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“Are you happy, Ben?” Johnny asks

“Are you serious?” Ben asks, a momentary flash of anger filling his voice

He hasn’t been happy since that night in the pool that ended with him standing alone in the pool with blood dripping out his nose or at least shortly after. Johnny knows this because he rebuffed Ben’s attempts at friendship after that. Avoided him even.

Ben feels like punching Johnny and then walking back to the pool and kissing and then fucking that actor/soul cycling instructor, Justin, just to forget about Johnny and all the feelings he’s been experiencing over again throughout the afternoon but before Ben can do either of those things Johnny does something.

He plants one on him. A kiss. A mind numbingly perfect kiss, that makes his heart sing and his eyes close. No kiss he’s had compares, not even the peck Johnny gave him fifteen years ago. It’s like Johnny is trying to make up for lost time or giving him the kiss he deserved all those years ago; aching, soft and filled with emotion.

The kiss ends too soon and so does the feeling of safety that came when Johnny had cupped his face between his hands.

He doesn’t want to open his eyes because it’ll show Johnny that he still has power of him; that he’s utterly gone, wrecked by one single kiss.

But he does open his eyes when Johnny drops his hands from his face saying, “I hope that helps.”

They stand there staring at each other for a couple seconds and he doesn’t even know that the car’s pulled up next to them until Johnny says, voice high, trying to diffuse the awkward tension between them, “Well, this is me.”

And Ben stares at the space Johnny used to be feeling wrecked for a completely different reason than a couple seconds ago.

This whole day has been a struggle for Ben thinking about missed chances and impossible futures. And he’s so very tired, at the hopelessness of it all.

Johnny must see some that feeling cause he just doesn’t leave Ben like he did last time. He tells him what Ben remembers most besides that peck in the pool. That stupid three word sentence that makes him cringe with embarrassment even now puts small smile on his face.

Before telling him to call him next time before climbing in the car and riding home.

As he watches the car drive off he takes a deep breath and let’s just a little bit of hope sink into bones, rubbing the name, that sits on the inside of his wrist and goes toward his elbow, gently.

And hopes that one day Johnny will admit to himself that his soulmate is a nerdy boy, now man who he still hangs out with at pools and kisses when they both smell like chlorine.

Because he’s seen his own name on Johnny’s right shoulder blade.

He’ll wait, but while he waits he’s still going going to live his life.