The Girl for Me
When Danny got up in the morning, Kevin had already left. That was disappointing. Damn that Kevin – always ruining the moment. Danny could have made him toaster-waffles for breakfast. They could have... hung out, or something. Fucking Kev... what could be so important on a Sunday that he'd have to just leave like that?
It was simply that Kevin needed to think. Hard. About hard things. Danny was only one of the hard things. Yes, he liked Danny. He had fun with Danny. Danny was fun – in drag or out. Didn't really matter. And Danny was... well, it could only be called "sweet", too, in a lot of ways. A lot of ways. And – he admitted to himself with the greatest reluctance – Danny was actually pretty cute. For a guy. As a girl, sure, but even when he wasn't. The smile didn't change. Neither did the legs...
Really, the difference between Dani and Danny was just – besides the clothes – the breasts. How weird to realize that. He was so used to Dani in drag, that he never even noticed the breasts. They weren't what made her... sexy. Now, wait a minute -
Breasts were damn sure what made other girls "sexy". Katelyn and her C-cups, for instance. Cheryl and her D's. Even Lisa, who barely rated a B... the breasts were a big part of what made her sexy, too. But not Dani. On Dani, they were just sort of there, not really a focal point. Why was that? Because they weren't real? Well, neither were Cheryl's...
But, Kevin wasn't a boob-man anyway, he was a leg-man. And he damn sure did notice Dani's legs. From their first meeting. What was between those legs was a problem, though. He thought about that. It was a problem... Wasn't it? Gah!
Still... weird about the tits, though. What it boiled down to was simply: was he attracted to Dani as a girl or not? What the fuck was he attracted to? What the fuck was it about her? Him. Whatever.
Kevin mulled it over all morning, concentrating on the physical. Because – after all – he was a 17 year old boy. But just beneath the surface of his young consciousness, something else was poking through, like a shark-fin cutting through the surface of an ocean. Something not physical. But Kevin was in a teenage boat. He didn't worry about sharks. He'd never seen one.
And then there was that kiss. What the fuck had that been all about? And what was that look in her eyes, afterward? And what was that... feeling...
"Kev? You gonna stay in there all day?" his father shouted at the closed door as he walked by in the hall, "It's close to noon. Up and at 'em!"
"Coming Dad..." he said automatically. He'd have to think about all this stuff later.
He never got around to it. Actually, he could have – but didn't. On purpose.
Next Monday, Kevin avoided Danny as if he simply weren't there. And Danny let him do it. He knew that Kev was having problems with all this. Best to give the older boy some space.
Kevin was having problems, all right. His grades were slipping again. Fast. He was going to fail. He was probably going to be held back. And benched from playing football. And St. Augustine's didn't actually "hold students back" when they failed to pass the state's graduation exams. St. Augustine's simply kicked them out. If it weren't for the donations from his father, they would have kicked him out already. He was lowering the GPA of the whole class. It looked bad on the brochures.
Which, understandably, was making his father angry. Great. Just what he needed, after alienating Uncle Keith. Kevin was running out of options. It probably wouldn't get to the point of "do you want fries with that?", but he could well end up a nameless clerk in his father's company. And while that fate might well pay more, it would be equally as dead-end. Kevin was too young to be dead-ended! If only he could have another chance!
And then there was Danny. And Dani. And that smile. Fuck, man... of all the stupid, phony things in his life, the one exception - was Danny. And that... was out of the question. Because of... because he was... Fuck.
All these anxieties, one on top of another, were crushing Kevin with their weight. Day after day. The whole week, and into the next.
The following Thursday, Danny was extra late for practice after his AP class. He'd been arguing with the teacher over another test. Or rather – he'd been discussing his interpretation of the test questions with the teacher. He got his B changed to an A this time.
But Coach would have none of that. Danny was told to run laps around the outside of the stadium as punishment. Just like Kevin was doing already.
The backside of the stadium was a little wooded area where a drainage ditch ran through. Inside those woods – almost 50 yards wide – one could actually find quiet seclusion from the outside world. That's where Danny caught up to Kevin. Kevin was walking, not running. It was a common cheat on the coach – all the kids did that.
"Kev," Danny said, as a non-committal greeting.
They walked side-by-side in silence for awhile, until they got to the wooden bridge over the ditch.
"Are you avoiding me?" Danny finally asked.
"I... have a lot on my mind..."
"So you are. Avoiding me."
"Danny... I'm sorry, but yeah. I have been. I don't think... I just can't deal with you right now."
Deal with me? "What's going on?"
"Oh, just everything going to shit, is all. I'm gonna get kicked out of St. Augustine's. Probably have to get a G.E.D. somehow. My Dad'll kill me. Uncle Keith's already pretty much disowned me. The girls are just pissing me off now, since I was benched. They want to go out with football stars. I don't play anymore, so they're not interested. It's just a lot of shit.... I can't deal with it all. Not all at once. I don't know what I'm going to do. I don't know what difference anything would make, anyway."
Danny had never heard Kevin sound like that. Dejected. Hopeless. It was pitiful. Danny had often fantasized about seeing the Big, Tough, Jock cut down to size, and now that it was actually happening... He wished he could take all those fantasies back.
They were coming close to the end of the woods now.
"I could... I mean, we could start with the tutoring again, if you wanted..." Danny said. It was all he could think of to help. "Maybe if your grades came back up... there's still time..."
"You don't have to do that. You kept your part of the bargain, Danny. I'm keeping mine. I won't take up any more of your time."
Danny stopped. "Kevin? Hold on a sec. Look... I wasn't saying... Uh... I gotta ask you something," he paused and took a deep breath, "Are we friends or not..."
Kevin looked at him. Then he looked down the path. Then he looked back at Danny. Friends... Kevin was on the edge of something, something that he could feel was almost... divinely simple. Something that would change everything, somehow. But he couldn't get it to come through the fog in his brain.
He knew a way to clear that fog, though. "Hey, Danny?"
"Race ya!" and he was off.
"Oh! No way, Kev! Not THIS time! I am so faster than you!" Danny shouted at his back, letting him get some distance. It didn't matter. Danny wasn't on the team because he was big or powerful – he was there because he was fast. He took off at a full-on run, Kevin was already around the far turn at the end of the stadium.
By the time they were running through the parking-lot in front, Danny had caught up to him.
"No... way... Kev," he said between breaths.
"Way... Dan..." Kevin replied in the same way, and picked up his pace, threatening to leave Danny behind.
Damn, Kev... okay, you wanna play rough? I can play rough... Danny pushed himself harder – but still not as hard as he could have. Not yet. He caught up with Kevin at the next corner, as they prepared to round the other end.
"You're... faster... than... I... thought..." Danny said, once he was next to him again.
"Faster... than... you..."
"Yeah?... Let's... see..." and Danny poured it on.
"Fuck..." Kevin said to his back, running as hard as he could. His sides were starting to hurt. Danny pulled in front by ten feet. And stayed there. His pony-tail bouncing behind mocked Kevin.
"Fuck..." he said again, "Bitch..." Kevin ran harder and faster than he ever had in his life. But Danny stayed ten feet away. By the time they were on the bridge over the ditch, in the woods, Kevin had had enough.
"'Kay!..." shouted with the last of a breath. He jogged to a halt on the middle of the bridge, holding on to the railing as he doubled over because of the pain in his diaphragm, and unable to do anything but breathe. Danny jogged back to him, also out of breath, but not the way Kevin was.
"Fu... no..." Kevin answered, then, after a few more pants, added, "You... fu... bitch..."
"That's me... You just... breathe... for awhile..." Danny said.
After a few minutes, Kevin's breathing had at least come back under conscious control.
Danny asked him again, "So Kev... I asked you if we were friends or what..."
Kevin – still holding on the railing, but standing straighter now, looked over at him. There was a strange look on his face. Friend? Like girlfriend? Friend-girl? Friend-boy. Boy-friend? "Heh" was all he said. It was difficult for Danny to tell with him still panting like that, but Kevin might have been smiling.
"What's that mean?"
Kevin only said, "Heh" again, and then, "Gimme... couple... more... minutes..."
At the bottom of his pit, one light shone in Kevin's eyes. Of course. Fuck school. Fuck Dad. Fuck football and college and jobs and fags and straights and girls and boys and everyone and everything else – but Danny. I hope you have better luck than I did, that old man had said without saying, walking away with his horrible wife.
Yeah. Yeah, man... I hope so too. And - I think I will.
The weight of the world evaporated from Kevin's shoulders. What was going to be important when his hair turned gray... Not St. Augustine's. Not Dad. Not grades...
Kevin let go of the railing, and stretched himself, a new man. He felt almost as if he were high. Or drunk, but without the sick feeling. "That was good..."
"Yeah. Now answer the question. I mean, I need to know, because-"
Fuck 'em all... "Hey Danny, you wanna go out sometime?"
What? Danny's forehead wrinkled. He must have heard wrong. Or took it wrong. Or something. "What?"
"Maybe this Saturday? Pick you up at seven? No, wait. Six. Five? Actually... you got anything going on that day at all?"
Danny couldn't believe what he was hearing, "Are you... Wait. You mean just to hang out, right?"
"No. More like on a date," Kevin was obviously smiling now. It looked almost – but not quite – like the smile of a happy idiot. Completely the opposite of how he'd been before. What the hell?
"Uh..." Danny needed to stall, "What ever happened to 'I only like girls'?"
"And you. I only like girls and you."
Bam. Danny's ears were filled with the sound of hell freezing over. "Do you have any idea what you're saying?"
"Uhm... not really, no. It's great! I still wanna go out with you though."
"'S okay. You think about it. Consider it a standing offer. C'mon, period's almost over, we better get back."
He started walking nonchalantly past the still-perplexed Danny.
"Are you... getting bent or something, Kev?"
Kevin considered the question as he walked. He hadn't thought that far ahead yet. "I dunno. Maybe."
"Wait a minute- Do you... are you... Do you want to go out with Danny with a 'y' or Dani with an 'i'?"
"Oh. Well... Actually, whatever you want. Doesn't matter. I wanna go out with you," Kevin said, his eyes emphasizing the 'you' as much as his voice did, "I guess it kinda depends on what we're gonna do. I was thinking-"
"Stop. Stop talking Kev. Just shut up."
"What'd I say this time?"
"Nothing. Yet. But you probably will... And I swear to god, Kev – if you ruin this moment for me, I will fucking kill you."
They walked on in silence for awhile.
Finally, Danny could only say, still unable to believe it, "You're serious..."
"That would make you a fag, you know..."
"Yeah? I guess it would... Well, you're a fag, and you're cool. Maybe it won't be so bad."
"You're freaking me out, Kev."
"Sorry. So, ya free on Saturday?"
"Actually – no. I'm doing my Community Service stuff. Helping to build a house. 'Habitat for Humanity', I think it's called."
"They take volunteers?"
"Of course they take volunteers. I'm a volunteer..." Danny explained, wondering what Kevin's point was.
"Good. I'll go with you then. What time should I pick you up?"
"Kev... it's too late for you to sign up for credits..."
"So? Can't I still help you build a house?"
Danny had to stop, hearing that question. Do Community Service work and not get credit for it? It just... wasn't done! "All right Kev: what's going on. Is this all some kind of big joke? Is a bucket of pig's blood going to come down on my head? What the hell are you up to..."
"I'm not 'up to' anything. I just wanna be your boyfriend, is all."
That finally shocked Danny to the core. "Do you even hear yourself?"
"You wanna be... Right. Okay. Kev? We'll talk about this after school. I gotta... think about this."
"Take your time. Not trying to rush you or anything. You can say 'no' if ya want. Didn't really think you'd be so freaked out."
"Would you just STOP being so... so goddamn... Gah!"
He was waiting by Kevin's car again, just as he had been all those weeks earlier. Kevin smiled. It was all so different now. It was as if Danny was his armor – the rest of the world couldn't touch him, because Danny was waiting for him by his car.
"Hey Danny! Listen – wanna go get something to eat or something?"
"No... I want to talk to you."
"So we can eat and talk."
"I don't want to eat, Kevin!"
"Just get in the god-damned car, Kev. You're acting so weird!"
Kevin opened Danny's door, then his own, and got in. "Where to?"
"Just... I don't know... just drive. What the hell is up with you, anyway?"
"I dunno. I feel weird. In a good way."
"You're acting weird. I mean, I could understand if it was just 'runner's high', but that should have worn off by now. Why won't you tell me what's going on?"
After due consideration, Kevin only said, "Because I don't know."
Kevin chuckled, "Oh, yeah. Right. Me, lying. Look – it's simple. I like you, I want to go out with you. I like spending time with you, okay? Nothing up my sleeve, nothing under my hat. Left or right at the light?"
"Left. No, right – oh, what the fuck does it matter!? You mean it? You're into me?"
"I'm into you."
"Well... why now?"
"Not sure. I think it has to do with everything going to shit."
"Ah ha. I see..." Danny said contemplatively, "So, you're at the bottom of the barrel, worst time of your life, and suddenly it seems like a good idea to go out with me. Is that it?"
"Something like that."
"Pretty fucking romantic, Kev."
Kevin chuckled, "Well, yeah, when you put it like that."
"How would you put it?"
"Different. And don't ask me how – you know I'm not good with words. Usually use the wrong ones."
"I'll take my chances. How would you put it, Kev?"
"Uhm... well... okay," Kevin took awhile to consider, "I guess I'd say that it took everything else – that I thought was so important – slipping away, to, uh... before I could see what was really important right under my nose." He waited for a reaction, but Danny was silent. What he'd just said hadn't come out the way he'd wanted it to. "Told you I was-"
"Shut up, Kev."
"Pick me up at seven. Wear work clothes."
"Now I'm hungry. There's a Pizza-Hut."
"Danny, I told you-"
"I like Pizza-Hut!"
"You're the boss..."
"I like thin crust, see? And the Thousand Island dressing. Pizza-Hut has the best Thousand Island dressing."
"I hope no one sees us in here..."
"'Cuz of me?"
"No, because it's Pizza-Hut."
"Get over it. Y'know what I'm thinking, Kev?"
"Uh, I think so, Danny – but where are we going to find rubber pants at this hour?"
"Ha ha. I think you're confused. I think you just want a friend, and because that happens to be me, you think it has to be boy-friend."
"Hmm. It's possible, I guess."
"I mean you're not really... like... attracted to me... Right?"
"You have nice legs. And a nice smile. And hair. And butt. And eyes. And-"
"All right, all right. Forget it."
"But seriously. You haven't taken any controlled-substances, have ya?"
"Too many energy-drinks? A lot of sugar?"
"Can I feel good if I want to? Jesus. I've been in total melt-down for... a long time. Ever since the morning after I picked you up at that bar. Gimme a break."
"Don't say you 'picked me up at a bar'. It doesn't sound good. But anyway, yeah, I've sort of been meaning to ask you about that. How come you just disappeared like that?"
"I had to think about things."
"You were one of 'em, Danny. But there were others. And once my grades started slipping again..."
"We'll take care of that. Come over tonight."
"Uh... I appreciate that, but it's a little late. The state graduation test is next week. In Math. There'll be one every week for the next month."
"It'll be okay, Kev. I know a secret."
"Yeah. You're not dumb. You only think you are. I still haven't figured out why, though."
"Well, maybe you haven't, but my Dad sure has – he's told me often enough."
"Ah. Now I know why."
"So where would you take me on a date, anyway?"
"Movie, dinner, park."
"Uh... park? You want to park with me?"
"No, I meant THE park."
"Danny? I was kidding. Yes, I want to park with you."
"Bastard. Okay, but change 'movie' to 'bookstore' or 'concert'."
"Oh, that's right. You like that classical crap, don'tcha..."
"They have comic books at the bookstore, y'know. They have Archie and Veronica. Maybe you can find My Little Pony."
"I can't believe you really wanna make out..."
"Want me to suck your dick? I think you got a cute dick."
"You... Uh... Not until the third date, Kev."
"Okay. This counts as one, though."
At the Habitat for Humanity site, Danny discovered that Kevin had an innate fear of power tools, which he found immensely funny. And a bit cute. For the most part, Kevin contented himself by volunteering for heavy-lifting, while Danny nail-gunned floor joists.
That evening, they got back to Danny's house - to continue Kevin's tutoring - too late for dinner, so Danny volunteered to make toaster waffles. He soon learned that Kevin could cook. And cook well. It was amazing – even the rice turned out perfectly! Every time Danny tried to make rice it came out either crispy or as mush. He was impressed.
The next day – Sunday – was to be their first date. Since Kevin didn't have any idea how to even look for a possible concert, it was dinner, bookstore, park. Dani went in drag. Kevin tried to tell her that it wasn't necessary as far as he was concerned, but Dani had insisted that it was "the real her", so Kevin let it go. And besides, she was wearing the mini-skirt again. With a belly-baring shirt. Kevin thought she was "hawt".
And finally, it was time to "park" at the Scenic Overlook. In the day-time, it would've been loaded with buses full of Leaf Lovers, but by dark, of course, it was deserted.
They got into the backseat of Kevin's Mustang. It was a little tense.
"So... here we are," Dani said.
"Yeah," Kevin replied.
"You're having second thoughts about this, aren'tcha... It's okay, Kev. It feels kinna weird to me, too."
"It's been a really fun night, Dani. I dunno why I'm suddenly... You look hawt in that outfit."
She giggled, "That's the third time you've said that. Thanks. But I wish you'd find another word besides 'hawt'."
"Well, it's a mini-skirt. Now, when you were wearing that black dress at Uncle Keith's... that was different."
Dani's voice became very soft and her words slowed down as she said, "So... how did I look in that?"
Kevin's voice changed too - "Beautiful. You... uh... remember that kiss? I guess that was our first one..."
"I remember." She was looking into his eyes. He was looking back.
"So do I."
It happened again, and there was no panicking, this time.
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