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Not The One

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"Have you ever thought about it?" Paul's heart thumped as he said it.

Georg kept his head down and dug his fingers in his hand. The marks were still fading as he decided that playing with a wrinkle in Paul's bedsheet demanded all of his attention. "I—no," he said. He chuckled. "Why would you—no, no I haven't."

He should've expected that. He knew, he tried to tell himself, over and over. Not like he would've given a different answer. But the thought of it happening had made his stomach clench and his thoughts spiral so much that he hadn't prepared for the possibility. He'd convinced himself, and he still thought that there was something there, in the way Georg fidgeted and fiddled with whatever was in his reach, in the way he refused to meet Paul's gaze.

"Have you?" Georg's voice tore him out of his thoughts.

"Nah. I mean, I've been thinking that—that you can't really know unless you try it. That you're not into it, I mean."

No response. Paul ran his clammy hands down his jeans to dry them. Quickly, casually. Trying not to betray the real reason for it. None of it mattered, anyway, because Georg still wasn't looking at him. Maybe he had the right idea. He wasn't getting anything from Georg. No approval, no disgust. Not yet, at least.

He looked down as well, clenching his fists to stop his hands from shaking, left with nothing but the hammering of his heart in his ears, mixed with the static in his head. The best thing he could do was change the topic, pretend none of this ever happened. Georg would go along with it. Only problem was, he couldn't think of anything to say that would deviate from the script he had planned. He didn't want to give up now, either, he didn't think he'd have the balls to try again. And he really, really wanted to kiss Georg.

"It's just that… you can't be sure, right?" His voice had almost dropped to a whisper by the end of the sentence. "You might…" he shrugged and fiddled with the cuff of his pants.

"I guess. I don't know. I don't think so. Besides, even if—never mind."

It took Paul's eyes a few seconds to focus when he looked up again. He took a deep breath. "Wanna try it?" A wave of nausea assaulted him before the words had finished leaving his mouth. He swallowed back the bile in his throat. He wasn't ready for what was coming, he wasn't ready, and this was his only chance—

Georg laughed. "What, with you?"

"Sure, why not?" A shrug to feign nonchalance, to cover up the terror that enveloped him. To hide how much this meant to him.

"Okay," Georg whispered. For the first time since Paul had started this line of conversation, Georg looked at him, just barely lifting his gaze enough to do it.

He flinched when Paul scooted over, like he was afraid this was a trap Paul had set for him, and he slumped, like maybe he'd resign himself to it if it was. It broke Paul's heart and he sought to meet Georg's eyes hoping he could see the sincerity there.

When they finally met, looking into each other's eyes, faces just inches from each other, it only took a few seconds for both of them to break into giggles and look away for a second. Even as it died down and the previous seriousness returned, it calmed the erratic beating of his heart, the shaky nervousness deep in his bones. They did a lot of stupid shit together and it always turned out more or less fine. This didn't have to be any different.

Paul lifted his hand, intending to put it on Georg's cheek, but halfway through, he changed his mind and let it drop by his side. He leaned in, slowly, and Georg wasn't moving away, he was there, waiting, and then their lips touched.

Just one small brushing of lips was enough to send Paul's head spinning, and he had to hold on to his bed to keep himself from getting too close. Even though Georg pressed back into his lips, Paul couldn't show how into it he was.

When Paul slid his tongue out to run it across Georg's lips it was a slow movement, a light touch that had Georg opening up for him and there was no way Paul could stop the grin that broke out of him. Emboldened, he pressed his body into Georg, stopping himself just in time to hide the fact that he was getting hard. His hand finally found the way to Georg's face and stayed there, caressing him as he ran his hand up Paul's back. At that moment, pulled closer by Georg, the contact of their lips and tongues making his feet tingle, he knew this was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.

His lungs were screaming for air, but Paul didn't want to stop. If this was the only time, he needed to make it count. Despite their faces and shoulders touching, their arms attached to each other, not enough of Paul's body surface was touching Georg's. Any wrong move could mean the end of it, but Georg was too far away, so he pressed even more into him, almost climbing in his lap. He realized that was exactly what he'd been trying to avoid too late, but it didn't seem to have been much of a mistake. Georg's cock was hard against his, and he couldn't hold back his hips when they rutted against Georg or the moan that left his mouth.

That seemed to snap Georg out of whatever spell had kept him going for so long, because as soon as Paul heard the sound, a hand pushed him away. Not harsh, but firm.

Georg averted his gaze again. "We shouldn't have done that," he said, emphasizing his point by wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

All breath left Paul and he wanted to curl in on himself to soothe the pain in his gut, but Georg's words cut him and froze him in place. He'd kissed back. Georg had kissed him back, his taste was still in Paul's mouth, his lips still tingled where Georg had touched them with his, the warmth from Georg's hands still seeped into Paul's back and this wasn't how it was supposed to go. He couldn't take it back, he'd done it, he'd wanted it. Tears pricked at Paul's eyes and he closed them, suppressing the sob that threatened to tear through his body.

"So, I guess it's not for me after all." A blatant lie. Georg laughed as he said it, humorless and hollow. "Did you feel anything?"

"No." Paul didn't even sound convincing to himself, but Georg nodded, seemingly content with that answer. Maybe he wanted, needed to believe it, maybe he couldn't handle the truth. Paul wasn't sure he could, either.

Maybe, at least, believing it would make it possible for Georg to be in the same room as Paul in the future.

Or maybe it wouldn't.

Georg looked out the window. "It's getting late," he said. Paul squinted his eyes to shield them from the sun coming through. "I think I'm gonna go." For some reason, he giggled a little again. "See you tomorrow."

Paul didn't say anything, only focused on his breathing as he watched Georg leave.

He walked away, leaving Paul with a pit in his stomach and only the dull thuds of his heart accompanying him in the silence. He stared at a point somewhere on the wall beyond the edge of his nightstand that blurred into nothingness as the light faded from his room. No tears came to relieve the stinging in his eyes and to exhaust him enough to fall asleep.

No distraction was enticing enough, no book and no record could hold his attention as the sky turned black and blue again before his eyes. He was still awake when his mom slammed the door shut on her way in. As soon as her stomping quieted down, Paul grabbed his fake ID and headed to the nearest store.


He didn't show up at school for a week. When he finally did, Georg had gotten good at pretending nothing had happened, and for once, Paul followed his lead. A few years later, Darby had almost convinced himself it had all been just a bad scenario he'd played in his head over and over until he decided not to go through with it after all.

But sometimes, Pat's eyes would rake over him, only staying there until Darby turned around. He lived for the times Pat didn't turn away, for the times he would meet Darby's gaze and smile just for him that could almost convince Darby to risk it. Not enough, though. Because even though Pat always sat close to him and always let him decide everything, he never said anything, and he would turn around and walk away with his girlfriend and give her that look that Darby wanted to only ever be directed at him and he couldn't deal with the rejection again. That look was there as Darby left the Starwood on that overcast December night, sending chills through him as their eyes met before he walked out into the cool night air. Pat would soon find out that was the last time he saw Darby alive, but would never know that, just for a moment, Darby had considered giving it another try.