Race had known Al for eleven years before he figured out he was in love with him.
“Get lost, fags.”
Albert spun on his heel as his jaw dropped. Race had stopped in his tracks, cheeks reddening in embarrassment. They were fourteen, and it’s not like Race had never been called that before, but never while Albert was around. Race was out, and he was proud, but things like this sort of made him feel like throwing up.
“What the fuck did you just say?” Fourteen-year-old Albert had snarled, taking a step forward. His face was dark with anger, brown eyes storming.
Race put a hand on his shoulder. “It’s not worth it, Albie, come on.” He begged.
The guy flipped them off from across the street. “I said you were fags, and you ain’t welcome around here.”
Albert’s hands were balled into fists. “You son of a bitch—“
Race took him by the arm and dragged him away before he could get the shit beaten out of him, Albert kicking and screaming insults that even Race had never heard before at the man. By the time they were two blocks away, Albert was walking in stormy silence, hands fisted in his pockets and mouth set so tightly his lips had gone white. Race kept stealing glances at him, worried out of his mind, always half ready to catch him in case his best friend decided to go barreling down the street and after the guy. Even if Race knew he was long gone by now, he knew that Al would hunt him down. It’s just how protective he was.
Race let out a breath of relief when they stepped into Albert’s mom’s apartment, but the moment the door closed, Albert was leaning up against it, head tilted back as tears rolled down his face.
“Albert,” Race breathed worriedly, and Al squeezed his eyes shut. “Al, why are you crying,”
“Because you don’t deserve that. That’s such shit, and you barely even reacted, which means that it’s happened before. And no one deserves that, but especially not you, Racer, because you’re the best person I’ve ever met and my favorite person ever and just because your gay doesn’t mean you should deal with that shit, I can’t believe you have to deal with that shit.” Albert sobbed, and he pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes.
Race’s heart was breaking. “Hey, it’s okay, Albert. Long as I got you with me, I’m alright.” He assured, hands around Al’s biceps.
Albert wrapped him in a hug and Race tucked his face into his best friends shoulder, a tear falling down his face.
“I love you, Racer.” He breathed.
I’m in love with you.
Race sighed softly. “Yeah, me too, Albie.”
Albert shuddered and tightened his arms around Race’s shoulders.