The bike comes to a halt in front of Adam’s house and Eric pauses. He doesn’t think this is a good idea. He doesn’t even know if he wants this thing to go anywhere. Adam has treated him like shit for years so why would he even want to pursue this thing. He doesn’t even know what to label this as. It was so cliche, falling for his school bully.
The door to the house opens and Eric panics. He can’t do this right now. He isn’t ready for this. He only catches a glimpse of Mr. Groff as he kicks his foot up onto the pedal and hurries off down the street. He will have to see Adam tomorrow anyway. Not only did they have classes together, but they would surely have detention again tomorrow. There was no way that they were getting out of it two days in a row. This would give him at least a little more time to think about this whole thing.
He wishes he could talk to Otis. It would help him work out some of his feelings because he was only falling into a deep rabbit hole thinking about it all himself. He isn’t even sure he needs Otis’ advice or input. He just needs to talk, to get it out. This will help him work through some of those feelings. But Adam had been clear no to tell anyone and though he trusted Otis not to tell anyone, secrets never stayed secrets in Moordale.
Eris doesn’t think that Otis would judge him, but he does know his friend would be worried for him. Adam had bullied him for years and for all Eric knew this could be a big prank to just humiliate Eric in front of the whole school. Eric had already done that himself. It didn’t seem like a huge possibility, but it was something that Eric couldn’t forget about in this whole situation. Adam was cruel to him for years, taking his money and lunch everyday. He was always rough when he shoved Eric into the lockers too and he always wrinkled the front of Eric’s shirt so he had to smooth it out after and make sure it was perfect again.
Then there was the question: Why now? It doesn’t make sense that Adam would pursue this now. He had just been in a fight with Aimee’s boyfriend because he wanted her back. That was literally two days ago. He had spent the whole semester trying to get her back. All of his erratic behavior this last semester had seemed to stem from their breakup, but maybe Eric had been wrong. Maybe it was something else that was bothering Adam. Eric had noticed Adam starting at him more recently. Eric had thought it was to plot their next negative encounter, but maybe it had been for a whole other reason.
Of course, none of this met he was going to give Adam a shot. He knew Adam didn’t really deserve a shot. The assole was just that. There were so many years of bullying that Adam couldn’t really make up for, no amount of those perfect lips could take that pain away after all those years.
“Eric?” his father calls and he has to shake himself out of his thoughts. He had simply gone through the motions of putting his bike away and coming into the house. He hadn’t even greeted his father. “Are you alright?”
Eric has to force a smile on his lips. Yeahs he was alright, but he wasn’t. It didn’t really make sense and he didn’t think his dad would get it. He knew his father was still processing everything that had happened the last few days and Eric didn’t want to burden him with boy problems. “I’m fine, dad. I’m just going to head up and do homework.”
He sees his father glance up at him, squinting his eyes, like he is trying to find something wrong, before he nods his head and gets back to whatever project he was working on. Adam takes his leave then and hurries up the stairs two at a time. He closes the door behind him and finds himself back into that rabbit hole of feelings he is trying to sort out.
Adam walks through the door and stop in his tracks. He nearly drops Madam out of shock, which would be a shame considering he had just found the damn dog. The man in uniform is standing in their living room and Adam glances at his mother, a small meek women who does whatever his father says. He wants to plead, to beg his mother not to make him go, but the most he can get out is a “please, mum, don’t make me go.”
He’s never seen his mother stand up to his father. It has always been what his father says, goes. His mother’s eyes harden though and her lips thin. She nods her head and Adam nearly runs into her arms. He couldn’t ask for a better time for his mother to grow a backbone, because he couldn’t leave now. He couldn’t leave with this thing between Eric hanging over his head.
“I will see what I can do,” she says, determined and Adam does step forward, pulling her into his arms. She lets out a surprised noise and it takes a moment to process before her arms are around him as well. They haven’t been this close in a long time and Adam has to admit that he has missed this feeling. “Now go up to your room and I will talk to your father.”
Adam nods and hurries up the stairs. His father isn’t coming home for another half and hour and it leaves Adam pacing his room back and forth. He doesn’t know if this will work and he spends the next half and hour worrying. When his father comes home, there is yelling from downstairs and Adam can hear the front door slam only a few minutes later. He takes this opportunity to peak out his window and notices the strange car drive away along with his father’s. He watches as the two pull away only to catch a glimpse of a bike turning the corner. He could have sworn it was Eric riding off. There was no way he could mistake that leopard print. Why the hell would Eric be outside his house for?
He doesn’t have a lot of time to dwell on it before his mother is knocking on his door, opening it before he can even invite her in. “It’s done.” Adam nods, watching as she walks into the room. “But you’ll have to work harder on getting your grades up. It was the only way I could convince your father. You have till the end of the semester.”
Adam sucks in a breath. He’s never been good at school. It was always his sister’s area, not Adam’s. It was just so hard and Adam had trouble concentrating in his classes. He doesn’t know if he can get them pulled up, but he’ll try. He’ll try because he want to try to give this thing with Eric a shot and he can’t be shipped off to military school if he wants to try this thing with Eric. “Ok, mum.”
She nods and closes the door behind her, but not before telling him that dinner will be ready at 7 and he is expected to be ready then.
The second the door is closed he lets his mind wander. He can finally focus on something else and the first thing that pops into his mind is Eric’s pinkie, warm against his. He’s never had a positive expression directed toward him from Eric. It had felt so good. It had felt so much better than all those days stealing Eric’s money. He doesn’t even know what this whole thing is. He had been fine with Aimee, happy even. She had been fine company, but that kiss with Eric had felt right. It hadn’t ever felt that way with Aimee.
He thinks he might actually try. This thing with Eric is worth a try. He just doesn’t know if Eric will give him a shot. He’s been an asshole for years now and he wouldn’t blame Eric if he didn’t give him a shot. Adam was going to try though.
Adam shows up to class on time. It has Eric doing a double take as Adam takes the seat next to him, glancing over as he gets his stuff ready. Eric blinks as he notices some notes jotted down in Adam’s notebook. He didn’t think Adam took notes in school. He doesn’t have time to think on this though as the teacher starts his lecture.
The sudden warmth next to him drawns his attention though and he notices that Adam has moved closer to him. It seems that he is using the excuse of coping Eric’s notes as a way to be this close. It doesn’t really make sense for there arms to be touching though and Eric can’t help the warmth that shoots up his arm as his heart pounds in his chest. He glances over at Adam, who seems to be focusing on the lecture. Eric doesn’t know if he is doing this on purpose, like it is the most casual thing to just touch arms like this.
The second the bell rings Eric sprints out of class. He doesn’t even touch his books into his backpack before he finds himself in the bathroom. He dumps his textbooks on the sink and grips each side, leaning over it as he tries to catch his breath. He doesn’t know what to do about this whole thing. It’s so confusing. The next bell rings and he knows that he has to head to his next class, which Adam is luckily not in.
The rest of the day he spends avoiding Adam. The only problem is that he can’t avoid the other in detention. He walks into the room only to see Adam sitting in the same seat as the other day, legs crossed as he leans back. He has his eyes on Eric, who shifts back and forth uncomfortably on his feet. “Are you going to actually help today?” he finally asks, trying to break some of the tension in the room.
“Are you doing to actually do it right today?” Adam shoots back, a smirk pulling up his lips. Eric frowns, grabbing the nearest music stand and starting to fiddle with it. “I guess that’s a no.” Adam is suddenly next to him, in his space. Their fingers are touching as he takes the stand from him, but he doesn’t go to fix it. Instead he throw it to the side, eyes meeting Eric’s. Eric swallows, taking a few steps back until he hits the wall. Adam follows him and suddenly Eric is trapped, arms on either side of him and Adam’s body pressed against him.
They stare at each other for a long moment before Adam glances down at his lips. And Eric does it. He just can’t help as he leaps forward, arms wrapping around Adam’s neck, pulling his closer. Adam’s arms wrap around his waist, his large hands resting on Eric’s back, basically holding him up so they don’t both tumble to the ground.
The kiss is messy and passionate and wonderful. There are teeth clashing and tongues twisting together while fingers trail over bodies. But Adam’s fingers move too fast and suddenly there are fingers tugging on the waistband of Eric’s pants and Eric has to pull away, giving Adam a little shove. The other stumbles back, eyes wide with shock as he trips over a music stand and lands on his ass. “What the hell, tumbona?!” Adam demands, getting back up to his feet. His hands are fisted at his sides as he glares at Eric. He looks like he is about to pounce. It’s that same look he gives Eric when he is shaving him into his locker and demanding money.
And this is why he can’t do his. No matter how good it feels, he can’t do this because Adam is a ticking time bomb and Eric doesn’t know when he is going to blow.
“You don’t just get to bully me for years and expect me to just go along with whatever the hell this is!” It feels good, to get the words out, it actually talk about it. He feels good standing up to Adam again, just like it had felt good to stand up to him at the dance when he was feeling confident and amazing.
The words seem to hit Adam though, because his fingers loosen as he stares at Eric, confused and curious. It seems to take a few moments for Adam’s breathing to go back to normal as he tries to calm himself down. “I’m-” He doesn’t know what to say next. Eric can see the wheels turning in Adam’s head, trying to process this whole thing. “I’m not sure what you want,” he finally settles on.
“I want the bullying to stop! I want the threats to stop! I want this to work out but it can only work out if you stop this bullshit!”
The words leave Eric’s lips before he can even process them. They escape without his permission. He hadn’t even realized that he wanted this to work until now, until he was finally able to get this all out in the open and talk about it, even if only a few words had been exchanged so far. “ I want to see where this goes,” he adds, voice coming down as he stares Adam down.
“ I-um, I…. I want this to work out too,” Adam says, like it is the hardest thing for him to say, like he has to force the words to leave his lips. It isn’t all that convincing and Eric needs Adam to be sure about this before he goes headfirst into this thing. He can’t be hurt again and Adam has always been first in line to hurt him.
“Find me when you don’t have to force those words to leave your lips,” Eric says and he leaves, because screw detention, screw this whole thing. He wasn’t going to waste his time on someone who wasn’t sure about their feelings, someone who probably wasn’t even sure about their sexuality. He didn’t want to just be an experiment. This had to be something for him to give Adam a chance.
Adam watches as Eric leaves and he hates to admit that Eric standing up to him has totally turned him on. Eric is hot as fuck when he exudes confidence like that. But that isn’t what Adam needs to focus on right now. He needs to focus on what Eric said. That is the only way he is going to make this work.
He doesn’t know why the words wouldn’t leave his lips. It’s been so long since he told anyone that he wants them in his life. He hadn’t told Aimee that. He hadn’t really tired when they were going out. She had just been along for the ride and maybe that’s why they didn’t work out. He never said he wanted to be with her, not really.
But he wanted to give this thing a try with Eric. He wanted to see where this could go. Eric was warm and bright and consistent in this crappy life that he lead. Adam had made Eric consistent in all the wrong ways though. He had bullied Eric for years and it would make sense that Eric needed reassurance. Adam just wasn’t sure if he could give that right now. He just wasn’t sure if he was ready to say it out loud. He could start with acting like it though.
Eric is surprised when Adam sits across from him in the library. He has a textbook. Eric doesn’t think he’s ever seen Adam with a textbook. He usually carries around a notebook, one Eric finds him doodling in more often than not, but a textbook is a whole different story.
“I, um- I was wondering if you could show me this.” Adam seems unsure of himself and Eric can’t understand why. This is the most he’s even spoken to Eric without threatening him or yelling at him or shoving him. It was a strange turn of events.
“You’re doing homework?” Eric shouldn’t sound so shocked, but last time he checked Adam didn’t give a shit about school. He can’t even remember the last time he saw Adam do homework.
“I just-” Adam seems so unsure of himself when he talks. It is totally contradictory to how he acts. Eric isn’t sure if this is how he normally talks or if he is just acting like this because of this thing between them. “My dad, he’ll send me away - to military school if I don’t get my grades up.”
Eric hadn’t expected that. “Send you away?”
“He’s been threatening it for a while. The bastard almost did it too. My mom convinced him to give me another chance.” Eric remembers that day, watching Mr. Groff step out of the house, catching a glimpse of a man in uniform just seconds before he speed down the way. He hadn’t given it a second thought before now.
“Why would he do that?” Eric can’t imagine a father threatening their child like that, like they gave up on them. Eric’s father, no matter how bad things got, would never send him away. He can’t imagine a parent doing that to his child. But Eric remembers the dance, Adam flashing before his eyes, fingers gripping his father shirt and fist held high. “I hate you!” he had yelled and Eric can see why. He is starting to understand why.
“Because I’m a failure.” Adam says it the most casual thing Eric has ever heard in his life, like he believes what his father is telling him. He thinks that he is actually a failure and Eric thinks that he has just been fulfilling the prophecy his father has written out for him. It is hard not to think of yourself as something you’re told day in and day out.
“But your not,” Eric finds himself saying, reaching forward so his hand is resting on Adam’s. They both look down and Eric is quick to pull it away. This isn’t happening, not right now. Plus, even if it was, Eric wasn’t sure how Adam would feel about the whole public display of affection thing.
“You don’t have to-”
“I’ll prove it to you.”
Adam seems confused as Eric flashes him a bright smile as he tugs the textbook out from under Adam’s arm. He doesn’t fight it as Eric flips the pages open, which is the beginning of their daily study sessions.
Detention is a struggle. Eric wants to relive that moment every time he is in that room with Adam. He wants Adam to kiss him with that burning passion and to take him in his mouth and explore his body. Adam still isn’t ready though. The study sessions have gone well the last two weeks. Adam actually seems proud of himself when he left the test earlier that day and Eric swears he almost hugged him.
“I fucking did it!” Eric is drawn from his thoughts as Adam barrels into detention, paper wrinkled in his hands. He looks proud of himself and Eric swears he sees a hint of a smile on his lips. “I fucking got a C.” He holds the paper out for Eric to see and he notes the ‘C’ written across the top. Eric can’t imagine being excited over a ‘C’ but Adam hasn’t tried in a long time.
“That’s gre-” But the words don’t leave Eric’s lips as Adam springs forward and pressing their lisp together. Eric is stunned and he takes a step back as the other pounces. They both go tumbling to the floor, knocking over the music stands that are standing in the middle of the room. This seems to draw Adam back, hand moving to hold the back of Eric’s head so it doesn’t it against the floor.
“Shit, sorry.” Eric doesn’t like those words. He doesn’t like that this is the first time he’s ever heard them. It must show on his face because Adam is frowning at his now, eyebrows furrowed. “What the hell did I do?” Isn’t that the problem? The words are aggressive and angry and he still hasn’t apologized for all those years of bully. In the moment, Eric knows why he can’t do this with Adam. The other one doesn’t understand. It is all about him right now. It’s about him doing well in school. It’s about him not going to military school. It’s about him trying to get Eric. This isn’t about Eric. They haven’t had a deep conversation past that one at their first study session.
“I can’t do this anymore,” Eric says, shocked at this own words. Adam seems shocked as well, blinking as he looks at Eric.
“What did I do?”
“It’s what you haven’t done,” Eric says. He doesn’t leave time he explain. He is up after that, hurrying out of the room. He tells the teacher he isn’t feeling well, that he will make it up. There are no questions asked as he hurries off campus.
He decides he needs to talk to Otis about this whole thing, death threats be damned.
“It’s what you haven’t done.”
The words ring in Adam’s head as he starts working. He don’t follow Eric out of the room. He knows he won’t get out of detention and he doesn’t know what to say anyway. He doesn’t know what Eric means by that and he doesn’t know how to articulate himself that well. The words don’t like to leave his lips. They don’t like to come out correctly. It had been a struggle to even open up to Eric about military school, but he knows he has to try harder if he wants this to work. He has to invite Eric into his life. He has to do something.
He doesn’t know why he ends up at new kid’s house after school. This was probably a bad idea, but he knocks on the door anyway. He can hear new kid yell on the other side of the door, signally to his mother that he will get to door.
The shock on new kid’s face is evident, jaw dropping as the door reveals Adam standing there. He doesn’t really have time for this though. He knows new kid is the resident sex/relationship therapist in the school, but he wasn’t here for new kid’s help. Plus, new kid was friends with Eric and he didn’t want him to be able to connect any dots, at least not yet.
“I’m here to talk to your mom,” he grunts, pushing his way into the house. The women in question pops her head out from an office and Adam ignores new kid as he walks around the house to meet his mother. “I need your help.”
She seems a bit stunned, but it only lasts a moment. “Ok, Adam,” she says, her voice calming and even. She shuts the door behind Adam as he takes a seat across from her desk. They sit in silence for a moment as new kid’s mom (Jean, Adam remembers) waits patiently for him to start. He hadn’t exactly thought about what he was going to say before he came here. It had been spour of the moment.
“I think I’m in love,” he finally says and it feels like a weight has been lifted off his chest. “And he won’t tell what I need to do to fix this.” He knows he is leaving out most of the story, but he does notice the raised eyebrow at the word ‘he’, which he does decide to elaborate on. “I don’t know my sexuality or anything. I just know I like this guy...a lot.”
He feels safe in this room. Jean has never lied to him. She has always talked to him in a calm and even manner. She doesn’t laugh or judge and he appreciates that. It is different than his own home. He spends most of the day listening to his father telling him how much of a failure he is.
“He told me today that it is what I haven’t done that’s wrong with this whole thing, but I don’t know what he means by that.” Jean hasn’t actually said anything yet, but just talking about this is already helping a bit.
“I wonder if you can tell me a little more about this guy.”
Adam pasues, because it’s embarrassing. Plus, he is a little worried that Jean will know who he is talking about since new kid is Eric’s best friend. He is just going for it though. “I just...He’s really bright and like….warm. I- I spent a long time picking on him and I don’t know if he will ever forgive me for it.”
“Did you apologize for picking on him?” The words seem so simple leaving her lips, like it is the most obvious thing in the world. Like, no shit. That is what he met by what Adam hadn’t done. He hates that he hadn’t even thought about it. It just goes to show how much of an ass he was. No wonder Eric didn’t want to be with him.
“I haven’t.” Adam needs to try though. He knows it is a little late, but maybe Eric will give him another shot.
Jean simply smiles as Adam wraps this up and heads out. He has to find out the best way to apologize to Eric. He has to make sure Eric knows that he means it.
Eric tells Otis everything and it feels so good to get it off of his chest. Otis doesn’t show any judgement. Eric can tell he is a little surprised, but he lets Eric talk it out and listens to what he has to say. Adam has changed these last few weeks. He’s working toward being a better person.
Otis doesn’t even give him advice, because simply talking about it has helped Eric work out his own feelings. That was all he really needed in the end and he simply places a hand on Otis’ shoulder and shoots him a smile before hurrying off. He leaves Otis a bit stunned and probably a lot confused but they can talk about it more later.
He ends up at Adam’s house and knocks on the door only to see an older women on the other side, a small smile on her lips. He assumes this is Adam’s mother and he realizes he probably didn’t think this whole thing through.
“I’m looking for Adam,” he tells her, noting the questioning look on her face.
“Oh, he’s still at school. I’ll tell him you dropped by though. What’s your name?”
“Eric.” She hums and that’s the end of the conversation. She steps back as Eric turns away from the door. He heads back to the bike with a frown on his lips. He hadn’t really thought this out and the adrenaline from realizing what he wanted from Adam is wearing off as the nerves set in. He wishes he had thought this through a little better.
The rest of the night is filled with anxiety as he tries to get some sleep, but it really doesn’t work. The thoughts are racing through his head as he tries to figure out what he is going to do. The first time they’ll see each other today is in class and Eric isn’t sure he is going to survive that long.
But Adam doesn’t show up for class that day or the next for that matter. He isn’t on campus at all and Eric can’t get anything from the teachers. It doesn’t really make sense, but he thinks it is his fault. He thinks that by rejecting Adam like that, it scared him away, made Adam act up to the point of military school.
But he shows up on the third day and looks different. Eric can’t put his finger on it, but he looks happy. It’s a whole new look for him. Eric has seen small smiles, but they don’t normally reach his eyes, haven’t except on a few occasions just between them. This is obvious though as he walks down the hall, straight to Eric.
He doesn’t hesitate to grab Eric’s hand, drawing a few eyes as he pulls him through the halls. Eric recognizes the path as he follows after the other, like they way their hands fit together. He wants to do this all the time walking down the halls, but he doesn’t even know what this is.
The second the door closes though, Adam turns around, hands cupping Eric’s cheeks as he presses him against the door. “I’m sorry,” he breathes and Eric knows exactly what he is talking about. He knows that this is for all the crap that he put Eric through all those years. It just makes Eric’s decision all the more clear as he leaps forward, arms wrapping around Adam’s neck, fingers tangling in his hair.
The kiss is long and hard and passionate and Eric pulls away completely out of breath as he presses their foreheads together. “Where the hell have you been? I’ve been waiting to do that for days.”
Adam leans forward and presses a short kiss against his lips. “My parents, they’re getting a divorce and I’ve been with my mum. She’s struggling, but she knew it had to be done, especially after I told her about you.”
Eric’s eyes shot up, looking for any signs of a lie as he looks at Adam. He told his mother about them? That was such a big step and Eric was so proud of him for that.
“Is she doing ok?’ Because he can’t focus on Adam right now because he knows how horrible his father is, has seen it with his own eyes and he can’t even imagine how much it took for his mother to come to this decision.
“It’s hard already, because she hasn’t worked, but she seems determined. She wants to do this. She wants to do this for me.” The emotion comes through Adam’s voice as they look at each other. They’re still holding each other. “And she wants to meet you.”
Eric can’t help the smile on his lips as he wraps his arms tight around Adam’s neck, pulling him forward. “I would love to meet her,” he whispers, nose pressing against Adam’s neck. “And I’m here for you, whatever you need.”
“Thank you,” Adam says. Eric know it is for more than just his words. It’s for the forgiveness that Eric has given him, the second chance that Eric is taking on him. It’s for so much more and Eric is so happy right now. The moment is ruined when the bell rings though. Eric doesn’t want to go, doesn’t want to stop holding Adam because he doesn’t know what will happen outside this room. “She still-uh...She still said I need to keep my grades up though.”
Eric can’t help the laugh that leaves his lips. He places another kiss on Adam’s lips and he can’t help the smile as he pulls away. Eric is happy to live in this moment. He is happy to just walk away and be friends outside of this room.
But Adam surprises him.
Before Eric can step back, open the door, Adam grabs his hand, a small smile on his lips. It lights up his eyes and Eric can’t help the smile that matches, because Adam looks happy for the first time since Eric has know him and it is just a good look on him.
“Let’s go to class.”
And Eric knows that this is it. Adam pulls him out the door and this is the announcement to the whole school as they walk down the hall with their fingers intertwined. Eric doesn’t care about all the looks and whispers. The only thing he can really see is Adam and how bright he looks now that he is free.