Semester finals came up and they all did well on them. They went to the next GSA meeting and gave Dave the papers he wanted them to fill out. They were just for some general information; name, address, phone number, email, age, grade they were in, etc. This was so that they could contact the members about events and things like that. They got to know the club members better and found all of them to be great people. None of them acted in any stereotypical way, guys being effeminate or girls acting like lumberjacks. They were just regular kids. The four of them felt comfortable and made friends among them. Cheryl really got to like talking with Jackie and Liz, they were the couple that had danced with Chris and Travis at the Holiday Dance.
As they continued to go to the GSA meetings, Chris would sometimes look around and see how the various couples acted with each other and smiled. His eyes would come back to Travis and he'd smile and imagine. What he did not realize is that someone else noticed many of the times that he looked at Travis when Travis wasn't looking, but Cheryl would merely smile and go back to whatever conversation she was involved in. She would see the small smile on Chris's face and it cemented in her head something she had thought about weeks before. She had a feeling that Chris may be gay and had a crush on Travis. If only Travis was gay and could return Chris' feelings, they would be a great couple.
Several times Cheryl tried to get Wendy to come with them to the meeting and join with them, but Wendy never had the time. A couple of times Wendy tried to get Travis to go with her somewhere, like to the mall or to get a snack after school on the afternoons of the meeting but Travis always declined. Wendy complained to Cheryl about it a few times when she went over to Cheryl's house to do homework or just hang out.
"He always wants to go to the queer's meeting instead of with me," Wendy complained.
"Wendy!" Cheryl looked at her with surprise.
"Well, it's true. Why does he want to spend time with them, when he could be with me?" she whined.
"Maybe he likes them. They're all pretty cool. We've all gotten to be friends. They're great," Cheryl answered her.
"Maybe, but doesn't it bother you that they are that way, you know, they do stuff with each other?" Wendy said as she made a face.
"What stuff? Cheryl laughed. "You mean talk, laugh, joke, listen to music, have a good time? That stuff?" she asked her.
"You know what I mean, sex with each other," Wendy said as her cheeks reddened a little in embarrassment.
"I don't know what, if anything they do with each other and I don't care. It's not like there is an orgy going on in the room and what they do when they aren't there is none of my business. They don't talk about it, like I wouldn't talk about what, if anything, I did with Bryce. Where did you get this idea that's all they think or talk about?" She asked astonished.
"Well, that's what other people say," Wendy said shaking her head.
"Well then other people shouldn't talk about something they know nothing about it. You really should come to a meeting. You'll see, they're just kids like us," she stated.
Wendy shook her head again, "Not like us," she stated.
Cheryl grimaced a little, "Yeah, just like us, there is no difference. If you came to a meeting, you'd see what I mean," she said.
"I don't know. I get kinda creeped out when I think about it," Wendy said.
"Well don't think about it, just come and see," Cheryl said to her.
"I'm not really interested, so I don't think so. I just wish Travis didn't go," she repeated with a whiny voice again.
"Well, he does and he enjoys it. Everyone there likes him. Besides, his best friends go, so he wants to go too," Cheryl stated.
"Yeah, well, maybe he doesn't always have to do the same as they are doing," Wendy continued to whine about it.
"Look, they've been friends since they were little. They're more like brothers than friends. Especially Travis and Chris, they practically grew up together since they've lived next door to each other all their lives," Cheryl said.
Wendy sighed in disappointment, "Yeah, but they're always together. I want time with Travis myself, but he always has something else to do, or he and Chris are doing something, or whatever," she complained.
"Well, if you come to the meeting you can spend time with him there," Cheryl tried to convince her.
"I told you, I don't want to join," Wendy stated sharply.
Cheryl looker at her and shrugged, "Well, suit yourself," she said.
Wendy got up, "Anyway, I got to go. See you later," she said as she gathered her books and bag.
"Bye Wendy. See you at school," Cheryl said to her.
Cheryl and the boys continued to go to the meetings and got to know more of the members. By the end of the semester, tryouts were announced for the school baseball teams. Bryce, Chris and Travis were ready. They signed up for tryouts. When they day came for the tryouts, the three of them brought their gloves to school with them. That afternoon they made their way out to the fields. When they got there Chris' dad was there as well, since he was the varsity coach for baseball.
"Hey dad!" Chris called out.
"Hi Chris, guys. So are you ready to play?" Michael greeted them.
"Yeah, can't wait," Chris answered him.
Michael nodded to them, "Good, go see Coach Cooper and Coach Anderson over there, they coach the frosh-soph team," he said as he pointed to the frosh-soph team coaches.
Chris smiled in thanks, "Kay dad, see you later."
As they turned in the direction he had indicated, he called out to them, "I'll give you guys a ride home after tryouts."
They waved and jogged over to where the other freshmen and sophomores were standing in a semi circle around Coach Cooper, near the pitching mound of one of the baseball fields. He stood there checking over the list on his clipboard. He and Coach Anderson compared the lists that they had on their clipboards before they turned their attention to the boys waiting for them.
They got the boys' attention before greeting them, "Good afternoon guys. I'm Coach Cooper, and this is Coach Anderson. Welcome to tryouts. First thing we are going to do is divide you up in a couple of areas, depending on the position you wish to try out for. Pitchers and Catchers go into the dugout for now. Infielders go to second base, outfielders go to the outfield. Outfielders take some balls with you to the field and warm up, same with the infielders. Good luck guys, when you get warmed up, I'll work with the infielders, while Coach Anderson works with the outfielders."
The boys split themselves up by their interests. Bryce joined the pitchers in the dugout. Chris and Travis headed to the infield. There are about twenty boys who had shown up for tryouts. There are about seven in the group of pitchers and catchers. Six boys in the infield and seven boys in the outfield.
While the infield and outfield players warmed up, Coach Cooper walked over to the dugout to talk to the boys there, "Okay guys, show of hands for those that wish to tryout as pitchers."
Five hands went up and the coach nodded in acknowledgment, "Those of you that are catchers I have a job for you. If you have your own catchers glove, that's great, if not grab one out of the bag in here." He pointed to one of the two boys who had not raised their hand to be a catcher, "Why don't you take your glove and go out to catch for Coach Anderson."
The boy that he chose got up and left the dugout. Coach Cooper turned to the rest, "Okay pitchers, grab your gloves and go over there behind the bleachers and warm up. Nothing fancy, don't be trying to pitch, just warm up."
He waited until they left before turning to the one boy remaining, "Nice to see you back Michael. You'll be catching for me while I work with the infielders. Grab your glove and let's go."
The boy picked his glove up off of the bench and stood up to follow the coach, "Thanks Coach."
The coach picked up a bat and Mike Louis with his glove in his hand followed the coach out to the plate. The coach saw that Coach Anderson had the outfielders gathered around him as he wrote on his clipboard. He stopped at the plate and called for the infielders to gather around him. They hurried over.
"Alright, first I want your names and the position that you expect to play and then we'll see what you can do," he announced. "I know some of you, since you were on the team last year. Let me write the names down for the guys who were on the team last year and then I'll get the rest of your names," he finished.
The coach took a couple of minutes looking at the boys who were there and jotted down names of the few sophomores who were returning, having been freshmen the year before. He then had each of the freshman give him their names so he could put them down. After getting everyone's name on the list, he looked at them to size them up.
"Okay Tom, I want you to take first, you did a good job last year, so I'll have you start there. Jason Mannick you stand to the side. Let's see….Chris Elkins, you go to shortstop, Travis Grayson second, Arturo Fielo, third base, and Gary Masur, wait over near third. Take your positions," he said as he directed them to their positions.
The boys split up to their assigned positions. The coach waited until they were in position, "Third base, take one."
He hit a ground ball to third and watched as the ball was caught and thrown to first base. He continued working around the infield, calling out the base he was hitting before each hit. He substituted the two extra players at first and third base as he worked with them. He then did the same for second base followed by third base.
"Okay boys, huddle up," he called and gestured for them to join him.
They quickly trotted over to him. He looked around at the infielders with a little smile before he spoke, "Alright guys, good work. I'm going to work with the pitchers now, so why don't you guys go run some laps. Tom check with Coach Anderson and see if he's done. If he is, tell him to have the outfielders run some laps and have him join me with the pitchers. Pitchers, come on in!"
The infielders headed off to run and were soon joined by the outfielders while the pitchers joined the coach on the mound. Coach Anderson with the other catcher, Jimmy Morrison joined them.
"Everyone warmed up?" Coach Cooper asked.
He got a chorus of "Yeahs, and yes coach, etc.
"Okay, let me get the names of those of you that are new and we'll start letting you throw some pitches. Michael you start as catcher," he said to the boy who had been his catcher for the infield warm up. He then looked at the other catcher, "uh…Jimmy right?" he asked.
The boy nodded, "Yes, coach."
The coach pointed to the back and side of the dugout and said, "Go and wait over there, and I will have you take some pitches after a little while."
He looked at the list and then at the pitchers gathered next to him, "For the first pitcher….Dave Jenkins, let's see if you can still pitch," he said with a friendly smile.
The boy he chose smiled and nodded to acknowledge the coach's order.
"After that, let's see…Rick Brand, Oscar Ramirez, Bryce Sanders, and Leonard Saldana. Alright, those not pitching stand over to the side, I'll call you in when I'm ready to see you pitch, same with you Jimmy," the coach said.
Dave and Michael took their places and the coaches had them start. After about ten pitches he switched to the next and followed that pattern with all of them. Then he switched catchers and went through the order of pitchers again. He and Coach Anderson talked to each other as they watched, occasionally making notes on their clipboards. Once each pitcher had worked with both catchers he stopped them and sent them out to run some laps with the other players. The two coaches sat in the dugout and talked about the players for several more minutes before Coach Cooper blew his whistle and motioned for the boys to come in. He waited until everyone was there before he had Coach Anderson handed out some paperwork.
"Okay guys, welcome to the team. Coach Anderson is handing out some paperwork. They include the practice and game schedules, also permission slips and physical forms that need to be brought back by next week's practice. The final sheet is a list of requirements and expectations that we have for you. You will see at the bottom of the sheet that we want you to list your shirt and pants sizes and have you and your parent sign it, saying you understand and agree to abide by what I expect of you. This is like a contract between us. If you do not follow these expectations you could end up being removed from the team. Next week, we'll have your uniforms for you, if you bring this last paper to me at tomorrow's practice until then, you'll be wearing your gym clothes like today. Any questions?" he asked as he looked at the gathered boys.
The boys shook their heads.
"Okay, get cleaned up and you're done for the day. See you tomorrow," he said with a clap of his hands.
The boys headed for the locker room, while the coaches went to their office. Michael met the boys when they came out and drove everyone home.
The next couple of weeks were filled with practice, and the GSA meeting. Opening his locker one day, Chris saw a folded pink paper fall out of the locker and onto the ground. He bent over to pick it up. He unfolded it as he stood back up. There were some large bold faced words on it:
Faggots Can't Play Baseball
You should quit now before you get hurt.
He quickly crumpled it and shoved it in his pocket. He looked around to see if anyone had seen the note and saw that no one was paying any attention to him. He felt a little nervous and worried that someone might start a rumor about him like this. As he went to his next class he tried to think about who would do this. He knew there were people like Jerry Latham who might do that, but he had no proof, only suspicions. He couldn't tell anything from the writing since it was obviously printed off a computer. He tried to put it out of his mind as he entered his classroom.
That afternoon Chris saw a guy in a gray hooded sweatshirt sitting in the upper seats of bleachers, watching the practice. The hood on the sweatshirt was up and he had on dark glasses. The coach had Chris standing at the fence near the dugout, while he had Gary in at shortstop. Chris was curious and he casually walked outside the fence to get a drink from the nearby drinking fountain. He glanced at the guy sitting in the bleachers. The guy appeared to be watching the practice, but Chris also felt that he was watching Chris as well. Chris leaned down to take a drink and as he stood back up he casually looked to where the guy was sitting. There was no one there. He looked around to see if he could see which direction the mysterious guy went, but he couldn't see him anywhere. He shrugged and went back onto the field to get back to practice.
A couple of weeks later they had their first game. Chris and Travis started in at short and second. Bryce was not the starting pitcher so he was in the dugout. The team was doing well. At the end of the third inning they were ahead as they came off the field, Chris felt someone was watching him. He looked around as he neared the dugout. He continued to look around to see where the feeling was coming from. Just before he entered, he saw the mysterious guy in the hooded sweatshirt sitting in the upper seats of the bleachers watching the game and stopped to look at him. The guy was dressed just like he was the last time, in the gray hoodie with dark glasses. He was interrupted in his study of the guy by Coach Cooper's voice.
"Elkins, what are you looking at? Get your butt in the dugout," the coach asked.
"Uh, sorry coach," Chris apologized.
Chris lowered his head and trotted into the dugout, not realizing he had stopped outside while he looked at the mysterious guy. During the rest of the game, he would glance up at the bleachers from time to time and see the guy sitting there. Every time Chris looked his way, the guy seemed to be looking at Chris. He could almost detect a smile coming from the guy. He was obviously rooting for Chris' team. One time when Chris looked his way, they guy looked like he nodded at him, which was a surprise. Chris was sure he didn't know who the guy was.
Their team won the game and Chris noticed the guy was standing and applauding along with everyone else. This time Chris saw the guy look toward him and give a little nod of his head in greeting and it appeared a smile could almost be seen in the darkness of the hood.
The team sat together in the dugout while the coaches congratulated them on their win. Once they were done, they gathered their equipment bags and left the dugout.
Chris had quickly gathered his stuff and got out because he wanted to see who this mysterious guy was. He looked around but couldn't see him. He made his way over to the visitor team side and was just turning around when he was stopped by a voice from behind him.
"Nice game Chris," the voice said.
He turned and saw the mysterious guy standing in the shadow of the bleachers. Chris stopped, "How do you know my name?" he asked.
"Don't you remember me?" the guy said with a friendly tone.
The guy pulled his hood down and took off his sun glasses. Chris saw the bleached blond spiked hair and brown eyes of Jack, the guy he had played DDR with at the arcade a couple of months back.
"Oh, yeah, now I do. Jack, right?" Chris nodded.
"Yep, that's me," Jack smiled.
"So why are you here anyway? You don't go to our school," Chris asked.
"I was in the neighborhood and saw the game. I always liked baseball, so I thought I'd watch. It was good to see someone I know playing in the game, so I rooted for your side. I enjoyed it," Jack said.
Chris was about to say something when he heard a shout and he turned to look.
"CHRIS!" he saw Travis motioning for him to come over. Chris raised his arm to acknowledge the call and turned back to Jack. Jack had put his hood back up and the glasses on.
"Well, I guess I'll get going now," Jack said.
"Kay, and thanks. I'll see you later?" Chris asked.
"Yeah, if I'm in the neighborhood again, I'll stop and watch. Take care bud. See ya." Jack said before he turned away.
"Yeah, see ya," Chris said.
Chris watched as the older teen walked away before he turned to head over to where Travis was waiting for him, Cheryl and Bryce were already heading out to the parking lot.
"Hey bro, who was that?" Travis asked.
"Jack. I met him at the arcade a couple of months ago. He came by to cheer for our team," Chris replied.
"Oh. I don't know him do I?" Travis asked.
Chris shook his head, "No I don't think so. I mighta told you about him, but I don't think you've met him. He doesn't go to our school."
"Okay, let's go. My dad is waiting to give us a ride home," Travis said.
"Kay," Chris replied.
As they walked to Mr. Grayson's car, Travis threw his arm around Chris' shoulders. Chris smiled when he felt the familiar weight. Travis had no idea how much Chris enjoyed feeling that arm resting on him.
Travis was a bit taller than Chris and his arm seemed to fit just right across Chris' shoulders. It was something he did almost unconsciously whenever Chris and he walked anywhere together. Only when they got to the car did they separate. They put their gear bags in the trunk and Chris got in the back seat. Travis and his dad were talking about the game, with Chris adding things from time to time.
During the drive, Chris happened to look out the window as they were driving by the park near their house and he saw someone that looked kind of familiar. It was an older teenager. Chris was sure he knew him from somewhere, but didn't know how or where. He didn't think he knew him from school, but there was something real familiar about him. Maybe it was someone he'd seen during one of the times they were at the arcade. Soon the guy was out of sight and Chris mentally shrugged, figuring it would come to him eventually.
Randy watched the Grayson car drive by before he turned and walked across the park to where he had parked his motorcycle. He unlocked the helmet from where it was attached to the bike and put it on. He glanced back across the park, looking in the direction of Chris' house. He turned away, started the motorcycle and roared off down the street to make his report to Zebulon back at the estate.
Over the next few days, a few subtle things started happening to Chris. From time to time when the halls were crowded he would be tripped up by someone kicking his foot as he walked, so that it hooked behind his other foot, which invariably caused him to stumble a little. When he looked around, he never saw who did it, although he could occasionally hear a snicker nearby when he tripped. Sometimes he would feel a jab in his side when he was surrounded by other students as they moved through the halls between classes. Again he never saw the culprit. These things also seemed to happen only when none of his friends were with him. Another note appeared in his locker one morning.
Hey Faggot, are you that good of a cocksucker that the team wants to keep you around, is that why you're still playing?
He angrily crumpled the note and shoved it to the bottom of his backpack before he closed his locker door.
Over the next couple of weeks the little annoyances continued, including a couple of more notes in his locker. Chris tried to hurry to his locker between classes to see if he could catch the person in the act, but he was unsuccessful. One Friday afternoon, he and Travis were in his bedroom. Travis was sitting on his bed and Chris was standing at the foot of the bed, emptying books and other things out of his backpack and laying them on the bed. When he pulled one of the books out a crumpled piece of paper fell out of the pack and landed near Travis. He picked it up and looked at Chris with a smirk, "What's this, a love note?"
Chris looked up puzzled, until he saw what Travis was talking about. He remembered what it was and dropped the backpack and kneeled forward on the bed to grab the note from Travis.
Travis pulled it out of reach and started to give a taunting laugh as he did.
Chris' blushed as Travis opened up the note and started to read it. His laughter quickly died away. When he finished he looked at Chris and there was anger in his voice, "Where did this come from?"
Chris just turned around and sat down with his back to Travis and his head bowed. Travis was concerned as he moved forward on his knees until he was kneeling behind Chris and put his arms around Chris from behind.
Chris twisted around and wrapped his arms around Travis and pushed his face against his chest. After a few moments, he started to tell Travis about what had been going on for the last few weeks, with the bumping, the hidden jabs and the notes.
Travis did what he could to comfort him. As Chris related what was going on, Travis sank back so that he was now sitting on his heels as he listened to what Chris had to say, his arms still around Chris. When Chris finished, they stayed in the same position.
Chris had closed his eyes and was reveling in the feeling of Travis holding him.
After a few moments he lifted his head so that he could look up at Travis. When Travis felt the movement of Chris' head, he looked down and the two of them looked at each other for a few moments. At that moment Chris saw something in the way Travis looked at him and he closed his eyes, opening them when he felt Travis' lips gently touch his for a few moments before pulling back. Chris saw Travis bite his lower lip nervously as they looked at each other. Then Travis saw what he was waiting for reflected in Chris' eyes and he moved in once again, this time the kiss lasted longer and their arms tightened around each other. When they pulled back, both of them were looking at each other in surprise.
Chris couldn't help himself and he started babbling a little, "Oh my god, oh my god! I…uh…, I can't believe…we ju…oh god…" he stammered.
Travis started to get confused and began to pull back, "I'm sorry Chris, I didn't me…"
He was quickly hushed up as Chris lurched forward knocking Travis over, landing on top of him, his mouth seeking Travis' once again to continue where they left off. After a several seconds, Chris pulled back and looked down at Travis.
"Wow," said Travis.
Chris smiled, "Yeah, wow is right," he replied.
"Chris, I've wanted to do that for so long, but…" Travis admitted.
"Yeah, I know, me too. It was even better than I expected," Chris said.
"I'd have to agree there, it was awesome," Travis replied.
Travis moved one of his hands until he had it on the back of Chris' head and pulled him closer so that they could continue. As they kissed, Travis ran his tongue lightly along Chris' lips. Chris opened his mouth and allowed Travis entrance. Each of them reached out and their tongues danced lightly against each other, gently caressing its counterpart. Chris moved until he was lying almost completely on top of Travis, never stopping what they were doing.
"Chris! Are you up here?" came the voice of his little brother Tyler from the stairs.
Chris quickly rolled off of Travis and jumped off the bed toward his desk as they heard Tyler coming up the stairs.
Travis scooted up until he was sitting back against the head board. Both of them tried to straighten their clothes and hair as Tyler walked into the room.
"Chris, you in…oh, hey Travis," he greeted them.
"Hey Ty," Travis said with a little wave.
"Chris, will you throw the ball with me for a little while before practice?" the younger boy asked.
"Uh…yeah, of course, sure. I'll be down in a couple of minutes," Chris nodded.
"Kay, I'll be out front," Tyler turned and left.
Once Tyler had left, the two boys looked at each other and started laughing.
Chris went and sat on the bed next to Travis and took his hand as they looked at each other.
"So, uh, I guess that means you…" Travis asked.
"Uh, yeah, I am," Chris admitted.
"How long have you known?" Travis asked curiously.
"Since last year. I loved looking at you and being with you, but I didn't want to say anything cause I didn't know how you would feel. Then you started going with Wendy and…" Chris started.
Travis interrupted him, "I never was going with her. She was just, you know, there," he said.
"Well, it looked like it to me," Chris said as he looked at him.
"I know, but I tried to get her to realize that I just wanted to be friends. I guess she wasn't really taking the hint. She is pretty nice and I didn't want to hurt her feelings, so I just kind of kept it at that level, her wanting me to be her boyfriend and me wanting to keep it at being friends. Lately though, she has backed off a little, so that has been a relief," Travis sighed.
"So what do we do now?" Chris asked.
Travis bit his lip before he answered, "I think, we need to uh, keep it on the down low. Since you've been getting these notes and all, if they thought we were together, it might get worse. Is that okay?" he asked hopefully.
Chris nodded, "Yeah, I agree. I don't want anyone else to know yet. I'd rather stay as a couple of friends who are the 'S' in GSA rather than be the 'G' in GSA, at least for now. Let's see how it goes for awhile," Chris said.
"Okay. I know it sucks but, it might be better for now, until we know for sure whether we want to come out. The good thing is I know we will have the support of some really good people when we do come out," Travis said.
"Yeah, and I've been thinking about it and I want to talk to Alex, you know in my art class. He's become a good friend and I've been thinking about telling him about me to ask his advice. I won't say anything about you, but maybe he can tell me how it went for him and Vincent when they came out and it might help us," Chris said.
Travis looked in thought for a few moments before he nodded, "Okay, I guess. In fact, you can tell him about me since we're boyfriends now," he stopped and looked at Chris with a quick nervous look. "Uh….we are…aren't we?" he asked.
"Oh god yes, if that's what you want, I know it's what I've wanted for a long time," Chris replied quickly with a huge smile on his face.
"Good, then boyfriend, you want to seal it with a kiss?" Travis asked.
Chris smiled as he stood up and pulled Travis to his feet. They put their arms around each other and closed the slight distance allowing their lips to just caress each other for a few moments. When they pulled back, Chris rested his head on Travis' shoulder. Travis laid his head against Chris', both of them smiling in contentment.
"CHRRRIIIIISSSS! WHAT'S TAKIN SO LONG! I'M GONNA HAVE TO LEAVE FOR PRACTICE SOON!" yelled Tyler.
The two boys started giggling as Chris pulled his head back and gave Travis a quick peck on the lips, "I guess I better get down there."
Travis nodded regretfully, "Yeah, too bad."
They let go of each other and Chris grabbed his glove as the boys quickly made their way downstairs and outside, where Tyler was standing there with his hands on his hips waiting impatiently for Chris with a scowl on his face.
"About time, what took so long?" Tyler asked.
"I, uh couldn't find my glove, it got, uh kicked under the bed," Chris replied as he tried to keep from blushing.
"Oh, alright. Well, help me warm up," he impatiently told Chris.
Chris nodded, "No prob Ty. Wait, instead, how about if I go to practice with you and we can warm up there. I'll stay and watch your practice," Chris offered.
Tyler grinned, "Cool. Can we go now?" he asked.
"Sure, go inside and open the garage so we can get the bikes out," Chris said.
"Hey guys, wait for me and I'll go with you," Travis called out.
"Sure Trav, we'll wait," Chris said.
Tyler went in to grab his gear bag and Travis went inside his house to leave a note for his mom that he was going to be at the park with Chris and Tyler.
The three of them got on their bikes and they headed to the park where the little league practice was going to be. When they got there one of the other boys from Tyler's team was already there, so the four of them started throwing the ball around. As more kids showed up, they joined in until the coach showed up and the practice started.
Chris and Travis went and sat on the bleachers with some of the other parents who were there to watch the practice. They sat close together and kept glancing at each other. When their eyes met, they would smile at each other for a few moments before turning their attention back to the practice. They sat close enough to each other that they were touching all along one side.
They were unaware that someone else saw the exchanged looks and closeness, it brought an evil looking grin to the face of the watcher.