Pete and Henry had been casually hooking for around 3 years now. Neither of them had the courage to mention it in a way that wasn’t just a request for more.
It was getting close to what would be their 3rd Summer, it was hot and they were parked outside some building that sold lawn sprinkler systems. Pete’s mouth was kind of full when he heard Henry’s moan transition to more of an excited gasp. He popped off to glance up, the radio was now much louder in his ears
“Summer, it turns me upside down
Summer, summer, summer
It’s like a merry go round…”
“Really?” He scrunched up his nose and swiped the back of his palm over his mouth to which Henry responded by pouting.
“Hey, you’re not done down there, Pete.” He chuckled and grabbed at the boys hand, they could joke about it but that was about it.
“Pretty sure that I am if you’re more focused on the radio than me.” Pete shrugged and crawled back onto the bench seat next to him. The night air outside was deadly silent and they both knew how the other man hated that. So Pete decided to get talkative as he casually threw his arm over Henry’s shoulders while the man made himself decent again. But Henry had other plans-
“When I’m with you
(Oh oh it’s magic) Just a little magic
You know it’s true
I gotta hold on you…”
“This detour was very much appreciated but...we should probably get going, huh?” Pete scrunched up his nose when Henry wiggled away and went for the steering wheel again. The two of them were in desperate need of some alone time and fooling around in the car was getting uncomfortable these days....so off they went because
on half-days of school, it seemed that a silent agreement went into motion that each grade would go somewhere different & specific to celebrate.
Freshman were designated the crummy little McDonald’s where they could comfortably cause a scene yet miraculously not be kicked out.
Sophomores got the Sub-Sandwich joint that was quite the walk away from the school and got your order right most of the time.
Juniors were at the warm pizza shop with the most delicious slices a person could ever ask for.
Seniors were basically living in the BBQ restaurant. It was the staple of their crummy little town and deservedly so.
And Pete and Henry were now laying side by side on Pete’s rickety twin-sized bed, happily skipping the tradition. Pete was propped up by his forearm which was gradually falling deeply into sleep and his spare was hanging in the air while his fingers curled and uncurled around Henry’s arm. The sun was coming in through the window and leaving the tiniest sun-spot against the wall behind them and from where Henry was sitting, it dusted Pete’s face with a golden blush. He scooted over slightly to give his friend some more room but only succeeded in causing another loud shriek of protest from the bed springs.
Henry let his head fall back with a sigh. “God, your bed is so fucking loud.” His hair shook out of his eyes with the sudden movement. “It’s gonna give your parents the wrong idea, you know?” He laughed and pushed Pete’s palm back against the pillows. “And they already don’t like me.”
Pete rolled his eyes and smacked his hand. “My parents love you, man. They like all three of you losers.”
His friends eyebrow shot up with doubt but Pete only continued.
“They talk about you guys all the time. Why do you think I invited you for lunch today-?”
“Easy, you love my company and we needed more room to fool around.” His voice was teasing as he dragged his fingers down from Pete’s now open palm to his elbow. When Henry’s attention was pointed downward, Pete took the time to sigh with subtle disappointment he was too embarrassed to voice after that response.
“They think you’re good people.” Pete dipped his chin down to emphasize that he really meant it and Henry blinked his eyes away like he always did when things got serious. So Pete took the initiative and grabbed for his left arm when he made the move to bring his fingers back up. “Hey, I’m serious. They are psyched that I have such stand-up friends...y’know, except the Beav.” He let go of Henry’s arm with a laugh.
Henry hummed quietly and curled his fingers around Pete’s wrist. “Even though I spilled your dad’s soup all over your kitchen table last time I ate here?”
Pete laughed loudly at the memory. “They thought that was funny.”
“Funny?” Henry frowned. “I ruined that tablecloth.”
“Yeah but my parents appreciate funny shit, man.” Pete giggled. “I did not tell them it was because you were trying to play sexy footsie with me and accidentally kicked the table leg.” Pete rolled his lips together to try and conceal his laughter when Henry’s cheeks flushed with a real pink blush.
“Hey! That’s not what I was doing, Pete! I was just...-ok, so I was antsy for action, sue me!” Henry playfully started attempting to roll his body over Pete’s. “That was so fucking embarrassing though!” He kicked his left leg over him and crawled on top, the twin bed’s springs squeaking over and over.
Pete couldn’t stop laughing long enough to remind Henry of the noise but he didn’t much mind with all the wrestling. That was until he started hearing the sound of his mothers footsteps coming up the stairs. There wasn’t enough time to do more than just shove Henry off of him…sending him to the carpet with a soft thud just as his bedroom door creaked open.
“Hey boys, lunch is downstairs when you’re ready.” She smiled, stringing a dish towel through her fingers while she spoke. “And remember not to kill each other, huh?” She shook her head as her eyes fell upon a dizzy looking Henry on the floor.
When she went back along downstairs, Henry smirked. “Kill each other, huh?”
Pete smacked his hands over his face as soon as his mother left and groaned with embarrassment.
“You’re lucky you have carpet, Pete. I smacked my head pretty hard.” Henry teased, crawling over and kneeling in front of where Pete sat on the bed. Slowly he grabbed at his friends wrists and pulled his palms from his eyes.
“That was your own fault.”
“Eh, well.” Henry shrugged. “That may be true but you owe me cause you’re the one who threw me off the bed instead of warning me like a decent person would.” He playfully shook Pete’s wrists and his friend scrunched up his nose.
“I panicked. I didn’t have enough time.” He shrugged and rolled his eyes. “But I’ll get you lunch on my card tomorrow if it makes you happy.” He grinned and wiggled out of his grip so he could start getting up.
Henry only shoved his way between Pete’s legs and grinned. “You’re so good to me, sweetheart.”
A nickname. That was new. There’d never once been an exchange of that kind between the, considering it was strictly a casual thing. Despite how often Pete may have quietly ached for more.
“You’re an idiot, you know that?” Pete closed his legs around him as tight as he could, figuring it was ok because his mother had mostly shut the door. Henry rested his forearms atop Pete’s thighs and shrugged.
“Yes. Now, can we please go eat?” Henry asked with a smile.
Pete nodded but then grabbed at Henry’s hands again, pulling at his long sleeves. “Wait, say that again, would ya?”
Henry paused before he put together what Pete was gettin’ at and his face fell into a unsure kind of expression. It looked neither happy nor too annoyed. Maybe just...confused? He sighed a bit and started to get up with a laugh, figuring Pete was only teasing. “Let’s go, you idiot.” He smacked Pete’s arm gently but it only set bolts of confirming sadness through his friend who was in fact...not teasing at all.
Beaver’s legs were completely soaked, the boot-cut jeans were about to stick to his thighs and give him that familiar thick itch he associated with summer camp. But that knowledge didn’t stop him from walking further into the little lake created by the heavy rain of the last few days.
The water was cupped by the mushy concave grass field outside of the BBQ restaurant. Jonesy watched helplessly from the edge of what was basically a huge puddle while the Beav’s motorcycle jacket rested on his shoulders.
“-So be true to your school now
Just like you would to your girl or guy
Be true to your school now.”
Beaver sang out loudly (and obnoxiously) as he continued on his way to the baseball cap floating in the middle of it all.
The cap had been plucked off the Beav’s head by some piece of shit washed up jock waiter who’d graduated the year before. Good Ol’ Beaver couldn’t resist going at him with that back mouth of his when the dude was bragging about all the great shit he could do now that he was outta high school to a table of girls.
Yeah, Beaver kicked it off by singing from the next table over (As he so often does)...“Another Saturday night and I ain't got nobody...!”
“Careful Beaver! Don’t wanna drown!” Jonesy laughed from dry land.
“It ain’t that deep!” Beaver called back, now leaning on one foot to reach the old cap with a sewn on Scooby-Doo patch, it had been a gift from their good buddy Duddits. Beaver’d die before he let that thing get lost.
“Maybe not for someone of a regular height, buddy!” Jonesy laughed, loudly. “The kiddie pool at Splash-town is too deep for you!”
Beaver rolled his eyes fondly and held out his middle finger the whole journey outta the water until he came back to his friend, hat in hand. “Piss a penny, Jonesy.” He flicked some water off his hand and happily scampered off with his jacket & bag towards the front of the restaurant, moist hat back on his head.
The afternoon sun was blazing golden beams down onto Derry with welcomed warmth and intensity. The Beav was practically melting in his motorcycle jacket but kept it on, nonetheless. You had to admire his strength because...
“That jacket must smell terrible.” Jonesy chuckled as he caught up to him next to the red fence with the giant painting of a pig. “How long have you been sweating in that thing now?”
Beaver shrugged his shoulders. “Plus, it was Randy’s before so...think of all the Clarendon germs this baby’s covered in.” He pulled it tighter and just looked so damn happy in the piece of clothing that Jonesy had to smile.
The two began to stroll away from the high-school hangout with their hands shoved into their pockets and book-bags still covering their backs like turtle shells. That wonderful feeling of relief from school was still washing over them as it did every weekday. It was a feeling like nothing else, in Jonesy’s experience.
For his whole life, it meant that he’d get to spend the rest of the day with his buddies. Beaver, Pete, Henry & Douglas.
There were no better people in the world than those you so desperately wanted to spend time with, that it’d drive you to hide in their homes when your mother came to pick you up. Jonesy couldn’t count the number of times Roberta Cavell had to deal with the three of them hiding in various places just to keep hanging with Duddits.
“When we get to my house, I wanna go look for a spider in that...-dirty corner in my garage, y’know the one by our old refrigerator?” Beaver elbowed his friend on the arm and Jonesy broke free from his thoughts.
“Spider Corner™? Yeah, I remember.” He nodded as thoughts of chasing each other with the creepy crawlies in the palms of their hands ran through his brain. “What for?”
The Beav smirked. “Randy broke his bedroom door the other day and he can’t shut it or it’ll lock him inside, right?” His grin was classic Beaver and held it’s weight in Jonesy’s heart. “Well, he’ll be sitting in there so I figure...” He gestured with his hand which was still in his pocket. “I’ll grab a bug, throw it in & shut him inside. He’s freaky about spiders.”
Jonesy giggled. “You should be nicer to your big brother, Beav.” He feigned a stern voice.
“Jesus-Christ-bananas” He shook his head and smiled. “This is us being nice, Jonesy my boy. Clarendons show affection this way.” He flashed more teeth and hopped further down the sidewalk, over some chalk drawings.
“Make sure you get one of those fuzzy little fuckers then. Really show him just how much you love him.” Jonesy laughed and broke out into a gentle run when Beaver went off in a laugh riot and sped to the speed of a child running to the swings at the playground.
Pete laid across the white sheets of his bed and enjoyed the sun shower that was breaking through the glass window and warming him up like a microwave meal.
He’d just gotten out of a cold shower and the water dribbled down from a loose hair which streaked down his cheek like a tear. The bubble of liquid cradled his chin for a few seconds before rolling down his neck and pooling in his collarbone. Pete sighed with pure comfort and delicately turned his head from his lounge position and found his company.
Henry, always the Moon’s melancholy child in Pete’s opinion, was curled up on the hardwood floor with a textbook open in his lap. It must’ve been Spanish or something of the sort because his brows were furrowed with frustration, an easily recognizable face for Pete who had trouble in a lot of subjects these days. “Two roads diverged in a snowy wood, is that how it goes? Something like that anyway” Henry mumbled to himself as he flipped pages. “I have no idea how to say that in Spanish.” He shoved the back off his lap.
“I’m gonna fail this test and end up being the laughing-stock of 3rd period Spanish, Pete. How will I live with myself-?” Henry stood with exaggerated dramatics. He threw out his arms with annoyance before giving it up and yawning. “You want a hot-dog?”
Pete hid his grin in the crook of his elbow. “Yeah, sure.”
With that, Henry made his way downstairs to Pete’s kitchen to actually take the time to make them both hot-dog meals. He returned with a neutral grin and two plates full with the thick meal and bags of chips.
“Oh, you meant an actual hot-dog?” Pete smirked.
“Yeah, what did you think I-” Henry paused when his eyes found his friends smirk. “Oh.” He rolled his eyes and hopped onto the bed across from him. “Eat your food and we’ll see.”
Pete took a large bite and enjoyed the way Henry shoved him. They talked mindlessly as they ate. Mostly dumb little things like why Pete didn’t have his planet printed sheets anymore and what they thought Beav & Jonesy were up to.
Pete was in the middle of a story which required expressive gestures when Henry swallowed the last bit of his food and shot forward for the heated kind of neck-kiss which always began their dirty endeavors. Pete was knocked back a little but happily hummed. “I still have hot-dog in my mouth, asshole.” He mumbled.
“Swallow it, maybe I’ll feel it go down.” Henry laughed as he continued to suck Pete’s neck.
Pete broke into a laugh that might cause him to choke on that good ol’ thick dog. “You can be such a weird fucker, Henry.” He managed to croak out the words as he swallowed and tried not to moan. Henry kept kissing until the urge to laugh was too strong to hold back and Pete sighed like he’d just finished off the greatest meal in the world.
Henry giggled and fell onto his friends chest and Pete blinked so slowly that it looked like he might just drift off into his pure joy. The boy he adored was laughing into his chest with genuine spark and appreciation of the moment. Henry deserved some carefree laughter because he could be such an asshole to himself...put way too much pressure on his shoulders.
Pete dared to reach out and brush the tips of his fingers up and down Henry’s spine. “Can I talk to you about something-?”
Pete didn’t finish the sentence because Henry noticed something shining between the wall and the bed, he rolled off Pete and grabbed for it. It took all of Pete’s strength not to huff because he knew just what was coming.
“Why is there two beer bottles shoved down there?” Henry waved the bottle around. “That damn Deli needs to stop letting this shit get to minors, Pete.” Henry now shook it under his friends nose.
Pete glanced up for a second or two with a face tinged with annoyance. “People drink, Henry-”
“Yeah but you could at least wait until you’re twenty-one to have the drinking problem of a forty-year old, Pete.” Henry didn’t truly intend to be so cold or upfront but the his currently anxiety was enough to burn a small fire in his chest.
Pete chuckled like it was no big deal and smiled. “I’ll probably be dead before I hit twenty-one anyway-”
Henry rolled the bottle onto the rug but desperately he wanted to chuck it out like he’d once done with big rocks by the lake with his best friends. “Don’t say things like that, asshole.”
Pete paused for a minute or two and rolled his lips together. “Sorry. I’m sorry.” He held up his hands in mock-surrender. “I know I’ve been a piece of work lately…”
Henry thought about making a joke to lighten the mood but decided against. Rather, he finally loosened a bit and turned as best he could to face this boy who was far better than this. Surprising both of them, he reached over to brush some of his wet hair back.
“And I don’t admit to that…like ever. So, take it while you can.” Pete stole a joke and laughed lightly. But both of them knew he was not too happy and both of them were worried.
“It’s not comforting when you talk like you despise yourself, y’know?” Henry blinked. That comment hadn’t been one of Pete’s worst in the last week nor was it even close to how Henry talked to himself these days. But it sure wasn’t warm.
It was hard to ignore the man’s self-deprecating attitude which appeared whenever the topic of drinking came up. And none of his friends would ever want to ignore it. In all honesty, it was deeply unsettling but not uncommon to hear the other man talk like that. As long as he’d known him, Pete put on a front that he was some confident man. It was so smooth and effortless that it was entirely convincing. Hearing him crack jokes and smirk at his own extroverted personality gave the illusion that it wasn’t stemming from insecurity.
Henry quickly saw through the facade because it wasn’t all that different from what he did.
“Like you’re any better.” Pete countered him and Henry leaned back as if slightly blown away by the little gasp he let out. “You’ve casually hated yourself for months now.” Pete’s voice was soft but fully believing of his statement, as if not realizing how hard-hitting that accusation was. But it came from genuine concern and familiarity. Henry’s stomach twisted.
The air between them turned a little spoiled and thick. Neither man knew how to move on from the subject. “I'd like to talk with you. And I mean, I'd like to really talk with you.” Pete sat up and leaned against his wall. Henry nodded and crossed his legs.
“How close are we?” Pete asked and Henry smiled despite the odd mood change between them.
“The closest friends can be.” He gently thumped his friends leg but Pete just swallowed.
“What do I mean to you?” He blurted his insecurity right then and there in question form. It would have been nice to see the multiple choice bubbles Henry had in his mind, picking one to fill-in.
"What do you mean to me?” Henry repeated. "Pete, you're my best friend. The five of us are...something else, man.” He looked concerned and a little confused as he answered.
“I know, man. And I - I know -...I know I'm your friend. And that’s a great thing. It’s just-” Pete looked away again and rolled his lips together. “But...three years of...?” He gestured between the two of them. “Do you...? I mean because I-...”
Henry blinked and felt any words he could possibly say get stuck in his throat.
“I think I kinda...y’know?” Pete looked absolutely miserable yet semi-hopeful.
Henry almost choked on his own spit at the sentiment he hadn’t ever expected to bloom. He supposed feelings developed in situations like theirs but...he had never thought about it that way, himself. But looking at Pete’s sincere eyes...well for once it made him think about it.
“I-...I love you. I mean, all of you guys but you...Henry -” Pete frowned and picked at his shoe. “I dunno...I don’t expect anything from you. It’s fine, Henry. Really. I can go right back to being Norman Normal.” he spoke because the silence was driving him crazy.
Pete glanced down at the empty beer bottle and suddenly wished it was full and going at rocket-speed down his throat. He shrugged and pretended he was on the fucking moon. "It doesn't have to change anything," he said, not sure if he was pleading or promising.
"You – you love me," Henry pointed out, with a neutral face "How can that not change anything?"
Pete let out a bitterly amused chuckle. “It hasn’t changed anything in three years, Henry.” He rolled his eyes and leaned off the bed to pick up the bottle and twirl it in his hands just to have something do.
“All that time-?” Henry’s face turned into concern which only seemed to trigger annoyance in Pete. It actually looked like he’d kicked Henry in the gut or something. The comment made him flinch...actually flinch. “I feel like such an asshole.”
Leave it to Henry to take the responsibility. Pete softened. “I wouldn’t love ya if you were an asshole, pal.” He bumped the tip of the brown bottle against Henry’s thigh and tried to give him a grin worthy of taking Beaver’s best smile title.
Henry only looked sadder. Shouldering a man’s love for you was a responsibility and was going to be difficult if you weren’t sure how you felt.
“BEAVER! Get down! That thing is so fucking old.” Jonesy shouted into his cupped hands and tried to stare up at his friend who was currently standing atop the roof of his garage. He was burning through all of his after-school energy with spark. Jonesy couldn’t think of a better way to spend his day.
The Beav was what filled the holes in each of their hearts, he was the rock and roll playing on their radios. Beaver was probably the first great love of each of their lives...at least, it felt that way to Jonesy who’d loved him since the kiddie school days.
The day was beginning to dwindle into the latest afternoon, the sky looking like burnt toast. Beaver was looking down at his friend with pure energy and sincere admiration. He felt like a kid again, after a long day of rolling around in the grass.
Randy hadn’t been happy about today’s activities and vowed to get Beaver back for the damn spider but he couldn’t be bothered. “Kiss my bender, Jonesy. Get your scaredy-cat ass up here or piss fire!” He laughed madly and Jonesy felt amusement flow through his body though he wasn’t quite sure what that one meant.
He took to climbing the side of the garage and tumbled atop the flat roof next to Beaver, who was now laying on his back with heavy breaths.
Unbeknownst to his friend, Beaver turned his mind to dreams of driving down a large scenic street. The radio playing loudly and Jonesy sitting in the passenger seat, probably rattling on about some horror movie he saw. Beaver would have to turn the radio down to listen but he wouldn’t mind in the slightest.
He rolled his tooth-pick to the other side of his mouth and when Jonesy smiled-....Beaver opened his lips slightly as he admired but the wooden stick instantly shot down Beav’s throat.
He sat up and started cough his guts out, hoping to fuckin’ God, Jesus or John Lennon...whoever was listening...that he’d eventually see the stick in the pool of spittle.
He cradled his neck in his hands and tried to shoot the damn painful thing out. It finally tore free when Jonesy thumped his back and the pointy little asshole flew over the roof and somewhere onto the grass below. “Bitch-in-a-buzzsaw, I almost just fuckin’ died!” He keeled over with laughter and desperately held onto the little wall in front of them.
Jonesy burst into giggles too and tried not to do that little wheezy-whistle laugh that sometimes escaped his lips when he laughed too hard. But Beaver hoped to John Lennon that he’d slip it out. “Oh, but to die in your arms is such a heavenly thought, Gariella.” Beaver leaned back into his friend with dramatics very familiar to him.
Jonesy shoved him off and laughed even harder. “You should be so lucky, Beav. The last thing you’d get to see on this earth is this.” He gestured to his face and feigned a flashy smile.
“I’d love that.” Beaver winked and felt his heartbeat pick-up speed. Jonesy stood and held out a hand to help his friend without second thought.
When Beaver was pulled up, he found that Jonesy did not let go of his hand and instead started to swing their grip with blissful comfort. He blushed. He’d been feeling a mixture of things recently and a whole lotta something for Jonesy. But he just didn’t see it coming to fruition. But this was...something? Wasn’t it? Maybe his friend was just worried he would go tipping off the side of the roof which could be a possibility, knowing himself.
“Is this a thing we do now, hold hands?” Beaver asked with a smug, teasing tone because he brought attention to things when he was nervous.
Jonesy looked back at him and rolled his eyes. “Nothing gets past you, Beav.” He chuckled and put-on a face that seemingly only he could pull-off. Half-bothered, half-amused.
Beaver didn’t verbally respond and instead opted to smack the back of his friends head gently with his right hand.
“You always cheer me up, man.” Jonesy sighed with happy relief when they climbed down and sat back in the grass.
“You needed some cheering up? From what?” He narrowed his eyes but Jonesy only shrugged.
“Just life sometimes. We’re Seniors - minus Pete - and the world is waiting for us to make something of it. Very stressful but you always got something to make the day better. I love ya for that.” Jonesy happily leaned his head on his friends shoulder but Beav found a deep sort of depression in his gut. It was not the kind of love confession he wanted...and the job was a difficult one...
Shouldering the happiness for his friend was quite the responsibility and sometimes it just got hard for Beaver when his own feelings got confusing.