Spot squinted at the jumbled mess of words on his laptop. Somehow the glow from the screen only seemed to get brighter. He rubbed his eyes and returned to staring at the unfinished sentence he’d just added to the now six-page essay. Maybe if he stared long enough the next part would magically come to him.
Yeah, right, that’s totally gonna work.
He started reading from the beginning of the paragraph, hoping the rest of the sentence would just flow naturally from what he’d already written.
The lack of information about mental illness during the 16th and 17th centuries limited Shakespeare’s–
Spot narrowed his eyes. Limited Shakespeare’s…ability to properly– no, scratch that. His characterization? Or maybe…
He tilted his head. Maybe just take out “limited Shakespeare’s” and put–
The door opened and Spot’s vision turned white. The fuck? He blinked several times and tried to glare up at the person who’d just walked in. Tried and probably failed, but whatever. At least everything was starting to look normal again.
“Were you working in the dark again?”
Spot glanced down at his laptop and then back up, meeting Race’s eyes. Spot’s stomach lurched, and he pointedly ignored the warm sensation crawling up his neck. “No.”
Race gave him that look—honestly, why couldn’t he just let Spot live his life in peace…in the dark?—but let it go.
“Right. Anyway, you doin’ anything important right now? I need help.”
Spot tore his gaze away, only then realizing he’d been staring, to check the time: 9:43. “Yeah, okay. What’s up?”
(What? He still had over ten hours to finish the last four pages.)
“Well, uh,” Race grimaced and rubbed the back of his neck, “I might’ve lost a bet. So I kinda have to write a love letter? Anonymously. To the person I like.”
Spot closed his laptop. “Well how’re you gonna do that? Do you even like anyone?”
Oh. Spot froze for a split second before sitting up to face Race, who seemed to decide that was a good moment to examine the sleeve of his hoodie…wait, was that Spot’s hoodie? Whatever, not important right now.
He carefully smoothed his features into a blank expression. “So you want me to help you write this…love letter.” It wasn’t a question.
“Yeah, pretty much I guess,” Race told his sleeve.
“But why do you need help writing something that should come from you?”
“You’re better with words and shit. I just need help making it sound,” he plopped down on his own bed, “not lame.”
Spot closed his eyes and took a very calm, controlled breath which he could proudly say was devoid of any shakiness whatsoever. His eyes opened. “Alright then. What do you want to say in it?”
Race finally looked up. “What?”
He fought back the urge to roll his eyes. “What do you want to say to…this person, like what you like about them and…stuff?”
Race bit his lip (not that Spot noticed or anything) and played with the edge of his sheets for a moment. He lifted his head to meet Spot’s gaze and replied, “His eyes.”
Spot waited. Race just looked at him.
“Okay…what about his eyes?”
Race frowned. “What do you mean? I guess they’re, uh, they’re nice.”
He raised an eyebrow. Race crossed his arms, a gesture he understood by now to indicate Race’s discomfort, and shifted his focus to a distant spot on the wall facing them.
“Fine, they’re very nice.” Spot decided not to point out the faint spots of pink that had begun to color Race’s cheeks. “And I like to look at them.”
Spot suppressed a sigh. So much for having ten hours to finish his paper.
Spot printed the essay exactly 12 minutes before it needed to be on the professor’s desk. He considered skipping his second class to go take a nap, but he felt too wired to fall asleep. The exhaustion started to settle in around 1 in the middle of a history lecture, and after struggling to keep his eyes open for the remaining two hours, he finally was done for the day.
When he got to the dorm, he practically flung himself onto his bed, not even bothering to remove his shoes, and probably would’ve stayed like that for the rest of the afternoon if he hadn’t heard a crinkling sound from under his back.
He dragged himself into an upright position and plucked the folded paper from the sheets, turning it over to find his name written.
Belatedly, Spot recognized the handwriting as Race’s messy scrawl and his heart stopped. He relaxed a second later when he realized it wasn’t the letter Race wrote the night before. He should know—he watched him write it. Trying not to feel slightly disappointed, Spot unfolded the note and began to read.
So I decided to start from scratch, so I hope you’re not mad at me for keeping you up.
Because I threw that letter out. But you told me it would probably be better to write this in my own words in the first place, so here goes nothing.
Your eyes. They’re very nice. You have very nice eyes and I like to look at them. Definitely not the best way of putting it, but that’s basically what I said last night sooo yeah. But no it’s more like I get lost in them, like when we talk at night about the things we wouldn’t dare mention when the sun’s up. (and you know what they are so I won’t list them) And when you’re mad it’s so hard to look away because you get so intense. It’s like you’re trying to set the world on fire and call me crazy but I want to burn.
It’s always you that I look for in a crowd or even when we’re just with our friends because
the my world always seems more balanced when you’re there and all that. You’re the first and last person I see every day (the perks of being roommates!) so I guess I should’ve expected that I’d end up liking you but it still took me by surprise when I realized. I really hope this doesn’t make things too awkward and I don’t want to pressure you or anything into anything. I like our friendship and our insults banter and inside jokes and stuff and I don’t want to lose that just because of some lost bet. But yeah…I don’t know how to finish this so we’ll just say this is the end.
P.S. I decided I’m never giving your sweatshirt back. It’s too comfy.
Spot reread the letter to make sure he hadn’t hallucinated the whole thing before placing it on the table by his bed and laying down on top of the sheets to stare up at the ceiling in shock.
He felt much more awake now.
Spot couldn’t understand how Race didn’t know he was, as people would say, head over heels for him. He’d been so painfully obvious that it seemed impossible. But the proof was in the letter. Race didn’t know, and fuck, if Race hadn’t been forced into writing to his crush—me, Spot corrected—they probably would’ve gone on like this forever, not knowing.
Napping was definitely out of the question. There was no way he was going to sleep anytime soon, and of course it was all Race’s fault…again.
I was thinking about continuing this the other day, and I wrote this so fast because honestly, I wanted to know what happened too.
Spot wasn’t sure how long he’d been laying there when he heard the door open.
“Oh, hey, I didn’t know you’d be back already.” Race’s backpack hit the ground with a thud.
Spot didn’t move. The ceiling, at least, was safe to look at. The ceiling wouldn't judge him or make his heart do weird things. Maybe if he just stayed there, Race would eventually leave and then he could have a proper freak-out in peace. Spot had no idea what to do. Was there some kind of post-confession protocol? If Spot was lucky, Race wouldn’t even bring it up, and then Spot wouldn’t have to think of something intelligent to say because that was incredibly unlikely, given how blank his mind was right now.
Actually, that wasn’t quite right. His mind was going a million miles an hour, but nothing was processing. Sleep would be really nice right about now. If anything, it was a good excuse for not moving or talking or acknowledging Race’s presence.
Race cautiously crossed over to Spot’s side of the room.
“Uh, you good there—oh,” he stopped. Spot knew he'd seen the opened note sitting on the table.
Spot didn’t move. He didn’t know if he even could.
There was silence, and then, “I was about to head over to dinner if you, uh, wanted to come with?”
Spot didn’t move.
Race cleared his throat. “Right, well, I guess I’ll go then.”
Spot didn’t move. Right up until he registered the door opening and blurted out, “Who signs their name on an anonymous letter?”
Race froze and let the door close. Spot could hear his footsteps as he slowly walked over to where Spot was determinedly staring at the ceiling. His eyes flicked to the side when the footsteps paused. They darted back up to the ceiling when he saw Race standing right by his bed.
“What,” Race said flatly. It wasn’t a question.
Spot finally gave up on examining the ceiling and propped himself up onto his elbows. “I mean, the letter was supposed to be anonymous, right? You don’t sign your name if you’re trying to be anonymous,” he told him, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
Race considered him for a moment and said in disbelief, “ That’s what you have to say to me right now?”
Spot’s brain-to-mouth filter seemed to be on vacation because he just kept talking. “Like the whole purpose of being anonymous is that no one knows who you are. But you put your name on it!”
“What’s the point?” Race flopped down on his own bed with a sigh. “You already know what my handwriting looks like.”
“You—” Spot pushed himself upright and spluttered out, “Who said it had to be handwritten? Ever heard of computers? Or typewriters?”
Race let his head loll to the side as he shot Spot an incredulous look.
“And! And you made me help you write my own love letter! Who does that? And then you didn’t even use that one!” Spot probably sounded hysterical at this point. If it had been any other situation (or any other person), he might’ve felt embarrassed but he couldn’t bring himself to care.
Race stood abruptly. “Okay, if this is your douchey way of saying you’re not interested, then just fucking say it.” He started pacing, clearly agitated, and continued, “I wasn’t expecting anything, I was just…” He flailed his arms around. “It was nothing. It was for the bet, alright?”
“‘It was for the bet,’” Spot repeated, his voice dangerously calm.
Race glanced up at Spot.
Spot’s eyes burned holes through him as he gritted out, “It was for the—do you know how fucking shitty that sounds?”
Race crossed his arms. “You’re one to talk. Do you know how shitty you sound right now?” he scoffed.
Part of Spot really wanted to get angry and shout or something. But all the fight drained out of him. He closed his eyes and rubbed a hand over his face. He didn’t want to, but after that...he had to ask.
“Did you even mean it?” He looked Race directly in the eye.
Race just gaped at him, eyes wide. “What?”
“Did you mean anything you said in that letter,” Spot demanded a little louder, looking everywhere except at Race now, “or is it all just some sick joke?”
“No!” Race practically yelled.
They stared at each other. Race seemed pissed. Spot just felt cold.
“I see,” he said impassively. He hopped off the bed, grabbed his phone, and started towards the door. It didn’t mean anything, it didn’t mean anything, it didn’t mean anything .
Race watched him, stunned, before realizing his mistake. “No, wait. Spot. Wait!”
Spot whirled around. Panic was clearly written all over Race's face. What else could he possibly have to say to Spot? He’d said enough. And as mad as he was at Race, he was absolutely furious at himself for hoping, for believing that maybe Race liked him too.
“That came out wrong. I meant no, it’s not a joke.” Race reached out, as if to touch him, but jerked his hand back. "I wouldn't joke about that."
Spot was so tired. This was why he had planned on never saying anything to Race. He just wanted to know where they stood and move on. “So it did mean something to you?”
Race swallowed. “It meant everything.”
Spot was pretty sure his heart stopped. He was pretty sure his breathing stopped too. In fact, he was pretty sure everything stopped. He felt like he needed to sit down, but the sound of Race’s voice pulled him out of his head.
“...can just pretend like nothing happened. Nothing has to change, I won’t try anything or—”
“What, no! I don’t want that.”
Race threw his hands up. “Well, what do you want then? You know, you’re so hard to read sometimes. Your face always does that...thing, and I don’t even—”
Spot wasn’t really sure how it happened, but somehow he ended up tugging Race into a fierce kiss. As soon as it registered, he pulled back just as suddenly.
“Wait shit, I didn’t even ask if that was okay, and—”
Race grabbed his face and kissed him hard. Oh. Okay.
“Shut up.” His hand was fisted in Spot’s shirt. “I poured my heart out to you in that stupid note, and you’re asking if I’m okay with this?”
“I just,” Spot opened and closed his mouth a few times before remembering how to speak again. “I just wanted to check! I don’t want to be that person who kisses people randomly,” he replied frantically.
Race rolled his eyes. (How rude. Spot still liked him though.) “I sure hope not. I prefer when you’re only kissing me.”
Before Spot could think of anything to say to that, Race’s lips were pressing against his again.
Spot didn’t know Race could kiss like that. Soft and sweet, warming him from the inside out, it felt like coming home.
He would have gladly gone on kissing Race forever, but alas, oxygen.
As Race drew back, Spot’s eyes fluttered open. When had they closed? Race ran his thumb over Spot’s cheekbone, gazing at him fondly. It wasn’t all that different from the other times Race looked at him, honestly. And really, how had he missed that?
“I have a crush on you,” Spot said stupidly.
Race stared at him for a moment before his face broke out into a wide grin. “Good, otherwise this would be awkward.”
Spot gave him a withering glare that didn’t hold half as much heat in it as he wanted.
Race just laughed and rested his forehead against Spot’s. Spot thought that if he died right there and then, at least he would die happy.
“Oh, and by the way,” Race said with a wicked glint in his eye, “I have a crush on you too. Idiot.”