Being forced out of the house was one thing.
He was fine with being “encouraged” to leave for one reason or another. Teachers sending him out of class, administrators getting his ass sent home early, the principal chewing him out for an unnecessarily long time for shit he definitely did. But the specific reason used for wanting him out could sometimes be a little too personal. And Mr. Tim, his science and math teacher turned father, went the far too personal route. It was a valid reason, but was it something Victor ever in a million years wanted to hear? Rhetorical question.
It worked, he’ll give his dad that.
Being at Chad’s house was nothing new to him. The first time the rich bastard let him come through those pretty double doors, he knew he was going to have to keep on Chad’s good side. He seemed to like showing off anyways, so it was a good balance to have. Even though it seemed Chad had less to gain on his side from their friendship. If it was one.
Sitting on Chad’s king sized bed, he didn’t know comfort like this existed. The mattress, conforming to his body instead of doing the bare minimum of being the hard space between him and the cold floor. Snacks that didn’t feel like sawdust in his mouth. Even a flatscreen mounted on the wall, and a gaming console. Yeah, this was gonna work for him.
Chad was standing on the other side of the room where he’d put some of his weights. He and Victor had been going back and forth for around a while, idle chatter with little to no meaning. When Victor said something particularly specific about Sir, Chad turned around, looking directly at him. Before then looking around for his phone. When he spotted it, he sauntered back over to the bed. Victor staring all the while.
Chad snatched his phone off his nightstand, flopping down onto the bed, jostling Victor from his spot on the corner. “Shouldn’t you try to tolerate him since you might be step-brothers soon?”
His brain called for him to respond and he could hardly contain his confusion, “Fuck would I do that for?” He fired back, not offended but certainly confounded at the suggestion.
Chad didn’t look at Victor as he elaborated, “When he’s your step-brother you’re gonna get a new step-mom to bitch at you. Might pay to have him in your corner if she’s about as nice as step-moms usually are,” He waved his hand absentmindedly as he spoke, eyes captured by the blue light of his phone.
Victor grumbled, “Just because yours sucks doesn’t mean everyone else’s does.”
Chad retorted, not looking up from his phone, “Just ‘cause your mom was cool doesn’t mean everybody else’s is.” Victor couldn’t find it in himself to blow up at the boy or even muster up anything other than an irritated scowl. There was only the strange, hot feeling that sat in Victor’s chest that he couldn’t explain. It filled his torso with the embers of shame, hatred, fear. Forming on the outside as warmth under his arms and along his back.
He had nothing to say in response after all. Victor wasn’t much of a thinker, but he thought over Chad’s words. What he was implying. Was it really worth it to find peace with Sir? Could he?
Was he allowed to?
Besides that, if this whole thing with his dad and Sir’s mom went in the direction he feared, he’d also be gaining another brother: Daniel. The only interaction they’d ever had being that crazy satanist shit he foamed at the mouth shouting. He definitely did not want to deal with that thing being in the same house as him.
Sir’s family mixing with his. That was something that could potentially happen. And his dad would mix him up in all of it. All together with Sir’s actual dad in the background. The town drunk the father of his future brother.
Would they be forced to get along? Would he have to put up appearances? Would his dad continue his campaign against him?
Victor scratched his head, not knowing the answers to any of those questions. He chewed his tongue for a second, then muttered, “You know even if me and him were cool, we’d probably just start fighting again.”
“Probably,” came Chad’s reply, still absorbed in his phone. Sounding about as bored as anyone else would be, laying around in their own thoughtless silence.
They stayed like that for a moment. Victor staring at Chad’s slowly rotating ceiling fan (something he lacked when he lived in the trailer) and Chad scrolling or tapping his phone. There was a hum coming from somewhere in the house that sounded electrical, and the click of Chad’s maid’s heels on the wooden floor going down the hallway.
“You still going after Cora?” He asked, curiosity getting the better of him. Not knowing how he’d gotten to thinking about her.
Chad’s scoff came as a surprise, causing Victor to look at him. “I’m not going after Cora, I don’t give a shit about her.” His momentary, accusatory glance at Victor made him rethink his reply.
“You’re not? She-“ She has told him that in confidence. “She’s pretty into you, if you haven’t noticed.”
Chad gave him another look. “Should I care? Everyone is.”
Victor’s tongue slipped, “Even a guy?” Chad’s eyes stayed on him now, giving him a quizzical stare.
“No homo?” Victor just frowned at him. “Yeah probably some of the sissies in my PE class.” For emphasis, Chad flexed his arm. Victor didn’t like that their eyes stayed locked together in that moment, while the weight in his chest became heavier.
“Sir’s not in your class, is he?” Asking more from him.
The sound of Chad’s laughter was what someone would expect. Rough and masculine, defining traits of the dreamboat of the school. Pretty boy, others called him. While he could just call him Chad. “No, course not. I would’ve told you about whipping him with a towel or something.”
Torturing Sir seemed to be their thing, Victor then realized. They had something together that was different than how Victor operated with his dad. Or how he was commanded by him.
Chad was different.
The New Year’s party lingered in the back of his mind at moments like these. When Victor felt like he had figured something on his own. And he wasn’t a failure or slow or regrettable, like others said.
“What am I gonna do?” He wondered aloud. Talking to the air and hoping for an answer from whatever deity chose to hear him.
“What?” Chad’s face scrunched up in confusion, caught off guard by the subject change.
His response came after a pause of hesitation, “Sir and my dad… and my maybe-step-mom.” His arms were crossed, his eyebrows knitted, and he no longer looked at Chad.
This seemed to be new territory for the both of them. This was stepping a toe closer into waters that neither of them had actually ventured in before. It was enough to explain hatred and anger, but sadness and confusion was different. It was vulnerability and ripened both of them for betrayal.
Chad’s voice was no gentler than it always sounded to him, but his face was hard with an almost unreadable yet serious expression, “Do you really have to think about it?”
“It’s not like I can help it.” He shrugged, looking at the poster that hung on Chad’s wall.
There was that laugh of his again. Only his voice stayed emotionless and level. “I can. I can just- fwip! Turn it off.”
“Just like that?” Their eyes met again.
Chad was the one to look away first this time, back to the screen and into unreality. “It’s not hard. Either that or I get high.” Victor shifted at that word, moving closer to Chad. Leaning into the mattress.
“You got any on you?” He looked at the pocket of Chad’s expensive tight jeans then back to his chiseled face, and was almost startled when he realized Chad had that fake ass grin of his plastered there. Only this one was real, and those eyes that captured the hearts of other girls were locked onto him. His mouth felt dry but he dared not to lick his lips.
He leaned into Chad’s pillows, trying to ignore the smell of his cologne that wafted up from his heavy luxury blankets. Chad answered him finally after what felt like a millennia, but was only just a second after he spoke, “What, like the hard stuff you’re into or grass?”
Victor’s edge was able to come back to him, “You call weed ‘grass’?” His brow was raised, and Chad was having none of it.
“It felt right, shut up.” He’d usually punch his shoulder almost hard enough to bruise, but Chad just reached into his pocket and produced a mint tin with a few short (but thick) blunts in them. He didn’t bother offering him one, taking a single for himself and lighting it.
Victor watched him take that long drag that he barely deserved. His lips embracing the paper, inhaling long enough that his own lungs quaked. Effortlessly pretending an atmosphere of perfection and nonchalance. Even though he had nothing to prove to anyone in this room. But Victor didn’t often think about what people deserved. Only what he felt and what felt right for him in the moment.
His palms felt sweaty and he suddenly didn’t know why he came over here at all. There was something happening in Oakdale that was feasting on the canvas of his mind and he didn’t have a home to escape to.
Was Chad his only confidant or did he not trust Cora enough to spread his business to Sir?
Chad was the only one in Oakdale that could understand his dilemma and him.
The smoke tickled the edge of his nostrils and Chad had leaned over into Victor's face, smiling. The bed dipped with his weight, and they were made closer. The blunt was held in his calloused hands as though it were a delicate flower. He couldn’t help but think of the New Year’s party again.
That had been a sick joke on Chad’s part, but he didn’t know why he felt more disgusted with himself than with Chad. Didn’t know how they still hung around each other after the fact without even a passing comment about it. But that was because it was a joke, right?
Victor’s lips were parted and his breaths were shallow. Chad’s broad chest rose high and low, and Victor thought it would be comfortable to lay against him. Chad allowed the stream of smoke to be blown in his direction. Victor breathed it in, made no noise of objection, and only after Chad rolled onto his back to take another drag did Victor realize what had just happened. His body shuddered with a familiar warmth.
As Chad exhaled, he passed the blunt into his other hand to let Victor have it. Holding it in front of him with a truly incomprehensible look on his face. “I don’t know how you stand this lame ass town,” Was all Chad had to say to him after that.
“Fuck you.” The words had no meaning or passion behind them.
“I wouldn’t mind,” he giggled, not asking why Victor didn’t agree or if he actually liked living in Oakdale.
It was another sick joke. Victor blamed the warmth that bloomed inside him on the “grass” and then took his first drag of the day. Pressing his lips tightly together before letting a stream flow out. A cough tore its way out of his throat in the next second, Victor’s chest collapsing again and again on itself as it struggled out each desperate cough. Chad’s guffaws were suddenly annoying, but his glare had no power to it as his breaths finally came easier.
His throat was raw but he continued to smoke, flicking the ash onto Chad’s shining hardwood floor. The fabric of his clothes felt worse compared to Chad’s sheets. His blankets, clearly softer than his own. His pillows so far removed from the bricks he slept on at home, that as his free hand glided along them he thought that the idea of spending the night here would not be the worst ever. Then he thought of what Chad’s skin would feel like against his palms and he stopped. Then passed the blunt back to Chad.
Victor leaned his head back into heaven and closed his eyes. Deeply inhaling through his nose as Chad laid silent. “I’m gonna kill him tomorrow.”
Chad chuckled, “You said that last week.”