wrapping up his little speech.

 

“Fugitives! You have a three minute head start! I’d suggest you all get running! Go! Move it!” Harry’s voice boomed. Within a few seconds the fugitives had scattered and Grizz looked to Sam with a sudden burst of adrenaline coursing through his veins.

 

“Can you run fast?” Grizz asked.

 

“Sort of?”

 

“Follow me,” Grizz said, and once he was sure Sam was actually going to follow him, he set off on foot, jogging at first then picking up into a run with Sam only trailing a little bit behind. Some days Grizz was thankful that his mom put him in football so he had some level of athleticism, although it did seem to come to him naturally. He actually wasn’t sure if Sam was good at any sports though.

 

Grizz looked around as they ran down the main street. Other fugitives were up ahead, most paired off in groups of two, three or more. Pedestrians were watching the teenagers running around like they were crazy, but no one cared. There were a few cares honking angrily and Grizz decided they needed to get off the main road.

 

Grizz stopped and checked his watch. The three minutes were up and it wouldn’t be long before the cops would catch up to them. Grizz looked to Sam who was huffing and puffing, his hands on his knees as he bent over slightly to rest. Grizz felt a little bad, but he also felt like teasing Sam.

 

“Not into sports, are you?” Grizz asked when Sam looked up at him.

 

“I hate you,” Sam breathed heavily, “you said this would be fun.”

 

“It will be. Promise,” Grizz said.

 

Grizz took Sam’s hand and pulled him off the sidewalk and between two buildings, away from where the cops could easily spot them. He led the boy, who was still trying to catch his breath, down the alleyway, further and further away from the crowds.

 

“I missed Harry explaining the rules,” Sam said.

 

Grizz stopped and turned, looking at Sam. Of course Sam didn’t know what was going on. Sam had never played before and it would have been impossible for him to read Harry’s lips even if he had turned up on time. Grizz glanced around, making sure they weren’t at risk of being spotted, before tugging on Sam’s hand and pulling him into an alcove embedded in the brick wall of the building.

 

Sam leant against the building and it took everything in Grizz’s power to not step forward and kiss Sam right then and there. He cleared his mind. Today wasn’t about that. No day would ever be about that. Today Grizz was trying to just be friends with Sam and make up for being a dick.

 

“We gotta break into the school,” Grizz explained.

 

“Aren’t there alarms?” Sam asked.

 

“No. Never is. Budget cuts, I guess,” Grizz shrugged.

 

“So, we get into the school, then what?” Sam asked, and it made Grizz so happy that Sam actually seemed excited about this, because Grizz loved playing this game, no matter how stupid it was. It was always a lot of fun and he was glad to know that Sam didn’t feel like he was being dragged along, even if Grizz had literally been physically dragging him on. Speaking of which, Grizz was still holding Sam’s hand, but he pretended he didn’t notice.

 

“We need to get to the music classrooms, steal an instrument and get back to the park without being caught,” Grizz said.

 

“Caught like they see us? Won’t that be easy in the daylight?” Sam asked.

 

“Not necessarily,” Grizz shook his head, “Getting caught means they physically have to tag you. Then they cuff you and take you back to the park where the jail is.”

 

“Cuff us?”

 

“Yeah, with handcuffs,” Grizz said like it was obvious.

 

“Actual handcuffs?” Sam asked with the most adorable expression and tilt of his head. Grizz really wanted to kiss him.

 

“Most have those cheap ones you get from Halloween store, but I got real ones. I leant them to Gwen today,” Grizz explained.

 

“You own actual handcuffs?” Sam asked, his eyebrows lifted in curiosity.

 

“Uh huh,” Grizz nodded, “now, come on. We have some ground to make up.”

 

Grizz kept his hand firmly clasped around Sam’s as he led them through the alleyway to the back of the stretch of buildings. West Ham wasn’t a very big town so they could easily get to the high school on foot. Grizz wasn’t particularly in a rush. He enjoyed the feel of Sam’s hand in his and hoped to God that Sam didn’t realize how hot and clammy his hands were.

 

As Sam fell into step beside Grizz, neither of them made a movement to let go of their other person’s hand. It wasn’t like there was anyone around where they were that Grizz had to hide from. They weren’t anywhere near the main road that most of the other fugitives ran down. The other popular option was the woodlands surrounding town, but no one thought of taking the route Grizz and Sam had.

 

Soon, Grizz’s hand was no longer clasped over Sam’s palm, but instead, somehow, their fingers laced together, and Grizz had no idea if it was him that did it or Sam. Grizz didn’t even know how he felt. All he knew was that his heart was racing from nerves, but he couldn’t figure out if it they were good nerves or his normal nerves where he was terrified of what was happening between the two of them.

 

The two boys got to the road the school was on. They were still behind the buildings and Grizz poked his head around the corner, assessing the situation. He really did take this game seriously. When he saw the coast was clear, he pulled Sam along out into the open and quickly scurried over to a truck parked on the road. Grizz reluctantly let go of Sam’s hand as they crouched down on the road between the front of the truck, and car parked in front of it.

 

“Why aren’t we going in?” Sam questioned.

 

“Everyone usually bolts in right away. If we wait here for a while we wait until most the cops have caught fugitives and have taken them back. So, we can go in with less cops,” Grizz said.

 

“You’re serious about this game, huh?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz shrugged but nodded at the same time, “I’ve never been a fugitive before. It’s kind of fun.”

 

Grizz looked past the truck to see some of the other fugitives running right up to the front door of the school. Grizz rolled his eyes. Amateurs. It was Grizz’s first time being a fugitive and he wasn’t even dumb enough to go right up to the front door like that. Grizz was right because a moment later some of the cops appeared, chasing the fugitives. For a little while Grizz watched as fugitives and cops ran around the front of the school with some even making it inside, and Grizz noticed being brought out minutes later by cops that had run in too. Harry must have somehow gotten the front doors unlocked to make this possible.

 

“So, you wanna tell me why you own actual handcuffs?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz looked back at him with a sly smile, and perhaps he was just in a playful mood that afternoon, but Grizz had relaxed so much just being in Sam’s presence that he couldn’t help but flirt a little. It wouldn’t hurt, right?

 

“Why do you think I own them?” Grizz asked.

 

Sam’s cheeks went a tint of pink and Grizz wanted to reach out and touch the boy’s skin. He wanted to run his fingertips along the soft plumpness of Sam’s cheeks and bring his face to his and give him a real reason to blush. Grizz pushed the thoughts from his mind.

 

“You like to tie people up?” Sam asked.

 

“No,” Grizz smiled, “I mean, maybe. Who knows? But seriously, I kind of went through this phase.”

 

“A phase? You wanted to be a cop?”

 

“No.”

 

Sam gazed at Grizz with prying eyes, and Grizz knew he dug himself into a hole and he had to admit the truth, even if it did make him look like a loser.

 

“A magician, actually,” Grizz said.

 

Sam snorted in laughter. Grizz’s mouth dropped open in mock hurt. Grizz didn’t think his desire to be a magician was that ridiculous. He saw an act on a talent show and became obsessed one summer. Everyone had their hobbies. Grizz’s were usually just a little bit different, or at least unexpected from someone like him.

 

“So…Scouts, gardening and magic. You are a nerd,” Sam teased.

 

“Shut up,” Grizz laughed and pushed Sam, who lost his balance and fell to the ground. Sam didn’t seem to mind though. He just kept on smiling.

 

“What? It’s cute. Little Grizz as a kid trying to do magic,” Sam said.

 

“Actually, it was, like, two years ago,” Grizz admitted sheepishly.

 

“I think that’s even cuter,” Sam said.

 

 Grizz’s heart swelled and he just couldn’t look at Sam in that moment because he knew his feelings would be a dead give-away, if they weren’t already. Instead, Grizz looked back over at the school and took note of how it seemed pretty quiet now. The mad rush was over, and now they stood a chance. Grizz looked back at Sam who was already staring back at him.

 

“Let’s make a move. Follow me,” Grizz said.

 

Grizz didn’t take Sam’s hand again, but Sam kept close to him as they crossed the street and headed around to the side of the school building. He took Sam around the back and found the window of his English classroom that everyone knew had a broken lock.

 

“Sneaky,” Sam said as Grizz pushed the window up.

 

Grizz turned back to Sam and nodded, “the sneakiest. It’s your last chance to back out before committing a crime, by the way.”

 

“No way,” Sam said and stepped forward. The boy hoisted himself up onto the ledge and easily climbed through the window without the help of Grizz, and Grizz was only a little turned on.

 

Grizz was less graceful than Sam. He pulled himself through the window but ended up losing his balance and going hands first into the floor, followed by the rest of his body. He heard Sam laughing above him as he rolled onto his back.

 

‘Not funny,’ Grizz signed.

 

‘Sorry.’ Sam signed back.

 

Sam offered his hand to Grizz who took it gratefully, letting Sam help him up. Once again, neither boy let go of the other’s hand. It was taking everything in Grizz’s will power to not touch Sam more, to not just put his arm around his waist and kiss his lips, his neck, his collarbone. Fuck, Grizz wanted Sam so damn much and he didn’t know how he was going to continue being just friends.

 

Grizz decided to distract himself by playing the game instead. He led Sam through the English classroom to the door and stopped, listening for anyone that might be outside. He could hear footsteps thumping along above him, and voices below, but he couldn’t hear anything directly outside the door.

 

Grizz signalled for Sam to stay quiet as he opened the door. Poking his head out, Grizz noted that the coast was clear. The two of them went out into the hall. The music classroom was basement level so they just had to get to a set of stairs, which were located on both the West and East sides of the building. They were in the middle.

 

Sam stayed close to Grizz, almost pressed against Grizz’s back each time Grizz paused to look around a corner before going out. The adrenaline pumping through Grizz’s veins was back but he wasn’t quite sure it was purely because of the game.

 

Grizz poked his head around a third corner and halted in his step when he saw Harry and one of the other girls in the junior class, Allie, at the end of the hall. Grizz was about to rush back out of sight but it was too late. Allie saw him.

 

“Hey! Freeze, fuckers!” she shouted.

 

Grizz turned to Sam with wide eyes. “Busted. Run.”

 

Grizz let go of Sam’s hand as the two of them sprinted back down the hall. He could hear Allie and Harry on their trail and it would only be a matter of time before they caught up, even if Grizz and Sam were faster runners than them. The thing was, Sam wasn’t as fast as Grizz, which gave Grizz an idea. When they got to the end of a hall that split left and right, Grizz stopped, taking Sam’s hand so he’d look at him.

 

“Go that way. Meet me at the library. I’ll lose them,” Grizz said quickly, but not too quickly because Sam seemed to understand. He nodded and Grizz pushed him out of sight. Grizz watched on as Sam ran down the hall, and then he turned, just in time for Allie and Harry to round the corner. The two paused when they noticed Grizz wasn’t running anymore.

 

“Come on guys, you really think you can outrun me?!” Grizz asked cockily.

 

“You’re gonna get it Visser!” Harry shouted, walking towards him.

 

“Oh please, Allie would catch me before you do,” Grizz taunted.

 

They both took the bait, the challenge alive in their eyes, and then Grizz ran for his damn life. He headed in the opposite direction as Sam, aiming for the West wing staircase. Without Sam making him trail a little, Grizz was fast, really fast. Grizz was humble but he knew he was the fastest on the football team on a good day.

 

Grizz got to the stairs and ran up them two at a time. He was up two flights when he had an idea. He stopped and hid in the small space underneath the stairs, hoping that Harry and Allie didn’t find him because he really didn’t want his day with Sam to end so soon.

 

Harry and Allie’s quick footsteps sounded on the stairs as they trampled up them one by one. Grizz held his breath, crouching down to make himself as small as possible. He watched as the two cops ran straight past him and listened on as they stopped on the stairs directly above him.

 

“Where the fuck did he go?” Allie asked.

 

“I don’t know. This way?” Harry spoke, and then Grizz listened as their footsteps continued on and eventually faded until he couldn’t hear them any longer.

 

Grizz smiled and crawled out of his hiding place. He was eager to get down to the library. He felt bad for splitting with Sam and hoped Sam didn’t think he ditched him, or even worse, he hoped Sam didn’t get caught. Damn it, they should’ve just stayed together, Grizz thought.

 

Grizz headed down the stairs, just down one level to where the library was. He knew there wouldn’t be many people on that level, if any at all. The music room was a few levels below so nobody had a reason to be up where he was, unless they were hiding from cops.

 

Grizz went to the familiar double doors of the library. It was his favorite place in the building, almost like a sanctuary to him, which was why he suggested Sam meet him there. As he walked in, he listened out for any sounds and couldn’t hear a single soul. It was a decent sized library with row upon row of ceiling high shelving, sitting areas and desks for when classes were brought in.

 

Grizz headed past the front desk and searched for any sign that Sam was there. As he headed past each row of books, his stomach plummeted further and further, because it really didn’t look like he made it there. That was probably why Grizz jumped a mile and his heart leapt into his throat when he felt two hands cover his eyes from behind.

 

Spinning around on his heel, Grizz was quick to latch onto the wrist of the assailant. He thought it was one of the cops, but no, his heartbeat evened out when he saw it was Sam, who was laughing quietly at him with so much amusement in his eyes that Grizz couldn’t even be angry that he scared the shit out of him.

 

“Not funny. You scared me,” Grizz said through his smile.

 

“I’m not sorry,” Sam taunted.

 

“You’ve got an attitude on you today,” Grizz said as he let go of the other boy’s wrists.

 

Sam smiled and shrugged as he stepped away. Grizz watched him carefully as his fingertips trailed along the books on the shelves. Honestly, this was one of Grizz’s fantasies; looking at books with an attractive guy. If only this wasn’t high school, and college instead. Grizz wouldn’t even hesitate in asking Sam out.

 

“Why the library?” Sam asked, turning back to Grizz.

 

“This is like…my safe space, I guess. To just get away. It’s quiet. I can get lost in a book, and my friends only ever come in here to find me,” Grizz told him honestly.

 

“So deep,” Sam teased.

 

“Shut up,” Grizz laughed and nudged the other boy’s shoulder.

 

“Sorry, sorry,” Sam said, “where’s your favorite spot?”

 

Grizz wasn’t expecting that question, but the answer popped into his head without a second thought. He nodded for Sam to follow him, who did so obediently. Grizz took him right down to the back corner of the library were the biggest bean-bag Grizz had ever seen in his life was located. Grizz flopped down, sinking into the bag. Sam was standing above Grizz, looking down at him and Grizz really wanted him to join him.

 

“I could not tell you the amount of times I’ve fallen asleep reading here,” Grizz said.

 

“Really?” Sam looked unsure, but he just didn’t get it, clearly.

 

“It’s comfy as fuck. Come here,” Grizz said.

 

Grizz took Sam’s hand and without a second thought, pulled the boy down to join him. Sam fell down next to him and Grizz thought it was a big bean-bag. He really did, but he quickly realized it wasn’t meant for two people, and yet he knew that. He knew that because Gwen had sat with him before and was practically on his lap, which was how Sam was.

 

The thing was, Sam didn’t seem to mind. His body didn’t tense like Grizz’s did, and if his heart was racing even half as much as Grizz’s was then he didn’t let on at all. All Sam did was shuffle into a comfortable position, squished against Grizz’s side. Apparently that comfortable position included his legs to be over the top of Grizz’s, and well, Grizz had no idea what the fuck to do with hands, so one arm ended up across the back of the bean-bag, effectively around Sam’s fucking shoulder and the other placed carefully on Sam’s fucking thigh.

 

Grizz was going to hyperventilate. He was sure of it, because sure he had hugged Sam before and fallen asleep next to him, but every time he got even a little bit closer to the boy, his entire boy couldn’t function. Neither could his brain because when his gaze fell on Sam’s eyes, there was nothing there. He had nothing clever to say.

 

“Hi.” That was it? That was all Grizz had to say?

 

“Hi,” Sam said back.

 

“Hi.” Fuck. Grizz couldn’t stop.

 

Sam smiled and looked away for a moment before Grizz was under his gaze again. There was nowhere for Grizz to hide. He didn’t actually want to hide from Sam, but fuck if his heart wasn’t flipping and flopping inside him erratically.

 

“Shouldn’t we be getting to the music room?” Sam asked.

 

“Probably, but, uhm…I kind of like it here too,” Grizz spoke voicelessly.

 

Sam nodded but didn’t say anything. He just kept looking at Grizz and Grizz couldn’t take it. He was blushing. He knew he was. His cheeks burned under Sam’s stare, and Sam was smiling back at him, and it was making Grizz feel so giddy like a twelve year old with his crush.

 

“What are you looking at?” Grizz asked.

 

“I gotta look at you to see if you talk,” Sam said, and well, duh.

 

“Any excuse will do,” Grizz teased. No, flirted. Grizz was flirting and he couldn’t stop.

 

“Right cause you’re just so irresistible,” Sam said.

 

“Aren’t I?” Grizz asked, acting offended.

 

Sam just smiled, shrugged and fixed his eyes on Grizz’s lips again, and Grizz just couldn’t fucking handle it. He was so frustrated. With himself. With Sam for looking at him like that, which Grizz wasn’t even sure was a figment of his imagination or not. Grizz felt like shrinking under the other boys gaze. The urge to hide won and he found himself groaning pathetically and hiding his face on Sam’s shoulder.

 

Sam laughed at him. He fucking laughed at him. Did the boy have a single clue what he was doing to Grizz? Was Grizz not making it painfully fucking obvious that the boy was driving him insane? Because he was. He really, really fucking was, and Grizz thought he was going to die.

 

“What?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz sighed and looked back up at Sam, who was, of course, looking at Grizz’s lips which wasn’t helping at all.

 

“You’re fucking killing me,” Grizz admitted.

 

Sam looked confused, and Grizz had no words. If Sam didn’t know before that Grizz liked him then he had to have caught on by now. Grizz couldn’t do or say anything. He just kept his eyes on Sam, hoping, praying that Sam would make the move, because Grizz just couldn’t, because Grizz was weak around the boy.  

 

Grizz watched on as Sam’s gaze softened, the look in his eyes changing to something else that Grizz almost, almost thought was pity, but it wasn’t quite that. And Grizz cursed at the world when he heard the doors of the library smashing open. He wouldn’t get to find out what happened next.

 

“Someone’s here,” Grizz mouthed.

 

Sam’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion as he leant back and wait, when the fuck had he leant in? Grizz couldn’t think about it for a second longer though because he heard voices, several of them and if he didn’t move now, they’d be caught.

 

“Up. We gotta hide,” Grizz mouthed.

 

Sam clued in to what was going on and pushed himself up, followed by Grizz. Grizz took the other boy’s arm and there weren’t many places to hide. There was only one place to go, really. Grizz gently pushed Sam against the end of one of the shelves that was right in the back corner against the wall. He put his finger to Sam’s lips, silencing him.

 

Grizz stayed close, but looked through the books, seeing glimpses of others walking around. Grizz couldn’t recognize who they were, which meant they were probably juniors. There were maybe three of them, and they were getting closer. Grizz stepped closer to Sam, their bodies pressed flush against each-other’s. If they were still, they wouldn’t be seen. They were squished so far into the corner that the only way they’d be seen is if the people were to come right down the back.

 

Grizz turned his head, looking back at Sam, and that was a mistake, because holy shit, they were close. Really close. Close enough for Grizz’s nose to brush against Sam’s. All the air left his lungs as he held his breath, willing the people to leave. It didn’t take long for the others to give up their search, and Grizz let out a shaky breath when the doors swung shut, closing loudly with a bang.

 

Grizz didn’t move though. His eyes were locked on Sam’s who was looking back up at him; the other boy a good few inches shorter that Grizz towered over him but at the same time felt so, so small in that moment. His finger left Sam’s lip and Sam’s eye contact faltered as he glances as Grizz’s lips.

 

“They’re gone,” Grizz told him.

 

“Should we go?” Sam asked. 

 

Grizz shook his head, because he really didn’t want to. He felt like they were in their own little universe every time he was with Sam. Grizz was breaking, his walls around him crumbling. He wanted to kiss Sam so badly. He wanted to ask Sam if he was allowed to. He wanted to ask Sam to show him how to sign the words ‘kiss me’, even though Grizz already knew because of course he looked it up.

 

At the same time, the fear that always lay in the back of Grizz’s mind was shouting at him to step away. Grizz so desperately wanted to be pushed in Sam’s direction, to just go for it, but at the same time he found himself looking for an out, and that was when he decided to sabotage himself.

 

“I don’t have a deaf cousin,” Grizz blurted out.

 

Sam frowned and with his hand on Grizz’s chest, pushed him back slightly.

 

“What? I couldn’t see you talking,” Sam said.

 

Grizz sighed, and honestly, he wanted to eat his own words, but he had to tell Sam the truth. He couldn’t just lie again, so he sighed, tucking his hair behind his ear and not looking into Sam’s eyes because he was afraid of what he would see.

 

“I, uh…I don’t have a deaf cousin. I…I lied to you,” Grizz stammered out, and he was so scared. Scared that Sam would hate him for lying. Scared that Sam would storm out of the library and not want to talk to him again.

 

“Why?” Sam asked.

 

“Because…I really wanted to talk to you,” Grizz admitted. There it was. The truth.

 

“Oh.”

 

Grizz couldn’t look up. His eyes stayed fixed on the ground and he felt like he was going to start shaking and he wasn’t really sure what he was more scared of; Sam hating him or Sam knowing he liked him, because it was blatantly fucking obvious at that point.

 

“I’m really sorry,” Grizz started rambling, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have lied. It was dumb and-.”

 

And then Sam was kissing him. Grizz didn’t see it coming. His mind went blank as he stumbled back, Sam following his movements as Grizz’s back hit the wall. All the wires in Grizz’s brain were malfunctioning and holy fuck, Sam’s lips were against his. Grizz couldn’t catch up and he had no clue how long the kiss lasted, whether it was a few seconds, or a minute. Grizz wasn’t sure, and then it was over. Sam pulled back and Grizz’s heart faltered in his disappointment because he was so shocked that he didn’t have a moment to enjoy it.

 

Grizz looked at Sam who stood back with a deep red blush on his cheeks.  Grizz’s head spun and he suddenly forgot what to do in situations like this. He had kissed people before, but never a guy, and never anyone he truly liked.

 

“Can you do that again? Please?” Grizz asked.

 

A small smile played on Sam’s lips as he nodded and stepped closer to Grizz. This time, Grizz was ready for it. His breathing hitched as Sam’s soft hands came up to his neck, trailing along the skin, leaving goosebumps, before gently but firmly taking Grizz’s face. Grizz closed his eyes as Sam’s lips pressed against his, softer this time.

 

An explosion erupted in every inch of Grizz’s body. The yearning he felt for Sam burst through in the form of Grizz kissing the boy back. Every single little piece of the puzzle in Grizz’s mind seemed to slot together in that moment, and sure, the puzzle might get destroyed later, but while he was kissing Sam, everything in the world felt right. Everything made sense.

 

Grizz breathed the other boy in, taking note of every little thing his senses could pick up; how he was so, so soft. How their lips fit together perfectly. How he smelled of lavender soap and citrus shampoo. How he tasted of something that Grizz could only describe as Sam because he had never tasted anything quite like it in his life, and Grizz only tasted the boy’s lips. He wanted to badly for their tongues to slide together, but they were both perfectly content with their lips moving slowly against the others that Grizz didn’t want to ruin anything by going any further.

 

Grizz wanted to touch Sam everywhere, but once again he had no clue what to do with his hands. He merely held the hem of Sam’s shirt near his hips, afraid that if he made any other movement then it would all be over, and he didn’t want it to be over. He wanted to kiss Sam forever. And maybe it had been forever. Grizz wasn’t sure how long they were standing there for, in the corner of the library, bodies pressed together. He just knew it couldn’t end. He also knew he had the worst luck.

 

The little world built up in Grizz’s head where it was just the two of them in a field of sunflowers and rainbows was wiped away with the sound of a shocked voice.

 

“Holy fucking shit. Grizz?!”

Chapter Text

Grizz pulled away from Sam, stepping away on instinct. He froze like a deer caught in headlights when he saw that they were not alone anymore. Gwen stood at the end of the row of books, staring back at Grizz with wide eyes, jaw dropped so wide it almost smashed on the floor. The entire surface of Grizz’s skin prickled with underlying fear. He was caught. He was so careful his entire fucking life and in one moment, he was just caught. Just like that.

 

Grizz looked to Sam desperately, the other boy just realizing what was going on as he looked from Grizz to Gwen. There was nothing Grizz could do to explain this one, because Gwen just saw them kissing, with her own two eyes. He couldn’t deny it or lie his way through it this time.

 

“Gwen!?” It was Jason’s voice that time.

 

Then Clark’s. “You serious? You found Grizz?”

 

“Anyone else?” Jason asked.

 

Gwen looked at a loss for words as she stared at Grizz, and Grizz, out of pure desperation, shook his head, silently pleading with her not to expose him.

 

“Uh no, no. J-just Grizz,” Gwen stuttered.

 

Grizz’s body was reacting before his mind could catch up. He looked to Sam with an apology in his eyes. “Please just stay here a moment,” Grizz mouthed, before leaving Sam there and walking out to where Gwen was.

 

Grizz’s body was on auto-pilot and all he could think about was keeping his secret. He took hold of Gwen’s arm and pulled her away from where Sam was. Clark and Jason came towards them, big smiles on their faces.

 

“Hey, congrats guys, you caught me,” Grizz tried to sound normal, but with Gwen’s eyes locked on him, he just felt like everything was about to fall apart.

 

“We fuckin’ knew we’d catch you here,” Clark said as he high fived Jason, his partner in crime. The two got to Grizz and Gwen, and Grizz prayed they couldn’t see Sam through the shelves.

 

“So predictable, our little book nerd,” Jason ruffled Grizz’s hair and Grizz fought the urge to smack his hand away.

 

“I’ll, uh, have to try harder next time,” Grizz said.

 

“You on your own?” Clark asked.

 

“Yeah, uh, yeah, uhm, Allie and Harry were chasing me so I hid in here,” Grizz said.

 

Grizz was heating up. His entire face, neck, down to his fingertips were tingling with heat over being caught. He felt like he was doing something wrong, even though he knew he wasn’t, but he had all these notions so deeply ingrained in his mind that he just couldn’t help but think that way.

 

“Next time you gotta switch back to the cops, man. You’re too good at it,” Jason said.

 

“Yeah, next time,” Grizz agreed with a forced smile.

 

“Hey guys, I’ll take Grizz to jail,” Gwen spoke, “you two see if you can catch Dewey.”

 

“Oh right, that little shit is quick,” Clark said with a chuckle.

 

“See you guys back at the park then,” Gwen urged.

 

“Alright, later Grizzy,” Jason said.

 

“Right, see ya,” Clark said as he looked between Gwen and Grizz, and for a moment Grizz thought he knew what was going on, until he reminded himself that Clark thought Grizz and Gwen liked each other. If only Clark knew.

 

Grizz held his breath as the boys turned and left, hooting and hollering down the hallway. It was just the three of them. Grizz took two steps back and saw Sam in the exact spot that he left him. Grizz didn’t even get a chance to sigh in relief that the boys didn’t figure out what was going on. Panic was setting in and Grizz knew what this was. He knew exactly what was happening to his body and knew how to stop it in its tracks. But in that moment, he lost control.

 

“So…how long has this been going on?” Gwen asked.

 

The room spun, the edges of Grizz’s vision blurred and he thought he was going to puke. In fact, Grizz had never felt more sick in his entire life, and all he wanted to do was curl up into a ball and disappear from the world.

 

“M-my hands feel numb,” Grizz’s own voice sounded so far away.

 

Grizz stepped away from the two of them as his throat tightened. Oxygen was nowhere near Grizz’s grasp as suffocation set in. His inner voice was screaming at him to stop it, to get over it, to go to Sam because this wasn’t fair to him, and yet, instead, Grizz’s body just shut down. He slumped against the nearest wall and fell to the floor. All he could think about was the snow-ball effect. Gwen knew, and then his parents would, and he couldn’t connect exactly how that would happen but it didn’t matter because it was just the possibility of it happening that made Grizz go off the deep end.

 

“Grizz?” Gwen knelt in front of him, “what’s going on?”

 

“I can’t. I can’t. I-I can’t…” Grizz shook his head quickly.

 

Finally able to get air into his lungs, Grizz went from one extreme to the next and instead found himself breathing fast, too fast, and the dizziness from it all threatened to make to him topple further to the ground. If he hadn’t already been through this before, then Grizz would’ve though he was about to die. Grizz knew it was a full-blown panic attack and all he could do was sit there and wait for it to pass, wait for his brain to shut off or for him to talk sense into himself.

 

Grizz buried his face in his hands. The voices around him sounded like they were in another room and he had no clue what they were saying. All he knew was that the secret he spent most of his life trying to protect was out and he could sense that everything would continue to fall down around him. Becca was one thing. Luke, well Grizz could pretend he didn’t actually know, when in his gut he knew he did. But Gwen? It was one person after the other and Grizz felt all control slipping from his fingertips.

 

The boy sat there for the longest time, curled in on himself and willing his breathing to go back to normal or his heart-rate to drop. He sat there hoping to reverse time or for something to magically solve his problems. And then he heard white noise, a constant hum, and he wasn’t quite sure how long it had been there for. His head pounded as he emerged from the dark hole he had found himself in, then it was like he was floating.

 

And then there was nothing. No sound at all except for the second hand ticking on a nearby clock. Grizz slowly came back to reality once he was sure he calmed down. He looked up cautiously and glanced around, only to see that one, it was darker, and two, Gwen was sitting against the opposite wall, watching him. Sam was nowhere in sight.

 

“Where’s Sam?” Grizz croaked out.

 

“He left a while ago,” Gwen’s voice was soft and calming, “I asked him to. I thought it would be for the best.”

 

“Is he mad?” Grizz asked.

 

“At your complete meltdown? No.” Gwen crawled towards Grizz, stopping in front of the boy. She knelt there with a sympathy etched on her face. “He was…confused, but like…same. And worried. I told him I’d tell you to text him later.”

 

Grizz didn’t know what to think of Sam leaving. But honestly, what did he expect? Grizz was a crazy-person. He was absolutely mortified over how he just acted, but more embarrassingly he couldn’t gain any kind of control over himself. He couldn’t just shove all back down deep within himself like he normally did. That was the scary part. Grizz knew he had anxiety and it usually wasn’t this big of a problem, but sometimes he just gave into it. He couldn’t believe it happened in front of Sam of all people.

 

“You wanna tell me what’s going through that head of yours?” Gwen asked.

 

Grizz was scared. He was really fucking scared. He didn’t want to have to deal with this. This was exactly why he wanted to wait until college to tell anyone, because he just wasn’t ready.

 

“You can’t tell anyone, please,” Grizz begged. His eyes glistened with unshed tears. At least he hadn’t cried.

 

“I won’t. Babe, I won’t,” she promised, and Grizz could tell that she was being sincere. Perhaps Grizz did overreact. In the back of his mind he knew Gwen wouldn’t tell anyone. He also knew that so many people had parents who were homophobic like his, yet none of them were having breakdowns on the floor of their school library. Or hey, maybe they were and Grizz didn’t know it.

 

 “I feel so fucking stupid,” Grizz muttered.

 

“You shouldn’t. And you shouldn’t be this ashamed of who you are,” Gwen said.

 

“I’m not ashamed of who I am,” Grizz murmured, and Gwen nodded her head but didn’t say anything. Grizz didn’t feel like explaining his parents to her. She might not understand exactly why he panicked like that, but he didn’t feel like going into detail at that point. Maybe one day he would. He’d have to explain it better to Sam too. And fuck. Sam. What did Sam think of him now?

 

“Fuck. I just felt like I couldn’t breathe,” Grizz hit the back of his head against the wall behind him.

 

“I know. It’s okay,” Gwen said with a sweet smile.

 

“It’s really not. That was the first time Sam and I kissed and I fucked it up,” Grizz said.

 

“Hmm no, I fucked it up. If you’re gonna be mad at anyone, be mad at me,” Gwen offered, and Grizz wouldn’t even dare to blame this on her.

 

“I bet he thinks I’m a freak.”

 

“I think you should just text him.”

 

Grizz nodded slowly as Gwen moved, situating herself next to Grizz. She leant against the wall with him and sighed heavily. “I really wish you would’ve told me though. I mean, boy have I been barking up the wrong tree, right?”

 

Grizz let out a huff of laughter. “I thought about it, but, I just couldn’t bring myself to.”

 

“You know I accept it, right? So would the guys,” she said.

 

“It’s not them I’m worried about. Not really, anyway. They find out though, then the school does and my parents do and then…” Grizz trailed off because he didn’t want to think about it. Would his dad hurt him? Throw him out? And if Grizz didn’t get a scholarship then would his parents take away his tuition? His life would be ruined. Grizz couldn’t let that happen.

 

“I’m not gonna tell a single soul. Cross my heart,” Gwen said as she rested her head on Grizz’s shoulder. Grizz trusted her.

 

“Thank you.”

 

The two were silent for a moment before Gwen broke the tension being her usual Gwen-like self.

 

“So, are you like gay gay?” she asked.

 

“What does that even mean?” Grizz asked.

 

“Like, are you fully on the banana band wagon or, like-“

 

“Stop, just stop,” Grizz laughed.

 

“What? Legit question,” Gwen shrugged.  

 

“I like guys,” Grizz admitted, “Well, Sam. I like Sam…obviously.”

 

“Good choice. He seems nice,” Gwen said.

 

“He is.”

 

All Grizz could think about was Sam. Sam, who he just couldn’t seem to get things right with. Sam, who Grizz didn’t even know how to act towards now because Grizz just couldn’t figure out what he wanted. No, actually, Grizz knew exactly what he wanted. He wanted Sam. He just didn’t know how to make it work. He didn’t know how to get past his fears.

 

“The game’s over now. I don’t suppose you’re coming to the party?” Gwen asked.

 

“No, think I might just go home,” Grizz said.

 

“Want me to walk with you back to the park?” Gwen asked.

 

“No, it’s cool. You go have fun,” Grizz said.

 

“Okay cool, because Helena’s been waiting for me outside for the past fifteen minutes,” she said.

 

“What’d you tell her you were doing?” Grizz asked.

 

“Talking to a friend. Don’t worry, I wouldn’t tell her anything,” Gwen assured him as she made a move to stand up. Grizz stayed in his place, not quite ready to leave yet.

 

“Thanks, Gwen,” Grizz said, and he really meant it, because he wasn’t quite sure what would’ve happened if anyone else had rounded that corner. He was actually lucky that it was Gwen.

 

“Anytime. I’ll text you tomorrow,” she said.

 

“Yeah, see ya,” Grizz waved, and then she was gone, and he was alone.

 

“Fuck my life,” Grizz grumbled to himself. He slumped over to lay on the floor, feeling like he could just fall asleep then and there. Instead, he opened up his messages because he really needed to check in with Sam.

 

I’m really sorry you had to see that. – Grizz.

 

The reply came almost instantly.

 

Are you okay? – Sam.

 

I’m fine. I just feel stupid. – Grizz.

 

You’re not stupid. What happened? – Sam.

 

I’ll talk to you about it at school on Monday, if that’s alright? – Grizz.

 

Yeah. That’s okay. I just hope you’re okay. – Sam.

 

I am. And Sam, I had a really good time today before…you know. – Grizz.

 

You don’t regret me kissing you? – Sam.

 

In Grizz’s head he was screaming the word ‘no’, but he couldn’t bring himself to type it out. He didn’t know what he was going to do, but telling Sam he didn’t regret it, but at the same time having no idea what his own intentions with Sam were, didn’t feel right. Grizz didn’t want to give Sam hope when he wasn’t sure he could actually follow through.

 

I hate texting. Can we just talk Monday, please? – Grizz.

 

Sure. Can’t wait xx – Sam.

 

And Sam had kissed Grizz in real life, and yet the two x’s he left on the message had Grizz swooning. It had Grizz lulled into a sense of security for a brief moment, but it was a moment that he desperately needed.

 

---

 

The day after Fugitives Grizz was reminded of the exact reason why he couldn’t come out. He spent the entire night contemplating his options. He went back and forth from deciding to keep away from Sam, to diving head first. He couldn’t make up his mind because every time he felt like everything would be okay, he talked himself out of it. Grizz thought he was such a coward, but as he lay on the couch on Sunday afternoon, he remembered why he was like that.

 

It wasn’t like the conversation his parents had was uncommon for them. Grizz wasn’t exactly surprised, but the fact that it happened the day after Grizz had a breakdown in the library about being gay made Grizz believe the world really was against him.

 

It was a lazy Sunday afternoon. Grizz made a plan that morning to stay inside and not deal with the outside world for the entire day. He lay on one of the couches while his parents channel surfed until they landed on a movie that Grizz was only half paying attention to. The other half of his attention was on his phone as he played a game. Grizz was happy to just turn his mind off, but his dad’s rough voice piercing through the calm ruined that completely.

 

“The world is getting so fucked up,” his dad said.

 

Grizz looked up from his phone at the TV screen. Dread washed over him when he saw two girls kissing in the movie. Grizz knew what was coming next. He knew his dad couldn’t just let it be like a grown ass adult. He always had an opinion and for some reason he thought Grizz cared enough to hear it.

 

“Why does every single show need a gay couple nowadays? It’s like they’re shoving it in our faces all the fucking time,” his dad said before taking another swig of his beer and continuing his rant, waving his hand dramatically at the television, “and it’s so unrealistic too. Her grandfather grew up in a time way stricter than ours but we’re supposed to believe he’s okay with his granddaughter being that way?”

 

“The world’s a crazy place,” his mom piped up, “I’m just glad we don’t have to worry about our Gareth.”

 

They spoke so casually, not knowing that each word felt like a punch to Grizz’s stomach. The teenager felt eyes on him and realized he was supposed to say something.

 

“Right, it’s weird,” Grizz said.

 

“Tell you what,” his dad grumbled as he got out of his chair, “you ever bring a boy home and you won’t have a place to sleep anymore.”

 

His dad laughed and all Grizz could do was laugh as well, no matter how much he was dying on the inside. His dad patted his shoulder before heading into the kitchen, probably for another beer. Grizz turned his attention back to his phone. He could still feel his mother’s eyes on him but he ignored it and tried to act like everything was okay.

 

Grizz pushed all possibilities of being with Sam aside as he crawled further in the closet. This was why he couldn’t come out. This was why he couldn’t be with Sam.

 

---

 

Grizz skipped school on Monday. He had an insane headache that he knew he forced upon himself. He just didn’t feel like getting out of bed that day, and maybe he was avoiding Sam, again. Grizz felt like shit. He hated that he couldn’t get himself together enough to go and tell Sam that he couldn’t be with him.

 

Grizz wondered if Sam even thought of this as a big deal, because Grizz had liked Sam for so damn long. He was almost in love with the boy, but Grizz knew in the back of his mind that Sam wouldn’t even be nearly at that level. Grizz speculated that maybe Sam wouldn’t even care at all, that Sam didn’t even really like Grizz, that he just wanted to kiss a guy and it meant nothing. The thoughts killed Grizz but at the same time made him feel a little better for not talking to Sam on Monday like he was supposed to.

 

Sam sent him a couple of messages that day. In the first one, Sam asked Grizz if he was at school that day, which Grizz replied saying he had a headache so he stayed at home. Sam replied saying Grizz could use one of his famous head massages and Grizz wanted to flirt back, but he didn’t. He couldn’t. He just old Sam he’d be at school the next day, which wasn’t a lie.

 

Grizz did go to school that Tuesday. The day was dragging on and Grizz didn’t know when he was going to talk to Sam. He didn’t even know what he was going to say to him. Grizz knew the main gist of it but going up to Sam and saying he didn’t want to come out made him feel so pathetic. He wanted to avoid that conversation for as long as he could.

 

When the bell finally rang for lunch, Grizz sighed in relief and shoved his books into his backpack. He was really hungry and on the verge of getting grumpy because of it. He made his way out of the classroom and down the hall, only to be confronted by the tiny pocket-rocket that was Becca, and her face was so red that Grizz thought she was going to explode.  

 

“Becca? Hi,” Grizz said cautiously as she stormed up to him.

 

“Shut up,” she snapped, and then she latched onto his wrist. Grizz was big, but Becca was strong when she was angry. She dragged Grizz from the hallway and into the girl’s bathroom, which was empty except for a freshman at the sink.

 

“Get out,” Becca ordered.

 

The young girl scampered out of there with fear in her eyes, and Grizz didn’t blame her. Becca was terrifying when she wanted to be, and Grizz wondered what he did now to deserve her wrath, but he had a pretty good idea. Once they were alone, Becca turned on him, looking up with a fierce gleam in her eyes.

 

“So last night I finally got it out of Sam why he’s been so fucking miserable the past couple days. The fuck is wrong with you Grizz? You finally kiss him and then just freak out on him and then you give him nothing? Practically radio silence. What the fuck?” Becca ranted, but there was only one thing Grizz got out of it.

 

“He told you we kissed?” Grizz asked, his heart deflated. His stomach churned, a familiar sick feeling developing in the pit of it. It was almost how he felt in the library on Saturday.

 

Becca’s eyes widened and Grizz knew she wasn’t supposed to say that. She wasn’t supposed to just expose that Sam had betrayed Grizz’s trust, but it was out now, and Grizz felt his sickness turn into anger.

 

“No, no, well…yes but it wasn’t like that,” Becca said desperately.

 

“I gotta go,” Grizz moved around her to the door.

 

“No, fuck, Grizz, he didn’t mean to,” Becca said, but Grizz was already out the door and she was shouting after him, “I already knew anyway!”

 

“Not the point!” Grizz shouted back, and he kept going.

 

Grizz was fuming. He never thought that he’d ever in a million years be mad at Sam. He didn’t think he had it in him. Sam was perfect in Grizz’s eyes, but this? Grizz trusted Sam in telling him he was gay, and Sam just went straight to his friend and blabbed about it? Grizz didn’t know what to think. He just knew he had to talk to Sam, so he took out his phone and opened his messages.

 

Meet me in room E-12 – Grizz.

 

Grizz made his way to the classroom in question on the top floor of the school building. Grizz knew the classroom would be empty because he often used it for studying through his lunch breaks when the library was too over-crowded. Grizz paced back and forth once he got to the room, waiting for Sam to get there. He was trying to calm himself down, but he was just so furious at Sam. What the hell was Sam thinking?

 

Five minutes ticked by until the door finally opened and Sam walked in, shutting the door behind him. Grizz stopped his pacing and looked at Sam who, to his credit, seemed apologetic. Becca must have warned him.

 

“I’m sorry,” Sam started.

 

“You told her we kissed?” And if Grizz was talking to anyone else he would’ve been shouting, but instead his voice was just exhausted, which of course Sam wouldn’t know. But Grizz was exhausted. He was just so tired of trying to protect his secret.

 

“Yes, -but-“

 

Grizz waved his hand, dismissing whatever Sam was about to say. The other boy stopped abruptly.

 

“You basically told her I’m gay, Sam. You…I…fuck…” Grizz was at a loss for words.

 

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to,” Sam said, taking a step forward which only made Grizz take one back.

 

“You didn’t mean to? Who else have you told, hm? Gordie? Kelly? Campbell? Want to send a group text to Jason, Clark and Luke too?” Grizz asked.

 

“No, no, I would never. I’m sorry, okay? She’s my best friend and I was crying and it just came out. And you knew she knew anyway. She told me you asked her for ASL lessons so you could talk to me,” Sam accused.

 

Just like that, the anger he felt towards Sam disappeared, because what? Sam cried? Over him? The thought of Sam being upset over anything tore Grizz’s insides apart, and suddenly what Sam did didn’t matter.

 

“You were crying?” Grizz asked, taking a hesitant step towards the other boy.

 

Sam shrugged, giving a small sheepish nod. Grizz felt like utter shit. A part of him hoped that Sam didn’t care about him, but Sam cried over him? Well, Grizz didn’t know what to think. He just knew he was a fuck up.

 

Grizz brought his fist to his chest and signed that he was sorry. Sam watched him before slowly shaking his head, signing back that it was okay.

 

“I get it, Grizz. I came out once too, you know. I know it’s scary. My brother is a homophobic psychopath. It’s not easy,” Sam said, only it didn’t make Grizz feel any better about the situation. He wasn’t even sure if that was what Sam had been aiming for.

 

Grizz didn’t know what to say. He stood there watching Sam, and he wished it could’ve been how it was before, before they kissed, before Grizz told Sam he was gay, back when they’d just hang out in parking lots and get to know each other, because Grizz’s fears got in the way.

 

Sam stepped towards Grizz, closing the gap between them. Sam laced his fingers with Grizz’s, looking up at him, and Grizz couldn’t help but let out a shaky breath. He always got so nervous around Sam, even after kissing him.

 

“Tell me what’s going through your head,” Sam said.

 

Grizz want to tell Sam of all his fears and just how scared he was. He wanted Sam to know and really understand, but instead Grizz went for the easier option. He put his walls up, locking the truth away, and shrugged like he didn’t even care about the conversation they were having, like it wasn’t a big deal.

 

“I just don’t wanna come out. It’s whatever,” Grizz said.

 

“No one has to know,” Sam said, squeezing Grizz’s hands, and Grizz couldn’t think properly with Sam touching him, so he pulled back, his fingers slipping from Sam’s.  

 

“I’m going to come out after school, once I get to college, so maybe then…” Grizz trailed off with a glimmer of hope in his heart.

 

“You expect me to wait for you?” Sam asks. And that hurt, because Grizz would wait for Sam.

 

“No. I’m just saying…” Grizz didn’t know what he was saying.

 

“Grizz…I like you,” Sam admitted, and Grizz’s heart swooned. Sam likes him. Sam fucking Eliot likes him, and Grizz was a coward.

 

“I like you too. I just…I can’t,” Grizz shrugged.

 

“Why not? It can just be between us,” Sam said.

 

Grizz thought about that. Of course he had entertained the thought, but he didn’t think it was fair to ask someone who was already out to go back into the closet. And Grizz was terrified. Every time he thought about being with Sam, even in that moment standing in front of Sam, Grizz fought the urge to run. Grizz wanted to bail on the entire conversation.

 

“Look…we kissed…it was nice…but…maybe that’s all it was supposed to be,” Grizz said, and it was the biggest lie he ever told.

 

“I don’t think that’s true,” Sam saw right through him.

 

“Yeah, me either,” Grizz mumbled, and he wasn’t sure if Sam caught what he said, but Sam didn’t seem confused or anything. If anything, Sam had that same understanding look on his face as when Grizz told him he was gay on the camping trip.

 

“Listen, Grizz. I think you need to sort out whatever is going on up here,” Sam brought his fingertips to Grizz’s head, tapping on his temple lightly, “and then we’ll talk, because I can’t be with you if you’re going to have a panic attack after every time we kiss. That was really scary, Grizz.”

 

“I know.”

 

“I wanted to stay but, I…I felt like it was all my fault,” Sam said.

 

“It wasn’t.”

 

“What was it then? Because that reaction...” Sam trailed off at a loss for words and Grizz wished he could’ve given Sam more, just something, anything, but he shut down.

 

“It doesn’t matter,” Grizz whispered.

 

“It does,” Sam argued.  

 

And Grizz just felt stupid. His fears felt stupid. And Sam was so perfect and brave and made everything seem so easy, and Grizz wanted to be like that. He envied Sam. Sam made Grizz want to be brave, and yet Grizz didn’t say a thing. He just gave a careless shrug.

 

“It’s whatever,” Grizz said.

 

Sam sighed heavily and rolled his eyes. Grizz didn’t blame him for getting frustrated with him. Grizz was frustrated with himself at the best of times.

 

“Just let me know when you figure out what you want. Until then…I don’t think we should hang out,” Sam said, and Grizz analysed his expression, wondering if he was actually serious. Grizz didn’t want to come out, sure, but he also didn’t want to not be around Sam.

 

“So…what…you don’t even want to be my friend?” Grizz asked.

 

“No, Grizz. I don’t,” Sam said.

 

And Grizz wanted to fucking die. He was about to cry and fuck. Fuck. Sam didn’t want to be his friend anymore and Grizz just didn’t know what to do except get out of there.

 

“I gotta go,” Grizz said and walked right past Sam to the door.

 

“Grizz, wait,” Sam said, and Grizz turned back to face him, but he didn’t want to talk. Not anymore.

 

“It’s cool, you know. Whatever. We’ll go back to how it was and pretend nothing happened. It was nothing anyway. Just a stupid kiss,” Grizz said. And he only watched Sam a moment longer to make sure he got everything he said and when there was no confusion in Sam’s eyes, Grizz left the room, ignoring the fact that Sam actually looked sad, because Grizz wouldn’t know what to do with that information.

 

Sam was right, Grizz needed to figure out what exactly it was that he wanted. No, Grizz knew what he wanted. He wanted Sam. The only thing Sam was right about was that they couldn’t be friends, because there was no way Grizz could be around Sam and feel the way he does about the boy.

 

Grizz was back to square one, and he could already feel himself slamming shut every door he had opened within himself that held Sam behind them. He was teetering on the edge between taking a step through the doorway or giving up. And he did give up, locking himself back in that cold dark room he had been in for his entire life.

 

Grizz decided to go back to how he was, focus on school, football, his friends, and be the typical jock he was supposed to be. He was going to pretend nothing ever happened between himself and Sam. He was going to go back to pining for Sam from afar and not act on it.

 

The thing was, that was easier said than done.

Chapter Text

Grizz stood on the edge of the roof of Luke’s house with Jason on one side, Clark on his other. Half the football team joined him as they stood there in nothing but their underwear. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea Jason ever had considering they were all tipsy at best, but after winning the game that Friday night, everyone was in the mood to party and Grizz was feeling a little reckless.

 

Down below them, two stories down, was the pool, illuminated with blue lights. Luke’s parents were rich, probably the richest in town other than Harry’s, so their house was massive, and so was their pool. If parties weren’t held at Harry’s then they were always at Luke’s, especially since his parents always seemed to be out of town. There was always a ridiculous amount of alcohol too, which Grizz never knew how Luke got it, but he did and that was all that mattered, especially tonight since Grizz planned on drinking a lot.

 

Grizz spotted Sam with Becca in the crowd of juniors and seniors that were invited to the party. Grizz was pretty sure there were some younger grades there too, and even a few people from the school that Grizz’s team, the Centurions, beat that night. No one cared though because no one was causing trouble. Everyone was out for a good time, including Grizz. He almost slipped into a sour mood when he noticed Sam. Almost. Grizz looked away, paying attention to his friends instead.

 

“And give it up for my fucking boy Grizz!” Luke’s voice boomed past the music, “scoring the winning fucking touchdown like a boss!”

 

The cheers off intoxicated teenagers filled the backyard and Grizz put his hands up in triumphant victory. Grizz could play this part well. He was used to it, and when he was with his boys it was easy to get carried away in their antics.

 

“Nah, nah, what about my boy Luke! Give it up for the best fuckin’ captain a team could have!” Grizz shouted.

 

The cheers erupted louder and Grizz looked over to Luke with a grin because, sure, Luke secretly liked the glory that came with being the captain of the football team but when the spotlight was directly on him, he could get shy and humble.

 

“Let’s fuckin do this shit!” Jason yelled.

 

Grizz turned his back on the crowd, along with the others. His heart raced, even though he had done this before when just messing around with the guys, but never in front of a crowd. He just didn’t want to chicken out like he had before because, fuck heights, right? Grizz had enough beers so far that night that he had just enough confidence in him for the stunt.

 

“Count us out, Grizzy!” Jason said, just loud enough for those on the roof to hear.

 

“Alright, alright,” Grizz started, glancing up and down the line of half-naked boys, “Centurions on three, ready?”

 

“Centurions ready!” the others chanted in unison.

 

“Centurions on me! Centurions on three! One, two three!” Grizz shouted, and then all at once with as much team spirit as they could muster up, the team roared their team name, “CENTURIONS!”

 

The screams of the crowd filled Grizz’s ears as he flung himself off the roof with his friends. His body twisted in a backflip and he plummeted into the water with one collective splash. The chaos surrounding him was silenced, muffled by the water and for the briefest moment, Grizz’s mind went blank, and it was the sweetest few seconds he had experienced in the past two weeks.

 

And then he needed to breathe. He kicked up from the bottom of the pool and took in a deep breath as he pushed through the surface. The deep thumping of basslines filled his senses again, as well as the smell of smoke and alcohol. More people had jumped in the pool and Grizz was surrounded but he never felt more alone. He decided he needed a drink.

 

Grizz swam to the edge of the pool and pushed himself out of it. Gwen was standing there with a towel for him and he wasn’t really surprised about it. Gwen had been annoyingly present the past two weeks, and Grizz knew it was just her worrying about him since the library incident but he was fine, really, he was. Things were practically back to normal.

 

“Thanks,” Grizz said as he took the towel from her.

 

Grizz didn’t say anything else as he patted his body as dry as he could and headed on inside with Gwen hot on his trail. The boys all left their clothes in the kitchen, sprawled out all over the place. Grizz found his jeans, tugging them back on and not caring too much that his underwear was still damp. He threw his shirt on over the top and glanced at Gwen who was watching him curiously.

 

“What?” Grizz asked.

 

“Nothing,” she shook her head.

 

“Well, it’s obviously something,” Grizz said.

 

“Maybe. I just don’t think you’d want me to say out loud who was checking you out as you got out of the pool,” she said with an innocent smile.

 

Grizz glanced around at the few other people on the kitchen. None paid them any attention. They were either talking to each other or helping themselves to the array of drinks on the counter.

 

“They weren’t,” Grizz said, because he knew she was talking about Sam. All Gwen wanted to do was talk about Grizz and Sam and Grizz couldn’t take it. He knew she just wanted them together but Grizz didn’t think Gwen knew how much it hurt him every time Sam was mentioned, because Sam and Grizz weren’t even fucking friends anymore.

 

“Want a shot?” Grizz changed the topic.

 

“Sure,” Gwen shrugged.

 

Grizz opened the bottle of vodka and grabbed two plastic shot glasses, filling the both of them. He pushed one towards Gwen and downed his within a second. The burn in his throat was addictive and he was quick to take a swig straight from the bottle, downing as much as he could before he felt like gagging, which wasn’t much at all. He slammed the bottle down and screwed the cap back on. Gwen stared at him, that annoying look of concern on her face that Grizz had been so fed up with.

 

“You should probably pace yourself,” Gwen said.

 

“Probably,” Grizz said and picked up a bottle of beer.

 

“Hey, don’t give me that attitude. You’re usually the one going around handing out water to everyone. What’s gotten into you?” Gwen asked, and it was a serious question but she said it so lightly that Grizz decided to ignore it.

 

“Let’s dance,” Grizz suggested. It was more like a demand though. He latched onto Gwen’s hand and didn’t give her an option as the went into the living room, which was probably almost the size of Grizz’s entire house.

 

“I’m sure there’s someone else you’d rather be dancing with,” Gwen said.

 

“Don’t start,” Grizz said, and the music changed to a quicker song, one with a loud beat. It was too loud to talk and Grizz was okay with that because he didn’t want to talk. He pulled Gwen closer to himself, his arm around her waist, and danced in a way that could only ever be considered platonic, because God knows Grizz didn’t need anyone, specifically Clark, getting the wrong idea.

 

Strobe lights flashed and Grizz closed his eyes, trying so desperately to live in the moment. He wanted to blow off steam and have fun. He wanted to let loose and forget about how terrible the past two weeks were. All he ever wanted to do was forget and go back to how he used to be, how he didn’t have a care in the world and could just have fun with his friends without the niggling anxiety in his chests or the sadness he felt whenever he thought about Sam.

 

Grizz hadn’t said a single word to Sam since Sam told him he didn’t want to be friends. It wasn’t like Grizz was avoiding him, because Sam wasn’t talking to him either. It was like whatever happened between them didn’t happen at all. It was like they hadn’t even been friends at one point. And well, wasn’t that what Grizz wanted? To go back to how things were? The thing was, he couldn’t just go back because no matter what, he’d always have the memory of Sam’s lips against his. That wasn’t something he could just forget. And it wasn’t just about the kiss either. Grizz missed all the late nights he stayed up talking to Sam and it killed him that he couldn’t do it anymore.

 

Someone knocking into Grizz was enough to pull him from his thoughts. He looked around to see the rest of the football team had come inside, and for his own sanity, Grizz let go of Gwen before Clark saw. Without a word to anyone, Grizz walked off, pushing his way through the crowd of dancing people until he got to the next room; a second fucking living room. Grizz had been to Luke’s house hundreds of times but he still didn’t know how many rooms there were.

 

It was a little quitter in that room and most people were talking in their little groups, either standing, sitting on the floor, or taking up the couches. Grizz spotted Elle sitting on one of the couches by herself. He didn’t think twice before going over and sitting in the empty spot next to her. Elle looked up a little nervously, and well, Elle usually was timid so Grizz didn’t think much of it.

 

“Hey, you having fun?” Grizz asked, nudging her gently with his elbow.

 

“Sure,” she smiled.

 

“Doesn’t look like it,” Grizz said because Elle had been sitting there looking bored out of her mind and not talking to a single soul.  

 

“I’m not really a party type of person,” Elle said.

 

“Yeah, same but, like, fake it ‘til you make it,” Grizz shrugged, “but like, you should go talk to Helena, or Gwen, or even Becca. She’s nice too.

 

“No, I’m good, really,” Elle said and Grizz narrowed his eyes at her, because who the hell wanted to sit by themselves at a party? Grizz decided to voice those thoughts.

 

“Why not? You just gonna sit here by yourself?”

 

“I’m not here by myself. You’re here, and Campbell will be back at any second so…” she trailed off.

 

“So? Surely he’d want you to hang out with some friends and not him all the time,” Grizz said, “and I can introduce you to some people if you’re shy.”

 

“No, it’s okay. I’m here with Campbell. It’d be rude for me to ditch him,” Elle said.

 

“I guess,” Grizz shrugged.

 

He dropped the topic because he knew he wasn’t getting anywhere. Elle was shy, or maybe it was Campbell stopping her from socializing. Grizz wouldn’t be surprised. He forgot about it though and finished his drink, leaving the bottle on the coffee table. He looked around, and if he was being honest with himself, he was trying to see if Sam was anywhere around, but Grizz couldn’t see him. He only saw his friends in the next room jumping around like idiots.

 

“So,” Elle leant in closer to catch Grizz’s attention again, “Campbell should be back any second.”

 

“Okay?”

 

Elle just kept looking at him and it took Grizz a minute to realize she wanted him to leave.

 

“What?” Grizz snorted, “I ain’t scared of him.”

 

“It’s not you I’m worried about,” she said.

 

Grizz went to argue back but stopped mid mouth-drop because he could see the glimmer of fear in her eyes. It was the glimmer that fuelled Grizz’s gut feeling that there was something more going on in Campbell and Elle’s relationship. It was also the look that told Grizz she was serious and he really should leave, so he gave her an understanding nod before standing up, only to be pushed right back down by a pair of strong hands. When Grizz looked up at the culprit of the rude shove, he saw none other than Campbell.

 

“Oh no, by all means, keep talking to my girlfriend,” Campbell said with a hostile swagger that only he could truly pull off. Just seeing Campbell’s face was enough to fire Grizz right up and before he knew it, he was on his feet again, toe to toe with the fucking asshole.

 

“I thought I told you last time we had a chat not to fucking touch me,” Grizz spat.

 

“And I thought I told you to stay out of mine and my girlfriend’s business,” Campbell said, and he tried his best to be as tall and broad as Grizz was, but Grizz had him beat in that department. Grizz never liked to use his size to intimidate people, but for Campbell, he would make a special exception.

 

“What the fuck’s wrong with you, dude? We were just talking,” Grizz argued.

 

“And I don’t want you to talk to my girlfriend.”

 

“And what does Elle want? You ever ask her that?” Grizz asked.

 

“I know what she wants, and what she wants is for you to stop shoving your nose in our business,” Campbell snapped. He looked like he was about to explode but Grizz didn’t care.

 

“What if I don’t? What are you gonna do about it then, huh Campbell?” Grizz taunted. He moved closer so their noses were almost touching, but Campbell wasn’t backing down.

 

“You’re fuckin’ askin’ for it, Visser,” Campbell sneered.

 

“I’m not asking for anything,” Grizz put his hands up in surrender because he wasn’t a fighter. He didn’t actually want to get physical with Campbell. It was just that he had all this built up energy that he didn’t know what to do with. He thought about punching Campbell square in the jaw, he really did, but thought twice of it. Campbell wasn’t worth the bruised knuckles. Grizz knew he was pushing Campbell’s buttons though, and Grizz also knew that he wasn’t being himself. He didn’t pick fights like this. He wasn’t mean or condescending on purpose but he knew that was exactly what he was being when he spoke to Campbell. Perhaps it was the alcohol making Grizz do it, or maybe he was just really fucking tired of Campbell’s shit.

 

“Guys…can you just stop?” Elle spoke. Grizz’s eyes were locked on Campbell’s, not daring to be the first one to look away, and Campbell had the same idea because even as he spoke, he didn’t move.

 

“Shut the fuck up and stay out of it, babe,” Campbell said.

 

“Is that always how you talk her?” Grizz accused. Something snapped in Campbell’s face. The intimidation game was long gone and Grizz could tell the other boy was furious.

 

“I’ll talk to her however I want to!” Campbell shouted, “who the fuck do you think you are!?”

 

“Are you always this aggressive?” Grizz asked, and he knew he shouldn’t have kept the conversation going. He should have walked away long ago, but he couldn’t help it.

 

“I’ll fucking show you aggressive!” Campbell shrieked, and then Grizz learnt that Campbell didn’t have the same views on violence as he did.

 

Campbell surprised Grizz by latching onto his hair and yanking back hard. A chortled yelp came from Grizz’s lips as he was forced to follow Campbell’s movements. The next second Grizz had the wind knocked out of him when Campbell’s knee collided with his stomach. Grizz grunted and clutched his abdomen in a desperate attempt to stop the searing pain. He tried to step back or get away but Campbell had a tight grip on his hair.

 

“Fuck off, Campbell!” Grizz screamed.

 

“What? You wanted to fuckin’ square up ‘n now you’re just a scared piece of shit!” Campbell yelled.

 

Campbell dragged Grizz by the hair and threw him over the coffee table. Grizz landed hard on the other side, amongst a mess of bottles and plastic cups. For the first time he realized they were in a room full of people; people who stared at them in confusion. None of them knew what to do and neither did Grizz, because he had never actually been in a real fight before.

 

“Get up you fuckin’ pussy!” Campbell tainted.

 

Campbell stepped towards Grizz and the boy on the ground shuffled back, because he really didn’t want to fight, and the shock of it had him wondering what the fuck he was supposed to do. Was Campbell about to beat the shit out of him? How badly would he hurt Grizz? What if he had a knife on him? Or a fucking gun? Grizz wouldn’t be surprised about either.

 

Campbell was right above him and it was almost like time had slowed right down as Grizz watched him pull his leg back and go in the kick his ribs. Grizz braced himself, but the hit never came. Instead Campbell was easily yanked back by two varsity-jacket wearing jocks.

 

“The fuck are you doing!?” Clark’s voice boomed as he practically threw Campbell like a ragdoll back over to the couch.

 

“What are you doin’ to our boy? What the fuck, man?!” Jason sounded pissed, and Jason was always, always up for a fight, and Grizz felt a warmth swell in his heart watching his two friends, quickly joined by Luke, standing between himself and Campbell.

 

“The fucking faggot was asking for it!” Campbell stepped up to the boys, only for Jason to knock him right back down, shoving him into the spot next to Elle, just like Campbell had done to Grizz moments before.

 

“Hey!” Luke roared, and Grizz had never heard Luke sound like that before, so mad, so loud. “No! Fuck no! Get the fuck out of my house!”

 

“Seriously?” Campbell scoffed, and through the gap between Jason and Clark, Grizz could see that Campbell went back to that amused look he always seemed to have on his face. It was all one big game to the guy.

 

“Yeah, seriously. Get the fuck out,” Luke pointed to the way out. Campbell looked at the three of them, and probably wanting to save further embarrassment in front of the crowd that formed, he gave in.

 

“Fine, fucking party was boring as shit anyway. Come on, Elle,” Campbell said as he stood, and he didn’t give Elle a choice. He held her hand and yanked her up with him. Grizz didn’t see the look on the girl’s face and he wasn’t sure he wanted to. There wasn’t anything he could do to help her even if there was something more going on with her and Campbell.

 

“And don’t come back!” Clark shouted after Campbell.

 

“Or we’ll beat the shit out of you and that’s a fucking promise!” Jason added.

 

In that moment Grizz felt bad that he was always so quick to dismiss Clark and Jason as people he would never see after high school. He might just have to reconsider that, because they were actually pretty good friends when it came down to it. Grizz wondered if he would ever get into a fight for his friends, and he hoped that he would step up for them.

 

“Grizz, shit, are you okay?” Gwen asked when she knelt down next to him. Grizz flushed red because there were so many eyes on him and he probably looked like a weak loser to all of them, not that he cared that much about their opinions.

 

“Yeah, I’m okay. He’s just a fucking asshole,” Grizz said.

 

“Did he hit you?” Luke asked.

 

“Yeah, right in the stomach. Hurts like a bitch,” Grizz said truthfully as he took Clark and Jason’s extended hands. The two brought him to his feet with no effort.

 

“There’s frozen peas in the freezer in the garage if you want,” Luke said.

 

“Yeah, cool. I’ll get them,” Grizz said.

 

“What the hell was that all about?” Clark asked.

 

“Nothing,” Grizz shook his head dismissively, “he just doesn’t like it when I talk to Elle.”

 

“You hitting on her or something?” Clark asked.

 

“No, Clark. I don’t hit on every girl I talk to,” Grizz said, sneaking a glance at Gwen who had a tiny smile hidden away on her face. Grizz willed her not to say a thing, and she didn’t.

 

“Alright, man, chill,” Clark said.

 

“Whatever. I’m gonna go downstairs,” Grizz said.

 

“Need some help?” Luke asked.

 

“Nah, I’ll be okay,” Grizz waved his hand dismissively.

 

Grizz left the group, thankful to be away from prying and curious eyes. He skipped by each room until he got to the door that led to the garage. Luke’s house had three different levels; the garage, basement and wine cellar was underground, then there was the ground floor which everyone was partying on, then the second floor that was out of bounds. Grizz shut the garage door and went down a set of stairs.

 

It was eerily quiet down there. The place was soundproof so Grizz could barely hear the bass through the walls. The dull humming of the fluorescent lights was louder. He made his way past the three covered cars that were probably individually more expensive than Grizz’s entire house, and stopped in the corner where the freezer was.

 

“Okay, peas, peas, where the fuck are you?” Grizz mumbled to himself as he opened the lid and gazed in. He shuffled some things around. He figured he could use anything in there but didn’t want to ruin anything by thawing it out so he continued searching for the frozen vegetables.

 

“Are they even fucking in here, Luke?” Grizz asked no-one as he dug through. The side of his stomach that bore the impact of Campbell’s knee was aching and Grizz just knew he’d be bruised and in pain tomorrow if he didn’t find the fucking peas.

 

“There you are, ya little bitch,” Grizz whispered as he spotted the peas down in the very back corner through some other food. He was about to attempt to reach down and get it when he heard the door open.

 

Grizz spun around, his heart racing because his first thought was that Campbell had stuck around and was back for more. Grizz sighed in relief and every little thought of Campbell washed away when he saw Sam coming down the stairs. Their eyes locked and Sam didn’t make a move to leave. Had he come down here on purpose?

 

Grizz watched him carefully as he crossed the room towards him. Jesus Christ, Grizz thought, Sam looked good tonight. Real good. He was dressed casually in just dark jeans and white t-shirt, and his hair was the same as usual, but fuck, Sam was just beautiful. Hot. Adorable. Sexy. Grizz could go on and on listing everything that Sam was, because he was absolutely everything to Grizz, and just seeing him made Grizz miss him even more. It was the first time in two weeks they had been in a room alone together, and Grizz couldn’t help but wonder why. What did Sam want?

 

“Hey,” Grizz gave a small wave, “are you…lost?”

 

Sam smiled and after an endearing roll of his eyes he shook his head at Grizz.

 

“Gwen told me what happened, and where you were. She told me to come find you,” Sam said, and Grizz really missed the way Sam spoke. He missed the signing. He missed his voice that was often barely there. He missed his bluer than blue eyes. Fuck, Grizz just missed him, but at the same time he was confused. Grizz didn’t think Sam wanted anything to do with him.

 

“Well…you found me,” Grizz said dumbly.

 

“I did,” Sam nodded, “did you find ice?”

 

“Oh! Peas. Yes,” Grizz turned back to the freezer. Without thinking of how sore he was, Grizz quickly reached down to the back of the freezer, only to cry out and clutch the side of his stomach.

 

“Motherfuck-“ Grizz held his breath, waiting for the pain to subside. God, he was such an idiot, and he fucking hated Campbell. Grizz had broken a rib before so he knew it wasn’t that sort of pain, but it still hurt like a bitch.

 

“Are you okay?” Sam asked.

 

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Grizz said before realizing he was facing away from Sam. He turned and tried to get rid of the grimace on his face before nodded, “I’m good.”

 

“Where does it hurt?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz touched his stomach, gesturing to the left side. Sam moved closer to him and Grizz couldn’t take his eyes off the boy. Grizz was nervous, like always, but more so because he had no clue if Sam even liked him or not at that point. He didn’t know what Sam was doing stepping closer, but then he ducked past Grizz and leant right into the freezer to get the bag of peas. He got it easily.

 

“Here,” Sam said, offering it.

 

“Thanks,” Grizz muttered, taking the bag off him. He placed the frozen peas over his shirt, right where it hurt, and looked back at Sam. 

 

“I’m sorry,” Sam said.

 

“Why? You didn’t do it,” Grizz shrugged.

 

“But it’s my brother,” Sam argued.

 

Grizz shook his head. There was no way he was going to let Sam take the blame for his dick of a brother. Especially when Grizz was the one to keep on pushing Campbell’s buttons.

 

“I think I provoked him,” Grizz admitted.

 

“What were you fighting about?” Sam asked.

 

“Elle.”

 

Sam nodded knowingly and dropped the topic. Grizz really didn’t want the conversation to end there though, not after not talking to Sam for two entire fucking weeks.

 

“How’ve you been?” Grizz asked.

 

“Okay, you?”

 

“Okay,” Grizz mimicked.

 

They both went quiet again, and Grizz just didn’t know what to say. He was one hundred per cent at Sam’s mercy. Grizz just stood there, waiting for some sort of sign that Sam didn’t completely hate him, because honestly, Grizz hated himself so he was sure Sam did too. Sam’s gaze dropped from their usual place on Grizz’s lips, down to the bag of peas.

 

“Can I see?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz faltered for a moment before nodding, “yeah, yeah. Sure.”

 

Grizz pulled his shirt up and got a good look himself. There was a patch of dark red skin already that Grizz knew would turn purple over the next few hours. It hurt, but that pain quickly turned into the best thing Grizz had ever felt when Sam’s fingers gently touched the bruising skin. Grizz couldn’t breathe, but that was nothing new when he was around Sam. His skin tingled, warming at Sam’s touch and he soon forgot he was even sore.

 

“I want to be friends,” Sam said.

 

Grizz’s neck snapped up so quickly as he looked at Sam, unsure if he heard that right.

 

“Wait, what?” Grizz asked, but Sam wasn’t looking at his lips. He was still looking at his torso. When Sam did finally look up and saw Grizz’s confusion, he repeated himself.

 

“I want us to be friends again.”

 

Grizz did hear that right. Grizz spent the past two weeks thinking Sam wanted nothing to do with him. Deep down Grizz knew that wasn’t entirely true, and maybe it was easier for him to just think that was the case instead of realizing that Grizz himself was the actual problem.

 

“You serious?” Grizz asked.

 

Sam chewed on his bottom lip and nodded; a look of uncertainty etched on his face. Grizz could feel the mask he put up slip away. He felt every idea he had of keeping away from Sam and reverting back to his old self disappear. Grizz really did try his best to forget about Sam and what they had together, but he really missed Sam, and being offered friendship on a silver platter was something he couldn’t say no to.

 

In a moment of pure elation, Grizz dropped the peas and flung his arms around Sam’s shoulders, their bodies colliding together roughly as Grizz squeezed Sam in a tight hug. To Grizz’s relief, Sam hugged him back, his arms settling on the taller boy’s back. Grizz ignored the pain in his side because it hurt to have his arms up like this, but hugging Sam in that moment was the best feeling in the world, maybe even better than when they kissed.

 

Grizz indulged in Sam’s touch just a few moments longer, but when the dizzyingly delicious scent of Sam’s cologne was too much for Grizz to handle on a friendship level, he had to pull back before he did something stupid, or his body did something stupid. Grizz kept only his hands on Sam’s shoulder as he looked down at the boy, trying not to smile too wide.

 

Sure, there was a lot they probably had to talk about, like the kiss, their feelings for each other and why Grizz panicked every time they got close, but Grizz didn’t want to talk about that in that moment because he had his friend back and he was happy for the first time in two weeks. Maybe they didn’t need to talk about those things at all. If they were just friends then maybe they could ignore what they felt for each other and be just that; friends.

 

“You know what friends do?” Grizz asked.

 

“What?”

 

“Play beer pong. Come on,” Grizz said and naturally dropped his hand to Sam’s, “me and Gwen versus you and Becca.”

 

Sam smiled and nodded in agreement, “sounds like fun.”

 

“It will be, promise. Let’s go,” Grizz tugged Sam towards the stairs.

 

“Wait,” Sam stopped him, and Grizz watched as he picked up the peas from the floor.

 

“Right, thanks,” Grizz took the bag from him, putting it on his stomach.

 

The two walked hand in hand up the stairs, and Grizz only broke the contact when he opened the door, going back to the outside world, and he already missed the warmth. And fuck¸ how were Grizz and Sam supposed to be just friends?

Chapter Text

The music in the dining room wasn’t as loud as the living room, or the room Grizz got into a fight in. Grizz, Gwen, Sam and Becca had not too long ago taken over the room and while at the start of their game they had a small audience, no one bothered to stick around for the next round. The small group didn’t care though. They were having enough fun by themselves.

 

Giddy. That was one word to describe how Grizz felt. He was drinking for fun instead of wallowing in self-pity, and hanging out with Sam. The red-head across the dining room table made Grizz buzz with a joy he had never experienced around anyone else before. Grizz knew the feeling had been there before he and Sam kissed, but after not feeling it for two weeks, it was more prominent than ever.

 

Grizz held a ping-pong ball in his hand as he eyed Sam in determination. Grizz was going for the winning shot. It was their third Game, and after Grizz and Gwen had won the first game, Sam and Becca won the second, so this was the deciding round. Grizz was only a little competitive and part of him wanted to let Sam win, just to see him smile, but at the same time, Gwen was shouting in his ear to get the damn ball in Sam’s cup, so what was a boy to do?

 

Grizz took aim and in one effortless motion tossed the ball right into the last cup left on the opposite side of the table. Sam and Becca groaned in defeat and Gwen jumped up and down, throwing her arms around Grizz’s broad shoulders from behind. She leapt onto Grizz’s back, weighing practically nothing to the football player.

 

“Yes! Yes! In your faces!” Gwen taunted.

 

“No one likes a sore loser,” Becca glared at her.

 

“Bite me, Bex,” Gwen laughed.

 

“Oh, you don’t think I will? ‘Cause I will,” Becca challenged.

 

Grizz ignored the girls as they continued bickering and watched Sam who was looking back and forth, a little bit of confusion on his face. Grizz waved to get his attention and when Sam’s blue eyes landed on him, Grizz felt so light and dizzy. He wasn’t sure if it was the last beer he drank or if it was just because of Sam.

 

“You gotta drink,” Grizz pointed to the cup.

 

“I know,” Sam nodded.

 

Sam picked up the cup and Grizz watched on with a proud smile as Sam downed the drink, or at least tried to. When Sam put the cup down Grizz could still see some in there.

 

“Uh no, the whole thing,” Grizz said, and Sam pretended not to see him. Grizz waved to get his attention and when Sam gave in and glanced at Grizz’s lips, Grizz spoke again, “all of it. That’s the rules. I don’t make them. I just enforce them.”

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I drank it all,” Sam said and pulled the cup a little closer so Grizz couldn’t see in it.

 

“Liar,” Grizz accused with a playful glare. He marched down the length of the table to where Sam was standing. The other sly boy picked the red cup up and held it close.

 

“Let me see,” Grizz said and went to take it, but Sam turned his back, not letting Grizz get even close to the cup. Grizz could play that game. He stepped to Sam’s side and made a move to grab the cup but Sam spun around again, keeping his back to Grizz. Grizz couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. Sam was such a little shit when he wanted to be.

 

Grizz stepped up to Sam again, only this time he didn’t try to get in front of him. He came up behind Sam’s back and put both arms around the other boy until one hand found the drink. Sam’s giggle made Grizz’s heart soar and he almost let Sam get away with not drinking the beer like he was supposed to, but after a quick tussle, Grizz snatched the cup away and stepped back. He held up the cup in victory as Sam turned back to face him, pouting.

 

“What’s this, hmm?” Grizz asked, swishing the liquid around in the half empty cup.

 

“It’s gross. It’s warm now,” Sam said.

 

“Oh whatever, it is not,” Grizz argued.

 

“Is too. Try it,” Sam dared.

 

Grizz didn’t give it a second thought. He brought the cup to his lips and to prove a point, tried the drink. It wasn’t warm at all. It was still cold. Feeling like he was on a mission, Grizz downed the rest of it easily. He slammed the empty cup down on the table and gave Sam a smug smirk.

 

“I knew it. It was cold,” Grizz said.

 

“I know,” Sam smiled innocently.

 

Grizz opened his mouth to retaliate when he realized he had just been played.

 

“Ohohohoho, you think you’re clever, huh?” Grizz asked.

 

“Yeah, actually, I do,” Sam nodded.

 

“That’s it. Another game,” Grizz said.

 

“No, no more beer,” Sam whined.

 

“Another game!” Gwen shouted across the room.

 

Grizz had forgotten the two girls where there. He looked up to see Becca had joined Gwen over the other side. The two of them were leaning against the table and watching Grizz and Sam with cheesy grins on their faces.

 

“What in the actual fuck are you two looking at?” Grizz asked, but his voice held no malice or annoyance, just suspicion, because he felt how people felt like when they walk into a room and they just know that everyone was talking about them.

 

“Nothing. Just waiting for you two to stop fl-…talking,” Gwen said sweetly. Grizz could see right through her. He knew she was going to say flirting. He wasn’t even annoyed at her for it. He just blushed at the comment and hoped Sam didn’t catch on to what she meant to say.

 

“Sam doesn’t want play anymore,” Grizz said and he went to turn to Sam to ask what he wanted to do but the boy was gone. Grizz looked back at the girls with raised eyebrows, “Where’d Houdini go?”

 

“Went to get water,” Becca said.

 

“Did he sign behind my back? Rude,” Grizz scoffed, and his mind was already on following Sam. He gave the peace sign to the girls as he backed away, “make good choices ladies. Gotta go.”

 

“Use a condom!” Gwen teased.

 

“Fuck you,” Grizz’s peace sign turned into flipping Gwen off, “we’re just friends.”

 

“I’ll give it an hour, tops,” Becca said to Gwen, and Grizz pretended he didn’t hear that as he left the room.

 

Grizz and Sam were like two magnets always being pulled towards each other. Grizz didn’t even consider for a split second to stay with the girls. He didn’t consider going to Luke, Jason or Clark either. Honestly, he had enough of them over the past two weeks, even though he recently discovered he should probably appreciate them a lot more, but Sam was like a breath of fresh air and the only person Grizz felt like being around that night.

 

Grizz pushed through the sea of bodies grinding against each other in every room. Every person that knocked against him, sent him stumbling from side to side. He wasn’t that drunk. He had enough to not be able to walk in a straight line, but more than anything he just felt like he was floating, like he was high, and maybe he was a little high. He only had a couple hits with Gwen while they were playing because Jason walked through with a joint, plus the entire house smelt like weed that he was sure he was at least contact high.

 

Grizz successfully made it to the kitchen and spotted Sam who was at the refrigerator, trying and failing to reach the display of barely touched water bottles on top. Grizz smiled fondly at the shorter boy before going over to him. He placed his hand on the small of Sam’s back to let him know he was there, before reaching up and taking hold of a bottle. Even Grizz had to go on the tips of his toes to reach it so he wasn’t surprised that Sam was too short. Sam wasn’t even that short, but compared to Grizz he was.

 

“Water?” Grizz offered.

 

“Thank you,” Sam said politely and took the bottle from him.

 

“You’re such a good boy. Hydration is important,” Grizz said and tapped the end of Sam’s nose. Sam playfully knocked Grizz’s hand away. Grizz was a little surprised at how calm he was being around Sam, and maybe it was the alcohol making him more confident, but Grizz was hardly bothered by the fact that people were around them. Then again, it wasn’t like Grizz was holding Sam’s hand or kissing him. They were just being friends. The word itself was beginning to give Grizz a headache.

 

“That, or, beer is tasting more and more like shit,” Sam said as he opened the bottle and drank some.

 

“If you get drunk enough then you can’t taste it anymore,” Grizz said.

 

“No, I can still taste it,” Sam said with a grimace.

 

“Is that, like, a senses thing? Like one sense gone,” Grizz gently touched Sam’s ear, “so your others are, like, stronger, like taste?”

 

Sam laughed, shaking his head. Grizz couldn’t help but smile back.

 

“What?” Grizz asked.

 

‘You’re an idiot,’ Sam signed while he laughed.

 

“Isn’t it true, though?” Grizz asked.

 

“I don’t have beer tasting superpowers,” Sam said.

 

“Bet you wish you did,” Grizz said.

 

“No? You make no sense,” Sam said.

 

“You’re being mean,” Grizz stuck his bottom lip out in a pout.

 

‘Sorry,’ Sam signed.

 

Grizz smiled and shook his head slowly. He sighed heavily, wondering how in the actual fuck he was going to stop his feelings for Sam getting stronger. He wasn’t sure he even wanted to. Grizz couldn’t even watch Sam have a drink of water without having his mind go wandering to the other things he could do with his lips.

 

“What are you thinking?” Sam asked.

 

Fuck.

 

“Uh…” Grizz hesitated, and then, as he watched Sam drink more water, he had a genius idea, “I have an idea.”

 

“What?”

 

“I’m gonna get you something fancy to drink,” Grizz said.

 

“Something what?”

 

“Fancy,” Grizz repeated while finger-spelling the word, “follow me. Gotta steal Luke’s keys.”

 

“Wait, we’re not driving,” Sam said.

 

Grizz was already walking off and he just shook his head, waving his hand dismissively to tell Sam that wasn’t his idea, because Grizz wasn’t dumb enough to drink and drive. He made his way upstairs to where he wasn’t supposed to be, but he figured he was Luke’s friend so he was allowed. He was so determined that nothing would stop him.

 

Sam followed closely behind Grizz and Grizz fought the urge to hold his hand, because who knew who else could be up there with them. Grizz got to the end of the hall where Luke’s bedroom was and didn’t bother knocking before walking in, because he really didn’t think anyone would be in there. He was wrong, because when he opened the door, Luke was sitting on his bed with Helena on the floor, on her knees in front of him.

 

“Fuck, Grizz! What the fuck!” Luke shouted as he quickly snatched a pillow from the bed to cover himself.

 

“Oops,” Grizz said before snorting in laughter. He held his hand up to stop Sam from appearing at the door with him. The other boy stayed still in the hallway.

 

“Seriously, Grizz?” Helena said, but wouldn’t look up and Grizz, and he didn’t blame her.

 

“Sorry. My bad, really. Just need to get something,” Grizz said.

 

“Get out!” Luke shouted.

 

“I need your keys!” Grizz shouted back because, well, why not?

 

“What the fuck for?” Luke asked.

 

“Trying to impress someone. Just need the one for the wine cellar,” Grizz said and for good measure added a “please,” followed by a “pretty, please Lukie Pookie?”

 

“Oh my God,” Helena turned to look at Grizz finally, “please tell me it’s Becca. You two would be so cute together. Actually, just please tell me it’s not Gwen because I’m tired of hearing Clark complain like a baby.”

 

Grizz didn’t really know what to say. He wasn’t in the mood to lie and pretend. He just froze up, but at the same time he was in too good of a mood to get upset about it.

 

“Uh, key’s on my desk,” Luke said.

 

“Good man,” Grizz said, perking up. He went over to the desk and found the set of keys sitting on it.

 

“It’s the biggest one,” Luke said.

 

“You bet it is, buddy,” Grizz winked at him, “right Helena?”

 

“Eww, Grizz, go away!” she scolded.

 

“Right, right, I’m going,” Grizz said as he found the right key and took it off the keychain. He headed to the door only to turn back to his friends, “Luke, make sure you return the favor, okay pal?”

 

“Grizz!” the two shouted in unison and Grizz just laughed at them as he shut the door. He was still laughing as he turned to Sam who, of course, had no clue what just happened.

 

“Sometimes I feel like you try to hide me,” Sam said with a frown.

 

“What? No. No. Helena was blowing Luke,” Grizz blurted out.

 

“Oh,” Sam said thoughtfully before nodding, “okay.”

 

“We can go back in if you want,” Grizz suggested.

 

“No, no!”

 

“We can get popcorn,” Grizz laughed.

 

“No, eww, straight porn…just, no,” Sam shook his head.

 

“Yeah, you’re right. Wait, you watch porn?” Grizz teased.

 

“Don’t you?” Sam asked seriously, and this was not a conversation that Grizz could have with Sam because his mind was already wandering to all sorts of dirty places. He had to take a deep breath just to clear his head.

 

“You’re the worst,” Grizz sighed, “follow me.”

 

Grizz walked off and Sam was quick to fall into step next to him. Grizz led him back down the stairs and across the house to where the garage door was, because next to that was another door that led to the wine cellar. Luke’s parents collected wine and Grizz was sure there were some bottles down there that were centuries old, but Grizz wouldn’t even dare to touch those ones. He’d find some of the cheaper ones they had for entertaining guests.

 

Grizz unlocked the door and opened it before stepping aside to let Sam go in first. Grizz followed, shutting and locking the door behind him because if he let anyone else in there, Luke would kill him. Literally kill him.

 

Grizz followed Sam down the stairs. The cellar was big enough that it could have been another bedroom, or a den or an office. On one side of the room, expanding along the entire width, was a glass window with a door. Behind that was a wall of wine; Luke’s parent’s prized collection. On the side of the glass that the boys were standing was a sitting area. There was a two-seater couch, a small table with a lamp, and a bookshelf along the far wall.

 

“We’re not gonna drink this, are we?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz answered by going up to the glass door and unlocking it. He went in and skipped the expensive stuff, stopping at the fridge in the corner. He opened it and looked at the selection. It was just wine you could pick up at the nearest liquor store in town. Grizz knew because his mom liked to drink a lot of what was in there. He looked back to Sam, making sure the boy was looking at him before talking.

 

“Red or white?” Grizz asked.

 

“White?” Sam shrugged.

 

Grizz turned back to the wine and pulled out the first one he saw. It was a Chardonnay. He headed back to Sam who seemed unsure, so Grizz took his hand and led him over to the couch, plopping down on it himself and pulling Sam with him. Sam laughed a little as he settled next to Grizz, the two boys sitting perhaps a little closer than they needed to, their legs and knees touching as they faced each other. Sam’s leg was practically over the top of one of Grizz’s but Grizz didn’t mind at all. In fact, he rested his hand on Sam’s thigh to pull him a little closer.

 

Grizz wondered if this was how friends were allowed to sit. He sat like this with Gwen sometimes, but not with Luke, Clark or Jason. Grizz knew that was because his three male friends were straight and wouldn’t be comfortable sitting with Grizz like that, and Gwen was a girl, so she was. Grizz had never been friends with another gay guy before so he wasn’t sure if this was something gay platonic friends did or not.

 

“You gonna open that?” Sam pulled Grizz from his thoughts, and he was way too tipsy to be having a battle in his head about gender norms.

 

“Yes,” Grizz nodded once. He unscrewed the cap and handed the bottle to Sam, not bothering to search the room for wine glasses that he was pretty sure weren’t in there anyway. Sam took the bottle, bringing it to his lips as he tasted the wine. He screwed his face up thoughtfully before handing the bottle back to Grizz.

 

“Better than beer, but still awful,” Sam said.

 

Grizz tried the wine too before agreeing, “you’re right, but don’t you feel fancy as fuck?”

 

“I do,” Sam smiled.

 

Grizz couldn’t put into words exactly how Sam’s smile made him feel. He just knew that that floating feeling was back and he didn’t want to crash back down to earth. Grizz drank some more to keep his buzz going before handing the bottle off to Sam. Sam, who Grizz was so damn appreciative of. Like, there Grizz was after two weeks of not talking to Sam, and Sam just acted as though everything was fine. That’s what friends are for, Grizz told himself.

 

“Are we best friends?” Grizz asked.

 

“What?” Sam was confused, but he understood what Grizz had said.

 

“We’re friends again, but are we best friends?” Grizz asked again.

 

“Becca is my best friend,” Sam said plainly, “and Luke is yours.”

 

“Maybe.”

 

“He’s not?”

 

“Is he was, then wouldn’t I tell him I’m gay?” Grizz asked. It was a question he asked himself a lot, ever since he first figured out he was gay.

 

“Why don’t you?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz didn’t want to answer the question. He didn’t even want to think about answering it. Instead he took the wine from Sam and downed practically half the damn bottle, and at that rate they’d need to get another one soon.

 

“Uh, share,” Sam said and took the bottle from Grizz. Now that Grizz was sitting down, his head felt a little heavier than before. He rested it against the back of the couch and kept his gaze on Sam, beautiful Sam.

 

“You think Luke will be mad at us?” Sam asked.

 

“Don’t care if he is,” Grizz shrugged.

 

“You’re such a rebel,” Sam teased.

 

“Yep. Call me Grizz ‘danger’ Visser,” Grizz said dramatically, and Sam laughed at his expressions. When Sam stopped laughing, he bit his bottom lip, and Grizz died on the spot. He had to close his eyes for a moment to get the image out of his head, but nope, there it was, still dangling behind his eyelids.  

 

“Why do people call you Grizz?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz opened his eyes, a little shocked by the question because not many people asked that. Not many people even knew Grizz’s real name.

 

“Luke started it,” Grizz said, “in middle school for Halloween I dressed up as a grizzly bear. Luke started calling me Grizz and it stuck. Plus, I fucking hate being called Gareth.”

 

“Why?”

 

“It’s my dad’s name too,” Grizz said honestly. And he was going into territory that he didn’t want to at that point so he quickly changed the subject, “I have pictures of that Halloween, by the way.”

 

“I have to see that,” Sam laughed.

 

Grizz reached into his back pocket and took out his phone. He scrolled through his pictures until he found the one he was looking for. Sure, it was embarrassing, but it was worth showing Sam purely for the look of absolute delight on the boy’s face. Sam covered his mouth as he laughed before giving up and throwing his head back as he lost it.

 

“Yeah, yeah, real funny,” Grizz said, his face going red and hot. Sam shook his head and gave Grizz his phone back.

 

“You were pretty cute back then,” Sam said.

 

“I’m cute now,” Grizz argued.

 

Sam shrugged, but didn’t confirm or deny the comment.

 

“Okay, but back then though. Very adorable,” Sam said, and Grizz knew he shouldn’t indulge in flirting, and he wasn’t even sure if Sam was flirting or if this was just normal conversation. Grizz’s mind was a mess and the wine he and Sam kept passing back and forth wasn’t helping in the slightest.

 

“If only we were friends back then, then you’d see how awkward I was,” Grizz said.

 

“You still are,” Sam joked, “and you were too busy with your super cool football friends to talk to me.”

 

“As if you ever tried either. And they aren’t super cool. They’re losers,” Grizz said.

 

“You love them,” Sam said.

 

“Debatable,” Grizz shrugged, but deep down he knew Sam was right.

 

“You guys were really good tonight, like at the game,” Sam said.   

 

“You were there?” Grizz asked.

 

Sam nodded.

 

“I didn’t see you,” Grizz frowned, because he felt like that was something he definitely should have noticed. He had never seen Sam at one of his games before.

 

“I’m sneaky,” Sam grinned.

 

“Do you usually go?”

 

“No.”

 

“Well if I knew y’were there I woulda tried to be like, I’unno, better?” Grizz said, even though he had played one of his best games that night.

 

“Stop that,” Sam said and placed his fingertips under Grizz’s chin.

 

“Stop what?” Grizz asked.

 

“Hard for me to understand when you’re slurring,” Sam said and tapped Grizz’s lips lightly.

 

“You can tell?” Grizz asked.

 

Sam nodded, “yes, so stop it.” He went to tap Grizz’s lips again to scold him, but Grizz was quicker. He nipped at Sam’s finger, biting hard for Sam to feel it, but not hard enough for it to hurt. Sam yanked his hand back, jaw dropped in shock.

 

“Ow, what the hell did you do that for?” Sam asked.

 

“Just felt like it. I’m sorry,” Grizz said sincerely.

 

He took Sam’s hand in his, the timid boy letting him. Grizz brought Sam’s fingers to his lips and placed a gentle kiss on them. Sam’s eyes were glued to the spot Grizz was kissing. When Grizz stopped he leant in to catch Sam’s gaze again.

 

“That better?” Grizz asked.

 

“Nope,” Sam said, and Grizz couldn’t keep the smile off his face as he kissed the other boy’s pointer finger again. Sam’s hand was pliant in Grizz’s grasp as he kissed it one last time and looked down to see if he left a mark. He didn’t. Of course he didn’t. He didn’t actually want to hurt Sam. He never would.

 

“I like your hands,” Grizz said thoughtfully.

 

“Oh really?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz nodded. He placed the palm of his right hand on the palm of Sam’s left hand to compare the size out of sheer curiosity. They were almost the same size, only Grizz’s fingers were a little thicker than Sam’s slender ones.

 

“You’re not signing when you talk,” Sam pointed out, and he was right, because it took Grizz a lot of brain power to remember how to sign the little that he did know, and being drunk, well he could barely even think straight.

 

“I’m sorry. I can’t think. Bit too drunk,” Grizz said.

 

“Sign something to me,” Sam said, taking his hand away from Grizz’s.

 

“I’m not good enough,” Grizz whined.

 

“Don’t care. Just sign something,” Sam ordered.

 

Grizz stared at Sam, thinking of what to say. There were a lot of things that Grizz wanted to say, and a lot he should have, but there was only one thing that came to mind, because it was the one thing he said in his head every time he saw Sam during the last two weeks.

 

‘I missed you,’ Grizz signed.

 

Sam grinned, “did you?”

 

“Uh huh,” Grizz nodded, “like…a lot.”

 

“How much?” Sam asked.

 

How much? Grizz couldn’t even put it into words just how much he yearned to be around Sam and how much it fucking sucked not to be. He couldn’t say it so in Grizz’s fuzzy mind there was only one way.

 

“I can show you,” Grizz said.

 

“How?”

 

Grizz watched Sam carefully, searching for any sign that the other boy didn’t want it. With a newfound wave of liquid confidence, Grizz leant in closer to Sam. He breathed the other boy in and once again his senses were filled with that intoxicating scent that was Sam. Their noses brushed and the skin on Grizz’s face felt numb but at the same time he could feel every little molecule of Sam touching him.

 

And then Grizz couldn’t help himself anymore. He pressed his lips to Sam’s in an almost desperate kiss. The mere contact was enough for Grizz to lose all function of every other body part as he dropped the empty wine bottle to the thankfully carpeted floor. Every little bit of desire he had towards Sam was in the one kiss, and Grizz hoped Sam felt it. He hoped the kiss proved to Sam just how much he missed him. Only, Sam wasn’t moving. Grizz thought maybe he read this wrong. Maybe Sam didn’t want it, but the moment Grizz tried to pull back, Sam’s lips frantically chased his.

 

Sam kissing him back was all Grizz needed for his body to wake up again. Not wanting to let it end, Grizz held each side of Sam’s face with tender hands. The kiss was different to their first one; so sweet and terrifying at the same time. This kiss was sloppy, alcohol fueled and filled with enough tension to make Grizz want to explode.

 

Grizz wanted Sam so fucking badly. He wanted to taste every inch of him. He wanted to kiss him everywhere, not just those perfectly plump, soft lips. With that in mind, Grizz trailed his lips down Sam’s jaw, edging closer and closer to the boy’s neck.

 

“I thought you said you wanted to wait until college,” Sam said the moment his lips were free.

 

Grizz pulled back, a little thrown by the question, because he just wanted to kiss Sam, not talk. Grizz didn’t want to think about this. He was so tired of thinking.

 

“I do, but…but I want you so bad, Sam,” Grizz said and he leant in to kiss Sam, but Sam turned his head to the side, moving back. Grizz looked at him in confusion, because well, hadn’t Sam been flirting with him all night? Or was Grizz imagining that? Didn’t Sam still like him too?

 

“What is this, Grizz?” Sam questioned.

 

“What do you mean?” Grizz asked.

 

“I asked you two weeks ago to sort your head out and figure out what you want. Did you?” Sam asked back.

 

Grizz froze and he didn’t know what to say, because no, he hadn’t sorted his head out. He didn’t even try. He decided to just pretend he was straight, to have things go back to normal. He wanted to revert back to his original plan of not coming out, but at the same time he wanted to kiss Sam. He didn’t know how to have both.

 

“I don’t just want to be some guy that you kiss every now and again and then push away. These past two weeks with us not talking…I hate it, Grizz,” Sam said.

 

Sam wasn’t speaking anymore, and Grizz knew he was waiting for him to say something, but Grizz didn’t even know what Sam wanted. Did he want Grizz to come out? Did he want to be boyfriends? Were those two things one in the same? Sam was getting impatient. Grizz could see it in the other boy’s eyes, and Grizz was panicking, again.

 

“Do you want to be my boyfriend or not?” Sam asked.

 

“Uh…”

 

Grizz’s mind was a blur. He let the alcohol take over instead of facing the real questions. Of course he wanted Sam to be his boyfriend, but it was complicated. He just couldn’t think. It was like there was an error sign flashing in front of his eyes in angry, red letters with an alarm blaring, screaming at him ‘DOES NOT COMPUTE! DOES NOT COMPUTE!’. Grizz’s mind had shut down once again, and he had been silent for a moment too long.

 

“I gotta go,” Sam said and got up.

 

And Grizz just sat there. He just fucking sat there not knowing what to do or say as Sam walked back up the stairs and through the cellar door. Grizz looked around, now by himself, in complete silence except for the echoing basslines upstairs.

 

“Fuck…” Grizz whispered, because he did it again. He fucked things up again and he had no idea how he managed to do it. He hated himself. He just had Sam back as his friend and it was the happiest he had been in two weeks, and he just went and screwed it up by kissing him. That wasn’t what friends did.

 

“Fuck!” Grizz shouted and ran his hands through his hair in frustration.

 

He wanted to sit there for the rest of the night and just cry or sober up and drive home, but he ended up doing neither of those things. He just wanted the voice in his head telling him he fucked up to shut the hell up. He wanted to hear nothing and feel nothing. He wanted to scream at the world and his parents and him-fucking-self.

 

Grizz got up and headed back upstairs with just one person in mind to find. Luke would be no help, and neither would Gwen. He needed someone who was dumb enough to indulge in his self-destructive mood. He searched through the ground floor until he went outside and found Clark lounging by the side of the pool on one of the beds.

 

“Hey, Clark,” Grizz greeted him.

 

“Yeah, bud?” Clark slurred with a grin on his face.

 

“Let’s get fucking wasted, yeah?” Grizz asked.

 

Clark sat up, eyeing Grizz curiously, “you okay?”

 

“Fucking peachy. I bet I can drink you under the table though,” Grizz said.

 

“You’re on.”

Chapter Text

Grizz couldn’t remember a time in his entire adolescence that he had consumed so much alcohol, and the reason wasn’t memory loss. Usually at parties he drank enough to get a buzz going or give him enough confidence to fuck a random girl to hide his sexuality. Now he drank to, well, hide his own feelings about his sexuality. He just wanted to forget how much he had fucked everything up.

 

Grizz felt weightless as he slumped against Clark’s side. The other boy tried desperately to keep his barely conscious friend from falling to the floor. Grizz lulled his head to Clark’s shoulder and if it wasn’t for the fact that he was being dragged along, Grizz probably could have fallen asleep then and there.

 

“Yo, Jason! Help me out here man. The fucker’s heavy,” Clark’s deep voice boomed through the music to their other friend.

 

“I’m not fat. You’re fat. Why would y- say, why would you say that ‘bout me?” Grizz whined.

 

“I’m not calling you fat. But when you’re dead weight, you’re fuckin’ heavy,” Clark said, and then Grizz felt his left side being lifted. Grizz smiled when he saw Jason’s face.

 

“Hey, J-money, where y’been?” Grizz asked.

 

“Literally drinking with you for the past hour,” Jason said.

 

“The fuck? Really?” Grizz asked.

 

“Really, really,” Jason said.

 

“Okay, Shrek,” Grizz snorted, “y’ got layers?”

 

“What?” Jason asked.

 

“Like an onion, y’know? Layers. Jason c’mon,” Grizz stared at his friend and he didn’t know why the other boy didn’t understand what he was saying.

 

“The fuck is he talking about?” Jason asked.

 

“Shrek,” Clark said.

 

Grizz’s neck snapped as his attention shot to Clark, his eyes wide in shock, “you’re so clever. Don’t know why everyone thinks you’re so dumb.”

 

“Who thinks I’m dumb?” Clark asked.

 

“Me. Gwen. Ms. Chan,” Grizz mumbled.

 

“That’s nice,” Clark said and Grizz smiled, nodding at him.

 

Jason and Clark half carried, half dragged, Grizz in to the house from the pool area and through the crowd of people that had only thinned out about a quarter since an hour ago. There were still a lot of people drinking, dancing, and straight up grinding on each other. Grizz saw all of that first hand as his friends took him to one of the living rooms and dropped him on the empty couch.

 

“Aww you guys. You’re so nice to me,” Grizz said as he looked up at the two of them standing above him. He reached out because he wanted to hug them, but his arms were so heavy and Clark and Jason weren’t making any moves to hug him first. Grizz pouted, dropping his arms to his sides.

 

“Why the fuck did you let him have that much, dude?” Jason asked. Grizz looked to Clark accusingly for an answer.

 

“Not my fault! He challenged me. You know I can’t resist a little competition,” Clark said. Grizz nodded in agreement and flung his attention back to Jason.

 

“He’s so fuckin’ out of it,” Jason laughed.

 

“I think he had a lot to drink before we started,” Clark said.

 

“Don’t you bitch asses be talkin’ ‘bout me like ‘m not here. I am here, and I hear. Get it,” Grizz snorted. He slumped over on the couch as he broke into a fit of lazy laughter. He tried to sit up again but his body felt like it was made of lead, and he wanted to sleep. The cushions on the couch were so comfortable and the music was fading from his ears. He could just shut the world out and be perfectly happy.

 

“Hey,” Clark’s voice interrupted Grizz’s attempts at sleep. Clark made him sit up and Grizz whined in annoyance. He just wanted to sleep. He opened his eyes, seeing Clark sitting close to him. Grizz blinked a few times, trying to focus on the other boy’s perfect features.

 

“You’re real pretty, you know? Real pretty,” Grizz slapped the side of Clark’s face maybe a little too hard before stroking it. Clark had always been a bit of a pretty boy and was the one in the group to go on about skin care and moisturizers and Grizz could tell it worked, because the boy’s face was so damn smooth and didn’t have a single blemish on it.

 

“Thanks, buddy. You’re pretty too,” Clark humored his drunk friend.

 

“That’s a gay thing to say. You got a crush on me?” Grizz asked.

 

“Yeah, Grizz. I got a crush on you,” Clark laughed.

 

“Fuck,” was all Grizz could say, because what? Sam and Clark? Grizz sat there thinking of all the ways he could make himself less attractive, because he didn’t need all of his friends falling for him.

 

“Clark, my buddy, m’ pal, m’ friend, m’ comrade. My donkey to Jason’s Shrek. I don’t like you like that. ‘m sorry,” Grizz said sincerely.

 

“I’m heartbroken,” Clark deadpanned, “drink this. You need to sober up.”

 

Clark shoved a bottle of water into Grizz’s hands. Grizz looked at the bottle like it was the pure embodiment of evil. This wouldn’t help him get drunk. He looked back to Clark as if the other boy had betrayed him.

 

“We’re s’posed to be gettin’ lit,” Grizz slurred.

 

“And you are lit, Grizzy. Too lit. Drink up. I’ll come by in a few to check on you, okay?” Clark said.

 

“I don’t need checkin’ on. I’m fine,” Grizz argued.

 

“Of course you are. I’ll be back though,” Clark said as he stood.

 

“Mmk.”

 

“Yo, Luke!” Clark called out, “tag team.”

 

“I’m watching him,” Luke said, and what the fuck? Luke was there? Grizz looked around and sure enough, a little bit away, was Luke with his arm around Helena, talking to Allie and Harry.

 

Grizz was alone. Clark left. He had no clue where to Jason went off to, or even when he left him. Grizz kept spacing out, losing chunks of time. It only felt like five minutes ago that he had the first shot with Clark. Grizz knew a lot more time had gone by though. He didn’t have his phone on him to figure out just how much. All Grizz knew at that moment was that it was late, he had too much to drink, and he knew that soon he would either throw up, or pass out. Or both.

 

Grizz looked at the bottle of water still in his hands. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to just have a little. That was Grizz’s thought anyway. He tried to undo the cap of the bottle, but it was like he lost all motor skills.

 

“Childproof. Rude,” Grizz muttered. He just couldn’t get the damn thing opened and he almost wanted to cry. He looked around and as soon as his gaze landed on someone he knew, he called them over.

 

“Carla!” he called out, “Carla, help.”

 

Carla had been nearby dancing with a couple of her friends when she turned at Grizz’s voice. She beamed at him as she made her way over. Her hips swung in that mesmerizing manner that made all the boys look twice, but Grizz, well, Grizz was gay and he just wanted to open the bottle of water.

 

“Hey baby, I’ve been waiting to run into you all night. What’s wrong?” Carla asked as she sat next to Grizz.

 

“I can’t open my bottle,” Grizz frowned.

 

“You’ve always had delicate hands,” Carla said as she took the water from. She opened the bottle easily and handed it back to Grizz who turned his frown upside down in a smile.

 

“You’re a good friend,” Grizz said.

 

“We’re friends now, are we? Is that what you call it?” Carla giggled. She rested her hand on Grizz’s thigh and he didn’t think anything of it, because well, it was normal for them.

 

Carla and Grizz were friends, that much was true. It was the “with benefits” part that could confuse the two on the term. Carla was a cool chick, and she and Grizz had always been friends on some level until a couple of years ago at a party when Clark and Jason were teasing Grizz about his virginity, and well, Carla was just there, and it just happened. And Grizz was relieved after they did it because how could anyone think he was gay when he was having sex with a girl? And so, he kept it up, at almost every party he went to, she was there, and they’d end up hooking up.

 

Carla was a good choice, in Grizz’s eyes. He wasn’t attracted to women, but she was gorgeous. He could see that. She always took charge too, which at those times was exactly what Grizz needed because, even though he’d like to one day take charge in the bedroom, he couldn’t bring himself to do it with a girl. Carla got things done and she didn’t ask Grizz questions. She didn’t ask him why it took him a while to get hard, or that one time he couldn’t at all. Being a teenage boy, almost anything could turn him on, but he really had to work for it sometimes.

 

Carla was also perfectly happy with the lack of commitment in their little arrangement. She never asked Grizz to be her boyfriend. She never pressured him into talking about feelings or anything like that. She just wanted sex. It worked. Grizz hadn’t spoken to Carla since before he began talking to Sam.

 

“You having fun tonight?” Carla asked.

 

“Mhm.”

 

“You look it. I saw you, Clark and Jason doing shots earlier by the pool,” she said.

 

“Yeah.”

 

Carla kept talking and Grizz wanted to fall asleep. He rested his head on the back of the couch and watched her as she talked, nodding every now and again when he felt like he had to. The scene was one that was all too familiar to him. They’d talk. They’d kiss. They’d go upstairs. It was the same every time, only this time, Grizz’s mind was far, far away from sex.

 

“I was hoping you’d have been at the party after Fugitives. I was looking for you everywhere until Gwen told me you went home. Which by the way, she was such a bitch about. I think she likes you, actually,” Carla said thoughtfully.

 

“Don’t call her a bitch. She’s an angel,” Grizz mumbled.

 

“Don’t tell me you like her too,” Carla laughed incredulously.

 

“No,” Grizz shook his head.

 

“Well, good, because I wouldn’t want to end what we’ve got going on,” Carla said.

 

“Hmm?”

 

“You’re cute when you play dumb,” Carla said.

 

She moved closer and Grizz could smell the strong, but sweet, citrus perfume coming off her. Grizz could only half comprehend what was happening. He didn’t really clue in to what Carla wanted until she kissed his neck. Grizz giggled because he was kind of ticklish there. He inched away from the girl, but she was pro-active. In less than a second Carla was on top of Grizz with her arms around his neck.

 

“What are you doin’?” Grizz barely voiced as he looked up at her.

 

“What we always do,” she said sweetly.

 

Carla leant in and pressed her lips to Grizz’s. Her tongue was quick to shoot into his mouth, and Grizz went slack. He couldn’t keep up with what was going on and his brain was an absolute mess of confusion. He liked the way Carla tasted of strawberries and vodka, but he didn’t like it enough to want to kiss her. 

 

Grizz didn’t know what to do as he sat there with the girl on top of him. This was what they did, right? Carla said it herself. Grizz was used to this, and well, he lost all track of time. He couldn’t remember where he was or why he was kissing her. He couldn’t even tell if he was kissing her. It was like his muscle memory had kicked in and took over.

 

“What the fuck, Carla?” Luke’s voice broke through the utter confusion in Grizz’s mind. Then, Carla wasn’t kissing him and Grizz sighed in relief.

 

“What?” Carla asked, and Grizz opened his eyes to look between Carla, who was still on top of him, and Luke who was standing by them, towering over the two.

 

“He’s off his fucking face and you wanna hook up?” Luke snapped.

 

“It’s not like we haven’t before?” Carla laughed.

 

“Right, and before he wasn’t this fucking wasted. Go find someone else to fuck if you’re that desperate,” Luke barked at her and Grizz had no fucking idea what was going on, and why was Luke so mad?

 

“Jesus, relax. I’m fucking going,” Carla said defensively. She got off of Grizz and didn’t give him another glance as she went back to her friends, took one by the hand and left the room. 

 

“Bye!” Grizz called out. He didn’t get a response.

 

Luke sat in the empty spot next to Grizz and Grizz turned to him with a smile.

 

“You’re a good friend,” Grizz said.

 

“Yeah, you’re welcome,” Luke said, and he still sounded a bit annoyed. Grizz didn’t really get why. Carla was right, they had hooked up before. Then again, it felt different now.

 

“I didn’t wanna have the sex with her,” Grizz told Luke.

 

“I could tell.”

 

“I don’t really wanna have the sex with any girls. They’re kinda eww,” Grizz scrunched his nose up.

 

Luke laughed and smiled so brightly at Grizz, and Grizz wondered why. He also wondered why Luke threw his arm around his shoulder and squeezed tightly in a side hug. Grizz sat there confused and frowning.

 

“You’re so fuckin’ wasted,” Luke said.

 

“Probs,” Grizz nodded. He looked away from Luke and instead out at the people still partying away. Grizz wanted to get up and party too but he was afraid that if he stood up, he would be so dizzy that he would fall right back down again.

 

Through the crowd Grizz could see the five-foot-nothing bundle of pure anger that was Becca storming past people, shoving them out of the way as she made a beeline for Grizz. Grizz glanced at Luke, wondering if it was Luke that Becca was mad at, or himself. Because what the hell could Grizz have possibly done now?

 

“What the fuck, Grizz. What the fuck!?” Becca shouted at him.

 

“What? What I do?” Grizz asked.

 

“You-,” Becca stopped, glancing at Luke. She leant in, right to Grizz’s ear and spoke directly to him, “Sam saw you kissing that hoe. That’s what happened. And now he’s upset and left. So, I repeat, what the actual fuck is wrong with you?”

 

Becca pulled back and Grizz’s eyes went wide. Sam was here? Sam was still fucking here? He was sure Sam had left the party when he left the wine cellar. Grizz didn’t know he was still here, and fuck, he saw him kissing Carla. Fuck. Fuck.

 

“Where is he?” Grizz asked.

 

“He just left,” Becca said.

 

“No, no, no,” Grizz chanted. He really fucked it up this time. He had to go after Sam.

 

Ignoring the alcohol swishing around in his stomach, Grizz got off the couch and stumbled through the mass of people, all of whom ignored his drunk ass as he tried to walk in a straight line towards the front door. Grizz didn’t know how he was going to explain this to Sam, he just knew he had to find him.

 

“Grizz!” Luke called out to him, and a moment later a strong hand latched onto Grizz’s bicep and made him stop. Grizz turned to see his best friend. “What happened? Where are you going?”

 

“I gotta go,” Grizz pulled away from Luke’s grip and went to the door.

 

“Give me your car keys,” Luke ordered as he stepped in front of the door, blocking Grizz.

 

“What?”

 

“Drunk Grizz is a dumb Grizz. Give me your car keys,” Luke said again.

 

“I don’t have time for this, Luke. He saw me kiss Carla. Sam saw, ‘n I gotta go ‘cause he’s mad, ‘n I suck, ‘n I gotta go or he won’t like me anymore,” Grizz whined. 

 

“Okay, but, car keys,” Luke said.

 

Grizz, in a huff, took his keys from his jeans pocket and shoved them at Luke before pushing him out of the way. Grizz went through the front door and ran out into the empty front yard. It was so much quieter out there. The street was illuminated by only streetlights and the moon, and it was enough for Grizz to see someone he prayed was Sam walking down the street.

 

“Sam!” Grizz called out dumbly, “Sam! Sam!”

 

It was completely lost on him that Sam couldn’t hear a thing he was saying, but Grizz still shouted out his name as he ran down the street after the boy. As he got closer, he saw that it was, in fact, Sam, and Grizz was so relieved that the boy of his dreams hadn’t gotten too far away.

 

Grizz caught up to Sam and ran around in front of him so he’d stop. Sam did stop in tracks, for just a moment. He looked up at Grizz in shock, clearly not thinking the other boy would have chased him out there. Sam rolled his eyes and went to walk right past Grizz, but Grizz stopped him, gently holding his hands to Sam’s chest in a desperate attempt to have him pay attention. Sam sighed and his gaze landed on Grizz’s lips.

 

“Please, please, don’ go. I-I’m sorry. She kissed me and I didn’t, I just, it wasn’t, I can’t-,” Grizz stopped his mumbling and rambling when Sam put one hand up in front of Grizz’s face, silencing him.

 

“I can’t understand you when you’re this drunk and talking fast and it’s dark,” Sam said.

 

Grizz looked around before taking two steps back so he was directly under one of the street-lights. Sam watched him carefully and Grizz really thought he was going to leave, especially when Sam took two steps forward, but when he stopped right in front of Grizz, he relaxed and took a deep breath, trying to calm himself down.

 

‘I’m sorry,’ Grizz signed.

 

“She had her tongue down your throat,” Sam said.

 

“I didn’t,” Grizz shook his head, “I didn’t want it.”

 

“You were kissing her back. I can’t do this anymore, Grizz. It hurts,” Sam said.

 

“I-I didn’t. I’m…drunk. I- fuck,” Grizz didn’t know what to say. How was he supposed to tell Sam what was going through his head when Carla kissed him when he didn’t even know himself what the fuck he was thinking.

 

“You weren’t drunk when you kissed me,” Sam said.

 

“What?”

 

“We were going to be friends, and you kissed me, even though you don’t want to be with me. Then you kiss her right in front me. What the fuck, Grizz?” Sam threw his hands up in frustration, and Grizz realized he was frustrated too, and all of a sudden he wanted to argue with Sam.

 

“Like ‘m the only one to blame? You’re all like let’s be friends and then you fuckin’ act like you do. You don’t act how a friend should. That shit was not fuckin’ platonic. How the fuck was I not supposed to kiss you? Huh? What the fuck was I supposed to do?” Grizz rambled.

 

“I can’t understand you when you’re slurring,” Sam said impatiently.

 

Grizz took another deep breath because he really didn’t want to yell at Sam but he was getting frustrated by the entire conversation.

 

“You were flirting with me,” Grizz said almost harshly as he pointed to Sam and then himself.

 

Sam didn’t say anything, and Grizz was wasted, beyond wasted, but he swore he saw a glimmer of guilt in Sam’s eyes.

 

“You said just friends, and then you flirted with me. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do,” Grizz said, “Just tell me what to do…because I’m lost, Sam.”

 

And then Grizz felt hot tears rolling down his cheeks. Grizz was supposed to be so put together. He had a life plan and everything. He used to be able to control his emotions so well, but all he had been lately was a complete mess. Everything was unravelling all because he really liked Sam and he was trying so hard not to. He was trying to stick to the plan, and he was just so exhausted. He didn’t want to do it anymore.

 

Grizz sobbed and his head ached. The crying didn’t help his dizziness and he soon found himself sitting there on the ground, curled in on himself. He hugged his knees to his chest as hysteria took over and he just couldn’t fucking stop crying. Grizz just wanted to be happy. That was all he ever wanted. He was happy with Sam, so why was he crying so much? He couldn’t think clearly and he wished he didn’t drink so much because he knew he probably looked like a total train-wreck in that moment.

 

“Don’t cry,” a soft voice spoke. Grizz looked up, blinking through tears as Sam knelt in front of him. “Please, stop crying.”

 

“I can’t,” Grizz choked out.

 

“I’m sorry. You’re right. I was flirting and I shouldn’t have,” Sam acknowledged.

 

“No, I fuckin’ loved it,” Grizz admitted.

 

Sam smiled and ran his hair soothingly through Grizz’s hair, only it didn’t soothe Grizz at all. It just made him cry harder, because what the fuck? How was Sam this perfect? How was Sam the one apologizing to Grizz?

 

“Stop crying,” Sam said again.

 

Grizz shook his head, “I hurt you.”

 

“We should talk when you’re sober,” Sam said.

 

Grizz shook his head again because he feared being sober again. He feared that he’d shut down on Sam and run in the opposite direction again. Grizz felt so far from being his true self. Grizz never drank that much. He was nice. He wasn’t awful like he had been to Sam. He didn’t even know himself anymore. He thought he had everything all figured out and his plan was derailed all because he couldn’t stop thinking about one boy.

 

“I don’ feel like me,” Grizz spluttered, “I’m like a fuckin’ stranger. I don’t like hurtin’ people ‘n I hurt you ’n ’m sorry. I d-don’t mean to. I’m so sorry. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what t-to fucking do. ‘m so scared, Sam. ’m so fucking scared. I just want you but I don’t know how ‘n I wanna get over it but it’s fucking eating me alive. I’m s-sorry.”

 

Grizz looked at Sam through tear-filled eyes, and Sam was looking at Grizz like he didn’t understand what he was saying, and of course Sam didn’t because Grizz was a sobbing mess, and slurring and probably wouldn’t make sense to someone who could actually hear him and it made Grizz all the more frustrated that he couldn’t sort out his own feelings to himself, let alone Sam.

 

“What’d he say? I can’t understand,” Sam said as he looked up, and Grizz looked in the same direction because he thought they were alone, but Luke was there. Luke was fucking standing there a few feet away and Grizz felt sick.

 

“Fuck,” Grizz cried. Everything was stirring in his stomach; the beer, wine, tequila shots, vodka. It was a deadly concoction and Grizz just felt so disgustingly sick in that moment that he couldn’t help the bile rising to his throat and spilling from his mouth as he puked all over his shirt. He turned away from Sam and crawled to the grass before he vomited again. The side of Grizz’s stomach where Campbell had kneed him ached as he heaved again. Grizz hated throwing up. Then again, didn’t everyone? In the back of his mind he probably knew it was best to throw it all up, rather than get alcohol poisoning.

 

One of the two boys with him stroked his hair gently and the other patted his back, resting his hand on Grizz’s shoulder. Grizz knew exactly who was who. Sam’s hand through his hair felt like heaven and helped to calm the ache in his head as he finished emptying the contents of his stomach. Grizz looked up at Sam and he had never been more embarrassed in his life.

 

“Don’t look at me,” Grizz groaned. He crawled back and fell to the grass, rolling on his back and looking up at the night sky. He closed his eyes for a moment and he could hear voices but his mind was shutting down.

 

“No, no. No sleeping yet, Grizzy,” Luke spoke, “gotta get you in the car first.”

 

Grizz opened his eyes and saw both Sam and Luke standing above him. Both boys crouched down and took each of Grizz’s hands before pulling. Grizz went with them easily and stood on shaky legs. He could smell the alcohol all over him. His shirt was wet and sticking to him. He had never felt more disgusting in his entire life.

 

“I’m sorry,” Grizz said to the both of them.

 

Sam shook his head, dismissing the apology before stepping forward.

 

“Arms up,” Sam said, and Grizz had no clue why he asked him to do that, but he raised his arms without question anyway. Sam tugged on the ends of Grizz’s shirt before pulling it off the swaying boy. Grizz thought he was about to fall over, but Luke came to his side and put his arm around Grizz’s waist.

 

And fuck. Luke was here. What did Luke hear? What did Luke know? Grizz looked at his best friend inquisitively.

 

“I’m not gay, Luke,” Grizz said.

 

“Okay, buddy,” Luke nodded.

 

“I’m not, I swear,” Grizz said like it was the most serious thing he had said in his life.

 

Grizz turned to look at Sam who was standing in front of the two before shaking his head.

 

“It’s k. I am,” he whispered loudly.

 

“He’s so not gonna remember this in the morning,” Luke said.

 

“Fuck you, I will,” Grizz said.

 

“Sure you will,” Luke said, “now let’s get you in the car.”

 

Car? Grizz didn’t know what was going on, but he just followed Luke and Sam’s lead as Luke took him over to his car. Sam opened the back door and got in before Luke ushered a clumsy Grizz in too. Grizz practically collapsed across the back seat. His head landed on Sam’s lap and he wasn’t exactly mad about that. He rolled onto his back and looked up at Sam’s beautiful face.

 

“Hi,” Grizz said, and Sam didn’t notice him talk. Sam looked down though and brushed Grizz’s hair from out of his face. Sam’s touch was the best thing Grizz had ever felt, and soon Grizz found himself completely knocked out; dead to the world.

 

--

 

Sam

 

Sam looked down at Grizz who had his head rested on his lap as he slept peacefully. Well, slept was a nice word for it. The truth was that Grizz had passed out the second he crawled into the back seat of the car. Sam was glad that Grizz wasn’t conscious anymore, because seeing Grizz crying, looking so scared and in so much pain killed Sam. Sam had a small inkling that there was something wrong with Grizz, ever since he had a panic attack in the library, but Sam had no clue just how much pain he was holding onto until tonight.

 

Sam glanced up at Luke who was in the driver’s seat. Luke swore black and blue that he was sober enough to drive and Sam only lived a few streets away, so Sam had agreed to let Luke drive them back to Sam’s house. Sam could’ve walked on his own but there was no way he was leaving Grizz, and it wasn’t like the drunk boy could exactly walk in the state he was in.

 

Sam’s gaze fell on Grizz once more. He ran his fingers through the other boy’s hair before trailing his fingertips along the side of Grizz’s face and down to his neck. He hated fighting with Grizz, he really did. It was just that he liked Grizz so much and wanted it to work so badly. He felt like every time he and Grizz took a step forward, they were pushed two steps back. Sam desperately wanted to get to the bottom of why Grizz always shut him out and pushed him away, but that could wait until he was sober.

 

Luke pulled up to Sam’s house after Sam gave him directions, and the two of them lugged Grizz’s body through the house. Sam just hoped he didn’t wake Campbell, if he was there. Grizz half woke up when they got upstairs and Sam only noticed it when he turned on the bathroom light.

 

‘He’s a mess,’ Sam said and looked at Luke.

 

‘I didn’t realize just how much he drank,’ Luke said.

 

‘We need to shower him,’ Sam said, and Luke nodded in agreement.

 

Grizz had thrown up all over himself, and while Sam had taken off his shirt, it was still on his chest, face, and in his hair, probably. Grizz was lucky Sam liked him, because he wouldn’t do this for just anymore.

 

Sam and Luke undressed Grizz down to his boxer briefs, and it was a very, very different mood as to when Sam saw Grizz earlier that night getting out of the pool. Luke did most of the work, getting Grizz into the shower and the moment the cold water hit Grizz, the boy’s eyes shot open and he looked around.

 

‘It’s okay,’ Sam said.

 

Grizz’s gaze landed on Sam’s and he smiled wide.

 

‘Why am I in a shower?’ Grizz asked, ‘with Luke?’

 

‘Because you threw up all over yourself,’ Sam told him.

 

‘What? No,’ Grizz shook his head.

 

And if Sam hadn’t just witnessed Grizz crying all snotty and throwing up all over himself, then he would’ve found drunk Grizz to be cute. But he didn’t.

 

Luke said something to Grizz and stepped out of the shower. Sam watched warily as Grizz leant against the shower wall. He was starting too sober up a little under the cold spray. Sam was afraid he might pass out again, but he watched on as Grizz became more alert and searched for the shower gel.

 

Luke took Sam’s arm, making Sam glance up with a questioning look.

 

‘He’ll be fine. Do you have clothes for him?’ Luke asked, and Sam nodded. He went back to his room, found a change of clothes and took it back to Grizz, leaving it on the counter top. Grizz looked steady enough to be left alone so Sam and Luke left the bathroom, going back to Sam’s room.

 

Sam felt a little shaky. He hadn’t had even nearly as much alcohol as what Grizz had, so maybe it was all the events of the night making him feel a bit giddy. He turned to Luke who was standing there awkwardly in his room. Shit, Luke knew. Sam didn’t care that Luke knew about him and Grizz, but Sam knew that Grizz would care, a lot. Sam remembered Grizz’s meltdown in the library when Gwen found out about them. He could only imagine what Grizz would do if he knew Luke found out.

 

‘So, how long have you and Grizz been together?’ Luke asked.

 

‘We’re not,’ Sam replied.

 

Luke stayed still for a moment before taking a couple steps forward.

 

‘Look, I don’t know what’s going on, but like…he doesn’t talk to me, you know? He doesn’t really talk to anyone about himself. He’s really closed off,’ Luke said and Sam followed the movements of his lips closely. Luke wasn’t as easy to understand as Grizz was, but maybe that was because Grizz’s lips were so damn mesmerizing and Sam was used to seeing Grizz speak.

 

‘I know.’

 

‘I worry about him,’ Luke said.

 

‘Me too. I don’t know what to do. He’s so far in the closet,’ Sam said.

 

‘I don’t know why. No one would care if he’s gay. None of our friends would care,’ Luke said, and Sam knew it wasn’t that simple.

 

‘What do you know about his parents?’ Sam asked.

 

‘Not a lot. I think they kind of suck but he doesn’t really talk about them,’ Luke said.

 

Sam was disappointed. He so badly wanted to know why Grizz was like this. He just wanted Grizz to open up to him.

 

‘Do me a favor?’ Luke asked.

 

‘What?’

 

‘If he can’t remember tonight, don’t tell him I know. I want him to tell me when he’s ready,’ Luke said.

 

Sam nodded. He didn’t like the idea of keeping something from Grizz, but at the same time it was probably in Grizz’s best interest that he doesn’t know Luke knows. Sam didn’t want him to have another panic attack.

 

‘I’m gonna go. Look after him, okay?’ Luke asked.

 

‘Always,’ Sam replied.

 

Luke smiled at him and nodded before leaving the room, and Sam to his thoughts. Sam stepped back and fell onto his bed. What a fucking night. Sam felt like he had been through a damn hurricane, first with his psychopathic brother hurting Grizz, then being Grizz’s friend, kissing him, fighting with him. Sam was exhausted and he could have so easily just fallen asleep, but Grizz was here in his house.

 

A few minutes later Sam noticed the shadow in the room. He sat up and Saw Grizz standing there at the now-closed door, hair wet, and wearing just the sweats Sam gave him. They rode up a few inches above his ankle, much too short for Grizz’s long legs. Sam’s eyes flicked down to the bruise that was forming on Grizz’s stomach. He really fucking hated his brother sometimes, and if he wasn’t so scared of Campbell, then Sam would have gone right up to him and punched him in that smug face of his.

 

‘Too small,’ Grizz said, holding up Sam’s shirt.

 

‘Sorry’, Sam signed.

 

‘No, I’m sorry,” Grizz said, and the way he looked at Sam made Sam think of an injured kitten, and he couldn’t take that right now.

 

‘Not tonight,’ Sam shook his head.

 

‘Do you want me to go?’ Grizz asked.

 

‘No.’

 

‘Thanks.’

 

‘Are you okay with sharing a bed?’ Sam asked.

 

Grizz smiled and nodded, ‘duh.’

 

Sam got off the bed, turned on his bed-side lamp then went over to Grizz who was still standing timidly at the door. Sam flicked the main bedroom light off before taking Grizz’s hand and leading the boy to his bed.

 

‘Lay down. I’m going to change,’ Sam said.

 

Grizz did as he was told. He got on the bed and Sam watched him as he buried himself under the covers. Sam gave a small smile before turning and getting his own clothes. He quickly got changed, opting to shower in the morning because he didn’t want to leave Grizz. When Sam turned back to Grizz, Grizz was looking at him with a sleepy smile.

 

‘How are you feeling?” Sam asked.

 

‘Like I can fly,’ Grizz said.

 

‘Okay, Peter Pan,’ Sam teased.

 

He went over to Grizz and crawled under the covers. The two boys faced each other and all Sam wanted to do was reach out and brush Grizz’s wet hair out of his eyes or just move closer and hug him, but instead he stayed there, leaving at least a foot of space between them. Sam kept watching him as Grizz’s blinking became heavier and heavier until his eyes finally stayed shut for the night.

 

Sam let himself indulge at that point. He reached out and brushed the strands of hair out of Grizz’s eyes and then lay there watching him for another half an hour before finally falling asleep himself.

Chapter Text

Grizz woke up early, too early for his liking, especially after a night of heavy drinking. It was like there was someone with a mallet repeatedly knocking him over the head, leaving him with a constant throbbing.

 

“Ah, fuck,” Grizz groaned. He shuffled in his spot on the bed, willing himself to sleep for a moment longer, but with the aching in his head and stomach, he knew that wasn’t going to happen. He opened his eyes, wincing at the sunlight flickering in through the blinds and, what? Blinds? Grizz didn’t have blinds.

 

Grizz opened his eyes wider and sat up, ignoring the spinning in his head, and oh, Grizz was in Sam’s room. He looked around for any sign of the other boy, but he wasn’t there. The only indication that he had been there was that the other side of the bed had been slept in.

 

“What the fuck?” Grizz whispered to himself. The last thing he could remember was doing shots with Clark. He also remembered Sam being pissed at him and leaving after they kissed in the wine cellar because Grizz did what he did best when it came to Sam; he fucked everything up. And yet, Grizz ended up in Sam’s room, in Sam’s bed, without a shirt on. How in the actual fuck?

 

Grizz jumped and his heart raced a mile when the door opened without warning. Grizz had the sudden urge to pull the blanket up over his chest, but when he realized it was just Sam, he didn’t bother. Sam smiled when he spotted Grizz, and Grizz’s mind went blank. He was missing something, he knew he was, because Sam was supposed to be mad at him, not bringing him a glass of water and ibuprofen which he had in each hand.

 

“Hey, thought you’d be up. You were starting to stir,” Sam said as he held out the water and pills to Grizz. For a moment, Grizz eyed it cautiously, not that he thought Sam would poison him or anything like that, but he was just confused.

 

‘Thank you,’ Grizz signed and took Sam’s offering. Sam sat next to Grizz on the bed, shuffling close and sitting cross-legged.

 

‘You’re welcome,’ Sam signed back before speaking, “drink it all.”

 

Grizz’s mouth was dry and tasted like, well, death, so he was more than happy to obey Sam’s command. He popped the two pills in his mouth and swallowed them with the entire glass of water.

 

“How are you feeling?” Sam asked while signing, and Grizz followed his movements because even though he hadn’t been speaking to Sam a whole lately, he was still trying to keep up learning ASL and trying to retain what he already had learnt. In the back of his mind he hoped he’d at the very least be friends with Sam again, but last night proved they couldn’t do that.

 

“Sore,” Grizz said.

 

“Here?” Sam asked before lightly tapping the tender skin on the side of Grizz’s stomach. Grizz nodded as he looked down. He was right, a bruise did form. It was dark purple and looked a lot worse than it actually felt, but that wasn’t to say it didn’t hurt at all, because it did.

 

“It hurts to breathe,” Grizz said as he looked back up at Sam.

 

“Do you think something is broken?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz shook his head and the two went silent. Grizz glanced around. He was pretty sure he wasn’t wearing his own pants, and his phone wasn’t anywhere in sight. And how the hell did he get to Sam’s house? What did they do last night and why couldn’t Grizz remember? Well, Grizz knew why he didn’t remember. He practically drank himself into a coma.

 

“What, uhm…what happened last night?” Grizz questioned.

 

“You don’t remember?” Sam asked.

 

“I remember…us kissing, and uhm, and you leaving. Then doing shots with Clark and…” Grizz stopped with a shrug.

 

“Oh, well, I didn’t leave,” Sam said plainly. Grizz studied the boy’s face. He wished Sam would just tell him what happened, if anything happened. Why did Sam suddenly not hate him? Did they make up? Or more? Grizz felt a little dizzy, and not from the remnants of alcohol. Grizz liked Sam a lot, but the thought of hooking up and not remembering had his anxiety levels spiking.

 

“Did we…I mean, you and me…” Grizz gestured to the bed, at a loss for words.

 

“Have sex?” Sam finished bluntly.

 

Grizz’s face went as red as a tomato as he nodded slowly, “yeah, that, or like, anything similar to that.”

 

“Sure we did. All night. Like three times,” Sam said.

 

Grizz narrowed his eyes in a playful glare because he saw right through the lie. Sam was terrible at keeping a straight face.

 

“You’re such a shit,” Grizz jeered.

 

“I know,” Sam smiled proudly.

 

“Anyway, serious note. Did I do anything dumb last night?” Grizz asked, and he had the urge to start cringing already, because if he couldn’t remember then he must have been fucked up enough to do some dumb shit.

 

“Well, you made out with Carla for a bit,” Sam said. Grizz’s stomach and heart dropped, plummeting to the core of the Earth.

 

“What? What? No. no, I wouldn’t. I-…no. Are you sure?” Grizz stumbled over his words because that didn’t seem right. He wracked his memories, thinking only of Carla and came up with nothing. Maybe though. Maybe he did kiss someone? He couldn’t fucking remember and it was so frustrating.

 

“You did,” Sam confirmed, and Grizz was the worst person in the world. He fucked around with Sam, being a complete indecisive moron, and then went and kissed a girl right in front of him. And the thing was, it didn’t sound like a thing that Grizz would do, but Grizz knew he wasn’t being himself last night, so that made it exactly a thing that he would do.

 

“Fuck…I’m a piece of shit,” Grizz said.

 

“No you’re not,” Sam shook his head.

 

“I am.”

 

“You were wasted. She was all over you,” Sam said, scrunching up his nose in disgust.

 

Right, Carla was on Grizz, and Sam saw, and Grizz knew if the situation was reversed then he would be devastated to see a girl, boy or anyone in between, kissing Sam. Just the thought of it had Grizz’s insides churning. Actually, the thought that Sam could go off and get himself a boyfriend because Grizz was too much of a coward to date him himself made Grizz want to tear at his own insides.

 

“I’m so sorry,” Grizz said.

 

“I got over it. I mean, clearly. You’re here,” Sam said with a small smile.

 

“How am I here?” Grizz asked.

 

“Uhm, Luke,” Sam said, and there was Grizz’s anxiety making reappearance.

 

“Luke…brought us?” Grizz asked.

 

“Yeah, you were wasted. I was leaving. It just worked out,” Sam shrugged.

 

“Right…” And Grizz knew he was missing something but he couldn’t figure it out. Not being able to recall the night was actually kind of scary to Grizz. “Did I, like…do or, or say anything, uhm…like…about me…”

 

“No, not that I know of,” Sam shook his head, and looked at Grizz with an understanding that Grizz didn’t even give himself. How was it that Sam just noticed his paranoia and was okay with it? Or maybe he wasn’t. After all, he did storm out after the kiss because Grizz didn’t want to be out. Fuck, everything was such a mess and his headache really wasn’t helping with sorting through his feelings.

 

“Do you hate me?” Grizz asked.

 

Sam’s gaze softened as he tilted his head to the side in the way that Grizz always found adorable. “Never.”

 

“Cool…anything else I need to know?” Grizz asked.

 

“Hmm,” Sam thought about it, “you threw up all over yourself.”

 

“Fuck, really?”

 

“Yep.”

 

“In front of you?”

 

“Yep.”

 

“Well, that’s embarrassing. You probably think I’m gross, right?” Grizz asked.

 

Sam smiled lightly and shook his head, “No.”

 

Grizz couldn’t help but smile back even though he was mortified. He couldn’t believe he got that drunk, and fucking kissed Carla, and threw up everywhere, and Luke? What did Luke know? What did he see? What else had Grizz done? Because he felt like Sam was giving him half a story. He just wanted to remember. One thing was for certain, Grizz decided to never drink again.

 

“I, uh, need to go to the bathroom,” Grizz said before standing up. The world spun and he had the urge to throw up again, but pushed it down.

 

“Second door on the right,” Sam said, pointing to his door that led to the hallway.

 

“Thanks.”

 

Grizz left the room and followed Sam’s directions to the bathroom. He shut and locked the door behind him. He closed his eyes before taking in a deep, steady breath and letting it out slowly. He told himself to calm down, to not overthink and wonder if he outed himself to Luke or the others. The last thing he needed was one of them mentioning something to his parents, or to their own parents who could then tell Grizz’s parents and then he’d be out on the street and-

 

“Fucking stop it,” Grizz whispered to himself.   

 

Grizz opened his eyes and tried to focus on something else. He stepped forward and honed in on his reflection in the mirror. His hair was a mess, but that was pretty normal for him after waking up. There were dark circles under his eyes making him look like a fucking panda, especially since the rest of him was paler than usual. His eyes were bloodshot, sore and dry, and Grizz wasn’t sure if that meant he had been crying or if it was just because he was tired.

 

Grizz turned on the faucet, waiting for the water to warm up before splashing some on his face. He didn’t smell bad though, so maybe he had a shower? He ran his fingers through his hair in a desperate attempt to not look like such a mess. Hating the taste of, well, probably vomit, in his mouth, Grizz figured Sam’s family wouldn’t miss a little mouthwash, and quickly swished the strong minty liquid around in his mouth before spitting it out.

 

Grizz stared at himself in the mirror. He still looked like a mess, but at least he was a presentable mess. He shrugged and went about doing his business before washing his hands. He opened the door and was about to step out when he stopped in his tracks, because standing there, leant against the hallway wall and looking down at his phone was Campbell.

 

“Fucking finally,” the boy said, and then he looked up, and Grizz desperately wanted to slam the door in his face, climb out the tiny window and scale down the side of Sam’s house. Instead, he just stood there. And fuck, of course Campbell would be here, and there Grizz was trying to find some excuse as to why he was in their bathroom, shirtless.

 

“Huh. Guess I’m not the only one who had a special friend over last night,” Campbell said, and Grizz jumped straight into defensive mode.

 

“I’m not a special friend. I needed somewhere to crash,” Grizz said.

 

“Right, and that place was in my little brother’s bed, wearing sweat pants a little too short for you?” Campbell asked, glancing down at Grizz’s bare ankles.

 

“It’s not what you think,” Grizz said, and if only he had a dollar for every time he said that.  

 

“Come on now, Grizz, it’s twenty-nineteen. Gay is in. No need to get so defensive. Honestly, I’m just glad I don’t have to worry about you going after Elle anymore,” Campbell said with his trademark smirk. Grizz didn’t know what to say. First of all, as if him going after Elle was even a concern? Maybe Campbell and Clark could sit down and swap notes about how Grizz was trying to steal their girl.

 

“Anyway, I’ve got things to do. Sorry about the bruise, buddy,” Campbell said as he pushed past Grizz into the bathroom.

 

“Buddy?” Grizz asked, turning to him.

 

“Sure, you’re dating Sam so we’re practically family now,” Campbell said.

 

“I’m not dating Sam, what the fuck?” Grizz asked, and he was beyond annoyed at that point.

 

“Dating, fucking, same difference. See you at thanksgiving dinner, I guess,” Campbell shut the conversation off by swinging the bathroom door closed.

 

“Fuck,” Grizz whispered to himself. He looked down the hallway to the stairs, and he wanted to run. He wanted to leave the house and not come back. He was going to as well, without even a thought of saying goodbye to Sam, but…Sam. He did think of Sam, and he found himself heading back to his room. He went in, shut the door behind him, and leant against it, watching Sam, who had noticed him come in. Sam’s smile quickly faded when he saw Grizz’s expression.

 

“What’s wrong?” Sam asked. He got off the bed and went up to Grizz.

 

“Just…ran into your brother in the hall,” Grizz said.

 

 “Oh,” Sam didn’t say anything other than that, and Grizz knew the other boy was analysing him, searching his face for anything that resembled panic or fear, and Grizz was trying desperately to push it down because he already embarrassed himself in front of Sam enough lately.

 

“I should really head home. My parents will worry,” Grizz said and that was the furthest thing from the truth. His parents never cared if he disappeared for an entire weekend.

 

Grizz walked around Sam and searched the room for his clothes or, well, anything that belonged to him but it looked like he didn’t have anything which only raised more questions about what the hell happened last night. What was he going to do? Just walk out of Sam’s house only in Sam’s pants? Could he ask to borrow a shirt? Or use his phone? He could call Gwen. Yeah, that was a good idea. Grizz turned to Sam, only to find the boy was standing right behind him.

 

“Take a breath,” Sam said before holding Grizz’s hand and leading him to the bed. Grizz didn’t know what else to do, other than let Sam lead him. They sat down together, side by side, with their legs hanging off the edge.

 

“Don’t run from me,” Sam said.

 

Grizz closed his eyes, not even facing Sam because he could feel the panic rising and he couldn’t stop it himself. Grizz didn’t want to be like this, he really didn’t. He felt Sam shift and the warmth of his body next to him left. The next moment, that warmth was on Grizz’s cheek as Sam touched the side of his face. That made Grizz look. His gaze landed on Sam on his knees in front of him with a desperate gleam in his eyes.

 

“Please, don’t run again,” Sam begged. Grizz needed Sam to just understand, so he took Sam’s hand that was on his cheek and moved it down to his chest right over his heart. Grizz held Sam’s hand there and waited a moment.

 

“Do you feel that? How it’s racing?” Grizz asked. Sam nodded, and Grizz went on, “I hate feeling like this. Every time we’re together, someone finds out. Becca, Gwen, Campbell. I’m pretty sure Luke knows. And I just get this sick feeling in my stomach and I hate it. I hate having that feeling when I’m around you. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

 

“You have anxiety,” Sam said.

 

“I don’t want to, but it just consumes me, like right now. I just wanna jump out that window,” Grizz said. Sam moved a little closer in between Grizz’s legs and took his hand with his free one.

 

“What else do you feel when you’re around me?” Sam asked.

 

“I don’t know,” Grizz murmured with a shrug.

 

Sam seemed hesitant for just a moment before he moved closer. Grizz knew what was coming before it happened, but he still held his breath and followed Sam’s movements just in case he had it wrong, but he didn’t. The moment Sam’s lips touched his, Grizz found himself exhaling gently, the aching in his chest subsiding, but the flipping in his stomach reached it’s peak. And then it was over way too quickly and Grizz found himself wanting more as Sam settled back on his knees in front of him.

 

“How does that make you feel?” Sam asked.

 

“Uhm, a different kind of sick. A good kind,” Grizz said, and well, it was the truth. He didn’t feel even nearly as much panic as he did twenty seconds ago.

 

“Don’t worry about Campbell. He won’t tell anyone,” Sam assured him.

 

“How can you be sure?” Grizz asked.

 

“Because, he knew about me for years and didn’t tell anyone,” Sam said.

 

“You’re his brother.”

 

“Right, so I know him well. If he tells anyone then he won’t have anything to hold over your head anymore. He gets a kick out of messing with people. His game is over if he tells,” Sam said, and he was sounding really convincing, but there was still that little voice in the back of Grizz’s head telling him Sam was wrong.

 

“It’ll be okay. Please don’t freak out on me,” Sam said, and Grizz could see the concern in Sam’s eyes. He could see just how much the other boy wanted him to stay there with him, mentally and physically, and it was that look in Sam’s eyes that made Grizz nod slowly.

 

“Okay,” was all he could say.

 

“What are you thinking?” Sam asked.

 

“I’m tired and my head hurts,” Grizz said. It was the truth and he didn’t want to talk about his feelings anymore. It just made things worse. Sam accepted it though and smiled.

 

“You wanna take a nap?” Sam asked.

 

“Will you nap with me?” Grizz asked hopefully.

 

“Do you want me to?”

 

“Can we cuddle?”

 

“Only if you promise to talk to me after. I mean really talk to me,” Sam said.

 

Grizz thought about it for a moment, and he knew that he owed Sam an actual conversation. It was inevitable and honestly, he thought that maybe Sam could help him sort through his feelings. After all, he managed to talk him down just now from having a meltdown.

 

‘Promise’, Grizz signed.

 

Sam smiled like the angel Grizz knew he was, before he stood and climbed across Grizz to get to the other side of the bed. Grizz watched him get under the covers, and just like that, he had no intentions of running from Sam. In fact, the only thing he wanted to do was get into bed with him, so that was what he did. He shuffled under the covers and moved as close as he possibly could to Sam.

 

Sam stayed on his back as Grizz cuddled into him, one arm over Sam’s waist, his face nuzzled into Sam’s neck. Grizz had never felt more calm, happy or comfortable in his entire life. Everything felt so right when he was actually with Sam, when it was just the two of them. Sam was perfect in every way to Grizz, and maybe that was a little unhealthy of him to think that, and maybe one day Grizz would start to see flaws, but in that moment, he couldn’t name a single one.

 

With the wave of panic over, Grizz’s head started pounding again from his hangover and sleep tugged at his consciousness, but he didn’t want to fall asleep straight away because he was holding Sam and he just wanted to be there with him, simply existing.

 

Grizz brushed his lips against Sam’s neck before kissing it lightly. He kissed it again and again, lazily, with no intentions other than just wanting to kiss him. Grizz was so done for. He knew it wasn’t fair to fuck around with Sam’s feelings, and he swore to himself that he wouldn’t again. He couldn’t. He was terrified, but he wanted Sam. He really wanted him.

 

Of course, Grizz was still worried about Campbell, but there wasn’t anything Grizz could do about it now. Campbell could tell people Grizz was gay whether he was with Sam or not, and even then, it was Campbell’s word against his. Fuck, Grizz just didn’t want his parents finding out. That was all. If Grizz’s parents were out of the picture then he’d walk into school the next day, holding Sam’s hand and kissing him against his locker. It wasn’t like Grizz could just make his parents disappear though. His summer of learning magic tricks hadn’t paid off that well.

 

Grizz shut off the negative thoughts and kissed Sam’s collarbone. The other boy responded by turning his head towards Grizz and placing a kiss on top of his head. Yeah, Grizz definitely was not going to run this time, because after two weeks of no Sam, he realized just how happy he was being with him, even if they weren’t technically together. Yet.

 

Grizz fell asleep to the feeling of Sam’s fingertips running slowly up and down his arm, and when he woke hours later, those fingers were running through his hair instead. Grizz blinked a few times, trying to clear the grogginess in his head. His cheek was plastered against Sam’s chest, feeling hot and like he had been there for a while. Grizz sat up, looking at Sam who was wide awake and watching him.

 

“What time is it?” Grizz asked.

 

“One. We should get up,” Sam said.

 

Grizz shook his head, “nope.”

 

“Yes,” Sam said and went to make a move but Grizz just wanted a couple more minutes, so he climbed on top of Sam and dropped his weight on him, pinning him there. He buried his face in Sam’s neck again and, yeah, this was good. Grizz didn’t want to move.

 

“You’re heavy,” Sam said.

 

Grizz nodded in response but made no sign of moving. Sam was warm, really warm, for once. It was like being in a hot shower in the middle of winter. The thought of getting out and away from that warmth was just not an option.

 

“Grizz…uhm…you need to get off,” Sam said.

 

Grizz looked up in confusion because, well, if Sam really did want him to get off then he would but wasn’t Sam content with laying there with him? Maybe Grizz was reading everything wrong. Maybe Sam was still mad about last night.

 

“Are you still mad at me?” Grizz asked.

 

“Opposite,” Sam said.

 

“Opposite?”

 

“You’re turning me on,” Sam said bluntly. And, oh. Oh.

 

“Wait, really?” Grizz asked, trying to hide the smirk on his face.

 

“You’re a jerk,” Sam said, and then with all his strength he pushed Grizz off him, rolling with his body so Grizz was on his back and Sam was on him. Sam gave a triumphant smile that just screamed ‘let’s see how you like it when the tables are turned’. And well, fuck. Grizz could feel Sam against his thigh, and my oh my, how this morning had suddenly changed.

 

“Cool…cool,” Grizz nodded slowly, “I’m hungry.”

 

“You’re hungry?” Sam asked.

 

“Yeah, and we need to talk,” Grizz said.

 

“We need to talk,” Sam repeated slowly.

 

“Yeah. You wanna go get breakfast?” Grizz asked.

 

Sam watched him warily and Grizz was turned on too, sure. Sam did that to him, and Sam was looking at him with dark eyes and gently biting his bottom lip and fuck, Grizz wanted him, but also there was so much going on in his head that doing anything with Sam that didn’t involve talking would just overwhelm him.

 

“Are you paying?” Sam asked as he got off Grizz and it took everything in Grizz’s power not to look down at Sam’s crotch. Grizz was bright red. He knew he was. He had never been in a situation like this with a guy before and Grizz needed time to think.

 

“Grizz?” Sam asked.

 

“Uh, yeah, yeah. If I find my wallet…and my phone…and is my car here?” Grizz asked.

 

“Luke took it, I think,” Sam said.

 

“Right. Luke,” Grizz said, because that was a whole other deal.

 

“We can walk,” Sam suggested.  

 

Grizz agreed because Luke’s house was only a few streets away. Maybe the fresh air would do him good since he still felt a bit sick. The two of them got dressed together. Sam gave Grizz the biggest tank top he could find since Grizz’s broad shoulders couldn’t fit into the skinnier boy’s shirts. Grizz kept on the sweats because there was nothing else.

 

“Where’d my clothes go anyway?” Grizz asked when Sam was looking at him.

 

“They’re in the wash. I have this though,” Sam said, and Grizz watched as he went to the closet and came back with Grizz’s varsity jacket. Grizz took it from him and slipped it on over the tank.

 

“Smells like you,” Grizz said without a thought.

 

“You’re a creep,” Sam teased.

 

‘Thank you,’ Grizz signed.

 

‘Let’s go,’ Sam signed back.

 

The two of them left the house, thankfully without running into Campbell again. The fresh air outside hit Grizz hard. It was a little dark and gloomy with rain clouds in the sky, but it didn’t look like it was going to rain just yet. Sam and Grizz walked in silence the entire way there, but they didn’t really need to talk, because during that walk, Grizz learnt how to flirt without words.

 

It was the subtle things like accidentally knocking into each other, or accidentally touching hands, or Sam accidentally pushing Grizz into a tree and laughing as he made sure Grizz was okay and signing ‘sorry’. Or how they kept glancing at each other and smiling. To Grizz, it felt like they were dating when they were most definitely not. Grizz had been so preoccupied trying to sort out his own feelings that he didn’t even think about what Sam wanted from him.

 

The two of them were almost in front of Luke’s house when they got to Grizz’s car. They both stopped and Grizz turned to Sam. He was arguing with himself the entire way there and settled on not wanting Sam to come into Luke’s house, because Grizz wasn’t ready for that, because he knew there would still be people hanging around and he didn’t want the questions that would surely fly their way.

 

“I’m sorry, Sam, but can you like…just wait here?” Grizz asked.

 

“It’s fine,” Sam waved his hand dismissively. Grizz breathed a sigh of relief because he was half expecting Sam to be mad at him for hiding him.

 

Grizz smiled in thanks and went to leave before he stopped with an idea in his mind. He stepped back to Sam and took his jacket off before putting it around Sam’s shoulders. It was a sort of insurance policy.

 

“Because that’s not gay,” Sam said sarcastically.

 

“Shut up. I like it better on you,” Grizz said.

 

“Still gay,” Sam shrugged.

 

“You’re the worst,” Grizz said and couldn’t help but give Sam a quick kiss on the cheek.

 

“That was gay too,” Sam said and smiled innocently.

 

“Oh, I’ll show you gay if you don’t stop it,” Grizz threatened.

 

“What does that even mean?” Sam asked.

 

“Don’t know,” Grizz shrugged, and he really wanted to kiss Sam, like properly, but he also didn’t want to cross a boundary because they still hadn’t talked properly.

 

‘Stay’, Grizz signed, and Sam just rolled his eyes.

 

Grizz tore himself away from Sam and headed to Luke’s. He walked up the concrete driveway and to the front door. He knocked loudly and it was only about thirty seconds until Luke opened the door. He had a trash bag in one hand and the door handle in the other.

 

“Grizzy, hey,” Luke greeted him.

 

“Hey.”

 

“How you feeling, buddy?” Luke grinned, knowing full damn well that Grizz felt like a train wreck.

 

“Like shit, thanks for asking. But uh, thanks for last night,” Grizz said.

 

“Last night?”

 

“Taking me to Sam’s.”

 

“He told you that?” Luke frowned.

 

“Why wouldn’t he?” And it was Grizz’s turn to frown, but Luke brushed the question off with a shrug.

 

“How’s your memory?” Luke asked casually.

 

“Shit,” Grizz laughed, “I just remember doing shots with Clark and then fucking nothing.”

 

“Yeah, you were a mess,” Luke laughed with him.

 

“I didn’t do anything too stupid, did I?” Grizz asked, because well, Sam brought up Carla but Grizz was sure he had to have done some else.

 

“No, not that I noticed,” Luke shrugged again, “anyway, you’re here to help us clean up, I assume.”

 

 “Hmm no, actually, I was just getting my car keys, and phone, and wallet,” Grizz said.

 

“Damn, you’re the only person that would help me actually clean. Jason, Clark and Gwen are fucking useless and Helena left early for church so she’s probably at home by now,” Luke said.

 

“Yeah, well, I, uhm, I’m hanging out with a friend today so I can’t,” Grizz was awkward and he knew it. If he didn’t trust Luke then he would’ve made more of an effort to hide what his plans for the day were, but fuck it, Grizz was pretty sure Luke knew what was going on anyway. Still, Grizz had no plans to outright tell his friend the truth.

 

“Does he wanna come in?” Luke asked as he glanced past Grizz to where Sam was visible.

 

“No, I just told him I was getting my things and going so…” Grizz trailed off, hoping Luke would just let him in already.

 

“Oh right, sure, come in,” Luke said and stood to the side, “your shit’s upstairs so I’ll go get it, but the others are in the living room if you wanna say hey.”

 

Grizz didn’t really want to, but he did anyway. He entered the house and as Luke raced up the stairs, Grizz headed to the living room where he could hear the distinct sound of a shooting video game. When he stepped through the walkway, Grizz saw Jason and Clark on the couch playing the game, while Gwen was flat on her back on the floor with an ice-pack on her head.

 

“Hey,” Grizz said and the three glanced up at him but didn’t stop what they were doing.

 

“Hey, Grizz,” Gwen murmured. Hangover? Check.

 

“Yo, where’d you go last night?” Clark asked.

 

“Home to crash. Apparently, I was pretty wasted,” Grizz said, and he really hoped the boys didn’t know he left with Sam, because he really didn’t feel like getting caught in a lie.

 

“Hell yeah you were,” Jason laughed.

 

“You missed some hot shit last night with Gwenny Gwen,” Clark said with a laugh.

 

“Oh, shut up,” Gwen said and threw her bag of ice at him. He dodged it, eyes still locked on the TV screen.

 

“You missed it, man. She slapped Carla. Like full on slapped her,” Jason said.

 

“Oh, really?” Grizz asked, looking down at Gwen.

 

“I was drunk. The fuck. Shut up,” Gwen groaned.

 

“We had to hold them back from each other,” Jason said, “still don’t know what they were fighting about.”

 

“Probably about our big lesbian crush on each other,” Gwen said with sarcasm dripping from her voice.

 

“I knew it,” Clark said excitedly.

 

“You’re a fucking idiot,” Gwen said.

 

“You’re a fucking idiot,” Clark mimicked in a high-pitched voice.

 

“You’re both fucking idiots,” Luke said as he walked into the room. He handed Grizz his keys, wallet and phone.

 

“Thanks,” Grizz said with a small smile.

 

“You’re not staying?” Gwen asked.

 

“No, I’m heading out actually,” Grizz said. Jason and Clark didn’t seem to notice the comment, and Luke went back to cleaning up around them. Grizz’s eyes landed on Gwen though who mouthed ‘Sam?’ Grizz just nodded and Gwen gave him two thumbs up.

 

“I’ll catch you guys tomorrow,” Grizz said.

 

There was a round of goodbyes before Grizz left the house, going back outside. He looked at his phone that had almost run out of battery. He had a string of text messages.

 

Did you leave with Sam?? – Becca.

OH SHIT. You did. Only sober sex thanks! – Becca.

What happened with you two last night?? Sam’s not answering his texts?!??! – Becca.

 

THE FUCK?!?! LUKE SAID CARLA PRACTICALLY FORCED HERSELF ON YOU??? – Gwen.

I’M GONNA SLAP THE SHIT OUTTA HER!! – Gwen.

I DID IT!!!!!!!!! – Gwen

Aww u went home with Sam? Nice nice nice. – Gwen.

WAIT UR WALLETS HERE! CONDOMS!!! - Gwen.

Did you get laid? – Gwen.

 

YOU MISSED IT. GWEN N CARLA HAD THE HOTTEST CAT FIGHT I GOT A BONER!!! – Clark.

 

Your car’s at mine. Come get it when you want. – Luke.

Oh wait your phone’s in my room. – Luke.

Why am I still texting you? – Luke.

 

Grizz shook his head at all of his friends because they were collectively absolute morons, but Grizz still had a soft spot hidden away for each of them, and they were growing on him too. He kind of always thought of his friends as just “high school friends”, but he might just have to consider that they might be more than that.

 

“What are you smiling at?” Sam asked.

 

“My friends are dumb,” Grizz said when he got close enough for Sam to read his lips.

 

“I could’ve told you that,” Sam said.

 

“So clever,” Grizz said and unlocked his car, “now get in. I’m starving.”

 

---

 

Grizz sat across from Sam in a booth at the diner. It wasn’t too busy in there and Grizz didn’t recognize anyone. They ate their breakfast silently even though it was almost two in the afternoon. The waitress only gave them a funny look when they made their order, but was probably used to teenagers strolling in that late for breakfast.

 

Grizz picked at the last little bit of bacon on his plate, delaying eating it because he knew he had to talk to Sam about why he always got so panicked at the thought of someone finding out about him, and Grizz just mostly felt stupid, because what was he supposed to say to Sam? His parents are homophobic. That was the simple explanation. All this build up for that? Grizz already felt like an idiot for letting it get to him so much.

 

Sam ran the side of his shoe slowly up and down Grizz’s leg. It was supposed to be comforting, but it only helped a little, because mostly Grizz just want to go sit on the other side of the booth with Sam and kiss and cuddle with him so he could feel the euphoria he felt when they were in bed together just an hour ago.

 

Grizz looked up at Sam to see him looking back. He had long ago finished his breakfast and was waiting for Grizz.

 

“Does this count as a first date?” Grizz asked, trying to be funny but probably failing miserably. He was trying to sign too, hoping his inability would be endearing to Sam and that he’d go easy on him. Apparently not though.

 

“Depends if you’re planning on dating me,” Sam said, and Grizz didn’t have an answer for that, because yes, he did, but at the same time, he didn’t, and he hated how indecisive he was.

 

“So…” Grizz thought about how to begin, but he was lost.

 

“What makes you so scared?” Sam helped him, and wow, Grizz wasn’t expecting such a hard-hitting question so soon. But it did help, because Grizz had one answer.

 

“My parents,” Grizz said.

 

“Do you think they’ll hurt you if they know?” Sam asked.

 

“No. Maybe. I don’t know,” Grizz said quietly. There weren’t any people in earshot but he still didn’t want to scream out the conversation.

 

“Tell me about them,” Sam said.

 

Grizz took a deep breath and nodded, “okay, well…a few weeks ago my dad literally said he would kick me out if I ever brought a boy home.”

 

“Seriously? He said that?” Sam asked.

 

“Yeah, and uhm, my mom, she, like, she’s always pulled me out of clubs and stuff because she thinks they make me gay, and she’s always saying how my dad won’t like it, and if I’m living under dad’s roof then I live by his rules or I can leave,” Grizz told him. And fuck, his hands were shaking. He didn’t know why he was so nervous talking to Sam about this stuff.

 

“So, your mom knows about you?” Sam asked.

 

“I think deep down she does. She just doesn’t want to admit it,” Grizz said.

 

“I’m sorry,” Sam said, his eyes filled with an apology that he didn’t owe Grizz.

 

“Yeah, so, that’s why I don’t want people knowing. News travels fast in this town. It’s only a matter of time before they find out and they kick me out and I’m living on the streets,” Grizz said.

 

“So let them. I’ll be homeless with you. We’ll rent a nice cardboard box on the side of the road. I’ll find a shopping cart for all our things,” Sam said, and that was just Sam, Grizz was figuring out. He asked for this serious conversation but did he really want it?

 

“It’s not a joke,” Grizz said.

 

“I know, I’m sorry,” Sam quickly backtracked, going serious once more. He hooked his ankle under Grizz’s and Grizz really wished they were in his car in the parking lot of Izzy’s. Why the fuck were they doing this in public anyway?

 

“I just want to not feel like this. This was why I wanted to wait until college, so I didn’t have to worry about them. This wasn’t how I planned things,” Grizz said.

 

“Life shouldn’t be planned, Grizz,” Sam said.

 

“I know, I know,” Grizz nodded.

 

“So…where does this leave us?” Sam asked.

 

“I like you, Sam. A lot,” Grizz said, and Christ, if only Sam knew just how much.

 

“I like you too,” Sam said.

 

“I’m so fucking scared,” Grizz admitted, and for a split second it felt like he had said those words to Sam before. Had he?

 

“I know you’re scared, but how do you want to live your life?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz knew the answer. He wanted to live without fear. He wanted to be happy. Sam made him happy. The answer should’ve been clear in his mind, but his mind was still groggy from all the alcohol last night and how tired he was.

 

“I need to think and my brain isn’t really working and it’s been a weird twenty-four hours,” Grizz said.

 

“Okay, just don’t go two weeks again without talking to me,” Sam said.

 

“I promise, I wont. I promise. I’m gonna sort my shit out, okay?” Grizz asked.

 

“Okay, but if you decide you just want to be friends, I promise I’ll be good,” Sam said.

 

“I don’t want to be friends,” Grizz said honestly.

 

Sam shook his head and smiled, “me either.”

 

And there was only one choice to Grizz. One choice that he’d think about more that night or the following morning after a good night’s sleep. But Grizz was pretty sure he knew what he was going to do. He just had to figure out how to ask Sam to be his boyfriend.

Chapter Text

On Monday at lunch time Grizz paced around the empty classroom on the fourth floor of the high school. He texted Sam last period to meet him there and Sam had simply replied with a ‘k’ that drove Grizz absolutely insane. The two boys hadn’t spoken since their breakfast date, and they left on good terms with each other, but at the same time everything was so up in the air.

 

Grizz made a definitive decision about himself and Sam early that morning as he was getting ready for school. He wanted to be with Sam, if Sam would have him. That meant pushing his anxieties down and trying to live in the moment. He was trying so hard not to be paranoid about his parents finding out, and trying even harder not to let Campbell knowing bother him. The way Grizz saw it, Campbell could out him whether he was dating Sam or not, and sure the thought scared Grizz, but if it happened, it happened. He couldn’t change anything, so he might as well try and make things work. Plus, Grizz could always deny it to his parents. His mother especially was deluded enough to believe he was straight just because she wanted it so bad. His dad? That was a whole other story that Grizz would rather not think about.

 

Grizz was just so tired of being depressed and repressed. Sam made him feel happier than he had in a really long time and Grizz wanted to hold onto that. That was why he was planning on asking Sam to be his boyfriend. Grizz just hoped that Sam still liked him back, which he knew Sam did like him, but Grizz had been the source of so much drama lately that he wondered if Sam was willing to be with him or if he was just sick of it by now.

 

Grizz sat on a desk in the middle of the room and looked down at his phone. He had two texts.

 

Sorry, just saw this now. I’m on my way. – Sam.

 

The other was from Gwen.

 

Yo bitch where u at? – Gwen.

 

I’ll tell you later. – Grizz.

 

Getting ur dick sucked? – Gwen.

 

FUCK OFF!! – Grizz.

 

Ha! Sam aint in the cafeteria either so… - Gwen.

 

Grizz rolled his eyes and didn’t bother replying to her. If this all went well, then she would be the first person he’d tell about it, but if not, well, he’d probably just go mope and hate life. Grizz couldn’t really believe just how dramatic he could be at times. He also couldn’t believe just how much he liked Sam.

 

Grizz’s heart leapt into his throat when the classroom door opened and in walked Sam. He had a smile on his face which warmed Grizz’s insides and made him want to smile back, but he was just so nervous. Sam closed the door behind him and took a step towards Grizz, but Grizz held his hand up, stopping him.

 

‘Look at the board,’ Grizz signed.

 

Sam did as he was told and turned his attention to the whiteboard where Grizz had written in giant capital letters: WILL YOU BE MY BOYFRIEND? Followed by two boxes underneath, one that had YES next to it and one that had NO. And sure, it was a little childish, but Grizz was hoping Sam would think it was cute.

 

Sam glanced back over to Grizz with a smile that lit up his eyes, before chewing on his bottom lip. Grizz saw the apprehension on Sam’s face, and as Sam went over to the whiteboard, Grizz had a bad feeling. The red head picked up the marker and started writing. It was only when Sam stepped away that Grizz saw he had added a third option and a box, and had ticked it.

 

MAYBE. Maybe? Well, what the hell did that mean? Grizz’s entire body deflated as Sam headed back to him. Grizz didn’t know what to say. Couldn’t Sam just say no and get it over with if he didn’t really like him that much? Sam stood between Grizz’s legs at the desk, placing his hands on Grizz’s thighs, giving them a comforting squeeze.

 

“I’m not saying no. I just need to ask a couple things,” Sam said.

 

‘Like what?’ Grizz signed.  

 

“Like, do you really want it?” Sam asked.

 

“I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t,” Grizz said.

 

“But, do you really, really want it? Because I can’t do this if you’re just going to get scared and run away,” Sam said, and Grizz could see the concern in his eyes. Grizz wasn’t surprised though because if he was Sam then he’d be worried about the same thing.

 

“I’ll get scared. I know I will, but I won’t run away. I promise,” Grizz said, and he really meant it.

 

“What about your parents?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz’s eyes dropped from Sam’s at the mere mention of his parents, and he wished he didn’t have that reaction, but he did. Sam dipped his head down and caught Grizz’s gaze. The moment their eyes locked, Grizz couldn’t help but keep them locked as Sam made him look back up at him.

 

“I’m just hoping they won’t find out. But the worst person already knows, so, if they find out then they find out. I can’t do anything about it now. I just want to be happy with you,” Grizz said.

 

“Whatever happens, it’ll be okay. I promise,” Sam said before tucking Grizz’s hair behind his ear. Grizz melted against Sam’s hand, turning into it, losing himself for just a moment.

 

“I’m not ready to come out,” Grizz stated.

 

“I know.”

 

“You’re okay with keeping things just between us?” Grizz asked.

 

“I am.”

 

“I don’t want you to feel like I’m pushing you back in the closet,” Grizz said.

 

“It’s a pretty gay closet if you’re in there with me,” Sam joked.

 

“I’m serious. I don’t want you to hate me,” Grizz pleaded.

 

Sam’s face softened as he shook his head, “I could never.”

 

“It won’t be forever. I promise. Just until I’m off to college,” Grizz said, and the soft look on Sam’s face disappeared, instead replaced by one of sorrow.

 

“I knew it,” Grizz sighed, “it bothers you, doesn’t it?”

 

Sam shook his head, “no, just thinking about you going to college and I’m still here for another year.”

 

“One year isn’t really that long when you think about it,” Grizz said.

 

“There’s probably a lot of hot guys in college,” Sam said.

 

“None as hot as you,” Grizz said, because honestly there was no one in this world that Grizz was more attracted to than Sam. It was Sam’s turn to look away this time, and it was Grizz’s turn to reassure him. He touched the side of Sam’s face and gently forced him to look back Grizz’s way.

 

‘Will you be my boyfriend? Please?’ Grizz signed.

 

Sam stepped away with a look of contemplation on his face. Once again, he bit his bottom lip before turning and going back over to the whiteboard. Grizz watched Sam carefully as he picked up the marker again and ticked the ‘yes’ option. All the blood seemed to rush to Grizz’s head and the room spun for a moment, but it was the best thing Grizz had ever felt because Sam actually said yes. Sam wanted to be his boyfriend.

 

Holy Shit. Grizz had a boyfriend. And that boyfriend was walking back over to him and moving his hands. It took Grizz a moment to snap out of his stupor, and when he did, Sam signed to him again.

 

‘Can I kiss you?’ Sam asked.

 

All Grizz could do was nod, and then Sam closed the gap with one last step, took Grizz’s face in his hands and kissed him. All the air disappeared from Grizz’s lungs as he melted against Sam. Every time he and Sam kissed felt like it was their first time doing it, and each time Grizz’s longing for Sam grew stronger and he wondered if he would ever feel satiated. Maybe he’d have to kiss Sam for hours on end to get over the feeling. Although, he didn’t actually want to get over it.

 

Sam’s lips parted from Grizz’s, barely an inch between them, and Grizz wanted more. God, he really wanted more, but they were in school, in an empty classroom, and lunch would be over at any moment. Grizz brushed his lips against his boyfriend’s, their noses touching for the briefest moment, before Grizz leant forward, resting his head on his boyfriend’s chest. His boyfriend followed the movement and slid his arms around Grizz’s neck in a comfortable hug. Grizz had a lot of things he wanted to say to his fucking boyfriend, but he didn’t want to move from his hold.

 

A sense of calm washed over Grizz that he hadn’t really felt in a little while. He was content and surprisingly not scared. He was excited and happy, just purely happy with no thought of any of the consequences that could come from this, and whatever doubts he had simply didn’t matter because Sam was his boyfriend now and fuck, Grizz just wanted to kiss him.

 

Grizz turned his head, his lips brushing against Sam’s shirt before he placed them on his collar bone right where the neckline of the shirt was. Sam sucked in a quick breath, but Grizz was too preoccupied to really notice at the time. He littered the smallest of kisses up the length of Sam’s neck, nuzzling his nose behind his ear for a moment before going to Sam’s jaw.

 

Sam had his fingers tangled in Grizz’s hair and gave a gentle tug, making Grizz stop. The two boys looked at each other for a moment, Grizz’s eyes filled with confusion because he didn’t even get to Sam’s lips yet which was what he really craved.

 

“You need to stop that,” Sam said.

 

“Why?” Grizz asked with a pout. The color of Sam’s eyes seemed to change right in front of Grizz. For a moment there they were so dark, and then they were quick to go back to their normal baby blue the moment he noticed Grizz legitimately did not know why Sam needed him to stop.

 

“You know, you’re so dumb for someone so smart,” Sam said.

 

“I-“

 

Grizz didn’t get out another syllable because Sam shut him up quick-smart with a kiss. Grizz hummed, chasing Sam’s lips for more, but he froze when the shrill sound of the bell echoed around the room.

 

“Fuck,” Grizz murmured against Sam’s lips. He pulled back and looked at Sam apologetically, as if it were his own fault that the bell had run.

 

“The bell,” Grizz explained, “we gotta go to class.”

 

“Or we could stay here,” Sam suggested.

 

“But I have biology. I like biology,” Grizz said.

 

Sam laughed and shook his head at Grizz before stepping away and turning towards the door. Grizz followed suit, swooping his bag up from the floor and swinging it over his shoulder. Just as Sam got to the door, Grizz took hold of his upper arm, stopping him. Sam turned back with a questioning look that quickly disappeared when Grizz gently pressed him against the door.

 

“Can we hang out tonight?” Grizz asked.

 

“ASL lessons?” Sam asked with a cheeky smile playing at his lips.

 

“Something like that,” Grizz said before kissing Sam just one last time before class. Yeah, still felt like a first kiss. Grizz pulled back because as much as he wanted to keep kissing Sam, it wouldn’t be long until the hall outside was flooded with students.

 

“I’ll see you later, boyfriend,” Sam said, and Grizz’s heart soared far beyond Earth, catapulting itself into the sun.

 

“Okay, boyfriend,” Grizz breathed.

 

Sam gave Grizz a quick peck on the cheek before turning and leaving the classroom. Grizz listened and after not hearing anyone outside, left too. Just as he thought, the hallway was still empty, but he could hear students clambering up the staircase.

 

Ecstatic was an understatement for how Grizz felt in that moment. He wanted to explode with the sunshine and warmth that was manifesting in his chest. He wanted to bounce off the walls. He wanted to squeal like a twelve year old girl who just found out her crush liked her back. But he couldn’t squeal like that. No. But Gwen could.

 

Grizz tried to contain the pep in his step as he skipped down three flights of stairs, scanning each hall for the girl in question. When he spotted her walking with the rest of his friends, he walked at a brisk pace to catch up. He came up behind her and grabbed her arm, yanking her away from their friends, maybe a little roughly but he didn’t really care.

 

“Oww, Grizz, what the?” Gwen grumbled and tore her arm from Grizz’s grip.

 

“Guess what?” Grizz asked.

 

“What?”

 

Grizz glanced around a moment before leaning in to her ear and whispering, “I have a boyfriend.”

 

“What!?” Gwen shouted, and Grizz had to put his hand over her mouth to shut her up, because well, they were in a crowded hallway. Perhaps that was Grizz’s fault for not waiting until they were alone but he was just too damn excited and had to tell her. Gwen knocked his hand away and smiled the biggest smile Grizz had ever seen.

 

“Details. I need details,” she practically begged.

 

“Quiet. I’ll text you in class,” Grizz said.

 

“You fucking better,” she said.

 

“I promise,” Grizz said.

 

“Oh my God, this is so exciting,” Gwen jumped up, wrapping her arms around Grizz in a tight hug, and in that moment he was glad that Gwen had walked in on himself and Sam that day in the library, and he was glad Gwen bugged him almost every day through texts for him to tell her more about Sam. He was glad that she seemed just as excited as he was because if he didn’t have anyone to talk to about this then he probably would have burst.

 

“I’ll text you. I gotta go to class,” Grizz said as he detached Gwen’s arms from around him.

 

“Okay, okay,” she said and went to turn, but then she stopped, facing Grizz again, “hey Grizz?”

 

“Mmm?”

 

“It’s good to see you happy,” she said.

 

Grizz had nothing to say to that. In fact, he felt a blush come onto his cheek as he looked away from her, nervously running his hand through his hair. He brushed off her comment with a wave and left the conversation at that. He turned and took only two steps in the opposite direction when he faltered, stopping in his place, because Clark was standing there at his locker, his eyes glued to Grizz with an expression that tore at Grizz’s stomach.

 

For a moment of self-absorption, Grizz thought that maybe Clark heard the conversation he and Gwen had, that Clark knew Grizz had a boyfriend, but no. Grizz had whispered that part and Clark was too far away. The boy looked hurt, betrayed even. And it didn’t take too much longer for Grizz to realize that Clark, as always, was paranoid about Gwen and Grizz liking each other.

 

Grizz didn’t want to deal with that at the moment. He was in a really good mood and felt like a fucking parrot continuously telling Clark that there was nothing going on between himself and Gwen. He knew he’d probably have to tell him again at some point soon, but for now, Grizz acted like there was nothing wrong and gave him a smile and a nod before heading off to class, feeling Clark’s gaze burn into his back.

 

---

 

Grizz and Sam walked side by side, shoulders bumping, eager to hold each others hands, but not game enough to, as they left the school building after environmental committee. A few other students walked by them, none taking any notice because they were all from environmental committee and all knew Grizz and Sam were friends, and apparently they were so convincing of their ‘just friend’ status in front of them that no one batted an eye as the two boys got into Grizz’s car.

 

Grizz sighed as he looked at Sam in the passenger seat. He wondered if Sam was also exhausted from spending an entire hour with him and not being allowed to hug or kiss him, or even just hold his hand. Sam looked back at Grizz with his trademark tilt of the head and curious expression on his face, like a damn puppy.

 

‘I really want to kiss you,’ Grizz signed the best he could. He hadn’t spoken to Sam enough with sign language lately to be even a little bit confident. Maybe he would take Sam up on his ASL lesson suggestion from that morning.

 

“Here?” Sam asked.

 

“No,” Grizz shook his head, “people around.”

 

Sam nodded, and Grizz felt bad, because Sam was out and even though Sam said it was okay, Grizz still felt a twinge of guilt for wanting to keep their relationship hidden.

 

‘I’m sorry,’ Grizz signed.

 

Sam just smiled softly, shook his head and placed his and on Grizz’s thigh, tenderly rubbing it up and down. And it was nice because it was a kind of affection that Grizz wasn’t used to. It didn’t mean anything sexual. It was just a type of affection that couples showed each other. Grizz was amazed at how well Sam instantly fell into the part, because they had only become official a few hours ago and Grizz was still trying to register that.

 

“A-are you hungry?” Grizz stuttered because he was honestly a little overwhelmed.

 

“No.”

 

“Okay, well, where do you wanna go?” Grizz asked.

 

“Somewhere I can kiss you without anyone seeing,” Sam said. Grizz’s stomach was tied in knots, his heart rate picking up a little, and he had the urge to pump the breaks for a moment because Sam had this cheeky, maybe even seductive, look in his eyes and Grizz couldn’t handle it.

 

“Uh, okay,” Grizz nodded, “okay. We can go somewhere to, like, talk.”

 

“Sure.”

 

Fuck. There was that look again. Grizz faced forward away from Sam and turned on his car. Not another word was said between the two as Grizz focused on driving. Grizz thought about where to go. His parents would be home and Campbell would be at Sam’s, so they couldn’t go to each other’s houses. Izzy’s could get a little populated in the afternoons, even if they parked in their usual spot in the back corner.

 

Grizz knew of one place a little out of town but not too far away. There was a small area near a riverbank where his granddad used to take him fishing. People only ever went on the weekend, so if Grizz was lucky, there would be no one there.

 

Sam kept his hand on Grizz’s thigh the entire time they drove and when Grizz wasn’t changing gears he risked their road safety by placing his hand over Sam’s and lacing their fingers together. Grizz could really get used to the whole holding hands things. He could really get used to the whole having a boyfriend thing, actually.

 

Grizz made a turn onto a dirt road that he wasn’t even really sure was a legitimate road. He glanced at Sam who was just looking out the window at all the trees they were passing. Grizz wondered if Sam had ever come out this way before. Just as Grizz was glancing at Sam again, Sam looked back.

 

“Are you gonna murder me?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz snorted in laughter and shook his head, “you’re insane.”

 

“Am I though? You ask me to be your boyfriend then lure me into the wilderness. It screams murder,” Sam said.

 

“Fine, yes. I’m going to murder you,” Grizz said, stealing glances at Sam while still trying to watch the bumpy road.

 

“Cool. Can we at least make out a little first?” Sam joked.

 

Grizz laughed, shaking his head. Sam was unbelievable. Grizz always knew he was a funny guy. He got that much from watching Becca constantly burst into laughter for years as Grizz stared at them from across the cafeteria.

 

Grizz pulled up to a small clearing of grass in the woods. He could see the river in front of them, and thankfully there was not another car or person in sight. Grizz killed the engine, took off his seatbelt and turned to Sam who was looking out at the river in wonder.

 

“There’s a river here?” Sam asked, “since when?”

 

“Since always,” Grizz said when Sam was looking at him.

 

“Do you come here a lot?” Sam asked.

 

“Sometimes.”

 

“It’s nice,” Sam said with a smile.

 

“It is.”

 

“Cool.”

 

Grizz watched Sam, wondering what to do next, because were they just going to talk, or should Grizz lean over and kiss him? Damn it, he really wanted to kiss him, but what did Sam want? The other boy was just looking back at Grizz, waiting.

 

“What are you thinking?” Grizz asked.

 

“I’m thinking…we should get more comfortable,” Sam said.

 

“Oh, should we?” Grizz asked, holding back his grin.

 

Sam didn’t say anything, just bit his bottom lip and nodded. He had that same cheeky look in his eyes as when they first got in the car, and then he opened the door. Grizz watched in curiosity as Sam left the car before getting in the backseat. Sam patted the spot next to him, and well, Grizz didn’t need to be told twice. He was quick to get out of the car and slide into the back seat, next to Sam.

 

“Hi,” Grizz said to the other boy, a small smile on his lips.

 

“Hi,” Sam moved closer, the two of them half facing each other, limbs touching, but still somehow not close enough.

 

“I can’t believe you’re my boyfriend,” Grizz said.

 

“You think I expected to date some football jock?” Sam asked.

 

“Hey, don’t be mean,” Grizz nudged Sam’s side with his elbow.

 

“I’m not mean,” Sam defended, “I just speak the truth.”

 

“It’s not the truth. I’m not like other football jocks,” Grizz said.

 

“Ooh, you’re not like other boys,” Sam teased with a roll of his eyes. Grizz narrowed his eyes at the other boy in mock anger.

 

“Mean. Again, mean,” Grizz said.

 

“I’m sorry,” Sam said, but Grizz kept up his act, pouting and crossing his arms over his chest. He turned from Sam, pretending to ignore him.

 

“Hey, I’m sorry,” Sam said, but Grizz could hear the laughter.

 

‘Mean’, Grizz finger spelled.

 

“You just said ‘nean’,” Sam laughed.

 

Grizz, still refusing to look at Sam, just gave him the finger.

 

“Grizz,” Sam whined and moved closer. He slid one arm onto the backseat behind Grizz’s neck. The other he had on Grizz’s thigh, but it was no longer with the intent of pure affection. Grizz knew with the way Sam slowly inched his hand higher that Sam had something else in mind. Grizz was finding it harder to keep up his little charade of being mad.

 

“I’m sorry,” Sam repeated, and then Grizz felt Sam’s soft, pillowy lips right below his ear. That had Grizz completely forgetting that he was supposed to be mad, because Jesus fucking Christ, Sam was leaving a trail of kisses firmly planted down his neck.

 

“’s okay,” Grizz sighed even though he knew Sam couldn’t hear it. He was a little dazed, completely taken in by the feel of Sam’s lips and the serenity that washed over him.

 

Grizz closed his eyes as Sam gently nipped on his collarbone, his teeth grazing against it. Grizz tilted his head away from Sam, giving him more to work with because it felt so fucking good and Grizz didn’t want it to end. Sam kissed back up his neck, sucking gently on the soft, delicate skin, not hard enough to bruise Grizz, but hard enough to send bolts of hot electricity right through him.

 

Sam’s hand on Grizz’s thigh went wandering higher and Grizz wasn’t sure he could handle it, so he took Sam’s hand in his, stopping him. Well, almost stopping him. Instead, Sam swung one leg over to the other side Grizz, straddling his hips. Fucking fuck. Sam was on top of him and Grizz really couldn’t handle it.

 

Sam stopped kissing Grizz and all Grizz could do was look down at their bodies pressed together. And shit, Grizz didn’t know what to do with his hands. He felt like a virgin again, completely frozen, and it was so dumb because he knew exactly what he wanted to do with Sam. He thought about it a lot late at night or in the shower, but now? Now his mind was short-circuiting.

 

Sam apparently did not have this problem. He took Grizz’s hands and placed them on his hips. And yeah, Grizz could do that. He liked holding Sam like that. Sam then brought his fingertips to Grizz’s chin and made the boy look up at him. Grizz could only see Sam’s dark, dilated pupils for a flash before they were kissing again.

 

Grizz sighed into the kiss, melting against the seat behind him. For someone who had never had a boyfriend before, Sam was a really good kisser. He started off slow, letting their lips get to know each other, and letting Grizz take in everything he was feeling, letting him process, and that was good because Grizz was an overthinker. He needed to go slow.

 

That didn’t last too long though. Lips smacking together in a closed mouth kiss was apparently not enough for Sam. Grizz felt the other boy’s teeth gently tug at his lips, and Grizz fought the urge to groan because, well, that would have been fucking pathetic. Before Grizz had a chance to really process that thought, Sam’s tongue was tentatively sliding along his.

 

Fuck, fuck, fuck. It was getting hot in the car, way too hot, and Grizz felt like he couldn’t breathe. But the dizziness he felt was worth it. The possibility of passing out was well worth it if he got to taste Sam like this.

 

Sam tangled his fingers in Grizz’s hair as the kiss got messier, more heated. Grizz could barely keep up and he wanted Sam so bad, and it showed because his jeans were getting really fucking tight and there was no way that Sam couldn’t feel it, because Grizz could feel Sam too. They were both hard and Grizz was beginning to feel a little more than overwhelmed.

 

He didn’t want to stop even if his stomach was fluttering with a sense of unease that was telling him to. Sam was so fucking attractive to Grizz and he wanted him, like a lot. He really, really did. And Sam was doing all the right things. He was kissing Grizz with a balance between playfulness and intensity that was driving Grizz wild and making Sam so damn addicting.

 

Sam rocked his hips against Grizz, and Grizz almost lost his mind. And then he did it again, and again, his body moving against Grizz’s at an agonizingly slow pace. Grizz moaned against Sam’s lips and there was no way the other boy couldn’t feel the vibrations, and Grizz knew he had because Sam tried to take things further.

 

Sam’s busy fingers went to Grizz’s belt and started undoing it, and that was when Grizz really couldn’t handle it anymore. The feeling of unease kept building up and Sam was almost unbuttoning Grizz’s jeans when Grizz took hold of his hands, stopping him. Sam didn’t seem to mind that because he just kept kissing him.

 

Yes, they had only been dating half a day, barely that, but it felt like longer because they had kissed before and knew of each other’s feelings for weeks. Maybe that was why Sam wanted more or was comfortable with more so quickly, but Grizz, well Grizz had flashes of all the girls he’d slept with in the past and the feelings of pure nothingness that came with it and he didn’t want that with Sam. He didn’t know how to feel.

 

Grizz had to stop kissing Sam for just a moment and think. The moment their lips detached from one another’s, Grizz looked up at Sam apologetically, because yeah, Grizz was once again probably going to be over-dramatic and fuck things up. Sam looked at him in concern and Grizz sighed, letting his head fall back onto the headrest.

 

“Sorry, sorry. It’s just…you mean a lot to me,” Grizz said, not really knowing how to explain what he was feeling.

 

“You mean a lot to me too,” Sam said.

 

“Good. Good,” Grizz nodded before going on, “uhm…I just don’t want you to think this is all I want.”

 

“I don’t think that. Do you think it’s all I want?” Sam asked, and Grizz paused for a moment because, well, sure, they were into each other but how serious did Sam want to get?

 

 “No, I don’t think so. I don’t know. I’m sorry. I haven’t done this whole boyfriend thing before,” Grizz said.

 

“Neither have I. I’m going to fast?” Sam asked.

 

“No… yes, maybe. I don’t know,” Grizz shrugged, and he hated how he was always so wishy-washy when it came to explaining his emotions to Sam.

 

Sam frowned and went to get off Grizz’s lap, but Grizz didn’t want that at all. He wanted Sam close, so he tightened his grip on the boy’s hips, making him stay. Sam settled again and smiled softly. He ran his hands through Grizz’s hair and kissed him gently on the forehead.

 

“What are you thinking?” Sam asked, sitting back a little to look at Grizz’s lips again.

 

“I’m thinking…about how I’ve slept with a few girls before and it always means nothing, and I don’t want this to mean nothing,” Grizz tried to explain the best he could. At least Sam didn’t look confused anymore.

 

“I’m not planning on having sex with you right here, right now,” Sam said, and Grizz couldn’t help but laugh a little.

 

“I know, I know,” Grizz nodded.

 

“I mean, just a handjob,” Sam said bluntly.

 

“You are going to do be the death of me,” Grizz sighed.

 

Sam let out the cutest giggle before going serious one more. Grizz didn’t know how Sam did that all the time; how he could turn a serious argument into a joke and then back to serious again. Sometimes Grizz wished he could lighten up a bit himself. Maybe Sam could teach him.

 

“This doesn’t mean nothing,” Sam said before placing a chaste kiss on Grizz’s lips and pulling away again.

 

“I really like you,” Grizz told him.

 

“I really like you too,” Sam smiled.

 

“No, I don’t think you understand. I mean I really, really like you,” Grizz said.

 

“What, you’re in love with me?” Sam asked with a laugh and Grizz froze. He fucking froze when he should have laughed it off. He froze because, well fuck, it was probably true, and then Sam noticed Grizz’s tense body and lack of articulating something, anything, and then he wasn’t laughing anymore.

 

Grizz snapped out of it, shaking his head, “what? No, no. That would be ridiculous, because we’ve been together for like five minutes.”

 

“Grizz…” Sam started, giving Grizz a look of uncertainty, “how long have you liked me?”

 

“Uhm, a while…” Grizz said after a moment’s hesitation.  

 

“How long is a while?” Sam asked. Grizz swallowed hard because of fucking shit, that was the million dollar question and couldn’t lie, right?

 

“Like…two years, or more…” Grizz admitted.

 

Sam was just staring at him and Grizz couldn’t read his expression. All he knew was that he felt like he couldn’t breathe, because fuck, he was coming on too strong and Sam was probably freaked out, because they had only become boyfriends today and Grizz had let it slip that he had been pining for two god damn years.

 

Grizz needed some air, so he gently pushed Sam off and got out of the car. He breathed in through his nose deeply, taking in the cool afternoon air and scent of, well, nature. It calmed him down. Being there, at the river, always calmed him down. Before he had a car, he used to ride his bike there whenever his parents were fighting or making him feel like shit. Now though, he was a little bit scared being there because Sam was probably going to run for the hills.

 

Sam got out of the car too and Grizz wanted to bury himself or fling himself into the river to drown because Sam just had this amused glint in his eyes. Was he enjoying this? Did Sam like seeing Grizz squirm and panic? Honestly, Grizz had never felt more like a mess, yet so put together at the same time whenever he was around Sam. It was confusing and probably why he needed a lot of fresh air breaks, just like he was doing in that moment.

 

“You think I’m a creep, right?” Grizz asked, not meeting Sam’s eyes.

 

“For liking me? No,” Sam said, and he stood in front of Grizz, gently pushing him back against the front door of the car. Sam slid his hands around Grizz’s back and it was the gesture that Grizz really needed to put him back at ease.

 

“Then what are you thinking?” Grizz asked as he placed his arms around Sam’s neck, locking his hands behind it.

 

“I’m thinking…why didn’t you start talking to me sooner?” Sam asked.

 

“Too busy pretending to be straight, and I was really awkward at sixteen so you probably wouldn’t have liked me,” Grizz shrugged.

 

“You’re really awkward now,” Sam pointed out.

 

“Shut up,” Grizz snapped but he could help but smile through his pout.

 

“You’re cute,” Sam teased.

 

“Stop it. Let’s just change the topic,” Grizz pleaded.

 

“Nope. What made you like me? We never talked,” Sam said.

 

“I dunno. Always thought you were cute. And like, you were out, like everyone knew you’re gay so I think I just kind of got a crush from that at first and then we started talking and yeah,” Grizz said, and he couldn’t really explain exactly why he started liking Sam. He just knew that he did.

 

Sam stood on his tip-toes to kiss Grizz softly, and Grizz didn’t know what he did to get so lucky. How did Sam just always come back for more when Grizz could never find his damn chill about anything? Grizz decided to ask when they parted once more.

 

“Why do you like me? I’m a mess,” Grizz said.

 

“You’re hot,” Sam shrugged.

 

“That’s it?”

 

“Yep. You’ll make a great trophy husband one day,” Sam said, and there he was again, making his jokes, but Grizz was glad for them because it balanced out his own awkwardness.

 

“You suck,” Grizz commented.

 

“I will if you want me to.”

 

“Oh my god,” Grizz laughed. Sam was unbelievable.

 

“I’m sorry, I always make jokes,” Sam apologized.

 

“It’s okay. I like it, really. And thank you for putting up with my craziness, and sorry I’m always so dramatic,” Grizz said, feeling a little sheepish.

 

“You’re emotional, and that’s okay. You’re not like other jocks, remember? And besides, I know of a lot of ways I could calm you down that we can test out,” Sam winked.

 

“Jesus. You’re the worst,” Grizz shook his head. It was a lie. Sam was the best and nothing could change Grizz’s mind on that.

 

“You want a serious answer now?” Sam asked.

 

“Please.”

 

“I’m not gonna lie. I didn’t notice you before you started talking to me, but then you did, and I don’t know. You’re really nice, and smart, but also kind of dumb which I love. I think you’re sweet, and I think it was giving me your jacket that really did it. You’re a bit of a romantic and I think that’s really cute,” Sam finished and Grizz hung off every word. He was not expecting Sam to say all of that.

 

“Wow, uhm, thank you,” Grizz said.

 

“So, yeah,” Sam continued with a light blush on his cheeks, “I’m sorry for getting too physical to quick. I really do like you, it’s just that you’re really hot and you turn me on so it’s a little hard to not want to jump you.”

 

And Grizz thought that was one of the hottest things he had ever heard, and even though Grizz said he wanted to slow it down, now that he knew Sam actually did like him and it wasn’t all physical, he wanted to get back in that car and continue but the mood was a bit lost now and Grizz would look like an idiot constantly changing his mind.

 

“Killing me. You’re killing me,” Grizz said and leant forward, burying his face in Sam’s neck.

 

Sam laughed, because of course he did. He seemed to enjoy Grizz’s misery.

 

“I know. I’m sorry,” Sam said.

 

Grizz pulled back again and spoke, “no you’re not.”

 

“You’re right. I’m not. Anyway, I actually am hungry. Can we go back to town?” Sam asked.

 

“Can we make out for a little longer first?” Grizz asked.

 

“I’ll give you five minutes,” Sam said.

 

“Ten,” Grizz argued.

 

“Five.”

 

“Ten.”

 

“Seven and a half?”

 

“Round it up to eight?” Grizz asked.

 

Sam just smiled before taking Grizz’s hand and tugging him back to the back seat of the car.

Chapter Text

Grizz sat in the back row of his History class with his phone in his hand, as did pretty much every student who didn’t care for the World War 2 documentary Mr. Spencer had lazily put on in an attempt to educate without doing any actual work. The teacher also didn’t care in the slightest that no one was paying attention. In fact, Grizz was pretty sure Mr. Spencer was scrolling through Facebook on his laptop. Grizz focused on his phone as he typed out a text.

 

Why can’t we have classes together? I can’t do this whole not seeing you all day thing. – Grizz.

 

Because you’re an old senior. – Sam.

 

I’m not old! – Grizz.

 

You’re ancient. – Sam.

 

You’re supposed to be a senior too!! – Grizz.

 

Thx for bringing it up that I’m dumb and got kept down. – Sam.

 

Shut up. You’re not dumb. – Grizz.

 

Says the child genius. – Sam.

 

I’m not a genius, and I’m not a child. – Grizz.

 

Oh that’s right. You’re an old man. – Sam.

 

You’re 18 in like a week!!! – Grizz.

 

Of course u know my birthday. Stalker. – Sam.

 

You’re a bully. Now you’re not getting a present. – Grizz.

 

No present, no more kisses for you! – Sam.

 

That’s fine. – Grizz.

 

Fine. – Sam.

 

Grizz put his phone down in a moment of stubbornness and turned his attention to the documentary on the screen at the front of the room. He was holding back a smile though. If Grizz and Sam weren’t sending the most sickeningly cute texts to each other, they were arguing, always playfully, of course. That was all the two had done last night after Grizz dropped Sam home, and all morning, and through every class their teachers weren’t paying attention to them in.

 

Grizz sat there not looking at his phone for at least two whole minutes before he caved, picking it up again and typing out a quick message to Sam.

 

I lied. It’s not fine. I wanna kiss you. – Grizz.

 

How bad? – Sam.

 

Really fucking bad. – Grizz.

 

Bad enough to leave class and meet me on the third floor bathrooms? – Sam.

 

I’m on my way. – Grizz.

 

Grizz shoved his phone in his pocket before getting up and making his way to the front of the classroom, past half-asleep students. Mr. Spencer didn’t even look up from his laptop, the elderly man’s eyes drooping as he too fought off his boredom.

 

“Uh, Mr. Spencer? Can I go to the bathroom?” Grizz asked.

 

“Go for your life, kid,” Mr. Spencer said through a yawn.

 

“Thanks.”

 

Grizz was out of there. The second he left the classroom he broke out into a run. He headed for the stairs and skipped up them two at a time until he was at the third floor. The hallway was empty and so was the bathroom as Grizz entered it. He checked each stall just to make sure before looking at his phone. He had no texts and he figured Sam might’ve been having some trouble getting out of class. Grizz would wait though, even if he got into trouble with Mr. Spencer for it.

 

Grizz couldn’t contain the butterflies that had been having a party in his stomach since twenty-two hours ago when he asked Sam to be his boyfriend. It had been the best twenty-two hours of Grizz’s life. He had never been so happy, never felt so light, never felt so calm and at peace with his life, even if there was that niggling voice in the back of his head that wanted to remind him about his parents and how scared he was. He silenced that voice for now because he was just so damn happy and excited that he had a boyfriend, that he had Sam.

 

Grizz spun around at the sound of the door swinging open. His heart sped up and he wasn’t sure if it was the threat of a completely random person walking through, or the possibility of it being Sam, that made it do so. It was Sam, looking like his usual perfect, gorgeous self in Grizz’s eyes. Grizz wasn’t quite sure if his heart was beating even faster or if Sam’s presence had calmed him down a bit. Grizz was never really sure of exactly how Sam made him feel, and maybe that was what love felt like.

 

“Hi,” Grizz said, but he didn’t give Sam a chance to respond because he was on a mission; a mission to get Sam’s lips on his. He took two quick steps towards his boyfriend before pushing him, only a little bit roughly, against the door and kissing him hard.

 

Since Grizz left Sam last night, all he could think about was kissing him again. He craved the feel of his lips and tongue, like a drug addict searching for their next hit of heroin, and Sam was the sweetest heroin. Grizz felt high too, higher than he ever had been when smoking pot at parties. This was so much better.

 

Grizz tenderly held the sides of Sam’s face, desperate to keep him there as he kissed him, even though he knew they only had a couple of minutes before they had to get back to class. Sam clutched at Grizz’s hips, pulling him in closer, and as much as Grizz wanted Sam’s touch and to be closer to him, he knew it wasn’t a good idea while in school.

 

Grizz stopped kissing Sam. He looked down the couple inches to his eyes and smiled at the dazed look in Sam’s and the wetness on his lips. Grizz wanted to kiss him again but Sam dodged him, kissing along his jaw. Grizz wanted to tell Sam that he shouldn’t be doing that, that he was turning Grizz on and they had to go back to class, but Grizz couldn’t bring himself so push Sam away. Instead, Grizz slid his hands around the back of Sam’s head, sliding his fingers through his hair as the other boy kissed, licked and nipped at Grizz’s neck.

 

“Fuck…oh fuck. Not good. Not good,” Grizz whispered to himself. He closed his eyes, trying to think of something, anything to get his mind off of what Sam was doing, but well, Sam was really fucking good at what he was doing.

 

Sam sucked on Grizz’s neck right above his collarbone and a jolt went through Grizz so quickly and harshly that he couldn’t help the desperate moan that came out. Sam brought his lips back to Grizz’s shaking ones, kissing him firmly, and Grizz was a fucking mess. He had to stop this because at that point he was either going to walk out of there with a pretty obvious boner, or he was going to ask Sam to touch him and he didn’t want their first time fooling around to be in the school bathroom.

 

Grizz pulled back, though still keeping close to Sam’s body. Sam went to kiss him again but Grizz shook his head quickly.

 

“I have football practice this afternoon, but do you want to hang out after?” Grizz asked.

 

Sam bit his bottom lip, tilting his head to the side, “depends what you wanna do.”

 

“Talk. Make out in my car. The usual,” Grizz said.

 

“We have a ‘usual’?” Sam asked.

 

“We could,” Grizz shrugged, “but seriously, I wanna learn more sign language. I wanna practice. I’m not good enough.”

 

“I told you I can read lips,” Sam said.

 

“You shouldn’t have to all the time. I want to talk to you in your language,” Grizz said.

 

“Or we could not talk at all,” Sam grinned and leant up slowly before pressing his lips to Grizz’s. Grizz sighed into the kiss and he really didn’t want it to end, but they really needed to get back to class and he was starting to get a bit antsy thinking someone could walk in soon, even if they were blocking the door.

 

“I’m just a piece of meat to you, aren’t I?” Grizz said once they pulled away from each other. Grizz literally had to take a full step back just to stop himself, and Sam for that matter, from going at it again.

 

“A piece of meat I really like,” Sam shrugged.

 

Grizz laughed and shook his head at the other boy, “whatever. We gotta get back.”

 

“Yes, sir,” Sam nodded.

 

Sam turned his back on Grizz, not letting him make another comment and then left the bathroom. Grizz leant against the counter, sighing heavily. He looked down at himself, and yeah, he was hard, and why the fuck did he decide on tight jeans that day? Grizz stood there for at least an entire minute, thinking of his grandmother, before he decided it was safe enough to leave and head back to class.

 

---

 

It was lunch time when Grizz saw Luke for the first time that day. Grizz was heading down the hall towards the cafeteria when he heard the familiar voice.

 

“Hey, Grizz! Wait up!” Luke called out.

 

Grizz spun around, eyeing his friend as he caught up to him.

 

“Hey, what’s up?” Grizz asked as he turned back around and the two fell into step next to each other.

 

“Fuck, biology is a bitch. Ms. Chan hates me, I swear to God,” Luke grumbled.

 

“I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. I can tutor you,” Grizz offered.  

 

“I get it, you’re a genius,” Luke sighed.

 

“That’s the second time today someone’s called me a genius,” Grizz muttered, remembering the banter with Sam earlier.

 

“Right, must be real hard,” Luke rolled his eyes, and then the next moment those eyes were narrowing as he squinted at Grizz.

 

“What?” Grizz asked.

 

“Is that…” Luke paused, gaze flicking from Grizz’s neck, to his eyes and back down again, “is that a hickey?”

 

Grizz’s entire body prickled with heat because he just knew straight away exactly where Luke was looking and exactly what he must have been looking at, and Grizz felt like a complete idiot for not realizing it earlier, but it honestly hadn’t clicked in his mind. Some fucking genius he was.

 

“No,” Grizz said and slapped his hand to his neck. Right, that wasn’t suspicious at all.

 

“Dude,” Luke laughed, “good for you.”

 

“It’s not. I…burnt myself on a straightening iron,” Grizz lied, and it was dumb, and Luke wasn’t buying it.

 

“Sure, you did.”

 

“I did. Fuck you,” Grizz snapped and then he stopped, turning on his heel because he couldn’t just go and sit down with Clark and Jason for lunch with a fucking hickey on his neck. He’d never live it down and they’d just get on his back about who gave it to him.

 

“Where are you going?” Luke asked.

 

“To find Gwen! Don’t tell anyone what you saw!” Grizz called back.

 

“Thought it was just a burn!” Luke shouted down the hall.

 

“Shut up!” Grizz screeched in a panic.

 

Grizz dodged the sea of students heading to the cafeteria and set off in the direction of where Gwen’s last class was. It wasn’t until he saw her walking down the hall did he realize his mistake. Gwen had math. With Clark. And they were side by side. And they spotted Grizz so he couldn’t even try to make an escape.

 

“Grizzy!” Gwen called out with a bright smile on her face.

 

“Hey,” Grizz spoke nervously, rubbing his neck in a desperate attempt to hide the hickey. Now that he knew it was there, it was almost impossible to not be able to feel a dull ache where it was, and on the one hand it was really, really fucking hot that Sam did that to him, but on the other hand, well, Grizz wanted to kill him for it.

 

“What’s up, Grizz? Cafeteria’s that way,” Clark said.

 

“I know, but uh, Gwen, can I borrow you?” Grizz said, and he knew he would probably pay for that later but in that particular moment he really needed her help covering up the stupid mark.

 

“Me?” Gwen asked, glancing from Grizz to Clark and back again.

 

“Yeah, her? Why? What’s up, bud, I can help you out,” Clark said, practically puffing his chest to assert his dominance. Grizz tried not to roll his eyes.

 

“No, no I need Gwen. Well, I don’t, but Mrs. Brown is asking about that project we’re working on together because we’re late with it,” Grizz made up the lie on the spot and he was actually pretty impressed with himself. He gave Gwen a pointed look, silently begging her to play along.

 

“Oh right, right, that. Yeah, my part is in my locker. Can’t believe I forgot it,” Gwen said. Drama class was really paying off.  

 

“Great, cool. Let’s go get it or she’ll be hounding us all week,” Grizz said.

 

The two liars looked at Clark to make sure he wasn’t suspicious of anything. Grizz held his breath, just waiting for his friend to blow up or stalk off in a mood like he had done yesterday, but instead he shrugged, giving them a funny look.

 

“Whatever, I’m out,” Clark said before pushing past Grizz without another word. If Grizz wasn’t so relieved that he left without an argument then he’d have noticed the bitterness Clark was trying to hide in his voice. Instead he turned his attention back to Gwen who was watching him like he was crazy.

 

“What’s going on?” she asked.

 

Grizz dropped his hand and pointed at his neck. At first Gwen was confused but less than a second later her mouth dropped in a gasp.

 

“Oh my God. Oh my God,” she broke into a laugh.

 

“Would you just shut up and help me cover it? Please?” Grizz begged.

 

“You came to the right person. Come on,” Gwen took his hand and led him down the hallway like a toddler who had to be cleaned up by his mother. With his free hand Grizz took his phone out of his pocket and texted Sam.

 

YOU GAVE ME A HICKEY!!!! – Grizz

 

Seriously? – Sam.

 

Yes, seriously! I’m gonna kill you! – Grizz.

 

I’m sorry. I’m really sorry! I didn’t mean to. I’ve never done that before… - Sam.

 

Well congrats on your first time. Luke saw it before I even knew. – Grizz.

 

I’m sorry. But also send a pic xx – Sam.

 

Grizz looked up from his phone just as Gwen dragged him into the girl’s bathrooms after they made a quick pit stop at her locker. There was no one else in there, thankfully, because the last thing Grizz needed was some random girls starting rumors about himself and Gwen, even though he was sure people could’ve seen them walk in there. He had been too busy texting Sam.

 

Grizz looked in the mirror and sure enough there was a small oval shaped mark on his neck, dark red in color and even starting to go a little purple. Grizz couldn’t believe Sam did this, and he trusted that Sam really did not know what he was doing at the time, but at the same time Sam could be a little shit so Grizz wondered if maybe there was a little part of Sam that did this on purpose.

 

Grizz opened snapchat on his phone and took a selfie before sending it to Sam.

 

“What are you doing?” Gwen asked.

 

“Sending Sam a picture of this bullshit,” Grizz muttered.

 

“Oh lighten up,” Gwen said and took Grizz by the wrist. She dragged him into one of the stalls and locked it behind her, just in case any other girls were to come in.

 

“Lighten up? Have you met me? I don’t lighten, Gwen,” Grizz said dramatically.

 

“Yes you do. You’re the life of the party,” Gwen said.

 

“Not when super gay hickeys given by my super gay boyfriend are involved,” Grizz snapped, “can you just cover it, please?”

 

“Such a drama queen,” Gwen muttered under her breath.

 

Gwen had a little make-up bag with her that Grizz knew she had in her locker on any given day. Grizz was pretty sure it never left her locker, actually, and he was thankful for that because this was an emergency. She placed the bag in Grizz’s hands to hold as she rifled through it and found what she needed.

 

“Tilt,” Gwen ordered, and Grizz tilted his head away from the mark.

 

“Can’t believe I didn’t notice,” Grizz sighed.

 

“I can’t believe you got it in the first place,” Gwen said as she dabbed at the spot.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Uh, you’ve been dating for a day and you’re already getting hot and heavy?” Gwen said, and it felt more like a question.

 

“It’s really hard not to,” Grizz said honestly, and he thought back to yesterday afternoon when he and Sam were in the backseat of his car and they agreed on eight more minutes of making out and it turned into almost an hour, and he was so painfully hard in his pants that he had to keep stopping every few minutes to calm down. Thinking back, he kind of wished that he and Sam had just gotten each other off, but a part of Grizz still didn’t want that. He wanted a real relationship with a real connection where they had real conversations and just really really liked each other. He wanted to work on that more.

 

“Have you fucked yet?” Gwen asked.

 

“Stop it,” Grizz said, scrunching up his nose at Gwen’s choice of words.  

 

“Stop what?” Gwen asked.

 

“Calling it ‘fucked’,” Grizz said.

 

“Oh my God, you are totally a ‘made love’ guy, aren’t you?” Gwen giggled.

 

“So what if I am?” Grizz said defensively.

 

“I dunno. I think it’s sweet. So anyway, answer the question. Have you guys fooled around?” she asked again, and fuck she was nosy, but a part of Grizz liked hashing out his relationship with Sam to Gwen, because mostly he had no fucking idea what he was doing, and sometimes she helped.

 

“No. Like you said, we’ve only been dating for a day,” Grizz said.

 

“You know as well as I do it’s been going on longer than that,” Gwen said. She dug through her make-up bag again, pulling something else out that Grizz had no clue what it was.

 

“I guess…how long did it take you and Clark?” Grizz asked.

 

“About five months,” Gwen said thoughtfully.

 

“Fuck, really? That long?” Grizz asked, and he was sure Clark bragged to the boys about it being more like five weeks.  

 

“Why’s that so shocking?” Gwen asked, glancing up to Grizz’s eyes before back down at the bruise.  

 

“I dunno. I mean, it’s Clark,” Grizz shrugged.

 

“I’m not so quick to give it up though,” Gwen said.

 

“How quick do you think is too quick?” Grizz asked.

 

“I don’t think a time limit really matters, as long as you’re both into it,” Gwen explained.

 

“Right…right…”

 

“Are you and Sam gonna soon, do you think?” Gwen asked, and it wasn’t her being nosy. She sounded like she was genuinely concerned because, well, Grizz was concerned and it showed. Grizz didn’t even realize he still had this on his mind until right at that moment.

 

“I’d rather wait a while but I think he wants to. I mean, do you think it’s different with two guys? Like, guys just wanna get into bed, right? Most guys just care about sex so…” Grizz trailed off, not quite sure where he was going with that train of thought.

 

“Grizzy?” Gwen sighed, “Is Sam pressuring you?”

 

“No.”

 

“Could it be possible that you might just be overthinking this?” she asked.

 

Grizz hesitated before nodding, “maybe.”

 

“Turn your brain off for a while. Give it a rest and just let whatever happens, happen,” she said and she made it sound so easy, but Grizz had more he wanted to unload onto her.

 

 “Sure…sure…uhm, listen, do you think I’m attractive? Like in a…’I wanna tear off your clothes’ kind of attractive?” Grizz asked cautiously, hoping she wouldn’t find it too weird that he was asking that question.

 

“Well, I mean…yeah. I wanted to hook up with you, remember?” Gwen said.

 

“I thought you said you were just joking?” Grizz teased.

 

“Yeah well,” Gwen shrugged, “whatever. What’s going on, Grizz? Since when were you insecure?”

 

“Since I really like this guy and really want him to like me back,” Grizz murmured in a quiet voice.

 

“Grizz…he’s your boyfriend. He said yes. The tension between you two whenever I see you near each other makes me wanna throw up. I think you’re fine, and one doesn’t just give a hickey to someone they aren’t into,” she said, and she had a good point there.

 

Grizz nodded as Gwen kept going with the make-up. Surely she’d be done by now, right? Grizz was getting a little impatient. He really hoped she was doing a good cover up job. It was quiet for a little while. A girl came and left, then they were alone again.

 

“So,” Gwen broke the silence, “who do you think will be top and bottom?”

 

“Gwen!” Grizz was not expecting that.

 

“What? Isn’t this something you gotta think about or do you just go with it when it happens?” she asked, genuinely curious.

 

“I’ve never had gay sex before, Gwen. I don’t know,” Grizz snapped harshly.

 

“Well, do you wanna fuck Sam or do you want Sam to fuck you?” Gwen asked.

 

“Gwen!” Grizz yelled again.

 

“Alright, jeez, sorry.”

 

“You don’t see me asking about your sex life,” Grizz mumbled. He knew he was being a child and that he kind of asked for the personal questions since he kept the conversation going, but still, Gwen didn’t have to be so crude.

 

“You brought up your sex life so it’s your fault. And I’ll have you know my sex life is practically non-existent unless you count getting off over FaceTime,” Gwen said.

 

“What? With who?” Grizz asked, because seriously? Clark gave him death stares whenever Grizz was even breathing the same air as Gwen and yet there was this whole other guy out there that could have been getting those death stares instead.

 

“Seth, I told you about him, remember? The guy I met on a Yale tour?” Gwen reminded him.

 

“Oh right. You’re still talking to him?” Grizz asked.

 

“Every day,” Gwen smiled wide, her cheeks going pink, and it warmed Grizz’s heart to see her happy, because he knew the feeling, to find someone you really like who likes you back.

 

“Have you gone to meet him again?” Grizz asked.

 

“Not yet.”

 

“Well, when you do can you take me with you?” Grizz asked.

 

“What? Why?”

 

“Because if you’re gonna meet some stranger online then I’m not letting you go by yourself,” Grizz said, because duh. There was no way he was letting her do that.

 

“I can take care of myself. Besides, do you really want be a third wheel?” Gwen asked, and then her eyes went wide and Grizz could basically see the lightbulb spark up above her head as she rambled quickly, “wait! Oh my God, yes, I have an idea. A great idea. Oh my fuck, Grizzy, we should go on a double date!”

 

“Uh no, I can’t do that. You know I can’t,” Grizz said.

 

“You can, it’ll be fine. He lives two hours away so we can go on a road trip to Yale and meet up with him and we can, like, I don’t know, go out to dinner and movies or bowling or something. No one we know will be there. You won’t have to worry,” Gwen said, and the idea was awfully tempting to Grizz.

 

“I dunno, maybe,” Grizz said.

 

“Yes! It’s a great idea,” Gwen said and she seemed pretty chuffed with herself.

 

“I’ll think about it.”

 

“Good, I’ll talk to Seth about it. It’s gonna be so much fun. I promise,” she beamed.

 

Grizz just let it go because once Gwen had an idea in her head, she stuck to it, and also Grizz liked the idea. He could hang out with Sam away from the pressures of having to hide that he’s gay. The thought was a nice one and one that he would actually consider, even if it made him nervous to go out somewhere in public with Sam as his boyfriend.

 

“Okay, you’re good,” Gwen said as she zipped up her make-up bag and took it from Grizz.  

 

Grizz left the cubicle and went over to the mirror. Sure enough, the hickey wasn’t visible unless you got really close and were specifically looking for something. Grizz sighed in relief and turned to Gwen.

 

“Good job, thank you,” he said.

 

“It’d probably be easier to just tell the guys some random girl did it,” Gwen said, crossing her arms over her chest.  

 

“Yeah, probably. I’m so tired of lying though,” Grizz was deflated. He really wished he just had the courage to tell everyone the truth.  

 

“Then come out to them,” Gwen urged.  

 

Grizz shook his head and left the bathroom with Gwen close behind. They only received a couple of weird looks which Grizz shot down with a glare.

 

“Have you told Clark about Seth?” Grizz asked.

 

“No.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“Too much drama.”

 

“Exactly,” Grizz said triumphantly.

 

“Alright, sure, I guess I get it. Anyway, I feel kind of special being your only friend that knows,” Gwen smiled sweetly.  

 

“Hmm yeah, but that was an accident,” Grizz burst her bubble.

 

“Oh whatever, you totally would’ve told me first,” she said.

 

“I would’ve told Luke first,” Grizz argued.

 

“Stop being mean,” she pushed at his side, making him stumble a little but he quickly regained his balance and put his arm over her shoulder in a tight side-hug.

 

“You know I love you,” Grizz teased.

 

“Grizz, please, I’m taken,” Gwen spoke in the most serious voice she could muster up. Grizz rolled his eyes and dropped his arm, which was probably for the best since they were about to go into the cafeteria.

 

Grizz took his phone out of his pocket and saw he had a snapchat notification. Sam had screenshotted the snap he sent him. Grizz frowned before opening his messages and typing one out.

 

Why did you screenshot that? – Grizz.

 

For later. – Sam.

 

Later? – Grizz.

 

It’s hot…for later… ;) - Sam.

 

Grizz looked up as he walked across to his usual table and locked eyes with Sam and his cheeky grin. This boy was going to be the death of him.

 

---

 

Grizz ran after Clark across the vast expanse of the football field, but the other boy had a head start. The team had been split into two sides for a practice game and somehow Clark and Grizz ended up being pitted against each other for almost every play. Some plays Clark didn’t even start anywhere near Grizz and still ended up on his side and gaining the upper hand. It didn’t take Grizz long to realize Clark was trying to one-up him on purpose, and it took even less time for Grizz to figure out why. Gwen was on the sidelines, sitting on the bleachers with Sam and Becca.

 

Grizz wasn’t that surprised that Becca and Sam were there. Sam texted him earlier to let him know he was going to watch the practice and he guessed Becca just wanted to tag along, which Grizz didn’t mind since it looked less suspicious if Becca was there too. As for Gwen, it wasn’t that unusual for her to be by the field either since she had been during most practices, whether she was dating Clark or not. She was usually with a few of her cheerleader friends though. Grizz didn’t really know why she was with Sam and Becca instead, but he guessed since the party when they all hung out that they had become friends.

 

Grizz stopped running just shy of the end of the field as Clark scored a touchdown. Grizz watched on as his friend turned with a triumphant yell,

 

“That is how it’s done! Take some fucking notes!” Clark bellowed and even through his helmet Grizz saw Clark was staring right at him.

 

“Okay, chill,” Grizz brushed him off with a nervous laugh.

 

“I don’t get this good by chilling. Try and keep up next time, will ya?” Clark said, and seriously? Grizz didn’t know what had gotten into Clark. Well, he did. Clark was all bent out of shape over the whole Gwen thing, but in Grizz’s eyes, Clark was being a child. He had been nothing but aggressive towards Grizz all afternoon and Grizz just took it because it was easier that way.

 

Coach blew his whistle and Grizz retreated, getting back into position. He glanced over at Sam, giving him a hidden smile. He liked that Sam was there watching him. What he didn’t like though was that he couldn’t show off his talents because Clark was on a mission to embarrass him.

 

Once again Coach blew the whistle and before he knew it, Grizz had the ball in his hands. He took off running down the field and just like clockwork, Clark was hot on his tail, making a beeline for him.

 

“Fuck off, Jesus Christ,” Grizz muttered to himself.

 

Clark was determined. He leapt at Grizz, narrowly missing out as Grizz spun on his heels and dodged him. The second time Grizz tried to step away from Clark’s grasp, he wasn’t so lucky. Clark took Grizz out from his legs and he went down hard with a thud. Grizz lost count of the amount of times Clark had tackled him in that one afternoon.

 

“Fuck,” Grizz groaned and turned on his back just as Clark was getting off him.

 

“Go easy, man,” Grizz said as he went to get up, only two strong hands shoved him back to the ground.

 

“When are you gonna learn, Grizzy? You aren’t a match for me,” Clark sneered, and Grizz was done. He was so fucking done with this bullshit. He was up from the ground in a second and stepping towards Clark, chest puffed and face so red he was sure there was steam coming from his ears.

 

“What the fuck is your problem!?” Grizz shouted.

 

“Who, me? I don’t have a problem. Don’t know what you’re talking about,” Clark shrugged with smug smile.

 

“Yes you do. You’ve been on me all afternoon and I’m trying really hard to ignore you because you’re just being a fucking child, but enough is enough!” And Grizz was trying so hard not to turn this into a screaming match, but Clark had pushed him just that little bit too far.

 

“You’re just jealous I’m a better player than you,” Clark said.

 

“I don’t give a shit if you’re better than me or not. Stop trying to attack me just because Gwen doesn’t want you anymore,” Grizz snapped.

 

“Oh and you think she wants you?” Clark asked, narrowing his eyes at him in a death glare that Grizz had been on the receiving end of one too many times.

 

“No, I don’t! This is why this is so fucking ridiculous. Gwen and I are just friends!” Grizz barked.

 

That was as far as the argument went because not a moment later Coach was running over to them and Grizz hadn’t realized it, but he had been advancing on Clark, getting in his face, and Clark was just standing there, looking all proud for getting under Grizz’s skin and that just made Grizz want to lose it even more.

 

“Hey, hey, that’s enough,” Coach got between the two, pushing Grizz back, “now I don’t know what’s gotten into you today, Visser, but there will be none of this kind of negativity on my field. You’re done for the day.”

 

“What? Me? Are you serious?” Grizz scoffed.

 

“Go! Hit the showers. Cool off. Come back next practice with a better attitude,” Coach ordered, and there was no point in arguing with him.

 

Grizz turned and stalked away from them and the rest of the team who had been watching on in confusion. He brushed off Luke who tried to talk to him and instead headed for the locker rooms. Grizz was absolutely livid. He hadn’t been more mad at one of his friends in his entire life, and he was even angrier knowing that he hadn’t actually done anything wrong.

 

Grizz tore off his helmet and practically threw it across the empty locker room, letting it crash against the metal with a loud bang. Grizz never really blew up like this, but he really just wanted to knock some sense into Clark. He wanted to just shout at him that he’s gay, but he didn’t want to have to come out to someone just because they were being a complete moron like Clark was.

 

“Fucking asshole,” Grizz muttered.

 

He went to his locker and yanked it open, digging out his towel. He slammed it shut and when he turned around, Sam was there, quietly standing at the door, wringing his hands together in a nervous habit that Grizz had never seen him do before, and almost instantly Grizz softened. He didn’t want Sam to see him like this, so worked up and hostile.

 

“What was that all about?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz sighed and leant against his locker, hitting the back of his head on it. He closed his eyes and shook his head, not in the mood to talk about it. He heard Sam’s footsteps as he came closer, and even with his eyes closed he could feel Sam’s presence just a few inches from him.

 

“You’re hot when you’re mad,” Sam said before taking Grizz’s hand.

 

“Not funny.”

 

“I know. I’m sorry. Are you okay?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz opened his eyes and looked down at Sam, and honestly, with Sam standing in front of him holding his hand, he had never been more okay.

 

“I’m good,” Grizz said.

 

“Promise?”

 

“Promise.”

 

Sam smiled before slowly leaning in, and when Grizz didn’t make a move to stop him or turn away, Sam pressed their lips together. Grizz kissed him back, not bothering to move a single muscle except for his lips. Sam had a way of calming him down like that. He could stand there unmoving forever, but they were in the locker rooms, at school, and in about twenty minutes that very room would be filled with jocks. Grizz finally moved and gently pushed Sam back.

 

“I’m all sweaty and gross and covered in dirt,” Grizz said when he was sure Sam was paying attention to his lips.

 

“I don’t mind,” Sam shrugged.

 

“Of course you don’t. But I do. I’m gonna shower. Wait for me?” Grizz asked.

 

“I could join you,” Sam smiled wickedly.

 

“Stop,” Grizz laughed, suddenly shy.

 

 “Never. I like it when you blush,” Sam said.

 

“You’re the worst.”

 

“So I’ve been told.”

 

Grizz couldn’t hold back the smile. All anger he felt for Clark left him, because at the end of the day it didn’t really matter. Grizz was happy. Grizz had Sam. Grizz wasn’t doing anything wrong by Clark and if Clark thought he was then it was his own problem. Grizz was the luckiest guy in the world with Sam, and Clark couldn’t take that from him.

 

Grizz headed off to the showers and stripped naked. He was very, very aware that the showers didn’t have doors and that just around the corner was Sam waiting, and that at any moment one of Grizz’s team mates could come inside and find them both there, but Grizz figured he could always just lie and say they were going to work on a project after school.

 

Grizz showered quicker than ever, making the entire room steamy with how hot he had the water. When he eventually turned it off, he hung the towel on his hips and turned to the bench, searching for his clean clothes like always, and fuck, he forgot to get them from his locker. Grizz sighed, knowing Sam was going to have a field day with this.

 

Grizz headed back out to find Sam sitting on a bench in the locker room. He looked up when he noticed Grizz come back out, and Grizz really wished he had done a few push-ups or crunches that morning. Sam’s lips turned into a sly smile as he looked Grizz up and down.

 

“Hey,” Grizz ducked down to Sam’s eye-level, “my eyes are up here.”

 

“Not interested in your eyes,” Sam teased.

 

“You’re a slut, you know that, right?” Grizz kidded, only, he half meant it.

 

“Can’t help it,” Sam said innocently.

 

“You wanna take a picture? It’ll last longer,” Grizz said.

 

“Can I?”

 

“To add to your collection?” Grizz laughed.

 

“You should see my bedroom walls now. It’s just picture after picture of you,” Sam joked.

 

“Now who’s the stalker?” Grizz asked.

 

Grizz strode over to Sam, clutching at the towel so it wouldn’t fall, plus he half expected Sam to pull it down for a laugh. Grizz bent over a little and caught Sam’s lips with his, lightly sucking on his bottom one. He didn’t dare deepen the kiss though. There was plenty of time for that later. Grizz pulled back and traced his fingertips up Sam’s chin, making his held tilt up to look at Grizz and his lips.

 

“Wait for me at my car?” Grizz asked.

 

“Okay,” Sam said and he gave Grizz one last kiss before traipsing out of there.

Chapter Text

Every year at the beginning of March, West Ham High School held a fund-raiser in the form of a carnival set up on the football field. Mostly their teachers were used as staff, but students were put on rotation as well if they volunteered, which Grizz had forgotten he did months ago. He thought it would look good on his college applications, but since they had already been sent off, he didn’t know why he bothered to volunteer, but he couldn’t get out of it.

 

Grizz sat atop a platform above a dunk tank, trying his best not to shiver and go into hypothermia. It wasn’t that cold out, but it was cool enough for a guy getting dunked in icy water repeatedly and having to get back out in only his swim trunks. His friends were getting a kick out of using their throwing skills to dunk him.

 

Luke stood at the front of the throwing line and narrowed his eyes in a threat. Grizz stared back, challenging him to just do it already. Grizz knew he was about to drop. Luke was the goddamn Quarterback. There was no way he could miss. Luke reeled his arm back before pegging the tennis ball at the target. Just like he thought, Grizz went down, plunging into the water that his body had gotten used to. He was actually starting to think the water was warmer than the cold air outside.

 

Kicking up from the bottom, Grizz resurfaced, letting his senses once again take in the chill in the air, the carnival music surrounding him and the people laughing surrounding the tank. Grizz climbed up the ladder and jumped out, taking the towel Allie handed to him before she climbed up onto the platform, taking her turn.

 

“You finally free to come hang out with us?” Jason asked.

 

“Yeah, just let me get dressed. I’ll be back in a sec,” he told the group that had been so patiently waiting for him for the past twenty minutes.

 

Grizz headed off to the locker rooms. There were only two other people in there, sophomores, Grizz thought. He paid them no mind as he went to the locker he stashed his clothes in. He dried and got dressed pretty quickly as to not make his friends wait any long. He looked at his phone quickly when he was done and noticed he had a text. He smiled instantly, his cheeks burning red.

 

You look good wet. – Sam.

 

Stop stalking me xx – Grizz.

 

I wish we could hang out here together. – Sam.

 

Me too. I’m sorry. – Grizz.

 

It’s okay!!!!!!! – Sam.

 

It’s not. I suck. – Grizz.

 

Shut up. – Sam.

 

Grizz sighed as he did as he was told and put his phone in his pocket. He really did miss Sam. He was so used to going to school and seeing him in the corridors or at lunch, and then of course hanging out in Grizz’s car every afternoon. It was Saturday night though and he hadn’t seen Sam all day and Grizz was dying.

 

Grizz left the locker room and went back over to where Luke, Helena, Jason, Clark and Gwen were. Clark and Grizz had barely said two words to each other all week and it had been awkward. The others all noticed too. Obviously all of them except Helena had seen the fight, but no one brought it up, except for Gwen one on one to Grizz, and Grizz had just brushed it off because he didn’t want to start any more drama. He just told her the two had been in bad moods and kept getting in each other’s way on the field, that was all.

 

On Friday at lunch time there was a shift. Grizz had been sitting at their usual table in the cafeteria, nose buried deep in his biology textbook when Clark threw one of his fries at him and called him a nerd, and then that was it. The fight was apparently over, but the two hadn’t spent enough time together after that for Grizz to know if it was really over, or if it was just on the surface.

 

“What’s going on guys? What’ve I missed?” Grizz asked when he got to the group. The lot of them headed off to, well, Grizz didn’t know, but he just went off with them anyway.

 

“We’ve been waiting on your ass to go on the Gravitron,” Jason said.

 

“We know it’s your fave,” Clark added. That was a good sign, Grizz figured. Maybe Clark really was over it.

 

“Aww you really waited for me? You guys are the best,” Grizz cooed.

 

“They just wanna see you throw up,” Luke said.

 

“Uh, no, we all know for the past three years in a row it’s been Jason who got sick first,” Grizz pointed out.

 

“I resent that. I’ll fuckin’ show you all up,” Clark challenged.

 

“You guys are all dumb,” Gwen said as she rolled her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest.

 

“Totally,” Helena commented.

 

“You’re just saying that because you know you’d be outta there before any of us guys,” Luke teased his girlfriend, poking her ribs playfully.

 

“Well that’s a bit sexist. You’re on! Unless you boys are scared of losing to a girl?” Helena asked, the dare clear in her voice, and the boys, very much including Grizz, weren’t about to back down from the challenge.

 

“I am not going next to Jason again. I had to throw out my school hoodie last year because I couldn’t get the smell of vomit out of it,” Grizz scrunched up his nose at the memory.

 

“Oh yeah, dude that was fucking hilarious,” Jason said.

 

“Was it though? Was it really?” Grizz said as he pushed his friend’s shoulder, making him stumble to the side.

 

“Funny for us anyway,” Gwen giggled.

 

“Yeah, that was pretty funny,” Luke agreed.

 

Grizz looked around at the others, all of them nodding in agreement.

 

“I hate you all,” Grizz muttered, delivering each one a glare.

 

The group kept chatting, throwing banter back and forth as they made it to the end of the line for the ride and began the short wait. Grizz got distracted, tuning out of the conversation as his phone vibrated in his pocket.

 

Hey… - Sam.

 

?? – Grizz.

 

I like your face. – Sam.

 

I like your face too. – Grizz.

 

I’m gonna give it so many kisses later. – Sam.

 

You better. And later??? – Grizz.

 

I think I might die if I don’t see you tonight. – Sam.

 

You’re dramatic. – Grizz.

 

Oh sure, I’M the dramatic one. – Sam.

 

ANYWAY, back to later… - Grizz.

 

Idk. Can we meet up?? – Sam.

 

I can drive you home? – Grizz.

 

Me n Bec came with Gordie n Kelly. – Sam.

 

Tell them you got another ride. I’ll drop Becca home too. – Grizz.

 

Ok. I just really wanna see you. – Sam.

 

So desperate ;) – Grizz.

 

You have no idea… - Sam.

 

Grizz bit on his bottom lip, trying to hold back a smile, but apparently that wasn’t doing the trick.

 

“Who’s got you smiling like that?” Helena asked and Grizz glanced up at the speed of light, eyes flicking to each of his friends. Luke and Helena were to one side, and Gwen was on his other, all three were paying attention to what was said. Clark and Jason were bouncing around like a couple of children hyped up on sugar so they didn’t hear a thing.

 

“No one, just a meme,” Grizz lied.  

 

“You’re texting a meme?” Helena asked with a sly smile, and Grizz quickly replayed in his head the past two minutes to try and remember if his phone screen was visible to her or not, and he was sure it hadn’t been. He was always careful with that.

 

“Look, we’re up,” Luke said, and thank God.  

 

The six of them, along with a bunch of other classmates, piled on to Grizz’s favorite ride. He could spin around for hours and hours on end and not get even a little bit bored or sick so he had no doubt he’d win the little bet with his friends.

 

Once everyone was on, the ride started spinning around and around in circles. They all stayed on for a couple of rounds until they had their first casualty. Gwen was out, claiming she had too many hot dogs and sugary drinks. Clark was gone not long after that, saying he wanted to go check on Gwen, but Grizz saw through the doors that Gwen just brushed him off, and if Grizz hadn’t been so annoyed at Clark this week then he might have felt sorry for him.

 

Jason was out next after two more goes and he had stumbled from his spot three spaces away from Grizz, to right in front of him and started dry-heaving and Grizz practically forced him from the ride because he was not going through that trauma again. Grizz could’ve gone all night, and so could Helena and Luke since they were being a bit competitive with each other.

 

Grizz was quick to forget about the bet though when the ride was loading up new people and he saw his friends through the door, only they weren’t alone. Jason, Clark and Gwen were standing there talking to Sam and Becca. Grizz was done with the ride. He forfeited to Luke and Helena and stumbled dizzily down the couple steps to the grassy ground.

 

“Hey guys,” Grizz said when he got to the group. His gaze landed on Sam who was hiding a smile, but Grizz saw it. Grizz tried not to keep his eyes on Sam. He tried not to swoon at his mere presence. He really did.

 

“Hey, Grizz. Look who we ran into,” Gwen said with a cheesy grin on her face.

 

“Yeah, I can see that. How are you guys doing? Having fun?” Grizz asked, and his fingers twitched, wanting to sign to Sam, or at least try to, which was what he usually did when speaking one on one with him, but with his friends there he didn’t want to raise any questions.

 

“Yeah, we just rode the Ferris wheel three times, right Sam?” Becca said, signing quickly, and Grizz was jealous because she was so good at it and he wondered how long it took her to get that good and if he’d ever be at that standard himself.

 

 “Did you say something to me?” Sam asked, his gaze leaving Grizz and focusing on Becca instead.  

 

“We went on the Ferris wheel,” Becca said.

 

“Oh yeah, she made me. I don’t really like heights,” Sam said, and Grizz didn’t really know why but he found that to be kind of cute, and he wanted to ride the Ferris wheel with Sam. He wanted to hold his hand, tell him it was safe and okay, and to kiss him at the top, just like Simon and Bram in Grizz’s current favorite movie, Love, Simon. If only he had the courage Bram had.

 

“Well, we were just about to head over to the bumper cars. Do you guys wanna come with?” Clark asked. And Grizz could kiss Clark for giving them a chance to hang out.

 

“Uh, I guess. Sam?” Becca asked and signed a little more since Sam hadn’t been looking at Clark.

 

“Sure, let’s go,” Sam nodded with a smile.

 

So, the new group went off, abandoning Luke and Helena because they knew there was no way either of them was going to give in to the other and would probably be on the ride for hours. Grizz trailed a little behind, too scared to walk next to Sam because he knew he’d probably give himself away, and Clark and Jason were the last people in his friend group that he’d want finding out. He had no idea how they would even react.

 

Clark slowed his pace down to Grizz’s, falling in step next to him. The next second a strong arm was being flung over Grizz’s shoulder as Clark roughly pulled him into a side-hug. It was the friendliest interaction Grizz and Clark had with each other all week.

 

“Just call me the greatest wingman,” Clark said.

 

“What?” Grizz panicked.

 

“Dude, I’ve giving you an in with Becca,” Clark said proudly.

 

“Oh.”

 

“You’re still into her, right?” Clark asked, eyeing Grizz with a suspicious look that had his stomach churning.

 

“Oh, uh, sure. I-I mean, I guess?” Grizz stuttered out.

 

“You guess? You wanna know what I think?” Clark asked.

 

“Desperately,” Grizz said, but Clark didn’t catch the hint of sarcasm in his voice.

 

“I think you two would make a perfect couple. I mean, you’re both smart ‘n shit, right? I can’t really imagine you with any other girls we know, but you and Becca? That shit’d be cute as fuck,” Clark said.

 

Right, Becca was smart, and so was Grizz. He was smart enough to see right through what Clark was doing. Suddenly being so nice to him? Pushing him towards Becca? He was trying to get him away from Gwen. Grizz was annoyed, but mostly at himself, because he felt himself caving to the idea of Clark thinking he liked Becca, just as he had done before. He didn’t want to use Becca like that, but still, he found himself agreeing.

 

“I suppose you’re right,” Grizz said.

 

“That’s my boy. I got your back, okay? I’ll get you both more time together,” Clark said.

 

At first, Grizz wondered how exactly Clark was going to do that, but a few minutes later he found himself at the bumper card rides, sitting in one of the cars with Becca driving beside him. Clark aggressively insisted that Grizz and Becca pair up, with Clark and Jason going together, leaving Gwen and Sam in a car together.  

 

“Lighten up, Grizz. I’m not that bad to hang out with, am I?” Becca asked as she drove them around the circle, dodging bumper car after bumper car.

 

“Sorry, it’s not you,” Grizz apologized, because well, he had been moping a bit.

 

“Ah yes, the old ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ line,” Becca giggled.

 

“It’s not you, it’s them,” Grizz said, nodding ahead to Clark and Jason who were being idiots ramming into everything they could.

 

“What’s going on?” Becca asked.

 

“Just…fuck, I don’t know,” Grizz ran his fingers through his hair, breathing out a heavy sigh.

 

“Is it something to do with Clark asking me and Sam to hang out? Do they know something?” Becca asked.

 

“Not about me and Sam. Clark still thinks I’m into you, and he’s trying to push us together because he wants to get me away from Gwen,” Grizz told her.

 

“From Gwen?”

 

“Yeah, he also thinks I’m into Gwen,” Grizz said, and he couldn’t help but laugh a little because it was so ridiculous to him.

 

“Well, well, aren’t you just a ladies man,” Becca teased.

 

“Yep, that’s me alright. But not really,” Grizz sighed dramatically again, “all I want to do is hang out with Sam and it not be, like, noticeable or weird to everyone else.”

 

The bumper car stopped as their time on the ride came to an end. Grizz unbuckled, only Becca took his arm, stopping him from getting out.

 

“What’s something Clark and Jason hate doing at these carnivals?” Becca asked him.

 

“Uh, sideshows, I guess. They find all the games boring as shit and always stick to the rides side,” Grizz said.

 

“Then it looks like we’re going to sideshow alley,” Becca said with a grin.

 

Becca turned away from him and started signing. Grizz looked over at Sam who was already standing on the sidelines with the others who weren’t paying much attention to Sam at all. In fact, it was so little attention that Sam was able to walk off without being detected.

 

“What’d you tell him?” Grizz asked as the two of them got out of the cart.

 

“What? Your sign language classes not teaching you anything?” Becca asked.

 

“Well, we’ve kind of been doing less sign language and more…other stuff,” Grizz said, making Becca scrunch up her nose.

 

“I do not wanna know,” she said.

 

“It’s not what you’re thinking,” Grizz backtracked.

 

“Sure it isn’t,” Becca murmured.

 

And, it wasn’t, because every afternoon since Grizz and Sam had become official, they would drive to the river and make out in Grizz’s car, before things would get a little too heated and they’d stop and talk instead. Followed by more making out, more talking, then a little more making out. Grizz thought he would’ve gotten it out of his system by now, but every time he kissed Sam he just wanted more and more.

 

Sam never attempted to make things go beyond kissing. He kept his hands to himself and behaved, and Grizz, well, he was so torn between wanting to go a bit further and wanting to take things slow, and he kind of wished Sam’s hands would go wandering because Grizz wasn’t sure if he could initiate something more himself. He was nervous. He had been with girls before but never a guy, especially a guy he liked so much. He didn’t want to do the wrong things. He didn’t wanna fuck it up.

 

When Grizz and Becca got to Gwen, Jason and Clark, she latched onto Grizz’s arm with a big smile on her face before speaking, “Grizz is gonna win me a plushie on the laughing clowns. You guys don’t mind if we head off?”

 

“Go for it, guys. Have fun,” Clark said, giving Grizz a not-so-subtle wink.

 

“Wait, what? You’re leaving me with these losers? Where’s-,” Gwen stopped as she glanced around, noticing Sam was gone, then realized what Grizz and Becca were trying to do. She rolled her eyes and gave a heavy sigh, “you know what? I’m gonna go find Luke and Helena.”

 

“What, we aren’t good enough?” Jason argued.

 

“Nope! Laters!” Gwen said with a smile and a wave as she skipped off.

 

“Anyway, I’ll catch you guys later, or on Monday,” Grizz said to the boys.

 

“Alright, stay out of trouble,” Jason said.

 

“Or not,” Clark snickered.

 

Grizz didn’t want to deal with him anymore so he took Becca’s hand and dragged her away. It was only when they were away from the ride did he drop Becca’s hand.

 

“I’m sorry,” Grizz said to her as they kept walking.

 

“For what?”

 

“Using you,” he said, and he really was ashamed by what he was doing, but the anxiety he had from anyone finding out about him and Sam over-rode any feelings of guilt he had.

 

“You’re not using me. I’m just helping you out, and Sam too,” Becca said.

 

“Well, thank you,” Grizz said, and he really did appreciate her.

 

“Why do you hang out with Clark and Jason anyway? You don’t even seem to really like them,” Becca said.

 

“I do, really. At the end of the day I do. They just don’t really know me and it gets frustrating sometimes,” Grizz said.

 

“Have you considered coming out to them?” Becca asked.

 

“You sound like Gwen,” Grizz grumbled.

 

“Yeah, we text.”

 

“About me?”

 

Becca grinned innocently and shrugged. Grizz dropped the topic as the two of them got to sideshow alley. They were walking around for a little while until they finally found Sam walking towards them with his hands behind his back, and at the time Grizz paid that no mind.

 

“Hey,” Grizz greeted with a wave.

 

“Hi. I thought you guys ditched me,” Sam said.

 

“No. Never,” Grizz smiled. Sam smiled back, biting at his bottom lip. So, there they were, smiling like idiots, only a couple of feet apart, and to anyone else looking in it would’ve just looked like a few friends hanging out, but it was so much more than that to Grizz. There was this magnetic pull towards Sam and it took everything in him not to kiss him, or even just hold his hand.

 

“I’ve never felt more like a third wheel in my entire life,” Becca said and signed after getting Sam’s attention.

 

“Sorry,” Sam and Grizz said at the same time.

 

“It’s okay. You guys want me to leave though?” Becca offered.

 

“No,” Grizz said quickly, “no, uh…stay. It’ll look…weird…if we’re…alone…”

 

Grizz looked to Sam, the guilt seeping in once more, and he just felt like a terrible person. He felt like a fun-killer. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if he were to hang out with Sam on his own in a public place, but to Grizz, that did feel like the end of the world.

 

‘Sorry,’ Grizz signed to Sam.

 

“Stop apologizing,” Sam said.

 

‘Sorry,’ Grizz signed again.

 

Sam merely laughed at him, shaking his head. At least he wasn’t annoyed at Grizz.

 

“I won something for you while I was waiting,” Sam said.

 

“Really?” Grizz’s mood instantly brightened.

 

Sam pulled the toy out from behind his back. It was a Grizzly bear, and Grizz just couldn’t stop smiling. He took the bear from Sam, feeling how soft it was with his fingertips. Grizz wanted to pounce on Sam and kiss the life out of him so badly.

 

“Aww, you won me a bear?” Grizz laughed.

 

“Something for you to cuddle at night,” Sam said, and Grizz’s cheeks hurt from smiling so damn wide.

 

“I’ll have to name it. Any ideas?” Grizz asked.

 

“Becca?” Sam signed to the girl.

 

“Oh uh, what about…Grizzam?!” Becca said with excitement like a lightbulb just flashed above her head.

 

“What?” Grizz and Sam said at the same time.

 

“Grizz…am. It’s your names together,” Becca said and signed.

 

“That’s stupid,” Grizz said.

 

“Or Gram,” Becca said, making herself laugh like an idiot.

 

“Grammy the bear?” Grizz said as he finger-spelled the name to Sam.

 

“Grammy it is,” Sam nodded.

 

“Now I have to win you something,” Grizz said and turned to Becca, “and you too. As a thank you.”

 

“I want a tiger,” Becca said, or more like demanded.

 

“Alright, alright, let’s go,” Grizz said with a smile and a nod.

 

For the next couple of hours, the three off them went around to each and every one of the sideshows. It turned out Sam was the best at the games. He ended up winning the tiger for Becca, and a necklace, plus another stuffed bear that they decided to call Grizzam after Becca argued for it, and they insisted Sam keep that bear for himself. And Grizz? Well, all Grizz could win was a friendship bracelet which he tentatively tied around Sam’s wrist, who then promptly made a joke about them being just friends.

 

When the three of them had finally had enough of the games they sat down to eat fries and burgers. That was when Gwen ended up joining them. She greeted them all with a smile and a wave as she sat beside Becca, who was across from Sam and Grizz.

 

“Hey, what have you been up to?” Grizz asked her.

 

“Well, I went to find Luke and Helena, but they took forever on the stupid gravitron so I gave up, then went on a few rides with Clark and Jason then came to find you lot,” Gwen explained.

 

“You know if Clark sees you with me he’ll get the wrong idea, right?” Grizz asked.

 

“I don’t care. I didn’t feel like hanging with them two anymore. And I feel like I’m missing out on all the fun you three are having,” Gwen said.

 

“Yeah stop being a killjoy, Grizz. Besides, if Clark turns up I’ll just tell him me and Gwen are lesbian for each other,” Becca said.

 

“Then he’ll just ask you two to make out,” Grizz said.

 

Becca and Gwen looked at each other before shrugging and falling into a fit of giggles. Grizz rolled his eyes at them and turned his attention back to Sam who was being quiet, which of course, was not unusual for Sam while talking in groups. Grizz nudged his side.

 

‘You okay?’ Grizz signed.

 

Sam nodded, resting his cheek in his hand as he looked at Grizz.

 

“Really wanna kiss you,” Sam whispered.

 

Grizz glanced at the girls who were having their own conversation, before looking back at Sam.

 

‘Me too,’ Grizz signed.

 

Sam smiled and looked away with a bashful smile. Grizz turned back to the girls too and honestly couldn’t wait until it was time to go home so he could give Sam that goodnight kiss he had been craving all night.

 

For the next hour the four off them sat there just talking with each other, until finally an announcement came over the loudspeakers saying it was nearing closing time and Grizz had an excuse to get up and leave.

 

“Do you all want a ride home?” Grizz asked.

 

“I can walk, but if you’re offering then sure, thanks,” Becca said.

 

“I ain’t walking, so yep,” Gwen said.

 

Grizz glanced at Sam, but he already knew his answer. The four of them headed off to the car park, holding their individual stuffed animals. Grizz had driven to the carnival by himself so he didn’t have any obligations to any of the guys. He wasn’t even sure how Gwen, Becca and Sam had gotten here, but none of them seemed to be telling their rides they had another way home. Maybe their parents dropped them off.

 

Grizz joked around with Gwen as they got closer to Grizz’s car. She was teasing him about how cute it was that Sam won a bear for him, after he told her the quick story of why he had a bear and why its name was Grammy.

 

“You’re so cute you make me sick,” Gwen laughed.

 

“Whatever. I bet you and Seth are just as sickeningly cute,” Grizz said.

 

“We would be if we were to ever meet again. Have you thought about my offer of a double date yet?” Gwen asked.

 

“Yeah, haven’t talked to Sam about it though,” Grizz said, looking at Sam who was walking ahead of them and signing with Becca.

 

“Seth has a lesbian trans sister, you know, so he’d be, like, totally cool with you two,” Gwen said.

 

“That’s cool. I just don’t want Sam to think things are moving too fast,” Grizz said.

 

“Aren’t you, like, in love with him?” Gwen asked.

 

Grizz shrugged, “not the point. It’s just that I always thought I’d come out in college so I just want to slow things down a bit before, I dunno, getting serious? Sounds dumb.”

 

“Everything about you is serious, Grizz. This doesn’t have to be. Just have some fun,” Gwen said.

 

Gwen’s words hit him a little hard. He never used to think he was that serious. He wanted to be the fun one. He wanted to let lose and love freely. He just had this annoying, niggling voice in the back of his head that always wanted to stop him.

 

“Gwen!” a deep, booming voice called out just as the four of them got to Grizz’s car. Grizz turned around and saw Clark running up to them.

 

“Gwen, hey, hey guys,” Clark quickly greeted the others but it was obvious he was only there to talk to Gwen as he turned his attention right back to her, “I didn’t know where you went off to.”

 

“Oh, yeah. Well I went to find Erica then ran into these guys,” Gwen said.

 

“Right, well, I can still give you a ride home. I’m already taking Luke, Jason and Helena that way,” Clark said hopefully.

 

“It’s fine. I already said yes to these guys. But thanks,” Gwen said.

 

“Alright…” Clark trailed off and glanced to Grizz, his eyes flicking back to Gwen less than a second later, “uh, okay. I’ll see you guys at school.”

 

Clark turned and began walking away, but Grizz saw the hurt in his friend’s eyes, and even though that hurt was unfounded, because there was obviously nothing going on with himself and Gwen, Grizz felt like he had to say something, anything, to make it better.

 

“Hey Clark, wait!” Grizz chased after him, getting far enough away from the others. Clark didn’t stop for him though, so he stepped around in front off him, making him stop.

 

“What do you want?” Clark snapped.

 

“I just, uhm, wanted to say thank you for being such a great wingman. I think it’s working,” Grizz said, feeling like absolute dirt for using Becca again, but she did say she was okay with it.

 

“With which girl?” Clark asked, his eyes locked on Grizz’s.

 

“With Becca,” Grizz played dumb.

 

“Whatever,” Clark mumbled before knocking past Grizz.

 

Grizz just let him go. Other than coming out to Clark, there was no way he could make Clark stop thinking there was something going on with himself and Gwen. And now he probably thought Grizz was leading both Gwen and Becca on, and all Grizz wanted to do was kiss Sam. It was almost funny. Almost.

 

Grizz headed back over to Gwen, Becca and Sam. The three stood there a little awkwardly, no doubt picking up on the tension between Grizz and Clark, and probably knowing exactly why. Grizz kind of wanted to chastise Gwen and ask her why she didn’t just go with Clark because that would’ve been a lot easier, but he knew that wasn’t fair. Gwen shouldn’t have to alter how she acted or who she hung out with just because Clark was paranoid and couldn’t let go of their failed relationship.

 

“Are you okay?” Sam asked.

 

“Yeah, forget about him. Let’s just go,” Grizz said before passing by the lot of them and getting in the driver’s seat.

 

Sam took his place in the passenger side while the girls hopped in the back. It was dark in the car and as Grizz turned it on, music blared from the speakers, shutting off all means for conversation, not that they would have a conversation anyway when Sam couldn’t see everyone and get involved. The mood was still light though, despite the hiccup in their night that was Clark. Grizz had been in too good of a mood from hanging out with this particular group of friends that he wouldn’t let anyone else bring him down.

 

The girls sung along, badly, to the music in the back seat at the top of their lungs, and Sam had his hand on Grizz’s thigh, rubbing it back and forth in a way that calmed Grizz right down. It was moments like those that made Grizz really fucking happy that he had a boyfriend. He had never felt that sort of affection before, and all Sam was doing was sitting there touching him. It was an amazing feeling of safety that he couldn’t imagine living without now that he actually had it.

 

Grizz took Sam’s hand in his free one and brought it to his lips, kissing it softly. The other boy smiled at him before lacing their fingers together and dropping their hands back to Grizz’s lap. Grizz couldn’t wait to just get back to Sam’s house already and kiss him. Sam had told him earlier about his eleven o’clock curfew, so if it weren’t for that then Grizz would’ve suggested heading down to the river and well, at that point Grizz didn’t know if he’d be able to do the whole slow and steady thing.

 

Grizz got to Becca’s house first, dropping her off and waving goodbye over the loud music, then it didn’t take too much longer to get to Gwen’s house, doing the same. That was when Grizz turned off the music, just in time for Gwen to tell him to use a condom, in true Gwen fashion. He scolded her, yelling at her as she scampered off up to her house.

 

“What’d she say?” Sam asked.

 

It was too dark to talk so Grizz just waved dismissively at the comment and headed back off down the road. That was when things got a little interesting. Grizz knew Sam could be a little shit when he wanted to be, but he didn’t think he had a total and complete disregard for their safety.

 

Grizz heard the click of a seatbelt as Sam unbuckled himself. Grizz could only glance at Sam, wondering what the hell he was doing, and then he found out when Sam moved closer and placed his lips right below Grizz’s ear in a soft kiss. Grizz sighed deeply in relief because he had been waiting for what felt like forever to have Sam’s lips on him.

 

Sam slowly kissed down the length of Grizz’s neck, and that was not okay, because Grizz was driving, or at least trying to. He was just glad there were no other cars around. He couldn’t even tell Sam to stop it, not that he wanted it to end. If he really wanted it to stop then he could’ve just pushed Sam away, but he didn’t dare to.

 

Grizz tried to ignore Sam as the mischievous boy littered his neck, collarbone, jaw and cheek with dozens of butterfly kisses. All the while Grizz couldn’t stop smiling.

 

At last, Grizz got to Sam’s house. He pulled up on the curb, quickly putting the car in park, and apparently Sam had been really impatient because it took him a nanosecond to turn Grizz’s face towards his and plant their lips together. Grizz had been so worked up from Sam kissing his neck that for once he didn’t just let himself melt against Sam. No, he kissed Sam harder, silently showing him just how much he wanted him.

 

Grizz took Sam’s face in his hands, keeping him there, making him stay still as he bit the other boy’s bottom lip. Sam opened his mouth, letting Grizz’s tongue slide along his, and it tasted so, so sweet. Sam latched onto Grizz’s arm, his thumb rubbing soothing circles on Grizz’s wrist, and there Grizz went, turning into a goddamn kitten being scratched.

 

Grizz didn’t know how Sam did that; always turned him into absolute putty. It was the gentle touches, like the way his hands moved so slow to around the back Grizz’s neck and played with his hair. It made Grizz feel so light, like he was on a constant high whenever they made contact. It was like being on a drug trip, and on that drug trip Grizz didn’t know what time was. He could’ve been kissing Sam for minutes or even hours. He didn’t know. He just knew he didn’t want it to end.

 

Only it did end. In the worst way. Grizz leapt away from Sam and his heart jumped into his throat as a loud knock sounded on the driver’s side window. The next thing he noticed was the bright, white light being shone through the glass. Grizz’s head spun as he looked back and forth from Sam, to the mystery person. It was only a moment later when they turned the light around on themselves. Fucking Campbell.

 

“Fuck,” Grizz groaned. Because yeah, Campbell had a pretty good idea that there was something going on but he had never actually saw them kiss before.

 

“it’s okay,” Sam said quickly, his hand taking Grizz’s, “don’t freak out. It’s okay.”

 

Grizz couldn’t take his eyes off Campbell who smiled and waved, and oh great, Elle was there too. Campbell made a motion to roll the window down. Surprisingly, Grizz wasn’t very panicked about the entire situation, and he didn’t know if that was because he was getting over it, or because he had been taken off guard and didn’t know what to think.

 

Grizz didn’t know what to do, except roll the window down as instructed. He tried to act as cool and casual as possible as the barrier between them went down.

 

“Elle, Campbell,” Grizz nodded at the two of them.

 

“Hey kids. Didn’t mean to interrupt the fun, but just letting my brother dearest know he’s five minutes over curfew,” Campbell said while signing to Sam at the same time.

 

“Right, sure. We weren’t looking at the time,” Grizz said, his throat tight, and fuck, there was the anxiety.

 

“Clearly,” Campbell grinned and winked. He fucking winked at Grizz, and Grizz didn’t know what to do. Campbell was being civil and Grizz knew it was fake.

 

“I’ll be right there,” Sam said. Grizz heard the agitation in his voice.

 

“Okay, just hope mom and dad are asleep already and don’t notice,” Campbell spoke to Sam before turning his attention back to Grizz, “I’ll see you around, Grizz.”

 

Grizz couldn’t say anything to him. He just nodded in response and breathed a sigh of relief when Campbell backed away from the car.

 

“Drive safe, Grizz,” Elle said sweetly.

 

“Thanks,” was all Grizz could say, and then he wound the window back up as the other two headed towards the house.

 

“Fuck,” Grizz said again, hitting his head against the headrest.

 

“You okay?” Sam asked and turned on the interior light. Grizz looked to him, giving a small smile before nodding.

 

“Yeah. Pretty sure he knew anyway, right?” Grizz said.

 

Sam nodded, looking unsure. And Grizz was unsure too, unsure about what he was feeling. He was trying to push down the anxiety because tonight, just hanging out with Sam, had been so much fun and he was on a such a high that he didn’t want anyone or anything to ruin that, including Campbell.

 

“I’ll text you later?” Sam asked.

 

“Definitely,” Grizz said, and he didn’t even care if Elle and Campbell had made it to the house or if they could still see them in the light. He leant over and placed his lips on Sam’s in a soft kiss. They both pulled back a moment later and Sam hesitated as he opened the passenger side door.

 

“I’m fine. Really,” Grizz said.

 

“Promise?”

 

“I promise,” Grizz said, and it was only a half lie, because he was fine, but that was only because he was forcing himself to be that way.

 

Sam was content with that reply though because he got out of the car, taking his bear with him. Grizz watched him as he walked up the pathway to the front door and then disappear inside it. Once he was in, he got out his phone and typed out a text, sending it to Elle.

 

Hey Elle. Sorry to be weird and all but can you please keep what you saw tonight to yourself? I’m not ready to come out yet. And if you have any kind of power over Campbell at all then please convince him to keep it to himself too? Sorry again. – Grizz.

 

Grizz put his phone down and headed out on the short trip home. He focused on his breathing and consistently told himself over and over again that everything was fine, that Campbell already had a pretty strong idea that he and Sam were together so nothing changed, and Elle, well, Grizz trusted Elle even if he didn’t know her too well. She didn’t seem to be the gossip type of person, mostly because she didn’t hang out with anyone other than Campbell.

 

When Grizz got home, he had two messages. One from Sam, and the other from Elle. Sam’s was a selfie of him and his bear which made all of Grizz’s anxieties disappear because as long as he had Sam, nothing else mattered. Nothing else worried him. The other message was from Elle.

 

I won’t tell anyone. I promise. I’ll try with Campbell but you know no one has power over him. – Elle.

 

Thank you. I’ll see you in English x – Grizz.

 

Grizz shoved his phone in his pocket and reached in the back to get Grammy before he got out of the car. He let himself inside and the only thing he could hear was the dull roar of the television. Grizz followed the sound into the living room, only to find his dad in his usual recliner chair, fast asleep. There was an array of empty beer bottles surrounding him. A half empty one was in his hand, threatening to fall over.

 

As quietly as he could, Grizz went over and took the bottle from the man’s hand and placed it on the floor. His mom was nowhere in sight. He backtracked, heading to the kitchen, only to stop in his tracks when he flicked the light on. He rolled his eyes, shaking his head in annoyance because there were smashed plates and cups littering the floor. They had another fight.

 

Grizz tried not to think about it because there was nothing he could do to make them stop fighting. He just wished they would get a divorce already, but for some reason it was like his parents were comfortable like this, like they didn’t care that they were both miserable and hateful people.

 

Grizz went about cleaning up the mess, picking up the shards of glass and cheap porcelain from the ground, sweeping up the bits that were too small. Once he was done, he held Grammy’s arm tightly like a lifeline as he headed down the hall and stopped at his parent’s room. The door was already open and Grizz could see his mom knocked out on the bed. He could also see the bottle of vodka next to her.

 

His mom didn’t usually drink. There had only been the odd occasion where Grizz found her completely wasted and those times were usually after a really bad fight. Grizz went in closer, kneeling down on the ground right beside her. He put his fingers to her neck just to make sure she still had a pulse, and when he felt it, he relaxed a little, taking his hand away.

 

Grizz stood up and grabbed hold of the blanket at the end of the bed. He tossed it over his mom and got the pillow. He lifted her head gently before resting it down on the pillow. As he looked down at his mom, his heart broke a little, because she hadn’t always been like this. He hadn’t always hated her. In fact, he was sure a part of him still loved her and wanted the woman back that raised him and was happy and loving up until a certain point where things just started going bad for no real reason.

 

“Grizz?” the voice startled him. He looked down at his mom who had opened her eyes just a sliver and was looking back up at him.

 

“Yeah, it’s me. Go back to sleep,” he told her.

 

“Where’ve y’ been?” she slurred.

 

“School carnival. I told you this morning, remember?” he asked.

 

“Thought that finished at ten. What time ‘sit?” she asked.

 

“Just past eleven. I was with a friend,” Grizz admitted.

 

“Girlfriend?” she asked hopefully.

 

Grizz shook his head, “no.”

 

“Boyfrien’?

 

And then she was out again, eyes closed, body limp. Dead to the world. Grizz stood back and nodded before whispering, “yes mom. My boyfriend.”

 

Grizz left the room, quietly shutting the door. She was well and truly drunk, and the thing was, he didn’t hate his mom for it. How could he? He got drunk too when he was upset. That thought haunted Grizz, because what if he ended up like them? Drinking the pain away? Grizz swore in that moment that he’d never drink when he was upset again. Never. He couldn’t be like them.

 

He caught a glimpse of his dad in the living room as he headed down to his room and he almost couldn’t contain his hatred. He was the reason his mom wasn’t really his mom anymore. More often than not, he was the reason their household was an unhappy one. His mom could do so much better without his dad, and Grizz had told her that in the past too, but she claimed she loved him. She didn’t want change, and Grizz couldn’t do anything about that so he wouldn’t dwell on it any longer.

 

When Grizz got to his room he dumped Grammy on the bed, smiling at the thought of Sam winning it for him. Honestly, just thinking about Sam made everything so much better. It made him feel like he had a future out of this house with someone he loved. Despite his parent’s hatred from each other, he still really did believe in love and happy endings. It just took climbing a mountain to get there.

 

Grizz headed to the bathroom and showered quickly before going back to his room. He flopped himself down on the bed, crawling under the covers with Grammy pressed tightly to his bare chest. He smiled at the toy once more and took out his phone to take a quick selfie and sent it off to Sam. Less than a minute later he had a reply.

 

You’re so cute! – Sam.

 

No, you are. – Grizz.

 

:) Are you okay? – Sam.

 

I’m fine. Just really tired. – Grizz.

 

Go to sleep xxx – Sam.

 

Okay. I’m kidnapping you tomorrow. – Grizz.

 

Can’t wait xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx – Sam.

 

Grizz put his phone on charge and flipped over in bed. He held Grammy closer and fell asleep, imagining that it was Sam.

Chapter Text

Grizz lay in his bed with his covers pulled up across his bare chest. He stared at the time in the corner of his phone and waited for it to tick over to the next day. The moment he did he opened his messages and quickly typed one out to Sam.

 

Happy birthday!!! – Grizz.

 

You stayed up until midnight to say that? – Sam.

 

Yes??? So???? How does it feel to be an old man like me? – Grizz.

 

I feel like I can go to adult prison now if I commit a crime. – Sam.

 

Are you planning on committing a crime any time soon? – Grizz.

 

Maybe. – Sam.

 

Like what? – Grizz.

 

Stealing ur heart :P – Sam.

 

You already did that. – Grizz.

 

You’re sweet x – Sam.

 

Wish you were here. – Grizz.

 

I’ll come over. – Sam.

 

It’s midnight!! – Grizz.

 

Putting my shoes on now! – Sam.

 

Stop it. Get into bed! – Grizz.

 

Your bed ;). – Sam.

 

Shut up. – Grizz.

 

Yes, sir – Sam.

 

Don’t say that… - Grizz.

 

Why? Does it turn you on? – Sam.

 

What if it does? – Grizz.

 

Then I have A LOT of questions about your kinks. – Sam.

 

Go for it. – Grizz.

 

Fine. Are those handcuffs really for magic? – Sam.

 

They were. – Grizz.

 

Were? – Sam.

 

They could have other uses. Maybe. – Grizz.

 

Like? – Sam.

 

Don’t make me say it – Grizz.

 

Don’t get all shy on me now. – Sam.

 

I’m not. – Grizz.

 

Then tell me what you want to do with the handcuffs. – Sam.

 

I’m not saying anything about the handcuffs. – Grizz.

 

Then tell me something else. – Sam.

 

Like? – Grizz.

 

Like what else you’re into. – Sam.

 

Are you trying to sext with me? – Grizz.

 

Is that okay? – Sam.

 

Grizz stared down at his phone and he didn’t believe it took him that long to realize where Sam was going with the conversation. His cheeks flushed red, and yeah, it wasn’t the first time he did this sort of thing. With the couple girls he did it with he was confused and wasn’t into it. He just thought it was something he had to do. Grizz took a steady breath before replying.

 

Yeah. – Grizz.

 

Are you sure? – Sam.

 

Yes. Are you turned on right now? – Grizz.

 

Grizz bit his bottom lip as nerves took over while he waited for a reply. Sam starting typing, those pesky little dots appearing at the bottom of Grizz’s phone screen before they disappeared. Grizz thought his heart had stopped. Maybe he was really bad at this. He knew sexting was cheesy at the best of times, and Grizz found it hard to be assertive around Sam because he liked him too damn much that he was always overthinking everything he said or did.

 

Before Grizz could dig himself further into his self-doubt, Sam sent him a picture. The moment Grizz saw it he almost went into cardiac arrest. Hot tingles ran through his body and his own cock hardened at lightning speed.

 

“Fuck…” Grizz whispered, because right there in front of him was a picture Sam had taken of himself. The picture showed his chest and stomach leading down his boxer shorts, and clear as day Grizz could see the bulge threatening to pop one of the buttons open. Sam’s hand was half way under the waistband of the boxers and the mere thought of Sam touching himself at that very second was enough to make Grizz want to come in his pants then and there.

 

Grizz couldn’t help it. His own hand went wandering under the covers, slipping under his sweats. He wrapped his hand around his width and gave a tug. He held back a moan as he stared at the picture and stroked himself, and fuck, he forgot to text Sam back.

 

Too much? – Sam.

 

Not enough. Fuck Sam. You’re so fucking hot! – Grizz.

 

I can send more. – Sam.

 

No. – Grizz.

 

Ok… - Sam.

 

No I mean no because first time I see u I want it to be in person. – Grizz.

 

I’ve already seen u. – Sam.

 

What? When? – Grizz.

 

Locker rooms. Accident. – Sam.

 

Sure, an “accident” – Grizz.

 

What, you’ve never accidentally caught a glimpse of someone? – Sam.

 

I make a point not to. Don’t wanna be caught for being gay. I’m dumb. – Grizz.

 

Ur not dumb. Ur cute. -Sam.

 

And you’re fucking hot so… - Grizz.

 

So what? – Sam.

 

So… - Grizz.

 

?? – Sam.

 

You make it really hard Sam. – Grizz.

 

Make you hard? ;) – Sam.

 

That…and it’s hard not jumping you whenever I see you. – Grizz.

 

I’m not stopping you. – Sam.

 

Next time I have you alone I swear to fucking God Sam… - Grizz.

 

Are you touching yourself? – Sam.

 

Yeah, you? – Grizz.

 

Have been since u freaked out over me calling you sir. – Sam.

 

You want that? – Grizz.

 

I want you. – Sam.

 

How bad? – Grizz.

 

If you’d let me send a picture I’d show you how bad. – Sam.

 

Fuck Sam. I’m so hard. – Grizz.

 

Wish I could help you out. – Sam.

 

Grizz whimpered as he put his phone down for a second because he just couldn’t handle it. It was no secret that Sam turned him on, but actually talking to him about it, and Sam was touching himself? Grizz wanted more than anything too be in Sam’s bed with him. He knew he couldn’t hold out on the physical side of things much longer, and why should he have to? To establish an emotional connection? They already had that!

 

Grizz was rock hard in his hand. He hadn’t been this turned on since, well, since he and Sam made out in his car the other night. He always tried to hold back though. Now? Now he was so damn close to exploding and there was nothing holding him back.

 

Grizz picked his phone back up and typed out a reply, which wasn’t that easy to do because his hands were shaking.

 

I want tht so fuckin bad. – Grizz.

 

Back to next time u get me alone. What r u gonna do to me? – Sam.

 

Im gonna make u come. – Grizz.

 

How? – Sam.

 

Gonna touch u – Grizz.

 

Where? – Sam.

 

Where do u want? – Grizz.

 

I want your fingers in me. – Sam.

 

Fuck Sam im gonna come. – Grizz.

 

Come for me baby. – Sam.

 

r u close? – Grizz.

 

Yeah – Sam.

 

I wanna be there. – Grizz.

 

I want u here. Id blow u so hard… - Sam.

 

Grizz was done. He couldn’t hold back and it was almost embarrassing how quickly he came just from a few choice words from Sam. He blew his load in his sweatpants, biting back a moan. It was hot and sticky, a total mess, but he didn’t care because that was the hardest he had ever orgasmed in his entire life.

 

“Jesus Christ,” he whispered and through blurry vision looked at his phone.

 

Where’d u go? – Sam.

 

Fuck. Sorry. I just came so fucking hard because of you. – Grizz.

 

Already??? – Sam.

 

Yeah… - Grizz.

 

Grizz panicked for a moment before less than thirty seconds later he got another picture, this time just of Sam’s stomach covered in a suspicious white substance, and Grizz’s head was spinning. He didn’t for a second think their conversation would lead there but he was glad it did.

 

Same. – Sam.

 

You’re gonna be the death of me. – Grizz.

 

I don’t want a dead boyfriend. – Sam.

 

Same. – Grizz.

 

This conversation just turned morbid. – Sam.

 

Ur fault. – Grizz.

 

Grizz got out of bed just long enough to clean himself up before crawling back under the covers. He was so relaxed and his entire body felt heavy, but weightless at the same time. He rolled onto his side and stared at his phone, waiting for Sam to text.

 

Happy birthday to me. – Sam.

 

Glad you had a good start. – Grizz.

 

I did. – Sam.

Can’t wait to see you later today – Sam.

Hello? – Sam.

U fall asleep? – Sam.

 

Sorry. I’m here. Sleepy. Real sleepy. – Grizz.

 

Good to know you get tired after coming. – Sam.

 

Don’t you? – Grizz

 

Sometimes. – Sam.

 

Ur cute. – Grizz.

 

Get some sleep baby xx – Sam.

 

Love u. – Grizz.

 

I know. Goodnight x. – Sam.

 

---

 

Love u? Love u?!  Grizz couldn’t believe it. He opened the last text from Sam since he had fallen asleep right before getting the goodnight message and, seriously? Grizz confessed his love in a text that he could barely even remember?

 

“Fuck. Shit. Fuck,” Grizz sat in his car in the school parking lot and he had only just looked at his phone for the first time that morning.

 

Okay, alright, maybe, just maybe it wasn’t a big deal, Grizz thought. Maybe Sam took it as a casual ‘love u’, the same way he probably told Becca he loves her. At least Grizz didn’t say he was in love with Sam, because that would be insane given the amount of time they had been officially together. Then again, Grizz had already slipped up once about his stronger than normal feelings for Sam.

 

I know. That was Sam’s response. I know? He knows? Of course he knew. Grizz wasn’t very subtle, but maybe he was expecting a little more from Sam. Or not so much as expecting, but hoping. Grizz groaned and hit his head on the steering wheel.

 

“Why, why, why? You’re such a fucking desperado,” Grizz whined to himself. He leant back and tried to get himself together because he had to go inside sooner or later. He didn’t want to be this person who had an anxiety attack every time the smallest ting happened. That wasn’t who Grizz usually was.

 

“It’s fine. You’re fine,” Grizz told himself, and then he got out of his car.

 

Walking up to the school, Grizz found himself wanting to seek out Gwen because he really needed a bit of advice, or at least to see if his behaviour towards Sam was normal. He hadn’t been in a relationship before, and neither had Sam, so he didn’t really know how fast was too fast, or how slow was too slow, or maybe he and Sam were at the exact pace they needed to be. He did, however wonder if Sam had the same thoughts, but he doubted it. Sam always seemed so chilled, like he never had an ounce of anxiety running through his veins.

 

Grizz entered the busy hall and headed towards his locker. Just like he did every morning, he searched for Sam, and just like every morning, Sam was at his locker with Becca. Grizz chewed on his bottom lip as he remembered what they had done at midnight. He had the pictures Sam sent him saved on his phone, and he wasn’t sure if it was wrong of him to keep them.

 

Sam’s eyes locked with Grizz as he got closer. He had no intentions of going over and talking to Sam. Sometimes he did go and say hi, but after the texts they exchanged with each other, Grizz was surprised he could even look Sam in the eye, because he was feeling so damn shy about it all, and Grizz had never been shy about sexual things, at least not with the few girls he slept with. Everything was so different with Sam.

 

Sam smiled at him, and Grizz felt his entire body relax. The tight feeling in his chest disappeared and he figured he could go on for the rest of the day not in a constant state of worry. Grizz gave Sam a small smile as he walked past, heading off further down the hallway. A moment later his phone buzzed in his pocket.

 

Where’s my present!!? – Sam.

 

At home. You’ll get it tonight. – Grizz.

 

I expect diamond rings. – Sam.

 

I’m not proposing. – Grizz.

 

I’m shocked since u love me so much. – Sam.

 

Grizz stopped in his tracks. He didn’t know what to say to that. Sam was teasing him because, well, that was all Sam did, and Grizz supposed it was a good thing that Sam was making light of Grizz’s impulsive text. Maybe he wasn’t weirded out after all. Grizz sent Sam a few finger emojis before pocketing his phone.

 

Grizz saw Gwen up ahead taking her first period books out of her locker. He glanced around, making sure Clark wasn’t in sight because he didn’t feel like the drama today, before heading over to her.

 

“Hey,” Grizz greeted. Gwen looked up at him, smiling brightly.

 

“Morning Grizzy bear,” she said cheerfully.

 

“Can I ask you a question?” Grizz got to the point.

 

“Go hard.”

 

“When did you first tell Clark you love him?” Grizz asked.

 

Gwen frowned as she snapped her locker shut and turned to Grizz, shrugging, “never.”

 

“Never?”

 

“Yeah, I never loved him, so I never told him,” Gwen said.

 

“Okay, well…did he ever say it to you?” Grizz asked.

 

“All the time. Mostly when he wanted sex, or right after sex,” she laughed.

 

“This is not helpful,” Grizz sighed, because what he wanted was for Gwen to tell him she confessed her love in an embarrassingly short amount of time so he could stop fretting about it.

 

“Why are you asking?” Gwen said then her look of suspicion turned to one off shock, “did you tell Sam you love him?”

 

“What? No. That’d be dumb,” Grizz said quickly and quietly, his eyes darting around to make sure no one was listening in on them.

 

“Oh my God, you did!” Gwen hit his shoulder.

 

“Nope. Don’t know what you’re talking about. Gotta go,” Grizz spoke lightning fast and then he was out off there, rushing off down the hall before Gwen could even think about chasing after him.

 

So, Gwen was a fail, and she was probably going to make fun of him for the rest of the day, but he could deal with that. Grizz was going for option ‘B’. He knew it was a little risky bringing this sort of topic up with Luke, but Grizz had an easy out, so he wasn’t too worried as he caught up with him outside their Chemistry classroom right before the bell rang.

 

“Luke, hey,” Grizz got his attention. Luke had been leaning against the wall, waiting for class to start, and was looking down at his phone. He turned his attention to Grizz, giving a smile.  

 

“Hey, man. How you doin’?” Luke asked.

 

“Super. Uh, I have a question, just before we head in,” Grizz said.

 

“Hit me.”

 

“How long did it take you before telling Helena you love her?” Grizz asked.

 

“Hmm, first date,” Luke admitted.

 

“Wow, fuck. Really?” Grizz said with a snicker that he tried to hold back, but it came out anyway.

 

“Yeah, it was super embarrassing,” Luke laughed along.

 

“Did she say it back?” Grizz asked.

 

“No, she said ‘thank you’.”

 

“Ooh, ouch. That’s gotta hurt, man,” Grizz grimaced, and he wondered what was worse; ‘thank you’, or ‘I know’.

 

“It did, but she said it eventually. So, it’s all good,” Luke shrugged.

 

Grizz nodded slowly. So, Luke was just as pathetic as Grizz. He fell for someone in practically no time at all, just as Grizz had. And Helena hadn’t quite been at the same level, just like Sam. Perhaps Grizz had been over-reacting after all.

 

“Why do you ask?” Luke asked.

 

“It’s for a novel I’m writing,” Grizz lied quickly. Real smooth.

 

“Really? What’s it about?” Luke asked.

 

Fuck.

 

“Uh, that’s top secret, obviously. A writer never gives up the plot before publication,” Grizz said.

 

Good save.

 

“Sure it is,” Luke eyed Grizz sceptically. Not such a good save after all.

 

“Yeah, anyway, time for chemistry. Yay chemistry,” Grizz said awkwardly and looked to the door of their classroom, only to see it still closed, and Mr. Michaels was very strict about students not entering the classroom before he did.

 

Grizz faced Luke again, only to see him with this big, goofy smile on his face.

 

“What? Why are you smiling like a creepy clown?” Grizz asked.

 

“No reason,” Luke said, but that smile was still there.

 

Grizz just let the conversation go because they were drifting into dangerous territory and he didn’t like the knowing look that Luke was giving him. Just like he had with most of his interactions with Luke lately, he pretended nothing had happened and tried to go about his day as normal.

 

---

 

The sun had set not too long ago, and Grizz and Sam drove along the familiar dirt road that led up to the river. They hadn’t spoken yet since it was too dark to. Grizz received a quick kiss on the lips when he picked Sam up from his house, and that was the only interaction, other than the hand that rested comfortably on Grizz’s thigh.

 

Grizz was only a little nervous. He was a fan of romantic gestures but he was borderline being cheesy tonight. He just hoped Sam liked the little set-up he had planned out. He hoped he liked the dumb presents he got him, even if they’re not much since he didn’t have a whole lot of money.

 

Grizz pulled up to their usual spot, and just like normal there were no other cars or people around. That was why Grizz liked that spot so much, even before he started coming out with Sam. It was basically unheard of, like his own little parallel universe where no one and nothing else existed.

 

Grizz killed the engine and switched on the interior light. He glanced at Sam who was looking back at him curiously. Grizz didn’t say a thing. He leant over to Sam and opened the glove box, taking out a strip of material. It was his scout neckerchief. He handed it to Sam who took it with a more than confused look on his face.

 

“Never thought I’d get to see this again,” Sam said.

 

“Put it on as a blindfold. I have to set up and you can’t see yet,” Grizz said.

 

 “Kinky,” Sam commented.

 

“Just put it on. I’ll be like three minutes,” Grizz said.

 

“So… I can’t hear or see?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz deflated a little because fuck, he hadn’t thought of that and now he felt like an insensitive bastard.

 

“Oh. Fuck. Sorry. You know what, never mind. It’s cool,” Grizz said and went to take the neckerchief back but Sam stopped him, pushing his wrist away.

 

“I’m fucking with you. I trust you,” Sam said.

 

Grizz relaxed a little as Sam placed the material over his own eyes and tied it at the back of his head.

 

“Are the handcuffs coming out next? Because that’d be okay,” Sam said.

 

Grizz slapped him on the shoulder lightly before placing a quick kiss on his cheek. Grizz didn’t want Sam to sit there blindfolded for too long, so he got out of the car and rushed around to the trunk, opening it. He looked down at the array of supplies he needed to try and make Sam’s birthday at least somewhat memorable. And he wondered if he was being too romantic and if Sam would freak out, especially after the ‘love u’ text debacle. Grizz tried not to think about that and got to work.

 

Grizz took probably just a little longer than three minutes but every time he looked back Sam was just sitting there patiently. By the time Grizz was done, he was actually a little proud of his work. He had set up a fire, and it was a pretty good one too, at least good enough to light up the area enough so he and Sam could talk.

 

Grizz had also laid out a picnic blanket covered in blankets and pillows because the air was a little cool and Sam got cold easily. On the blanket was also the small picnic basket which Grizz had melted chocolate and strawberries inside. Next to that were the couple presents he had for Sam too.

 

“I’m getting bored!” Sam called out. Grizz rolled his eyes and jogged back over to the car. He opened the passenger side door, and Sam must have felt it because his head turned in Grizz’s direction. Grizz reached out and gently touched Sam’s shoulder first so he’d know he was there, and then he untied the neckerchief. Sam’s bluer than blue eyes were straight on Grizz’s the moment he could see again.

 

“Thank you for your patience. Sort of,” Grizz said and held out his hand for Sam to take. The other boy did so and Grizz led him out from the car. Grizz took him around the other side and then those blue eyes were flickering in the light of the fire.

 

Grizz kept his clammy hand around Sam’s as he anxiously watched Sam, waiting for a reaction. Sam was going to think this was all lame. Grizz knew it. Grizz was wrong though, because soon a cheeky little smirk appeared on Sam’s face.

 

“Well fuck, you are proposing, aren’t you?” Sam asked, looking up at him.

 

“Stop it,” Grizz knocked against his shoulder.

 

“Sorry. This is amazing, Grizz. Really,” Sam said, gesturing to the set-up.

 

“It’s not too much?” Grizz asked.

 

Sam smiled and shook his head, “no. You’re amazing.”

 

“You’re worth it,” Grizz said.

 

Sam’s smile grew wider before he stood on his toes to reach up and catch Grizz’s lips with his. Grizz, well, Grizz could’ve stood there all night kissing Sam, but he didn’t want to get too carried away, so he pulled back.

 

“Come sit. I’ve got strawberries and chocolate,” Grizz said.

 

“How romantic,” Sam said.

 

Grizz merely blushed, not commenting on Sam’s comment. The two of them went over and made themselves comfortable in the middle of the picnic blanket. They sat close. Not close enough for Grizz’s liking, but close enough that they were touching.

 

“Can you see me talking in this light?” Grizz asked.

 

Sam smiled and nodded, “yeah. You’re easy to read. Just try and sign a little?”

 

‘Always,’ Grizz signed.

 

“What’s with the plant?” Sam asked as his eyes landed on one of the presents Grizz had for him. Grizz turned his attention to the potted plant as well. It was an orchid. It had four stems and an array of purple flowers littering the tips of each one.

 

“Oh, that’s for you,” Grizz said when Sam looked back to him.

 

“You bought me a love orchid?” Sam asked.

 

“No, no, I didn’t buy it. I’ve been growing it and looking after it for a little while, and now it’s yours. I still have one the same in my garden at home,” Grizz said.

 

“Aww, you’re going to make such a good housewife one day,” Sam teased.

 

“Okay, first, that’s sexist. Second, now who’s the one proposing?” Grizz accused.

 

“I never said you’d be a housewife to me,” Sam pointed out.

 

“Fine, then you can just be my piece on the side,” Grizz shrugged.

 

“I can work with that.”

 

Sam kissed Grizz again and Grizz felt like it was his own birthday. Every moment around Sam actually felt like Christmas morning. Grizz pulled back once more because he was sure if he really got into kissing Sam then he might not be able to stop, and Sam still had another present.  Grizz pulled back, giving Sam a little nudge since the other boy tried to go in for another kiss.

 

“Just wait, there’s another present too. I’m not really good with thinking of presents but…” Grizz trailed off as he picked up the other present which was a little messily wrapped. Sam smiled like an excited toddler, making grabby hands as Grizz handed it to him.

 

Grizz watched on, loving every single expression Sam’s face made as he opened the present and laid eyes on what it was. It wasn’t anything expensive, but it was all Grizz could think of to get him without going too over the top. The first thing Sam picked out of the package was a batman hoodie. Sam beamed, looking up at Grizz.

 

“Thank you. I love batman,” Sam gushed.

 

“I know. You have like three posters in your room,” Grizz said.

 

“It’s so soft too,” Sam rubbed the material on his face, and Grizz just thought that was the cutest thing ever.

 

“I figured you’re in desperate need for a hoodie because you usually never have one and end up cold,” Grizz explained.

 

“I do that on purpose so you’ll warm me up,” Sam admitted.

 

“Seriously?” Grizz laughed, and Sam nodded. “Well, all you had to do was ask.”

 

“Won’t need to now because I have this,” Sam held up the hoodie.

 

“I regret it now,” Grizz mumbled.

 

Sam just laughed and placed the hoodie down, folded neatly. Grizz just noticed that Sam was only wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt. Maybe he really did forget a sweater on purpose. The fire would be enough to them warm though.

 

Sam looked down at the last item that had been wrapped up. He picked up the second hoodie, one that would be a little oversized for Sam’s skinny frame, at least compared to Grizz’s. Sam looked to Grizz with a frown.

 

“This one’s yours,” Sam said.

 

“Yeah, but I like how it looks on you,” Grizz said. There were a few times recently where Grizz gave up his own warmth because Sam ‘forgot a hoodie’.

 

“Smells like you,” Sam said.

 

“You’re a creep,” Grizz joked.

 

Sam nodded in agreement before slipping the hoodie on. And yeah, Grizz was right, he looked really good wearing Grizz’s clothes. Really fucking good. The next minute Sam pounced on Grizz, knocking him over onto his back, the blow only being cushioned by a couple pillows. Grizz couldn’t help but giggle as Sam began attacking him with kisses all over his face. He got to Grizz’s lips and kissed them firmly before pulling back, but staying on top of him.

 

“Thank you for the presents,” Sam said.

 

“You’re welcome,” Grizz said right back. Sam kissed him again, letting his lips linger for just a few moments longer than before. Grizz indulged in those moments, loving the feel of Sam on top of him, and the tranquillity of being in the middle of nowhere where no one could bother them. All too soon, Sam pulled back and got off Grizz. Grizz sat up too, running his fingers through his messy hair.

 

“Okay, so, do you like strawberries?” Grizz asked.

 

“Yes.”

 

“Great, because that’s mostly what I got. And white and dark chocolate because I don’t know which you like,” Grizz said.  

 

“Both.”

 

Grizz flipped open the picnic basket and watched as Sam reached for a strawberry and dipped it in the container of white chocolate. He ate it slowly and Grizz’s eyes narrowed in suspicion, because was Sam making it look that fucking hot on purpose?

 

“You’re not supposed to do it so seductively,” Grizz accused, and Sam just grinned before he got another, only this time he wasn’t so subtle. He licked the chocolate off, swirling his tongue around the fruit before gently taking a bite, all the while keeping his eyes locked on Grizz.

 

Grizz shook his head and looked away. He couldn’t handle that. He just couldn’t. Sam just laughed at him, and Grizz distracted himself by having his own strawberry, knowing that he probably didn’t look even nearly as good eating it as Sam did.

 

“Sexy,” Sam said, and Grizz turned back to Sam with a sigh.

 

“You know, you’re very forward for a virgin,” Grizz said.

 

“Is that an insult?” Sam asked, and Grizz could tell the question was genuine. Grizz knew there was nothing wrong with being a virgin, in fact, Grizz wished he was a virgin himself. He wished he hadn’t slept with the girls that he had, but he couldn’t exactly take that back.

 

“No, no. I’m just saying. You’re very forward, and like, not shy, at all,” Grizz said.  

 

“Do you hate it?” Sam asked.

 

“No. It kills me sometimes, but no,” Grizz said.

 

“Sorry. I guess I’m just excited. I always thought I wouldn’t get a boyfriend until college which is over a year away,” Sam said.

 

“Big mood.”

 

“Yeah. And like…try going eighteen years and not having any kind of sexual contact or even really kissing someone and then all of a sudden there’s this hot football player being dangled in front of your face,” Sam said.

 

“Stop it,” Grizz’s cheeks burned. He couldn’t handle compliments from Sam.

 

“And I trust you,” Sam went on, “I’m comfortable around you. And I know how much you like me and I guess it makes me more confident to say and do the things I do.”

 

And wow, that was really honest. And that was the second time that night Sam had said he trusted Grizz, and somehow that comment meant more than the missing ‘I love you too’ that Grizz had hoped for.

 

“I’m really glad you feel that way around me,” Grizz said with a shy smile and Sam smiled back, making Grizz’s heart fill with warmth.

 

“Yeah, I just…” Sam stopped, his smile dropping a little. He shook his head and looked down, but Grizz wasn’t having any of that. He brought his fingers to Sam’s chin and made him look back up.

 

“Just what?” Grizz asked.

 

“I just,” Sam took Grizz’s hand, lacing their fingers together, “kind of wish you were a bit more forward with me.”

 

“I am forward with you. I told you I love you in a text, didn’t I?” Grizz said, and he mentally slapped himself for bringing it up.

 

“You did,” Sam grinned, his eyes sparkling with amusement. Grizz was glad he found it so funny. Grizz on the other hand wanted to backtrack.

 

“Yeah, uhm…about that…it, uh, it wasn’t really, like, serious. I didn’t mean to send it like that,” Grizz said.

 

“So, you don’t love me?” Sam asked.

 

“No. I mean, yes. What?” Grizz had confused himself. All Sam did though was smile fondly and lean over to press their lips together. Grizz felt the tension in his body release, even if only a little. Sam had such a way of making him feel at ease. He also had a way of teasing the shit out of Grizz, and no moment could stay serious enough with Sam in the picture.

 

“I bet you’re the kind of guy who professes his love during sex. Or cries afterwards,” Sam joked when his lips left Grizz’s.

 

“I’ll only cry because you’re bullying me,” Grizz complained.  

 

“I’m sorry,” Sam said and blessed Grizz with another quick kiss. Sam stayed close as he played with the strings on Grizz’s hoodie. Grizz couldn’t figure out what was going through Sam’s head in that moment, but for once he seemed just a little shy.

 

“I meant psychically forward, by the way,” Sam said.

 

“I know,” Grizz nodded, “I’m just scared I’m gonna fuck it up.”

 

“How?”

 

“I don’t know. I’ll probably do something wrong, like I won’t make you feel good,” Grizz said.

 

“Nothing you could do to me would ever feel wrong,” Sam said.

 

“Really?”

 

“Yeah. Unless you got some kind of weird fetish for beating up guys in bed,” Sam said thoughtfully.

 

“I’d never hit you,” Grizz said.

 

“What about spank me?” Sam teased.

 

“Oh my God, shut up,” Grizz laughed.

 

“Make me,” Sam challenged. And Grizz took the bait, hook, line and sinker. He pressed his lips against Sam’s and the two of them were quick to topple over onto their sides. Grizz wrapped his hand around the back of Sam’s neck, his fingers playing with his short hair. Sam tasted so good, the mixture of white cholate, strawberries and Sam’s usual taste filling Grizz’s senses.

 

They stayed that way for a while, just making out, tasting each other, touching each other innocently, and with the conversation they just had, Grizz didn’t want to make it seem like he was proving a point by taking things further, so he kept things PG. Grizz sighed as his lips left Sam’s. He buried his face in Sam’s neck, kissing it lightly. God, he could just stay that way, wrapped up with Sam, forever.

 

“Stars are pretty tonight,” Sam spoke as he shifted onto his back.

 

Grizz kissed Sam’s cheek before rolling onto his back too, keeping his head rested on Sam’s shoulder. He looked up at the million sparkling dots in the sky and in that moment, Grizz’s life was perfect.

Chapter Text

When Grizz saw Sam the morning after his birthday at school, leant against his locker, wearing the Batman hoodie Grizz had bought him, he couldn’t help but to head over to at least say hello. He snuck up behind Becca, and Sam, who had noticed Grizz, pretended he hadn’t when Grizz put his finger to his lips. Grizz crept up, feeling a bit mischievous and playful because, well, he was in a really good mood.

 

“Boo!” Grizz shouted in Becca’s ear. The tiny girl jumped a mile and turned around, hitting Grizz’s chest before she even saw it was him.

 

“You jerk!” Becca swatted his shoulder.

 

“I’m sorry,” Grizz laughed, “I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself.”

 

“I actually hate you,” Becca sneered, narrowing her eyes.

 

Grizz glanced up at Sam who was smiling wide at their shenanigans.

 

‘She hates me,’ Grizz signed.

 

“I don’t blame her,” Sam said.

 

“I almost peed my pants,” Becca told Grizz before turning her back on him.

 

“You can’t hate me forever,” Grizz said as he wrapped his arms around her neck. He rested his chin on her head because Becca was so far on the short side that he could do that. Or maybe he was just tall.  

 

“Nice hoodie,” Grizz said.

 

“Thanks, my boyfriend got it for me,” Sam beamed.

 

“He sounds like a catch,” Grizz played along, making sure there was no one listening in, but part of him didn’t even care that much if they were.

 

“He’s alright, I guess,” Sam shrugged.

 

“Oh God, could you two stop flirting,” Becca whispered as she signed, “it’s bad enough I had to endure the flood of texts about your amazing romantic night last night.”

 

“Becca!” Sam scolded.

 

“Oh really?” Grizz grinned so hard his cheeks hurt, “there were texts, huh?”

 

“No,” Sam shook his head.

 

“You like me,” Grizz teased.

 

“Nope. Don’t know what you’re talking about,” Sam said.

 

“Stop. Stop it. I’m happy for you both, but do you know how insensitive it is doing this around lonely single people?” Becca asked.

 

“You wanted us together,” Sam said.

 

“Yes, and it’s cute as shit, but it’s gross,” Becca said.

 

“Sorry, we’ll stop,” Grizz said.

 

“I won’t,” Sam said and bit his bottom lip, and Grizz had to get out off there before he just grabbed Sam and kissed him.

 

“I’m going to class,” Grizz spoke as he dropped his hold on Becca.

 

“Early? Nerd,” Sam said.

 

Grizz glared at him, but he couldn’t help but break into a smile. Grizz turned to Becca and kissed her cheek.

 

“That’s for you,” Grizz said, then kissed her cheek again, “and give that one to Sam.”

 

“This is a whole new level of using me,” Becca grumbled.

 

“Deal with it. See you guys later,” Grizz said and with one last glance at Sam he headed off down the hall.

 

Grizz couldn’t stop smiling. He was on top of the world and Sam was right there next to him. Their night last night was one of the best they ever had. They stared at the stars, kissed lazily and talked about anything and everything. It was so relaxing and Grizz really didn’t want to have to take Sam home once it was getting a little too late, but of course he had to. The only thing that made taking Sam home okay was knowing that if they wanted to do that exact same thing again that night, then they could. Having a boyfriend was the best thing Grizz had ever done.

 

Grizz felt invincible. Untouchable. Like nothing could ruin the way he felt in that exact moment, not even Clark and his moodiness. Not even pointless high school drama meant a single thing to him at that point. Or at least, Grizz thought nothing could knock him down. He thought he didn’t have a single care in the world. He thought wrong.

 

On the way to his first class, as he leisurely strolled down the hall, he wasn’t paying too much attention to what was going on around him. That was why when a pair of hands grabbed hold of his shoulders and pushed him into the nearby boy’s bathroom, he stumbled and fell to his knees.

 

“Hey, what the fuck?!” Grizz yelled.

 

He turned and from his spot on the floor he saw two people. One, a confused freshman. And two, Campbell.

 

“Get the fuck out, kid,” Campbell said to the freshman who promptly scampered off. Grizz was just as confused as the freshman had been, because what the hell could Campbell possibly want from him? He had been steering clear of him as much as he could.

 

“The fuck do you want?” Grizz spat venomously as he got to his feet.

 

“Woah, buddy, let’s just take a breath and calm ourselves down, okay?” Campbell said, and how was Grizz supposed to stay calm? Especially when the other boy dropped a door stopper on the floor and shoved it under the door. Grizz wasn’t going to let Campbell scare him though.

 

“What do you want, Campbell?” Grizz asked slower, but firmer. He held the straps on his backpack tightly, forcing himself to not just knock Campbell out then and there.

 

“I just want to have a chat, that’s all,” the other boy said, his voice smoother than honey.

 

“There’s nothing I have to say to you, so I can’t imagine what you’d have to say to me,” Grizz said.

 

“Oh, on the contrary, dear Gareth. We have plenty to talk to each other about, given our new mutual interest,” Campbell said. And what the fuck? Was this a business meeting?

 

“What? Sam? What about him?” Grizz asked.

 

“You know, when I saw you two out the front of our house the other night, I gotta say I was a little surprised,” Campbell said in his typical amused tone. Everything was always a game to him, and Grizz could see it in his eyes. Grizz also didn’t have the patience for Campbell, especially if he was going to start messing with Sam too. Grizz wouldn’t put up with that.

 

“I mean,” Campbell went on, “I felt like there could’ve been something going on but I never really knew, ya know?”

 

“Well now you do. Congrats,” Grizz said.  

 

“No, congratulations to you. Aren’t new relationships just so…exciting?” Campbell said, and Grizz wasn’t buying it.

 

“Sure.”

 

“I know when I first got with Elle, all I wanted to do was hold her hand down the halls and show her off to everyone. I just wanted to scream it from the rooftops that I love Elle Tomkins,” Campbell proclaimed. The theatrics were not lost on Grizz. He stayed there, unmoving.

 

“Lucky her,” Grizz mocked.

 

“Yeah, but I just can’t help but notice that you and Sammy have gone a different route. It’s almost as if you wanna keep it a secret,” Campbell pondered. And there it was. That was what Grizz had been fearing all along, that Campbell would do this, threaten this. But his hatred for Campbell was winning over his anxiety in that moment. He didn’t want to crumble in front of him.

 

“What do you want?” Grizz asked.

 

“It’s simple, really. All I want you to do is make him fall in love with you. And I’m talking, like, head over heels would die for you kind of love,” Campbell said. And, what?

 

“Okay?”

 

“And then!” Campbell went on, practically bouncing in his spot, “I’m gonna need you to break his heart.”

 

“What?”

 

“You heard me. I want you to build him up and tear him right back down. Shatter him,” Campbell said, and the amusement wasn’t there in his eyes anymore. He was dead serious.  

 

“Fuck you, Campbell. There’s no fucking way I’m doing that,” Grizz argued.

 

“You might want to reconsider that attitude, Grizzy.”

 

“Why are you doing this? Why would you want to hurt your own brother that badly?” Grizz asked, because he really didn’t understand.

 

“Trust me, he’ll be fine. He has everything he could ever want. He can do without you,” Campbell said bitterly. That was when it clicked in Grizz’s brain that Campbell was jealous of Sam, but why? Campbell lived in the exact same household. They had the same parents. The same upbringing. If anything, Sam had a harder life than Campbell. Grizz truly didn’t understand what Sam could’ve possibly done to make Campbell to hate him so much. Campbell’s motive didn’t matter to Grizz though. What Campbell was asking was insane, and he wasn’t going to do it.

 

 “There’s no way I’m hurting him,” Grizz said defiantly.  

 

Campbell just put that smirk back on his face before asking, “Do you have Facebook, Grizz?”

 

Grizz didn’t answer.

 

“I do. And I have almost every single student here on my friend’s list. All it’d take is one little status update for your secret to be public knowledge,” Campbell said.

 

Blackmail. Grizz knew it was coming to that, and yeah, Grizz was scared as hell, but his stone cold face didn’t falter as he stepped towards Campbell and with all the courage his could muster up, he challenged him.

 

“Do it. I dare you.”

 

And then Grizz pushed past him, kicking the door stopper out of the way before storming from the bathroom, back down the hall towards class. Grizz was fuming. He couldn’t stop trembling, even as he shook out his hands and took the deep breaths he knew he was supposed to when a panic attack was coming on.

 

Don’t let him get to you, is what Grizz told himself on repeat, over and over like a chant. He couldn’t let Campbell of all people get to him. He wouldn’t. More than anything he was just so angry. Angry that there was someone out there who wanted to hurt Sam. Physical or mental, it didn’t matter. Campbell wanted to hurt Sam, and if he ever did, Grizz might just kill him.

 

Grizz was on autopilot as he entered the Chemistry classroom after the final bell had sounded. Great, he had planned to be early and instead ended up late. He bypassed the teacher and took his usual spot next to Luke.

 

“Strike one, Mr. Visser. Don’t let it happen again,” Mr. Michaels said.

 

“Sorry, sir,” Grizz mumbled.

 

Mr. Michaels turned back to the whiteboard and continued writing his notes. Grizz let out a breath and dug around in his bag for his things. He could feel Luke’s eyes on him, but Grizz was almost at breaking point and he couldn’t talk to his best friend about.

 

“You alright?” Luke leant over and whispered.

 

Grizz couldn’t formulate a single word to reply, because he wasn’t alright. He was going to explode with how not alright he was in that moment. Grizz just waved him off, not willing to communicate with him anymore, and it was funny how you could think you were in control of your emotions until the moment someone questions you about them, and all you want to do was lose it.

 

Grizz kept his eyes down on his text book as he tried to distract himself, and thankfully Luke didn’t speak to him again for the entire lesson. Grizz sat there and for half the time he paid attention to what Mr. Michaels was saying, and the other half he had his phone under the desk, checking his Facebook feed, but there was nothing from Campbell. Not a single word.

 

The bell rang all too soon and Grizz piled his books back into his backpack and got up, along with the rest of the class. He only took one step when Luke stopped him, standing in his way.

 

“Hey, seriously, what’s going on?” Luke asked.

 

“What? Nothing. Nothing’s going on.”

 

“I’m practically absorbing your anxiety. What’s up?” Luke asked again.

 

“Nothing. Don’t worry about it,” Grizz dismissed him.

 

“You can talk to me, Grizz. About anything,” Luke said a little quieter, and Grizz couldn’t help but roll his eyes, because seriously? How many more times did Grizz have to say ‘nothing’ before Luke got it through his head?

 

“I don’t want to deal with this right now. Just leave me alone, okay?” Grizz snapped, and he didn’t wait for a response before heading off.

 

And sure, Grizz felt bad for snapping at Luke, but he was on the edge. He was trying so hard to talk himself down, to stop himself from slipping into the all too familiar paranoia and anxiety that could be all consuming. Grizz didn’t want that. He was trying so fucking hard to not be that person.

 

The next few classes went pretty much the same for Grizz. He half paid attention and half scrolled though Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, just waiting for Campbell to say something. It never came though. And the few hours Grizz had between his confrontation with Campbell and lunch time was enough for him to successfully talk himself down.

 

Nothing had changed. If Campbell wanted to tell people, then he would’ve done it already. He could do it whether Grizz broke Sam’s heart or not, and there was no way Grizz was going to break Sam’s heart. It was Campbell’s word against his anyway. Grizz didn’t like using his popularity against anyone, but he was popular. Luke was king of the school. Clark, Jason, Gwen and Helena were so well loved by everyone. They’d have his back and they could all just call Campbell a liar and everyone would believe them. These were the things Grizz was telling himself over and over again.

 

By the time Grizz walked into the cafeteria, he felt a little better. He had been so consumed by this shit with Campbell that he had sort of forgotten that he and Clark weren’t exactly on the best of terms. He had told himself yesterday that he was going to spend his lunch break in the library, after a more than awkward lunch break that included every single one of his friends sitting there in silence, all very aware that Clark was pissed at Grizz.

 

Grizz wasn’t really thinking too much as he sat down next to Jason. Luke, Helena and Gwen were across from them, and it didn’t take long for Grizz to notice the weird atmosphere. That was when Grizz realized Clark wasn’t with them.

 

“Hey, guys,” Grizz spoke cautiously, because why the hell were they all acting so weird? Well, Gwen wasn’t. Gwen was chowing down on sushi without a care in the world.


“Hey,” they all said back in some form. Jason and Helena were giving him wary glances. Luke, well, Luke had his head down. Fuck. Luke was mad. Grizz knew it. And Luke probably told the others.

 

“Luke,” Grizz said. Luke looked up, raised eyebrows. “Dude, I’m sorry about before.”

 

“What?” Luke seemed genuinely confused.

 

“Chemistry. Sorry, I was a dick,” Grizz said.

 

“Oh, right. It’s cool,” Luke said.

 

Grizz just nodded, and that was usually the extent of the minor arguments he and Luke would have every now and again. They didn’t stay mad for long. Grizz thought that would kill the tension, but Helena and Jason were still giving him funny looks.

 

“What’s going on?” Grizz asked.

 

“Uhm…” Helena started as she glanced around at the others for help.

 

“So, the thing is,” Jason began, and he too gave up. Grizz was beginning to lose his patience. And for a moment, he thought maybe Campbell did it. Maybe he had told people.

 

“Clark’s making the moves on Becca,” Gwen said bluntly, “and they think you’re gonna be, like, super pissed at him.”

 

What? Becca and Clark? Sure enough, over at Becca’s regular table, there she was with Clark, just the two of them. Clark was sitting close to her, and Grizz knew that look. He had seen Clark chat up a lot of girls both before he was with Gwen, and after, plus the way he still tried to hit on Gwen. He was flirting with Becca. That much was obvious. And Becca? Well, Becca was just sitting there, and talking back to him, and she was smiling. What the fuck?

 

Grizz quickly scanned the cafeteria, searching for Sam, and he found him, sitting with Gordie, Kelly and some others. Their eyes connected like Sam was waiting for him to notice him. Grizz cast a questioning look, and all Sam did was shrug. He had no clue what was going on either.

 

“Are you mad?” Jason asked carefully.

 

“I’m confused,” Grizz said.

 

Grizz turned his attention back over to Clark. A moment later, Clark glanced over, catching Grizz’s gaze, and his lips turned up into a subtle smirk. Clark focused back on Becca as he tucked the girl’s hair behind her ear, before his eyes darted back to Grizz. And what in the actual fuck? It was a show? Was Clark trying to make Grizz jealous on purpose? It had all clicked into place.

 

“That fucking asshole,” Grizz cursed and spoke to Gwen, “you see what he’s doing, right?”

 

“Talking to the girl you like?” Gwen said as she pointedly glanced at the others at the table.

 

“Sure,” Grizz sighed. And he had to hand it to her, that was a good save because Grizz had flipped to being mad so quickly that he forgot who he was sitting with.

 

“It is kind of low, man, but like, aren’t you two a thing?” Jason pointed to Grizz and Gwen.

 

“No,” the two of them said in unison.

 

“Well, he thinks you are. And I mean, it does kind of look that way sometimes,” Jason said.

 

“Yeah, he’s right,” Helena added.

 

“I don’t know. I mean, I don’t see it anyway. Can’t a girl and a guy be just friends?” Luke added.

 

“Exactly,” Gwen said, “I mean, I hang with Jason just as much as I hang with Grizz. We went to the movies just the two off us the other night and no one gave a shit.”

 

“That’s because you don’t give me lovey googly eyes like you do to Grizz,” Jason said.

 

“Oh my God, I so do not,” Gwen argued.

 

Grizz put his head in his hands and tried to tune out their arguing. It was like Grizz was in a hamster cage with one of those wheels they ran on. He just kept running and running, and getting absolutely nowhere.

 

“I’m not in the fucking mood for this,” Grizz muttered, and without even acknowledging his friends, he got up and marched away.

 

Grizz hated today. He hated it mostly because it started out so good. He was so happy and it all got ripped out from underneath him because of ridiculous high school drama that he didn’t want to be a part of. This was why he should’ve just waited for college. That thought came and left so quickly, because if he had waited for college then he probably wouldn’t have Sam.

 

“Grizz!” Gwen’s voice called out.

 

Grizz stopped his aggressive stomping and turned to see Gwen rushing down the hallway towards him. Grizz sighed and leant against the lockers. The hallway was mostly empty except for a few stragglers.

 

“You know you gotta stop following me places because I’m starting to see why they’re so suspicious,” Grizz said.

 

“You’re upset. Of course I’m going to follow you,” Gwen said as she got to him, “listen, I’m sorry Clark’s being a dick.”

 

“It’s not him. It’s…well it is, but it’s not,” Grizz said.

 

“What’s going on?” she asked.

 

“Nothing,” Grizz sighed, “doesn’t matter. I just really fucking hate high school and everyone in it.”

 

“You don’t mean that,” Gwen said.

 

“No. I don’t. But I hate today,” Grizz said.

 

“Did something else happen? Is everything okay with you and Sam?” she asked.

 

Grizz contemplated telling her about his conversation with Campbell that morning, but what was she going to do? Nothing. She couldn’t make that pesky problem go away.

 

“Yeah, Sam and I are fine,” Grizz said.

 

“Well, that’s a good thing. Focus on that, not whatever it is that’s brining you down,” Gwen said.

 

Grizz gave her a small smile, because yeah, everything with Campbell and Clark was so frustrating, but thinking about Sam and how happy he made Grizz always made him feel that little bit better. Speaking of which, the object of Grizz’s happiness was heading down the hall towards them. Grizz only noticed him when he heard the footsteps coming closer.

 

Grizz perked up a little and greeted his boyfriend with a “hey”.

 

“Hey, Sam,” Gwen said.

 

“Hi,” Sam waved, “listen, before you both ask. I have no idea what’s going on in there. I came into the cafeteria and he was already there sitting with her.”

 

“I’m pretty sure he’s trying to make me jealous,” Grizz said.  

 

“I figured,” Sam nodded.

 

“She’s smart, right? She’ll see through it?” Grizz asked.

 

“I don’t know. Clark can be really smooth when he wants to be,” Gwen added.

 

“I’m gonna have to talk to him,” Grizz said with a sigh. That was the last thing he wanted to do, but also didn’t want Becca getting in the middle of this ridiculous feud.

 

“Because he’s flirting with Becca? Grizz, if he wants to flirt with her, let him. He’s the one going to look like an idiot,” Gwen said.  

 

“What do you think?” Grizz asked Sam.

 

“I think Becca can look after herself,” Sam shrugged.

 

The next moment, the girl in question came rushing out of the cafeteria, obviously on a mission to find them, or just Sam. When she noticed the group, she ran over frantically.

 

“There you are,” Becca said as she wildly signed at Sam. Sam signed back to her without saying a word.

 

“He just sat next to me. Not my fault,” Becca argued with him.

 

“What did he want?” Gwen asked.

 

“Oh my God, guys,” Becca laughed, “he asked me out.”

 

“Out?” Grizz asked.

 

“Like, he asked me to hang out and said all this cheesy shit about how pretty I am and how he’s always noticed me,” Becca explained.

 

“Ah yes, you got the full Clark works,” Gwen said.

 

“Do you actually like him?” Sam asked.

 

“No. But like, who knows?” Becca shrugged carelessly. Grizz did not like where this was going at all. Becca was supposed to see through the act and Grizz wasn’t quite sure if she had.

 

“Becca…listen, I don’t mean to sound conceited or anything, but I really think he’s only doing this to get at me,” Grizz said.

 

“I’m not dumb, Grizz. I know he’s trying to make you jealous,” Becca laughed.

 

“Oh.”

 

“So, are you going to go out with him?” Sam asked.

 

“Well, I said yes. I was put on the spot!” Becca said, her face contorting into one of worry.

 

“I’m gonna fix this, okay?” Grizz said.

 

“No, Grizz. It’s fine, really. I think it’s kind of funny, actually. And it could be fun,” Becca reasoned.

 

“She’s right. It could be fun. Clark can be a lot of fun when he’s not, you know, stalking you after a break up,” Gwen said.

 

Grizz ignored her, “Becca, I just don’t want you to get hurt in the crossfire.”

 

“I won’t. I’ll probably go out with him once, then he’ll get over it and I’ll get a good laugh out of it. The end,” Becca said.

 

And then the bell rang and Grizz didn’t know how to feel. He just knew that everything was turning into a big mess again.

 

“Don’t worry about it, Grizz. I’m a big girl. I can handle myself around idiots like Clark,” Becca said before she took Sam’s hand and walked off from them.

 

Grizz whole-heartedly believed that Becca could look after herself, but it still didn’t make it right. He didn’t want his friend to have to bend over backwards because Clark had an issue with him. Grizz was done. He had reached his limit. He was just so sick and tired of this drama, and he was going to end it once and for all.

 

---

 

That afternoon after yet another intense football practice, Grizz found himself following Clark to his car. Grizz figured this conversation would go one of two ways. Either they’d talk it out like adults and Clark could get over the ridiculous notion that Grizz and Gwen were into each other, or Grizz was about to lose a friend. He didn’t see how else it could go.

 

Grizz caught up to Clark just as he was getting in the driver seat. Grizz got into the passenger side without a warning and shut the door, turning to his friend. At least, he hoped they were still friends. For a split second, Clark was startled, until he saw who had joined him.

 

“Grizz? What are you doing?” Clark asked.

 

“We need to talk,” Grizz said, and he wasn’t taking no for an answer.

 

“About?”

 

“You and Becca,” Grizz got to the point.

 

Clark snorted, “I knew you’d have a problem.”

 

“Yeah, I do, because-,”

 

“You can’t have them both!” Clark shouted at him, “fuck, Grizz. I can see you playing them both. You gotta give up at least one, so maybe I’m just doing you a favor asking Becca out.”

 

“Oh my God, cut the bullshit, Clark. I know you’re only hanging out with her to get back at me,” Grizz said.

 

“And how does it feel?” Clark asked with a smug smile.

 

“What?”

 

“How does it feel to have one of your best friends going after the girl you like?” Clark said slowly, ever word dripping with hatred, and Grizz was trying to be patient because he knew Clark just didn’t understand. He could see things from Clark’s point of view, but this entire situation was really testing him.  

 

“Honestly, Clark. I’m being one hundred per cent serious with you. I swear on my fucking life there is nothing going on between Gwen and I. There never has been anything going on with Gwen and I, and there never will be,” Grizz told him.

 

“I don’t believe you, Grizz. You’ve been shady as fuck lately. You never hang out with us. You and Gwen are always having these little secret chats together. What else am I supposed to think?” Clark asked.

 

Grizz shook his head because, well, he just didn’t know what else to say to convince him.

 

“Why her?” Clark asked in a softer voice.

 

“Clark-”

 

“No. Stop. Just…you’re one of my best friends, Grizz. And Gwen…I…fuck,” Clark’s voice broke, “I love her and it really, really hurts. Just don’t do this, please. Just…anyone else, just not her. Not my best friend and…”

 

Clark looked away, but Grizz noticed the stray tear roll down his cheek, and then another. Clark swore and hastily wiped the wetness from his cheeks. Grizz’s resolve had deteriorated away. He couldn’t stand seeing Clark like that. Clark was wrong, sure. He was paranoid and stupid, but he was hurt. Grizz could see it all over his face and hear it in the way his voice shook, and Grizz wanted it to end.

 

“I’m gay, Clark,” Grizz said the words before he even thought them through, but they were out there now and he couldn’t take them back. Clark turned to Grizz, that look of hurt replaced by one of pure confusion.

 

“What?” Clark asked.

 

“I’m…gay,” Grizz repeated, “and it’s not Becca that I’m into. It’s Sam, and Gwen knows and that’s what we’re talking about all the time.”

 

There, he said it, and Clark was just staring at him, and Grizz really, really thought that confessing to him would make it better, that they’d laugh it all off as a giant misunderstanding, and that Clark would be relieved that Grizz wasn’t going after Gwen after all. Instead, all he got was more hostility.

 

 “Get the fuck out of my car,” Clark barked.

 

“What?”

 

“You are so full of shit. Do you think I’m stupid?” Clark asked.

 

Don’t answer that, Grizz.

 

“Wait, what?”

 

“You think I’m going to believe you’re, what? You’re gay? Are you really gonna stoop so low as to lie about something like that just so you can keep fucking Gwen?” Clark asked.

 

“Oh my God,” Grizz couldn’t help but laugh. He tried. He really fucking tried to make things better, but Clark was a lost cause. And there were more things Grizz could have done to prove it to Clark, like show him texts and selfies he and Sam had taken together, but he was pissed, so fucking pissed that he decided to come out to try and ease whatever pain Clark had been feeling, only to have it thrown back in his face.

 

“You know what, fuck you, Clark. Think what you want to think. I know I’m not fucking Gwen behind your back and that’s all that matters. You just can’t handle the fact that she doesn’t want you anymore and-“

 

“Get the fuck outta my car, Grizz!” Clark shouted.

 

“-and honestly, I don’t blame her for not wanting you anymore. You’re a fucking moron and she can do so much better!”

 

Grizz didn’t let Clark get another word in. He left the car, slamming the door as hard as he could. Grizz stormed across the carpark and unlocked his own car. He threw his bag in the backseat and flung the door shut with a loud bang. Nothing but his own heavy breathing filled the air. Grizz hated being so angry all the time because that wasn’t him. He wasn’t an aggressive person, but in that moment, there were hot tears springing at his eyes threatening to fall, and not because he was sad or upset, but because he was just that furious with Clark.

 

Grizz just wanted to go home and forget about everything. He turned his car on and took his phone of his pocket to plug in, and that was when he saw he had a text from Sam.

 

Hey I headed home but do you wanna hang out tonight? – Sam.

 

Not in the mood. – Grizz.

Fuck, sorry. That sounded meaner than it was supposed to. I’m just really tired. – Grizz.

 

Are you okay? – Sam.

 

Long day. I’m sorry. I’ll talk to you tomorrow. – Grizz.

 

Okay. I’m here if you need me. – Sam.

 

xxxxxxxxxx – Grizz.

 

Grizz plugged his phone into the car speakers, put on a song and turned it up as loud as it could go before driving out of the school parking lot.

Chapter Text

Grizz was miserable. That was the only word for it. On top of Campbell’s blackmail attempt and Clark being the worst friend imaginable, Grizz had opened up a letter from Yale University, rejecting his application, and well, that was just the final straw for Grizz that day. Days as fucked as this particular day made Grizz yearn for college, and he knew logically it was only one that had rejected him, but in that moment, it felt like the end of the world.

 

So, Grizz decided to spend the night wallowing in self-pity, crying on and off, because he had to let all of his emotions out somehow, and crying often made him feel better afterwards. To make matters worse though, his anxiety was out of control. He was checking Facebook every five minutes, just waiting for Campbell to say something about him. He was also panicking that he might never get accepted into a good college or university, even though he’d be perfectly happy going to a state college as long as it meant getting the hell out of this town.

 

Grizz sat up on his bed, thinking he should probably change out of his clothes and go to bed properly, because he knew he had probably cried all the tears he had in him, and all that was left to do was fall asleep. He reached for his phone on his bedside table because it was just about time to check Facebook again, but instead he saw a text from Becca, to which he replied straight away.

 

Hey are you awake? Sam is out wandering the streets by himself. – Becca.

 

I’m up. What’s going on? – Grizz.

 

He texted me asking to come to mine bc Campbell is being Campbell but I’m at my grandparents out of town. – Becca.

 

Why didn’t he just text me?? – Grizz.

 

He thinks you want space. – Becca.

 

Not from him! I’ll text him. Thanks Becca x – Grizz.

 

Fuck. The last thing Grizz wanted was for Sam to think he didn’t want him around, or couldn’t help him out when he needed it. Grizz paced around his room as he texted Sam and anxiously awaited a reply.

 

Where are you? – Grizz.

 

At home. Why? – Sam.

 

Liar. Becca texted me. Where are you? – Grizz.

 

Walking down Greene Street. – Sam.

 

Good, you’re close. Come to mine. Now. Please? – Grizz.

 

You sure? – Sam.

 

Yes I’m sure!!! I’ll wait outside. – Grizz.

 

Grizz left his room and headed downstairs. His parents were both in the living room, watching TV. They hadn’t even noticed him come home that afternoon, let alone notice him leaving the house at that moment. Grizz stepped outside, the cool air hitting him hard. He wondered how long Sam had been out there by himself. Grizz cursed himself. If only he wasn’t such a dick earlier then maybe Sam would’ve felt comfortable enough to message him.  Grizz felt like the worst boyfriend ever.

 

Grizz sat on the curb as he looked down the street, waiting to see Sam. He was only been two streets away, so he shouldn’t be very long. Grizz wanted to know what the fuck Campbell had done to make Sam leave the house. He wondered if he had also approached Sam wanting to break the two of them up. Grizz hadn’t planned on telling Sam about Campbell’s threat at all, but he might have to if Campbell was fucking around with Sam as well.

 

It didn’t take long until Grizz saw a figure walking down the street towards him. Grizz stood up and met him half way, and even in the dark he could see that it was Sam. Not able to speak to him, Grizz just took his hand and pulled him in for a hug, which Sam returned, squeezing Grizz’s waist tightly. They were there for a solid minute before Sam let go and Grizz laced his fingers with his once again.

 

Grizz led him back to his house and opened the door, looking around first for his parents, but the TV was still on in the living room. Grizz pulled Sam inside and the two headed up the stairs to Grizz’s room. They made it there unseen, and Grizz shut and locked the door behind him. When he turned to Sam, finally seeing him in the light, the first thing Grizz noticed were Sam’s eyes that were red and a little puffy.

 

“You’ve been crying,” Grizz said.

 

“So have you,” Sam frowned. He stepped forward and took Grizz’s face in his hands, examining him, and damn it, Grizz didn’t even stop to think that he probably looked like a mess too.

 

“What happened?” Sam asked. And it always felt like Sam was the one comforting Grizz, and Grizz really didn’t want to unload on him, so he shook his head.

 

“Nothing, really. Just rejected from a college. That’s all. It doesn’t matter,” Grizz said.

 

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

 

“It’s okay. I’ll get over it. What happened tonight?” Grizz asked.

 

Sam shook his head, being just as stubborn as Grizz had been. Grizz wanted to know what was wrong though. He needed to know. Well, he needed to know if he had to kick Campbell’s ass or not. Grizz took Sam over to his bed and made him sit down. The two sat on the edge, half facing each other.

 

‘What happened?’ Grizz signed.

 

“It’s dumb,” Sam said.

 

“I bet it’s not.”

 

“It is,” Sam sighed, “my parents aren’t home tonight and Campbell has friends over. He told me to leave because he didn’t want me around them.”

 

“Fuck, he’s such a fucking dick,” Grizz fumed.

 

Sam nodded, “and I made it worse by saying no. I told him I was just going to stay in my room. So, I was just doing homework when him and his friends barged in and dragged me from my bed. They forced me outside and locked all the doors. I don’t even have my shoes on. I was just lucky I was at least dressed and still had my phone on me.”

 

What the actual fuck? They couldn’t just do that. How fucking dare they? The thought of anyone man-handling Sam had Grizz seeing red.

 

“Who?” Grizz asked.

 

“What?”

 

“Who were the friends?” Grizz asked again.

 

“Does it matter?”

 

“Just give me names, Sam,” Grizz demanded, and he wasn’t quite sure what, if anything, he was going to do to the culprits but he just needed to know who it was.

 

“Fine. Harry and Dewey,” Sam admitted.

 

“Do they do this sort of thing to you a lot?” Grizz asked.

 

Sam looked down and shrugged. This was bullying. Sam was being bullied and Grizz knew his brother was awful, but he had no clue it was coming from other people too. Grizz was never a violent person, but he wanted to kill everyone who had ever hurt Sam.

 

“I don’t know why he hates me so much. I don’t know what I did,” Sam said, and he was crying. Grizz’s heart broke. Grizz didn’t have any siblings, but he could at least imagine how hurtful it could be for a family member to be so hateful for no reason. Grizz brought his hand to Sam’s cheek and delicately made him look at him.

 

“You didn’t do anything,” Grizz said as he looked into his boyfriend’s glistening eyes, “you’re the most perfect human I’ve ever met, and he’s a psychopath who just wants to take away other’s happiness. That’s all.”

 

Sam closed his eyes as another few tears fell. Grizz brushed them away with his thumb before pulled Sam to his chest in a warm, comforting hug. Grizz just wanted to keep Sam there with him forever, where he could be safe and away from anyone and everyone that could possibly hurt him. Grizz didn’t even realize that Sam was going through anything like this, because Sam was always so strong and happy, and Grizz, well, Grizz just thought he was so self-centred, only focusing on his own problems and never on Sam’s.

 

Sam pulled back after a moment and didn’t stay back for very long because the next second his lips were on Grizz’s. Relief is all Grizz felt. And need. He needed that kiss. They both did. It was a reminder that no matter what shit they were going through, they had each other, and Grizz needed Sam to know that, so he stopped kissing him and waited for Sam to open his eyes before speaking.

 

 “You know you can text me any day, any time, and I’ll be here,” Grizz said.

 

Sam shrugged, “I know. I just thought you were annoyed with me or something.”

 

“I could never be annoyed at you,” Grizz said, his face softening.

 

“Well you were in a mood anyway,” Sam said.

 

“Yeah, well…Clark’s been pretty awful about the whole Gwen thing, so I decided to come out to him,” Grizz said, and he wasn’t planning on telling Sam that, but he just didn’t want Sam thinking he was in a mood because of him.

 

“Seriously?” Sam’s eyes were wide.

 

“Yep. And he didn’t believe me. He legit thought I was lying and got all pissed,” Grizz told him.

 

Sam snorted in laughter before abruptly stopping, “Sorry.”

 

Grizz smiled, “no, no. It is sort of funny.”

 

“He’s kind of really dumb,” Sam said.

 

“I know, right? He’s impossible sometimes,” Grizz said.

 

“Maybe we should make out in front of him, then he’ll believe you,” Sam suggested.

 

“Any excuse to make out with me,” Grizz said as he leant forward once more. Sam’s lips met his and not half a second later his tongue was in Grizz’s mouth. Grizz would never get over how good Sam was at kissing. How his tongue did that. Jesus Christ it had Grizz wanting more and more.

 

“Grizz?!” the voice came through the other side of Grizz’s door. Grizz pulled back, relaxing when he saw the door was closed.

 

“My mom’s at the door,” Grizz mouthed to Sam who was giving him a curious look. Sam just nodded before going to Grizz’s neck, littering it with kisses.

 

“Yeah?!” Grizz called back to his mom, trying his best to ignore Sam.

 

“Make sure you take the trash out before school!” his mom called back.

 

“Okay!”

 

“Thank you, goodnight!” she said.

 

“Goodnight!”

 

Grizz listened to the footsteps retreating down the hall, and he was going to tell Sam she was gone, but he really didn’t want Sam to stop kissing his neck. It didn’t take Sam very long to catch on though. He pulled back, looking at Grizz.

 

“What’d she want?” Sam asked.

 

“Nothing important,” Grizz said, and he got up to go to the door. He double checked it was locked, because, well, he was a bit paranoid and the last thing he needed on top of everything else was one of his parents walking in on him with a boy in his room. He also put his ear to the door, noticing the TV was still on, so his dad must have still been up.

 

Grizz turned back to Sam and went over to him. So, yeah, today sucked, but at least now he had Sam in his room for an entire night. What to do when you have your boyfriend on your bed? Grizz had a few ideas but his nerves were getting to him.

 

“So, what do you wanna do? Sleep? Or?” Sam asked.

 

“Not really. We could…” Grizz paused, and chickened out before saying, “watch a movie?”

 

“Okay,” Sam said with a smile.

 

Grizz took his laptop from his desk and went back over to Sam. He ended up situating himself behind Sam, and Sam was more than willing to sit there between Grizz’s legs. All Grizz wanted to do was hold Sam for an eternity, so he was more than okay with that position.

 

Grizz signed into Netflix and scrolled through the movies until he found one he figured Sam would like. It was Batman vs Superman. Grizz made sure the subtitles were on before he propped the laptop up on a pillow on their legs, and the two boys settled in, getting comfortable, with Sam resting against Grizz’s chest, and Grizz wrapping his arms around Sam’s waist.

 

Despite all the shit that had happened earlier that day, Grizz had never felt more content in his life. He wished it could always be like that. Quiet nights in, holding each other, watching movies. He imagined he was in college already without a worry in the world, or better yet, after college, living together in their own little apartment. Grizz was getting a little ahead of himself.

 

They were about a quarter of the way into the movie when Grizz started getting bored with it. Superhero movies were okay, but not really his thing. Or at least, this one wasn’t. He found himself more interested in playing with Sam’s hands and fingers. Grizz loved Sam’s hands. His fingers were skinnier than Grizz’s, and colder, but Grizz thought they were perfect and fit so perfectly between Grizz’s fingers too.

 

Grizz traced a pattern up Sam’s arm, leaving a trail of Goosebumps that Grizz could feel as his fingertips lightly trailed right back down Sam’s arm. Grizz slid his hands back around Sam’s waist a little firmer this time, and by that point the movie was completely forgotten as Grizz pressed his lips against the back of Sam’s neck.

  

The other boy audibly sighed and tiled his head to the side. Grizz took that as an open invitation to keep going. Grizz left kisses all the way down the side of Sam’s neck. He tugged at the sleeve of Sam’s shirt to expose his shoulder as he kept kissing him, wanting to go as far as he could, and when the shirt wouldn’t allow him to anymore, Grizz kissed right back up, all the way to Sam’s ear. He nipped on Sam’s ear lobe lightly before kissing right below it.

 

Suddenly, it became less about being bored with the movie. Grizz was kissing Sam’s neck and touching him with intent. He just wanted Sam in a good mood. He wanted Sam to forget that anyone was ever mean to him. He wanted Sam to feel safe and loved. And maybe Grizz also wanted to try the whole “being forward” thing that Sam wanted.

 

Without too much thought, Grizz’s hands went exploring with a mind of their own. They made their way to Sam’s chest before going down his sides and rubbing along Sam’s thighs. Grizz found a spot on Sam’s neck, right above his collarbone, and he figured now was as good a time as any for a little payback.

 

Grizz sucked and bit on the spot, hoping to leave a hickey worse than the one Sam gave him. Sam squirmed against him, making the laptop fall from the pillow on their legs and topple onto the floor.

 

“Fuck. Sorry,” Sam whispered, and he went to get up to retrieve the thing, but Grizz didn’t care if it was broken or not. He held Sam tighter, keeping him in place.

 

Grizz brought his hands to Sam’s hips before slipping them under Sam’s shirt, gliding along his stomach. And fuck, Grizz really, really loved touching Sam. And kissing his neck. And hearing the change in his boyfriend’s breathing. It was at that moment that Grizz noticed the bulge in Sam’s jeans. Jesus, fuck, that was the hottest thing Grizz had ever seen in his entire life, and he had a feeling things were only going to get more heated.

 

Grizz wanted to test the waters a little before taking the next step. He was still so nervous, no matter how much he wanted more. He needed a green light from Sam though. Just anything to tell him it was okay to go further. Grizz trailed his fingers along the waistband of Sam’s jeans, back and forth. He so desperately wanted to slip his hand under the material. He wanted to feel how hard Sam was. He wanted to get Sam off. He wanted Sam to feel so fucking good, and that was Grizz’s only goal that night.

 

“Touch me,” Sam pleaded. There it was, the confidence boost that Grizz needed. It was all go from there.

 

Grizz undid Sam’s belt and the buttons on his jeans, a little hastily as his eagerness took over. The second the jeans were loosened enough, Grizz slid his hand in, slipping under Sam’s boxers. Holy shit, Sam was so hard already. Grizz could feel himself getting harder against Sam’s back, and he knew there was no going back now. He wanted Sam so fucking badly.

 

Sam was so warm, maybe the only place that Sam was ever warm. Grizz palmed Sam’s cock as he relished in the fact that Sam was enjoying it, and he knew he was too because a moan was quick to escape from the back of his throat. Grizz brought his finger to Sam’s lip, reminding him to be quiet considering his mom was just down the hall.

 

Grizz kissed along Sam’s neck, which was burning hot, and well, if Grizz knew that this was another way to warm Sam up then maybe he would’ve tried it out a while ago instead of giving up his hoodies. Grizz wanted to touch him more freely, not being trapped under his jeans. He took his hand out and went to push Sam’s jeans down, but the other boy had other ideas.

 

Sam shifted, freeing himself from Grizz’s grasp. He turned and before Grizz knew it, Sam was straddling him, one knee on each side of his hips. Sam took Grizz’s face in his hands and kissed him hard. He bit harshly on Grizz’s bottom lip, making him whimper as he opened his mouth, ready for Sam to invade it with his tongue.

 

Sam was a little aggressive, but Grizz would be lying if he said he didn’t love it. He held Sam’s hips as the boy slowly rocked against him. It was all happening a little fast, but Grizz didn’t mind one bit, because he was so fucking hard, and so was Sam, and if he didn’t get to touch Sam again within the next thirty seconds, he might just die.

 

Sam palmed at Grizz through the material of his jeans. A jolt of pure pleasure ran through every inch of Grizz’s being, and fuck, if he got all that from Sam touching him through his pants, then he couldn’t even imagine how it would feel if he finally got the skin to skin contact he craved.

 

Something came over Grizz. It was the need to be in control, because God damn it, he started this. He was trying to be forward and he wasn’t going to let Sam take over, at least not this time. Grizz pushed Sam pack, their lips leaving for only a moment as Sam fell onto his back. Grizz was on top of him in a flash, their lips connecting again in a hungry kiss. Grizz was between Sam’s legs, the other boy hitching his thighs around Grizz’s hips, and Grizz couldn’t help but grind down against him.

 

Sam bucked his hips up, meeting each and every movement. Grizz breathed heavily against Sam’s lips but he didn’t for a second dare part from them. He felt like he might just die if he did. Grizz pushed Sam’s shirt up, his hands once again exploring the wonders of Sam’s body. His skin was so smooth, and fuck, he was toned. Did Sam work out? That was a question for later.

 

Grizz thrust against Sam. His unwillingness to stop was about to leave a fucking mess in his jeans that he didn’t want, because fuck, he wanted to touch Sam. He needed to touch Sam. And apparently Sam had the same thought because he started on Grizz’s belt. He got it undone easily, ripping it out from around Grizz’s hips and tossing it to the floor. He made quick work of unzipping Grizz’s jeans and pushing them down to his mid-thighs. Grizz didn’t even have a spare second to feel self-conscious before Sam had his hand wrapped around the width of his rock-hard dick.

 

“F-fuck,” Grizz trembled out against Sam’s lips. He had to stop kissing him because he couldn’t concentrate anymore. He buried his face in Sam’s neck as he tried not to come then and there.

 

Grizz came to his senses enough to return the favor. He latched onto Sam’s jeans and tugged them down just enough to free his cock from the confines of his boxers. Grizz held Sam firm, but not too firm as he stroked him. Sam wriggled beneath him, and when he did, their cocks touched, sliding against each other, and Grizz was going to lose his goddamn mind. He needed more of that.

 

Grizz stopped what he was doing and took Sam’s hand, making him stop. The next moment, Grizz had both their lengths in his hand. He held them together as he rocked back and forth, and fuck, it was the best thing Grizz had ever felt.

 

Sam tangled his fingers in Grizz’s mop of hair, tugging lightly as he brought Grizz from his neck, back to his lips. Grizz kissed him back, wet and sloppy, but neither cared. Both were more focused on what was happening below.

 

Grizz rut against Sam, desperate for more friction. And fuck, he was so damn hard, harder than he ever remembered being in his life, and the way Sam was arching his back, meeting his movements, was enough to have Grizz feeling all dizzy and light headed. If this was how he felt just by touching Sam, he wondered how he’d feel if they were to have sex. They wouldn’t get to that that night though, because Grizz was close, really fucking close.

 

Sam’s lips shook against Grizz’s, his grip on Grizz’s hair getting tighter. Grizz pulled back a little to look down at Sam. His cheeks, all the way down to his neck, were flushed red, his eyes dark, his lips pink and swollen. He took in short, quick breaths, and Grizz had never seen someone look so fucking beautiful, and he was all Grizz’s.

 

“Close?” Grizz whispered.

 

“I’m…trying…not to,” Sam panted.

 

Grizz kept his eyes on Sam’s as he stroked them a little quicker. Sam bit on his bottom lip and Grizz felt tension pooling in the pit of his stomach. He wasn’t going to last much longer.

 

“Don’t hold back,” Grizz told him.

 

“Don’t want it to end,” Sam said.

 

“It’s okay, we can just do it again,” Grizz said.

 

Sam smiled and pulled Grizz back to him in an eager kiss. He let one hand untangle from Grizz’s hair and instead, went down to Grizz’s cock, wrapping his fingers around it. Grizz kept his hand wrapped around Sam’s as he tugged on him, stroking him quicker, desperate to make the boy come.

 

Grizz stroked up to the tip of Sam’s dick and brushed his thumb over the tip a few times, just wanting to get him there, and when Sam’s body tensed underneath him, Grizz knew his succeeded. Sam whimpered, his moan silenced by Grizz’s lips as he came over Grizz’s hand and his own stomach. That was enough to make Grizz climax too, and he realized that he too had been holding back, just waiting for Sam to get there first.

 

Relief washed over Grizz as he let go of every little bit of tension in his body. Sam’s hand didn’t stop. He kept stroking Grizz through it, up to the point where Grizz was either going to start to hurt, or get hard again. He stopped kissing Sam and took his hand, making him stop. Grizz was shaking, barely able to keep himself from crushing Sam.

 

“You okay?” Grizz asked and he looked down at his boyfriend.

 

Sam smiled and rolled his eyes, “yes, I’m okay. Dummy.”

 

Grizz kissed him lightly on the lips before rolling off of him and onto his back. He breathed out heavily, and he felt so light, like there wasn’t anything that could bring him down, which was funny considering the bullshit he dealt with that day. It was also like a weight was lifted off his shoulders, because for some reason he had been afraid of getting physical with Sam, like he’d fuck it up or overthink it, but the second he touched Sam, it was like all those fears melted away, and everything just felt so natural, and so right.

 

Grizz turned back to Sam and kissed his cheek, littering it with a dozen more before he eventually drew away and got up. They were both messes. Grizz signed for Sam to stay put as Grizz pulled his jeans back up. He left his room, thankful to hear his mom’s usual heavy snoring down the hall and the TV still on downstairs where his dad would be.

 

Grizz went to the bathroom and cleaned himself up before wetting a cloth and heading back to Sam, locking the bedroom door behind him. Sam was sitting up on the edge of the bed now, shirt off properly and tossed on the floor. Grizz bent down in front of him with the cloth and cleaned up the mess they had made on Sam’s stomach, and tenderly cleaned Sam’s now limp dick. Sam grinned down at Grizz, an obvious amusement in his eyes. Of course he would find this funny.

 

“Take those off,” Grizz gestured to Sam’s jeans and boxers. Grizz headed over to his set of drawers and got out a fresh pair of boxers for Sam and himself. He somehow managed to not check Sam out in his complete naked glory as he handed him the boxers. Sam, however, was a little less subtle as Grizz noticed the boy’s eyes locked on him as he changed out of his jeans, into the fresh pair of boxers and disposed of his shirt.

 

“Do you have any idea how hot you are?” Sam asked him.

 

‘Stop it,’ Grizz signed.

 

“Never.”

 

Grizz just smiled bashfully, shaking his head.

 

“Get in bed,” Grizz nodded towards the bed. Sam did as he was told and Grizz stood by the light near his door, waiting for Sam to get comfortable before he turned the light off. Grizz headed over, getting in on the other side and slipping under the covers. Sam was quick to snuggle up to him, not that Grizz minded in the slightest. He was more than happy to lie there with Sam half across his chest.

 

As Grizz lay there, his arms around his boyfriend, he couldn’t help but think about how lucky he was to find Sam, and yeah, his life had been open to a lot more drama lately, most to do with him not wanting to come out, but none of that drama mattered as long as he had these moments alone with Sam. Only six more months and if everything went to plan, Grizz would be free to be who he wanted to be. And hopefully Sam would still be right there with him.

Chapter Text

Grizz woke up the next morning to a warm body underneath his, and the gentle touch of his boyfriend’s fingers playing with the hair at the nape of his neck. Grizz groaned, refusing to believe that he would ever have to leave the safety of Sam’s body. No. He couldn’t. He was enjoying Sam’s chest rising and falling steadily as he breathed. He wouldn’t dare disturb the arm lay limply over his back. He was going to stay there forever.

 

As Grizz lay there, slowly becoming more alert to the world, he became vaguely aware that his entire body weight was on Sam and, well, he had no idea how that happened because last he checked it was Sam that had been on top of him. It registered that he was probably crushing the boy. Begrudgingly, Grizz shifted and rolled onto his back by Sam’s side instead.

 

“Thank God, you’re up,” Sam whispered.

 

Grizz looked at him, blinking a few times as his eyes adjusted to the light in the room. Sam was looking right back at him, his gaze flicking down to Grizz’s lips as normal.

 

“I’m sorry. Was I crushing you?” Grizz asked.

 

“No, that was fine. Gotta use the bathroom,” Sam said.

 

“Oh right, fuck. Sorry,” Grizz said as he sat up. He searched around for his phone before finding it on the bedside table. He looked at the time and when he did, his eyes almost popped out of his head because it was just past eleven in the morning.

 

“I know,” Sam said before Grizz could even say anything, “didn’t wanna wake you.”

 

“Guess we’re skipping school,” Grizz said.

 

Sam nodded, “are your parents home?”

 

Grizz shook his head, “they’ll be at work until at least five.”

 

“So, house to ourselves?” Sam grinned.

 

Grizz rolled his eyes, ignoring the look Sam gave him. “Still need that bathroom?”

 

Sam nodded and Grizz tossed the blankets off the two of them before getting up. He led Sam from his room to the bathroom and opened the door. He turned back to Sam, gesturing for him to go in.

 

“Use whatever you need. Second draw there’s unopened toothbrushes if you want,” Grizz said.

 

“You just wanna make out with me with minty breath,” Sam said with a cheesy smile.

 

“I’d make out with you either way,” Grizz countered.

 

Sam just laughed at him before pushing him from the doorway and shutting the door. Grizz sighed deeply, not out of frustration, or tiredness. He sighed because he felt like everything was just right. It was how it was supposed to be; waking up with his boyfriend after a night together. And yeah, there were still a lot of other things going on in Grizz’s life, but that moment was perfect.

 

Grizz left Sam for a few minutes of privacy. He did a quick scan of the house, checking his parent’s room and the living room before double checking their cars were definitely gone and that he and Sam were alone. He couldn’t believe he had slept so long. He was just so exhausted after the day before that he had to mentally check out and apparently his body needed to shut down too. He wasn’t exactly complaining though since he got to have a day alone with Sam.

 

Grizz headed back upstairs just as Sam was leaving the bathroom.

 

“Hey, wait in my room,” Grizz told him.

 

Sam just nodded and did as he was told, passing Grizz in the hall. Grizz went to the bathroom and did his business. He still had his phone on him which he had absent-mindedly plastered to his hand during his search of the house. He didn’t realize when he checked the time but he had a few messages.

 

Sam told me he stayed at yours. THANK YOU! – Becca.

 

Hey where you at? You good? – Luke.

 

Ayyyy don’t think I don’t notice you AND Sam not here today. Pls use condoms. I’m too young to be a grandmother. – Gwen.

 

Where are you? – Clark.

 

Grizz replied to the texts. He told Becca she was welcome and he would always be there for Sam, and for her. He told Luke he just wasn’t feeling well. He called Gwen an idiot. And then, his thumbs hovered over the empty reply box on Clark’s message for much too long. Grizz wasn’t expecting a text from Clark. He was the last person he thought would’ve texted him.

 

Grizz was still upset. It took a lot for him to come out to Clark and he was more than frustrated with how it went. He had no idea what to reply with, and mostly he didn’t want to talk to Clark at all, so he ignored the message and set his phone on the counter.

 

Grizz stood in front of the mirror. He felt a little different after last night, like what had happened had been some sort of dream. He only ever did imagine that any kind of sexual activity would come about during college, so the fact that he even had a boyfriend he could do that with was blowing Grizz’s mind. Not that he was complaining, because he most definitely wasn’t. He needed the release last night and he needed it with Sam. In a way he felt validated, like it didn’t matter what anyone did or said, the fact that he could feel like that with Sam meant everything.

 

“You’re a loser,” Grizz whispered to himself, but he was smiling

 

Figuring he spent too much time in there texting, Grizz hurried up with grabbing his toothbrush and working on his teeth. Half way through his brushing there was a loud bashing on the door.

 

“Hurry up! I’m bored!” Sam shouted through the door.

 

Grizz rolled his eyes and opened the door, toothbrush hanging out of his mouth and a mock annoyance etched onto his face.

 

“You’re so impatient,” Grizz said.

 

Sam narrowed his eyes, “can’t understand you. Just going to assume you said you love me.”

 

“No.”

 

“Seems like something you’d say,” Sam shrugged.

 

Grizz took the toothbrush out of his mouth and said to him, “I hate you,” before turning back to the counter and continuing his brushing. Grizz watched his boyfriend’s reflection in the mirror as he came up behind him and wrapped his arms around Grizz’s bare torso. Sam kissed the back of Grizz’s shoulder and Grizz had to bite his lip pretty damn hard to stop himself just melting then and there.

 

Grizz was quick to finish up, spitting the paste into the basin and rinse his mouth out, because well, Sam was getting a little handsy and Grizz had learnt enough about Sam at that point to know what he wanted. It seemed to be what Sam always wanted, but again, Grizz was not complaining.

 

The second Grizz turned around, Sam was on him. Grizz’s lips were not his own, instead they were owned by Sam and Sam alone as the boy kissed him deeply. Sam’s hands settled on Grizz’s hips which were pressed against the counter, and all Grizz could do was wonder when the fuck he’d be able to kiss Sam and not turn into a mess.

 

Grizz brought his hands up to Sam’s face, his fingertips gingerly holding Sam’s jaw, keeping him in place. With Sam’s unusually warm body firmly against his, it didn’t take very long for Grizz to start getting a little excited. What did he think would happen though? Being alone in a house with Sam? Of course this would happen. Only, the night before, as Grizz fell asleep, he had briefly thought about when they would fool around again and he hadn’t anticipated it would be so soon.

 

Grizz was an overthinker. He wished he wasn’t but he was, and he wondered what was going to happen next. How far would they go? Especially being alone like this so soon. Did Sam want to have sex with him? Did Grizz want that? Maybe one day, but now? Is that where the kiss was leading? And if it was, how would that work? The mechanics of it all had Grizz’s head spinning, and as nerves bubbled up in him, and Sam’s hands went wandering past the waistband of his boxers, he decided he had to ask.

 

Grizz took Sam’s wrists gently, stopping him as he broke the kiss. Sam tilted his head to the side in the way that Grizz found so damn endearing and furrowed his brows in confusion.

 

“So…I need to ask you a question,” Grizz said.

 

“Uh oh.”

 

“No uh oh. It’s fine, it’s just… I had this thought, well, Gwen had the thought and I hadn’t really thought of it again until now,” Grizz started. Fuck, he felt his throat tightening and he didn’t really know why. This was a perfectly normal conversation between two boyfriends, right? At the same time Sam had the tendency to make fun of him for stupid shit he said, so he was half expecting that to happen too.

 

“What is it?” Sam asked.

 

“Well…okay, so, I’m not saying we’re gonna have sex any time soon. And I don’t know if this is something we’re supposed to talk about first or if it just happens, because I’ve never had a boyfriend so I don’t know, and I probably should have googled this before asking, and like, whatever you answer it’s cool, I just don’t really-,”

 

“Grizz,” Sam stopped him, “you lost me like two sentences ago.”

 

“Sorry,” Grizz said quickly and let go of Sam’s hands, “fuck, I’ve gotta try to sign more.”

 

“It’s okay. Just get to the point,” Sam said.

 

Grizz then realized he picked the wrong time to test out his signing skills but he tried his best anyway as he finally got out his question.

 

“What I’m trying to ask is…” Grizz paused and gave up on the signing to avoiding looking like an idiot as he finished the sentence, “do you see yourself…topping…or bottoming?”

 

There it was, the question was out there, and Grizz knew that after last night he shouldn’t feel embarrassed to ask Sam a question like that, but he felt like such a novice having to ask, and well, in porn there never seemed to be a damn conversation! The guys just knew!

 

“What do you want?” Sam asked with his usual cheeky smile. And Jesus, Grizz hadn’t thought about that. He had been solely focused on what Sam wanted that he had never really thought about what he would prefer, and now that he thought about it, he wasn’t sure if he even had a preference.

 

“I don’t know yet. I don’t really care as long as I’m doing it with you,” Grizz said honestly.

 

Sam’s smile grew wider, “aww, so romantic.”

 

“Not really,” Grizz blushed.

 

“Yes, you really are. And then there’s me who…” Sam stopped looking down.

 

‘Who?’ Grizz signed where Sam could see, and the boy looked up at him, his eyes a little darker.

 

“Who is…thinking about you fucking me,” Sam said and there was a hint of caution in the way he spoke, but there needn’t be because the one phrase sent a fucking jolt right to Grizz’s cock. Trust Sam to say something so bold.

 

“Oh,” was all Grizz could manage.

 

“Oh,” Sam copied.

 

“Uhm,” Grizz cleared his throat, “do you ever, uh…do you ever think about you…doing that to me? Like…both ways?”

 

Sam looked as though he was thinking for a moment before he smiled and nodded.

 

“Cool,” Grizz said, because what the fuck else was he supposed to say?

 

“Cool,” Sam copied again.

 

“Yeah, I, uh, I just thought I’d ask. I don’t mean we’d do it today though. Just, like, one day. M-maybe,” Grizz stuttered and he’d be surprised if Sam caught exactly what he said.

 

“Maybe?” Sam asked, one eyebrow raised in curiosity.

 

“Definitely,” Grizz smirked.

 

“Just not today,” Sam confirmed, “so boring.”

 

“Are you horny all the time?” Grizz teased.

 

Sam pretended to think for a moment before nodding, “it’s your fault. You make me frustrated.”

 

“Well, maybe we can fix that,” Grizz suggested.

 

“How?”

 

“Do you wanna have a shower with me?” Grizz asked, his heart in his throat, and he had no idea why it was because he knew what Sam’s answer would be. He knew exactly what Sam wanted, and yet there was still that little sliver of doubt in Grizz’s mind; the voice in the back of his head screaming that Sam was going to reject him.

 

“Obviously,” Sam rolled his eyes.

 

“Do you wanna…fool around?” Grizz asked.

 

“Duh,” Sam giggled.

 

“Cool. So…” Grizz looked down, eyeing the only item of clothing Sam was wearing, “you wanna take those off?”

 

Grizz noticed Sam gnawing on his bottom lip to contain his smile as he stepped back. Grizz watched on as Sam hooked his thumbs under the waistband. He pushed the boxers down and let them fall to the floor, and there Sam was, in all his naked glory. Grizz’s heart raced, because last night was quick, needy and hot, and sure, they saw each other naked but it had been masked by the adrenaline and how exciting the whole situation was, so this, with Sam standing in front of him without a stitch of clothing, was confronting but at the same time it was just comfortable.

 

“You still like me?” Sam asked, and Grizz realized he had been staring. His eyes snapped back up to meet Sam’s.

 

“You kidding me?” Grizz asked.

 

Sam let his smile come to fruition on his lips as he stepped back to Grizz. Sam’s lips lingered barely an inch from Grizz’s and if Grizz hadn’t been soaking up every ounce of tension in the room then he might have closed the gap. Instead, he stood there, hands twitching as he forced himself not to touch Sam, because Sam was busy touching him. Sam’s eyes drooped, focusing on Grizz’s boxers as he tugged them down, leaving Grizz exposed and a lot harder than he probably should’ve been at that point.

 

“You’re big,” Sam commented, making Grizz’s cheeks burn. Sam looked up, a devilish gleam in his eyes, “bigger than all my other boyfriends anyway.”

 

“What boyfriends?” Grizz snapped.

 

“Maybe I’ll introduce you one day,” Sam said.

 

“Uh no, no other boyfriends,” Grizz argued.

 

“Just two?” Sam pouted.

 

“Stop it,” Grizz said as he went for Sam’s lips, but Sam pulled away.

 

“Are you jealous?” Sam teased.

 

“Do you think this is funny?” Grizz asked.

 

Sam nodded, because well, Sam could be a little shit when he wanted to be, and sure, Grizz got a little thrill out of Sam’s banter, but at the same time, he also got a thrill out of a little bit of punishment.

 

“Fine. No fooling around for you then,” Grizz said defiantly.

 

Grizz turned to the shower, keeping his back on Sam as he turned the water on and waited for it to heat up. He had no clue how long he’d be able to keep up his resolve, but he was going to give it a shot. Grizz glanced behind him at Sam who was standing there with his arms crossed and a playful glare being shot Grizz’s way. Grizz ignored him.

 

When the water was hot enough, Grizz stepped through the open glass door and let the water run over his body, and it was so refreshing, because yeah, he and Sam had cleaned up last night, but he still felt a bit, well, sticky. Grizz smiled to himself when he heard the distinct sound of the shower door opening, and not a moment later cold hands were on his hips, and soft lips against his shoulder.

 

Grizz turned to Sam, running his fingers through his wet hair to get the strands out of his face. Sam, much to Grizz’s pleasure, looked like he wanted to mount Grizz then and there. The thought had Grizz’s cock twitching, but he was still being stubborn. He took Sam’s wrist and made him stop touching him.

 

“No fun,” Sam said.

 

“Why don’t you go shower with your other boyfriends?” Grizz asked.

 

Sam rolled his eyes, “that’s what I was going to do after this.”

 

Grizz ignored the comment, knowing there wasn’t a single hint of truth in it, but still not wanting to give in. Grizz grabbed his loofah and shower gel, getting to work on cleaning himself.

 

“Want help?” Sam asked.

 

“Nope.”

 

“Guess I’ll enjoy the show then,” Sam said as he leant against the tiled wall.

 

“Guess you will.”

 

Grizz wasn’t necessarily the seductive type, at least not on purpose, but he wasn’t dumb. He knew what he was doing to Sam and got a kick out of Sam’s eyes raking over his soaped-up body. And Grizz, well, Grizz wanted to see Sam all wet and soapy too, so he took Sam’s hand, and Sam went with him willingly as Grizz swapped their positions so Sam was under the running water. Sam took the loofah Grizz offered, and then it was Grizz’s turn to ogle.

 

Fuck, fuck, fuck. Sam was so hot, like ridiculously hot, and Grizz didn’t know how in the world he was so lucky, because what a sight. Unlike Grizz, Sam was the seductive type on purpose. He knew exactly what he was doing as he lathered himself, the suds dripping down his torso to his-

 

Fuck. Grizz couldn’t give in that easily, right? He tore his gaze away from Sam and picked up the shampoo bottle from the rack on the wall. He had barely flipped the lid when Sam’s hand covered his in an attempt to take the bottle. Grizz was all set to put up a fight until he saw Sam’s pointed look. Just like that, Grizz let go off the bottle, letting Sam have his way, for now.

 

Sam made a motion with his finger for Grizz to turn around, and of course he did. He wasn’t standing in the water anymore like Sam was, but it was so hot with steam surrounding the two of them that Grizz wasn’t cold at all. What was cold though was the shampoo as the initial blob seeped through his hair to his head.

 

Sam ran his fingers through Grizz’s mop of hair as he, a little roughly, lathered the cream in his hair. Grizz could definitely get used to this, or perhaps he could if Sam was a little more gentle, but he had a feeling Sam was pushing his head around and tugging on his strands on purpose. One tug was a little harder than the rest and had Grizz turning, ready to scold the boy, but Sam forced his head forward again.

 

“Little shit,” Grizz muttered.

 

Sam held Grizz’s hips and pulled him back. Grizz went willingly as Sam led him under the spray of water. Grizz closed his eyes as the almost scolding water rinsed the shampoo from his hair, all the while Sam’s hands were running through the strands. Grizz had never felt more relaxed in his life, despite the man-handling.

 

Grizz felt Sam against his back, not too firm, but also not too far away for Grizz to think it was just an accident that he felt the skin to skin contact. Jesus fucking Christ, Grizz was so hard. He was throbbing and Sam’s hands were not where he needed them to be.

 

Grizz kept his eyes closed as Sam nudged him forward out of the line of water. A moment later Sam was massaging conditioner into Grizz’s locks. When Grizz said massaging, he meant it. Sam’s fingertips firmly dug into Grizz’s scalp in the best way imaginable, and it reminded Grizz of all those weeks ago in his room where Sam had given him a head massage, only this was better, so much better.

 

Grizz rolled his head back, leaning back against Sam, and not by choice, but because that was just how Sam seemed to manipulate him with the simplest touch. Sam trailed his fingers down Grizz’s neck, slipping easily against wet skin, until his hands landed on Grizz’s broad shoulders. Sam’s hands were magic. Grizz swore Sam was exuding some sort of drug from his fingertips that had Grizz feeling like he was floating up to heaven. Or, maybe he was just really, really turned on.

 

Option two. Grizz couldn’t take it anymore. Grizz knew that Sam knew exactly what he was doing. Grizz knew that Sam was seducing him and the funny thing was, Sam didn’t even have to try that hard. Grizz was all his.

 

Unable to hold back any longer, Grizz turned and cupped Sam’s face in his hands before pressing their lips together under the shower head. At little startled at first, Sam was quick to kiss back, his lips catching Grizz’s bottom one and sucking lightly. Sam’s hands were in Grizz’s hair again as he clutched the slick strands so tightly that Grizz thought he was going to rip them straight from his head, but funnily enough it seemed to turn Grizz on even more.

 

Using his height to his advantage, Grizz pulled back, only a touch, just enough for Sam to chase his lips and show just how much he wanted Grizz back. Sam’s wet body slid against Grizz’s as he knocked against him in a desperate attempt to keep the kiss going.

 

Not able to breath properly anymore under the water, Grizz pushed Sam back, forcing his much too horny boyfriend against the tiled wall. Grizz felt Sam smile against his lips before his hand was on Grizz’s chest, pushing him back lightly. Grizz sighed deeply and leant against the wall with one arm, hovering over Sam as he caught his breath.

 

“I win,” Sam told him.

 

“Do you?” Grizz challenged.

 

“Uh huh.”

 

Sam slid his hands down Grizz’s toned torso to his hips, taking them and pulling Grizz flush against him. Grizz inhaled sharply when he felt Sam against his thigh, hard, erect and pushing against him. Sam’s misbehaving hands went wandering, drifting around to Grizz’s ass, and fuck, Grizz couldn’t help but to rut against Sam as the other boy squeezed his cheeks.

 

Grizz moaned, his lips falling to Sam’s neck as he easily found the hickey that had bruised overnight. He nipped at the spot, relishing in the sound of Sam’s soft whimper. He wasn’t as put together as Grizz had thought, although, he was controlling himself a lot better than Grizz was. Grizz was getting a little carried away as he embraced every little touch that Sam was offering him.

 

Sam wrapped his hand around Grizz’s cock and easily slid up and down in a quick motion. Too quick, and it was all happening too fast for Grizz to even realize just how close he was. He was so caught up in Sam that he didn’t even stop to control himself. Grizz forced his lips on Sam’s in a charged kiss that Sam took like a champion. Grizz had never wanted anyone so much in his entire life and for a split second he imagined turning Sam around, pressing him against the wall and giving in to Sam’s little fantasy of fucking him.

 

Sam turned his head to the side, freeing his lips, but that didn’t stop Grizz from going right back to his neck and attacking it.

 

“Grizz,” Sam breathed, “I want to blow you. Please let me blow you.”

 

With a wave of pleasure and a chortled groan, every little bit of tension shot through to Grizz’s cock as he came, spilling out onto Sam’s hand, which honestly at that point, wasn’t even stroking him that fast.

 

“Ugh, fuck,” Grizz panted, and he knew right at that moment he fucked up. He came way too soon and one look at the amused gleam in Sam’s eyes let him know that Sam knew it was too soon as well. Grizz’s cheeks burned and if he wasn’t already so hot in that bathroom then it would have been more than obvious to Sam that he was dying of embarrassment.

 

“You can’t just say shit like that,” Grizz glared at the boy.

 

Sam let go of Grizz as he fell into a fit of giggles, and Grizz had to remind himself that he loved this boy and didn’t really, really hate him.

 

“You’re an asshole,” Grizz stepped away, his legs a little shaky. He stepped back under the water and kept his eyes off Sam as he let the water do its job, ridding him of the evidence of what happened.

 

“Wait, come back,” Sam begged.

 

“Don’t make fun of me,” Grizz snapped.

 

Sam stepped forward, wrapping his arms around Grizz’s neck, and of course Grizz couldn’t stay mad for long. He was just annoyed that he couldn’t hold out any longer.

 

“I’m sorry. That was hot. You’re hot. I like that I can make you come quick,” Sam said, “don’t be mad.”

 

Sam gave him the most apologetic look before planting kisses along Grizz’s collarbone. Grizz sighed, knowing he was giving in. He honestly loved the back and forth between himself and Sam. He loved Sam’s sass, even if it was often at his own expense. He also loved that Sam was still so hard against his thigh and, well, Grizz wasn’t cruel. He had to help the guy out.

 

Grizz had Sam back up against the wall in a flash, towering over him. Sam, for once, was like putty in Grizz’s hand as Grizz began jerking him off. Grizz kept his eyes on Sam, not wanting to miss a thing. Sam, apparently becoming shy under Grizz’s gaze, closed his eyes with his head lulled back on the tiles. Sam’s fingernails dug into Grizz’s chest as he held on for dear life, but Grizz didn’t mind the scratch marks one bit.

 

“Grizz…” Sam panted and Grizz kept up his pace, twisting and turning his hand, loving the way Sam’s hips rose and fell, meeting the movements.

 

In no time at all, Sam was jerking in Grizz’s hand and coming, hard. Sure, Grizz was quicker, but Sam came harder, so hard that the boy almost slipped on the wet floor, and if it wasn’t for Grizz’s quick reflexes, he just might have. Sam’s eyes fluttered open as he looked up at Grizz, skin flushed, eyes dark and glazed over. Grizz had never witnessed anything hotter.

 

“You okay?” Grizz asked.

 

Sam just nodded and lazily threw his arms around Grizz’s neck before catching his lips with his own. Grizz kissed him back as he carefully walked them backwards, under the water again. Fuck, Grizz really loved having a boyfriend. He really loved having Sam and he had no idea how he had gone this long without him.

 

The two boys made out under the stream of water until that water began going cold and Grizz begrudgingly called it quits. Grizz turned the water off and sighed as his lips left Sam’s. When Grizz looked at Sam he noticed he was shivering, and of course he was. He felt the cold worse than anyone he had ever met.

 

Grizz stepped out of the shower first and handed Sam’s two towels because he wanted him to be extra warm, but instead, Sam took one of the towels and attacked Grizz with it. Grizz laughed, his smile going so wide it hurt, as Sam covered his head with the towel and ruffled his hair, drying it and making a complete mess at the same time. Sam let the towel fall to around Grizz’s neck once he was satisfied the hair was merely damp instead of dripping, then pulled Grizz in, planting a dozen tiny kisses on his lips. Grizz only stopped, frozen in place, when he heard a knock on the door downstairs. Grizz pulled away, looking at Sam.

 

“There’s someone at the front door,” he told Sam.

 

Sam frowned, “who?”

 

“I’m not psychic, am I?” Grizz teased.

 

The knock came again. Grizz never usually had visitors, especially in the middle of a school day, but then again Grizz was never usually home during a school day. He figured it was probably just people trying to sell stuff.

 

“Go to my room. I’ll be there in a minute,” Grizz said as he took the towel from around his neck and wrapped it around his hips. He gave Sam a peck on the lips before leaving the steamy bathroom and heading down the hall.

 

Grizz skipped down the stairs, just eager to see who the hell had interrupted his day, and wanting to get back to Sam as soon as he could. When Grizz got to the door he looked through the peephole and was more than a little shocked to see Clark standing there. What the fuck did he want? Grizz jumped back a little as Clark knocked on the door again.

 

For a moment, Grizz just stood there, contemplating whether or not to open the door. Mostly he was trying to pre-empt what Clark wanted. Was he there for a fight? Was he there because he had leant something to Grizz that he wanted back because their friendship was pretty much over after their argument? Either way, Grizz was curious so he opened the door.

 

Clark seemed a little relieved when the door opened, and he paused as he caught a glimpse of Grizz who just realized he was standing there in just a towel, but it wasn’t anything Clark had ever seen before. However, it seemed a little different now that Grizz had come out to him, even if Clark didn’t believe it.

 

“What are you doing here?” Grizz broke the silence. Clark cleared his throat as he connected with Grizz’s eyes once more.

 

“Listen, dude, no need to get all snarky. I come in peace,” Clark said, and Grizz wasn’t sure if he bought it.

 

“What do you want?” Grizz asked as he leant against the doorframe, crossing his arms over his chest.

 

“To apologize. Fuck, Grizz, please don’t make this hard,” Clark said.

 

Grizz stood there for a moment and he could feel his resolve slipping.

 

“I’m sorry too, for shit I said about you and Gwen,” Grizz said.

 

Clark smiled in that stupid way Clark often did when things got too serious and he wanted to lighten the mood.

 

“Thanks,” Clark said, “I mean, you’re probably right about Gwen, but like…I don’t know. I just see you two being all friendly and it kills me.”

 

Grizz just nodded, because he didn’t want to get into this with Clark. He was tired of his paranoia about Gwen and he wouldn’t defend his friendship with her any longer.

 

“I know I’m probably being really fucking annoying, but just…promise me again that there’s nothing going on with the two of you,” Clark said.

 

“I promise.”

 

“Good, because I hate this shit,” Clark sighed.

 

“Hate what?”

 

“Fighting with you,” Clark’s gaze faltered, leaving Grizz’s, and Grizz had been pretty mad, but at that point he realized just how much it took for someone as stubborn as Clark was to come all the way to his house to apologize.

 

“I hate it too,” Grizz said honestly.

 

“I really am sorry for being a dick,” Clark said.

 

“Me too.”

 

“Right, you still didn’t have to make up the gay shit though,” Clark laughed, and the idiot really did think it was just some joke.

 

“I didn’t,” Grizz said.

 

“Sure you didn’t,” Clark went along with it, “I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.”

 

Grizz had half a mind to grab Clark around the wrist and drag him upstairs to prove to him just how gay he was with his gay boyfriend Sam, but instead, Grizz decided that it might have been best to let it go.

 

“Okay, whatever,” Grizz sighed.

 

“Right. Anyway, I gotta go before next period starts,” Clark said.

 

“Okay, thanks for coming by,” Grizz said.

 

“Yeah, uh, also, uhm…I don’t really know why I did it, but I kind of asked Becca out on a date tonight,” Clark said cautiously, “and now I can’t back out because that’d be weird, but like, I promise you dude, there’s nothing going on there.”

 

“Oh, right,” Grizz said, and he wasn’t all that pleased of what Clark was doing with Becca, but Grizz had to believe that Becca was a smart enough girl to see through Clark.

 

“Yeah, anyway, get better soon and I’ll see you at school,” Clark said.

 

“Sure,” Grizz nodded.

 

Grizz shut the door and headed back upstairs. He didn’t really know how to feel after that conversation. Clark was still so frustrating but at the same time he was glad they weren’t fighting anymore.

 

Grizz headed back into his room, only to find Sam laying on his bed, looking at his phone and wearing one of Grizz’s shirts and a pair of his sweats. Grizz couldn’t help but smile at the sight. He could file those clothes under clothes that now belonged to Sam.

 

“Hey, who was that?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz went over and got on the bed, laying on his stomach beside Sam.

 

“Clark. He came over to apologize,” Grizz said.

 

“Oh?”

 

“Yeah. I think it went kind of well, but he still doesn’t think I’m gay. Or maybe he’s in denial,” Grizz shrugged.

 

“I can talk to him if you want,” Sam offered.

 

“No, I don’t want to drag you into the drama,” Grizz said.

 

“I don’t mind,” Sam said, and Grizz shook his head before leaning over and pressing his lips to Sam’s in a soft, quick kiss, before pulling back, but still staying close.

 

“I don’t care what Clark thinks or doesn’t think. I just care that I have you,” Grizz said.

 

Sam’s face softened as he gave a small smile, before wrapping his arms around Grizz, who relaxed against Sam, cuddling into his chest. He closed his eyes, enjoying the moment, because who knew how long it would be until they got a chance to have a moment alone like this again. Maybe skipping school would have to be a weekly thing.  

 

Chapter Text

“Please, please, please,” Gwen begged, “it’ll be so much fun.”

 

Grizz finished taking his booked from his locker and turned to his friend, “I gotta ask Sam first. But I think I’ll be okay to go. My parents probably won’t even notice I’m gone.”

 

“Sam’s much funner than you are so I’m sure he’ll go,” Gwen said.

 

“Funner isn’t a word,” Grizz muttered.

 

“Shut up. Just ask him. I’ll lock it in with Seth, okay? Spring break, just Saturday and Sunday. It’ll be great,” Gwen said and she didn’t give Grizz a chance to change his mind before turning and heading down the hall.

 

Gwen was still hell bent on a double date which had now turned into a weekend away at Yale where Gwen’s sort of boyfriend Seth went. Gwen had been bugging Grizz about it constantly, and the only reason Grizz had been holding back was because he didn’t want to face the drama if Clark found out he went on a weekend away with Gwen, or the drama it’d cause if everyone found out he went away with Sam. And then Grizz would dig himself into a hole of feeling like a dick because he didn’t want Sam to be some dirty little secret, even if Grizz knew that was definitely not what Sam was to him.

 

Everything had been so calm in the week that went by since his and Sam’s day off together, and Grizz didn’t want to do anything to rock the boat. Clark had backed off, really backed off. To the point where some days he wouldn’t even look at Grizz, and it was a strange kind of vibe because he didn’t seem angry with Grizz, at least Grizz didn’t think so, but sometimes Clark acted as though Grizz wasn’t even there, and when they did catch each other’s gaze, Clark would look away so quickly, sometimes even leaving the group completely, and it left Grizz puzzled because he thought things were okay.

 

Grizz quizzed Luke, asking if Clark had said anything about their argument, and Luke said that the last time he spoke to Clark about it was the day Grizz and Sam took off together. Luke had heard about the argument and told Clark he should apologize, and that made things a little clearer for Grizz. Clark was probably forced to apologize and didn’t mean it at all. Whatever the case, they didn’t feel like friends anymore. Grizz wasn’t overly concerned though. He knew one day the truth would come out about his sexuality and Sam, and Clark would have to believe him eventually.

 

Speak of the devil, Clark was walking in the opposite direction of Grizz and he was by himself. Grizz decided on one last attempt at getting things back to normal. Grizz side-stepped around a few students so he was right in Clark’s way. The other boy stopped when he glanced up seeing Grizz.

 

“Hey,” Grizz said with the warmest smile he could muster up.

 

“Hey, dude,” Clark said, but it didn’t feel natural. It wasn’t like Clark at all. “I’m gonna be late to class.”

 

“There’s, like, five minutes,” Grizz said, stepping in front of Clark when the other boy tried to walk around him.

 

“I was gonna stop at the library. Need to get a book,” Clark said, which was funny to Grizz because he wasn’t even sure Clark had stepped into a library in his entire life, and the library was in the opposite direction. Grizz didn’t mention either of those things.

 

“Oh okay. Listen, what are you doing this afternoon? We should hang out,” Grizz said.

 

Clark’s face turned into a grimace, quickly replaced by one of concentration, “uh, I can’t.”

 

“No?”

 

“No, I have to study. Big test coming up for math,” Clark said, his eyes anywhere but on Grizz’s. It was a lie. His class had a test last week.

 

“Sure,” Grizz let it go.

 

Clark nodded, “gotta go. Catch you later.”

 

Grizz watched him as he headed off down the hallway. Grizz sighed heavily, shaking his head. He just didn’t know what to do about Clark anymore, so he decided to just wait it out and hope Clark would get over it sooner or later and things could go back to normal.

 

As Grizz headed back down the hallway he passed Campbell who shot him a warning glare, and Grizz wasn’t sure what he had done that day to deserve that. Campbell had been keeping his distance from Grizz too. Most days Grizz would earn himself a smirk or sly comment threatening an outing, but it never came and Grizz was starting to wonder if Campbell was just all talk.

 

Grizz tried not to think about the sick feeling he got in his stomach at the mere sight of Campbell, and headed into his English classroom, taking his usual seat in the back of class. As Grizz sat there waiting for class to start, he took note of every person piling into the room; their teacher being the last person as she closed the door behind her.

 

For the third day in a row, Elle wasn’t there, and that was a little unusual. Elle was pretty good with her attendance. Glancing at the teacher, Grizz made sure she wasn’t paying attention to him as he took his phone of his pocket and texted Elle.

 

I’ve had to pair up with Dewey twice this week n I fuckin hate that guy. Where are you? – Grizz.

 

It wasn’t until half way through the class when Grizz’s phone vibrated in his pocket. He stealthily held his phone in the book they were supposed to be reading and checked the message.

 

Sorry Grizz. I’m just sick. – Elle.

 

That sucks. Cold or flu or ? – Grizz.

 

Just a cold I think. Just thought it was best to stay away from school. – Elle.

 

Any excuse will do :P – Grizz.

 

Lol – Elle.

 

Do you need anything? – Grizz.

 

I’m okay. Don’t go bringing me homework haha – Elle.

 

You haven’t missed out on much. Miss my English buddy though!! – Grizz.

 

I should be back next week. – Elle.

 

You better! Get some rest x – Grizz.

 

Grizz didn’t get a reply after that, so he figured she had taken his advice. There must have been a bug or something going around because only a couple days ago both Helena and Luke were missing from school with the flu and Grizz made them a batch of his somewhat famous chicken soup. In fact, he was sure there were still leftovers he could heat up for Elle. Grizz nodded to himself. He was going to do that after school for sure.

 

---

 

That afternoon Grizz found himself walking up the garden path to Elle’s house. He had only been there a couple of times before but always remembered it because of the rose garden out the front that Grizz admired so much. It was the only one on the street with one like it.

 

Grizz held the hot soup in a container. He probably should have texted Elle first, but he was merely going to drop it off for her and then head over to Sam’s to hang out for the rest of the afternoon. Grizz got to the front door and knocked loudly on it. He glanced around, noticing there weren’t any cars in the driveway. Hopefully Elle wasn’t too sick and was okay on her own.

 

Grizz always made a point to look after his friends after a couple of years ago when he was so sick that he felt like he was on the verge of death. His temperature was so high that he was convulsing and he was so delirious that he didn’t know who he was or where he was, and he was so scared that night and his parents didn’t check on him even once. He never wanted his friends to feel alone like that.

 

Grizz knocked on the door again after he had waited a minute, and not even five seconds later the door opened to reveal Elle. The girl stood there with her mouth half open like she was about to say something but stopped when she saw it was Grizz standing there. That wasn’t what Grizz was focusing on though. Elle didn’t look the least bit sick. She was dressed well, hair neat and tidy, make up on perfectly. The thing was, there was a huge bruise around her eye and cheek, colored yellow and red. No amount of make-up was covering that.

 

“You’re…not Campbell,” Elle said.

 

“And you…don’t look or sound sick,” Grizz said, “what happened?”

 

“I’m feeling better, I guess,” Elle said as she flicked her hair in front of her cheek, but it was too late. Grizz had already seen it.

 

“What happened to your face, Elle?” Grizz asked firmly.

 

“Nothing interesting. It was just a dumb accident,” Elle said.

 

Grizz placed the container he was holding on the ground and stepped towards Elle. She flinched as he reached out to brush her hair out of her face. Her gaze fell to the ground as Grizz gingerly touched the discolored mark taking up almost a quarter of her face.

 

“Was this Campbell?” Grizz asked.

 

“What? No! Why would you think that?” Elle said, knocking Grizz’s hand away. Grizz wasn’t stupid. He noticed the flash of fear in her eyes and the hint of doubt in her voice.

 

“Elle-“

 

“What are you doing here, Grizz?” Elle snapped.

 

“I was bringing you soup because you’re sick but clearly you’ve been off school for other reasons,” Grizz said.

 

“Grizz, please,” Elle said with desperation dripping from her voice as she shifted her weight from foot to foot.

 

“You can tell me the truth, Elle. If it was him…” Grizz trailed off.

 

“You need to go, Grizz,” Elle said, and the avoidance was the final nail in the coffin. There was no doubt in Grizz’s mind that Campbell had done this to her.

 

“What did your parents say? Do they even care?” Grizz asked, getting mad now, because how the fuck hadn’t anyone done anything about this?

 

“There’s nothing to care about!” Elle raised her voice, “I fell off my bike! That’s it!”

 

“That’s bullshit. That kind of bruise doesn’t happen from falling off a bike. That kind of bruise happens when someone hits you,” Grizz pushed, and he just kept pushing because he wanted Elle to admit the truth. He wanted a reason to go after Campbell.

 

“You’re not a doctor, Grizz. I know you think you’re so clever when it comes to this shit, but you don’t know anything,” Elle argued.

 

Grizz caught Elle’s gaze, looking at her intently as he spoke, “I want you to look me in the eye and tell me right now that Campbell didn’t do this.”

 

Elle’s dull eyes bore into Grizz’s, the two of them in an intense showdown, and it wasn’t that Grizz wanted to argue with her. He just wanted the truth so he could help her.

 

“He loves me,” Elle said.

 

“I’ll make him stop,” Grizz said.

 

“There’s nothing you can do. It’s not a big deal, okay? He likes to get a little rough in bed. It was an accident,” Elle said.

 

“If it was an accident then why spend three days off school? Why tell me you fell off your bike?” Grizz asked.

 

“You know what I noticed the other day? A bruise on Sam’s neck,” Elle said with a smug gleam in her eyes.

 

“That’s not the same and you know it. I’m not trying to fight with you, Elle. I don’t want you hurt. He’s dangerous, okay? I know he is,” Grizz said.

 

Elle’s gaze softened as she shook her head, “I can deal with him. You don’t have to worry about me.”

 

“You’re my friend. Of course I’m going to worry about you, especially when I come around and see giant bruises like this on your face,” Grizz said.

 

“We aren’t friends though. We hang out in English, that’s it. I don’t have any friends,” Elle said.

 

“I am your friend. You don’t have to stay with Campbell if he’s doing this to you,” Grizz said.

 

“You have no idea what you’re talking about. You need to mind your own business and go home,” Elle said.

 

“Yeah Grizzy, go home,” the new voice in the conversation made Grizz’s blood run cold. He turned around, seeing Campbell standing there a few feet away from them both. Grizz clenched his fists tightly.

 

“So, what’d I miss?” Campbell asked with a smirk.

 

“Is this what you do to girls? Beat up on them?” Grizz asked.

 

“Grizz, don’t,” Elle warned.

 

“I’d listen to her, Grizz. I’d tread very, very carefully with whatever you say next,” Campbell said, his voice laced with the unspoken threat. Grizz didn’t care about Campbell outing him though.

 

Grizz walked the three steps it took to get to Campbell, and the other boy didn’t even flinch as Grizz stood barely a couple of inches from him.

 

“If you ever touch her again…” Grizz trailed off.

 

“I’m not really a fan of threats,” Campbell said.

 

“It’s not a threat, it’s a promise,” Grizz said.

 

“Guys, come on,” Elle spoke softly behind them.

 

“Yeah Grizz, come on,” Campbell whispered, “you wouldn’t want to cause another bruise on her pretty face, right?”

 

“Don’t you fucking even think about touching her!” Grizz shouted as he stepped forward, chest knocking against chest in an over the top display of masculinity that Campbell only returned, shoving Grizz back.

 

“Keep your fucking nose out of where it doesn’t belong!” Campbell shouted back.

 

In a flash Elle was between them, trying her best to push them away from each other but both boys were so focused on their pure disdain towards each other.

 

“Where the fuck do you get off beating up on her, huh? Look at her face!” Grizz yelled.

 

“You don’t fuckin’ know shit!” Campbell barked back. He latched onto Grizz’s shirt, shaking at him, Campbell’s face going red and a vein threatening to pop on his forehead, and Grizz wanted to fight him.

 

“Stop it!” Elle screamed, “just stop!”

 

“Get out of the way,” Campbell snapped at his girlfriend and in one swift movement he grabbed her arm and easily tossed her to the ground. That was when Grizz’s blind rage shifted. He turned to Elle who landed on the ground with a thud and quickly realized that fighting Campbell would only make things worse.

 

“Shit, Elle, are you okay?” Grizz rushed over to her. The girl on the ground held her hands up in a dismissive wave.

 

“Stay away from her,” Campbell latched on to Grizz’s shirt and pulled him back.

 

“Get the fuck off me!” Grizz struggled as he pushed the other boy away.

 

All too quickly Campbell’s fist recoiled and launched itself right into Grizz’s face, connecting with his mouth and jaw. Grizz fell to the grass as the taste of metal filled his senses. His head spun as he shook it, trying to regain his bearings. He spat out thick, sticky blood and wiped at his mouth.

 

Campbell was on him again, pushing Grizz onto his back and hovering over him. Campbell held the front of Grizz’s shirt, his fingers bunching in the fabric as he yanked him closer, and honestly, Grizz was scared. He was scared of the look of pure evil in Campbell’s eyes, and he was scared of what Campbell was capable of in that moment.

 

“If you know what’s best for you-, no, if you know what’s best for Sam, I’d stay the fuck out of my business and away from my girlfriend if I were you,” Campbell sneered. He shoved Grizz back to the ground.

 

Campbell left him there on the ground before going over to Elle and yanking her up by her forearm. He dragged her across the garden path and back into the house. The last thing Grizz saw was Elle’s apologetic look.

 

“Fuck,” Grizz groaned as he rolled around on the ground. He could take a hit, sure, but it never made it any easier, and Campbell unfortunately had a good right hook. Pain radiated from his lip through his jaw, and he could still taste blood.

 

Grizz decided to retreat. He didn’t know what else to do. It was obvious Elle wasn’t going to admit to anyone any time soon what Campbell was doing to her, and if Grizz got up and tried to go in the house then all it would result in is Campbell probably beating the shit out of him, or worse, he could hurt Elle if Grizz caused even the slightest bit of drama.

 

Grizz forced himself up from the ground, and with his head still spinning, made his way over to his car, getting inside where it was safe. Grizz flipped the visor down and looked in the mirror. Sure enough he had a split bottom lip on the left hand side that was dripping blood.

 

“Fucking asshole,” Grizz muttered. He flipped the visor back up and turned the key in the ignition, letting the engine roar back to life.

 

For a moment, Grizz sat there, letting himself calm down enough to be able to drive. He was fuming and he felt so useless. He had no idea what to do. He just knew that he wanted to be around Sam, so the moment the dizziness left his mind, he drove off down the street towards Sam’s house.

 

It wasn’t too long until he was outside, parked on the curb, and he hesitated, because did he really want to drag Sam into all of this? He had a busted lip, so Sam would ask questions one way or the other and Grizz didn’t feel like lying to him, and he also really wanted Sam to tell him what he was supposed to do now. Was there a point in going to the cops if Elle was just going to lie to protect Campbell?

 

Grizz took a breath and gathered his thoughts before taking out his phone and texting Sam.

 

Hey, I’m here. – Grizz.

 

Front doors unlocked. I’m in my room. Too lazy to get up! – Sam.

 

Grizz smiled, flinching when his lips stretched. Once again he cursed Campbell in his head before getting out of the car. Sam’s parents weren’t home. They never were in the afternoons. Grizz let himself into the house like instructed and headed up to Sam’s room. He wondered just how long they would have until Campbell turned up, or if Campbell would stay with Elle for a while. Grizz would’ve preferred Campbell come home because at least Elle would be safe. With that thought in mind he sent a text to Elle.

 

Let me know if everything is okay. I’m sorry if I made it worse. ­– Grizz.

 

Grizz shoved his phone in his pocket as he reached Sam’s door. He pushed it open, and Sam had been waiting for him, sitting on his bed with his laptop on his lap. The moment Sam’s eyes locked on Grizz’s, he snapped his laptop shut and leapt off his bed, rushing over.

 

“What happened?” Sam asked, taking Grizz’s face in his hands.

 

“What? Aren’t wounds like this considered sexy?” Grizz joked, but Sam wasn’t having any of it.

 

“That looks like it hurts. What happened?” Sam asked again.

 

Grizz sighed, taking Sam’s hand in his, “I got in a fight, okay? But it’s fine. I’m fine.” Grizz said.

 

“Was it Clark?” Sam frowned.

 

“No.”

 

“Well?” Sam signed, his hands going a little wild, probably getting frustrated because Grizz wasn’t giving up too much information.

 

“I went to see Elle, like I told you, and she had this huge bruise on her face, and…fuck Sam. Campbell did it to her,” Grizz said.

 

“Did she say that?” Sam asked.

 

“She didn’t have to,” Grizz said, “but then Campbell turned up and we fought…well, he hit me.”

 

Sam’s eyes glistened as he stayed quiet, his gaze flicking from Grizz’s eyes, to his cut lip.

 

“Sit down. I’ll get something to clean that up,” Sam said.

 

“You don’t have to,” Grizz said.

 

“Sit,” Sam ordered as he nudged Grizz towards the bed.

 

Grizz did as he was told and sat on the edge of the bed. Sam disappeared from the room and came back a moment later with a wet cloth, some cotton buds and a tube of ointment. Sam sat next to Grizz, facing him.

 

“I’m sorry,” Sam said.

 

“Why? It’s not your fault,” Grizz said.

 

“He’s my brother,” Sam said.

 

“Still not your fault,” Grizz said.

 

Sam didn’t say anything, he just took Grizz’s chin and made him look directly at him. Sam gently dabbed at the cut and Grizz’s chin, cleaning it off any blood that had dripped down. Grizz would’ve been perfectly capable of doing it himself, but it was a lot nicer having Sam look after him.

 

“I don’t know what to do. Elle’s never gonna admit the truth,” Grizz said.

 

“Nothing we can do except let her come to us,” Sam said.

 

“If he hurts her again I swear-“

 

“Don’t go near him,” Sam interrupted, “please, just stay away.”

 

“I’ll be fine,” Grizz said.

 

Sam looked up from Grizz’s lip to his eyes, staring right into them, “you don’t get it. Please, Grizz. Promise me you’ll stay out of his way.”

 

“I’m just so fucking pissed at him. I’m, like, shaking,” Grizz said, and he was. His hands hadn’t stopped trembling since Campbell first turned up at Elle’s.

 

Sam didn’t say anything, and he didn’t need to either, because instead he leant forward and pressed his lips against the right side of Grizz’s in a gentle kiss, narrowly avoiding the cut. Sam kissed him again, a little firmer this time, and Grizz felt his insides unravel as he relaxed, even if for only a fraction. Sam pulled back, giving Grizz the softest look, and Grizz wondered why Sam wasn’t as angry as he was.

 

“Have you ever noticed him hurt her before?” Grizz asked curiously.

 

Sam shook his head, “no. I had an idea, sometimes. But no.”

 

Grizz analysed every little detail on Sam’s face until something dawned on him.

 

“Has he ever hurt you?” Grizz asked.

 

Sam looked away, acting as though he hadn’t seen what Grizz had said. Sam popped open the tube of white ointment that Grizz had no clue what it was, and poured a little onto a cotton bud before dabbing at the cut. Grizz took Sam’s wrist, stopping him.

 

“Sam. Has Campbell ever hurt you?” Grizz asked.

 

“I’m not answering that,” Sam said.

 

“Why? Because he did? I swear I’ll fucking-“

 

Sam’s lips were on Grizz’s again, not caring that he was touching the cut, and Grizz not caring that it hurt a whole fucking lot. He sighed into the kiss as once again he felt his entire body relax. Sam pulled back all too soon but kept his hands on Grizz’s cheeks, leaving the two boys facing each other.

 

“You’ll what? You’re too soft to do anything,” Sam said fondly, “you wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

 

“He’s not a fly. He’s a snake. If he so much as touches you, ever, I will kill him,” Grizz promised.

 

“So macho,” Sam teased.

 

“I mean it, Sam. I’ll fucking kill him,” Grizz said.

 

Sam chewed on his bottom lip and didn’t say a thing. All he did was move closer to Grizz and put his arms around him in a tight hug. There was nothing Grizz could do except hug Sam back, and know that they would both be watching Campbell’s every move to try and protect Elle however they could. 

 

Chapter Text

Sam’s lips. Sam’s tongue. Sam’s hands. Sam’s body. Grizz was drowning in Sam, Sam, Sam, and well, if that was how he was going to die then so be it. Mark on his tomb stone that he died very, very fucking happy. It wasn’t even Grizz’s intention to get in the back seat with Sam early that morning. In fact, Grizz had only planned on talking to Sam when he suggested they drive by their usual spot near the river before school, but when Sam started on Grizz’s neck the moment Grizz turned the car off, he figured there was no harm in indulging a little.

 

Grizz was on top of Sam, the boy below him clutched onto his shirt with one hand, the other tugged on the stray pieces of hair that wouldn’t go up in his tiny bun. Sam had his thighs hitched up over Grizz’s hips, and fuck Grizz was getting a little carried away. He wondered how far they could go without going too far, because Grizz really did have to talk to Sam. That was the entire point of their rendezvous.

 

He was going to pull back, really, Grizz was. He was for the past five minutes but just couldn’t bring himself to part from Sam’s addictive lips. It wasn’t until Sam began undoing Grizz’s belt that Grizz finally made the decision to stop things there. Grizz shook his head, breaking the kiss before looking down at Sam, waiting for him to open his eyes, and when he did, Grizz was met with disappointment.

 

“We can’t. We have to get to school,” Grizz said.

 

“We have time,” Sam argued.

 

“But I actually have some things to tell you,” Grizz said, and damn it was taking everything in him not to close the gap between them again, especially when he could feel just how excited Sam was against him.

 

“We can talk later,” Sam said before doing what Grizz fought not to do. He kissed Grizz and for a moment there, Grizz gave in, kissing the boy back hard. When Sam went for his belt again, Grizz had to physically remove himself from his boyfriend, and well, if that wasn’t just the hardest thing Grizz had ever had to do.

 

Grizz sat up, leaning back against the door. He took a deep breath in a desperate attempt to calm himself down. Sam being, well, Sam, sat up and gave Grizz the cheekiest little smirk before going for his neck, kissing the soft skin lightly, and Grizz had to hold back a moan. No, he couldn’t give in. He needed to talk to Sam.

 

“What do you want to tell me?” Sam whispered in his ear before mounting Grizz, straddling his hips. Grizz could barely concentrate as his boyfriend kissed up his jawline before settling on his lips, biting the bottom one gently.

 

Sam finally pulled back a little, but stayed close, his hands around the back of Grizz’s neck, and Grizz held his hips, not wanting him to get off at all despite the situation Sam was causing in Grizz’s jeans. Sam’s gaze fell to Grizz’s lips before he tenderly brushed his thumb over yesterday’s cut that was healing nicely, well, hopefully still healing after Sam’s attack.

 

“Okay, so,” Grizz breathed out heavily as he reluctantly let go of Sam’s hips to sign what he knew of what he was speaking, “there’s two things. First, what are you doing for spring break?”

 

“No plans yet,” Sam said.

 

“Cool, so Gwen met this guy at a Yale trip that she really likes, and she’s been bugging me to head up there with her to meet him again, and she suggested a double date,” Grizz explained.

 

“Really? You and me on a date in public?” Sam was surprised, and Grizz didn’t blame him given how secretive Grizz insisted on being.

 

“Well, yeah. No one up there knows us so…” Grizz shrugged.

 

“Could be fun. What’s the plan?” Sam asked.

 

“We drive there on Saturday and meet the guy, then apparently there’s some party that night and we head home on Sunday in time for when school’s back,” Grizz said.

 

“Where will we stay?”

 

“Gwen will stay with Seth in his dorm. As for us, Gwen said she’s going to borrow her brother’s van and we can stay in the back,” Grizz said, and it really did sound like a lot of fun. Grizz was just, as always, over thinking about everything.

 

“Romance is alive,” Sam teased.

 

“Shut up,” Grizz laughed, “if you don’t want to go that’s fine. I don’t mind.”

 

“No, I’ll go. If I can get past my parents. I’ll tell them I’m staying at Becca’s,” Sam said.

 

“Okay cool. Gwen will be happy. She’s been bugging me about this for weeks,” Grizz said.

 

“Do you want to go?” Sam asked.

 

“Spending time with you away from all the drama? I kind of think I need that,” Grizz said.

 

Sam’s lips pulled into a small smile before he leant forward and kissed Grizz. It was short and sweet but made Grizz want more, but they were running out of time before they had to be at school.

 

“What else did you want to tell me?” Sam asked when he pulled back. 

 

“Okay, so, yesterday I got some mail,” Grizz said, the excitement bubbling up in him.

 

“Fascinating,” Sam mocked.

 

“Shut up,” Grizz scolded but leant forward to kiss Sam’s nose quickly. Sam giggled, pushing him back.

 

“Go on. You got mail and?”

 

“And…I got accepted into Duke on full scholarship,” Grizz said.

 

“Wait, where?” Sam asked.

 

“Duke,” Grizz said, finger-spelling the university.

 

“Really?”

 

“Yeah,” Grizz beamed because it was the good news he had been waiting for, and it had eliminated so much anxiety when it came to his parents and where his life was heading. Getting a scholarship gave him the freedom he needed. It was something to fall back on if something ever happened with his parents.

 

“On full scholarship?” Sam asked.

 

“Yep.”

 

“Academic or football?”

 

“Academic,” Grizz said proudly.

 

“Aww, look at my little nerd go. Grizz, that’s so great. Congratulations,” Sam said before he wrapped his arms around Grizz’s neck in a tight hug.

 

Grizz hugged him back just as tightly. The moment went on a little longer than a normal hug should have, and when Grizz’s arms loosened, Sam’s stayed just as secure as they had been. Grizz frowned a little, wondering what had gotten Sam so clingy, and in the back of his mind he knew the answer.

 

“Wow, Duke,” Sam said as he finally pulled back, “that’s so cool. I knew you were smart.”

 

“Thank you,” Grizz said in pride, “I haven’t told anyone else yet. I wanted you to be the first to know.”

 

“I’m honored. Have you accepted yet?” Sam asked.

 

“Not yet, but I’m going to. Duke was up there with my top picks and I got rejected from the others,” Grizz told him.  

 

“Wow, Duke. Wow,” Sam was seemingly shocked, and Grizz was a little too. He knew he had good grades but with the few rejection letters he received, he had begun to give up hope.  

 

“Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. And like, now I feel like I don’t have to rely on my parents as much anymore, you know?” Grizz said.  

 

“I’m really happy for you, Grizz.”

 

And Sam was smiling, but the thing was that Grizz knew Sam’s smile. He knew Sam’s real, genuine smile, and that wasn’t it. Grizz wasn’t dumb. He was excited, yes, but he wasn’t stupid or insensitive. He may have gotten a little carried away with being accepted, but he knew this could be a hurdle. Of course he had thought about what it meant for himself and Sam if he moved away.

 

“You’re upset,” Grizz said.

 

“No,” Sam shook his head.

 

“I know Duke is far away,” Grizz said.

 

“Don’t think about that. You got into college. This is amazing. It’s great,” Sam’s voice was barely a whisper and not a moment later he had tears in his eyes. He knew it too because he closed them, shaking his head. “Fuck. Sorry.”

 

Sam had the car door open and was outside in a flash, his body leaving Grizz’s to cool down, but Grizz didn’t want to cool down. He wanted Sam close to him again. Grizz couldn’t help but feel awful. Seeing Sam upset like that made the doubt creep in. When Grizz opened that acceptance letter the night before he was so overjoyed, and sure he had thought about Sam too, but that excitement over clouded just how upset he really would be to leave Sam.

 

The thing was, Grizz had so much confidence in their relationship that he knew they’d make it work. Distance was just that; distance. And that distance wouldn’t be forever. Grizz was head over heels in love with Sam. There was no way Grizz wouldn’t make it work. Sam though, he looked so hurt that it had Grizz thinking maybe he didn’t have to go away. Maybe he had to think about it more or wait for closer colleges and universities to get back to him.

 

Grizz got out of the car and went to where Sam was just outside, leaning against the driver’s side door. Grizz stood in front of him just as the boy wiped his tears on the sleeve of his hoodie. Fuck. Grizz fucked up.

 

“I’m a dick,” Sam said.

 

“You’re not a dick,” Grizz said, and stepped forward when he realized Sam wasn’t looking at him. He took Sam’s hands, moving them from his face and laced their fingers together before repeating, “you’re not a dick.”

 

“I am. It’s your moment and… I’m sorry. I’m excited for you. I really am,” Sam insisted.

 

Grizz chewed on his bottom lip. He just wanted to make this better.

 

“I could still just go to a college here in Connecticut. I can,” Grizz said, “I applied to a couple just in case.”

 

“No. No way. You are not staying here for me,” Sam said.

 

“I would.”

 

“I know you would, and that’s why I won’t let you,” Sam argued.

 

“I want to be with you, Sam. Like…seriously,” Grizz said, his voice shaking a little because he really didn’t want this to be a thing. He didn’t want Sam to think he was abandoning him here.

 

“I know. We can make it work long distance, right?” Sam asked.

 

Grizz nodded, “of course. I’ll come back and visit all the time. I promise.”

 

“You better,” Sam smiled, and at least it was a real one. It seemed so simple, right. Grizz would go to college and after that? Sam would be going to college in a year, and then? In that moment it didn’t matter to Grizz, because he didn’t care how many years they were both off in college. There was no one else Grizz would ever want so he’d do long distance for as long as it took and he could only hope Sam was on the same page as him.

 

“Where do you want to go? Have you thought about applications?” Grizz asked.

 

“I don’t care where I go. I’ll go somewhere close to you,” Sam said.

 

“No. You can’t base your decisions off me,” Grizz argued.

 

“I’m not. I’m basing them on me and what I want. And I want to be close to you. I don’t have my heart set on a single college. Don’t know if I even want to go to one,” Sam said.

 

“What do you want to do after school then?” Grizz asked.

 

“I don’t know, really. I think I want to help kids like me,” Sam said.

 

“Deaf?”

 

“That, and gay, and…”

 

“And?”

 

“And people like Elle. People that deal with people like Campbell. I want to help people,” Sam said.

 

“Like social worker sort of stuff?” Grizz asked.

 

“Maybe.”

 

“Do you need college for that?”

 

“I can go to any college for that,” Sam assured him, and everything Sam was saying made sense. Grizz just didn’t want Sam following him around if it wasn’t going to be in his best interest.

 

“I just want you to do what’s best for you,” Grizz said.

 

Sam smiled, “don’t you worry about me.”

 

Grizz smiled back and let go of Sam’s hands, sliding his own hands up to Sam’s shoulder’s instead and looking him in the eyes.

 

“Are you okay?” Grizz asked.

 

Sam shrugged, “I guess. I’m just thinking of all the sexting we’re gonna do.”

 

Grizz laughed, shaking his head at his boyfriend, “that’s the spirit.”

 

Sam wrapped his arms around Grizz’s neck and glanced down at his lips.

 

“I’m happy for you. I really am,” Sam said genuinely.

 

“I know,” Grizz murmured, “I love you.”

 

Grizz heart stopped for a moment as the words left his lips. He wasn’t even scared that he said it out loud. He wasn’t upset that he somehow just knew Sam wasn’t going to say it back. Saying those three words filled Grizz’s chest with a warmth that he had never felt before, and he never wanted to let go of that feeling.

 

Sam smiled as he leant in and pressed his lips against Grizz’s in a slow kiss. Grizz knew in that moment that everything would be fine between them. Grizz would make it work. He had to, because he couldn’t imagine his life without Sam in it now that he had him, and perhaps that was a little over the top for a couple of teenagers still in high school, but that was truly how Grizz felt. In Grizz’s mind, nothing could tear them apart.

 

“We gotta get to school,” Grizz said when they pulled apart.

 

“Let’s skip again,” Sam suggested.

 

“You’re a bad influence,” Grizz poked Sam’s sides, making the other boy laugh and flinch away.

 

“You’re a goody two shoes. Now drive me to school, taxi boy,” Sam ordered.

 

“Watch your attitude or you can walk,” Grizz said.

 

“Yes, sir,” Sam said with a cheeky grin, and before Grizz could scold him for using that word, he ran around the side of the car and got in. Grizz rolled his eyes. Fuck, he really, really loved this boy.

 

---

 

Grizz made it to school with enough time to meet up with Luke, Clark and Jason. He saw the three of them walking down the hall and rushed to catch up with them. It was game day, and when they had a game they always tried to hang out a lot together. Jason said it was all part of being a cohesive group, and some nonsense about team spirit.

 

“Hey guys, you pumped for the game against East Ham tonight?” Grizz said when he got to them. He wiggled his way between Clark and Luke, and all three boys looked at him but none gave an answer.

 

“What the hell happened to you?” Luke asked. Oh right, the cut on his lip. Grizz had barely thought up a lie. There was no way he was going to tell them it was Campbell because he didn’t want to make things worse.

 

“Oh? This? It’s nothing. Don’t worry,” Grizz said.

 

“Who did that?” Clark asked in his most macho, protective voice and it warmed Grizz’s insides a little because, hey, maybe they were on the right track to being friends again.

 

“Yeah, we’ll fuck him up. Don’t think I won’t,” Jason added.

 

“It was just…nobody. Some guy outside Walmart. I think he was on drugs,” Grizz said.

 

“Fuck man, did you at least get a few good hits in?” Jason asked.

 

“Nah, you know me. I don’t like fighting,” Grizz said.

 

“Are you okay?” Clark asked and Grizz glanced up at him warily, because Clark was so wishy-washy that he didn’t know if he could trust that they could really be friends again.

 

“Yeah. I’m good. It was just some idiot swinging his fists around,” Grizz lied.

 

“You gotta be more careful. Can’t have one of our star players dropping out of tonight’s game because of an injury,” Luke said.

 

“It’s a busted lip, I think I’ll be fine,” Grizz rolled his eyes.

 

“Plus, battle wounds are hot,” Jason said. Grizz merely laughed as he reached over and shoved Jason.

 

The four boys kept on going down the hall, talking about the game that night and the lack of good players on the opposing team. Grizz was barely paying attention to anything else other than his friends when someone ran into him, and hard, so hard that Grizz stumbled to the side and lost his footing, falling into Clark’s waiting arms. It was a good thing Clark had quick reflexes. He was also quick to shove Grizz off him once he was steady.

 

“My bad,” Campbell sneered as all four football players turned to the culprit of the more than obvious attack. Grizz hated him. He really, truly, with everything in him, hated Campbell.

 

“Hey fuckface, what the fuck was that? Why don’t you watch where your skinny ass is going?” Clark barked at Campbell.

 

“Naww, isn’t that just the sweetest, sticking up for him. But don’t you know your faggot boy over there is already taken?” Campbell taunted, and Grizz’s blood went both hot and cold at the same time.

 

Grizz didn’t even have to retaliate, because Clark went off, that hot head of his taking the lead as he grabbed Campbell by the shirt and slammed him against the lockers. By now they had a crowd of people watching what was going on, but Grizz didn’t care about them. He was sure Clark was about to murder Campbell then and there.

 

“Clark, stop!” Luke shouted and Jason was trying, and failing, to pull Clark back. Clark just kept going at Campbell, getting in his face, and what made it worse was that Campbell was just standing there, looking entertained as always.

 

“You’ll get fucking suspended before the game tonight,” Jason said as he pulled Clark back, and when Clark went to go at Campbell’s smug face again, Grizz decided he had to do something. Grizz stepped between the two boys, his back to Campbell because fuck that guy. Grizz put his hand to Clark’s chest, and the slightly taller boy looked at Grizz, confusion etched all over his face.

 

“Clark, stop,” Grizz said firmly.

 

Clark was still fuming. Grizz could see it in his eyes, but Grizz wasn’t moving from between the two until Clark calmed down, because Jason was right, if they got into a fight then they’d be out of the game tonight and that would be a disaster.

 

Grizz raised his eyebrows at Clark, silently asking if he was good now. All Clark did was huff menacingly and slap Grizz’s hand away from his chest before storming off down the hall. Grizz sighed in relief. The crowd around them dispersed a little, but curious eyes were still on them. Grizz didn’t care though.

 

“Ooh, Gareth, does Sammy know what’s going on there? I can feel the sexual tension from here,” Campbell whispered in Grizz’s ear.

 

The mere mention of Sam’s name coming from Campbell’s lips had Grizz seeing red. He spun around, and he swore he was going to hit Campbell. He really was. He’d never get to find out if he’d go through with it though because both Luke and Jason had each of his arms and were pulling him across the other side of the hallway.

 

“Let it go, buddy,” Jason said.

 

“Jesus, guys, all I did was accidentally run into him. No need for such a song and dance,” Campbell called out.

 

“Walk away!” Jason shouted out as he let go of Grizz. Grizz watched as Jason took a few threatening steps towards Campbell, and as always, Campbell was cool and composed as he held his hands up in surrender and backed away, but Grizz knew this was not a surrender and Campbell would probably never leave him alone. He really didn’t want to let Campbell get to him, but when he had that smug look on his face it was really hard.

 

“Some guy from Walmart, huh?” Luke asked.

 

Grizz didn’t grant Luke a response to that. He hated how Luke seemed to just know everything when he probably didn’t know shit. Grizz was in a mood and didn’t want to take it out on Luke, so he just broke free of Luke’s grasp on him before stalking off down the hall towards his first class, ignoring the stares of curious students who had no idea what just happened.

 

Grizz headed into his English class thinking it would be exactly how it had been for the entire week, but there was one thing different. Elle was there, sitting in her usual spot up the back next to Grizz’s desk. His anger deflated and was instead replaced by concern. He sat down next to her, taking note of the make up that she caked onto her face, and if Grizz hadn’t known that there was a bruise under it all, he wouldn’t have noticed a difference in her face at all.

 

“Hey, Elle, how are you?” Grizz asked.

 

“I need you to not talk to me, Grizz,” she murmured, keeping her eyes focused on the front of the classroom.

 

“Okay. I’m here if you need anything,” Grizz said.

 

Elle nodded, and honestly, fuck Campbell. He was trying to ruin his and Sam’s relationship. He was getting into Grizz’s head, into Clark’s head, and now he was probably the cause of Elle not wanting to talk to him. Grizz couldn’t even remember what the fuck he did to make Campbell hate him so much. Was it really because he and Sam were happy together?

 

“I’m sorry he hit you,” Elle said, barely audible, but Grizz caught it.

 

“I’m sorry he hit you too,” Grizz said.

 

Elle didn’t say anything. She looked down at her notebook, and Grizz didn’t want to push her anymore. He had to trust that Elle would come to him when she was ready. A huge part of Grizz didn’t understand why she couldn’t just break up with Campbell, but another part of Grizz knew it wasn’t that easy. He knew Campbell had his claws in deep and Elle, well, Elle was scared, and it broke Grizz’s heart. He swore, if anything else happened to Elle and she didn’t leave that sack of shit, then Grizz was going to tell someone. Her parents? A teacher? The cops? It didn’t matter, but someone had to know.

 

Grizz’s phone vibrated in his pocket. He took it out jut as the lesson started and saw a text from Sam.

 

People are saying Campbell and your friends fought? – Sam.

 

He was just being a dick. Don’t worry about it. – Grizz.

 

What happened? – Sam.

 

Don’t worry about it. – Grizz.

 

I’m not a fucking child Grizz. Tell me. – Sam.

 

He ran into me in the hall. Provoked Clark. Usual shit. ­– Grizz.

 

Can we hang out after school? – Sam.

 

I have a game. – Grizz.

 

Oh yeah duh. – Sam.

 

And hanging at Luke’s after but I’m all yours tomorrow. – Grizz.

 

Okay. I’m sorry about Campbell. – Sam.

 

Not your fault. – Grizz.

 

I’ll make him stop. – Sam.

 

Don’t go near him. I know you’re not a child but please. Let him hate us. What’s the worst he could do? – Grizz.

 

Gotta go. Ms. Chan is evil eyeing me. – Sam.

 

Grizz sighed as he shoved his phone into his pocket. He wished he had taken Sam’s offer of skipping school that day.

 

---

 

The football players of West Ham High won their game that night. It was easy, really. East Ham had nothing on them, and Grizz, along with Clark, had both been so pumped up and ready to fuck shit up that they had dominated the game with just how much energy they both had.

 

By the time Grizz and his group of friends made it back to Luke’s house afterwards, Grizz was on a bit of a drop. Fatigue was setting in and he was just glad there wasn’t a party that night and he could just hang out with his friends. He rifled through Luke’s parent’s fridge, not that they cared. They were upstairs in bed by that point. Grizz found the bottle of water he was searching for and headed to the others who had all made themselves comfortable in the living room.

 

Luke and Helena sat on one of the loveseats, as usual. Gwen was on a bean bag and Jason sprawled out on the carpet next to her. That left the spot next to Clark on the other couch. Grizz sat down next to him. The group didn’t really have any plans except to listen to music and drink, and maybe watch a movie later. Grizz was only having water because he was sure he’d want to drive home later.

 

“Bathroom,” Clark muttered next to Grizz before swiftly getting up and heading out of the room. Grizz wondered if it was because he had sat down next to Clark that made the other boy get up, but Grizz figured he was just overthinking it. It was just that Clark had been so hot and cold with him lately, like that very morning. Clark defended him with Campbell, but then at the game, in the locker rooms, and then at Luke’s, Clark wouldn’t even look at him. It was like Clark couldn’t decide if he hated Grizz or not and Grizz just wanted him to make up his damn mind because he was getting whiplash.

 

“Oh my God, have you guys seen this?” Gwen said as she flashed her phone at the group.

 

“What?” Luke asked.

 

“Somebody stole the tires on Dewey and Harry’s cars,” Gwen laughed.

 

“What, seriously?” Helena asked.

 

“Yeah. Apparently after the game tonight they went back out to their cars and the tires were just gone,” Gwen told them as she focused on the phone screen again.

 

“Weird,” Grizz said.

 

“Yeah, weird,” Jason added.

 

Grizz glanced over at Jason who gave him a wink. Here’s the truth. Grizz was pissed at Harry and Dewey for being involved in dragging Sam from his room that one night. He wanted to get back at them, no matter how petty it sounded, and sure, Grizz wanted to do a lot worse than what he had done, but the tire incident was a start.

 

Going to Jason for help was a no-brainer to Grizz. Jason was a no questions asked kind of guy who knew all the right people. It was just a prank and the tires were left waiting at the boy’s respective houses, but it felt good to fuck with them a little on Sam’s behalf.

 

“Do you think there’s cameras in the school parking lot?” Helena pondered.

 

Grizz looked at Jason again and the other boy subtly shook his head. Grizz gave out a little sigh in relief, because sure, it wasn’t him who had physically done the dirty work but he still didn’t want anyone else to get in trouble for his revenge.

 

“Probably not,” Luke answered his girlfriend’s question.

 

Clark came back into the room at that point and took up residence next to Jason on the floor, and Grizz felt a little pang in his chest. What more did he have to do for Clark to not hate him? Grizz felt like he had to say something, anything, to try and provoke a conversation, just to see if Clark really was avoiding him again.

 

“Uh, I’ve got news,” Grizz said randomly, and he wasn’t actually planning on telling them all at that moment, but all eyes were on him so he had to say something. “I got into Duke on full scholarship.”

 

“Dude, you serious?” Luke asked.

 

“Wow, congrats, Grizz. I knew you had it in you,” Helena said with an angelic smile on her face.

 

“For football?” Jason asked.

 

“No! Fuck you! That’s too far away! What about S-, uh, your parents? What about me, huh? You ever think of how you’re abandoning your friends?” Gwen ranted.

 

The questions seemed to come all at once, but the one person he had been baiting for a reaction sat there quietly, emptying his bottle of beer.

 

“Uh okay, yes Luke, I’m serious. Thank you, Helena. No, not for football. And don’t worry, Gwen, I’ll still come back to visit. My parents,” Grizz paused, knowing that Gwen was really asking about Sam, “they understand. It’ll be fine.”

 

“That’s so awesome, man. I mean, it sucks you’ll be, like, not here,” Jason said.

 

“It’s not like he’s the only one going away,” Luke said.

 

“Yeah, Luke and I both got into NYU so we’ll be heading to New York,” Helena added.

 

“What the fuck, you’re just telling us now?” Gwen asked, her eyes wide as her neck cracked with how fast she turned to look at them.

 

“We only got our letters last week,” Helena defended, genuinely scared of Gwen.  

 

“That’s cute as shit, you two going off together,” Grizz said, and he was a little jealous of them.

 

“Am I the only one going to still be here?” Jason asked.

 

“You want to stay here. And I have no fucking idea what I’m doing. Hopefully going somewhere closeby,” Gwen said with a shrug, and Grizz knew she’d want to be close to Yale, only Gwen didn’t have the grades to get in, but there were other schools she could go to.

 

“I’ll still be here,” Clark piped up.

 

“At least I got my main bro,” Jason said as he fist bumped Clark

 

“You got it, J. I need another beer,” Clark said as he got up off the floor and headed to the kitchen.

 

The others kept talking and Grizz was too busy watching the spot Clark just disappeared from. Grizz was giving himself a pep talk. Just one more attempt at getting things back to normal with Clark. Just one, and then Grizz was going to give up.

 

Grizz jumped up from the couch and followed Clark into the kitchen. Clark was elbow deep in the fridge, searching for a drink. Grizz waited until he had it and shut the door before greeting him.

 

“Hey,” Grizz said.

 

Clark jumped a little and looked over at Grizz before nodding his head, “hey.”

 

“You alright?” Grizz asked.

 

“What do you mean?” Clark asked.

 

“I don’t know. Just with Campbell this morning and all,” Grizz shrugged.

 

“I don’t care about that fucker,” Clark snapped.

 

“Good, you shouldn’t,” Grizz said.

 

Grizz was expecting Clark to walk out but instead he opened the beer and leant against the counter.

 

“What’s Campbell got against you?” Clark asked.

 

“I don’t know,” Grizz lied, “I think he’s just a dick.”

 

“If he’s causing you any trouble, you know you can tell us. We’ll fuck him up,” Clark said.

 

“Thanks,” Grizz chuckled, “I appreciate that, but it was nothing, really. I don’t know what his deal is.”

 

Clark’s eyes narrowed in concentration as he looked Grizz up and down, and Grizz stood there wondering what the hell was going on in Clark’s head, well, he was mostly wondering if Clark still hated him or not.

 

“Why’d he call you a faggot?” Clark asked out of nowhere. Grizz shrugged because yeah, he could tell Clark it was because he’s gay and Campbell knew it, but Clark wouldn’t believe him, but he was also tired of lying.

 

“I don’t know, Clark,” Grizz sighed, “you tell me.”

 

Clark shrugged and looked down his shoes before throwing another curveball at Grizz.

 

“So, I’m thinking of asking Becca out again,” Clark said.

 

“Really?” Grizz asked in shock, because honestly, Becca had texted him telling him the date was so boring and there was nothing there. She said it was awkward and they barely had a single thing in common to talk about.

 

“Yeah,” Clark looked back up through long eyelashes, “you okay with that?”

 

“Uh, yes?” Grizz said.

 

“Good,” Clark commented, and then he stepped by Grizz and headed out of the kitchen, leaving Grizz to wonder if Clark had been so weird with Grizz lately because he wanted to ask Becca out again. Grizz figured that maybe Clark thought Grizz would be upset with him about it, but Grizz wasn’t upset. He was just confused, speculating if Clark was still trying to get back at Grizz or if Clark actually, legitimately liked Becca. He hoped for the latter, maybe, but then again was the world really ready for Clark to have a crush on another girl that wasn’t interested in him?

 

Chapter Text

Sam never thought he’d be so attracted to an athlete, especially the football jock type. Any guy that Sam had ever had a crush on had been more on the geeky side or really pretty boys. Grizz was different and yet somehow Sam had never been more attracted to a person in his entire life. He used to roll his eyes at the aggressive dude-bros that would bump chests and get in each other’s faces in the name of a sport and yet, Sam was watching Grizz at his football game as Grizz did all of those things with his team mates, and all Sam wanted to do was, well, make Grizz come.

 

Jesus, that was all he thought about lately. Sure, he really, really liked the guy but his hormones took over ninety per cent of the time and he just wanted to touch Grizz, take his clothes off, make him hard, feel the vibrations of his moans against his neck and make him come undone. Sam wanted to have his fucking babies, if only that were possible.

 

Sam found that he loved going to Grizz’s games, and he loved how competitive he got, even if they were just friendly practice games during the off season. All Grizz’s friends actually got ridiculously serious about it, and that night it seemed like Grizz and Clark were running the show, and Sam found it so damn attractive just how good Grizz was, how fast he was, how he caught the ball with ease and dodged other players so gracefully.

 

The game was over before Sam knew it and the Centurions had won, and Sam couldn’t keep back the smile as he watched Grizz celebrate with his friends. Grizz was such a dork and Sam loved it. He loved how he took football so seriously. He loved Grizz’s messy little bun. He loved how good he looked sweaty. He even loved the way he tucked his pants into his socks and looked like a complete fashion idiot but didn’t care. And he loved that he was seemingly this dumb jock but at the same time was so smart and soft. Sam loved Grizz in his entirety.

 

Grizz was coming Sam’s way, along with the rest of the team, like a heard off cattle making their way to the locker rooms. Grizz looked so damn good all dishevelled, hair a mess, sweat dripping from him. Sam figured that if Grizz was going to hang out with his own friends that night, then he would at least go to his game and watch him from afar.

 

Sam kept his focus on Grizz, hoping his boyfriend would notice him because, well, Sam craved the attention sometimes. He got his wish when Grizz looked up from his conversation with Luke. Grizz smiled that dazzling smile that had Sam’s stomach flipping, and to top it off, Grizz winked. He winked at Sam, and well, how the hell was Sam supposed to go the rest of the night without him?

 

Sam held back his smile but his cheeks were burning red. He watched Grizz as he left the field and eventually, unfortunately, disappeared from sight. As soon as he did, Sam felt a hard wack against his arm. For a moment there, Sam thought he was alone. Well, obviously he wasn’t. He was on the bleachers with many people surrounding him, but he forgot he came there with Becca, Gordie, Cassandra and Kelly, and while the others weren’t paying attention, Gordie was looking at Sam with a confused expression.

 

‘What was that?’ Gordie signed, his lips moving with each word.

 

‘What?’ Sam replied.

 

‘That,’ Gordie gestured to the locker rooms, ‘You and Grizz?’

 

Sam’s heart leapt into his throat, because sure, Sam didn’t give a flying fuck who knew he was gay or who he was dating, but he knew that Grizz cared, and that was why Sam put on his best ‘playing dumb’ performance.

 

‘Who?’ Sam asked.

 

‘Grizz,’ Gordie repeated, clearly finger-spelling the words.

 

‘What about him?’ Sam asked.

 

‘He winked? You were practically eye-fucking?’ Gordie said and the surprised look on his face let Sam know Gordie genuinely didn’t understand why Sam was ‘confused’.

 

Sam laughed, shaking his head, ‘what are you talking about?’

 

‘You really didn’t see that?’ Gordie asked.

 

Sam shrugged then looked around behind them, ‘there’s a lot of people here. He was looking at someone else?’

 

Gordie did the same, looking around before giving Sam a sceptical look, ‘sorry. It just looked like he was looking at you.’

 

‘Right, because football jock is my type,’ Sam told him with a roll of his eyes.

 

Gordie just smiled as he shook his head, and then thankfully got distracted when his girlfriend, Cassandra, took his hand and tugged on it so he’d get up. Sam, along with Kelly and Becca, all got up too and headed with the rest of the crowd down the steps and away from the field. Sam felt his phone vibrate in his pocket and, with the thought that it could be Grizz, quickly took it out and had a look. Sam was in luck. It was Grizz.

 

I wish I was hanging with you tonight. – Grizz.

 

Same. You still could… - Sam.

 

I promised the guys. I’m sorry. – Grizz.

 

Don’t be xx – Sam.

 

I just need like 5 minutes with you. I’ve wanted to kiss you all night. – Grizz.

 

Sam stopped in his tracks. Sam wasn’t going to give up so easily, especially when Grizz went and said something like that, because Sam had been thinking of nothing but kissing Grizz too, and a lot more.

 

‘Hey guys,’ Sam called out to the others. They all stopped and turned to him, ‘I forgot my jacket. You guys go ahead. I’ll be fine by myself.’

 

None of them seemed to notice the lie; that Sam didn’t even wear a jacket that night, that he was literally standing there in front of them with his hoodie on and it was warm enough to not need a jacket.

 

‘Are you sure? We can wait?’ Becca took a step towards him.

 

‘It’s fine. I feel like walking home anyway,’ Sam told them.

 

‘I’ll go with you,’ Becca offered.

 

‘It’s fine,’ Sam waved her off.

 

‘No, it’s cool,’ Becca insisted and Sam fought the urge to tell her off. Well, if she really wanted to stay with him then she was about to get a front row seat to Sam’s tongue down Grizz’s throat.

 

‘Okay, see you guys on Monday,’ Sam said goodbye to the rest of his friends, and they all waved their goodbye’s back to him, no one dwelling too much on extra conversation.

 

That left Becca and Sam alone, or as alone as they could be with other people leaving through the main corridor of the school building towards the car parks. Becca turned to Sam with a smile, waiting.

 

‘So, your jacket?’ Becca signed.

 

‘There is no jacket,’ Sam signed back and then he waited for a full ten seconds for the comprehension to cross over her features.

 

‘You’re meeting with Grizz, aren’t you?’ she asked.

 

‘Trying to. Sorry,’ Sam really was sorry. He didn’t think he’d be the type of person to bail on his friends for a guy, and yet there he was.

 

‘I should’ve known better. You going to be okay to head home yourself?’ Becca asked.

 

‘Yes, mom. I’m a big boy,’ Sam said.

 

‘Alright. Have fun. I’ll text you later,’ Becca signed, and Sam gave her a nod before she turned and headed down the hall. The moment Becca was gone, Sam had his phone in his hands again and was quickly typing out a message for Grizz, hoping he wouldn’t be too late.

 

Do you know they keep the library open until 10 on a Friday night? – Sam.

 

Yeah. It’s cool, isn’t it? I usually come in or stay after a game because it’s always quiet. I wish they did it more nights or weekends. – Grizz.

 

Grizz… - Sam.

 

What? – Grizz.

 

I’m going there now. Meet me? - Sam.

 

You’re killing me! – Grizz.

 

Meet me! Please? Just five minutes. I need you… - Sam.

 

Sam chewed on his bottom lip, and he knew he wasn’t exactly the most seductive person out there, but he also knew that one little line would get Grizz.

 

Fuck. Okay but quick. – Grizz.

 

Glad you could squeeze me into your busy schedule. – Sam.

 

You’re so needy. – Grizz.

 

Sam smiled down at his phone before rushing off to the stairs. No one, well, barely anyone, stayed late to use the library, especially on a Friday considering everyone had the entire weekend to study if they needed it. That was why Sam wasn’t at all surprised when there was a grand total of two other people in the library, and that included the librarian.

 

Sam hadn’t really thought about where he was going to meet Grizz, but his feet just naturally took him to the back corner where the two of them shared their first kiss. He waited there, leaning against a wall when not even five minutes later Grizz arrived, rushing around the corner and coming to a halt, his chest rising and falling quickly, and damn, did he run?

 

Grizz’s hair was wet after being freshly showered, and honestly, he just looked like an entire snack to Sam. Once again Sam found himself chewing on his bottom lip as he checked his boyfriend out, because he was allowed to, right?

 

‘I have like two minutes. I’m supposed to drive the others to Luke’s. Gwen’s covering for me,’ Grizz said while he signed as usual, and Sam was glad Grizz’s expression was always so easy to read, as well as the movement of his lips that Sam had gotten so used to, because Grizz’s attempts at using ASL, while it did help Sam understand him, were actually really terrible. Sam just never told him because he found it ridiculously cute. They’d have to fit in some lessons somewhere, if they weren’t so busy making out every time they saw each other. Speaking of.

 

‘Less talk,’ Sam demanded, and Grizz, like the good boyfriend he was, obeyed as he came right up to Sam, took his face in his hands and kissed the hell out of him. Or maybe the hell was still in him. Surely, because Sam was definitely going to hell with the thoughts he constantly had about his boyfriend.

 

Sam fell back against the wall with the sheer force of the kiss. As much as Sam loved messing with Grizz and turning him into putty in his hands, Sam also loved it when Grizz got a little controlling, not that it happened often. That was why Sam loved it so much. Sam was quickly discovering he got a thrill out of Grizz being on top of him and crowding over him, or when Grizz gripped his hips just that little bit tighter, or bit his bottom lip, or the way he forced his tongue into Sam’s mouth.

 

Grizz had done all of those things in the span of ten seconds and Sam was living for it. Sam wrapped his arms around Grizz’s neck as Grizz’s drifted down to the back of Sam’s thighs before picking him up and pressing him harder against the wall. Fuck. Why now? Why was Grizz getting so dominating in the fucking library of all places? Sam wanted to die. Sam wanted Grizz to fuck him, and the mere thought had Sam’s entire body warming up.

 

Sam wasn’t entire sure how long they were making out like that for, but he was certain it had to be for more than two minutes. When Grizz’s lips eventually left his and his feet settled back on the ground, Sam felt like he had been transported to some kind of alternate reality, but no. They were still in the library and Grizz wasn’t his for the night.

 

‘I have to go,’ Grizz told him, but the frown on his face told Sam he didn’t want to do that at all.

 

‘It’s okay,’ Sam nodded.

 

‘You’re not mad?’ Grizz asked.

 

Sam smiled and shook his head, ‘horny as fuck? Yes. Mad? At you? Never.’

 

Grizz glanced down Sam’s body before getting back to his eyes.

 

‘You’re so fucking hot,’ Grizz spoke, and the way he was looking at Sam had Sam ready to melt into a puddle on the floor.

 

‘Whatever. Go hang with your friends who are apparently more important than me,’ Sam teased.

 

Grizz searched Sam’s eyes and Sam had only been joking but he could see that Grizz was reconsidering.

 

‘Fuck it. I’ll tell them I had a better offer,’ Grizz said.

 

‘No, you won’t. Don’t be dumb. Hang with your friends, really,’ Sam encouraged him.

 

‘You sure?’

 

‘Yes, I’m sure. You need to go. They’re waiting,’ Sam urged.

 

Grizz nodded before his lips told Sam something that Sam was having trouble getting used to.

 

‘I love you.’

 

Seeing Grizz say that made Sam’s inside freeze up and melt at the same time. His brain short-circuited and while theoretically it would have been so easy to physically say those three words back, Sam couldn’t mentally force himself to. All he could do was smile at Grizz and scan his brain for some sort of joke, one liner, or maybe he could just kiss Grizz to distract him.

 

It wasn’t that Sam didn’t or couldn’t love Grizz, because he did love him. He really, really did, but he didn’t want to. Sam was terrified. He was so, so scared that Grizz would go off to college and never come back. He was scared that Grizz would forget about his high school boyfriend and find himself someone closer, more interesting, hotter, everything that Sam wasn’t.

 

And a lot of the time Sam thought he was insane for thinking that, because he knew how much Grizz loved him. He saw it in his eyes, he felt it in the way they kissed, and of course, Grizz had told him himself of his strong feelings and that was a lot of pressure on Sam. It was a lot to live up to because what if Sam didn’t fall as hard as Grizz? What if he only actually liked Grizz because he was the first ever guy to show interest in him? Sam knew that was insane too because how strongly he felt for Grizz couldn’t be some illusion or infatuation. He knew it was real. He just couldn’t say it to him.

 

‘Have fun with your friends,’ Sam said, and he died a little inside when the natural gleam in Grizz’s eyes dulled a little. Grizz quickly masked it with a smile.

 

‘I will,’ Grizz nodded.

 

Grizz leant forward, gently pressing his body to Sam’s against the wall as he kissed him slowly, leaving Sam wanting so much more. When Grizz kissed Sam like that, it made all of Sam’s worries disappear. Grizz pulled back, looking at Sam with dark eyes and Sam said the first thing that popped into his head.

 

‘Just to let you know that in, like, half an hour I’ll be jerking off thinking of you,’ Sam told him.

 

Sam couldn’t hear it, but he practically saw the way Grizz groaned, his eyes closing before he leant his head against Sam’s shoulder. Grizz eventually pushed himself away, taking a giant step back, and Sam noticed the heavy exhale, and sometimes Sam felt like he had so much power when it came to Grizz.

 

‘I hate you,’ Grizz signed, ‘I gotta go.’

 

Sam just nodded and the two gave each other one last lingering look before Grizz reluctantly left Sam there in the library. The moment he was alone, Sam bashed his head against the bookshelf beside him. Why? Why did Sam have to go and make everything so sexual all the time? He questioned himself about that a lot. He wanted Grizz really, really bad, but he often found himself scolding his borderline slutty ways.

 

Sam sighed as he pushed himself away from the wall. Having a quick make out session with Grizz was well worth it, but he now faced a walk home in the dark and it was best to do that with the dozens of others who lived close enough to the school to walk home.

 

Sam headed out of the library and down the stairs. By the time he made it to the car park it was just the stragglers left behind. There was a bit of commotion going on though. Sam noticed a small crowd around a couple of cars, and as he walked by, he noticed Harry having some sort of a meltdown. Then, he got a look of his car sitting there, jacked up high with no wheels. That was a little odd to Sam, but he got a good little giggle out of how angry Harry looked.

 

Sam really didn’t like Campbell’s friends. Some of them were okay when they were on their own but when they were all together, they had this pack mentality, which apparently included hassling Sam at every chance they got. It wasn’t fair, Sam thought. Sam didn’t do anything to them. In fact, he tried to stay out of their way as much as he possibly could, but with Campbell as their ring leader Sam could be as invisible as he possibly could and they would still find a way to get to him.

 

Sam had been almost at a stand still as he relished in the look on Harry’s face, and that was why he jumped when a strong hand slapped him on the shoulder. Sam whipped around quickly to see Campbell standing there beside him.

 

‘Enjoying the show?’ Campbell signed.

 

Sam had nothing to say to him. He merely rolled his eyes and turned to walk away. Sam should’ve known it wouldn’t be that easy though. The next moment, Campbell had his arm around his shoulder and was leading him away from the scene and towards his car. Campbell pushed him towards it. Sam spun around to face his brother. There was no way he was going with him.

 

‘Get in the car,’ Campbell demanded.

 

‘No.’

 

‘Get in the car or I’ll have this conversation with your boyfriend instead. And trust me, you’d rather it be with you,’ Campbell signed.

 

Sam stood his ground, the two brothers eyeing each other, neither backing down. And the thing was, Sam could stand his ground against Campbell until the cows came home, and if Campbell hadn’t of mentioned Grizz then Sam would’ve simply walked away, but he did mention Grizz, and so Sam gave in first.

 

‘Where are we going?’ Sam asked.

 

‘Just get in, fag,’ Campbell sneered before he went around to the driver’s side and got in. With Campbell’s lingering threat of going to Grizz in his mind, Sam begrudgingly got in the passenger side, slamming the door closed.

 

Sam hated Campbell with a passion. That complete and total hatred was all that was coursing through his veins as Campbell headed out of the school parking lot. The two of them had always been like this, or at least as far back as Sam could remember they had been. Initially Sam had thought it was because he was deaf, that Campbell just hated dealing with someone who was different, or in Campbell’s eyes, difficult. But then he realized that Campbell was just a spiteful human being. That was, of course, if Campbell could even be classified as a human. Sam thought of him as more of a monster.

 

Sam stared out the window as they passed by the buildings in town, the houses on the outskirts, then finally their town welcome sign was in the rear-view mirror. That was when Sam started to panic. He figured Campbell was just going to talk to him in the car, or take them home, or, well, Sam didn’t really know, but there Campbell was, taking him far out of town.

 

Sam looked to his older brother who was just facing forward without a single sign of where they were heading. They just kept on driving along the main road out of town until they were practically in the middle of nowhere, and Sam wondered if Campbell was finally going to do it; if he was finally going to make good on his promise and kill him like he threatened during every argument they ever had.

 

Campbell eventually pulled over on the side of the road. Sam clasped his cell phone tightly in the pocket of his hoodie. Maybe if he dialled 9-1-1 now the police would get to them before Campbell could do anything. Sam’s heart was pounding in his chest and he just told himself over and over again that Campbell liked scaring people. That was all this was. A scare tactic to get his way. The only question was, what did Campbell want Sam to do?

 

Campbell got out of the car first. He left it running, the vibrations shaking Sam who was already shaking so much himself. Sam took a few deep breaths. He couldn’t let Campbell get to him. He watched, tense, as Campbell stopped in front of the car, in clear view with the headlights on him.

 

‘Get out,’ Campbell signed.

 

Yeah, fucking, right. Sam was not doing that. He was almost certain that Campbell wanted to hurt him, and he sat there trying to think of what he possibly could have done to Campbell lately that would have triggered him like this, but he couldn’t think of anything. All he knew was that he needed to get out of there.

 

Sam kept his eyes locked on Campbell as he took off his own seatbelt. Sam wasn’t taking any chances. He needed to get away. As a rush of adrenaline washed over him, Sam climbed over the console, his long limbs proving a hindrance as he struggled to get to the driver’s seat. He made it though and yanked the door closed. He was a fraction away from smashing the button that would lock him in when Campbell tore the door open.

 

He knew Campbell was shouting at him but he couldn’t hear a thing. In anger, Campbell latched onto the hood of Sam’s hoodie and dragged him out of the front seat. Sam fell to the ground in a heap before scrambling up. The gritty dirt on the side of the roads scraped at his hands as he desperately tried to get away from Campbell.

 

Campbell was, as always, cool, calm and collected. He easily got a good grip on Sam’s arm as he dragged him up from the ground. He flung Sam to the hood of the car, Sam’s back hitting it hard. Sam knew running would do no good. Campbell was faster. He was stronger. Sam was fucking terrified and helpless.

 

‘Why are you running, Sam? I told you I want a conversation,’ Campbell signed.

 

‘Fuck you,’ Sam spat out the words.

 

‘That’s not very nice, brother,’ Campbell signed as he stepped closer, and Sam just leant against the hood, trying so hard to hold his ground despite the fact that he was trembling so badly.

 

‘What do you want?’ Sam asked.

 

‘I want to talk to you about that boyfriend of yours,’ Campbell signed.  

 

‘What about him?’

 

‘He’s getting in my way.’

 

‘What’s that got to do with me?’ Sam asked.

 

‘Everything. Both of you have been massive pains in my ass,’ Campbell signed. His eyes glared daggers at Sam and while Sam always swore to himself that he wouldn’t let Campbell intimidate him, he had to admit defeat. He was scared.

 

‘What do you want?’ Sam asked.

 

‘I want him out of my life, and it’s become apparent that while he’s with you, he’s going to be in my life,’ Campbell told him.

 

‘I’ll tell him to leave you alone,’ Sam signed.

 

‘No. What I’m going to need you to do is break up with him,’ Campbell signed and Sam couldn’t help but scoff at the idea.

 

‘That doesn’t need to happen. I’ll talk to him. I’ll make him back off,’ Sam bargained.

 

‘No. You’ll break up with him,’ Campbell was tenacious. Once he made his mind up, he stuck to it.

 

‘No.’

 

Campbell’s eyes went dark and his nostrils flared in fury before he took two swift steps towards Sam. In a second Sam was pinned to the hood of the car with Campbell’s hand tightly clasped around his throat. Sam let out a chortled gasp as he scratched and pulled at Campbell’s hand, but it was no use. His older brother had him beat.

 

‘Read my fucking lips, Sammy,’ Campbell spat, ‘you are going to break up with him. You’re going to hurt him. And if you tell him about this conversation, I’ll know. I’ll know because that fucking fag can’t keep his mouth shut and I’ll just know. So, if you know what’s best for him, break it off, or else you’ll regret it. Okay Sammy? You don’t want to know what I’m capable of.’

 

And Sam couldn’t breathe. His throat burned as Campbell closed his fingers tighter, and Sam thought he was going to crush every little bone he could. Dizziness kicked in and little black spots clouded Sam’s eyes. He was on the verge off passing out when Campbell finally let go.

 

Sam took in the deepest, quickest breaths as his hand went to soothe his aching neck. Sam honestly thought that was it, that Campbell was going to kill him. In pure fear he watched as his brother caught his gaze again.

 

‘Make it happen. Tomorrow.’ Campbell signed.

 

Campbell took Sam’s upper arm and dragged him away from the car. He pushed his younger brother to the ground and all Sam could do was watch as Campbell got back in the car and drove off, heading back to town,  leaving Sam sitting there on the side of the road, in the dark, all alone.

 

Sam broke down. Every little emotion, the hatred, the fear, the helplessness, rolled into one as he crumpled in on himself and let it all out through tears. He didn’t understand why Campbell hated him so much. He didn’t understand what the fuck he did to deserve this. He didn’t understand how one person could be so cruel as to leave him there, abandoned on the side of the road.

 

And he cried for Grizz, because Sam just desperately wanted the two of them to be happy together, and they had their bumpy moments, sure, but Sam was sure everything was going to be okay, but this? Campbell? He threw a spanner in the works and all Sam felt was dread. Pure dread.

 

Get it together, Sam told himself. There he was, sitting on the side of the road with no other people or civilisation in sight. He couldn’t get home. Walking would take all night, maybe longer. He took his phone out of his pocket and went straight to his messages to Becca.

 

I need your help. I’m stuck outside of town with no way home. – Sam.

 

What? Wtf happened? North or South? – Becca.

 

North, on the main road. Can you get me please? And don’t tell Grizz. – Sam.

 

I’m coming. Hang tight. – Becca.

 

Sam placed his phone back in his pocket before forcing himself up from the ground. He dusted himself off and began to walk in the direction of home. His mind was racing a million miles an hour as he mulled over Campbell’s threat and all the possible options and outcomes. Every outcome had Sam close to tears again, and all he wanted to do was go to Grizz’s house, to Grizz’s bed and cuddle up to him, and to pretend everything was okay.

 

Sam was walking for a good half an hour by the time Becca turned up her mom’s familiar car, but thankfully her mom was nowhere in sight. Sam got in the car, but Becca wasn’t quick to drive straight away. She turned on the light and Sam looked up at her, knowing he looked like a complete mess. Becca was Sam’s best friend and he didn’t like keeping secrets from her. He told her everything, except for the few things he deemed private between himself and Grizz. Sam was just shaking so much and needed his best friend.

 

‘What happened?’ Becca signed.

 

‘Campbell.’

 

Sam was met with another questioning look, so he caved and told her what happened.

 

‘He took me out here to threaten me then left me on the side of the road. He hates Grizz and wants me to break up with him or…I don’t know what he’ll do,’ Sam explained.

 

‘What? That’s crazy. What the fuck is wrong with him?’ Becca asked.

 

‘He’s a psycho,’ Sam signed.

 

‘He can’t get away with doing this to you,’ Becca said, and Sam couldn’t even appreciate how adorable she looked when angry. There was no light that Sam could make of the situation. There were no jokes he could make to cover up how he really felt. And he was distraught.  

 

‘What am I supposed to do? Tell my mom and dad? What are they going to do? Say ‘don’t do that, Campbell’? I’ve told them before the shit that he does but they don’t know how to control him. I don’t either,’ Sam sighed, running his fingers through his hair. He was at a loss.

 

‘You need to at least tell Grizz what’s going on,’ Becca said.

 

‘No,’ Sam shook his head quickly, ‘no. I don’t want Grizz any more involved with Campbell. Grizz hates Campbell and he’s an emotional guy. What if it gets back to Campbell that I told him the truth?’


Becca looked lost, and that wasn’t what Sam needed. He needed Becca to come up with some magical solution to his dilemma, but she didn’t, and Sam just didn’t know what the fuck to do. The tears came back in waves, and Sam covered his face, crying into his hands. He felt Becca’s hand rubbing soothing circles onto his back, but it didn’t calm him down at all.

 

Sam was suffocating living with someone like Campbell who was only out to destroy him, and it was worse knowing that he didn’t know if Campbell would actually do something, or if he was all just talk. Campbell hasn’t actually really hurt Sam, except for a few hits and shoves here and there. He could be all talk, but the thought of Campbell hurting Grizz? That just wouldn’t compute in Sam’s mind.

 

Sam was desperately trying to think of a way out of this, but short of killing Campbell, he didn’t have a solution. He just wanted to protect Grizz, and at that moment, there was only one way to do it. Sam looked up at Becca through blurry vision, but still got what her hands were signing to him.

 

‘What are you going to do?’ Becca asked.

 

‘The only thing I can do. I have to break up with him.’

Chapter Text

On Saturday morning Grizz woke up uncomfortable. That was just something that happened when you fell asleep on the hard, wooden floor of your best friend’s bedroom. Grizz had planned on going home the previous night, but after a little encouragement from Jason, he had a couple of beers and decided it was best to crash at Luke’s.

 

Grizz rolled over, trying to get a little more comfortable. Instead he ended up face to face with Clark. What? Grizz’s head was pounding. He didn’t think he had that much to drink. Helena and Gwen left earlier during the night and the boys hung around playing video games and watching movies while knocking back the drinks one by one, and actually, maybe Grizz did have a few too many.

 

Grizz scanned his surroundings. He definitely was on the floor, and sharing a pillow with Clark that Luke had so generously given them, and a thin blanket. Luke was up on his bed with Jason. That’s right, Jason complained of a bad back and demanded the bed. It was complete bullshit in Grizz’s opinion. It was also bullshit that with the seven bedrooms in Luke’s house that Clark and Grizz had to sleep on the floor.

 

Grizz rolled over, facing away from Clark, and closed his eyes. He decided to try and get a little more sleep before he had to drive home. It was not even ten minutes into his attempt when he felt a warm body against his. Grizz’s eyes popped open so fast, because Clark was fucking spooning him. Grizz rolled his eyes. It wasn’t like this was the first time it happened. The guys were constantly staying over each other’s house and sharing beds, or floor space. Sometimes accidents happened.

 

Grizz took Clark’s wrist and slowly, trying not to wake him, moved his arm away. Not a second later it was back, and Clark was even closer. So close that Grizz could feel…oh no. Nope. Grizz was out. Clark had popped a boner. And no, that wasn’t unusual for a guy either, but Grizz really didn’t need another guy’s hard-on against him when he had a boyfriend.

 

Grizz shuffled away. He sat up, deciding that sleep wasn’t an option. Apparently, he moved so quickly that Clark’s entire body went off balance and collapsed to the floor, which in turn, made him wake up. Clark opened his eyes a sliver, looking all dazed and confused until his attention landed on Grizz.

 

“Wha time’s it?” Clark croaked out.

 

“Shut the fuck up,” Jason’s groan came next. Grizz glanced up at him and Luke who were head to feet on the bed.

 

“It’s about time you all woke up,” Luke said, and what? He was awake? Sure enough, he was. As Grizz sat up properly he noticed Luke laying there on his phone.

 

“Shuddup!” Jason whined.

 

“No, I’m fucking bored,” Luke said.

 

Clark pushed himself up from the ground and Grizz didn’t mean to, but he glanced down, thankful that the blanket was covering whatever problem Clark had in his pants. Grizz wondered if Clark even noticed yet.

 

“Why is it so fucking hot in your room, man?” Clark complained. And there went the blanket. And there was Clark’s erection. Jason was in the process of sitting up, and so was Luke, and the guys had woken up plenty of times with boners. It wasn’t their fault. It was just a downside to being a teenage boy, or an upside however you looked at it, and usually the boys would all just tease each other about it, but somehow Grizz had a feeling in the pit of his stomach that told him Clark was not in the mood for that.

 

Thinking quick, Grizz grabbed the pillow and tossed it to Clark’s lap. The boy looked at him in confusion until a total of three seconds later when a look of realization crossed his face.

 

“What the fuck…” Clark whispered only loud enough for him and Grizz to hear.

 

“Alright, I’m up. Where’s food?” Jason asked.

 

“I’m not your maid,” Luke said.

 

“Someone’s grumpy in the morning,” Jason teased and poked Luke’s face.

 

“Bathroom,” Clark muttered.

 

Grizz watched him as he manoeuvred himself as to not give himself away as he got up. Once he left the room, Grizz gave a little snicker. It was kind of funny, but Grizz liked to think he had his friend’s back at the end of the day and he wasn’t into making fun of people.

 

“What’s the plan team?” Jason asked.

 

“Don’t know. Depends what Helena is doing,” Luke said.

 

“Boring. Grizzy?” Jason asked.

 

“I have plans, actually,” Grizz said.

 

“You always have plans. The fuck is going on with you, man?” Jason asked.

 

“I got a lot of homework to do,” Grizz lied.

 

“Bullshit. You got a full ride to Duke, man. They already like you. You can lay off the homework,” Jason said.

 

“They still pay attention to what you’re doing. I can’t just drop the ball with only a couple months left,” Grizz said.

 

“You’re such a nerd,” Jason said with his award winning smile.

 

“Thank you,” Grizz accepted it.

 

Grizz searched for his phone before finding it under Luke’s bed. He didn’t have his normal good morning text from Sam so he decided to send one to him first. Sam almost always seemed to fall asleep first, so Grizz was the only one to say goodnight, and Sam always followed up with a ‘good morning’ the next day.

 

After a few minutes of sitting there chatting to the guys, Clark came back to the room and started gathering his things.

 

“Where the fuck do you think you’re going?” Jason asked.

 

“I feel like shit. I’m gonna head home,” Clark said.

 

“You alright?” Luke asked.

 

“Yeah, you good, man?” Jason followed up.

 

“Yeah, just a bad night sleep. I’m gonna go. Thanks for letting me crash, Lukey,” Clark said.

 

“Anytime,” Luke said.

 

Something was off. Clark was off. He had been a lot lately and Grizz just didn’t know what it was about. It couldn’t just be about the Gwen shit, right? Well, it could’ve been. Their friendship was on the rocks but to Grizz it just felt like he was missing something.

 

“Wait up. I’m gonna go too. I’ll walk out with you,” Grizz said as he hurried to find his shoes. He slipped them on quickly and barely got up in time for when Clark was walking out the door.

 

“I’ll catch you guys later,” Grizz said as he snatched up his keys from Luke’s desk.

 

“You’re both pussies!” Jason shouted.

 

“Bye!” Luke called out.

 

Grizz caught up to Clark in the hallway but the other boy didn’t say a thing to him, and Grizz wasn’t even really sure if he should have struck up a conversation, like asking Clark if everything was cool between them. The two went outside and it was almost as if Grizz weren’t even there.

 

“Hey, you want a ride home?” Grizz offered, considering he was one of two drivers from last night, and Clark wasn’t the other.

 

“I can walk,” Clark said.

 

“Okay then…I’ll see you Monday, I guess,” Grizz said.

 

Clark didn’t say anything. Grizz sighed and went over to his car. He unlocked it and opened the driver’s side door. He was about to get in when Clark’s voice stopped him.

 

“Look, I’m not some kind of like, homo, okay?” Clark said out of nowhere.

 

“Okay. I know,” Grizz said cautiously. Where was he going with this? Was this about the spooning?

 

“I didn’t mean to, like, cuddle you and shit, alright?” Clark said. Yes, yes it was about the spooning, and Grizz didn’t even realize Clark had been awake enough at that point to realize he was doing it.

 

“Okay…I mean, it’s cool. Not like it hasn’t happened before,” Grizz said.

 

“Right…right,” Clark nodded enthusiastically in agreement, “And like, I didn’t mean to…you know…I was dreaming about Gw- Becca. Uh, Gwen and Becca, like, together, actually. So…”

 

“Sounds hot, dude,” Grizz said in his best ‘straight dude’ voice.

 

“It was,” Clark almost argued.

 

“Cool. Well, I’ll see you at school then,” Grizz said.

 

“Yeah, see ya,” Clark said, and he turned and headed down the street.

 

Grizz got in the car, feeling a bit bamboozled over the entire conversation. It was little comments like that, and sometimes the way Clark looked at Grizz that had Grizz thinking Clark really did believe that he’s gay and he was in some sort of denial, or was repulsed by him or something. Honestly, Grizz thought Clark was being a bit dramatic, and that meant a lot coming from someone like Grizz.

 

“God, masculinity is so fragile,” Grizz mumbled to himself before he started up the car and headed home.

 

---

 

Grizz had a bit of a pep in his step when he got home. He showered, dressed, and he was ready to head over to Sam’s house, and he wasn’t sure what they were going to do for the day, but Grizz was just excited to be around Sam, even if they were going to do their usual hang out of going to the river. Grizz could merely be in Sam’s presence and be perfectly content.

 

Grizz skipped down the stairs while sending a text.

 

I’m about to leave so I’ll be over soon x – Grizz.

 

Ok – Sam.

 

Grizz frowned as he got to the bottom of the stairs. He flicked through the last few messages they had exchanged with each other last night and that morning, taking note of Sam’s one word answers. That was all he replied, if anything at all. It gave Grizz a funny feeling in his stomach that he tried to ignore because it was probably just his anxiety making him overthink.

 

Grizz turned the corner into the kitchen because he planned on having a quick bite to eat, but he stopped in his tracks when he saw his mom sitting at the dining table, looking up at him.

 

“Morning,” Grizz mumbled, and all she did was sigh heavily. Grizz glanced around, peering into the living room, but no one was there. “Where’s dad?”

 

“Out.”

 

“Okay…is everything okay?” Grizz asked cautiously.

 

“When were you going to tell me about Duke?” she asked. That was when Grizz noticed the piece of paper in her hand. It was the acceptance letter.

 

“Did you go through my things?” Grizz accused.

 

“It was on your desk. Don’t ignore the question. When were you going to tell me?” his mom asked as she stood up and took a step towards him. She clutched the letter tightly and Grizz was a little confused. Why did it feel like he was in trouble?

 

“I don’t know. Eventually?” Grizz said.

 

“Have you accepted yet?” she asked.

 

“Yeah, I have. Why?”

 

“I thought…I thought you applied to places close?” she said.

 

“Yeah, Yale. And I didn’t get in, so…” Grizz shrugged.

 

“So, just Yale? That’s it? There are plenty of other good colleges close by,” she argued, and what the fuck? Why was this turning into an argument? Grizz didn’t think she would give a fuck where he went. He thought she wanted him gone anyway.

 

“I don’t want to go somewhere close, mom,” Grizz told her.

 

“Why not? You can’t just leave us, Gareth,” she said.

 

“Why? You want me to be like you? Constantly walking on egg shells so I don’t make dad mad? Is that why you’re upset? Because you don’t want to be alone with him?” Grizz asked. Defensive mode had set in. If it was an argument she wanted, then it was an argument she would get. She looked a bit shocked before recovering.

 

“At the end of the day, we are a family, Gareth, and you don’t just bail on your family. You are not going all the way to Duke,” she said forcefully.

 

“So, what? You really want me to stay here, stuck in an unhappy household? Fuck that! I need to get out of here and live my life and be the real me,” Grizz argued.

 

“You can’t be the real you here?” she asked.

 

“No, I can’t. It’s suffocating here. Being here is suffocating you too, I can see it!” Grizz was shouting by that point.

 

“You have no idea what you’re talking about,” she laughed nervously.

 

“Yes, I do. He’s sucking the life out of you. You’re not who you used to be, mom,” Grizz said.

 

“You have no idea, absolutely no idea what a marriage is like,” she snapped.

 

“I know it’s not supposed to be like this. And just because I’m young doesn’t mean I can’t see that,” Grizz said.

 

“You’re a child, Grizz. You can’t-“

 

“I’m eighteen!” Grizz cut her off, “I’m not a child!”

 

“Stop…stop yelling. I just…please? Please. You can go to one of the colleges here and-“

 

“No! I can’t be here anymore. You don’t even like me anyway so what the fuck is this conversation even about?!” Grizz was pissed. Beyond pissed. How dare she pretty much ignore his existence then act like she actually cares.

 

“Don’t like you? You’re my son, of course I like you,” she said, and it was the biggest load of bullshit.

 

“You don’t even know anything about me. We’re practically strangers,” Grizz countered.

 

“That’s bullshit. I know you. You…you like that garden out the back, and your friends, and football, and that girl Carla,” she rattled off, and Grizz was just so damn exhausted.

 

“I don’t like football, I’m just good at it. And I don’t like Carla, mom, because I’m fucking gay!” Grizz shouted.

 

The words were out there before Grizz had a chance to think them through, and a second later he earnt himself a hard slap across his cheek. Taken aback, Grizz stumbled to the side, holding his face where burning hot pins and needles spread over his cheek. The room was silent as Grizz watched his mom in shock. He wasn’t expecting that. He also wasn’t expecting her to burst into tears.

 

“Don’t say that!” she whined. Fuck, Grizz didn’t know what to do. He didn’t think she would cry. He didn’t think he mattered that much to her.

 

“It’s…it’s the truth,” Grizz said, his voice softer.

 

That only made his mom sob harder. Grizz’s head was spinning, both in confusion and from the impact of the slap. He dropped his hand as the pain subsided. He already went this far. With all the courage left in him, he told her the truth.

 

“I’m…dating a boy. His name is Sam,” Grizz said.

 

“It shouldn’t be this way,” she cried, and Grizz could hear the pain in her voice.

 

“I’m… sorry?” Grizz wasn’t sure what exactly it was that he was apologizing for. For being gay? Or telling her the truth? Or that she was so upset by it?

 

“Where did I go wrong?” she sobbed, “I did it right. I did it all right. I stopped dance classes. I stopped you joining drama club. I put you in football. I stopped caring so much. What’d I do?”

 

“Nothing you did caused me to be gay. Mom…it’s not…not the end of the world,” Grizz said as he took a step closer. He wanted to comfort her. He really didn’t like seeing her so hysterical. He felt bad. He felt guilty.

 

“You don’t get it, if your dad finds out…we’ll never, I’ll never see you again,” she said.

 

Grizz didn’t know what to do or what to say. He was dumbfounded.

 

“Please don’t be like this, Gareth. Please don’t. Please, I’m begging you. This boy, he isn’t worth the damage this could do,” she pleaded. She placed her hands on Grizz’s shoulders, looking him right in the eyes. She was dead serious. Grizz didn’t hate his mom. He loved her deep down and he knew how damaged she was because of his dad. He didn’t want to be the cause of any more pain.

 

“It’s okay. It’ll be okay,” Grizz said as he pulled her into a hug.

 

“Stop seeing that boy. Promise me,” she said into his chest. 

 

“Okay,” was all Grizz said, because he just wanted her to stop crying. There was no truth behind the word. He wasn’t going to stop being with Sam. He just had to be stealthier. He had to pretend he wasn’t with Sam. He had to pretend to be straight, for his mom’s sake, because while she was visibly upset, she was also visibly scared.

 

“I gotta go,” Grizz said as he let go of her.

 

“Where are you going?” she asked.

 

“To Gwen’s,” he lied.

 

His mom brushed her tears away and nodded, “okay. Think about what I said, please? Your dad can’t find out. You can’t be this way. Not yet.”

 

Grizz had nothing to say. His throat tightened and he didn’t want to get upset in front of her. Part of him was so mad at her for what she was suggesting, but the other part of him saw the raw emotions in her and he couldn’t hate her for that.

 

Not another word was said between the two before Grizz left. He went out to his car without getting the breakfast he craved. He wasn’t hungry anymore anyway. He got in his car and sat there for a moment. His hands were shaking. He couldn’t believe he just came out to his mom, even though in the back of his mind he knew she always had some sort of an idea.

 

“Fuck. Shit,” Grizz whispered to himself.

 

All that time and energy spent on hiding the fact that he’s gay and then he just went and blurted it out in an argument like it was nothing. The thing was, it was never his mom that he was worried about. He was always concerned about how his dad would react, and after that conversation, he realized his mom was just as worried. The only positive Grizz found was that he was pretty confident there was no way his mom would tell his dad. Maybe, in a small way, she was on Grizz’s side.

 

“Okay. It’s okay. Pull yourself together,” Grizz told himself.

 

Grizz’s head was all over the place and all he wanted to do was see Sam and tell him what happened. That was the good thing about having a boyfriend, not that he wanted to burden Sam with all of his problems, but it was a nice feeling knowing he had someone other than his friends to go to about anything.

 

Grizz started up his car and headed on down the street. Grizz really hoped he wouldn’t be a downer that day. His anxiety was pushed to the side because a large part of him just didn’t care anymore about his parents knowing. He knew it would hit him later, but he just really wanted to ignore his problems and have a nice day with his boyfriend.

 

Sam was waiting out the front when Grizz got there, looking all snuggly and cute as shit in a hoodie and a scarf. He wasn’t wearing the hoodie that used to be Grizz’s though, unfortunately. Grizz always got a bit of a thrill out of seeing Sam wearing it. Grizz couldn’t help but smile, because even just seeing Sam made everything okay.

 

Sam opened the car door and got in when Grizz came to a complete stop. Grizz leant over, just like he did every time he picked Sam up, and planted a kiss on his lips. Only, something felt kind of off. Sam was usually pretty eager and enthusiastic, but he didn’t kiss Grizz back that time. Grizz pulled away, trying not to think anything of it.

 

“You seem warm,” Grizz told him.

 

“You know me. Always cold,” Sam tugged on the scarf around his neck, doing it up a little tighter. Grizz gave him a smile.

 

“Where do you wanna go today?” Grizz asked.

 

“Uhm…” Sam hummed and glanced back at the house before turning back to Grizz, “actually… I need to talk to you. There’s no one home. Can you come inside?”

 

“Okay, this sounds serious. Should I be worried?” Grizz was nervous. Really nervous. He knew there was something wrong. He just knew it.

 

“Can you just come inside?” Sam begged.

 

“What’s wrong?” Grizz asked, and he was frozen. He didn’t want to go inside. They had plans to go out for the whole day together, but Sam was acting so weird. Grizz’s anxiety was flaring up. Sam could barely keep eye contact with him, and that awful feeling in the pit of Grizz’s stomach was getting worse.

 

“I don’t know how to say it,” Sam said.

 

“Say what? Sam…just…what?” Grizz’s voice quivered. He thought he was going to vomit, because somehow he saw exactly where the conversation was heading.

 

“I…think…we should take a break,” Sam said.

 

And Grizz couldn’t breathe. He sat there trying to process what it was that Sam was saying, what Sam meant. And nothing made sense.

 

 “W-what? What…what do you mean?” Grizz stumbled over his words.

 

“I mean…me and you…we should…stop,” Sam said and Grizz tried desperately to read Sam’s face, to tell if this was a joke or something more was going on, but Sam’s expression showed nothing; complete apathy.  

 

“Why?” Grizz’s voice broke, “what did I…do? What’d I do?”

 

“Nothing,” Sam said quickly, “nothing. It’s just…I don’t know. You’re going off to college soon and…”

 

“I thought we talked about that, Sam. I thought it was all okay,” Grizz said desperately.

 

“Maybe it’s not. I don’t know. Maybe…maybe we’re too young and maybe when I’m done with high school we can…I don’t know,” Sam shrugged.

 

 For the second time that day Grizz was in pure shock, because what the fuck? This was coming straight from left field. Why would Sam just break up with him out of nowhere? It didn’t make sense. Well, one thing could make sense.

 

“Is it Campbell?” Grizz asked.

 

Sam shook his head.

 

“Was it him? What did he do? You can tell me,” Grizz begged.

 

“It’s not Campbell, okay? It’s nothing to do with him. We need space. I need a break from you, okay? It’s just…a break. Some space,” Sam told him.

 

That hurt. A lot. Grizz had never felt more like a discarded piece of trash in his entire life, and he could feel himself shutting down. He didn’t want to be near Sam anymore. Not after that.

 

“Space…okay,” was all Grizz could say.

 

“I’m sorry,” Sam whispered.

 

Grizz couldn’t say anything, because if he said something, he might just cry. It took a full six seconds before Sam was out of the car, and Grizz knew it was six seconds because he was counting to ten in his head to calm himself down. Six seconds and it was just over. Just like that. And Grizz couldn’t move.

 

They were fine. Last night they had been more than fine. And now they were just…broken up? Grizz couldn’t make sense of it. It didn’t even seem real. Grizz had never been broken up with before, especially by someone he was so head over heels in love with. It was just over. Grizz didn’t have a boyfriend anymore.

 

Grizz’s breaths were short and shallow. He could feel the panic attack coming on and he was trying so hard to be a mature adult about it but it was all too much. He fucked up and he lost Sam, and he didn’t know what to do. He just knew where he wanted to go.

 

Grizz started his car and headed off down the street. He was just so confused. This wasn’t how the day was supposed to go. Grizz’s body was practically on autopilot as his mind struggled to keep up. Before he knew it, he was out the front of Luke’s house, walking up the stone pathway to the front door. Like a zombie, he knocked on the door. He wasn’t sure why he instinctively went to Luke’s house. Luke didn’t even know about him and Sam. Grizz wasn’t even really sure if Luke knew he was gay or not. But still, Grizz just wanted his best friend.

 

The front door opened and Luke’s father stood there, smartly dressed as always; the complete opposite of Grizz’s own dad. Mr. Holbrook’s eyes widened in surprise as he looked Grizz up and down.

 

“Mr. Holbrook. Hi,” Grizz greeted.

 

“Morning Grizz, wasn’t expecting you back today,” he said.

 

“Yeah, uhm…is Luke here?” Grizz asked.

 

“Sorry, no. He’s out with Helena today,” he said.

 

“Oh…okay,” Grizz nodded.

 

Mr. Holbrook frowned before putting his hand on Grizz’s shoulder and stepping a little closer, “is everything okay, son?”

 

“Yeah. Yep,” Grizz nodded, “thank you anyway.”

 

“Are you sure?” he asked.

 

“Yeah, just bored, looking for Luke. It’s all good,” Grizz stammered.

 

“I’ll tell him you stopped by,” Mr. Holbrook said.

 

“No, it’s fine. I’m just gonna go. Thank you though, Mr. Holbrook,” Grizz said, and then he turned because tears were threatening to fall and he really didn’t need Mr. Holbrook asking him what was wrong, because Grizz might have just blurted out everything that what was going on.

 

Bu the time Grizz got to his car, tears were overflowing onto his cheeks. He was quick to start his car and drive off again, not wanting Luke’s dad to see that he really was upset. Fuck, he had been so prepared right then to spill everything to Luke. It wasn’t that Gwen was second best or anything like that, but Luke was always so good at advice and that was why Grizz went there first. Grizz ended up driving to Gwen’s house instead because he didn’t want to be alone.

 

It was a miracle Grizz didn’t get in a car accident. He could barely see through the tears filling up his eyes. Grizz was sobbing by the time he got to Gwen’s house, barely able to even take a breath in. He just couldn’t believe what was happening. He knocked on her front door, not even thinking about the fact that her parents could’ve answered. He didn’t care at that point anyway. Nothing fucking mattered.

 

Thankfully Gwen opened the door and Grizz just stood there like a child that needed to be held and the second Gwen took in the figure in front of her, she stepped forward, wrapping her arms around Grizz as he buried his face in his friend’s neck and cried.

Chapter Text

Grizz didn’t know how long he was crying for. He just knew that he eventually ended up in Gwen’s room, on her bed, with his head in her lap as she ran her fingertips through his hair. She was so patient with him and Grizz had tried a few times to stop crying so he could talk to her, but he just couldn’t. The only words he managed to get out at the front door was “Sam broke up with me.” And that was it.

 

Grizz had never been so devastated in his entire life. He was just broken. His heart was broken and he didn’t know how to pick up the pieces. He knew it was unhealthy to latch onto one person so fiercely that he was this torn apart after a break up, and Grizz also knew that with time he’d feel better, but on that day, on Gwen’s bed, Grizz didn’t think anything would ever be okay again.

 

Grizz was so, so in love with Sam, and Sam? Well, it was clear to Grizz that Sam never felt the same way, not even close. Of course he didn’t. Grizz had told Sam he loved him and Sam just stared at him all doe eyed and made some sexual comment. Was that all Sam wanted from him? A hook up? Maybe that really was what Sam wanted and the second Grizz brought up his feelings, it was too much. Grizz was too much for Sam and it killed him.

 

“You wanna tell me what happened?” Gwen asked once Grizz had finally calmed down. The sobbing stopped. The tears had ceased, and Grizz just lay there, unmoving, empty.

 

“He broke up with me,” Grizz croaked out.

 

“I know, but why?” Gwen asked. Grizz barely had an answer to that. He stared straight ahead at the light green wall of Gwen’s room and shrugged.

 

“Something about me going away for college,” Grizz murmured.

 

“So…he’s scared of long distance,” she said simply.

 

“We spoke about it already. It was fine. Everything was fine,” Grizz said.

 

“Maybe he thought about it more,” Gwen suggested.

 

“Maybe I’m too much for him,” Grizz said, and his pity party was in full swing.

 

“What do you mean?” she asked.

 

“Like we’ve not even been together long but I told him I love him and he never says it back. Maybe I was nothing to him from the start,” Grizz said.

 

“Don’t even say that. He likes you too. It’s so obvious,” she said. Was it though? Because Grizz was doubting everything.

 

“Then why doesn’t he want to be with me?” Grizz asked.

 

“What exactly did he say? What were his exact words?” she asked.

 

“I don’t know,” Grizz said, because it all seemed so blurry and far away and he didn’t want to think about it, “something about needing space from me.”

 

“Well, that’s not exactly a break up,” she snorted.

 

“It was a break up, Gwen,” Grizz argued.

 

“What else did he say?” she asked.

 

Grizz sighed, “just…college stuff. Like…something about maybe when he’s in college we could…I don’t know.”

 

“He’s literally just scared of you leaving. Grizz, you’ve gotta talk to him,” she urged.

 

Grizz shook his head in defiance, “I’m too much for him. I’ve always been too fucking much.”

 

“If you don’t talk to him, I will,” she said.

 

“No, Gwen,” Grizz sat up, his head feeling like it weighed a ton as he looked at her, “you weren’t there, okay!? He doesn’t want to be with me anymore!”

 

“Okay…okay. I’m sorry,” she muttered.

 

“No, I’m sorry. Didn’t mean to yell,” Grizz said softer. Fuck, he was being such a piece of shit. No wonder Sam didn’t want to be with him. Those were all the thoughts drifting through Grizz’s head. He was just listing off every reason why he wasn’t good enough.

 

“It’s okay,” Gwen said with a small, sad smile.

 

Grizz sniffled, wiping at his eyes and cheeks but the tears had dried up at that point.

 

 “Do you think I can stay here tonight? Everything’s fucked at home too,” Grizz said.

 

“What happened?” she asked.

 

“I got into a fight with my mom about going away to college and I came out to her. I didn’t mean to. I was just so mad and just blurted it out,” Grizz told her.

 

“Oh fuck. What’d she say?” she asked.

 

“She didn’t take it too well. But I don’t think she’ll tell my dad. She’s scared of him,” he explained.

 

“Oh God.”

 

“Fuck college. I’m not even gonna go if it’s gonna cause this much trouble. I should just stay here…” Grizz pondered the idea. Maybe if Sam really had broken up with him just because of the whole college thing then maybe he’d want to get back together if Grizz was going somewhere local, or at least in the same state.

 

“No, you’re not. You’ve wanted to get out of this town for as long as I’ve known you and you are not staying for your dickbag parents or some boy,” Gwen snapped.

 

“He’s not just some boy,” Grizz said. He was the love of Grizz’s fucking life, and sure, Grizz was young and dumb and probably didn’t even really know what love was, but he was so sure that Sam and him were meant to be together, and Grizz just didn’t know what to do now that that fantasy had been demolished.

 

Gwen tilted her head to the side and gave him a sympathetic look, “I know he’s not. But listen, maybe it’ll all work out. Maybe Sam just needs some breathing space and he’ll come around.”

 

“What if he doesn’t?” Grizz asked.

 

“Then…you’ll be okay,” Gwen resolved.  

 

“I don’t think I will be,” Grizz said in a small voice, practically whimpering like an injured dog.

 

“And I think you’re dramatic. Everything will sort itself out. You and Sam are endgame, and if not then you and I can just be the new Will and Grace,” she joked.

 

Grizz gave a small smile, although it didn’t reach his eyes. He just wanted to wake up from this nightmare.

 

“Tell you what, let’s laze around here all day watching Netflix. You can stay over tonight,” Gwen suggested, and that sounded like a really good idea because the last thing Grizz wanted was to go home. 

 

“Are your parents okay with a guy staying over?” Grizz asked.

 

“My parents don’t need to know. Now, settle in. I’ll get my laptop downstairs,” she said.

 

Grizz nodded before she left the room. Grizz took his phone out of his jeans pocket because he felt it vibrate a couple of times as he lay there. He didn’t really know what he was hoping. It was pure wishful thinking that maybe, just maybe Sam was going to tell him to come back, that he changed his mind, that it was all some elaborate prank. But no, it was Luke. Grizz read over his messages before sending a reply.

 

Hey my dad texted me. You were over? – Luke.

He said you were upset. Is everything okay? – Luke.

I went to your house and your mom told me you left. Where are you? – Luke.

 

I’m fine. I was just bored and wanted to hang. Don’t know why your dad thought I was upset. Weird! – Grizz.

 

Oh okay. You sure? – Luke.

 

Yeah all good. – Grizz.

 

Where are you? You wanna hang? – Luke.

 

I’m just studying. On kind of on a roll. See you at school tomorrow though. – Grizz.

 

K man see you then. – Luke.

 

Grizz switched from his messages with Luke, to his messages with Sam instead. His fingers hovered over the keypad. He just wanted to talk to him and ask him where he went wrong. He wanted to pathetically beg for him back. He wanted to just talk, even if it was small talk about the damn weather, but Grizz couldn’t just text him. They were broken up.

 

Gwen came back into the room before Grizz could do something stupid. He looked up at her as he set his phone down on her bedside table.

 

“Alright, what movie genre?” Gwen said as she sat on the bed with her laptop open.

 

“Horror,” Grizz said.

 

“You sure you wouldn’t like a nice comedy? Might cheer you up,” Gwen said.

 

“Nope. I’m sulking. Give me blood and gore,” Grizz grumbled.

 

“If you insist,” Gwen sighed.

 

She nodded towards the bed and Grizz followed her lead, crawling further onto it against the headboard. Grizz just wanted to switch his brain off for a while, so he settled in next to Gwen and focused on the movie she put on.

 

---

 

Grizz awoke the next day with Gwen spooning him from behind, and it wasn’t weird or anything. It was just nice and the kind of comfort Grizz needed. It took Grizz a moment or two to remember why he was in Gwen’s bed and when those memories came back to him, he just lay there like a corpse with zero motivation or intention to get out of bed. He was just going to stay there all day. That was if Gwen let him.

 

Grizz wasn’t sure how long they were laying there after he woke up, but he knew Gwen had woken up too because she started playing with his hair. He liked the small touches, even if they couldn’t live up to Sam’s. He was glad he ended up Gwen’s too because he couldn’t imagine Luke cuddling him like this.

 

“How are you today, Grizzy bear?” Gwen was the first to speak.

 

“I don’t know,” Grizz murmured.

 

“You’re gonna be fine,” Gwen said as she ruffled his hair.

 

“Maybe,” Grizz muttered into the pillow. He didn’t want her positivity in that moment. He had been broken up with Sam for twenty-four hours and he already missed him.

 

A brash knock sounded on Gwen’s door, making Grizz roll over into his side to look at his friend questioningly. Gwen sighed as she sat up, her hair looking strangely perfect despite just waking up.

 

“That’d be my mom. She doesn’t like me sleeping past ten,” she said.

 

There was a knock again and Gwen gave another dramatic sigh before flinging the covers off and heading to the door. She opened it just enough for her to talk to her mom, but not enough to show that she had a boy in her bed, because no matter how platonic it was, no mom wanted to see a boy in her daughter’s bed, especially one only in his boxers since Grizz had gotten too hot during the night and stripped down.

 

“Clark!?” Gwen’s shocked voice carried through the room.

 

Grizz sat up so fast his head spun. Clark? Did Grizz hear that right? Because if he did, he was so fucked.

 

“Hey, your mom let me in,” Clark’s distinct voice said.

 

Fuck. Grizz scrambled up from the bed, trying to be as quiet as humanly possible as he gathered his clothes from the ground. He should have hidden under the bed or something, but in the moment of panic Grizz’s priority was getting his clothes back on.

 

“What are you doing here?” Gwen asked. The nerves were clear in her voice.

 

“I just want to talk to you. There’s been something on my mind lately and I need your, like, help or advice, I don’t know. I’m so fucking confused about something,” Clark said, and it spiked Grizz’s interest but not enough to make him stop pulling on his jeans that were annoyingly inside out and twisted up.

 

“Oh, uh, well now’s not a good time,” Gwen said, and she got D minus for her acting skills. Grizz was gonna kill her.

 

“Why not?” Clark paused, “you got someone in there with you or something?”

 

“No,” Gwen said quickly.

 

“Gwen…I-, look, this is what I need to talk about. I don’t care if someone’s in there. I-,”

 

And that was the moment Clark forced the door open and laid his eyes upon Grizz, standing there by Gwen’s bed with his shirt off, hair dishevelled, doing up the buttons on his jeans. Fuck. Grizz froze. Gwen froze. And Clark looked between the two of them with the most pained look Grizz had ever seen on him.

 

“I fuckin’ knew it,” Clark breathed out, and then he was gone. Gwen and Grizz looked at each other in horror, but Grizz didn’t stick around for long. He tugged on his shirt before he made a dash for the door, running past Gwen, out to the hallway.

 

“Clark! Wait!” Grizz called out, but the boy didn’t listen. Grizz could hear him stampeding down the stairs.

 

This was bad, really bad. As if he wasn’t having enough trouble convincing Clark there was nothing going on with himself and Gwen, but he just had to go and walk in at the worst possible time. Grizz knew how bad it looked. He knew this would only make Clark’s paranoia worse, and Grizz didn’t blame him for it, because he knew if he found Sam in bed with another guy then he would be just as hurt as Clark was in that moment.

 

“Clark! Hold up!” Grizz shouted as he chased him down the street, “Clark! It’s not what it looks like!”

 

The second Grizz got close enough, Clark swung around, his fist flying wildly and connecting with his left cheek. The force made Grizz go down hard as he spun and landed on this hands and knees. He clutched at his face, fighting back hot tears. His face throbbed and well, it was the worst pain Grizz had ever felt in his life. Had Clark broken his cheekbone? It sure fucking felt like it.

 

“Not what it looks like!? You were in bed with her! She’s my ex man, what the fuck?!” Clark shouted.

 

Grizz was having trouble finding his bearings. He was on the verge of vomiting and he couldn’t see straight. People really had to stop fucking hitting him or he was sure he was going to have brain damage.

 

“It’s not…it’s not like that,” Grizz said when he finally managed to get back on his feet. His head spun as he noticed Gwen get to them.

 

“Tell him, Gwen,” Grizz demanded, because he was tired of her constantly standing on the sidelines while Grizz got all the shit Clark threw his way. It wasn’t fair.

 

“It’s really not what it looks like. He was upset and I was comforting him. That’s all,” Gwen said.

 

“You’re both liars. I’m so sick of it!” Clark barked.

 

“We’re telling the truth. Sam and I broke up and-“

 

“Stop! Just stop!” Clark screamed, “fuck, Grizz! Fuck. I hate you so fucking much you have no idea!”

 

Clark went to walk away again and on impulse Grizz chased after him. He ran around, getting in front of him. He put his hands to Clark’s chest, stopping him in his place.

 

“Listen to me, there’s nothing going on. I fucking promise you,” Grizz said, looking Clark right in the eyes.

 

Clark’s glare was menacing and filled with so much hatred. Grizz was surprised he didn’t spontaneously combust then and there from the sheer power of the look. Clark took a step closer, his nose mere inches away from Grizz’s as he spoke a low tone.

 

“Never, ever talk to me again, Grizz. You’re fucking dead to me.”

 

And Clark tried to go again but Grizz wasn’t giving up that quickly. He put his hand to Clark’s chest again in a desperate attempt to just get him to stop and listen because Grizz really didn’t want to lose someone else in his life.

 

“Clark stop, please,” Grizz begged.

 

“Don’t fucking touch me!” Clark roared before the palm of his hand came up, connecting brutally with Grizz’s nose. Grizz stumbled back, clutching his nose as dark, red blood oozed from it.

 

“Clark!” Gwen screamed as she rushed over to Grizz’s side.

 

“Find some new friends at school. Both of you,” Clark spat.

 

They let him leave that time. Grizz watched him as he marched over to his car and got into, slamming the door behind him, and then he was off, leaving Grizz and Gwen on the side of the road, probably being watched by nosey neighbors through their curtains.

 

“Fuck. Oh my God, I can’t believe he just did that. Do I need to take you to a doctor?” Gwen asked quickly.

 

Grizz took a few deep breaths. Both hits hurt, like, really fucking bad, but he didn’t know if he needed a doctor or not.

 

“Inside,” was all Grizz got out.

 

His eyes were watering so he couldn’t see very well. Gwen took his upper arm and led him back towards her house. They went back upstairs and Gwen took Grizz into the bathroom.

 

“Here,” Gwen said, handing him a box of tissues, “I’ll get ice. I’ll be back.”

 

Gwen left the room and Grizz looked at himself in the mirror. He took his hand away from his face and he couldn’t even tell if his nose was broken or not. He wet a few of the tissues and gingerly dabbed at the blood, cleaning it up. He held a dry tissue to his nose to soak up more blood from running out. His entire face felt like it was on fire and throbbing so much that he thought it was going to explode.

 

“Here,” Gwen said as she handed him a pack of ice wrapped in a thin cloth.

 

“Thanks,” Grizz said as he took it from her. He held the pack to his cheek, hissing at how cold it was.

 

“Do you want to go to the emergency department?” she asked.

 

Grizz looked at himself in the mirror, taking the tissue away. He had a broken nose before, funnily enough given to him by Clark in freshman year. It was a football accident, but it hurt like a bitch and had Grizz’s nose bent out of shape. That was most definitely not a fun trip to the emergency room. Looking at his nose in the mirror though, it didn’t look broken. He touched it, and his cheek, feeling around and noting that they didn’t feel any different shape wise. They were swelling though, so Grizz put the ice back on with one hand, and soaked up the blood with the other.

 

“I’m okay,” Grizz said.

 

“You sure? Do you think it’s broken?” Gwen asked.

 

“It’s not broken,” Grizz said.

 

“I should call Luke. His dad’s a doctor. He can take a look,” Gwen said.

 

“No, don’t. It’ll just cause more drama and Clark might get in trouble,” Grizz said.

 

“And so he should. He can’t just hit you like that,” she argued.

 

“He saw us in bed together, Gwen. He’s just pissed,” Grizz said.

 

“But nothing even happened,” she said.

 

“He doesn’t know that. It looks bad,” Grizz said, and he didn’t really know why he was defending Clark. Perhaps Grizz’s pity party and general self-hatred during the past twenty-four hours just made him want to defend his friend, well, ex-friend, instead of himself.

 

“His fucking obsession with you is really getting out of hand though,” Grizz commented.

 

“I thought it stopped,” Gwen said. 

 

“What?”

 

“He hasn’t hit on me or anything like that for weeks. I thought he was over it,” she said.

 

“Yeah, well, maybe he was starting to be, but it probably doesn’t help seeing his friend and ex practically in bed together,” Grizz said. 

 

“I’ll talk to him,” she said.

 

“Don’t bother. He won’t believe anything we say. I already told him I’m gay and he didn’t believe me,” Grizz said.

 

“He’s such a fucking idiot. I can’t believe he hit you,” she shook her head. She analysed Grizz’s face and if she thought he looked bad then, she’d get a shock the next day when Grizz waltzed into school all purple and blue.

 

“Long time coming, I think. He really hates me,” Grizz said.

 

“Maybe you need to prove you’re gay,” Gwen suggested.

 

“Yeah sure, I’ll just go get my boyfriend and make out in front of him. Oh wait,” Grizz sarcastically replied.

 

Gwen rolled her eyes at him. She took Grizz’s wrist and made him lower the hand that was holding the tissue to stop the bleeding. She looked at him carefully before giving a small smile.

 

“Bleeding has stopped, I think. You’re gonna need to ice that all day or you’re gonna swell up like a balloon,” Gwen said.

 

“I know. I’m gonna go. I’ll do it at home,” Grizz said.

 

“You don’t have to go,” Gwen said.

 

“Kind of wanna just be alone,” Grizz said honestly, because it seemed like lately whoever he spoke to, something happened. His mom, Sam, Gwen, Clark. There was no end, so he wanted to lock himself in his room where he couldn’t fuck up anymore.

 

“Are you sure?” Gwen asked.

 

Grizz nodded.

 

“Alright, well, you can come back any time you want,” she said.

 

“I know. Thanks,” Grizz said.

 

“So I’ll see you tomorrow?” she asked.

 

“Yeah. Fuck, school is gonna be fucking hell,” Grizz said. He couldn’t think of anything worse. Clark hated him and if he told the guys and Helena then they’d all hate him too, and Sam didn’t want him. Maybe Grizz shouldn’t go at all.

 

“We’ll just hang out together. Fuck the rest,” Gwen said.

 

Grizz shook his head quickly, ignoring how the world spun when he did. “No. We cant. That’ll only make it worse. Maybe I can talk to him when he calms down.”

 

“Yeah, maybe,” Gwen shrugged.

 

“Alright, I’m going. I’ll text you,” Grizz said.

 

“Okay. Drive safe, please,” she said.

 

“I will.”

 

Gwen stepped forward and gave him a hug, and he relished in it considering she could very well be his one and only friend now. Grizz let go first and the two of them went back to Gwen’s room so he could get his shoes, phone and keys, and then he left the house, getting into his car and driving away.

 

The throbbing still radiated across his entire face, stemming mostly from his cheek but it wasn’t as bad as it was when Clark first hit him. Grizz couldn’t believe the events that transpired over the past twenty-four hours. He came out to his mom. He lost a boyfriend. He lost a friend. He was punched twice. He was slapped once. He didn’t even know how to process everything. He just wanted to go home and curl up in a ball where he couldn’t do anymore damage.

 

The thing was, there was something on Grizz’s mind. Campbell was on his mind. While he was supposed to be sleeping, Grizz spent post of the night wracking his brain, trying to think of why Sam broke up with him, and yeah, the most obvious answer was that he was upset that Grizz was going away for college, but it didn’t make sense to him. They sorted that out. Sam kissed him in the library after the game with no signs at all that he was doubting their relationship and Sam had been excited to hang out on Saturday. Something didn’t make sense. There was a piece of the puzzle that didn’t quite fit.

 

Grizz knew that he should have just went home. That was the smart thing to do, but what the fuck else did he have to lose? He already got in a fight. He already had been broken up with. How much more damage could a conversation with the devil do? That was the thought process Grizz had as he drove up to the Eliot residence.

 

Grizz remembered the threat Campbell made to him weeks ago. He wanted Grizz to break Sam’s heart, and he couldn’t help but wonder if after being unsuccessful with him, that he went to Sam instead. A huge part of Grizz hoped and wished for him to be right, that Sam only broke up with him because of Campbell and that he really did want to be with him. Or, maybe Grizz was insane and grasping at straws.

 

Are you home? I’m outside your house and just want to talk. – Grizz.

 

Grizz stared down at his phone. Campbell could very well not even be there. Although, his car was in the driveway. Grizz waited and waited for maybe ten minutes until that read receipt came through. Grizz watched the front door of Sam’s house, and for a moment he thought about driving away, but then the front door opened and out walked Campbell.

 

Grizz opened the car door and got out, leaving the car running just in case he had to make a quick getaway. Grizz’s fists tightened into a ball, his fingernails digging into the palm of his hand. Sure, his intentions were to only talk to Campbell, to question him, but if it came down to it, Grizz was in the exact headspace to fight. Grizz had nothing to lose.

 

“I thought I told you to stay out of my business, Gareth,” Campbell said as he got to him. His intimidation tactics weren’t working on Grizz, not today. That was why when Campbell got close, almost so they were chest to chest, Grizz didn’t even flinch.

 

“This isn’t about your business. It’s about mine,” Grizz said.

 

“Uh huh,” Campbell nodded, his small smile letting Grizz know he was intrigued, “and what exactly makes you think I care about your business?”

 

“I just have a question for you and I want a straight up answer and then I’ll leave,” Grizz said.

 

“You know, I don’t exactly appreciate being summoned and then, like, ordered to answer a question. It’s like you’ve never even met me before, Grizzy,” Campbell said, but there wasn’t any anger in his voice. Just humor. Always that fucking humor.

 

“Look, I just need to know something and then I’ll go, alright?” Grizz sighed. He was really fucking tired.

 

“Okay, fine. Shoot,” Campbell said.

 

Grizz swallowed hard before asking him, “did you threaten Sam and tell him to break up with me.”

 

Campbell watched Grizz with pure curiosity etched into the contours of his face before he broke out in laughter.

 

“Did he tell you that?” Campbell asked through the chuckles.

 

“No. I’m putting two and two together. He broke up with me and the only thing that makes sense is you made him do it, just like you tried to make me do it,” Grizz said.

 

“Jesus, fuck Grizz. You think that’s really the only reason he would break up with you? Wow, you must really love yourself if you can’t see your own flaws,” Campbell said.

 

Grizz flinched at that. He should have known that coming to Campbell would be a dead end. It wasn’t like he could trust what he said anyway.

 

“Think about this. Maybe, just maybe, he never really liked you to begin with. I know my brother, okay? He’s not really the lovey-dovey type of guy. I’m pretty sure he’s been chatting up a few guys online too, so you’re really just not that special,” Campbell said.

 

“You’re so full of shit,” Grizz whispered in disbelief.

 

“Listen, what the fuck are you even doing here, Grizz? Why are we having this conversation? I don’t give a shit anymore about your stupid fucking relationship with my retard brother. You two can fuck each other all you want for all I care,” Campbell sneered.

 

Grizz watched him carefully, and he knew Campbell was a snake, but it really did seem like he was telling the truth.

 

“You really didn’t make this happen?” Grizz asked, his heart deflating.

 

“Consider this. Maybe he’s just not that into you,” Campbell said, and he shouldn’t have let Campbell get to him, but he was. He just really wanted Campbell to confirm that he was behind the break up, but he didn’t, and Grizz was back to square one.

 

“Are we done here?” Campbell asked.

 

“Yeah, we’re done,” Grizz nodded.

 

“Fan-fucking-tastic. And, by the way, who the fuck did that do your face? I wanna shake their hand,” Campbell said.

 

Grizz rolled his eyes and didn’t let him get another word in. He got back in his car and sped down the street, heading home like he should have done in the first place. Grizz was just so emotionally exhausted, and his head was fucking killing him, and now he probably looked like a desperate, pathetic, loser in front of the one person he hated most in the world.

 

Grizz drove home, letting himself wallow in his misery. When he headed through the front door, he could hear the familiar roar of the television in the living room. He didn’t want to talk to his parents, so he headed towards the stairs, but of course with his bad luck he couldn’t just sneak in so quickly.

 

“Gareth?!” his mom called out.

 

“Fuck,” Grizz muttered. He didn’t want to make her anymore upset than she had been yesterday, and he kind of wanted to stay on her good side so she wouldn’t tell his dad anything, so he headed through the kitchen and to the living room.

 

“Where’ve you been?” his dad grumbled without looking up from his place on his arm chair. He took a swig from his beer bottle and kept watching the TV. His mom, however, did look up, her eyes going as wide as saucers when she saw his face.

 

“What happened to your face?” she gasped, and that made his Dad look up too, and Grizz wished he had just shouted that he was going to his room and disappeared.

 

“Well shit,” his dad grunted.

 

“Got into a fight,” Grizz told them.

 

“Why?” his mom asked.

 

“Over a girl,” Grizz said, and at least it wasn’t a lie.

 

He locked eyes with his mom and at first she looked maybe even a little guilty, but then she nodded her head in thanks, because to her it was like Grizz was pretending to be straight. She probably thought he actually got into a fight over a guy.

 

“That’s my boy,” his dad said.

 

“Yeah. I think I’m just gonna head to my room. Kind of tired,” Grizz said. 

 

Neither of them answered. His dad went back to focusing on the TV again and his mom just stayed silent. Grizz turned on his heel and went back to the kitchen. He dug out some frozen vegetables from the freezer and headed upstairs to his room. He kicked off his shoes and flopped down on his bed, placing the icy bag over his face.

 

He was going to have to answer so many questions in school the next day about his face, although, with Clark involved Grizz was sure that rumors would fly rampant and it would only be a matter of time until everyone found out what happened. He was more concerned about what everyone would be saying about Gwen, because Grizz would probably be reigned a bad-boy hero, and Gwen? Well, she’d probably be branded a slut, and it wasn’t fair.

 

“What happened, really?” a voice came from the door. His mom’s voice. Grizz sighed and moved the frozen peas to his cheek so he could talk.

 

“I got in a fight over a girl. I wasn’t lying,” Grizz said. He stayed laying on the bed, staring at the ceiling.

 

“So…what…you like…both?” she asked.

 

“You don’t have to pretend to be interested. Sam and I broke up, so you don’t have to worry about your faggot son anymore,” he said bitterly. 

 

There was a moment of silence and Grizz thought she left him there before she spoke up again, “thank you. This’ll be for the best, trust me.”

 

Grizz had nothing to say. He just rolled over on his bed with his back to her, and waited for her to leave. After a moment he finally heard the door snap shut. Grizz curled into a ball on his bed, just like he planned to do, with the frozen vegetables against his nose to stop the swelling. It was barely mid-morning and Grizz was ready for bed.

 

Everything had fallen apart and Grizz didn’t know how to pick up the pieces.

Chapter Text

Grizz got to school early, and he had no idea why. Thinking back on his decision, he wished he had turned up seconds before the first bell so he could just make a beeline for his first class. Instead he walked down the hall and had to endure everyone staring at him and whispering. His face didn’t look that bad, surely? Perhaps Grizz spent so much time staring at himself in the mirror that morning that he got accustomed to the bruising. At least the swelling had gone down overnight.

 

People were gossiping. Grizz knew they were and he wasn’t being paranoid. He didn’t really care all too much what they were thinking of him. This was why he was so desperate to get out of high school and into college.

 

Grizz wanted to go and find his friends like he usually would if he turned up early, but instead he was avoiding them. He knew Clark would have gone to them and told them what happened, and Grizz didn’t want to face it. He didn’t want the questions. He didn’t know how to answer them except to deny there was anything going on with himself and Gwen, and then it was his word against Clark’s.

 

Then there was Sam. Grizz’s heart ached whenever he so much as thought of Sam now, so when he saw him at his locker with Becca, Grizz died a little inside. No, actually, he died a lot inside. He wanted to crumple to the floor and never get up again. He wished he never told Sam about college. How could Grizz be so insensitive? Of course Sam didn’t want to wait for him. He didn’t want long distance. Grizz wasn’t worth it.

 

Grizz’s gaze dropped the second Sam looked up at him. He kept walking, keeping his head down, focused on his shoes as he walked. He needed to get away from the stares. He wanted to be alone. He briefly considered just turning around and leaving the school all together, but instead he made his way to the library.

 

Heading in, Grizz relished in the ambient silence of the room. He went straight to the back corner where his favorite bean-bag was. He picked up a random book on the way, not bothering to see what it was because he wasn’t going to read it anyway. He just wanted to look busy in case anyone rounded the corner.

 

Grizz flopped down onto the bean-bag, sinking into the cushiness of it. Grizz was like a zombie. He had cried all he possibly could cry yesterday and the night before. He felt all the pain, and now he just didn’t want to feel anything at all. He wanted to shut down. He wanted to focus on his school work and get in and out of each class unscathed.

 

That was what Grizz told himself. What he really wanted was Sam back. What he wanted was Clark to not hate him. What he wanted was for his face to not be fucking purple. Grizz sat there with the book open, not reading a single word, as he thought of all his desires. He didn’t stay alone for too long though, because in his peripherals he noticed someone standing at the end of the bookshelves.

 

Sam. Grizz’s eyes focused on him in a squint, as if he was worried he was seeing things, because there Sam was, in the library, looking down at him on the floor. Grizz, still not wanting to feel a thing, turned his attention back to the book and began reading the same line over and over again. It was an odd feeling, wanting so badly to talk to Sam but also never wanting to talk to him again. He wanted the boy to leave, but he wanted him to stay.

 

He stayed. Sam went over to Grizz and knelt on the ground in front of him. Grizz peered up over the book in sheer curiosity. Sam was staring at his face, his eyes darting from his nose to his cheek. If only Sam saw how bad he looked yesterday all swelled up and covered in blood. Grizz didn’t know what Sam was thinking as he reached out like he was going to touch Grizz. Grizz turned his face away. Sam couldn’t do that. He wasn’t allowed. Grizz wouldn’t allow it.

 

“Did Campbell do this or was it really Clark?” Sam asked. Grizz turned his face back to Sam so he could read his lips. Grizz wasn’t in the mood to try signing though, and that was when he realized he wasn’t just hurt. He was mad.

 

“So, the rumors have started, huh?” Grizz asked.

 

“I heard from Becca,” Sam said.

 

“Oh yeah? How’d she hear?” Grizz asked, not that he cared.

 

“Gwen, I think. I didn’t really get the full story. I came to find you instead,” Sam said.

 

“Why?”

 

“Because,” Sam shrugged.

 

And Sam wasn’t allowed to do that either. He couldn’t just come and check in on Grizz after breaking up with up. He wasn’t allowed to act like a boyfriend.

 

“It was Clark,” Grizz finally answered.

 

“Why? What happened?” Sam asked as he settled more comfortably on his knees in front of him.

 

“On Saturday after…you know… I went to Gwen’s and ended up staying the night. Nothing happened but Clark turned up the next morning and found me in her room and…yeah,” Grizz said, and he knew he was only telling Sam the truth because he didn’t want Sam to think he actually did hook up with Gwen.

 

“Oh…” Sam nodded in understanding.

 

“Yeah. He thinks me and Gwen are together and now he hates me, and all my friends probably fucking hate me. I have no boyfriend. Uh, I came out to my mom too which was just…fan-fucking-tastic, so all in all, I think I had an awesome weekend,” Grizz rattled everything off, and yeah, that just about summarized the past forty-eight hours.

 

“You came out to her? Seriously?” Sam asked. He reached out and touched Grizz’s hand, and Grizz just looked down, because what the fuck was happening? Sam couldn’t just comfort him like that, and Grizz couldn’t just unload all of his problems onto Sam anymore. He couldn’t vent like this.

 

“You can’t do that,” Grizz tore his hand away.

 

“We can still-,”

 

“What?” Grizz cut him off, “be friends? That doesn’t work for us and you know it. I don’t want to be your fucking friend, Sam.”

 

“I’m sorry…” the other boy whispered.

 

“For? You don’t want to be with me. You don’t have to apologize for that,” Grizz said, and the entire conversation was not helping with Grizz’s attempts to shut down. His emotions were at fever pitch and he needed to turn them off to just get through the day. It especially wasn’t helping that Sam was looking at him like that, all apologetic and, dare Grizz even think it, teary eyed.

 

“I can’t be around you,” Grizz breathed before he got up and high-tailed it out of there.

 

It was almost time for class anyway. It took all of Grizz’s concentration to not run to the bathroom and cry his eyes out. It fucking hurt to cry anyway. Grizz tried to forget about the conversation as he headed to his first class of the day.

 

Grizz ignored everyone around him, except for the teachers in each class. He zoned out most of the time. He didn’t pay any attention to Luke in Chemistry class who was just looking at him, but not saying a word, probably because Grizz made it more than obvious he wasn’t in the mood to speak. He wondered what exactly Clark had told Luke. Actually, he wondered what Clark had told everyone else, because he was beginning to get a lot of dirty looks from people he had never even spoken to before.

 

In the class before Lunch, Gwen texted Grizz, and it was the only form of communication he would have with her that day. She was basically his only friend at that point and he couldn’t even talk to her properly because of the rumors flying around.

 

I’ve had sex with ONE guy in my entire life and yet I’m the slut of the school. You’re gay and apparently some major stud who steals his friend’s girlfriend. GOD I LOVE SOCIETY – Gwen.

 

I’m sorry. This is fucked. – Grizz.

 

It’s whatever. I don’t even care what they think. – Gwen.

 

How’d it even get out? Do you think Clark is talking shit everywhere he goes? – Grizz.

 

Clark told Luke. Luke told Helena. Helena told Erica (she’s sorry! She didn’t think she’d tell anyone!) who told Lexie who told the entire fucking school. – Gwen.

 

Great. – Grizz.

 

Ikr. I’m with Erica at lunch. Join us because I don’t think Clark’s gonna welcome us back any time soon. Jason is pissssssssed. – Gwen.

 

Not a good idea for us to be seen together. I’m gonna try and talk to Clark. – Grizz.

 

Do you really think THAT is a good idea??? Gwen.

 

What else do I have to lose? – Grizz.

 

Lunch time rolled around and Grizz was actually nervous. He took one step into the cafeteria and he knew in an instant that the news had spread. Gwen was right. The whole school did know what happened and everyone was looking at him, judging him, and Grizz was pretty sure that coming out wouldn’t have been as intense as this. The only thing that made Grizz take that next step was knowing that the opinions of ninety nine per cent of those people did not matter to him.

 

Grizz saw Gwen first, sitting with a group of girls, talking and laughing with them, and he knew she had on her ‘I don’t give a fuck’ persona but he knew deep down she was probably hurt over the rumors. Next, Grizz’s eyes landed on Sam who was with Becca. Becca looked up, but Sam didn’t. Becca gave him a small smile. Well, at least that was someone else who didn’t hate him.

 

Grizz was on the verge of shaking as he made his way over to his usual table. Sure, he was trying to shut down. He was trying to tell himself that he didn’t care what everyone thought, but he couldn’t turn off his anxiety, and it was there, in the back of his mind, niggling away. It was funny how Grizz was so set on moving to college and forgetting everyone, but there he was, desperate for his friends to not hate him. And maybe he cared about them more than he thought.

 

“Hey,” Grizz spoke as he got to the table.

 

He stood there, not willing to sit down because he could feel how awkward it was. He saw it in Helena and Luke’s faces, in the nervous smiles. None of them wanted him there. Grizz focused on Clark who was staring straight ahead, not acknowledging him at all. Neither was Jason. Grizz had been ostracized by his own friends, not even able to tell his side of the story. Grizz sunk further into his self-hatred.

 

“Uhm…sorry. I don’t know why I came over here,” Grizz said.

 

“Me either,” Jason snapped. 

 

“Jason!” Luke scolded.

 

“What? He was in bed with his ex. It’s fucked,” Jason was mad, really mad, and he knew Jason and Clark were best friends, but he didn’t think Jason could just toss him aside like that. It hurt. It hurt even more knowing he hadn’t even done anything wrong.

 

“I-I didn’t. Nothing happened,” Grizz argued.

 

“You were in bed with her!” Jason countered.

 

Grizz looked to Luke for help. His best friend would be on his side, right?

 

“Dude,” Luke started, “if what he said about you and Gwen is true then…I don’t know man. What’s going on?”

 

“No, Gwen said it wasn’t like that,” Helena said.

 

“You trust Gwen over Clark’s own eyes?” Jason asked.

 

They kept arguing and Grizz blocked them out. He couldn’t stand the anger in Jason’s voice or how Helena was playing devil’s advocate just because she was the nice one, or the look of disappointment on Luke’s face. He ignored them all, because he needed to talk to Clark.

 

“Clark,” Grizz said.

 

That got his attention. Only it wasn’t the attention Grizz wanted. Clark glared at him with so much hatred and ferocity that Grizz was at a loss for words. He didn’t know what do or say and, fuck, Clark really hated him. Grizz couldn’t stand it. He was going to lose it, and he scolded himself as a few tears ran down his cheeks, all the while with Clark watching him. Grizz wiped his cheeks hastily, willing himself to stop.

 

“Uhm, I’m gonna go do some gym, uh, for the break, so…sorry for…bothering…” Grizz choked out.

 

He turned and left the table before he could make any more of an idiot of himself. He locked eyes with a concerned Gwen who went to get up, but he waved her off, shaking his head. It wasn’t a good idea for her to follow him. Grizz stormed out of the cafeteria, trying not to lose it in the middle of the hallway.

 

Grizz made it down to the empty locker rooms in time. He leant against the lockers, breathing in and out quickly and heavily, tears falling down his face. Calm down, Grizz. Calm the fuck down. He just wished he had Sam in that moment, to hold his hand, hug him, kiss him, comfort him. He needed Sam and sure, he could learn to live without him, but he didn’t want to, and now he probably won’t have anyone else like him in his life any time soon, if at all.

 

Grizz was so out of sorts. He wanted to be transported to that safe, happy place Sam always provided with every kiss, touch, and his mere presence. He craved it. He needed something, anything. Maybe he could have handled not having Sam, if he had his friends. It was either make up with Sam or make up with Clark. He just needed one and maybe things wouldn’t be so bad.

 

“Fuck!” Grizz shouted and he turned, punching the lockers hard, because what was one more bruise? He hit the locker again and again, the dent getting larger and larger. Hot tears ran down his cheeks and Grizz just couldn’t stop. He hit the locker like he was hitting the universe for not giving him a god damn fucking break.

 

“Hey, fuck, stop it!” a strong hand came of nowhere, latching onto Grizz’s wrist and making him stop his attack on the defenceless locker.

 

Grizz turned, almost wanting to hit whoever it was, but stopped when he saw Clark. Clark? There Grizz was, hand almost bleeding, tears running down his face and the one friend who probably hated him the most in front of him. The thing was, that hardened look of hatred from before had softened into one of concern.

 

“Fuck, Grizz, don’t cry,” Clark said in a soft voice.

 

Grizz looked away, closing his eyes, trying to calm himself down. Clark put his hands on both of Grizz’s shoulders and when he looked back up at Clark, he somehow felt himself relax.

 

“Grizz, come on. I’m sorry, okay? I was pissed. I’m…sorry,” Clark said, and it made zero sense to Grizz what was happening, and it made even less sense when Clark pulled him into a hug.

 

Grizz froze up at first, thinking this could be some kind of attack, but he soon realized it wasn’t, and then he melted against Clark. It was nothing like a hug from Sam. Sam was usually colder and smaller than Grizz was, and yet he made Grizz feel like the small one, all warm and cosy being wrapped up in his boyfriend. This was different.

 

It was nice. It was confusing, but nice. Clark’s arms were wrapped tightly around him, one hand on the back of his neck rubbing soothingly. And Grizz’s chest felt so warm. He craved the comfort and honestly, it was just so relieving that Clark didn’t hate him. Right? He couldn’t hate him and hug him like that.

 

“I just…don’t know what to think,” Clark’s voice murmured into Grizz’s ear.

 

“About?” Grizz asked.

 

“Lot’s of things,” Clark shrugged as he let go of Grizz. He stayed close, and Grizz wasn’t used to this from Clark, even when they were friends, they didn’t get close like that. They had always been bros. There had never been anything deeper in the friendship, not like how it was with Luke.

 

“Fuck,” Clark said as he reached out and touched the side of Grizz’s face. Grizz flinched when he pressed a little harder against the bruise on his cheek. “I’m sorry I hit you. I shouldn’t have done that.”

 

Grizz shrugged, but didn’t say anything.

 

“I, uh, I spoke to Gwen. She said nothing happened, but also wouldn’t tell me what you were doing at her house in her bed, so you can see why it’s kind of shady. I just don’t get why you would do this. I mean, are you in love with her or something?” Clark asked.

 

Grizz shook his head. This was going to be an uphill battle.

 

“Sam broke up with me and I was upset. She’s my only friend that knows about us. That’s why I was there. She was just comforting me because I didn’t want to go home because I came out to my mom too and it didn’t go well,” Grizz explained.

 

“Again with the gay thing,” Clark sighed.

 

 “I’m so over arguing with you about this,” Grizz felt so defeated.

 

“I just don’t get it,” Clark said.

 

“What’s there to get?!” And great, Grizz was yelling. He was on the verge of getting his friend back and now he was yelling at him.

 

“You don’t see how this is confusing? I’ve seen you hook up with girls. Carla. Allie that one time in summer camp. That girl we met skiing,” Clark said, and he could have rattled off more, but he didn’t.

 

“Those didn’t mean anything, Clark. It was just a cover,” Grizz said.

 

“If you can so easily do this ‘cover’, then how am I not supposed to think that you being ‘gay’ is just a cover for you and Gwen?” He asked, and he had a point.

 

“Because it’s the truth, Clark! I’m gay. I’m dating…I was dating Sam,” Grizz said.

 

“Prove it,” he challenged.

 

“What?”

 

“Prove that you’re gay,” Clark said.

 

“Fine, fuck,” Grizz said as he took his phone out of his pocket. He opened his photos and found the stream of selfies he and Sam had taken one night when they were by the river. A lot were just pictures of Sam, but there were also a lot of selfies of the two boy’s kissing.

 

Clark took the phone and looked down with a frown. He scrolled through all the pictures, going back and forth, and honestly, if this didn’t prove to Clark that he was gay then he didn’t know what else to do. He just really needed Clark to not hate him. Clark looked up at Grizz through long eyelashes, the realization clear on all his features, but he didn’t look as surprised as he should have been, because Clark had known for weeks that Grizz was gay. He just didn’t want to believe it.

 

“Fuck, so you’re actually…” Clark trailed off.

 

“Yeah,” Grizz nodded as he took his phone back and shoved it in his pocket. He was annoyed because those pictures weren’t meant for anyone else’s eyes.

 

“So…you and Gwen?” Clark asked.

 

“Never a thing,” Grizz said.

 

“And you and Becca?” Clark asked.

 

“Nope.”

 

“And you and Sam?”

 

“Broken up.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“Okay?” Grizz asked.

 

“Yeah…okay,” Clark whispered, and then he didn’t say anything. He just stood there close to Grizz, not saying a damn thing and, well, Grizz had thoughts.

 

“Listen, I know you’ve believed me for a while. You’ve just been like, in denial or something because you’re not okay with it,” Grizz said.

 

“What? I’m okay with it,” Clark defended.

 

“Then why have you been so fucking weird around me since I first told you?” Grizz asked.

 

“I haven’t been.”

 

“Then why are you avoiding me?” Grizz countered.

 

“Because.”

 

“Because?”

 

And Grizz stood there, looking at Clark, waiting for an answer than never came in the form of words. Instead, it came in the form of Clark launching himself at him, taking Grizz’s face in his hands and kissing him.

 

Grizz stumbled back in shock, but Clark moved with him, his lips not moving from where they had planted against Grizz’s. And Grizz was just confused, because what the fuck? Clark was kissing him? Clark was gay? Or bi? So many questions ran through Grizz’s head and nothing made any fucking sense, especially the fact that Grizz wasn’t exactly repulsed by the kiss.

 

Clark’s lips left his and both boy’s eyes opened as they looked at each other. Both frowning. Both as confused as the other. And the funniest thought of all was Grizz thinking that, well, at least Clark didn’t hate him. Followed by what was happening? And why aren’t I moving away?

 

Clark glanced down at Grizz’s lips, and fuck, it was going to happen again, and Grizz still didn’t move away. Grizz closed his eyes just as Clark pressed their lips together, softer that time. The familiar tingles and warmth in the pit of Grizz’s stomach had him questioning everything. And he was just so damn confused.

 

“What are you doing?” Grizz spoke against Clark’s lips.

 

“Shh,” Clark hushed him then kissed him a little harder.

 

It was wrong. Grizz knew that. But at the time he didn’t care. At the time, for some insane reason, it was exactly what Grizz needed, and with Clark’s lips pressed against his, he found it a little harder to think logically, so all common sense was thrown out the window, and honestly, it could have been anyone kissing Grizz in that moment and he would’ve kissed back.

 

Grizz caught Clark’s bottom lip, sucking gently as the other boy pressed his back against the lockers. It was hot. That was what Grizz was thinking as his brain malfunctioned. Kissing Clark was hot and maybe it was because it was so wrong that made it like that.

 

Clark’s tongue forced its way into Grizz’s mouth, making Grizz moan as they deepened the kiss. Clark had his fingers all tangled up in Grizz’s hair and Grizz’s body worked on its own accord as he grabbed Clark’s hips and pulled his body flush against his.

 

Stop, Grizz told himself. But he didn’t. He didn’t want it to end. He didn’t want that warm feeling to go away. He was in a little bubble that he didn’t want to burst, and that was when Grizz realized that it wasn’t kissing Clark that he wanted. He just wanted the comfort. The feeling was the same feeling as when Clark hugged him.

 

Grizz was also undoubtedly turned on, and so was Clark. He could feel it against him and in the way Clark’s lips attacked his with such fervor, in the way Clark’s teeth nipped at his bottom lip and the way his tongue slid against his. Stop Grizz, fucking stop. This is a bad idea. Grizz ignored the voice in his head and kept at it.

 

He had no idea how long the two of them made out against the lockers for, but he knew it was long enough to start tugging at each other’s clothes. He knew it was long enough to forget where they were, that they were in school, that they weren’t alone. And that fact became apparent when the sound of a door slamming shut made Clark jump away from Grizz.

 

Grizz whipped around to face the door, seeing it rattling on its hinges, but they were alone in the room. Fuck. Grizz ran over to the door and yanked it open. He looked out into the empty hall. No one was in sight, but someone had been there. He heard footsteps. Grizz left the room and ran down the hall. He got to the end to see if anyone was there, but there wasn’t.

 

“Shit,” Grizz hissed.

 

He quickly made his way back to the locker room. He went in, seeing Clark in a state of distress. He was pacing, running his fingers through his hair, tugging on the strands. And Grizz suddenly wasn’t too worried about how he himself felt about the kiss, because Clark was panicking and Grizz had been there before. He knew what Clark was feeling.

 

“Fuck. Who was it?” Clark asked, his voice filled with fear.

 

“I don’t know. They’re gone,” Grizz said.

 

“Fuck!” Clark shouted, “fuck, fuck, fuck!”

 

“Hey, it’s okay,” Grizz stepped towards him.

 

Clark looked at him, his eyes wide in horror. He shook his head quickly and opened and closed his mouth a few times like he wasn’t sure what to say, and Grizz didn’t blame him, because he had no idea what to say either.

 

“I gotta go,” Clark said and made a move to walk past Grizz but Grizz stood in front of him, stopping him.

 

“Clark-,”

 

“Sorry. Grizz. Fuck. I- fuck. Sorry. I shouldn’t have done- I just…I-,” Clark stumbled over his words.

 

“It’s okay, Clark. It’s okay, I promise,” Grizz said, desperate for his friend to stop panicking.

 

“Fuck,” Clark whimpered, near tears, and he didn’t stick around for a second longer. He pushed past Grizz and Grizz had no means to stop him as he ran from the locker rooms.

 

Grizz stood there on his own, his lips still swollen and tingling. And fuck. He and Clark kissed. They fucking kissed, and that raised so many questions. Clark wasn’t straight? Clark liked Grizz? What the fuck? Clark was supposed to love Gwen. He was supposed to hate Grizz. Nothing made sense, but at the same time it seemed to make perfect sense.

 

Grizz sat on the bench and ran his fingers through his hair. Guilt was creeping in. It almost felt like he cheated on Sam. He’s fucked his friendship with Clark too. And someone saw? Everything was a mess and all Grizz wanted to do was get out of there, so he did. He went back to his locker, got his car keys, and left.

 

Chapter Text

It was Thursday and Grizz hadn’t been to school since Monday. He wasn’t sure if he was legitimately sick or if he was suffering from a broken heart. He couldn’t eat, and he couldn’t sleep, which was problematic because he spent almost every second of each day lying in bed, wide awake, and by that point he could count every little scratch and mark on his ceiling.

 

He really did plan on going to school that day, but he stayed in bed for so long trying to convince himself to get up that he had wasted so much time that it was pointless even trying to get to school on time. His parents didn’t even notice. Neither of them came to find him in the morning when he wasn’t up and getting ready at the same time they were. Neither of them questioned why he skipped dinner for three nights in a row. They didn’t care and that was fine because Grizz didn’t want to deal with them.

 

He was avoiding Clark too. He was confused about what happened and wouldn’t even look at his phone to see if the boy had texted him because that was just a whole other issue that Grizz didn’t want to have to face. Grizz was perfectly content curled up in his blankets like a burrito, pretending there was no outside world, like he was in some kind of black hole universe where nothing mattered.

 

Grizz was about to count the stripes on his curtains for the eighty forth time when he heard a knock on his door, and that was odd. His parents weren’t quite due home yet. Grizz didn’t move or say anything. He didn’t have the energy for it. Maybe the mystery person would just go away. Or maybe it was a burglar that would kill him. That would work too. Although, a burglar that knocked?

 

“Grizz!” it was Luke. Grizz groaned, burying his face in his pillow. Grizz didn’t think any of his friends would have turned up, considering they hated him, other than Gwen. Luke knocked again.

 

“Go away, I’m dead!” Grizz called out.

 

“Dramatic more like it,” Luke said through the door, then Grizz heard it open. Grizz stayed still, facing away from the door, not bothering to even look up at his friend, even if he was well aware of how rude that made him.

 

“Hey,” Luke greeted.

 

“What are you doing here?” Grizz asked.

 

“I came to check on you because you haven’t been in school in days and you’re not answering any of my texts,” Luke said.

 

“Oh.” 

 

 “Oh? Oh?” Luke scoffed, “what the fuck is going on, Grizz?”

 

Grizz mumbled an incoherent reply and shrugged.

 

“Alright, that’s enough. Get up,” Luke ordered.

 

“No.”

 

“Get up!” Luke yelled and the next thing Grizz knew, Luke had both hands around his ankles and was pulling him from the bed.

 

“Stop it! Luke!” Grizz wailed as he reached for the headboard to latch onto. His fingertips barely grazed the bedposts before he was yanked from the safe confines of his blankets and landed on the hard, carpeted floor.

 

“Oww, what the fuck, Luke?!” Grizz snapped as he rolled onto his back with a groan. He looked up at the culprit who was just standing there, obviously fresh out of school, wearing his varsity jacket, and fuck, that made Grizz mope all over again because Sam still had his fucking jacket. Grizz didn’t want it back.

 

“Jesus, Grizz. You need to shower, now. You fucking stink,” Luke said.

 

“Go away,” Grizz grumbled as he pulled the blanket from the bed to cover himself. The floor would have to do.

 

“Have you been like this every day?” Luke asked.

 

“So what if I have been?” Grizz asked.

 

“It’s pathetic. I don’t know what the fuck happened with you and Clark but both of you need to stop moping around, now get up and get in the shower,” Luke said. What? Clark was moping too? Grizz had barely thought about what had been going on at school while he was away. Were there more rumors? Did Clark stop them? Somehow Grizz didn’t even care.

 

“I’m sick,” Grizz said.

 

“Get up,” Luke ordered, and he was snatching the blanket off Grizz once more. The next minute, Grizz was being hauled off the ground as Luke dragged him to the door.

 

“This is unnecessary,” Grizz said.

 

“If you could smell yourself, you’d think otherwise,” Luke said.

 

“It’s not that bad,” Grizz said.

 

“Oh, it is,” Luke said, and he took Grizz down the hallway and shoved him in the bathroom. Luke shut the door on him, leaving Grizz standing there by himself.

 

“I don’t hear that shower running!” Luke called through the door, “don’t make me come in there and give you a sponge bath.”

 

Grizz rolled his eyes and turned the shower on just to make him happy. Luke was probably right. He did need to shower. He felt all sweaty and sticky. His clothes, well, they were the ones he was wearing on Monday and now it was Thursday. Grizz got a look at himself in the mirror. His hair was greasy and knotted, sticking up in all directions. His face wasn’t purple anymore, but instead an ugly yellow color. Grizz looked like an absolute mess. No wonder he was single.

 

Grizz undressed and, yep, it was not a good smell. He was quick to get under the hot water and let it rinse away the past few days. He took his time too, his body not willing to move too fast, but he managed. He washed himself thoroughly and washed his hair too. By the time he finished the shower he was actually feeling a little better. Refreshed, but still tired, hungry and all around depressed. But at least he smelled of lavender.

 

Grizz got out of the shower and dried himself quickly before wrapping the towel around his waist and heading back to his room. Luke was still there when he walked in and was making his bed. Grizz remembered when he used to be the mom friend, not Luke. Luke barely took any notice of Grizz as he got dressed in fresh sweats and a t-shirt. Grizz flopped right back down onto the newly-made bed.

 

“Nope, none of that,” Luke said as he took both of Grizz’s wrists and pulled him back up in a sitting position. Grizz groaned, looking at Luke who was crouching down, eye-level with him.

 

“Something is going on with you, and this whole you and Gwen thing doesn’t seem right. What is going on, Grizz?” Luke asked.

 

“Nothing.”

 

“Grizz…”

 

“It’s nothing,” Grizz’s voice shook, because why couldn’t Luke just leave it alone?

 

“Grizz, please. Talk to me,” Luke begged, and his eyes bore right into Grizz’s with a sense of desperation, and wow, Luke really cared. Grizz’s throat tightened under the intense scrutiny of his best friends gaze, and he realized that what he really needed in that moment was to just let it all out.

 

“Luke…”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“I’m gay,” Grizz murmured, barely audible.

 

Grizz thought he was supposed to be the one sighing in relief for finally getting that off his chest, but instead it was Luke who visibly relaxed before nodding his head and giving Grizz a small smile. Grizz couldn’t return it though, because just like that, with one little confession to the guy he used to tell everything to, the flood gates opened once again.

 

Luke moved next to Grizz and wrapped his arms around him in a tight hug as he started crying. Luke held him to his chest, patting his shoulder and telling him it was okay, but it wasn’t. It really wasn’t.

 

“I’ve been dating Sa-Sam Eliot ‘n he broke up with me ‘n I d-don’t know what to do,” Grizz cried.

 

“What?” Luke asked in shock, “Sam broke up with you?”

 

And that was the shocking part? Not that he was dating a boy in the first place? Grizz just nodded as he sobbed harder, and he really thought he cried all he had to cry, but just having Luke there made it all come out again, because he was on day five without Sam and it was killing him.

 

“Is that why you went to Gwen? Like, a rebound?” Luke asked.

 

“No, no,” Grizz shook his head as he sat back and wiped away his tears, “it wasn’t like that. I just went to her because she’s like my only friend that knows about me and Sam. I just didn’t want to go home so I stayed the night. Nothing happened, but then Clark turned up and well…just look at my face.”

 

“Gwen knows?” Luke asked a little bitterly.

 

“Don’t look so offended. She walked in on us during fugitives,” Grizz said.

 

“Hm,” Luke nodded, and Grizz could practically see the wheels turning in his head, like he was putting together all the pieces of the puzzle.

 

“So, hold up. Why did Sam break up with you?” Luke asked.

 

“I don’t know…I don’t know. Everything is so fucked,” Grizz said as his breath caught in his throat with a sob. He was trying to calm himself down, and had done so mostly.

 

“So, he didn’t say why?” Luke asked.

 

“I think because I’m going away to college, but it’s like…he doesn’t even want to try. I don’t know. I just think I’m, like, in love with him and he doesn’t give a shit. He just said he needed a break. I don’t know. I don’t want to talk about it because I just get more upset,” Grizz explained.

 

“Okay…uhm, does anyone else know? Like about you? Your parents?” he asked.

 

“Uh yeah. Campbell, Elle. They just saw us,” Grizz said, but he wasn’t going to dwell on how much of a mess that was, “I told Clark to get him off my back about Gwen, but he didn’t believe me at first, and God, Luke, that’s a whole other fucking mess. And my Mom…fuck Luke, I’m so scared.”

 

“Scared? Why?” he asked. And Grizz really didn’t have any intention of spilling every little thing to Luke just like that, but he missed talking to his best friend. He missed his advice and encouragement, and sure, Gwen was great and all, but Luke was Luke.

 

“Because…my mom is just pretending that I’m not gay, but she knows. And if my dad finds out then I’m fucked,” Grizz said.

 

“What, you think he’ll hurt you?” Luke asked, his eyes narrowing in anger.

 

“Maybe. I know he’ll kick me out. He’s said it before. He’s said it a lot of times. He would never tolerate a gay son. If he finds out then I’m on the streets. That’s why I’ve never come out. God, I’m so fucked,” Grizz said and just thinking about it had his breathing all out of sync. He ran his fingers through his hair, getting a tight grip. Calm down. Fuck, Grizz, calm down.

 

“Hey, hey!” Luke got his attention. He took Grizz’s hands, carefully untangling them from his hair, and Grizz looked up into the eyes of his best friend.

 

“I’m fucked, Luke.”

 

“Hey, no. Listen, I need you to know that no matter what happens with your parents, you always have a room at my house,” Luke told him.

 

“No, I-“

 

“Stop it. You do. My parents like you more than they like me. Trust me, Grizz. You’ll never be homeless. Understood?” Luke asked, and when Grizz didn’t answer, Luke asked him again, “understood?”

 

Grizz took a deep breath before nodding. Luke made it sound so easy, and honestly Grizz trust Luke. He trusted that he was telling him the truth and that he really could actually have this safety net.

 

“Thank you. Everything’s just been so fucked lately,” Grizz muttered.

 

“Yeah, break ups can be shit man, but you can’t just hide away in here forever,” Luke said.

 

“That’s not all I’m hiding from,” Grizz said, and it was true. In fact, Grizz was sure the main reason he was hiding away was because he didn’t know how to confront Clark after what happened.

 

“What else is there?” Luke asked. 

 

“Well…something else happened…” Grizz started slowly.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Yeah, and you can’t tell anyone, like seriously. I feel shit even telling you because he probably wouldn’t want me to, but I just don’t know what the fuck to do,” Grizz said.

 

“You can tell me anything and it won’t ever leave this room,” Luke said, and Grizz nodded, because he really needed the perspective from an outsider and there was no way he was telling Gwen what happened. He trusted Luke.

 

“Clark kissed me,” Grizz blurted out. Luke’s eyes went wide.

 

“I’m sorry, what?” he asked after a beat.

 

“The last day I was at school, at lunch time, he followed me to the locker rooms,” Grizz said.

 

“Yeah…I told him he had to go talk to you and sort this shit out,” Luke said in confusion, like he was once again trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle.

 

“Right, well, we started arguing about me not being gay…and he wanted me to prove that I am…so I showed him some pictures of me and Sam and then he…” Grizz didn’t even want to relive it, because thinking back on it was so incredibly awkward.

 

“What, he just kissed you?” Luke asked with a bit of a laugh.

 

“It’s was so fucking weird, Luke. He like…confirmed that I wasn’t into Gwen, or Becca, and broken up with Sam, like…like he was making sure I was free or something. Then I asked why he was avoiding me and he just…kissed me,” Grizz said. He was still so bewildered by the fact.

 

“I’m so fucking confused,” Luke murmured.

 

“Yeah, no shit. He’s been on my ass about Gwen for months and then he just kisses me,” Grizz said.

 

“Maybe he’s jealous. Not of Gwen liking you, but of you liking Gwen,” Luke said.

 

“Shit.”

 

“It makes sense, sort of. I mean, he was always, always more mad at you than he was at Gwen,” Luke pointed out. And no, that wasn’t what he wanted Luke to tell him. He wanted him to tell him that there was no way Clark was into him. He wanted Luke to give him a logical explanation for Clark’s behavior.

 

“Fuck. You think he actually likes me?” Grizz asked.

 

“I didn’t know until a minute ago that he was even into guys,” Luke said.

 

“Fuck. I don’t know what to do. I fucking kissed him back, Luke,” Grizz admitted.

 

“Oh. Okay. Uh…so…you like Clark?” Luke asked skeptically. 

 

“No. God no. Not like that. I was just in a really, really low place and…fuck, I don’t know. This is so bad,” Grizz said.

 

“What happened after the kiss?” Luke asked.

 

“Oh, that’s the fun part. Someone saw us, I’m pretty sure. We didn’t see who but the door slammed closed which made us stop,” Grizz explained.

 

“Fuck. And then?”

 

“And then Clark freaked and left. I haven’t spoken to him since,” Grizz said.

 

“So, that’s why he’s been so weird at school then,” Luke said.

 

“Why? What’s he doing?” Grizz asked. He should really check his phone to see if he tried to contact him. 

 

“He’s just quiet. And he keeps asking me where you are,” he said.

 

“Really? Fuck. No, no, no. He can’t like me, Luke. He can’t. I can’t deal with this,” Grizz was stressing again. He didn’t need this on his plate too.

 

“I think you might have to,” Luke said, and he was right. Clark was his friend, and if Grizz was struggling with what happened then there was no doubt Clark definitely was too.

 

“He’s supposed to be in love with Gwen,” Grizz said.

 

“He probably is too,” Luke said thoughtfully.

 

“Oh my God,” Grizz groaned and lay down on the bed.

 

“You obviously need to talk at some stage,” Luke said.

 

“I don’t know what to say to him. What if he really does like me? How do I reject him without completely destroying our friendship?” Grizz asked.

 

“You just gotta, like ripping off a band-aid. Besides, it sounds to me like your friendship is already on the rocks, so what have you got to lose by talking to him?” Luke asked, and he did have a point. How could the situation possibly get worse?

 

“Why the fuck does he like me of all people? It came out of nowhere,” Grizz said.

 

“Maybe he’s just trying to experiment,” Luke suggested.

 

“Oh God.”

 

“You need to talk to him. Seriously. Fucking today, Grizz,” Luke urged.

 

Grizz was about to protest when Luke’s phone dinged loudly in his pocket.

 

“You can check that,” Grizz offered.

 

Luke shook his head, “Helena’s waiting for me at hers, that’s all.”

 

“Oh, sorry, you can go,” Grizz said.

 

“I can stay.”

 

“No, no it’s fine. I just wanna be alone, really,” Grizz said.

 

Luke sighed before he got up, “it’ll be okay, Grizz. This stuff with Sam, I don’t really know what his angle is, but maybe you just need to talk it out with him too?”

 

Grizz shrugged. There was so much talking that needed to be done. He just wanted everything to go back to normal. He wanted to be happy with Sam. He wanted to be friends, just friends, with Clark again.

 

“Maybe. Listen, can you keep this to yourself, please? Especially the Clark shit,” Grizz pleaded.

 

“I can, but you should tell Jason and Helena you’re gay too. They’d be cool with it. All this secret keeping isn’t healthy,” Luke said.

 

“Yeah, I’m beginning to figure that out,” Grizz murmured as he stood too.

 

“If I go now are you sure you’re gonna be okay? No more moping in bed?” he asked.

 

“Yeah, I’ll be fine,” Grizz said.

 

“Alright. You’re coming to school tomorrow.” It was an order.

 

“Sure.”

 

“Alright. I’ll see ya,” Luke said and he gave Grizz a quick hug with a clap on the back.

 

“Thanks for coming by, it actually helped,” Grizz said gratefully.

 

“Anytime. Go talk to Clark. I mean it,” Luke said.

 

“I’ll think about it,” Grizz said.

 

“No, you’ll do it,” Luke said, and Grizz just rolled his eyes.

 

“Alright, get out of here,” Grizz said.

 

“Okay, okay. Text me if you need anything,” Luke said.

 

“I will, see you tomorrow,” Grizz said, and then Luke left his room.

 

Grizz huffed and sat on the edge of his bed. Now that he was up, he kind of didn’t want to sink back into the depths of his bed. He eyed his phone sitting on his bedside table. It had been off since Monday and he dreaded the amount of texts he probably had. He reluctantly picked it up, turned it on and scrolled through the mass of messages.

 

Hey can we talk? – Luke

Where’d you go today? – Luke.

Where are you? – Luke.

Is everything okay? – Luke.

Clark told us not to be mad at you anymore but won’t say why. WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON? – Luke.

Seriously! Come back to school! – Luke.

I’m gonna come over if you aren’t back tomorrow. – Luke.

Why aren’t you reading your texts? – Luke.

Are you dead? – Luke.

I’m coming over!! – Luke.

I’m outside. I’ll break in if I need to. – Luke.

 

Are you okay? – Gwen.

Hello?????? – Gwen.

GARETH – Gwen.

I get you need space but like text me??? – Gwen.

CLARK APOLOGIZED TO ME!!! I’m in some alternate universe I swear. – Gwen.

I’m getting worried. – Gwen.

I came over but the door was locked and no one answered. Are you home? – Gwen.

BOYS ARE SO DUMB I SWEAR. – Gwen.

I’m sending Luke. – Gwen.

 

Bro. Sorry I was pissed the other day. Clark told me not to be mad n you and Gwen aren’t hooking up?? Where are you? – Jason.

 

I’m sorry I fucked up. – Clark.

Do you hate me? Please don’t hate me. – Clark.

Why aren’t you at school? – Clark.

I’m really fucking sorry. – Clark.

I’m so confused. – Clark.

Can we talk? – Clark.

Never mind. It never happened okay? – Clark.

 

Grizz’s heart clenched when he got to Clark’s messages. He could practically feel the pain coming from him and Grizz felt like absolute shit for ignoring him, even if he didn’t know the messages were sitting there. What also hurt was that he didn’t have a single message from Sam. Not one. And Grizz didn’t actually expect to, especially since he told Sam they weren’t friends, but still, Grizz had a tiny inkling of hope.

 

Grizz decided he had to go to Clark’s house. Sam was on tomorrow’s agenda. Grizz was just so tired of feeling so down. He wanted to fix things with both of them, and he had no clue how that was going to be possible with Sam, but with Clark it might be a little easier. Maybe.

 

---

 

Not even ten minutes later Grizz found himself standing on the front porch of Clark’s house. He didn’t even know what he was going to say to Clark. He just knew he couldn’t leave him hanging anymore, so after psyching himself up, Grizz knocked on the door. Grizz waited for an answer, nerves bubbling up in his stomach. He didn’t really know how he was going to explain to Clark why he kissed him back, that it felt good to kiss someone, but at the same time it wasn’t right, that Grizz was just feeling vulnerable and Clark was just there. He didn’t want it to sound like he used him.

 

Grizz jumped when the door opened and Clark appeared. The moment he saw it was Grizz though, his eyes went wide and he slammed the door shut, right in Grizz’s face. Well, that was rude. It took him a lot to get out of the house and make the decision to face Clark. He didn’t know what he expected, but it wasn’t that.

 

Feeling disheartened, Grizz turned on his heel and stepped down the couple stairs off the porch. He almost made it half way across the front yard when he heard the front door creak open once more. Grizz stopped in his step, wondering if he heard right. When he turned to check, Clark was standing there against the doorframe hiding behind half of it, his head peaking out like a toddler hiding behind his mother’s legs.

 

Clark didn’t say anything, and neither did Grizz. Clark merely pushed the door open and stepped aside, silently telling Grizz to come in. Well, there was no turning back. Grizz made his way back up the porch step and maneuvered around Clark into the house. Clark shut the door and headed to the direction of his room in the basement. Grizz followed him, heading down the staircase.

 

Grizz had always really liked the set-up of Clark’s room downstairs. It was really big and spacious with its own bathroom and mini-kitchen. He could probably live down there without going up to his family for days. That was the dream. Grizz had been busy checking out the room that it took him a moment to realize Clark was standing there in the middle of it with his hands shoved deep into his pockets.

 

“So…” Grizz started, “I think we really need to talk.”

 

Clark nodded, “where’ve you been?”

 

“Home. I just…didn’t feel like coming to school,” Grizz said.

 

“Oh…because of me?” Clark asked, his gaze dropping to the floor.

 

“Because of everything,” Grizz said honestly.

 

“Okay. I, uh, I was really worried…that you like…uhm, do you hate me?” Clark asked, and he still couldn’t bring himself to look Grizz in the eyes. That was fine with Grizz. The conversation was awkward enough as it was.

 

“No,” Grizz sighed, “of course I don’t hate you.”

 

Clark glanced up and gave a little smile, “oh good. That’s good.”

 

“Yeah, but…I also don’t like you…like that,” Grizz stammered out cautiously.

 

“I don’t like you like that either,” the other spoke quickly, defensively.

 

“Clark…”

 

“God!” Clark shouted in frustration before flopping down on his bed. Grizz sighed again as he rolled the computer chair over from the desk and sat on it in front of the distressed Clark. Grizz didn’t want this conversation to be dragged out anymore than it needed to be. It was awful enough as it was and he was tired of the bullshit with Clark. They had to clear the air.

 

“It’s honesty hour. I need to know what’s going through your head,” Grizz said.

 

“Nope.”

 

“Clark, come on,” Grizz urged.

 

“Ugh, feelings,” Clark whined with his eyes glued to the ceiling.

 

Grizz couldn’t help but laugh a little, “yes. Feelings. Emotions. A good old fashioned heart to heart chat. I’ll start if you want.”

 

“Whatever,” Clark said before grabbing a pillow and shoving it on his face. Grizz just ignored that and went on.

 

“Alright. So, I shouldn’t have kissed you back,” Grizz said.

 

“Awesome,” Clark’s voice was muffled but Grizz still caught what he said.

 

“That’s not to say it wasn’t a nice kiss, like, I mean, it was. I just…I was, still am, really, uh, in a really dark place. I was vulnerable and then you kissed me and at the time I kind of needed it. But like…no offence, but it could have been anyone and I would’ve kissed them back,” Grizz said, and he had been thinking of what to say the entire drive over there and it sounded a lot better in his head.

 

Clark sat up, the pillow falling to his lap. “So I took advantage of you?” he asked, his face contorting into a grimace.

 

“No! No, no. It wasn’t like that,” Grizz backtracked.

 

“I fucked up.”

 

“You didn’t. It was a kiss, not the end of the world,” Grizz said.

 

Clark exhaled heavily, looking down at his hands, “I didn’t even realize I was into you.”

 

Grizz didn’t know what to say. He felt a little sick knowing Clark was into him, but not because it was Clark, but because he really didn’t want to hurt his friend.

 

“Like…it’s not like I’m in love with you or like like you or shit like that it’s just…” Clark went quiet.

 

“Don’t stop now. Spill it or it’s always gonna be weird with us,” Grizz said, mostly because he really needed Clark to lay it all out there before he decided on what was the best thing to say next.

 

“I thought I hated you, right? Like it started with the Gwen stuff and I was so fucking mad at you. Then after a while I kind of realized I didn’t like Gwen anymore but I was still so mad at you, and I was like…what the fuck, why?” Clark told him.

 

“Maybe because we’re friends and you were hurt?” Grizz threw out there. It was the only thing that made sense to him at least.

 

“Maybe…I don’t know. But then like…I asked out Becca, right? Because I thought you liked her too and wanted to make you jealous. Like…how fucked up is that? I wanted you to see me with her just to see if you’d be mad at me in the same way I was with you,” Clark said, and his own face was etched with confusion, much like Grizz’s. This really was a mess.

 

“I don’t know what’s going on in my head, Grizz,” he went on, “I’ve just always thought you were really smart and cool, and like, I’ve always looked up to you, you know? And I was so disappointed in you, in our friendship, when I thought you were going after Gwen. I was confused because like, how could you do that to me? And I didn’t know why I cared so much. Then when you told me you were gay that first time in my car, I just wanted to kiss you so fucking bad and I just got so pissed off.”

 

“And that’s why you didn’t want to believe me,” Grizz concluded.

 

“Right. I didn’t want to because these weird feelings and shit would’ve been valid. Like…I don’t know,” Clark shrugged.

 

“So…so wait a minute… before I came out to you, you just thought you hated me because I was a friend that was betraying you?” Grizz asked, trying to make sense of it.

 

“I guess.”

 

“Then I came out and that was when you wanted to kiss me?” Grizz asked.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“So, you didn’t want to kiss me before?” Grizz asked.

 

“No? I don’t know,” Clark huffed in frustration.

 

“Alright, listen, I really don’t think you’re actually into me,” Grizz said, and maybe he was grasping at straws, but someone had to, right? Because Clark didn’t seem to know what the fuck was going on in his own head.

 

“What makes you think that?” Clark asked, just as hopefully.

 

“Because this came out of nowhere. There’s a very, very fine line between hate and love. And you hated me, Clark. I mean you really hated me. I think you’ve gotten confused, especially when I said I was gay,” Grizz said.

 

Clark just blinked a few times, the theory going right over the top of his head.

 

“Do you want to date me?” Grizz asked.

 

“Eww, no,” was Clark’s initial reaction, “I mean, I don’t know? That’d be fucking weird, right?”

 

“Super weird. Can I ask you another question though?” Grizz said and went on without an answer, “have you ever been attracted to another guy before?”

 

“Hey, I like chicks, okay?” Clark argued.

 

“I’m not questioning that. I’m asking you if you’ve ever been attracted to a guy before,” Grizz repeated.

 

 “I’ve never had a crush on a guy before you,” Clark said.

 

“That’s not what I’m asking, dumbass. Have you ever been attracted to another guy? Like physically,” Grizz said, and damn it, Clark better understand the question this time.

 

Clark sat there, his eyebrows furrowed in concentration, and then he just stayed silent, looking down at his hands again.

 

“Clark.”

 

“I don’t want to answer this question, okay!” he said defensively.

 

Grizz was sympathetic to Clark. He really did seem like he was struggling, and Grizz honestly didn’t think Clark actually liked him, because they had been friends for years. Just friends, and there was never any indication Clark liked him at all so why would he start now? Unless he was just confused and trying to figure himself out.

 

“Can I tell you how I figured out I’m gay?” Grizz said.

 

“I’m not gay,” Clark countered, giving Grizz a little galre.

 

“Alright, you’re not. But can I tell you about how I figured out I was into guys?” Grizz asked.

 

“How?”

 

“It was sixth grade. There was a new boy that just came to town and on his first day he sat next me and I freaked the fuck out because he was cute, like really fucking cute. Like the cutest kid I had ever seen in my life. And we got paired up together on this project, you know the one, where we had to drop a bunch of eggs from the second floor and find a way from them not to crack?” Grizz explained.

 

Clarke’s face lit up, “oh right, and you were the smartass who boiled the eggs before wrapping them in bubble wrap. We totally killed that project. I-“

 

Clark stopped mid-sentence as what Grizz was saying dawned on him. Grizz nodded at Clark’s unspoken question.

 

“No fucking way,” Clark said in shock.

 

“Yeah.”

 

“You had a crush on me?” he said in disbelief.

 

“Yeah,” Grizz laughed.

 

“What the fuck, you never said anything?” Clark accused, the betrayal clear in his voice, and maybe he was being a touch over dramatic, because it was only sixth grade after all.

 

“Because it didn’t matter. I realized it was just because you were hot and I only really liked you as a friend,” Grizz said.

 

“So, what, you think that’s the same case here?” Clark asked.

 

“I don’t know, maybe. I’m saying that anyone who questions their sexuality always has that one person who starts it all. And all I know is that we’ve been friends, purely friends since sixth grade, and that’s why I want to know if you’ve ever been attracted to another guy, because if you haven’t then maybe we need to think about the possibility of you actually just liking me, but if you have then maybe, just maybe you’re just curious and I’m the only gay person you know of, so you might be drawn to me because of that,” Grizz theorized, and he felt like he had cracked some sort of case.

 

Clark thought about it, mulling it over. And Grizz might be wrong. Clark might actually, legitimately have non-platonic feelings towards him, but the thing was, that even if he did, Grizz needed to shut them down, and Grizz’s theory was an easy out for the both of them.

 

“You’re so clever,” Clark said fondly.

 

“I know. So?”

 

 “So?”

 

“Attracted to another guy?” Grizz asked again.

 

“Uhm…no one in person, you know?” Clark couldn’t look at Grizz again.

 

“But like, what? Celebrities?” Grizz asked.

 

Clark twisted his hands together, going quiet once more, but fuck, Grizz was curious now.

 

“Clark.”

 

“I’ve jerked off to gay porn, okay? Like a lot of it,” Clark admitted.

 

“Right,” Grizz nodded, because wow. He wasn’t expecting that.

 

“But that’s normal, right? I mean, do you jerk it to straight porn? Or lesbian porn?” Clark asked hopefully.

 

“Uhm…no.”

 

“Fuck. Fuck. But like, I’m into chicks. Like I’m so into chicks. Like I’m positive that I wanna bang chicks,” Clark told him.

 

“There’s this wonderful thing called bisexuality, Clark. I think you’re just curious and need to figure it out somehow,” Grizz said. Clark tilted his head to the side as he thought about it.

 

“So…you think I should find a gay guy to take for a test drive?” Clark asked.

 

“Test drive? We’re not cars, Clark. But yeah, maybe,” Grizz nodded.

 

“Okay, can I try something?” Clark asked, scooching forward a little.

 

“What?”

 

“Can I just, like, kiss you again, just to see if it was a fluke?” Clark asked, and he was being one hundred per cent serious. Grizz considered it, only for a moment. He wanted to help out his friend all he could, but he also didn’t want to encourage Clark in the wrong way. If there was some sort of spark there, if Clark felt something, or if Grizz accidentally got carried away again, there could be no turning back from that, and the conversation had gone so well. Grizz didn’t want to screw it up.

 

“Uhm, no.” Grizz answered, “you can do whatever you need to figure yourself out, but I’m just saying that me and you? You’re barking up the wrong tree.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“I mean, really? Can you really imagine you and me dating or hooking up?” Grizz asked, and he sincerely hoped Clark found it just as weird as he did. One tension filled kiss was enough.

 

“I can’t imagine dating a guy at all,” Clark said.

 

“Okay. And also, like, I’m pretty fucking in love with Sam, even if he doesn’t want me anymore. It’s just too soon for me. You’re gonna have to find someone else to take on a ‘test drive’,” Grizz told him.

 

“Another guy who likes guys? In this town? Fucking impossible,” Clark said.

 

“That’s what I thought too. I thought everyone here was straight except Sam. Maybe you can find someone a few towns over? Or go to a gay nightclub,” Grizz suggested.

 

“I am not going to a gay bar,” Clark said as he scrunched his nose up in disgust. Oh boy, where was a lot to unpack with Clark’s sexuality, and Grizz would try and help the best he could, but he wasn’t going to be a guinea pig.

 

“Alright,” Grizz laughed, “that’s fine. You do whatever you’re comfortable with.”

 

“Right…right. Thanks, Grizz. I’m, uhm, I’m really sorry…about everything. Like, the face, and the Gwen stuff, and the whole…kissing you thing,” Clark spoke sheepishly.

 

“Water under the bridge,” Grizz said as he stood up, “anyway, good chat, but I think I’m gonna head home.”

 

“Okay. Thanks for coming over, and you know, not being weird about this,” Clark said as he too stood with Grizz.

 

“It’s fine. I’ve been through this shit too, you know? I’m here if you need anything,” Grizz said.

 

Clark smiled and surprised Grizz a little by stepping forward and pulling him into a giant bear hug.

 

“We cool, bro?” Clark asked.

 

Grizz chuckled a little as he fought his way from the bone-crushing hug, “yeah, bro. Were cool.”

Chapter Text

Grizz kept his promise to Luke and made his way into the school building on Friday. It was probably a bit pointless just showing up on the last day of the week but if he skipped any more days then the school would probably have to notify his parents, not that they cared. But if his dad was in a bad enough mood and wanted to take his anger out on someone then that would have been the green light he needed to go after Grizz. So, Grizz forged a note and signed it on behalf of his parents saying he was sick. It was pretty fucking stupid that at eighteen he still needed his parent’s permission to stay home.

 

Grizz felt a little better about going to school than he did on Monday. Monday was a nightmare. Friday, he had a little bit of hope, and while nothing was okay in the Sam department, at least everything was okay with his friends. He had been a little concerned about things being weird with Clark, but that morning Grizz woke up to a string of memes Clark sent to him, so he figured they were cool.

 

Grizz headed into school by himself. A few people watched him as he did, and he was sure the rumors about him and Gwen hadn’t been completely squashed, but Grizz didn’t care what any of them thought. He especially didn’t care what they thought as Gwen came barreling towards him with her arms wide open.

 

“Grizzard!” Gwen shouted the nickname he specifically told her not to use. She leapt as she got to him and Grizz caught her in his arms. He stumbled back a little but managed not to fall over.

 

“You’re causing a scene,” Grizz told her.

 

“Oh Grizz, my secret love!” Gwen spoke dramatically and way too loudly for Grizz’s liking, “please let’s go fuck in secret behind Clark’s back!”

 

Grizz snorted in laughter as he set her down on her feet. Gwen giggled and looked around, her eyes narrowing on the people watching.

 

“What the hell are you looking at, Lexie? Keep it moving!” she demanded, and Lexie, with wide eyes, scampered off. Gwen could be a bit intimidating when she wanted to be.

 

“You need to tone it down,” Grizz told her.

 

“Nope, I’m just happy you’re back. God, I missed you. Everyone sucks,” she stamped her foot on the ground in a mini tantrum.

 

“Sorry to abandon you,” Grizz apologized.

 

“Eh, I can handle myself. How are you, anyway? You had me scared for a while,” she said as she linked her arm with Grizz’s and lead them down the hall.

 

“Yeah, sorry about that. I just needed a timeout,” Grizz told her.

 

“Fair enough. Are you okay?” she asked, the playful gleam in her eyes gone.

 

“Yeah.” It was half a lie.

 

“Good, and by the way how awesome is it that Clark finally believes you’re a flamin’ homo,” she whispered the last part, “so we can finally be friends out in the open. Wow, is this what it feels like to be closeted?”

 

“Sure,” Grizz chuckled. Grizz wasn’t going to mention to her that she only had half the story, that Clark kissed him, or might be into guys. It wasn’t Gwen’s right to know. It was Clark’s choice to tell her.

 

“Oh, and you know what I realized?” Gwen pouted.

 

“What?”

 

“Our Yale trip is kind of screwed now,” she said.

 

“Oh yeah, I forgot about that. I’m sorry,” Grizz said.

 

“It’s not your fault. And hey, you can still come with, you know,” she offered.

 

“And be a third wheel? I don’t know about that,” Grizz contemplated it for a moment and that seemed more depressing than anything else. 

 

“Come on Grizz, you don’t really want me to go meet this guy by myself, do you?” she asked, batting her eyelashes in a way that probably worked on all the guys, but not Grizz.

 

“I don’t. But maybe you can ask one of the others to go with you, or Erica?” Grizz suggested.

 

“I want you. What are the chances of you and a certain someone reconciling before the trip?” she asked.

 

“Probably slim to none,” Grizz mumbled.

 

“Well, all the more reason for you to come with. I’m sure there are plenty single hotties just waiting for you to use them as a rebound,” she said with a sly grin that Grizz couldn’t help but smile back at before shaking his head.

 

“I don’t want anyone else,” Grizz said truthfully.

 

Gwen’s smile disappeared, “have you tried talking to him lately?”

 

Grizz shook his head, “No. Don’t know what to say.”

 

“I tried talking to him,” she confessed.

 

“What? What’d you say?” Grizz asked quickly. He was so desperate for any kind of look into Sam’s mind that he’d take anything.

 

“I just asked him what the fuck he was thinking,” Gwen said.

 

“And?”

 

“And he told me to go away. It was kind of rude actually,” she frowned, and that was odd of Sam. He was usually an angel.

 

“I’ll try and talk to him at lunch, because honestly, part of me still doesn’t believe he’d break up with me because of college, like…I don’t know, I could be wrong but I thought we were more than that,” Grizz said.

 

“Now might be your time to find out,” Gwen said and nodded up the hall. Grizz had been so focused on his conversation with Gwen that he didn’t even realize Becca and Sam were walking in the opposite direction, coming towards them.

 

“Right…Right,” Grizz tried to snap out of his stupor, “I can do this. Just, go up and say ‘hey’, right?”

 

 “You got this,” Gwen encouraged.

 

Grizz nodded. It was just a ‘hello’. He could handle that. Obviously, there was a lot more he wanted to say to Sam. He wanted to get on his hands and knees and beg for some kind of explanation that actually made sense. Hell, he’d settle for Sam just admitting that he never liked Grizz in the way Grizz loved Sam. He just needed to know.

 

Grizz went up to the two of them, even though his mind was screaming to run away, because even though he wanted answers, he was afraid of them. Sam and Becca both noticed him at the same time, faltering in their steps.

 

“Hey,” Grizz said and waved in greeting. Sam looked at him for maybe two seconds at most, before dropping his gaze and walking around him. Becca followed suit, and Grizz was left there, his heart aching. That was a fail if Grizz had ever seen one. Sighing, he turned to Gwen who walked up to him with her brows furrowed in confusion.

 

“He hates me,” Grizz said.

 

“He doesn’t hate you. Why would he hate you?” Gwen asked.

 

“I don’t know. He was the one that broke up with me. I just…well…” Grizz stopped to think for a second, “I mean, in the library the other day he was being all nice and I sort of told him he wasn’t allowed…and that we couldn’t be friends.”

 

That earned him a whack up the side of the head, courtesy of Gwen. Grizz hissed and immediately rubbed the spot she hit. People really needed to stop fucking hitting him.

 

“Ow, what the fuck?” Grizz snapped at her.

 

“You’re an idiot. Text him and apologize, dumbass,” she commanded. And God, she was so bossy.

 

“You’re really mean, you know,” Grizz muttered.

 

“You love me,” Gwen said sweetly before kissing him on the cheek and disappearing down the hallway.

 

---

 

Grizz sat in his last class before lunch. He was thinking about Sam. Well, he thought of Sam all the time really, but he was trying to think of what he could say to get him to talk to him. He just didn’t want to believe it was really over. He wanted to understand, and if he really broke up with Grizz because of college, well, that didn’t make a lot of sense to Grizz because they talked about it already and it was all fine.

 

Grizz didn’t want to be pushy. He didn’t want to be how Clark was after Gwen broke up with him, constantly stalking her and not taking no for an answer. He didn’t want to pressure Sam. He just wanted one more conversation, and if Sam told him that it was over and he didn’t like him anymore, then fine. Grizz would be really cut up about it, but he would have to move on.

 

Grizz looked down at his phone under his desk as he typed out a message.

 

Can you meet me in room E-12 at lunch? Please? I really just want to talk and then I’ll leave you alone if you want me to. – Grizz.

 

Grizz stared at the message until a minute later the ‘read’ receipt popped up. And he waited another few minutes in the hope that Sam would send a reply, but he didn’t get anything back. Still, when the bell rang Grizz headed upstairs to the top floor and went inside the familiar classroom. He dropped his bag on the ground by a desk and sat on top of it.

 

And Grizz waited. And waited. And Sam didn’t come. Sam didn’t reply either to tell him he wasn’t coming. Half way through lunch Grizz came to the conclusion that Sam was not going to show up. With a heavy heart, he picked up his bag, slung it over his shoulder and left the classroom.

 

Grizz headed downstairs to the cafeteria, and sure enough, Sam was there, in his usual spot, next to Becca. Grizz felt like absolute shit. Was he not even worth a conversation? Grizz was starting to get paranoid, paranoid that he fell too fast for Sam and had built up some magical relationship in his head that was much more than it actually was. To Sam, he could’ve meant nothing.

 

“Grizzy!” Jason called out, and Grizz realized he had just been standing there at the entrance, unmoving. He looked up and his feet started moving before his brain caught up. He went over and sat next to Clark, shoving his bag under the table. He had food in it, but he wasn’t hungry.

 

“Hey, where’ve you been?” Gwen asked.

 

“Nowhere interesting,” Grizz’s dull voice spoke. It made Luke shoot him a questioning glance, and Grizz just shook his head and focused on the table instead.

 

“It’s good to have everyone back together again, isn’t it?” Helena asked.

 

“Yeah,” Grizz spoke.

 

“Hope you two got over whatever it was you were fighting about,” Helena said, her eyes shifting between Grizz and Clark. Grizz turned to Clark, the two boys exchanging glances. Grizz prayed it wouldn’t be weird between them and when Clark gave a little smile, he exhaled in relief.

 

“Yeah, we did,” Clark said.

 

“Aww how sweet,” Jason teased and tossed a couple fries at the two of them.

 

“Shut the fuck up,” Clark snapped at him, only jokingly though. Grizz wondered if Clark had told anyone else what had happened between them. Clark was closest with Jason, but Jason wasn’t looking at the two of them any differently, so Grizz figured he most likely didn’t know.

 

Grizz forgot about the conversation and soon his attention was back on Sam as he watched him longingly. He was just signing with Becca and Grizz wished he was good enough to follow what they were saying to each other. Grizz couldn’t take this anymore. And it was Friday, so if Sam didn’t talk to him then, then Grizz would have to go an entire weekend feeling like he was in limbo. It was time for one last attempt.

 

“I’ll be back,” Grizz said to his friends before getting up. He made a beeline straight over to Sam and Becca’s table. He got there and sat across from them.  The two glanced up.

 

“Hey,” Grizz said with a wave.

 

Sam looked down at the table.

 

“I…Sam…” Grizz spoke and waved his hands again, trying to get his attention, but Sam wouldn’t look at him, and if Sam wouldn’t look at him then Grizz couldn’t communicate with him.

 

Grizz didn’t know what to do. He looked to Becca for help, but she wasn’t giving him any. He tried to get Sam’s attention again, to just have him look at him at least, but instead, Sam got up and left. He just left. Grizz was a little shocked, and hurt. He turned to Becca who merely shrugged, standing up too.

 

“It’s your own fault,” she said, and before Grizz could ask what the fuck that meant, she was gone too. And what the fuck did that mean? It was Grizz’s fault? Because he told Sam he didn’t want to be his friend? Grizz ran his hands over his face as he tried to contain his frustration. All he knew was that he didn’t want to be at school anymore.

 

Grizz got up and headed back over to his friends. Each one was looking at him in curiosity, except for Jason who was shoving fries into his face. Grizz picked up his bag from under the table and hoisted it on his shoulder.

 

“I’ll catch you guys later. I’ve got study to do,” Grizz lied.

 

“Wait, what? You just got here,” Clark said.

 

“Yeah, I forgot something. I’ve missed a lot of school,” Grizz said.

 

“Are you okay?” Helena asked.

 

“Yeah, I’m good. I’ll see you all later,” Grizz said, and not wanting to get questioned anymore, he turned and left.

 

Grizz stalked down the hallway as fast as he could, just desperate to get out of there because he had some pretty serious plans involving wrapping himself up like a burrito and not moving from his bed. Fuck, he thought he would be better. He thought that he’d be able to get over Sam, even if he didn’t want to. He didn’t think he’d be so pathetic, and yet, there he was, bailing on life because a boy didn’t like him.

 

“Hey, wait up!” Luke called out, and Grizz was busted, because he had bypassed the staircase that led to the library and was almost at the building’s entrance.

 

“Where are you going?” Luke caught up to him. Grizz stopped, turning to his friend.

 

“I just can’t concentrate today. I’m going home,” Grizz said.

 

“What happened?” Luke asked.

 

“Nothing. I just don’t want to be here,” Grizz argued, and he went to leave again, but Luke stood in front of him, blocking his way.

 

“What happened?” he asked again.

 

Grizz huffed and shook his head, “I don’t know, okay? He hates me. He won’t even fucking look at me. I’m just…I’m going. I’ll text you later.”

 

Grizz wasn’t going to wait around for Luke to interrogate him anymore. He pushed past and went through the double doors, heading to his car.

 

---

 

On Saturday night Grizz found himself alone in his room, sitting on his bed, doing homework. It was late and Grizz couldn’t sleep, so homework was the next best option. It was a wanted distraction from all the thoughts that had been running through his head non-stop since the previous day’s encounter with Sam.

 

Grizz went back and forth with his emotions. He would get upset, then he would tell himself that he shouldn’t be crying over some guy and he was stronger than that, then he would realize he actually was not stronger than that and get upset all over again, before deciding that he was going to get over it and move on. Then he’d just cry. And then he’d crack open a text book. Grizz was a disaster and it had only been one week since the break-up.

 

Grizz was working on a particularly hard math problem when his phone started vibrating on the bed next to him, which was odd because it was one in the morning and his friends always texted, not call. Grizz picked his phone up and saw Becca’s name flashing on the screen. Frowning, he pressed the answer button and held the phone to his ear.

 

“Becca?” Grizz answered, and all Grizz could hear was music. Wherever she was, it was loud.

 

“Grizz! Grizz!?” he barely heard Becca on the other end.

 

“Yeah, I’m here. What’s up?” Grizz asked, and then she started speaking but it was so loud in the background that Grizz only got bits and pieces.

 

“I need…up…nightclub…Sam is…and a guy…I can’t…don’t…please…”

 

And Grizz was at a loss. She was at a nightclub with Sam and sounded distressed. That was all Grizz got, and his anxiety peaked because he had a feeling something was wrong.

 

“I barely heard any of that. What’d you say?” Grizz asked.

 

“Fuck,” was the last thing Grizz heard before the line went dead.

 

“Shit.” Grizz tried to call Becca back but she declined it straight away. A moment later he got a text.

 

I said I need you to come pick us up. We’re at a nightclub and Sam is really drunk and this guy is like stalking us. I can’t drive I think someone spiked my drink. I don’t know wtf to do. Please Grizz. – Becca.

 

And Grizz was already putting his shoes on after reading the beginning of the text.

 

Text me the address. Grizz texted back, then he was out the front door, making sure he had his fake ID in his wallet.

 

It turned out, Becca and Sam were in the city, and Grizz was more than worried. What the fuck were they doing at some night club in the city? Why was Sam drunk? How drunk was he? Who was this guy stalking them? Was Becca okay? What did they put in her drink? With every second that Grizz drove, he got more and more anxious to just hurry up and get there, to the point where he was speeding, but he didn’t care.

 

When Grizz got to the club he tried to act normal and not like a teenager trying to sneak his way into a club. He showed his fake ID to a bouncer and they barely even glanced at it before stepping aside and letting him in. Grizz actually really liked night clubs. There was a reason himself, Clark, Jason and Luke all got fake IDs last year. Grizz had actually been to this particular club too. But he wasn’t there for fun. He was there to find Sam.

 

Bass-filled music and flashing lights filled Grizz’s senses as he wandered around the first floor of the club. There were people everywhere. It was absolutely packed, even for a Saturday night. He couldn’t see Sam or Becca anywhere. He took out his phone.

 

I’m here. Where are you? – Grizz.

 

Near DJ on 1st floor. – Becca.

 

Stay there. – Grizz.

 

Grizz scanned the area and saw in the back corner of the room, on a higher level than the ground floor was a DJ. Grizz pushed past the mass of sweaty bodies grinding against each other until he made it to the DJ and miraculously find the short girl amongst the people there.

 

“Are you okay?” Grizz asked when he got to her.

 

Becca nodded, “yeah, but I can’t find Sam!”

 

“What the fuck do you mean you can’t find him!?” Grizz shouted. This was a fucking disaster.

 

Becca went to speak again before stopping. Instead, she took Grizz’s hand and dragged him away from the music. She pushed a door open along the wall and pulled him through to a narrow corridor that led to the bathrooms.

 

“What’s going on, Becca?” Grizz asked as she turned to him.

 

“Sam really wanted to come out to dance and drink, and I was like fine, whatever. I think he just needed to let off some steam, and like, I wasn’t drinking. I was gonna watch him. I just had a soda but then I got all dizzy,” she explained.

 

“You think someone slipped you something?” Grizz asked, and he had the strong desire to find whoever it was and make him pay.

 

“Maybe. I came to the bathrooms and made myself throw up and I feel a little better, but I came out and now I can’t find Sam. There’s so many people and this place is huge,” she said with panic etched all over her face, and Grizz was trying really hard not to panic too, but with Sam’s whereabout unknown, he was finding it hard to control himself.

 

“How drunk is he?” Grizz asked.

 

“It’s…pretty bad. He just wouldn’t stop. And there was this guy that kept buying him drink after drink and I told Sam to stop but he said he as too busy having a good time,” Becca rolled her eyes.

 

“Fuck. Alright, how many levels is this place?” Grizz asked.

 

“Three.”

 

“I’ll start from the top. You start down here,” Grizz said in determination.

 

“Okay. I’m so sorry Grizz. I should’ve been watching him,” Becca said.

 

“Not your fault. Keep your phone on you. Don’t go anywhere by yourself and if you start feeling dizzy again text me where you are,” Grizz said and he waited for her to nod before he left her there.

 

Grizz eyes darted around every area he passed on the lookout for Sam. He climbed up the stairs two at a time until he got to the third floor. It was all just one giant dance floor and nothing else. Hundreds of bodies squished together and Grizz thought it might just be impossible to find Sam amongst them all.

 

He searched every inch of that room, getting more and more frustrated by the second as drunk people fell into him, and it was frustrating because Sam was one of those people, and why the hell would he decide to go out and get drunk? It wasn’t like Grizz could judge. He remembered how wasted he got at Luke’s party that one time just because he was upset. He just hoped Sam wasn’t that far off the deep end.

 

Grizz had been searching the top floor for far too long. So many people were moving non-stop and if only they could all just stand still long enough for Grizz to get through them all. He gave up, deciding to check the second floor instead. He headed down, thankful that the second floor was quieter. There was still a dance floor with a lot of people on it, but there were a lot of booths and couches surrounding the area filled with people sitting, talking, and making out. That last thought had Grizz sick to his stomach.

 

And then Grizz saw him, on the middle of the dance floor, and yeah, Grizz definitely felt sick, because behind Sam, with his hands around Sam’s waist dancing with him, was a guy, no, actually, it was a fully-grown man, probably as old as their parents. The man was swaying Sam around like a damn rag doll.

 

Grizz marched over to them and Sam was so out of it that he didn’t even notice Grizz was there until Grizz took his forearm and tried pulling him away from the man. Sam’s gaze focused in on Grizz but he just looked confused.

 

“Sam, come on,” Grizz tugged on his arm, but the guy that had his perverted hands on Sam pulled him closer.

 

“Hey, get your own, kid,” the man said. Grizz narrowed his eyes at the lanky man, with his graying hair, porn star moustache and greasy skin. Grizz wanted to vomit. He hated the man and he didn’t even know him.

 

“Dude, you’re like a fossil and he’s barely eighteen,” Grizz said, and the man refused to let go of Sam.

 

“That’s what I call legal, now scamper off,” the man said.

 

Grizz shook his head and looked back to Sam, pleading with him silently. Sam pushed himself free from the stranger’s grip and stumbled towards Grizz.

 

‘What are you doing here?’ Sam signed as he poked Grizz hard in the chest.

 

“Becca called. I’m taking you home,” Grizz wasn’t taking no for an answer. Sam squinted at Grizz, and Grizz wasn’t even really sure if Sam could read his lips in that moment. Grizz was five seconds away from hauling Sam over his shoulder and making him leave.

 

“Fuck off, Grizz,” Sam spat, and then he turned, taking the man with him as they both went over to one of the booths.

 

“Fuck,” Grizz muttered to himself. What the hell had gotten into Sam? This wasn’t him. And trying to hook up with some old man? That definitely wasn’t him.

 

Grizz watched as Sam and the guy sat close together, Sam giggling about whatever the man said even though Grizz saw that Sam wasn’t even reading his lips. The man placed his hand on Sam’s thigh, and nope. Grizz wasn’t having any of that. Grizz marched over to them bent down, catching Sam’s gaze. The boy swayed from side to side, but thankfully, he looked to Grizz’s lips.

 

“Get up. You’re coming home,” Grizz said.

 

“Uhm, no, I’m havin’ fun with…Mark,” Sam said. Mark? Seriously?

 

“Please, Sam,” Grizz said and started signing too, “you don’t want to do this.”

 

“One, you’re fuckin’ shit at signing,” Sam slurred, “two, you can kiss another guy so why can’t I?”

 

That caught Grizz off guard. He was so shocked at the statement that it took him a few seconds to realize that Sam knew about what happened between himself and Clark, and it dawned on him that Sam was the one in the locker rooms that day. That was why Sam hadn’t been talking to him.

 

“I can explain that,” Grizz said.

 

“Listen, pal,” the man, Mark, stood up and towered over Grizz, but Grizz wasn’t in the least bit threatened by him. “How about you mind your own business. Clearly your friend here wants a fucking man and not a boy.”

 

“He’s not some toy for you to play with,” Grizz said, and he was so done with the creep. He just wanted Sam. He turned back to the boy who was staring up at them.

 

“Please, Sam,” Grizz said and held his hand out to the boy, silently pleading for him to take it and come home with him.

 

Sam’s head turned back and forth between Grizz and Mark, like he was watching a tennis match. And fuck, he looked so drunk. His eyes were drooping. He couldn’t sit up straight. Grizz looked down at him, knowing that his own eyes were filled with desperation. He just needed Sam to come home. He needed Sam to be safe. He needed Sam to not to hook up with some random fucking man.

 

“Please,” Grizz begged, his hand still out, waiting for Sam to make a decision.

Chapter Text

Grizz felt as though the world had stopped as he stared into Sam’s blue eyes, hoping his ex-boyfriend would put whatever differences they had aside and just trust him, just this once. Nothing else mattered. Not the music. Not Mark. Nothing, except Grizz holding his hand out for Sam.

 

After what felt like an eternity, Sam reached out and took Grizz’s hand. The soft skin and slender fingers were so familiar against Grizz’s. The boy sighed in relief as Sam tried his best to stand up, and Grizz had to help him the rest of the way. Sam fell into Grizz’s side, and all Grizz could do was wrap his arm around his waist, holding him close.

 

“Waste of my fucking time!” Mark shouted, but his anger didn’t matter to Grizz, because Sam was stumbling along beside him, away from the man that didn’t even deserve a second glance from either of them.

 

“I’m sorry,” Sam spoke.

 

Grizz didn’t answer, mostly because Sam wasn’t looking at him. He held Sam up with one arm, and with his free hand he texted Becca.

 

I got Sam. Meet outside. – Grizz.

 

Grizz led Sam away from the people, the music, the alcohol, everything. He took him outside into the cool air where it was quiet and barely anyone was around. Grizz headed towards his car, just wanting to get the drunken eighteen-year-old away from the security that was out the front. Grizz didn’t even know that Sam had a fake ID.

 

“Okay, there you go,” Grizz said as he half unwrapped his arm from around Sam. He tried to get Sam to lean against the building, but Sam had other ideas. He wrapped both of his arms around Grizz’s neck and giggled like a damn pre-teen school girl as he pressed his body against Grizz’s.

 

“You’re so hot,” Sam told him.

 

“Thank you,” Grizz said, but he wasn’t indulging in the compliment or the way Sam touched him. He took both of the other boy’s wrists and tried to get him to let go, but Sam was persistent, even when drunk. Especially when drunk.

 

“I miss you,” Sam hummed as he fought his way back to holding onto Grizz. Grizz had been defeated with those three little words, because he missed Sam too, like a lot, and hearing Sam say it was everything that Grizz wanted.

 

Sam leant forward and before Grizz could stop him, his lips were on his neck. The taller boy’s eyes fluttered shut as he held his breath. Step away, Grizz. Step the fuck away. Grizz fought with the little voice in his head because it felt so good to have Sam in his arms again being affectionate. He didn’t want to push him away.

 

“I’m sorry,” Sam whispered, “I don’t want to break up.”

 

And the words should have made Grizz ecstatic. If only Sam wasn’t drunk. The state Sam was in made none of it real, and Grizz had to step away. He pried Sam off of him and gently pressed him to the wall for support before stepping back. He held his arm out, signaling for Sam to stay put.

 

“We can talk about that when you’re sober,” Grizz said.

 

Sam stared at Grizz, his eyes in thin squint before he shook his head, “I dunno what you just said.” Grizz couldn’t help but give a little smile, because Sam was so fucking cute, as always.

 

“Oh thank God!” Becca’s voice came from Grizz’s left, “is he okay?”

 

“He’s fine. Just wasted,” Grizz said when she got to them.

 

“Fuck. I’m so sorry, Grizz. I shouldn’t have brought him out when I knew he was upset,” Becca said.

 

“It’s done now and everything’s fine. Let’s just get back to my car,” Grizz said as he stepped forward and caught Sam who was about to fall over. Sam giggled and wrapped his arms around Grizz’s neck once more, hanging off him like a monkey.

 

Grizz kept a hold of Sam who was becoming heavier by the second as he gave up on walking by himself. The three of them got to the car without an incident and Grizz managed to get Sam in the back seat by himself. He made sure the seat belt was buckled in securely around Sam. The boy just kept staring at him with an amused look.

 

“Tell me if you start feeling sick, okay?” Grizz said.

 

“Yessir,” Sam saluted him.

 

Grizz just gave a quick smile and shut the door. He opened the driver’s door, getting in as Becca took the passenger seat. Grizz could sigh a breath of relief now that he had the two of them in the safety of his car. He started it up, locked all the doors in case Sam decided he wanted to open his, and headed off down the street.

 

“You feeling okay?” Grizz asked Becca.

 

“Yeah. I’m such a fucking idiot. I didn’t even put my drink down but I wasn’t paying that close attention to it,” she said.

 

“You can’t blame yourself. When we come back for your car we should ask if they have cameras. We might be able to see who did it,” Grizz said.

 

“Maybe, except nothing bad happened so it’s not like I can charge for anything. Plus I’m seventeen. I shouldn’t have been there in the first place,” she said.

 

“Yeah, you shouldn’t have,” Grizz agreed a little bitterly. Tonight could have gone a lot worse than it had.

 

“Uh, excuse me, judgy. But you got in with a fake ID too, right? You can’t tell me you’ve never used it to get into a club before,” Becca said. She had him there.

 

Grizz went quiet as he drove. He glanced up at the rear-view mirror, checking on Sam. He sat there with his head lulled against the cold window as he looked out at the city lights. Grizz chewed on his bottom lip nervously. As if it weren’t bad enough that Sam broke up with him because of college, but now there was this whole other Clark obstacle. Grizz really fucked up and he knew it.

 

“Do you know about Clark?” Grizz asked Becca, because he needed answers, but he didn’t want to outright say exactly what happened just in case she didn’t know.

 

“That Sam saw you two kissing like five minutes after you broke up? Yeah,” she said, and it was her turn to judge.

 

“It wasn’t like that. I mean it was, but…it wasn’t. It’s complicated,” Grizz said.

 

“He’s really hurt, Grizz.”

 

“He broke up with me, in case you’re forgetting? He can’t care that much who I’m kissing if he was willing to break up with me because of fucking college,” Grizz snapped.

 

“You have no idea how much he cares for you,” she said.

 

“Then tell me, Becca. Please tell me because nothing makes sense,” Grizz was desperate. He was on the verge of tears again and he was so sick and tired of being so emotional.

 

“Seriously,” Grizz went on when Becca didn’t say anything, “am I missing something?”

 

“You have to talk to Sam,” he said.

 

“You saw what happened at lunch yesterday. He wouldn’t even look at me,” Grizz pointed out.

 

“He’s scared.”

 

“Of?”

 

“Talk to him, not me. It’s not my place to say anything,” Becca said.

 

Grizz was beyond annoyed, so he didn’t talk to her for the rest of the way home. He was so sick and tired of never getting a complete answer about this. Grizz was completely silent for the entire drive. He didn’t even say anything when Sam leaned forward and started playing with his hair from the back seat. He kind of liked the contact, actually.

 

Grizz pulled up out the front of Becca’s house and killed the engine. He pried Sam’s fingers from his hair and got out of the car, opening Sam’s door. Sam already had his seatbelt off and promptly tumbled out of the car and into Grizz’s waiting arms.

 

“So strong,” Sam mumbled.

 

Grizz ignored the compliment and helped Sam get back on two feet steadily. Sam looked at him, his eyes no longer holding any amusement. Grizz just stared back, and fuck, he was sad. Just so sad that he wasn’t Sam’s boyfriend anymore, and that he couldn’t stay the night holding him, or even just give him a goodnight kiss. It was killing Grizz.

 

“Can I…hug?” Sam asked like a child.

 

Grizz knew it was a bad idea, but a hug never hurt anyone right? So, he nodded, but he didn’t make a move. Sam stepped forward and wrapped his arms around Grizz’s neck, burying his face in it too. Grizz sighed deeply as he wrapped his arms around Sam’s back. He closed his eyes, taking in every little bit of Sam; his touch, his smell, how he breathed. Fuck, Grizz missed him more than he missed anyone in his entire life.

 

Grizz really didn’t want to let go. He relished in the feeling of Sam holding him, and Grizz really needed the hug. All the hugs from Luke, Clark and Gwen didn’t even compare to it. Grizz felt safe. He felt loved, which was the craziest thing ever because Sam didn’t love him, but it was nice to pretend.

 

“Grizz?” Becca spoke.

 

Right. Becca was there, and he had been holding Sam for far too long. Grizz gently let go of the boy but stayed closed just in case he still couldn’t walk properly. Grizz, Becca and Sam all quietly snuck into Becca’s house as to not wake her parents. They successfully headed down the hall to Becca’s room. She switched on the light while Grizz led Sam over to Becca’s bed. The boy easily flopped down onto it.

 

“There, safe and sound,” Grizz whispered.

 

“Thank you,” Becca said, patting Grizz’s shoulder.

 

Grizz sat on the side of the bed next to Sam who was looking pretty out of it by that point, like he was just about ready to fall asleep.

 

“How are you feeling?” Grizz asked him while signing, even though he was apparently shit at it, but Sam probably needed all the communication help he could get being that drunk.

 

“Sleepy,” Sam yawned.

 

“Get some rest. I’ll see you…whenever,” Grizz said and he stood up, but Sam was quick to hold his hand.

 

“Is it cause he’s hotter than me?” Sam asked.

 

“What?”

 

“Clark.”

 

“Oh…no,” Grizz shook his head.

 

“Then why?” Sam pouted and if it wasn’t so sad, Grizz would have found it cute.

 

“It’s complicated,” Grizz said.

 

“Okay…can you stay?” Sam asked, his grip tightening around Grizz’s hand. Grizz glanced over at Becca who shook her head, obviously holding that same sentiments as Grizz. Staying was tempting, but a bad idea.

 

“Becca’s gonna look after you, alright?” Grizz said.

 

“I don’t want Becca,” Sam said like a child throwing a tantrum.

 

“Rude,” Becca said.

 

Grizz just laughed as he carefully pulled his hand from Sam’s grip. Sam’s arm went limp, falling to the mattress. Grizz stepped back and he just couldn’t look at Sam anymore, because he kept touching him and saying all these things that only confused Grizz more and more. He turned to Becca.

 

“I’ll come by later and we’ll go get your car, okay?” Grizz said to her.

 

“Are you sure? I can get my parents. Like, they’d kill me though,” Becca said.

 

“It’s cool. I’ll text you,” Grizz said.

 

“Okay, thanks so much for your help, Grizz. Don’t know what I would have done without you,” she said.

 

“Anytime. Make sure he gets plenty of water,” Grizz said as he nodded to Sam who, after a quick glance, Grizz noticed was on the verge of sleep already. 

 

“I will,” Becca said.

 

Grizz nodded in thanks, and without another look at Sam, he left Becca’s house and went home.

 

---

 

On Monday afternoon Grizz walked around, watering the plants as part of his duty of environmental committee. Ms. Chan had taken notice of Grizz’s lack of attendance lately and cornered him earlier that day. She didn’t say he had to go, but it was strongly recommended, and when Grizz noticed Sam and Kelly heading in the direction of the courtyard after the final bell rang, Grizz decided that he would go too.

 

It wasn’t exactly working out well for Grizz. When he went up to Sam and said ‘hey’, Sam merely gave a nod before walking away. Grizz didn’t know what to think. Yes, Sam had been drunk when he flirted with Grizz and told him he didn’t want to break up, but Grizz hoped there was some truth there. He hoped, in the very least, that Sam would talk to him. And Grizz had been trying all damn day to no avail.

 

Grizz looked over at Sam and Kelly who were picking up trash that had been thrown out windows. Grizz couldn’t stand it, having Sam right there, but not really there.

 

“Mr. Visser?” Ms. Chan interrupted his thoughts, “I think you’re drowning that plant.”

 

“Oh right, sorry. Uh, I need the bathroom,” Grizz said.

 

“Make it quick,” Ms. Chan nodded.

 

Grizz turned the nozzle on the hose, stopping the water and dropped it on the ground. He headed back towards the building. He caught Sam’s gaze for a split second but the boy turned away. Grizz was just sad. Really, really sad. He didn’t know what else he could do and he knew he was at the point where someone could accurately label him as pathetic. In fact, he might just get that tattooed across his forehead. 

 

Grizz didn’t have any intention of going back to environmental committee. Instead, he picked up his things from his locker and headed out of the school to his car. He didn’t even care that he would probably get a detention from Ms. Chan tomorrow for bailing.

 

One last attempt. That was all, and then Grizz would leave Sam alone for good. Maybe one day Sam would come to him instead, but Grizz would be kicking himself if he didn’t at least try to figure Sam out and, if he was lucky, get him back. It was just so frustrating because Grizz had so much on his mind, and so much he needed to say, but Sam barely let him get out a ‘hello’ before he was turning the other way.

 

Most of all, Grizz needed to explain the Clark situation. If Grizz had walked in on Sam kissing someone else two days after they had broken up, even if Grizz was the one doing the breaking up, then it would have shattered Grizz. Grizz couldn’t even handle Sam drunkenly dancing with someone. So, one last attempt to lay it all out there. Grizz took out his phone and started typing away.

 

Hi Sam. Please don’t delete this message before reading it all. I know I can be really extra and I’m starting to think desperate and possessive (which I’ll work on), but there’s so much going on in my head and it’s killing me that we haven’t talked properly. I don’t know why you broke up with me. I’m still not sure what exactly I did or if it’s really the college stuff, or maybe you’re just not into me how I’m into you. but the cold shoulder thing is killing me. I know you’re upset now about Clark but I’d like to explain to you what happened because I don’t know what I’ll do if you keep hating me. If you don’t like me anymore like that then fine. It fucking hurts and I don’t think I’ll ever get over it but I’ll try and accept it and move on. The thing is, I can’t accept what I don’t understand, and I don’t understand what went wrong. I just want to talk to you, Sam. Please. One conversation is all I ask. Usual place. Usual time. I’ll be waiting. – Grizz.

 

There. If Sam didn’t want to talk to him after than then Grizz would have to stop. He’d have to accept it and move on, as much as he didn’t want to. He would have to respect Sam’s wishes, even if he didn’t understand them.

 

Grizz had fifteen minutes until environmental committee was over, and the wait was so nerve-wracking. He sat there in the driver’s seat, his knee bouncing up and down impatiently. He checked the time over and over again, and the second it hit four o’clock, he stared at the large double doors of the school building.

 

Anxiety was starting to be a hindrance to Grizz and he wondered if he should see a doctor for some medication because he could barely breathe as he waited. And then, there Sam was, leaving the building by himself, Kelly not in sight. Grizz sat up straight in his car, willing Sam to come over to him, because if he didn’t, then that was it. It really was over and Grizz would have to accept that.

 

“Come on,” Grizz whispered to himself.

 

He watched as Sam headed across the car park, and he thought he was going to walk right by his car, but instead, he stopped, and Grizz could see him from the rear-view mirror. A moment later he disappeared from the back of the car, only to make his way to the passenger side. Grizz let out a deep breath. Thank fucking God.

 

‘Thank you,’ Grizz signed, even though since Sam’s comment the other night, he was less than confident about how he was signing. He couldn’t possible fuck up ‘thank you’ though, right?

 

Sam just nodded and looked out the window. Grizz swallowed hard, trying to push his nerves down. He started up the car and then they were off. It was so familiar, like any other afternoon with the two of them making trips down to the river. There was no ease though. There was no fun.

 

Sam didn’t protest as Grizz drove them out of town, probably knowing exactly where he wanted to go. Grizz had no idea how this conversation would go. He was just happy that Sam agreed to talk to him. That had to be something, right? That had to be a step in the right direction, unless, of course, Sam was only there to get Grizz off his back. Grizz tried not to think about that. He was going to fight for this relationship because he truly believed it was something special that could not be let go so easily.

 

Grizz turned onto the familiar dirt road and drove along. He glanced at Sam who hadn’t even properly looked at him yet. He was still staring out the window. Grizz turned back to the road and drove up to their usual spot by the river. He turned the key in the ignition and the two were plunged into silence.

 

Sam opened his door first. He got out of the car and Grizz followed suit. It was a nice day, warm but not too warm, barely a cloud in the sky. And it would have been perfect for a picnic or to just laze around staring up at the sky. That was what they usually would have done, but not that day. Sam sat against the hood of the car, his hands shoved into the pockets of his hoodie. He stared at the gravel beneath his shoes.

 

Grizz stood in front of him and waited patiently for the boy to be ready to talk. Eventually he looked up, his deep blue eyes staring into Grizz’s soul. Alright, Grizz was being dramatic again.

 

“Thanks for coming,” Grizz said. Sam merely nodded, so Grizz went on, “can we talk? Like really talk? Like…do I even have a chance here?”

 

At first, Sam didn’t reply. He stared at Grizz with a blank expression, until that expression faltered as he gave in. His eyes softened and he nodded. Grizz inhaled and exhaled deeply, taking a moment to collect his thoughts. He had so many conversation points, but he came up with the one he had been wondering the most.

 

“Why did you break up with me? Honestly?” Grizz asked. 

 

“I told you already. College,” Sam said simply, but Grizz couldn’t accept that.

 

“But we talked about it. We figured it out. It’s just long distance for a little while,” Grizz said.

 

“Yeah…and then I thought about it and decided it won’t work,” he said, and Grizz knew Sam. He knew him enough to know when he wasn’t being entirely truthful.

 

“What makes you think it won’t work long distance? Because I’d wait for you if you decided to go do college in fucking Australia,” Grizz argued.

 

“Two days without me and you kissed another guy,” Sam said, eyes narrowing.

 

“We were broken up.”

 

“Like that makes it any better?” Sam sighed heavily, running his fingers through his hair. Grizz knew that technically he didn’t do anything wrong, but he could also see it from Sam’s point of view, so he met him half way.

 

“Okay, yeah, I did kiss him and I wish I didn’t. I was hurt and he kissed me. It just happened,” Grizz said.

 

“You going to go kiss a guy every time we have a fight?” Sam asked.

 

“This isn’t a fight, Sam. We broke up. You broke up with me. You don’t want me anymore,” Grizz said, and couldn’t Sam see how much that was hurting him?

 

“Yes, I do,” Sam countered.

 

“Then why did you break up with me?” Grizz asked again.

 

Sam didn’t answer. Grizz was just so damn tired because it had been eating at him all week wondering where things went wrong. He dug so deep into his own personality, listing every little thing wrong with himself just trying to figure out why he wasn’t good enough, and Sam was giving him nothing to help. Didn’t Sam care? Wasn’t Grizz worth it?

 

“You know…I know it’s not a competition. But I always knew I liked you more. I was into you first and I fell