Hey guys! As Valentine's Day is just a few weeks away, I thought it would fun to set the mood with a sugary sweet love story. I was in the mood to write a little high school romance, and I've been reading too much yaoi lately... so there's that to blame for the feel of this story. lol Okay, I'm off, but I hope you like this!!
A Repeat Kind of Love
Two days before Valentine’s Day and Wesley, Wes for short, Anderson couldn’t help but wear a frown through the halls of Whitby High. Everywhere around him, people seemed to be finding a Valentine or at least someone to go out with on Saturday night. Being Single? He’d done it to himself. The GSC, Gay Soc Club, had a few single guys that had mentioned they were interested. But his heart was set on the unattainable, the gorgeous class president. Aiken McCreedy was sigh-worthy, tall with waves of gold wisped over his beautiful eyes; eyes that made Wes want to melt against a wall every time he walked by. Even though Aiken was straight, Wes secretly pined over him, letting his heart block out everyone and everything else around him. He was such a goner.
Three lockers down, Aiken leaned against the row of tiny metal doors, chatting to the two most popular girls in school, Jamie Hanavan and her minion, Greta Moore. Wes had been on their bad side before, a mishap with his lunch tray a few months back, and avoided them like the plague ever since. Make that four years if he were being honest. Averting his eyes, even though it was so hard with Aiken standing there, Wes attempted to open his locker.
“Come on,” he whispered to the jammed lock. “Not again.”
He looked around, hating to draw attention to himself, but he only had a few minutes before class started. Groaning, he mustered the courage to slam his forearm against the locker door. It bounced open, earning the attention of at least a dozen people standing around him. He chuckled nervously and gasped as he turned to Aiken. Blue eyes looked him up and down. Wes thought he would shiver to death and explode into a pile of hearts.
“You cool over there, Wes?” Aiken pushed off his locker. Jamie and Greta scowled.
“Y-Yes.” Wes whipped around, dropping his backpack, and grabbed his book with a trembling hand. “I’m fine.”
“Cool.” Aiken put a hand to the lockers. “You’re GSC secretary, right?”
Keeping his eyes focused on his locker, Wes nodded, unable to speak.
“Great. Would you let Maddy know I’m going to pop by the meeting today? Just tell her it’s about the fundraiser we talked about last week. I’ve tried to get ahold of her, but she doesn’t have a cell phone?”
“She does. She’s just weird about giving out her number.” Wes swallowed, daring a look up. Holy… “I’ll let her know,” he squeaked.
Jamie put her hand to her mouth, giggling at the crack of his voice. Wes’s face flushed. He shouldered his backpack and stepped away. He was even more disturbed to see the warning look Aiken gave the girls over his shoulder. Eyes softened, Aiken smiled at him. “Thanks, buddy.” He squeezed Wes’s shoulder.
Oh God, Wes thought. Oh my fucking God! His body went rigid. “See ya later, Wesley.” Aiken’s fingers slipped from his shoulder, leaving him frozen to the spot, staring at Jamie and Greta.
The two girls approached him, watching Aiken walk away and out of sight. “Don’t get any ideas, Wes. Boys like that wouldn’t dream of getting with you, no matter how hard you crush on them.”
“W-what? I don’t…”
“Sure you do.” Greta looked down. “You really, really do.”
Jamie and Greta cackled with laughter. “Nice stiffy, Wes.”
Covering his bulge with his English book, Wes pivoted around and ran to class. He slid into his seat in Mrs. Henry’s classroom and almost slammed his book down. Across the room sat Aiken, looking at him with a strange hint of concern. Next to Wes, the head of the yearbook, Tanner Davies, touched his arm.
“Dude, you all right?”
Looking at Tanner, Wes nodded. Tanner was part of GSC and a decent friend. They weren’t super close, but they chatted from time to time. On occasion, Tanner would make him a mix cd that he would always love, but their relationship didn’t go much further than that. Although, Wes had to admit he was easy on the eyes. Not gorgeous like Aiken, but nice in his own way. A little disheveled in the hair department, but his shaggy brown locks suited his expensive glasses and brown leather jacket.
Tanner adjusted his thin wire rims. “You sure?” He leaned in.
“Yeah, I’m cool.” Wes glanced over at Aiken, who was still watching him.
Mrs. Henry clapped her hands, distracting the boys. “As we’ve finished reading Romeo and Juliet, and you’ve all worked so hard with your projects, I thought it would be fun to finish out the week by watching Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 movie adaption.”
The class groaned. “Come on, Mrs. H, what about the Leo DiCaprio version? This sucks.”
Mrs. Henry simply smiled. “Thank you so much for your opinion, Zachary, but this version is on the approved list. You might be happy to know I’ll be providing snacks to accompany the next hour of boredom.”
“Sweet.” Zachary put a fist in the air. The class laughed at the resident jokester.
As Wes was getting settled in, he noticed how Tanner and Aiken seemed to stare at each other. He couldn’t tell which one of them had the problem. He didn’t get any more time to figure out because the lights went out and Mrs. Henry started the movie. One of the girls began helping hand out little bags of popcorn and soda. And still, Tanner and Aiken continued their staring contest, even in the dark. It wasn’t until Mrs. Henry put a hand on his shoulder that Wes looked away.
She slid a little white box in front of him, leaning down. “This was left on my desk with a note for you.”
Wes frowned, running a finger over the plastic top that allowed him to see the cupcake inside. “Do you know who left it?” he whispered.
“Nope. There was just a note for you. But I know for a fact, as a regular at Whitby Bakery, those are the best cupcakes around. Lucky.” She laughed quietly. “Enjoy the movie.”
She went to her desk, leaving him with enough questions to fill the entire room. He opened the box, seeing his name iced in red inside of a little heart on top by the light from the window next to him. When he looked up, completely puzzled, he found Tanner and Aiken watching him back.
After school, Wes found himself in the middle of the weekly GSC meeting, taking notes. The weekly share session had gone as usual. Someone had their heart crushed, everyone tried their best to make the boy feel better, and then they moved into ways to improve bullying around school, followed by the upcoming GLBT events in the surrounding areas, and then… Aiken walked in to discuss a collaborative fundraiser between GSC and Student Council.
“We thought we’d try something different this semester and let you guys choose the charity,” Aiken was saying.
Madeline, or Maddy as she preferred, rolled her eyes. “Look, thanks for the thought, but we’ve got a tight schedule as it is.”
“Yeah,” Tanner piped up. “I mean, we’ve tried to collab with you guys since we were freshmen and suddenly you have a change of heart? What? Did you guys run out of bake sale ideas for the cheerleaders or something?”
“Tanner,” Wes warned, giving him a nudge to the side.
“No, Wes. It’s just weird that they’ve ignored us for so long and out of the blue they give a shit.”
“Tanner, that’s enough.” Maddy glared at him. “Thanks for the offer, Aiken, seriously, but we’ve already got a fundraiser planned.”
Aiken set eyes on Wes, making him squirm in his seat. “What’s the fundraiser, Wes?”
“We’re doing a bake sale.” He looked at his feet.
“For?” Aiken pressured.
“For an LGBT youth shelter in Galesburg.” He swallowed.
“Awesome. I’ll let the Council know and you can give us the when and where. No harm doubling your baked goods for a great cause, right?”
“No,” Maddy grumbled.
The rest of the group stared uncomfortably at Aiken. He only smiled. “Wes, I’ll get in touch with you, cool?”
“All right, thanks guys. Catch you all later.” Aiken waved and left the room.
“What was that, Wes?” Maddy crossed her arms. “You know Student Council is full of shit. They’ll take over our project and credit themselves.”
“It’s not about who gets credit, Maddy.” He huffed, putting down his notes. “We’re raising money for those teens, not throwing down with Student Council. Just chill, okay?.”
“Says the guy with the hots for Aiken McCreedy,” she returned.
He blushed, standing. “You know what, Maddy? I don’t care what you think, and you’d be a real bitch to turn down help when we need it. You’re supposed to be a leader, not a girl with a petty vendetta against the popular kids. Aren’t we supposed to be promoting tolerance and trying to keep the peace around here? I get enough of this shit on an everyday basis. I don’t need it from someone who’s supposed to be my friend.”
Tanner stood. “Wes, she didn’t mean it like that.”
“Yeah, she did.” He shouldered his backpack.
“Wes, I’m sorry.” Maddy hung her head. “I just…”
“Yeah, he used to be your boyfriend and he broke your heart. We all know the story, Maddy. But did you ever think he dumped you because he gathered you were into girls? Maybe you broke his heart, too.” Wes shrugged. “We all have secrets, Maddy. And I’d appreciate you not trying to broadcast mine. So much for a safe place. I’m out of here.”
“Wes, I’m sorry, seriously.” Maddy put her binder down, getting up. Her eyes were a bit teary. Everyone else was so quiet he could hear his heart race.
“I told you that in confidence, Maddy. I’m sorry. I need to get out of here.” Wes strode out of the room and down the hallway. He felt smaller than ever before, even smaller than his already petite stature. He felt like a jerk for saying those things to Maddy. The only bright spot in his day had been the mysterious cupcake left for him in class. He wondered who would do that for him. Why now? Why him? And why did his day always end up sucking so much?
“Hey.” Tanner caught up to him, trying to match his angry stride. “Slow down, Wes. Can we talk?”
“About what?” His sneakers squeaked over the tile as he turned around.
“I know you’re not okay, so I won’t even ask. But… I thought you might want to talk to someone.”
“I’m not going to go off myself over an argument, Tanner.” Wes shook his head and resumed his walk.
“Jesus, Wesley. I wasn’t even going there. You don’t think about that kind of stuff, do you?” Tanner’s long legs caught up to him again. “Wes!” He grabbed him by the shoulders, turning him around. “Talk to me.”
Wes looked up at Tanner. A stray piece of hair covered one lens of his glasses. His lips were full and open, his breath coming raggedly from between them. He really wasn’t so bad to look at, Wes thought. “I’m fine. I just need some alone time.” Wes backed away. “You know, alone?”
“I get it.” Tanner looked at him for a small eternity. His eyes were blank, but a deep sadness etched around the corners of his mouth. “I know we aren’t close or anything, but I’ve tried, Wes. I’ve tried for four years to be friends with you, to have someone to tell my secrets to, but you don’t trust me, do you? I just don’t understand what I did. I know you don’t need this right now, but I can’t help how I feel. It just sucks because I’ve always thought you were such an awesome person, but you don’t want anyone too close, do you? You just want to be left alone, and hope for the best with Aiken McCreedy.” Tanner put a hand through his hair. “He’s a nice guy, I guess,” he whispered. “I wish I knew what you saw in him other than looks. Because as much as half that room wished he was gay, he’s really not.”
“What? Tanner, I do trust you. I-I don’t know what you want.” Wes was dumbstruck. Was Tanner trying to… no way. What was that look on his face? Wes was about to delve into a million questions, when Tanner stepped forward.
“I want this.” Tanner cupped Wes’s face with both hands, and kissed him gently. The shock melted away in mere seconds. Wes’s first kiss was stolen tenderly, and before he had time to dwell on how perfect it was, Tanner stepped back and turned around. “I’m sorry no one else will ever compare to him, but now I can say I tried.” With that, Tanner Davies walked back the way he’d come. Wes stared after him, watching him become smaller and smaller.
He put his fingers to his lips, breathing through the butterflies dancing in his stomach. Near tears, he faced the other end of the hall and ran to the parking lot. He had to get out of here. Today was too much to handle. Everything was falling down around him. He hated Valentine’s and how it reminded he was a nobody, or rather a terrible somebody.
His old Audi was parked at the back of the lot. Tears streamed down his face as he pressed the lock button on his key ring, thankful for the beep.
“Wes? Hey, you okay?”
Wes whipped around, finding himself feet from Aiken. The Council President reached out. “Wes, what’s wrong? Did someone hurt you?”
Wes wiped his eyes on his coat sleeve. “No. I’m fine.”
“You don’t look fine. Did something happen after I left? I’m sorry I was so pushy, but with Maddy, you have to be. I was just trying to help.” His thumb proceeded to rub under Wes’s eyes.
“I know,” Wes murmured, finding his back pressed into his car door. “It’s personal, is all.”
“Do you need me to take care of someone?” Aiken smiled. “I’d do it in a heartbeat.”
“Come on, Aiken. Leave the baby alone.” Jamie appeared in her cheerleading uniform, opening the passenger door to Aiken’s truck. “We’re supposed to study.”
Wes wanted to cry all over again. He watched the happy ending slide from Aiken’s eyes, replaced with purely platonic concern. But the spark had been there, Wes convinced himself. He’d touched me, he thought. He would have…
“I’ll catch you later, buddy. Take it easy on the way home, okay?” Aiken ruffled his hair.
“Bye, Wes.” Aiken jogged to his truck and Jamie smiled like the devil out the window. She gave him the finger, putting on a happy smile as Aiken got in and started up the truck.
Wes was once again left all alone, watching everyone around him go about their business. He saw Tanner’s car zip out of the parking lot a few minutes later, and still, Wes stood there. He cried again.
When Wes got home, he threw his bag on the table, and found his mom prepping dinner in the kitchen. A vase of red roses took up the breakfast bar. “Those are nice. Dad’s starting early this year, huh?”
His mother looked up at him. “Actually, they’re for you.” Her brow lifted. “Something you forgot to tell me? And why are your eyes red? Have you been crying, baby?” She rounded the counter to put her hands on his cheeks. “What happened?”
“Nothing, mom.” He gently pushed her hands away, going to the flowers.
“It’s not nothing, Wes. First someone sends you a bouquet of roses that cost more than I make in a day and then you come home crying. Talk to me.” He hated those three words. He hated sharing his feelings even though they ate him up inside. All he wanted to do was go to bed and put on his headphones. Because that was healthy, he thought.
He searched the roses for a card instead of responding.
“There isn’t one. I checked. Whoever he is, Wes, good for you.” She silently went back to stirring sauce on the stove. She knew he wouldn’t talk to her. He never did. Like everyone else, she’d tried to get inside his head. And like everyone else, he pushed her away, not on purpose. He just couldn’t deal with his own feelings, much less tell them to anyone else. People could use your secrets against you, just like Maddy had done earlier.
Looking over the roses, he thought about who could have sent them. Was this all a big joke? First the cupcake, and now these? Tanner had kissed him. It was a beautiful kiss, the kind he’d wanted Aiken to give him. But Tanner couldn’t afford something like this, could he? Aiken could. He had more than enough money. He’d been so concerned earlier. He’d stared at him in class. He’d always been kind. He was the one Wes wanted, even though something in his heart told him Tanner was a good guy, worthy of at least a shot. Maybe it wasn’t either of them. Maybe these gifts were just a joke. Yeah, he thought, it was probably Jamie and Greta getting his hopes up. He left the roses on the counter and went to his room. Who was he kidding? No one wanted to be his Valentine. He was a loner—a sad pathetic, little loner.
By sixth period the next day, Wes had received a single rose from the office, a box of his favorite truffles from the next town over, and a card with a simple ‘be my valentine’ written on the inside. He’d shoved it all in his locker, knowing for certain now all of it was from Jamie and Greta. They’d been watching him all day. Both Aiken and Tanner had ignored him in English, so it wasn’t them. Was it? He rested his head against his locker, holding onto a bag of chocolate kisses for next period.
The same old Valentine’s Day tradition never ended. Every year Student Council sold chocolate kisses the Friday before Valentine’s Day. Anyone could buy them and send a little message to their friend or crush or send them anonymously. The little white bags with kisses would be given out by the Council during sixth period. But all four years, Wes had noticed something disturbing about the tradition. Some people never got any kisses. They’d be forced to watch the rest of the class gloat over their candies and crushes. It made him upset, sad, and connected to those that found themselves alone. The only kisses he ever got were from Maddy, and she bought them for everyone from GSB, so it wasn’t anything special, just a friendly token.
Sophomore year, Wes had started buying a few extra bags of kisses and giving them to the kids who didn’t get any. It was always nice to watch the confusion in their eyes before they would smile graciously. Plus, his kisses had caramel in them. Take that Student Council, he thought, smiling on his way to class. At least this part of the day wouldn’t suck.
After half an hour passed in his history class, the door opened and Aiken stood there with his basket of kisses. “I’m here for…”
“Yeah, just get it over with, Aiken.” Mr. Dorum waved his hands at the excitement gearing up from his students. “Everyone stay seated.”
“Hey, Wes.” Aiken winked, handing him a large bag of kisses.
Wes frowned, checking over the stapled tag on his bag. Three different sales were listed. One was, of course, from Maddy. The other two were listed as anonymous. The last one, however, had a message.
Being around you is like listening to my favorite song. I could put you on repeat forever.
His heart skipped a beat. His eyes met Aiken’s. The Student Council President gave him a warm smile and handed out the last bag, leaving about seven students without white bags.
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” Aiken said to the class, but his eyes told a different story. Even as he made his way to the door, he stared at Wes. His shoulder was squeezed, Aiken’s strong fingers clenched as he leaned down. “You must be pretty special with a bag like that. Whoever he is, I hope you don’t let him go.”
“Mr. McCreedy, that will be all,” Mr. Dorum said.
“Sure thing. Later.” And then he was gone, leaving Wes dumbstruck once again.
What the hell? “Uh, Mr. Dorum?”
“May I?” He held up his candies.
The hard ass history teacher cracked a smile and nodded. “Go ahead.”
The rest of the class enjoying the extra chat time, Wes dropped a good handful on each desk without a bag, watching their faces carefully. One girl at the back of the class, Kayla, hid her face under her hood, playing with her jelly bracelets around her wrist. She was Maddy’s secret crush from GSC. The girl Maddy was too terrified to send kisses to on Valentines, even anonymously. Feeling bad about what he’d said to Maddy yesterday, and feeling like playing a little cupid, Wes put an entire bag on her desk and bent down.
“Maddy wanted to know if you had plans later. She said she hopes you call.” He patted the bag, watching her pull her hood back.
“Really?” Her whisper was unsure. Her eyes darted around nervously.
He smiled. “Really.”
“This isn’t coffee talk hour, Wesley. Take your seat.”
Kayla pulled the bag of candies into her lap, trying to hide her glee. She liked to play the dark and broody card, but everyone from GSC knew better. She was a secretly nice person, who made jewelry and listened to pop music on her headphones under her hoodie. Dark and brooding indeed, he thought, taking his seat. Even if he couldn’t figure out his own love life, Wes knew he’d helped out someone else at least. He couldn’t stay angry with Maddy. She really did have a good heart, even if her attitude got in the way sometimes.
The last hour of the day came and went and Wes was just shutting his locker when something fell to the ground. He crouched, picking up a cd case. A hand drawn heart had been glued to the front, but nothing else was on it. Opening the case, he found nothing written on the cd, either. Checking the hallway, he saw Aiken escorting Jamie out the door. He held the door open, staring at Wes for a second too long. The moment between them was so intense , Wes couldn’t deny what was happening anymore. It was all Aiken. It had to be.
“Hey, Aiken? Can I talk to you a second?” He clutched the cd behind his back. Was he sweating already? Why was the hallway so damn hot? Was he having a panic attack? No. He had to do this.
“Uh, yeah. I’ll be out in a minute, Jamie. Start the truck?” He tossed her the keys.
She looked between them. “Seriously?”
“Ugh, fine. Go play with the loser.” She rolled her eyes and stomped outside.
“Sorry.” Aiken moseyed over.
“It’s cool. I know you don’t feel the same.” Wes bit his lip. He took a deep breath. “I know it was you.”
Aiken pursed his lips. His brows furrowed. “What did I do exactly?”
“The gifts.” Wes held up the cd. “The roses and stuff. I mean, I didn’t know for sure until earlier, but I get it now, Aiken.”
“It’s okay if you’re not ready to… you know. I understand about Jamie and all, but maybe you’d want to hang out later?”
“Hold up. Wes, what are you talking about? I didn’t send you any gifts.” Aiken’s eyes were wide. “I’m with Jamie, dude. I’m not… gay. Shit. I’m so sorry if I led you on or something. I didn’t mean to. I was trying to be friends. I…”
Wes had shot somewhere past mortified and into another universe of shame, an out of body experience he wasn’t sure he could recover from.
“Wes? Buddy, you look like you’re gonna puke. Wes?” Hands shook his shoulders. “Can you hear me?”
“I-I…Oh my God. Excuse me,” he whispered, leaving his locker wide open, and barely remembering to grab his bag.
“Wes! Dude, it’s okay! Wes!”
Aiken called after him a few times, but Wes was already running through the parking lot, practically knocking people out of his way. He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t do anything but unlock his car and sit there, hands shaking on the wheel.
“No, no, no,” he chanted. “Shit. No.”
His passenger door opened and Maddy slid in, looking worried as hell. “Wes, holy shit. What just happened? I only saw the tail end, but you took off like a bat out of hell. Aiken won’t tell me what’s going on. You look about ready to die and I’ve got three text messages and a voicemail from Kayla saying you gave her my Valentine’s Day gift? Talk to me.”
He shook his head.
“Wes, talk to me, damn it.”
“Tanner kissed me. I’m in love with Aiken. Someone’s been giving me mystery gifts all week. And I thought it was him. I… oh my God, Maddy. I’m so fucked up!” He dropped his forehead to the wheel.
“Damn, no wonder you’ve been a pain in my ass.” She leaned back in her seat before whipping her head to him. “Hold up. Tanner kissed you?”
He popped an eye open. “Yeah.”
She smiled, putting a hand to his back. “And that’s a bad thing?”
“No. It was perfect, but I…”
“You’re infatuated with Aiken? You think about him at night like I think about Selena Gomez? I get it. But Wes, he’s not real. The guy in your head doesn’t translate to real life. He’s nice, but he’s not who’s gonna make you happy. Speaking of, I should be really pissed at you right now. But since you’re mid-meltdown, I’ll have you know,” she grinned, “Kayla and I are going out tonight.”
“Good for you,” he whispered.
“And after you realize that Aiken is a good enough guy to not care about any of this, and that he sees you as a friend, maybe you should start thinking about who would go out of their way to make you feel special? Maybe a certain boy with glasses and perfectly kissable lips?” Her brows rose. “Hmm?”
“No way, I was a jerk to him. I just kind of went numb after he kissed me, Maddy.”
“That’s what it’s supposed to feel like, or so I’ve heard. I’ll let you know tomorrow.”
That made him laugh. “I’m sure you will.” He wiped his nose. “Why do you think it’s Tanner?”
She tapped the cd case he’d thrown on the dash, the one with the heart then flipped down his visor to reveal a dozen other mix CDs just like it. “That’s why.”
She laughed, picking up the heart case. “Maybe this one is him talking dirty for eighty minutes. You never know. He could really be a freak behind those frames.” She meowed.
“Oh my God, stop it.” He gently shoved her.
“You’re so uptight.” She ruffled his hair. “Look, I gotta go, but call him, Wes. Be his damn Valentine so we don’t have to hear him bitching at the next meeting, okay?”
“He doesn’t ever talk during share time.”
“Not to you.” She smirked.
“Whoa. What does that mean? Maddy!” He reached for her as she got out of the car.
She leaned down. “It means call him, you big baby. He just might be more than you ever dreamed of.” She winked and shut the door.
In the school parking lot, Wes picked up the heart CD case and opened it. He put the CD into his player and shut his eyes. Instead of the usual mix tape, Tanner’s voice greeted him, and his eyes shot open.
“If you’re listening to this, Wes, I wanted to tell you I’m sorry. That wasn’t how I imagined kissing you, although I’ve imagined it many different ways… yeah. I know I pushed you when you were hurting, and I know you probably hate me, but I decided I still wanted to try, even if you think I’m a jerk. I still wanted you to know how special you are, and that if you still want one, I’d really like to be your Valentine.”
Wes stared at the CD player, feeling like Tanner was in the car with him. God, this was so weird, but his stomach was doing a flip flop. That had to mean something. Someone had taken the time to… No, not someone, Tanner had taken the time to make him feel special. Tanner wanted him, not Aiken.
“Oh, and in case I didn’t say it already, this is Tanner.”
“You dork,” Wes murmured. A big smile spread over his lips.
“This is for you, Wes. Happy Valentine’s Day, even if you never speak to me again.” Wes’s smile kept growing until his cheeks hurt. His favorite song began to play over the speakers, Just Like Heaven by the Cure. Oh, Maddy had definitely been doing some talking, alright. Touché, he thought, turning up the volume as he sped out of the parking lot.
Saturday morning, Wes walked into the dining room on cloud nine. His parents stared at him, curiously.
“You okay, baby?”
“Fine, mom.” He looked at his phone, reaching out for a piece of toast.
“You actually do look fine. In fact, it’s kind of scaring us.” His dad folded up the paper. “What’s up, kid?”
“Nothing.” He bit his lip, texting Maddy.
“Is it that boy?” His mother asked hopefully.
“Nope. Maddy.” He waved his phone for a sec, before texting again.
“What boy?” His father looked between them.
“I got roses.”
His father’s mouth opened and closed a few times. “Oh. So, are you dating now?”
“I don’t know.”
“Are you being—”
“Shh.” His mom slapped his dad’s hand. “Don’t ruin this. He’s smiling, Roger.”
“I know. It’s scary.”
Wes looked up, laughing. “I’m fine, you guys. Happy Valentine’s Day. I gotta run.”
“But you didn’t finish—”
The front door slammed.
“He got roses?” Roger smiled at his wife.
“Uh huh, nice ones.”
“And he was smiling, Allison. Like smiling.”
“Uh huh.” She rested her chin in her hand.
“Ain’t that something.” Roger shook his paper out again, smiling. “He’s got himself a boyfriend.”
“And he was smiling.” Allison clinked her cup with her husband’s. “We must be doing something right.”
Wes was well aware his gift for Tanner wasn’t anywhere near a dozen roses or custom cupcake spectacular, but it meant something to him. It was a debt owed and a symbol of a new beginning all at the same time. Using Maddy’s directions, he drove around the large subdivision until he reached the last street. A two story house, painted a baby blue, sat at the end of a cul-de-sac. Parking on the street, Wes got out of the car and straightened his shirt, while balancing his gift in the other hand.
“Don’t chicken out,” he muttered, walking up the drive. “You can do this. It’s just Tanner.”
His confidence got him to the front porch, where he froze on the welcome mat. His finger wouldn’t press the doorbell. He felt like he was going to throw up. This was Tanner! He was going to ask Tanner out. What if Tanner changed his mind? What if…
Wes turned, finding Tanner behind him, holding a leash connected to a tiny dog. “Hi.”
His glasses were a little crooked, but when Tanner smiled, Wes suddenly wondered how he never noticed the man in front of him before. He really was striking in his own way. Tanner was tall, and smart, and made bad ass mix CDs, and he liked him for him. “You okay? You’re staring.”
“Oh. Sorry.” Wes looked at his feet.
“It’s cool. You can stare, as long as it’s not because I have something on my face. I hate when people don’t tell you shit like that. It’s just rude.” Tanner laughed. “Oh, and this is Skittles.”
“You have a dog named Skittles?” Wes finally looked up.
“Yep.” Tanner picked the little thing up. “Because he’s got so many colors in him. Every color of the rainbow, get it?”
Wes chuckled. “You dork.”
“Been called worse.” Tanner winked. “Hey, you wanna come inside? My mom’s home, but she’s cool.”
“Actually, I was wondering if you wanted to come with me?” Wes swallowed, waiting for the ‘sorry, but I can’t’ to come.
“I’ll only go if I don’t have to dress up. I hate ties.”
“No ties, I promise.”
“Then I’ll just be a second.” Tanner glanced at him from under his lashes. “Okay?”
“I’ll be here.” Wes rested his hands on the railing, his heart racing in his chest. Usually he felt like melting for Aiken, but Tanner seemed to have taken the President’s place in under a day. What the hell? But strangely, Wes wanted it to happen. This felt right, he thought. Tanner wants me back. Tanner thinks I’m special. “Tanner is my Valentine,” he murmured.
“Good to know,” a husky whisper breathed over his ear. “I was starting worry for a minute there.”
Wes didn’t just blush. He had a full body fever. “I don’t know how to do this,” he admitted. “But here. Happy Valentine’s Day.”
Tanner circled around, taking the brand new package of burn discs from Wes. “I figured I owed you a few of those, and, uh, Happy Valentine’s.”
“I didn’t think you ever listened to my mixes.” Tanner glanced up.
“I do, all the time.” Wes felt unsure again. Maybe Tanner thought his gift was dumb. Self-conscious as ever, he took a step back. “I know it’s a lame gift. I thought you just…”
“No. This is cool, Wes. I mean that. Maybe I can make you another mix soon.” Tanner smiled. And in that one look, Wes saw how nervous Tanner was as well.
“I don’t where you’d put it.” Wes laughed, feeling much better about being awkward. He shook off his anxiety, deciding to flow with the bubbly stranger crawling his way out of him. “Put those down and come on. We have places to be.”
“I owe you a date, Tanner Davies.”
“Yeah, because you we’re right, you tried and tried… until I finally listened. I owe you this much.” Wes grabbed his hand, trying to keep his confidence as tingles created goose bumps over his skin. “Come on.”
“Where are we going?”
“Does it matter?” Wes looked at Tanner.
“No.” Tanner smiled. “Not at all.”
“Then get in.”
“You’re kind of crazy, Wes.” Tanner slid into the passenger’s seat. “But I like it.”
“Well, I hope so,” Wes blurted, pulling down his visor to fetch a new cd. After a second with no response, Wes looked at his date. “What?”
Tanner stared at the visor, wearing a shit eating grin. “I’ll be damned.”
“Huh?” Wes followed his gaze and blushed. All of Tanner’s burn mixes lined his CD holder on the visor. “Uh, I told you so?”
“You know, Wes, for four years I gave you those, thinking you didn’t give a shit about me.”
“That’s not true. You’re my—”
“And it hurt so much to see you fall over your feet for Aiken, because you were always Aiken McCreedy to me.”
Wes wanted that on tape. He wanted to write it somewhere and keep it under his mattress forever. He wanted a picture of the look on Tanner’s face. In that moment, he felt more special than other person on the fucking planet. Tanner Davies was the new black in his book.
Wes leaned over, pulling Tanner to him by the front of his shirt. “Fuck, Aiken McCreedy. He’s not my Valentine. You are.” He kissed Tanner Davies, on Valentine’s, in the front seat of his beat-up Audi, with the Cure providing him a soundtrack to the most perfect moment of his life thus far.
When he pulled back, Tanner had a smile on his face. “When do I get another one of those?”
Wes grinned, putting the car into drive. “Anytime you want.”
The End xx