Castle Roland


by Cy-Kun


Chapter 8

Posted: N/A

"So, how did you get into doing a radio show anyway?" I asked as we walked aimlessly around the mall. We'd finished lunch about ten minutes ago and we had almost an hour to kill before any movies started. Normally that would be prime awkwardness time for me but amazingly our super awesome lunch conversation never really stopped so I never got a chance for my shyness to come back. Even though I'm pretty sure it was DYING to. I didn't even notice Owen paid for lunch until the waitress came back and took the black book thingy with the bill in it away. I'm not sure how I feel about that, since I DID bring my own money, but in the end I guess it's better than Cheryl's usual "don't touch the bill! I need to spend five hours dividing up every single thing we ordered to we don't accidentally pay for each other!" thing.

"My uncle works for the station." Owen said easily. We walked by an Aber....abra....A&F with it's ridiculously loud dance music and blown up pictures of even more ridiculously hot, topless guys, but Owen's eyes never left my face. My heart kinda fluttered a bit at that. Ok, fine, it fluttered a lot. So much that I almost missed what he said next. "Actually," he smiled sheepishly "he kinda owns it."

I took about three and a half steps before my body caught up with my brain -or is that the other way around?- and I stumbled to a stop. "What?!" I blurted out, way louder than I thought and felt my face heat up as a bunch of people looked over at me. I started walking again -faster this time- and Owen hurried to catch up. "Are you serious?" I asked when we'd gotten far enough away from the stares.

Owen nodded. "Yeah." he hesitated. "He's....actually kinda rich. And weird. He has two radio stations, one real big one in New York and this one that doesn't really get reception outside of town, but he donated most of it's airtime to the school because I guess he really liked growing up here or something." he shrugged awkwardly. "I don't really like to tell people that." he added with a small, nervous smile.

I felt......flattered. And shocked. But mostly flattered. And kinda swoony because of that smile. But I loved that he would tell me something that he doesn't usually like talking about without me even having to pry. That's what boyfriends do, right? Maybe that means we're boyfriends now? "Um, wow." I said after a few seconds of silence. Yeah, real articulate Andy. "I mean, is that how you got around needing to be in the media club?" Which was something I probably should have thought about before. You need to be in the media club at school to get on the radio and you can't join the media club unless you're at least a sophomore so, yeah.

Owen nodded. "Yeah. But that doesn't mean I get special stuff just because he's my uncle!" he added quickly. "I just, really, REALLY wanted to get on the radio and I didn't wanna wait a whole year." he paused. "You think I'm spoiled, don't you?"

"Hell no!" I caught myself at the last second and stopped from yelling, but it was close. "If I had a crazy rich uncle who owned a radio station I'd-" I stopped. Then chuckled. "I was gonna say that I'd do the same thing I'd probably have a heart attack if I actually had to TALK over the radio where people could just.....LISTEN to me." I shuddered.

Owen laughed and I stumbled again, but this time it was because of how freaking GOOD he looked laughing. I never really noticed how anyone laughs before, but with Owen it was impossible to look away. He laughed with his whole face, his eyes crinkling at the corners and lighting up from within, his mouth grinning wide and forming this tiny little dimple on his left cheek that wasn't there any other time. Every time he laughed I got this painful-yet-wonderful little twinge in my chest. And that's not even getting into what the sound of it does to me. THAT reaction's focused a little further south.

But thankfully not visible. Sometimes still wearing tighty whities is a really, really good thing.

"I bet you'd be awesome on the radio." Owen said a few seconds later. "And DON'T say you'd be too shy! It's really easy. You just talk into the mic for a few seconds and then play a song."

"Yeah, if you're doing a request show. If you do a talk show it's way more."

"Is that what you'd wanna do?"

I blushed slightly when I realized what I let slip, but it only lasted a second. It was more of a reflex than anything, a built in horror of accidentally blurting out a fantasy I'd had for years where anyone could hear it and make fun of it and rip it to shreds. But like Owen opened up to me about his uncle, I wanted to open up to him about this.

"Yeah." I nodded and glanced away for a second. When I looked back he just looked curious and expectant and even though I didn't expect him to laugh at me or make fun of me it was still really, really nice when he didn't. Sometimes knowing something's gonna happen doesn't make it any less important or enjoyable, you know? "I've always loved radio talk shows. Especially the ones that don't play any music. It's just, to be able to just get on the radio and talk about anything and have it be interesting to people." I hesitated slightly, then forced myself not to hold the next part back. "No one cares who you are or what you look like, if you're interesting or funny or fun to listen to people just like you. It always seemed.....nice." I smiled awkwardly and shrugged. "But I'm way too shy to ever do that. I can barely call people on the phone. Who aren't you anyway." I added with a small laugh.

Owen smiled and walked a bit closer to me so that our shoulders were almost touching. "I think you'd be really good at it." he leaned in and pressed his shoulder against mine. It wasn't the same electric 'holy shit!' like when we held hands, but it was still comforting. "You should come to the station with me sometime."

I panicked slightly. "W-what? No! I can't TALK on the radio, Owen! I just....I'll freeze up and-"

"You don't have to talk." He cut in calmly and our shoulders brushed, but this time our ARMS touched too and even though I had long sleeves on HE had short sleeves so that was only one layer of clothing between us and.....what was I freaking out about again? "You could just come down when I'm there and talk to me between the five calls I get that aren't you." he giggled.

Oh, that. Yeah. But, weird, that actually sounded really nice when you took out the whole 'talking on the radio' part. But instead of saying that what came out was, "So, you wanna see me again?"

I groaned and winced the second it was out of my mouth. God, can you sound ANYmore like an insecure girl?

Owen smiled. It was an amused smile -which made me want to crawl into a hole because he KNEW exactly how it sounded- and somehow a warm smile -which made me want to just sit on the floor and stare at him for a few hours- at the same time. "Of course I do." He said sincerely. "God we have the whole rest of the day together and I'm ALREADY dreading when you have to leave."

I glanced down shyly and felt myself blush. It's a really good thing I'm too shy and self conscious to be a whore because that kind of thing said in THAT perfect voice would have me throwing myself at him in the middle of the mall just as soon as I could rip my clothes off. But since I'm me it just made my chest get tight with that feeling again and I walked along next to Owen enjoying it. I didn't say anything but when I looked back at him he didn't seem to mind. He just looked into my eyes and I could see him get lost in them a second before I did.

I dunno how long we walked like that, but it probably would have been longer if I didn't walk into one of those booth things that sell cell phones in the middle of the mall.

"Ow." I mumbled and rubbed my knee where it hit the thing. Do I even need to mention that I was blushing even more?

I glanced at Owen to see if maybe he somehow missed that while he was staring right at me -shut up, it's possible- but he was looking away with his hand covering his mouth and....his shoulders shaking?

"You're laughing at me!" I accused. His shoulders started shaking even more but he shook his head. "Yes you are! You still have your hand over your mouth and everything." I tried to sound annoyed but I couldn't keep the smile out of my voice. He just looked so....serious. Like he was really trying to keep me from knowing that he was laughing at me. It was sweet, and it made me feel liked.

He looked over at me, kinda cautiously, and when he saw the smile I was fighting to hide he let his hand fall away from his mouth and burst out laughing a second before I did. "I'm sorry!" he said through his laughter. "I don't wanna laugh at you it's just....funny!"

"Shut up! It's not funny!" I said and started laughing harder. "I didn't walk into anyth-" Giggle. "-anything! I did it on purpose! I....." I rolled my eyes at Owen laughing harder at each excuse. "Screw it." I said as dejectedly as I could while still wanting to laugh. "I walked into it."

Owen just laughed harder. And, ok, maybe me saying this is getting a little repetitive now but, I did that. I made him laugh. On purpose! Ok, maybe the walking into things wasn't exactly on purpose but everything after it was. Do you have any idea how awesome that feels? To know the reaction you want from someone else and being able to just GET it? Well, if you're normal it's probably no big deal. But for me? HUGE.

"Are you-" he giggled, then tried to hold it back and turned it into an adorable little snort. "Are you ok?" he asked. "Because you looked like you hit that kinda hard." he chuckled again but somehow still managed to look concerned.

I smiled. "I'm fine." I tried not to rub my throbbing knee. It wasn't exactly a lie. I didn't, like, shatter my knee cap or anything. It just stings a little. And laughing Owen is way better than frowny, worried Owen -although I kinda like being worried about when he's doing it- so it was a justified lie. That wasn't really a lie. "I swear I don't usually walk into things though." I added quickly, suddenly worried that he might think I'm some clumsy dork who can't walk.

"I hope not." he said with a half smile. "I'd have to walk in front of you to keep you safe if you did. But then I'd have to look at you so I'd have to walk backwards and...." he frowned self consciously. "Um, did that sound creepy? The 'I wanna look at you' thing? Because it wasn't supposed to...."

I giggled. "No. Not at all. I, um-" my face started to get warm and, goddamnit, where the hell is my confidence from THREE FREAKING SECONDS ago? Just say it! "-I k-kinda like when you look at me." I tried so hard not to mumble that. It's up to history to decide if I succeeded.

Owen smiled, one of those smiles where his entire fucking BEING was just focused on me, and I smiled back before looking away, slightly embarrassed for some reason. And that was when I saw we were in front of the pet store.

"Puppies!" I gasped and ran towards the glass window in the front of the store. There were cute little puppies in cages and they were all looking at me and, ok, so maybe I'm acting like a 6 year old girl here what with the happy grin and all the 'awwww'ing but, come on, puppies! They're adorable. When they can't chew on you or pee on your shoes. I love puppies in cages. Wait, that came out wrong, I-

A suspicious 'click' and a quick, bright flash dragged me out of my puppy cute daze.

I reluctantly pulled my eyes away from a Yorkie who was chewing on the side of his cage and saw Owen holding his cell phone up in front of his face. "Did...did you just take a picture of me?"

"Yep." Owen said happily. "See?" He walked up to me and held out the phone. And, yep, there was me, bent over slightly, smiling at a puppy.

"Oh god I look horrible! Delete it."

"No way!" he snatched the phone away and clutched it protectively like I was gonna grab it and delete the picture myself. Probably smart. "And you don't look horrible. You look cute."

I groaned. Even the pleasure of Owen saying I was cute couldn't totally drive away how much I hate having pictures of me, you know, existing. "I do not." I mumbled.

"Yes you do."

Damn you heart fluttering! I'm trying to be annoyed here! "Not in pictures." Ok, I could give him that much. Plus I just realized that I'm kinda arguing that I'm ugly and that's more than a little stupid.

"You are in this one." he said sweetly and held out his phone so I could see it again.

I made a halfhearted lunge for it, but he pulled it back almost as soon as I started moving. I sighed in defeat. "Fine. You can keep it."

He grinned at me. "Thanks!"

I couldn't help smiling back. God, he's sexy when he smiles. Even sexier when he smiles at me. Ok heart, you can flutter now. Ohhhhh, that was a good one.

I turned back to look at the puppies after I realized we were standing around looking at each other with silly smiles on our faces. I really had to watch that. It was bad enough that I got shit from people, if someone saw us together looking at each other like we're in the middle of a date and OWEN started getting it too, I'd never forgive myself.

"Aww! That one's so cute." Owen cooed as he stepped up beside me and pointed at a small white Maltese puppy that was chewing on the ear of a sleeping wiener dog.

"I know! Oh! And what about that one!" I pointed towards a tiny little Pomeranian that was chasing it's tail. So freaking adorable! Pet stores are awesome.

The best part was Owen seemed just as 'girlified' by the puppy cuteness as I was. Every time one of them did something adorable he squealed just as much as I did. Which didn't exactly help with the "not acting like two gay boys on a date" thing but, like I said before, puppies! They're too cute to ignore.

It turns out I didn't need to worry though. After about five minutes these three girls that I'd never seen before walked over and started joining in on our puppy squealing. At first I shut down a bit, horribly embarrassed that anyone else saw me like that. But before that could turn into worrying about them figuring us out, they all started to flirt pretty shamelessly with Owen. They crowded him and brushed up against him when they pointed out a cute puppy -ones that I'D already pointed out, the stupid sluts- and tried to figure out which puppy's fur matched Owen's hair -none of them, you'd know that if you used your eyes instead of being tramps-..... not that I was jealous or anything.

Stupid whores.

Owen seemed completely oblivious to it though. He looked at the puppies they pointed out and nodded when they said something to him but he barely even looked at them. He only had eyes for the puppies and me. After a few minutes of getting totally ignored the Future Call Girls of America got -ok, maybe I'm a little jealous- annoyed and left, brushing by me without even a glance. I smirked to myself as they walked away. 'That's right you whore-sluts! Just keep walking!' the Cheryl voice cackled giddily. I held back a snort.

Sometimes psychosis's are fun!

When I looked back at Owen he was still looking at the puppies, totally clueless that his fanclub just left in a tarty huff. He was too busy laughing at two big black Labrador puppies chasing each other's tails in their big cage at the bottom. I could actually FEEL my heart skip a beat at how beautiful he looked just then. His face was just lit up with this pure joy- no, it was like his face was where joy was born and every other happy feeling in the world came from him at this moment.......ok, wow, I can't believe I just thought something so sappy. But, strangely enough, I didn't wanna smack myself for it. Instead I wanted to make sure I'd never forget it.


Owen turned his head right after my cell phone snapped his picture, the laugh trailing off into an amused smirk. "You took my picture, didn't you?"

I looked down at the picture that perfectly captured Owen's laugh, and grinned. "Yep."

"Lemme see." I held it out to him. "Oh god!" he gasped, then winced. "I look horrible! Like a donkey or something with my mouth open like that. Delete it!"

"No way!" I snatched the phone back and cradled it to my body. "I love this picture. I'm keeping it forever! And you have one of me so you owe me." I was very proud of myself for coming up with that argument when all I really wanted to do was sit in a corner and stare at the picture for the next.....ever.

Owen huffed. "Fine. Then I get another one too!"

I blinked. "Wha-no!" I tried to cover my face before he could get a picture but he must not have taken his phone out of camera mode because the second he whipped it out of his pocket and pointed it at me I heard the 'click' and the next thing I knew I was blinking away the flash. "Hey!"

"Ha!" Owen grinned triumphantly. "Two!"

Oh! Oh! Ok, fine, if THAT'S how he wants to play it then let's go!

I snapped a picture of him grinning, then another of him with his mouth open in surprise. "Three." I said smugly.

The second after I said it he tried to get another picture, but I was ready this time. I spun around fast and by the time I heard the click all he could have gotten was a blurry shot of my back. "Not fair!" he yelled, but I heard the laughter in his voice. "Get back here!"

I giggled and ran. He caught up with me at a potted tree in the middle of the part of the mall we were in. I tried to hide behind it but he went left when I thought he went right and I ended up walking right into a flash followed by a triumphant yell. I glared, then raised my phone threateningly and he took off running.

We squealed laughing as we chased each other around the mall, trying to get pictures. We hid behind people, benches, cardboard cutouts of musicians (and Justin Bieber) in front of FYE, trees, anything we could. I'm sure we got a lot of weird looks, but for once in my life I didn't notice or even care. I was having way too much fun. And even if I didn't get too many actual pictures that were any good, the mental ones I got would stay with me for a long time. Owen laughing. Owen pumping his fist in victory. Owen's gleeful grin. Owen's shocked mock outrage when I got a picture. Owen covering his face with the corner of his black button up. Owen's heated look as he stared at an inch of skin on my stomach when my shirt rode up a bit.

That last one somehow made me uncomfortable and turned on at the same time.

After twenty minutes or so the game evolved from chasing each other around to trying to get stealthy shots when the other wasn't looking. We stopped running, caught our breath, got a drink at the nearest water fountain and started walking around again. But this time while we talked we kept an eye out for an unguarded moment when we could snap a picture. I got a good one of Owen grimacing as he wiped the gum he stepped in off his shoe. He got one of me rolling my eyes at all the Twilight merchandise on the racks outside Hot Topic. Any time one of us got distracted and forgot about the picture game, the other got a picture.

Not that that's all we did. We actually had a pretty good conversation and I ended up finding out a lot about Owen.

His dad used to be a Protestant minister, but quit when Owen was about two. He was never really that close with him though, and he has no idea why his mom -who's not the religious type at all- married him but he wasn't a terrible father while he was around. He was distant, but it still hurt when he left. Other than a few pretty huge fights he doesn't really know why they got divorced and he hasn't seen his dad since, but his mom got the house, -which explains how she got that nice of a house of a school nurses pay- gets child support every month and he calls on Christmas and Owen's birthday so he's not totally out of his life.

Owen's rich uncle is actually his dads brother. He never really liked Nurse Amy that much, which explains why they're living in a house that's just a little too good for a school nurses pay and not Wayne Manor. And yes I did just make a Batman reference. I'm not COMPLETELY out of the loop on pop culture. He loves Owen though. Apparently he never had any kids of his own so he likes to spoil the hell out of his only nephew. I can't really decide if it's admirable or stupid that Owen doesn't like to take advantage of that but at least he seems to have good relationships with his family. I even said that to him, but it made me think about my dad and he caught the little bit of sadness in my voice and asked me about it.

And I told him everything.

Owen didn't make it about him. And he could have, easily now that I think about it. He could have (wrongly) felt bad that he was the cause of my dad and me having future problems and got upset about it which would have meant that I had to comfort HIM and convince him that it was gonna happen whether we met or not, but he didn't. Instead he pressed his shoulder against mine again and told me that whatever happened with my dad he'd help me in any way he could. He didn't even try to tell me what he thought I should do, like Cheryl does -often. He was just.....there if I needed him.

It was perfect.

Somehow the conversation turned to hobbies after that. I can't remember who started it, but it might have been Owen trying to move the conversation on to something less heavy and more first datey. If so, then he's even more amazing than I thought.

I already knew that Owen was WAY more into video games and movies and stuff like that than I'd ever been -and I can't forget his, um, 'strong' opinions about music- but he was also a pretty big reader. We even liked a lot of the same book series. Which surprised the hell out of me since probably 85% of my books are historical fiction. I know, as if I wasn't already a big enough loser, right? They're good though! And it's actually FUN learning actual history stuff that way instead of reading a boring ass history book in school. Seriously if they could teach everything we needed to know by writing a cool novel about it school would be pretty awesome.

We both loved the Richard Sharpe books by Bernard Cornwell. It was so cool actually talking about them with someone, but I had to be careful not to spoil stuff for him. There were like twenty something of them and I was up to the one about Waterloo and he was still back in Badajoz and- yeah I bet literally no one cares. He was more than a few books behind me. So I had to watch what I said. Which is WAY harder than it sounds because it takes a while to read twenty books and you kinda forget what happens when. Still, it was fun. And it made me feel even closer to him. Something else we shared, you know?

"Crap! The movie starts in five minutes!" Owen swore, cutting into me trying to remember which fucking book Hakeswill died in.

"Really?" I frowned and took out my cell. We should have had more- holy shit! We'd been talking for almost THREE hours! "Crap!"

"I know." Owen grumbled, then let out a breath of laughter. "And of course the movie theater's on the other side of the mall."

"Great. We're gonna have to run, aren't we?" I whined. It was a big mall. One floor, but it sprawled. And running? Not my thing. Especially since I already wore myself out before chasing and getting chased by Owen.

"No, not really." Owen said casually. "They usually show ten minutes of commercials and stuff before they ever get to the previews so we're good." Oh. Huh. I didn't know that. But I haven't been out to the movies in a while either so- "Um, we should probably start walking though."

I blinked at Owen who was a few feet away from me now looking at me with a raised eyebrow and a small half smile. Wow he looked sexy. Especially with his messy, slightly curly hair hanging in front of one eye like that and-why is he looking at me again? Oh. Yeah. Movie. Me standing around like an idiot not following him. I blushed and wished I had some free hair to hide behind.

"Um. Right." I somehow managed to keep from stuttering. "Let's go."

We actually ended up getting there right as the previews were starting. We might have gotten in earlier but the guy we bought our tickets from was ridiculously slow. You'd think he'd see the time on the ticket he JUST gave us and, I dunno, hurry up so the paying customers aren't late or something. But I guess that's just stupid.

"Where do you wanna sit?" I whispered to Owen as we stood at the back of the theater. It wasn't very big, at least from what I've seen of movie theaters anyway, and there wasn't any stadium seating like the last time I went to the movies but it was pretty much empty except for two old couples sitting near the front so we had our pick of seats.

"How about there?" Owen whispered back and pointed to a row right by us. I nodded and actually got three steps before I realized where we were sitting. It was the back row. Of a movie theater. And I was ON A DATE!

My heart rate increased with my nervousness. Ok, I may not know much about dating but I DO know what the back row is used for. Did Owen want to.......I mean, I know we kinda, sorta, almost kissed before maybe, and THAT was scary/exciting enough. Could I do that in the back of a movie theater? Should that be where my first kiss is? If I don't want to will he be mad? Sad? Relieved?

Oh god Andy, stop freaking out. Just....sit down and see what happens.

Ok. Ok. I can do that.

I sat down in the middle of the back row. Owen sat right next to me on my left.

I think a part of me was half expecting him to jump me the second we sat down and when he didn't that part was half relieved and half disappointed. I know, I'm such a freaking mess. I took a breath to hopefully calm my nerves -and doesn't THAT just make me sound like one of the old ladies in the theater with us- when Owen started to lean over towards me.

Oh god! He's gonna kiss me! It's really gonna happen! Should I let him? Is there a rule about this? Shit! Why the hell didn't I ask Cheryl!? This should have been call number nine!

He stopped about five inches away from me. Our faces were so close I could feel his breath on my cheek. He licked his lips and, god, that made my breath catch for so many reasons. He took a quick glance around the theater and then his eyes locked on mine. He leaned closer and his lips parted and, oh my god it's happen-

"Did you want any popcorn?"

…......that......that wasn't a kiss.

It took me a few seconds to even comprehend the softly whispered question but even when I did it took me a few more seconds to realize it was directed at me and then it took a few MORE seconds to figure out that it was Owen asking it. Not kissing me. Asking a question.

A question I must have taken too long to answer. "You do, don't you?" he asked with a small, rueful smile, then sighed. "I knew I should have asked before. I'm sorry."

I let out a short, high pitched, relieved laugh that got me a "shh!" from one of the old people. Ok. He wasn't gonna kiss me. He's just as nervous about this as I am, isn't he? Not the kissing, obviously, but making sure the date goes well. The nervousness melted away and was replaced with, well, relief. And maybe a tiny bit of disappointment. "No, it's ok!" I whispered back. "I'm still full from lunch. And, I don't really like popcorn anyway."

That got me a puzzled look. "Really?"

I nodded and felt my face get a bit warm. "Um, yeah. I know, I'm weird, but I just never liked it." I said with a small shrug.

"You're not weird." Owen said warmly. "I've just never met anyone who didn't like popcorn. Heh, I guess now I know how people feel when I say I don't like chocolate." He grinned. "Guess it's a good thing I didn't buy any then. Popcorn I mean."

God, that smile. I could LIVE in it. I smiled back. "I'd have eaten it if you bought it." And now I'm blushing again. God did I actually just say that?! I'm such a dork. I really hope it's too dark to see how red my face is right now.

Owen ducked his head in a gesture that was familiar and not at the same time. Hiding his own blush maybe? If so, I wish the theater was lit up more so I could see it. "So sweet." he said, almost under his breath. My chest got wonderfully tight with that feeling and I was back to being glad it was dark. His head snapped back to me the second the words were out of his mouth, almost like he wasn't sure if he said it out loud and he wanted to see if I heard or not. I decided not to say anything. I'd been there before. So many times. And I always felt better when Owen pretended he didn't hear me.

Plus I had nothing to say. Which is probably a good thing. If all I can do is giggle and blush at things like that then I'd hate to hear any actual WORDS that might come out.

After a few seconds Owen either decided I didn't hear anything or that he didn't really care and he gave me another smile before turning back to the movie. Well, previews really. How many do they show anyway? A million? Sure seems like it. And not a single interesting one. Well, except maybe for the one about Abraham Lincoln fighting vampires. That actually looked kinda cool.

Eventually the movie started though and I kinda got wrapped up in it. It was John Carter, if anyone cares, and I wasn't expecting anything but a big budget sci fi Ambien but it was actually pretty good. Lots of story to go along with the special effects. I was so wrapped up in it that it took me a few minutes to even realize that there was something brushing against my arm. When I noticed it I glanced down absently for a second, then back at the screen.....for about a half second then my eyes shot back to my arm. Or, our arms I guess I should say. Because Owen's was right next to mine. On the same armrest. Touching me.

Suddenly, the movie wasn't all that interesting.

The whole left side of my body seemed to break out in a clammy, nervous-excited sweat, except for the arm that was touching Owen. That just felt......warm. But not at all uncomfortable. It was......nice. More than nice. Even though it was like the fifth time we touched today I still got that tight feeling in my chest. God I loved touching him. Wait, does that make me sound like a pervert? I shook myself internally. Doesn't matter, Andy. But if you're really worried I doubt anyone who freaks out over getting a kiss could be considered a pervert. I nodded to myself. Ok. I'm not a pervert. I guess that means.....I'm free to enjoy this then. I grinned to myself and pressed my arm a little bit more against Owen's. Ahhh. There. So much better. This is the best way to watch a movie.

Except it wasn't.

Not just because KNOWING that I was touching Owen was making it impossible to pay attention either. It just, wasn't enough. Not that it didn't feel great! It did! But there was still a whole shirt sleeve between us. This was nice, but in Uno's, when we held hands? That was so much nicer. Feeling his skin touching mine, that comforting pressure when he squeezed my hand, that feeling of connection. God I wished I could have that right now.

Well.....why can't you?

I blinked. And then Pandora's Box opened up.

That's a good question. Why can't I? There aren't that many people around, right? That was what I was worried about before. I didn't dislike holding hands, it was the in public thing. Well, I guess we're still in public but it's really dark and everyone else is a bunch of rows in front of us so why not just....grab his hand?

But what if he doesn't want me to! What if the restaurant thing was, like, a one time thing? What if he's as freaked out about holding hands in public as I was? But, he didn't look scared when I pulled away. He looked.....confused? Hurt? I'm not sure. Then what about all the times he brushed up against me? Maybe he wanted to hold my hand, but didn't because he thought I'd freak out? But he has to understand why I would, right? Right. Definitely. I mean, it's obvious. Right? So! If all that's right then he'd love it if I held his hand here! Great!

I'm gonna hold his hand.

… hand didn't move.

Any second now.

…..still not moving.

Oh god, I can't make myself do it! I'm.....such a loser. No! I want this! Dammit I've been waiting over three weeks to see Owen in person and now we're on a freaking date and I wanna hold his goddamn hand more than I've ever wanted to do anything in my life and I deserve this! Hold his hand you fucking pussy!

Slowly, tentatively, I turned my hand so to was palm down on the armrest. His hand was just inches away, palm down also. I stretched out my pinky.....there! It hit flesh! I pulled it back and glanced at Owen, but he didn't seem to have noticed. I swallowed hard. Ok. that again, but with the whole hand this time.

I steadied myself.

I started to reach over with my pinky again, my heart somehow pounding even faster than before. This time when it touched I didn't yank it back, I let it stay there for a second. Ok, this is it, it's just like jumping into a cold pool or pulling off a Band-Aid, just do it all at once and get it over with so you can start enjoying it. I took a breath, and slid my hand over the top of his.

There was almost a second where nothing happened and the whole universe seemed to be holding it's breath in anticipation and then Owen's hand turned over and closed around mine. The universe let out a giddy sigh of relief. Or maybe that was just me. Me and Owen were holding hands. How could anything feel more right?

I glanced over at him and of course he wasn't looking at the movie anymore, he was looking at me. A sappy grin stretched it's way across my face and a second later Owen had one too. I let out a few breathy giggles, then looked away shyly, only to look right back when I heard soft giggling coming from Owen. Our eyes met again and this time I didn't look away. We just stayed like that, smiling at each other. Every once and a while one of us would look down at our hands for a second and the smile would turn into a grin or a giggle but we never lost eye contact for long. I couldn't remember a time when I felt happier. Or more proud of myself. Andy the shy loser fag boy had enough balls to hold another boys hand in the movie theater.

Who would have ever thought it?

Eventually we went back to watching the movie, but our hands stayed together. Even missing a good fifteen minute chunk in the middle it was a really good movie and I was glad I got to see it with Owen. I would have watched concert footage of the Insane Clown Posse and have a good time if I could watch it sitting next to Owen, but seeing something that was actually good just made our time even better.

When the movie ended we had to let go of each other's hand to stand up and as much as I wanted to I didn't try to get it back after we did. The lights were up and the exits were right there so we'd just have to let go right away. Plus I was a little scared that I'd get so wrapped up in feeling his hand in mine that I'd forget to and that wouldn't be good for either of us, but especially bad for Owen, so it was better this way.

The movie went a little longer than we thought though so when we got out we only had five minutes before his mom was supposed to show up to pick us up. I tried not to think about it as we walked to the front of the mall. We talked about the movie and what we liked and didn't like and how awesome the Abe Lincoln vampire movie looked but when we got outside and say his mom's Hummer idling in front of the entrance the mood got a little down. We looked at each other at the same time with the same sad, resigned smile on our faces.

It was time to leave.

The car ride back wasn't that bad actually. Nurse Amy didn't tease Owen this time, just asked us questions about what we did and if we had fun. We told her about it, leaving out some things of course, and by the time we were done we were pulling back into Owen's driveway.

"It was really great that you stopped by today Andy." Nurse Amy said as we got out of the car. "I'm glad you guys had a good time. You're gonna come back, right?"

I nodded eagerly. "Definitely!"

Owen tried really hard to hide the delighted smile that caused, but I'm pretty sure Nurse Amy saw it anyway. She didn't say anything about it though. "Great! Well, anytime you wanna come over you can. If Owen's not at the station he usually spends all his free time holed up in his room so it's not like you'll miss him."

"Mom!" Owen groaned.

Nurse Amy chuckled. "What? You know it's true."

"You don't have to say it." he grumbled.

She shook her head. "Have I ever told you how glad I'm gonna be when you're not a teenager anymore?"

"Mom!" Owen snapped this time, sounding really annoyed.

"Sorry, sorry." she held up her hands. "I'll let you two say goodbye but don't be too long. We have to leave in about twenty minutes." she smiled at me. "See you soon Andy." she waved at me and walked up to the front door. She opened it and just barely managed to scoop up the yapping fur ball that tried to escape, went in and closed the door behind her.

"I wish you didn't have to go." Owen sighed a few seconds later.

I turned back to him. "Me too." I said. "But....I had a really great time."

Owen's slight frown turned into a bright smile and I almost gasped at how....shiny, it made him look. "Really?" I nodded and smiled back. "I'm really glad. I really liked spending time with you. And, I really like you, too."

I giggled and blushed. "I-I like you too."

We smiled at each other for a little bit, just soaking in how great hearing that made us feel. At least I was, and I'm pretty sure Owen was too. We'd had a perfect time today but with all the stuff we talked about we didn't really ever come out and say how we felt about each other. I mean, yeah we already had before, but not in person. And that really made a whole lot of difference, being able to look into his eyes when he said he liked me.

After a few minutes he walked me over to my bike, which was still in the carport. I turned around to say goodbye but the words caught in my throat. Owen was right behind me. Like, RIGHT behind me. There was less than a foot of space between us and instantly it was like we were back in his room this morning. Like nothing had ever interrupted the moment. That same feeling of looking up at him, that same feeling of life changing meaning.

Oh my god. He's gonna kiss me.

My eyes darted down to his lips. So close to mine. I was breathing rapidly now, scared and excited and thrilled and worried and desperate all at the same time. Owen's gaze was steady, never leaving mine, and it hit me again how that steely, determined confidence that just springs up out of nowhere from him just completely does me in every time. I'd never seen anything sexier in my life. The only hint that he was feeling even a little bit of what I was was the short, rapid breaths I could feel in my lips from his mouth.

"Andy." he whispered. He leaned forward a bit, his eyes staying open until the last second. His lips got closer and closer and I only had a second between when his eyes closed and he moved that last tiny distance to think that this was actually HAPPENING and then, he kissed me.

And my whole world changed.

It wasn't like they tell you. There was no big event. No rockets took off, no fireworks exploded, the ground didn't shake and the Earth didn't shift on it's axis. Instead it was like there was this tiny little 'click' inside of me somewhere. Just a small, little shift in perception and suddenly everything was so clear to me I couldn't even remember what it was like to be so confused.

I was in love. Totally and completely. THAT'S what that tight, filled up feeling in my chest was. THAT'S just thinking about him could make my life better. THAT'S why just hearing his voice can erase even the worst pain. It was love. I was so wrong my whole life. Good looks and popularity do attract good looks and popularity, but that isn't love. That's lust, and a self esteem boost, and a way to feel like you're more important because attractive, popular people want you. Love is spending all your free time listening for a voice in the crowd because you know deep down inside that the person it belongs to is going to be the most important person in your life. It's somehow overcoming fears you've had your entire life just to talk to someone. It's making your best friend want to kill you because you want your first date to be perfect in every way. And it's so, so much more. I can't even describe it.

All that shot through my head in less than a few seconds, but the truly life changing things are usually like that. It was a good thing too, because by the time I realized I was kissing him back I felt his mouth open slightly and his tongue questioningly tap against my lips and no matter what I was thinking about, THAT would totally short circuit my brain.

But not enough to stop me from knowing that I desperately wanted to let him in.

I opened my mouth and his tongue slipped between my lips. He didn't come crashing in and shove it down my throat though. He came in slowly, almost tentatively, and gently brushed his tongue against mine. I shuddered, and probably moaned but I couldn't be sure because all I could hear was the blood rushing out of my brain and into my pants. I pushed my tongue back against his, just as softly, and they caressed each other. Which is a really girly way of describing it I guess, but I can't think of a better way to put it. I don't even know if what we were doing was actual making out, it seemed more like having a lazy conversation than anything sexual. Just a natural extension of the conversations we'd been having all day.

The perfect first kiss.

Finally after what seemed like forever and a second at the same time, we gently separated. I opened my eyes to see him lean back slightly and look at me like no one had ever looked at me before. Warm and possessive and happy and giddy and content. And filled with wonder and amazement. It looked like our kiss had effected him at least as much as it did me.

He reached out slowly and brushed a strand of hair that I didn't even notice had gotten out of the ribbon and brushed it behind my ear. For some reason, that seemed almost as intimate as the kiss. I smiled at him, and then smiled even wider when the embarrassment that I always thought would happen after my first kiss never even tried to show up. And then I smiled even wider than that when I realized my head was totally silent. No stupid voices to ruin the moment.

Owen smiled back just as wide and then whispered, "Wow."

I giggled. "Wow." I agreed.

We smiled at each other for a few more minutes. "I should probably get inside." Owen broke the silence with a sigh. "I don't want her coming out and ruining this."

I nodded. I didn't wanna leave, but after that it didn't feel like leaving would be the end of our date. Just a short break from a date that was never gonna be over. "I should get home too."

"God though! Today-that kiss-it was so....."

"Perfect." I finished for him.

Owen smiled and nodded. "Perfect." I smiled back at him and reluctantly got on my bike. "Hey, when do you have lunch?"

I blinked and it took me a few seconds to figure out that he was talking about at school. "Um, seventh, why?"

He nodded like he'd been expecting that and I had a rare leap of logic and realized that he'd probably already looked all over his own lunch period for me months ago so he knew we didn't share. I felt slight disappointment at that. "I have sixth. What class do you have seventh?"

"History." I answered, wondering where this was going.

"Do you wanna skip and have lunch with me on Monday? You can meet my friends then I can skip seventh and have lunch with you and Cheryl. That way we can spend like an hour and a half together and we won't have to wait till next weekend to see each other." he said excitedly.

I'd never skipped a class before. Well, not unless I was at Nurse Amy's or got sent home for being 'sick', but I didn't even hesitate. "Yeah! I'd love that. I...don't wanna wait that long to see you." I hesitated. "Um, would it be lame to say I already kinda miss you?" I blushed slightly, even though it was completely true.

Owen smiled warmly. "No, because I do too. But-" his smile turned into a grin. "-maybe this will help." And with that he walked up to me and gave me another kiss. It was a quick one, slightly longer than a peck on the lips, but it made me feel like I was gonna explode from love all the same.

"That-" I rasped, my throat suddenly dry. I swallowed and tried again. "That definitely helped." I whispered.

"Me too." Owen whispered back, then took a step away. "See you Monday Andy."

"Bye Owen." I said softly. And then with a wave a started pedaling away.

I expected to feel bad when I left Owen, but I didn't. There was no way I could. I replayed everything in our head. Our date. The kiss. Holding hands. The kiss. The second kiss. The kiss. Before I'd even gotten off Owen's street a huge, goofy-no, a huge lovestruck grin was spread across my face. Forget what I'd said before. NOW I'd never been happier than I'd ever been in my life. For the first time in a long, long time, I could say with 100% certainty that I, Andrew Allen Baxter V, had a great life.

Dear today,

I love you.

Sincerely, Andy.

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