Lalna tripped on his laces as he sped into his final class of the first day of senior year, planting his face firmly into the thinly carpeted concrete floor. Giggles erupted from the girls in the back of the classroom, making his face warm with embarrassment. Avoiding eye contact with them, he dusted off and walked carefully to the table he shared with Trott.
"Dude, I'm really sorry but I need to tell you something, and it's not good news,"
Trott's eyebrows skyrocketed. Rare were the times when Lalna was this serious.
"What? No, nobody," Blustered Lalna. "You're dating Smith right? I saw you guys this morning. Everybody was talking about how weird it must be for Ross, seeing his two best friends together."
Trott sighed, he knew exactly where this was going.
"Well at lunch just now," Lalna continued, "I saw something."
The blonde's eyes roamed suspiciously over the classroom and leaned in close, bringing his hand up to cover his mouth.
"I'm sorry Trott, I saw Smith and Ross kissing. I didn't mean to, I was just making my way through the park to get back and they were up in a tree. I know this has to be a shock,"
"Lal, I know."
"It sucks that they'd do this to you,"
"Lalna. I'm aware that they kiss."
"I just can't believe it, how long have you guys even been together?"
"Lalna! Shut the fuck up!"
"Wait what?" Lalna stared at Trott, stunned.
"The summer was really weird for us, okay. A lot happened."
Lalna's eyes were full of confusion, his eyebrows furrowed, trying to work it out in his head.
"Uh. I don't get it. Shouldn't you be pissed?"
"Look, lemme explain..."
Wind shot through Trott's hair like spears as he fell, screaming at the top of his lungs. Time slowed, he felt the sun against his bare chest, heard Smith's cheering from above him, and the perfectly clear, untouched water below him. The moment lasted a lifetime, but then his feet hit the cool water, time returned to normal, and he was embraced by the lake.
By the time his face broke the surface, Smith was midair.
He screamed, smashing into the surface with the subtlety of an angry bull in a china shop. Trott laughed, and shielded his face with his hand to look back up to the cliff, where Ross was standing.
"Come on down! I know it's scary darling but I believe in you!"
The dark haired boy made a hand gesture to indicate where Trott could shove his 'Belief'.
Suddenly, Smith shot up out of the water behind Trott and jumped onto his shoulders. The pair both fell deep into the lake, and when they came back up for air...
Trott didn't know how to explain it. He'd known that his sexual attractions had been all over the place for a while now, not quite sure which category he fit into. But he stared at Smith, with his wet orange hair and gorgeous smile, and Smith stared back, like he was feeling something too. There was a moment when Trott could have sworn Smith had started to lean forward, and Trott closed his eyes, almost shaking with anticipation.
And then Ross hurtled out of the sky to land perfectly between them.
He burst back out of the water and put his arms around his two best friends.
"I told you both I wasn't scared."
The trio lay stretched out on their towels, under the shade of an enormous tree that perched on the edge of the lake. It's branches, in places, dipped down to kiss the water softly. A light breeze ran through the leaves, making a sound like the tree was sighing.
The boys sighed along with it.
You could feel content in the air.
Trott rolled onto his stomach and looked at his friends.
"So... Guys, I saw this thing online."
Ross took his sunglasses off to look carefully at him.
"I swear to god, Trott, if you're talking about cat's barbed penises again I'm gonna gag you and leave you here. Good luck surviving on just these leaves."
And with that, a handful of leaves fell all around Trott.
"No! Nothing like that. Christ."
"To be fair Trott, you did go on about it for quite a while,"
piped up Smith.
"I don't want to talk about cat penises okay!"
Quiet laughs danced on the wind.
"I saw these three people, two guys and a girl, yeah, and they were like..."
Trott trailed off, nerves stopping him.
"I've seen plenty of videos like that, mate."
"NO!" Yelled Trott.
"Whoa, Trott, what's wrong?"
Ross moved closer, his arm outstretched to console Trott, who was visibly upset. Smith sat up, concern written on his face.
The small boy spoke quickly,
"They were dating. All three of them. And I thought it was kinda cool. You know, like having so much more love in a relationship. It's not about porn, or sex, or anything else. I just thought... That the love. Was cool. That's all."
Smith and Ross made eye contact over Trott's head. Unsure what to say.
"Forget it. Let's just get back. I've got chores that need doing."
Trott started the walk back up the cliff-side, leaving Smith and Ross to pick up the towels, brushing the grass blades off quietly.
"Three people dating. That's kinda weird, right?"
Ross asked, wanting to hear Smith's opinion before admitting to anything that would make things more uncomfortable.
"It's... Unusual. But I mean, if it makes them happy, then I guess it's cool. Right?"
"But I'm not sure I could do it,"
"Nah, me neither."
They made eye contact once more, many more words than were actually spoken being exchanged, before turning and running up the hill after Trott.
"Just the three of us tonight boys!"
Called Smith from the kitchen.
Ross and Trott had just arrived at Smith's house for the almost weekly party. His parents go out every friday for dinner and a movie, a method recommended by their couple therapist to re-ignite romance. It worked out as a huge positive for Smith's social life, because it means he had the house to himself for hours, and quite often his parents didn't make it home until Saturday morning, finding some cheap motel to "re-ignite" in.
Taking his shoes off, Ross called back while Trott settled quietly into the couch.
"What happened? I thought it was gonna be a big night?"
Smith stepped out of the kitchen, his feet padding against the wooden floor.
"Well Xephos is apparently planning a big fancy date with Lomadia, so they're out, and Sjin and Sips ditched us for some awful new Disney film showing. I think Sjin's dressing up for it or something?"
He threw a beer at Ross.
"So it's just us then?"
"It's just us."
The trio quickly settled into the couch, Ross lying over the other two, and watched "Lilo and Stitch".
By the time the movie was over, Smith and Ross were a little drunk, and Trott had fallen asleep against Smith's shoulder.
"Aw Ross, look at our little guy. He must've had a big day, it's only ten o'clock."
Ross sat up and giggled at the sleeping Trott.
"Well what are we supposed to do now?"
"We could just watch something else if you want? Make some food?"
"I don't know, I'm actually pretty tired too."
"Aww hell no! You can't be out too!"
"I'll stay up with you for a bit if you want? But I feel like Trott would probably appreciate a bed."
Smith looked down at the sleeping boy.
"You're probably right. I'll get out the mattresses."
Ross stood up and stretched, and Smith couldn't help but stare at his exposed middle, smooth but for the light tuft of hair travelling down into his pants.
Ross knew exactly what he was doing to Smith. The ginger's wandering eyes hadn't gone unnoticed this summer.
Smith coughed, and got up, making his way to the spare bedroom for mattresses.
Ross picked the sleeping Trott up in his arms, breathing in the smell of his body spray, and carried him to Smith's bedroom.
Trott mumbled something in his sleep, and Ross laughed quietly and held him closer, then let him down gently onto Smith's king size bed.
Smith walked down the hall with the mattress, and then quietly approached his bedroom. He didn't know why he didn't just walk in, but he felt something in his chest. He peeked around the corner, just in time to see Ross remove his lips from Trott's forehead.
He made a choking noise, and Ross' eyes moved straight to him. Faking a cough, he pulled the mattress in.
"You know," began Ross, "I think it'd be best not to move him again. He looks comfortable enough as he is, don't you think?"
Smith stood for a moment, looking hard at Ross.
"Yeah, I guess so..."
Ross put his hand against the back of his neck, a sign of embarrassment.
"I mean, we could sleep either side of him. We don't have to use the mattress. I mean, if it's cool with you."
Smith sat on the end of his bed and put his face in his hands.
"Ross. I saw you kiss him. You don't have to make an excuse to sleep next to him. I can take the couch if you want to be alone with him. I don't mind."
Ross looked around the room uncomfortably, trying to find anywhere to look that wasn't Smith's defeated face.
"That's not what I want."
Smith looked up. "Well what do you want?"
"Both of you."
Confusion flicked across Smith's face, followed by a small smile. He lay down on the bed, and put his arm around Trott. Ross did the same, on the other side.
With their arms tucked around their sleeping friend, Ross and Smith pressed their foreheads together. Smith closed his eyes with a grin on his face, and Ross snuggled tighter into his friends. Beneath them, Trott smiled.
The trio slept like babies.
When Trott was finished, Lalna looked even more confused than before.
He pulled books out of his bright purple backpack and set them down on the table gently, before looking up to meet Trott's eyes again.
"So the three of you?" He said, squinting.
"Are together. Yes."
A moment passed. Lalna brushed his hair out of his eyes.
"That's fucking awesome! Threesomes all the time must be like, heavenly."
Trott released a breath he didn't realize he'd been holding and began to laugh.
"You have no idea how much it means to me, that you think it's cool. You're the first person I've talked to about it, and I've been so scared."
Lalna put his hand on the smaller boy's shoulder and grinned.
"You know everybody around here is pretty cool. I don't think you have to worry about a thing, honestly. I think everybody's just gonna be happy for you guys."
Trott brushed a tear from his eyelashes as their teacher walked in, resting a stack of papers on his desk. He glanced at the bored faces of the students and sighed.
"Right everybody, please open your books, today we're going to be reading about-"
He was cut off by the sound of an explosion, followed swiftly by the shattering of the large window pane that looked out to the park that bordered the south side of the school.