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Pepsi and Pop Rocks

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"Dude," Bill said. "You were awesome out there."

"As were you, dude." Ted was busy wrestling with his guitar. Taking it off wasn't usually quite that much of a trial for him, but he'd got the strap caught on the torn pocket of his hoodie and the whole thing was getting caught over his head.

Bill snorted and set his own guitar to one side. "Ted, you are most uncoordinated, dude."

Ted laughed, deep and amused, from somewhere inside his hoodie. "I can't help it. I'm totally lacking in physical dexterity."

"Generally not a trait found in bodacious lead guitarists," Bill said, helping to untangle Ted and pull the hoodie over his head. Ted reappeared, his hair sticking up in all directions, his eyes wide and surprised at his sudden reintroduction to the world at large. Then his gaze fell on Bill and his eyes crinkled as he smiled again.

"I knew it would be awesome, Bill, but I didn't get just how much it was going to rule, y'know?" Ted paced a few steps, his hands waving in the air, like he did when he was buzzed on too much Pepsi and Pop Rocks, or those rare and stellar occasions when Van Halen put out a new album. Like there was just too much going on in there and he had to move around to let it all out before he popped. "It was like, when I stood on the amp and hit that A-minor and there was that awesome feedback loop and Aunt Thelma dropped her iced tea." Ted paused and got a far away look in his eyes. "It felt... ethereal, dude."

"I totally agree." Bill set Ted's guitar to one side against the edge of the makeshift stage they'd spent a large chunk of last summer building in Ted's garage after the much more non-triumphant task of getting Ted's dad to agree to its construction. Bill petted the guitar absently, running his thumb over the neck before letting go.

Ted was on the move again, biting on his lip, pushing one hand through his hair and only managing to make it stick straight up in the air. "We should do something, Bill."

Bill frowned, confused. "Like what?"

"Something... amazing. Something really... big, you know?"

"We just played our first gig, dude. I don't think it gets any bigger than that."

"No, I mean..." It was Ted's turn to frown. "I don't know. I just... Don't you want to do something?"

Bill shrugged. They had the rest of the afternoon free, after all. Sure they could do something. In fact, he could really go for a slice of pizza to celebrate if Ted was up for going to the mall. He was already considering the merits of spicy meatball versus pepperoni when he realised that Ted was still staring at him with an odd expression on his face. He looked kind of tense and desperate and maybe a little unhappy. This was most assuredly not an expression that should be worn on anyone's face on such a momentous day.

Bill opened his mouth to ask Ted about the mall, because the prospect of the mall usually cheered Ted up, but he hesitated because Ted was kind of shuffling closer, still with that expression on his face that was starting to become truly unsettling. Bill's breathing picked up, just a little, when Ted reached out and took hold of the hem of Bill's t-shirt and tugged on it three times, like he wasn't sure what he was supposed to do with it now he had a hold of it. It was strange. Something about the focus of Ted's attention and the way he wasn't looking Bill in the eye that pinged Bill's radar, like the air around them was charged with static electricity.

Ted pressed his lips together and nodded rapidly a couple of times like he was having an epic internal debate and had just reached an important decision. He grabbed Bill's wrist and tugged. Bill was totally unprepared for the sudden movement and he lurched forward, tripping over Ted's ginormous sneakers, and stumbled after him into the far, dark corner of the unlit garage behind a stack of battered cardboard boxes. Bill's back hit the wall with a thud and the momentum carried Ted forward and into his space so that Ted was a warm, solid weight against him.

"Sorry, dude," Ted whispered.

"No problem," Bill replied, wondering why they were whispering.

"So, I was thinking," Ted said.

"'Bout what?"

Ted swallowed and glanced at Bill's chest where Bill had drawn an excellent rendition of a wild stallion on his t-shirt and written the band's name underneath. When Ted glanced up again, looking sombre and nervous as hell, Bill's stomach pulled off a huge swoop and roll that stole his breath, because Bill knew that look. He was fully aware of what that look meant. He'd just never seen it on Ted's face before.

This was way, way bigger than Pepsi and Pop Rocks. This might even put Val Halen in the shade.

There were a million things he wanted to say, a million questions to ask, but he didn't get to voice a single one of them because Ted leaned in and touched their mouths together. Bill wasn't sure what he'd been expecting but he definitely wasn't prepared for the rush of heat low in his stomach and the bizarre sensation of finally that spiralled through him. He sucked in a shocked breath at the touch of Ted's tongue to his lip but this only made Ted grunt in encouragement and shuffle in closer. Bill felt pinned to the wall and far too aware of his own skin, of all the places Ted was pressed up against him, and the unexpectedly awesome way that Ted bit softly on his lower lip before backing off and waiting for Bill's reaction.

"Dude," Bill said when he'd regained the powers of speech. "Dude. What the hell was that?"

"Depends," Ted said with a little shrug. "Scale of one to ten, how heinous was it?"

Bill opened his mouth to tell Ted that the scale didn't go that high, but instead he hesitated and heard himself say, "Two."


"And a half."

A tentative smile lifted the corner of Ted's mouth. "Oh. In that case, that was totally me kissing you."

"Huh," Bill said, because yeah. That was definitely what had just happened, but hearing Ted say it out loud gave it form and substance and there was no way that Bill was going to be able to pretend like it never happened. The thing was, he wasn't entirely sure that he wanted to. He just didn't know how to tell Ted all that.

"Ted, listen."

Ted raised his eyebrows, open and attentive, and Bill was nearly washed away in a wave of fondness.

He tried again. "Ted."

"Yeah, Bill?"

"Ted... You want to go and get some pizza?"

Ted grinned. "Awesome idea, Bill. I'm totally starving."

"Okay," Bill said, and this time when Ted kissed him, warm and sweet and kind of awesome, Bill remembered to kiss back.

Ted's grin was big and bright, and his bangs were stuck to his sweaty forehead, and it was just Ted, but it still kind of made Bill's heart skip a beat. Bill's face hurt from smiling, but he couldn't seem to stop. "Dude, this has been a most triumphant afternoon."

"I know," Ted said. "We totally rocked Deacon's eleventh birthday party."