One could argue that things had changed for Jordan Buttsquat after he had a spot of trouble with McGee in Spit Creek. Although, in truth, it had started much earlier than that. Everything mostly stayed the same. He was still fixated on harassing McGee; the other boy’s stupid hair and idiotic undying enthusiasm was practically begging for someone to teach him a lesson. And Jordan’s dreams were still filled with perfectly executed revenge plans and scathing taunts. But even then, even in the beginning, he knew something was changing. He just couldn't put his finger on what though.
On rare days he’d stare a little too long at McGee, which granted wasn’t all that abnormal, but it was unusual in the cases where he wasn’t in deep thought about ways to humiliate his rival. Sometimes he’d even let his mind wander back to that day. In Spit Creek. When McGee had protected him and he’d felt so warm pressed up against his bare flesh.
So it wasn’t until when he woke up one night—sweaty, breathless, and covered in his own cum—that he realized something was very, very wrong. It wasn’t his first wet dream. But it was the first time he’d ever dreamt about McGee that way.
“Hold still! You’re going to mess me up!”
Jordan held in a sigh and settled for rolling his eyes as he held his hand out to Suzi.
“It’s starting to cramp.” He says, the whine clearly evident in his voice.
“Then stop moving and let me work.” Suzi replies with a flick of her golden hair.
Jordan settles back down on the bed and tries to ignore the cramp in his bones. Suzi never took this long to paint her nails. He only agreed to let her do his nails as practice for a new design (“I need to test this on someone Jordan! I can’t just wing it and hope it turns out for the best!”), because he didn’t think it’d take this long.
“And would you stop whining? I’m trying to concentrate here!”
He mumbles a cheeky comment, careful not to let Suzi hear, and sighs. Stretching his neck muscles, Jordan turns his gaze out the window toward the worn-down camp across the lake. It should’ve been torn down years ago in all honesty. And had the monsters occupying the area not scarred off all the people that had tried, it probably would’ve been long gone by now.
He briefly wonders what McGee is up to. Probably something lame like always. God he hated him.
As Suzi continues to carefully swirl the paint over his nails in delicate circles and lines, he has to admit that it actually was kind of a cool design.
“You know, you act really gay for a straight guy.” Suzi says, breaking the silence and startling Jordan from his thoughts.
“It’s like that Katy Perry song. You know? You like nice clothes, nice hair, you let me paint your nails—it’s like you’re gay but you don’t like boys.”
“Er...” He only knew a total of three songs from Katy Perry. But he wasn’t about to let Suzi know that. She’d throttle him.
“I mean, it’s not like I’d judge you for that or anything. But you’d tell me if you were right? Because friends tell each other stuff.” She says the last part with an increasingly firm voice.
It wasn’t as if Suzi was a totally clueless blonde stereotype. Most people wrote her off as such but Jordan knew she could be very observant when she wanted to be. So then what exactly had brought this on? What had he done to make her suspect?
“Yeah? I mean NO! No, I’m not gay!”
“Oh, good.” She pauses and Jordan feels his insides screaming at him. And?? He wants to shout.
“Because I was thinking we should start dating.”
“I mean it’s only obvious. I’m the most popular girl and you’re the most popular boy. That’s the rules.”
“What? You don’t want to date this?” She says, narrowing her eyes and motioning to her blonde flowing hair and sparkling eyes.
“N-no! I mean, you’re my best friend! I just don’t see you in that way.”
She sighs in exasperation.
“Look, it’s just for show. I have a boyfriend at school anyway.”
Jordan blinks. “Huh?”
Suzi smacks her lips, impatient that Jordan wasn’t fully grasping her glorious plan.
“He’s my school boyfriend dummy. You are going to be my summer boyfriend. Kay?”
Suzi hums in approval and dips her head back down to concentrate on doing his nails. At times like these Jordan had learned it was best just to go with the flow and not question her. He looks back out the window, wondering what he’d gotten himself into.
Jordan can only remember hanging out with Suzi once outside of summer camp. It had been during fall break two years after they’d first met when Suzi had called him up on a visit. He’d found it strange at the time. It wasn’t as if he didn’t want to hang out with her during the school year. And it wasn’t like they lived that far away from each other that visiting would be out of the question. They may go to different schools but Jordan’s house was in a fairly close neighboring city. Plus his parents never cared where he went so long as he kept bringing home tennis medals and straight A’s.
But he’d always just assumed that Suzi was the type to keep her school life and summer life separate. So when he got a sudden text from her he assumed it was urgent. And when she didn’t respond to any of his texts or calls on the ride over, and he had urged the driver to go faster.
Upon arrival Jordan had tensed. He wasn’t really sure what to do now that he was here. But then the door swung open and Suzi was standing there beckoning him inside. She announced that they were going shopping—yes Buttsquat shopping stop sputtering—then said she wasn’t quite ready yet so could he please wait while she finished putting her makeup on? Actually, no, she hadn’t said please. But Jordan has heard her use it before.
Either way, she’d slammed the bathroom door shut and left Jordan alone and still slightly baffled in the middle of her room. With no options left, he opted to take a look around. Who knows how long she would be?
He was slightly surprised by the size of things. He’d always expected her room to be bigger. More majestic. But after a while, he started to grow bored. And Suzi still hadn’t emerged from the bathroom yet. It couldn’t hurt to explore the rest of the house.
Mind made up, Jordan wanders out of the room to explore the rest of the house. He finds a second bathroom, a linen closet, and the laundry room before finding McGee’s room on the opposite side of the house. He peeks in through the crack in the door. He can detect a faint smell of stale candy and sweaty gym shorts.
He tries and subsequently fails resisting going in. It wasn’t like he wanted to see how McGee lived. And he certainly wasn’t curious of the other boy. He was just bored.
He pushes open the door and pads quietly into the room. Action figures line the shelves. Movie posters cover the walls and ceiling. Jordan approaches the desk, curious. There’s a plastic sword laying on top and he feels compelled to pick it up.
It swings awkwardly. Nothing like fencing. Jordan smirks. Heh, McGee was so pitiful in his pretend swordplay. Meanwhile Jordan knew how to use a real weapon.
“What are you doing in here?” The snide remark from behind him sends his blood freezing.
“Nothing!” he twists around towards the front of the room. McGee seems to take up the whole space of the door frame, oozing suspicion and anger. Damn, he hadn’t realized McGee was home. Though in retrospect he should have probably assumed he’d be. He lived there too after all.
Before McGee can get in another word, he drops the sword on the desk where it clatters amongst the rest of the toys, and scurries out back to the safety of Suzi’s room. However, to his complete disappointment, McGee follows him. Footsteps heavy with intent.
Just as he’s finish writing the last of his will and testament in his head, he spots Suzi finally coming out of the bathroom and his disappointment evaporates. Thank god. She knew how to handle McGee better than he did.
Suzi immediately spots her brother and her eyes narrow. “McGee! How many times have I told you to—“
“Stay out of your room I know!” McGee rolls his eyes. “Mind telling Buttsneak to stay out of mine?”
Jordan looks positively offended. “I would never go into your room McSmelly! I was just wandering through the house because I was bored! Also, your room is atrocious! You should clean it up!”
Suzi nods in agreement. “Ugh, I know! He’s such a slob!”
“Guys can we not talk about my cleaning habits?” McGee sigh, anger already seeping out of him. Dealing with Suzi was a chore in itself.
“We’ll talk about whatever we want!” Suzi huffs. “Come on Buttsquat, let’s go!”
“Go?” McGee blinks as Suzi and Jordan move past him. “Go where?”
“To the mall, dummy.” She says as if it’s obvious.
“But you can’t drive!”
“That’s why I have a chauffeur!” Jordan puffs out his chest. “Have fun with your lame toys while we’re out shopping!”
McGee doesn’t rise to the taunt though, instead having gone still. They make it to the door before he calls out to them.
“Hey Suzi, wait!” He runs up to them, looking rather timid. “There’s, uh, there’s this game that came out I’ve been wanting to buy. Do you mind if I come with you?”
Suzi raises a brow. “Do my chores for a month and you’ve got a deal.”
He breaks out into a grin. “Sweet! Thanks!”
“What??” Jordan flings his hands up. “Now hold on a minute it’s my car and my chauffer! I say we don’t take him anywhere with us!”
“Buttsquat,” Suzi says sweetly and Jordan gulps, “shut up.”
And that had been the end of that. Although that didn’t stop Jordan from expressing his extreme displeasure over the fact. He was moodily silent the entire car ride to the mall and had kept his arms folded angrily against his chest. Suzi didn’t seem to notice his upset demeanor, instead just playing on her phone. Which meant the only person who actually did take notice was McGee. Jordan made sure to glare at him extra hard. He fully expected McGee to glare back, as per usual, yet the other boy was too happy at the prospect of being able to buy his game. So he sat across from Jordan with a rather smug grin that only served to make Jordan even angrier.
They finally make it to the mall and Jordan is only too glad to step out of the car. Now they’ll finally be able to ditch the McIdiot and be able to—
“And just where are you going?” Suzi’s voice cuts sharply through the air. It takes a second for Jordan to realize she’s talking to her brother.
McGee freezes in place. “To...the GameStop?”
She gives him a look. “No you aren’t. You can do that later.”
McGee blinks. Suzi sighs and she clarifies, “You need to carry my bags. Obviously.”
“Don’t forget I’m the one who let you come with us.” Her voice has gone dangerously low. “The least you could do is be a gentleman and offer to carry my purchases.”
“Ha! He couldn’t be a gentlemen if he tried.” Jordan snorts. Suzi laughs with him.
McGee’s shoulders slump and he resigns himself to his fate of bag-boy. Good choice. It’s not very smart going head to head with someone like Suzi.
Although Jordan had been eager to get rid of McGee earlier, a couple of hours into shopping and he’s thoroughly enjoying himself. McGee has been saddled with all of the shopping bags and he trails miserably behind them as they go into store after store. Half of the time Jordan forgets that the other boy is even there. Shopping with Suzi is truly an experience. He doesn’t have any other friends with such an exquisite fashion taste. And she’s the absolute best at helping him pick out new sweater vests. It’s too bad they don’t do this more often. He’s only sorry that they don’t live closer. Otherwise he’d make it a thing to go out shopping with her more often. Minus McGee of course.
At the four hour mark Suzi finally relents and McGee practically races to GameStop. He leaves all the bags outside on the bench beside Jordan and Suzi before dashing into the store. He intended to take as much time as humanly possible. Normally, he’d be in and out, but given that he had just been subjected to four hours of Buttsquat and Suzi giggling about jewelry and shoes, he was going to milk this for all it was worth. It was their turn to wait now!
He manages to find an empty station with a new game on display for players to try out and decides to take a whack at it. He’s not sure how long he plays, but he eventually grows bored and decides to finally go ahead and pay for his game. He smiles happily down at his purchase as he steps outside only to be met with a furious Buttsquat.
“What the hell where you doing in there?” He demands, standing up from the bench. “It doesn’t take that long to purchase a simple game!”
McGee ignores him and goes to pick up the rest of the bags. He frowns and looks around for a moment. “Where’s Suzi?”
“She got bored and left.”
Jordan’s eyes sink downward in restrained anger. “And she left me with the bags.”
There’s a quiet chuckle. Then two. Then McGee breaks out into a grin.
“W-what’s so funny?” He demands.
“So she ditched you too huh?” McGee starts putting down some of the bags. “Guess that means I don’t have to carry all these then.”
Jordan sputters and huffs. He starts to say something but McGee has already taken off with Suzi’s sets of shopping bags, leaving the rest for Jordan to carry. Barely refraining from stomping his foot in a tantrum, he gathers his purchases and follows after the other boy.
He catches up to McGee and contemplates tripping him for a moment. It’d be funny to watch him fall flat on his face, but Suzi’s purchases might get damaged and then he’d be the one to pay for it. Better not.
“So you gonna text her and ask where she is?”
“Why don’t you text her?” Comes the petulant reply.
McGee smirks. “You really think she’s gonna respond to any of my texts? She won’t even friend me on facebook.”
Well he had him there. Jordan takes out his phone and sends out a text telling Suzi that McGee was done with his little errand and could she please come back so he didn’t have to interact with her oaf of a brother any longer than necessary?
He’s just finishing up the text when he notices McGee isn’t following him anymore. He twists around and spots the other boy standing in front of a shop, face tilted in contemplation at the window. Jordan doubles back, sighing. What has become of his life? He’s about to give McGee an earful when the other boys asks him something.
Jordan stops. “What?”
McGee looks over at him. “I said, do you think Suzi would like this?”
Jordan follows McGee’s line of sight to the necklace in the window. It was very pretty. Totally up Suzi’s alley.
“Yes. What of it?”
“Just need ideas about what to get her for Christmas is all.” McGee’s face is oddly softer. His edges smoother. “She’d look really good in it I’ll bet.”
Jordan grows quiet. Unnerved by the tender look in his nemesis’s eyes. Eyes that have only ever held contempt and aggravation when dealing with him.
“You know...” McGee begins softly, “When we were little I made her a macaroni necklace and she refused to take it off for like a week. Our mom had to finally step in and make her throw it away. She cried for days.”
And Jordan—doesn’t know how to respond to that. He’s never heard that story before. Though it wasn’t surprising seeing as Suzi barely talked about her brother. Most of the time she acted like she was an only child. He tries to remember if she’d ever said anything nice about her brother before in the many times they’d hung out together and comes up short. Jordan didn’t have any siblings so any intel he’d gathered about having them had come exclusively from his best friend. And the conclusion that he’d arrived at was that they were a nuisance. Siblings were annoying end of story. But the look in McGee’s eyes, and the way he had recalled the precious memory...
Jordan thinks back. Back to camp. The way McGee had always, always looked out for Suzi. How he would let her insults slide and continue to smile at her. The way he always seemed to be there for her if she ever needed him. Rare as that was.
“Why—“ Jordan stops. He’s not sure he wants to ask this. But at the same time, he’s too curious to let it go. “Why do you care so much?”
McGee turns to look at him and he scrambles to clarify. “I m-mean she’s never really indicated that the two of you were close at all...”
But thankfully McGee seems to understand what he’s trying to convey. He shrugs at him. “She wasn’t always like she is now. She used to be really nice. And she was always kind to me. She was the model big sister. I remember how she would play hide and seek with me, and how we loved doing arts and crafts together. But then one day she discovered makeup and well...” He sighs wistfully. “The rest is history.”
He looks back through the window at the display. “She’s still my big sister at the end of the day though. I guess that’s why I’m so quick to give people the benefit of the doubt. Even after their mistakes. I know that underneath certain hard exteriors lies a kind soul.” And then, catching him off guard, McGee turns his head over at Jordan, his smile still gentle and still soft. Jordan feels something strange in the pit of his stomach. He swallows, shifting in place uncomfortably.
Realizing McGee was expecting some sort of reply Jordan scratches his elbow and jerks his head away. “Well go buy it then. I’m sure she’ll like it.”
Jordan follows McGee quietly into the store and waits patiently for him to talk to the manager and get the necklace out of the case. He pretends to be interested in his phone when McGee glances back at him—why was he even looking over here??—and stiffly makes his way over to the sunglasses. It is there, staring into the small mirror provided, that he notes with rising horror he is honest-to-god actually blushing. A virgin red, innocent bloom of color has spread fast across his freckled face. It doesn’t help that it’s on par with the red of his hair so now he looks like an actual mutant tomato-human.
He smashes a pair of sunglasses onto his face and stumbles away from the stand to go look at the clothing rack. He’s not sure how long he’s over there, pretending to be interested in the dull button-downs, when McGee’s voice startles him.
“What’s taking you so long, Buttsnail?” McGee calls, already outside the store, necklace in hand. But somehow the nickname sounds tamer. Less hurtful.
Jordan jerks, an unholy squeak passing through his lips, and almost trips as he takes off the sunglasses to hurriedly put them back. (And by putting them back he merely flings them in the stand’s direction.) And just when he’d started to feel his cheeks cooling down, McGee smiles at him once more with that idiotic grin and this face begins to do that thing again where it got warm. Okay, this was getting really weird. That was the second time today. He was really gonna have to look into that or something.
“Come on,” McGee chuckles, patting Jordan’s shoulder and oooookay he has just decided that no. He does not want to look into that at all.
Jordan flinches his shoulder away like McGee is a leper (he might as well be it’s like he’s never even heard of moisturizer) but McGee doesn’t seem to notice or care. He is suddenly hypersensitive to everything. Like he has become aware of McGee’s body. His long legs. His dark, unruly hair. The lopsided hook in his smile. What is even happening? And why are they walking so close to each other?? Should they really be walking this close?
Jordan shuffles away. Putting another foot in distance between them. But McGee, oblivious to Jordan’s approaching mental breakdown, has spotted something in Pac Sun’s window. His eyes grow wide. And Jordan knows that look. Suzie wears it all the time when their shopping together.
“Oh my god I want that shirt.” He whispers.
Jordan latches onto the statement, in desperate need of a distraction from McGee’s lips.
“That red one.” He points.
Jordan looks and his eyeballs instantly want to screech in terror. He had to be joking. He was joking right?
“You don’t actually mean that.” He says carefully. Needing to hear himself say the words out loud.
Because maybe then the universe would right itself and make his words true, because McGee seriously did not want to buy that shirt.
“What? It’s my money. I’ll buy what I want. Besides, it’s not like you have to see me wearing it.”
And, because Jordan’s good sense was already dead and gone, he was suddenly bombarded with the image of McGee wearing the fashion atrocity in his mind. And nothing else.
He chokes on his spit and shakes the disturbing picture away like a fly to be swatted. McGee finally takes his eyes away from the window to curiously lift a brow at him.
“Uh, you okay dude?”
“I’m perfectly fine!” Jordan says wheezing. Oh god the image was still there. He had to do something. Steer the conversation away from clothes and the lack thereof. Anything.
“S-So!” He says, his voice getting hysterically louder. “Are you a Hollister fan or more of an Abercrombie & Fitch kind of guy?”
McGee blinks and Jordan panics.
“H-hey look! They’ve got that thing that I need! You stay here I’m going to go get it!”
Well at least he didn’t do a nervous laugh like a fucking lunatic. He’s gotta give himself credit where it’s due. Jordan wanders off in a random direction and ducks behind a pillar. He’s okay. He’s fine it’s okay. Everything is fine.
He waits a solid minute before venturing back to where McGee is waiting on an empty bench. And to think he had such high hopes for today. Why did McGee always ruin everything?
McGee turns to greet him. “Hey where’s your thing?”
“The one you were going to get?”
Jordan pales. “Uh...they were out.”
God that was so lame. Was McGee rubbing off on him? Ugh, he really needed to find Suzi now so he could be around someone with a higher IQ. He could literally feel his common sense evaporating. Speaking of which she’s now officially been hiding in Forever 21 for forever now. He’s starting to fear for her well-being.
“Maybe we should go check and see how Suzi’s doing?” McGee asks tentatively as if stealing the words right out of Jordan’s mouth.
“Sure.” He says.
They walk side by side past the various stores. Jordan sneaks a glance at McGee. It occurs to him quite suddenly that he doesn’t really know anything about the other boy. Well, other than the fact that he’s his best friend’s brother and incredibly annoying. Suzi doesn’t really talk about him much. Actually, she doesn’t really talk about him at all. She just pretends he doesn’t exist on most days. It felt kind of odd that he didn’t really know much about McGee considering the fact that—
He doesn’t stop walking, but his vision starts to tunnel in and his feet continue forward, as if going through the motions rather than actively walking. Jordan feels a quiet mortification awake deep in his chest as the dawning realization settles around him. He constantly talked about McGee at camp. Muttering, complaining, and yammering about McGee to anyone who would listen (mostly Suzi).
What...what the hell? Had he always done that? Had he always obsessively thought about his rival this way? Was that how normal enemies acted?
As Jordan’s steps slow down significantly, McGee finally seems to take notice that something is wrong. “Hey slow poke what’s the hold up?”
Jordan snaps out of his thoughts and glares. “Shut up, I just couldn’t stand breathing in your disgusting bad breath for one more second. Do you ever brush?”
“I do not have bad breath!” McGee says heatedly. Though he subtly holds his hand up to his mouth and checks—just in case.
Jordan snorts and moves past him, taking the lead. “Whatever, just keep your bodily odors away from me.”
There’s an exasperated sigh from behind him but McGee doesn’t say anything more. Jordan pulls out his phone to check if Suzi has replied yet (still nothing) when his stomach grumbles.
A soft bump to his shoulder alerts him to McGee’s close proximity. He looks up. McGee angles his face away and turns up an eyebrow.
“Wanna head to the food court?”
And though there is nothing special about the question, it is the way McGee tilts his head, the low timbre in his voice, the small smile at the end that has Jordan’s stomach reeling in ways that has nothing to do with food.
He nods. Not trusting his words. They have failed him too many times today to be trusted.
During lunch Jordan has had ample time to decide that his momentary lapse in attraction had merely been a trick of his hunger. After seeing McGee scarf down his food like a vagrant, not to mention the shirt fiasco, Jordan’s previous maniac delusions of quite possibly thinking the other boy as handsome is thoroughly, and fortunately, dispersed. All in all he is quite relieved. Though he’ll have to be more careful about meals from now on. If dieting lead to thinking McGee of all people was attractive then he’d definitely choose food over losing his mind. He toys with the idea of warning Suzie too, but that girl was more determined than he was. Besides, if anyone had the will power to push through delusions caused by starvation it was her. He’s sure she’ll be fine.
McGee finishes eating and picks up his wrappers to put on the tray. Jordan stands up to follow but McGee pauses, gesturing back at the table.
“Aren’t you going to pick up your trash?”
Jordan scrunches his face up. “No.”
He pushes past him and checks his phone for any new texts again. McGee grumbles lowly and resigns himself to picking up Jordan’s tray as well and takes both to the trash cans. Jordan honestly doesn’t see the point. Wasn’t that the waiters job?
McGee puts the empty trays atop the trash can then turns to make a beeline in the opposite direction from Jordan.
“Where are you going?”
McGee looks back, blinking wide. “Bathroom?” He says, as if it’s obvious.
“What, are you forcing me to wait out here for you?”
“Well you could come in too you know.” McGee replies, aggravation lacing his words.
“Public restrooms are some of the most disgusting places on the planet! I’d rather go in the woods than a public toilet!”
McGee rolls his eyes. “Whatever Butt-prude. Suit yourself.”
Jordan tries not to be hurt by the way the meanness has sneaked back into the nickname from the last time McGee had teased him. It is no longer soft, but rather said with a rather tight tone of annoyance and disgust.
“I will thank you very much!” Jordan says haughtily, but McGee is already ignoring him.
Jordan growls into his palms and stomps over to a wall to sulk. It wasn’t like he had to wait for McGee or anything. He could just go back to Forever 21 and wait on Suzi there. But either way he’d still be waiting.
He huffs angrily and glares down at the poorly tiled floor. He wishes they had gelato here because he could seriously go for a bowl right now. Jordan checks his phone for the thousandth time. Suzi was usually so quick to reply and he’s a bit worried something is wrong at this point. Of course, it could also be that she went to the salon and is purposefully ignoring her phone.
Someone bumps into his shoulder, ripping Jordan’s attention away from his screen. The stranger keeps on walking and Jordan stares after them in disbelief at the lack of an apology on their part. Ah yes, plebian malls. His favorite hangout spot. Not to say he didn’t like the mall of course. It’s just that the mall over in his city was a bit ritzier. No one wore pants hanging off their hips for instance; Jordan takes note as he scoffs at someone moving past him. And he wouldn’t be caught dead in that kitten sweater over by the entrance of Dillard’s.
He hears a loud screech overhead and lifts his head up to the second floor and spots an unruly child running away from his pregnant mother. How that woman ever thought child rearing would be a good idea was beyond him.
He sighs, leaning his head back against the wall. McGee sure was taking his time.
He hears obnoxious laughter coming from his left and looks over to see a group of rowdy teens coming out of the Tilt. Probably won a stuffed bunny or something equally stupid, Jordan supposes. He gives their clothes a once over, not bothering to hide his scoff. Poor things couldn’t even afford a belt.
“Oi! You got something to say pretty boy?” one of them asks, taking notice of Jordan’s judgmental gaze.
“Nothing.” Jordan’s hands fold over his chest. “Just that a blind man probably could’ve dressed himself better.”
The rest of the group’s heads turn and look at him; none of them looked very happy. Jordan is suddenly aware that he probably shouldn’t voice his opinions all the time. Even if his opinions are superior.
One of them steps closer, his hat is on backwards and Jordan stomps down the urge to ask him if he even knows how hats are supposed to work. The boy grabs at his shirt and snarls into his face. Ugh, personal space please.
“I think it’s time to take out the trash. What’d’ya say boys?” he asks behind him and hears words of encouragement all around.
This was probably not very good. Jordan can feel tension rising in his stomach.
“Hey! We’re in public! You can’t do this!” Jordan says, the haughtiness his voice previously possessed is gone and is replaced instead by panicked logic.
“So you’ll get in trouble!”
The group laughs around him. “Man we are trouble! We don’t give a shit!”
Someone cracks their knuckles and Jordan gulps.
“So Ginger,” the guys scoffs at his hair, “why don’t you repeat to me and my buddies what you said about our clothes?”
Shit. Shit, shit, shit.
“I—“ His mouth is suddenly too dry. Where the heck were the security guards? Didn’t this mall have any? “I—“
“There you are!” McGee’s voice startles him and Jordan jumps when a long arm is draped over his shoulders. McGee pulls him in flush against his side. “Sorry I took so long. Did you make any new friends while I was gone?”
The group of boys pull back at McGee’s sudden presence.
“Who are you?” Backwards Hat guy asks.
McGee sweeps his eyes over the group.
“I think that’s my question. You see this is my ginger. I’d appreciate it if you back off.”
The guy growls, stepping forward at McGee’s blatant challenge.
“This punk insulted us!” He hisses, pointing a finger in Jordan’s face.
“Do you know him?” McGee asks.
“What? No! He just comes up out of the blue and—“
“So he’s a stranger?” McGee interrupts.
“Yes! Isn’t that just what I said? You deaf or something?”
“So would you say that you care about what other people think of you?”
“I don’t care what anyone thinks of me!” the guy puffs out his chest. The other boys chime in their approval and nod along.
“So then why should some stranger’s opinion about your clothes matter?” McGee asks.
“Exactly.” McGee says. Then he tucks a hand under Jordan’s upper arm and pulls him away. “Good day gentlemen.”
They leave the group behind in wide-eyed, stunned silence.
Jordan himself cannot speak just yet. McGee had just waltzed in out of nowhere and talked circles around those ruffians, something he’d only ever seen Suzi do. What the hell had just happened?
He numbly lets McGee pull his arm along, still trying to process the events. When he actually thought about it though, it was actually pretty typical. It figured that whether he was at camp or not McGee always liked to play the knight in shining armor.
But just why did he continue to save him time after time anyway? Was McGee really just that nice of a person? He didn’t look like he had that much of a big heart. Jordan had been on the bad side of him before. Actually, he was always on his bad side. They hated each other. At least he was pretty sure they hated each other.
So why then?
And then it hits him. As the thought crosses his mind his realizes with sudden certainty that it must be it.
How could he not have seen it before? It was because of his sister, Suzi. Being her summer boyfriend and all Suzi would probably get extremely angry if he should die a horrible death in a mall. Or you know, it was either that or it was just routine for McGee by now. It was most likely just a hobby for him.
Jordan grits his teeth. He should probably say something.
“Thanks.” He mumbles.
“Hm?” McGee turns his head to look back at him.
Both of them notice at the same time that McGee’s hand is still on his arm and they break away quickly.
“I said thanks for—for that.” He mumbles again, a faint red across his cheeks.
McGee shrugs. “Don’t mention it. Those guys seemed like real douche bags anyway.”
They fall into step once more and say nothing. Jordan sneaks a glance over at McGee, he doesn’t notice. A sudden anger erupts in his stomach and he blurts out the first thing he thinks of.
“Why do you always do that?”
McGee stops. “What?”
“You don’t owe me anything! Why do you always have to come to my rescue? It’s not like I’ve ever asked you to!”
McGee frowns, his own expression becoming agitated at Jordan’s outburst.
“I dunno dude.”
They both start to walk again. Jordan shoves his hands into his pockets.
“Ugh, whatever, I don’t care why anyway.”
McGee looks back at the other boy. He takes note of Jordan’s miffed expression and reddened cheeks and starts to feel his own irritation fade away. It was actually kind of adorable. In an overgrown child having a temper tantrum sort of way.
“I suppose it’s just not in me to turn my back on someone I know.” He finally says.
Jordan blinks and looks up at the unexpected confession.
“Also you get into trouble a lot. You’d probably never survive camp if I didn’t always come to your rescue.”
The blush deepens. “Okay, geez! Way to point out how helpless I am all the time!”
“Pretty much.” McGee smirks. And this time Jordan knows the idiot is enjoying himself.
He’s about to open his mouth and retort with a scathing remark when McGee continues in a softer tone.
“I mean you are kind of helpless most of the time. And you’re kind of annoying too. And you whine a lot. Not to mention you’ve never done anything nice for me.”
Well sure, just lay it all out there! Let’s not forget anything else while we’re at it!
“But...it’s just that—“ McGee shuffles his feet. He turns his gaze away and Jordan swears he sees a blush rising. “Well, you’re actually kind of cute when you need help. You’re all compliant for once and it’s nice to be needed you know? To be relied upon for support. Like you know I’ll protect you somehow.”
“...you think I’m cute?”
Great now they were both blushing.
“W-Well, er...y-yeah, I guess.”
Well this just got ten times more awkward.
“Wanna go wait for Suzi?” McGee asks suddenly.
They dissolve into a hurried silence. Neither say another word as they wait for the third member of their party to emerge from the clothing store.
Had Jordan known that that would be start of a long and unfortunate process of falling for McGee, he might never have responded to Suzi’s message earlier day. Shopping was worth a lot of things, but it was not worth falling in love.