"Three weeks? You've got to be kidding!" Mark couldn't believe it.
"Yea, I know, I can't believe I got the time off," Deacon replied. "You know how Howle can be. But he's making me do a few hours of stock taking tomorrow, which is the most boring job in the universe!"
"Hah, you can't speak shit about him now! He is your new God," Mark laughed. "This is gonna be so great - no parents, no girlfriends, no responsibilities; three whole weeks of men behaving badly!" Mark's smile was so wide, he thought his face would split. Deacon grinned. It was going to be an amazingly carefree holiday, that was for sure, but Mark sounded like a five year old in a toy store. 'I guess that's what I love about him though,' Deacon mused silently. He scowled. He had to stop thinking things like that, it sounded queer.
"Deac? You there man?" Mark's voice floated down the phone line.
"Yea sorry," Deacon said. "I got to thinking about all the beer we're gonna drink and the havoc yet to be caused!"
"That's the spirit! What time should I cruise around tonight?"
"I've got some shit to do, so come round about seven. And pick up a couple of pizzas on the way. See ya."
"Yea, later." Mark hung up the phone with a grin.
'This is going to be so great,' Mark thought. College had just let out for the summer, and he was staying at Deacon's place for three weeks. Three glorious weeks of being 18 and in his best friend's company. Both their families were going out of state on holidays for almost a month, but Deacon and Mark had declined, opting instead to 'house sit.' Plus, their girlfriends Marie and Sarah were on a training session for their college courses for the first five weeks of the holidays; that meant no shopping and no stupid chick-flick movie nights. 'I can't believe Howle gave him the time off,' Mark marveled. 'I wonder how he did it?' Mark shook his head. 'Who cares? He's all mine for 21 days!' Mark scowled at himself. He kept having these thoughts, and he didn't know what to make of them.
Weird thoughts. Like about how Deacon looked - sometimes in lectures, Mark would feel this urge to lean forward and run his hands through Deacon's dirty blonde hair. Or instead of watching the blood-shed and gore in their favorite movies, he would find himself staring at Deacon's fine cheekbones, his pointed nose, his pink lips. And most of all, there was this underlying need to just have Deacon, to be around him all the time and spend time with him. It didn't make sense - they had been friends since grade school, but he hadn't felt like this until just this year, since after the accident. It was bothering him, like an itch that needs scratching but can't be reached. Like the knot in his stomach.
"Ma-ark!!" A shrill cry pierced his thoughts. "Mark! Are you ready to go to Deacon's? We've got to leave for the airport," Mark's mother called up the stairs.
"I'm heading around to Deac's at seven, so just leave me the keys," Mark replied as he headed downstairs into the kitchen.
"Are you sure? I don't want anything forgotten - can you imagine the power bill if we come back and you had left the hall light on?" His mother looked at him skeptically. Mark rolled his eyes.
"Mom! Just shut the power off and everything, I'll just fool around outside until I go."
"Ok honey, have a good time. We'll send you an email when we get there." His mother started to usher the kids out the door. "Bye honey! I love you!" She gave Mark the keys and blew him a kiss.
"Love you too Mom." Mark's father trotted down the stairs, doing a final check.
"Take care son. Try not to get arrested or anything," his father smirked.
"Thanks for your confidence, Dad." Mark pushed his father towards the door. "Hurry up before you miss your flight." His little sister poked her tongue out. "Right back at you squirt," Mark smiled. "Have fun!" The door closed, and silence prevailed.
"Deac? Let me in man, it's getting dark out here!" Mark tapped on the glass sliding door again. "Come on, asshead, the pizzas getting cold!" Deacon appeared at the door grinning wickedly.
"Well, in that case!" He slid the door open and closed it behind Mark. "Don't want the pizza to get cold."
"Aw, bite me shithead," Mark shot back, faking anger. Deacon grinned, a beautiful wide smile where you could see all his teeth. Mark smiled back, and was caught off guard by the fluttering feeling in his stomach. 'Please,' Mark prayed silently, 'none of those weird thoughts tonight. Just let me relax.'
Two six packs of beer later, Mark and Deacon had draped themselves over the corner couches in the sitting room watching 'The Fifth Element'. Both decidedly tipsy, Deacon had fallen asleep on the sofa.
"Dude, that orange haired chick is hot! Wish they'd show a full frontal shot though...." Mark stopped talking when he saw Deacon asleep on the couch. Deacon's face was turned slightly towards Mark, and his shaggy hair had fallen over his face. Mark trailed his eyes down his best friend's profile. Deacon was about six foot, slightly shorter than Mark, with shaggy, dirty blonde hair and grey eyes. His face was perfect - high cheeks, full lips, a pointed nose and wide jaw.
Mark had seen Deacon almost naked heaps of times - drunken escapades, gym class showers, truth or dares - but recently he had become fascinated by Deacon's body. It was a surfer's body - square shoulders, defined abs, tanned and flawless skin. However, he was almost feminine in his bone structure; even though he had a lean muscular body, he was sort of petite. Mark was overwhelmed with a feeling of longing when he looked at Deacon, and the tense feeling in Mark's stomach loosened a little. He felt a slight stirring in his groin which was usually only associated with Marie or a Playboy centerfold; Mark wanted to touch Deacon, and he didn't know why. He leant over and brushed Deacon's hair off his face; as he did, Deacon woke up.
"Hey," Deacon mumbled, "what's up?" Mark jumped back, turning red. "Did I have a bug on me or something?" Deacon started to brush at his face with his hand.
"Uh, yeah, I thought I saw a mosquito," Mark stood up and went to the kitchen.
"Hey, bring me another beer while you're up," Deacon called out.
Deacon had felt Mark looking at him - staring, infact - but when Mark had brushed Deacon's hair out of his face, Deacon had to sit up. His dick had suddenly twitched at the touch of Mark's hand on his face, and he was angry at himself. 'You were probably still kind of asleep, and thought it was Sarah,' Deacon scowled at himself. 'Yea, you were dreaming or something.' Mark tossed him another beer, and he downed it in three swigs.
"Hey," Mark grinned, his blush having receded. "Slow down, we don't have many left."
"Well, we'll just have to make out own fun, won't we?" Deacon grinned wickedly at Mark and got up to get another drink. Puzzled by the comment, Mark's eyes unwittingly followed Deacon's perfect body as it walked to the kitchen. Realizing where his gaze was, Mark quickly looked away and knocked back his own beer. In the kitchen, Deacon frowned. 'Make our own fun?' he thought. 'You sound like a fucking fag!' He shook his head and reached down into his parent's alcohol cabinet and grabbed the three-quarter full bottle of tequila. 'Time for a little delicious distraction,' he thought with a grin. Mark saw the bottle in Deacon's hand and laughed. "Time for the vomit fluid, huh?"
"Shut up," Deacon smirked. "I feel like getting totaled tonight. You game?" Mark grabbed two shot glasses from the mantle.
"Oh my god, you know what would rule right now?" Deacon drunkenly lumbered over to Mark and half-sat/half-fell onto the sofa beside him, an empty tequila bottle at his feet.
"What?" Mark gazed into Deacon's eyes and smiled lopsidedly. He watched as Deacon stumbled towards the door, opened it and picked up something from the lawn. He held it up - it was a football. "Hell yea!!" Mark flopped out of his chair and raced towards the door, tackling Deacon into the yard and rolling down the slight incline. Deacon stood up unsteadily and ran down the yard.
"Go long!" Mark posed with the ball above his head, and threw it to Deacon. As Deacon caught it, Mark rushed at him and tackled him onto the grass. They rolled around, and came to a halt in the light of the patio, Deacon lying on top of Mark. Giggling, Deacon tossed the ball away and put his head on Mark's chest, heaving with laughter. His giggles trailing off, Mark looked into his friend's eyes as they met his. The alcohol was making Mark's thoughts race around in circles, confusing and disorientating him.
"We'd better go inside," Deacon slurred. "It's colder out here than I thought." He put his arms on either side of Mark to push himself up, but before he could get up, Mark suddenly reached up with both hands, put them behind Deacon's head and pulled Deacon's face down to meet his own. Before either of them knew what was happening, Mark was gently kissing Deacon's lips. They were more soft and delicious than Mark would have imagined, and he closed his eyes to savor the moment. As they broke apart, Deacon stared down at Mark in disbelief. 'Did that just happen?' Deacon thought, shocked. Mark took Deacon's hesitation as approval, and smiled as he reached towards Deacon's lips again, the knot is his stomach completely gone for the first time since December. This time, Mark opened his mouth slightly and sucked on Deacon's lower lip. He felt a familiar rousing in his crotch when Deacon suddenly shoved him away and leapt to his feet, backing away with an angry look on his face.
"What the hell are you doing?!" Deacon wiped his mouth with his sleeve, and looked at Mark in disgust. "Why...what the fuck did you do that for?" Mark lay on the grass, gaping. He didn't know what had come over him - why had he just kissed his best friend? And how was he going to explain it?
"I...I don't know, I just...I..." He trailed off as Deacon stormed inside. Slowly getting up from the ground, Mark walked towards the door, confused and searching for a reason for what he had just done. Deacon rushed out of the house, keys in hand, and headed towards his car, frowning.
"Deac, I'm sorry, I....you shouldn't drive, you've been drinking," Mark called out. Suddenly stone sober, Deacon hopped into his car and gunned the engine. "Please Deac, I'm sorry, can't we just talk about....." He stopped yelling as the car raced away down the street, and just stared after the fading tail lights. Numb, Mark turned around and started to walk towards the house, doubling over to try and ease the familiar tightening in his gut. Halfway across the lawn, Mark fell to the ground, sobbing. 'What did I just do?' he thought. 'Why did I kiss him? I have a girlfriend, I can't be....' Still crying, he stumbled inside and collapsed on the couch, and cried himself to an exhausted sleep.
As he sped down the road, Deacon felt moisture on his cheek. Reaching his hand up to brush at it, he realized he had started crying. Wiping the tears away and sniffing, he pulled the car over to the side of the road and rested his head on the steering wheel. "What just happened? Why did he kiss me?" Deacon murmured. "And why didn't I pull away sooner?" A million thoughts about Mark, their friendship, Mark's near fatal accident and the feelings that had lurked at the back of his mind for too long suddenly erupted, and he started sobbing into the dashboard. Just like Mark was doing on the couch, Deacon fell asleep in the front seat, crying quietly. Several hours later he woke up and drove slowly home, praying that Mark wasn't still up. He couldn't deal with it right then. He had to think, figure out what had happened. And his feelings.
------------------------------------------------- Deacon entered the house as quietly as he could, and stood at the foot of the couch that Mark was asleep on. Watching his best friend sleep, Deacon felt his heart swell unexpectedly. They had known each other almost their whole lives and shared everything - Deacon had even dated Marie, and Mark had dated Sarah, before they all broke up and got back together, albeit in a different order. And Deacon had known instantly that Mark was different when his friend had gotten out of hospital over the winter break. The accident had almost killed Mark, and Deacon was so glad that his friend was alive and well that he didn't bring up the way Mark had changed. He hadn't changed in a bad way - he was just more aware of what he had in life. He hugged people a lot more, told them how he felt. And - the most shocking for Deacon - Mark would cry sometimes, seemingly without explanation. Before this year, Deacon hadn't seen Mark cry since they had left grade school; Mark had been a tough guy, the hard-ass bad boy, the jock. But since Christmas, he had become this sensitive New-Age guy - which Marie and Sarah welcomed - and Deacon couldn't quite get his head around it.
'Maybe what happened tonight, maybe that's what changed,' Deacon considered silently. 'But why didn't he tell me?' Deacon slapped himself on the forehead and frowned. 'Because he was afraid you'd react just like you did, you idiot. Your best friend opened up to you in the only way he could think of, and you treated him like a freak.' Deacon could see that Mark had been crying - his eyes were swollen and red - and he was shivering.
Deacon went to the hall closet and took out a blanket, and started to put it over Mark. He stopped and knelt down beside the couch. Mark was taller than Deacon at six foot three, with short, spikey brown hair and dark brown eyes. He had broad shoulders and well defined, muscular arms, but no visible abs - just a hard, flat stomach. He had a staunch kind of face - a broad nose, wide mouth and low, heavy brows. And the scars. Deacon pulled the blanket over Mark's body and leant towards his face. Using his index finger, he slowly traced along the jagged scar on Mark's jaw line.
'Maybe I just wasn't ready for it,' he thought, standing up. 'I mean, haven't I felt closer to him since Christmas? Maybe it's....this.' Deacon bent down and gently kissed Mark. Pulling away, he frowned in thought. Deacon stood up and went to his room, an indecisive look slowly playing on his face.
Early the next morning, Mark woke up and stretched. He looked at the couch and the blanket, and frowned. He sat up to see if Deacon had crashed on a couch too, and as he did, his head screamed in pain. As Mark cradled his hung-over head, the previous night's events came rushing back in a torrent of self-loathing. 'He'll never talk to me again,' Mark thought as tears welled in his eyes. 'Why didn't I just ignore those feelings?' He stood up and wiped his eyes. After putting his things back in his bag and folding the blanket up, he wandered out to the pool deck. The sun was bright in the sky, and Mark could already tell it was going to be a sweltering day. Trying to ignore the night before, if only for a short while, he stripped off to his boxers and dove in the pool. He lay on his back in the water and closed his eyes, attempting to block out his own thoughts.
Deacon walked to his bedroom window as Mark plunged into the pool; he watched Mark float face up on the water looking miserable and worn out. Deacon gazed upon Mark's wet body and frowned. He had spent most of the remaining night awake in bed, trying to figure out what to do. 'What am I going to tell him?' Deacon wondered. 'I don't even know how I really feel about it, how am I supposed to explain anything?' Mark pulled himself out of the pool and lay face down on the tiles, his boxers dripping wet and transparent. As Deacon's dick started to unexpectedly harden in his boxers, he suddenly knew what to do. His frown deepening, Deacon walked to the shower and stripped off.
Mark had dried off and put clean clothes on, and was sitting on the couch. He had heard Deacon turn the shower on and had been waiting for him to emerge ever since. The water had turned off over an hour ago, so Mark guessed Deacon was either taking a really long time getting ready for work, or was delaying coming out to talk. Or not talk. Wringing his hands, Mark could feel a dull ache in his jaw - he had been clenching it ever since he had woken up. Suddenly, Deacon's bedroom door opened, and he walked out, dressed for work. He walked into the sitting room with his head down, but stopped when he saw Mark's bag sitting by the door. Mark took a deep breath and stood up.
"Look," Mark began. "I know you probably hate me, and I understand that, but I wanted to explain." He put his head down and struggled to maintain a balance in his voice. "Ever since Christmas, I've had this...this knot in my stomach. It...it makes me feel sick, and scared, and it's there all the time. I don't feel it as much when I'm around you, and last night....last night, when I...it went away for a few seconds. But I...I don't know why I kissed you." His voiced broke, and Mark fought to keep control of his emotions. "All I can say is that it won't happen again. I'll understand if you don't want to talk to me again..."
"Was it a mistake?" Deacon cut in, his eyes on Mark's. "I just want you to be honest, ok?" Mark opened his mouth to say something, but shut it and looked at his feet. "Please, just answer it - yes or no. Are you actually sorry?" Deacon's gaze was piercing, and there was no feeling in his voice.
"No," Mark whispered, barely audible. "No, it wasn't a mistake, I..." His voice gave out as a tear ran down his face. Looking up, Mark wiped his eyes and picked up his bag. "I...I'm gonna go home." He paused and looked back at Deacon. "I'd like to say I'm sorry, Deac, but... I can't." As Mark went to open the door, Deacon called him back.
"Well, I'm sorry." Mark stopped and turned around as Deacon spoke. "I mean, about the way I reacted." Deacon fought to find the right words. "We've been friends since forever, and I don't want to just throw it all away because I was an asshole."
"Deac, you weren't being an asshole, I...." Mark swallowed heavily. "I don't know why I....kissed you, I just felt this impulse to do it, and..."
"No, I was a jerk and I'm sorry," Deacon walked over to Mark and took the bag out of his friend's hand. "Stay, ok? We need to talk." They walked over to the couch, and looked at each other awkwardly. "I...um...this is harder than I thought," Deacon laughed nervously. "I wasn't prepared for what happened, and I was...kinda angry." Deacon frowned at Mark, thinking. "I....look, I can't really say what I need to say, I don't know how. I can only show you." Deacon took a deep breath and stepped forward.
"Yea, if you need to," Mark sighed. He squeezed his eyes shut and prepared for Deacon's fist to hit his face. Deacon smiled uneasily, knowing that Mark was expecting to be punched. Instead, Mark felt Deacon's hands snake around the back of his neck, and pull his face toward Deacon's. Before Mark could figure out what he was doing, Deacon pressed his lips firmly against Mark's. Mark's eyes flew open and met the steely grey eyes of his best friend. They moved slowly apart as Deacon removed his hands from Mark's neck. Mark stared in disbelief, silent and motionless. Deacon stared back, fearless and resolute. He took a couple of steps backwards and began to explain.
"I stayed up most of last night and thought about what had happened," he started, "and I think I reacted the way I did because I maybe wanted the same thing, but I wasn't prepared for you to maybe feel the same." Deacon frowned. "Does that make sense?" Mark blinked a few times and took a deep breath.