I tried to inch slowly away from Kelsey but everytime I managed any reasonable space between us she leaned over and closed the distance again. Damn it. I should never have let her in my dorm room. We were assigned as partners for Chemistry lab and since then she had been showing up everywhere and trying to get me to “study” with her. I couldn’t get any further from her without climbing on the bed. And that was so never gonna happen. However much I feared touching her on purpose would be a bad idea, if this went on much longer, I was going to have to physcially push her away.
I was saved by a knock at my door. She jumped at the sound and in that moment of distraction I darted past her towards the door. I didn’t care who it was. They were my new best friend.
I opened the door and was briefly confused when it was my actual best friend standing there looking markedly bedraggled and carrying two duffle bags. I gave him a look that I hoped said please, for the love of God, play along. Then I pulled him into the room and threw his bags on the bed.
Whirling around with a falsely bright look on my face, I exclaimed, “Ryan, you’re here early!” And then I kissed him. It was supposed to be a brief hello type kiss that might be shared between boyfriends who hadn’t seen each other in awhile but were in public. Enough to convince Kelsey I was not on the market but not enough to squick out a straight best friend too badly.
Now here’s the thing. I just recently admitted to myself that I might be as queer as a three dollar bill. I was planning to tell Ryan when I went home for break. I’d made out with a few guys at parties and it was all infinitely better than anything I had ever done with a girl but still, there had never been fireworks.
But the moment my lips touched his, it was like the fourth of July. I was so shocked I jumped a bit and broke the kiss. We just stood there, our faces an inch apart, and stared unfathomably in each other’s eyes for a subjective eternity.
Then, without any warning, Ryan grabbed my shoulders and spun me around so my back hit the wall by the door with a solid thump. And then he was kissing me again. It was so much more than lips pressed to lips. He held me against the wall with his entire body as if he couldn’t bear for me to escape or perhaps he couldn’t hold himself up with me there to lean on.
I groaned as he threaded his hand through my hair and he slipped his tongue in my mouth. I wrapped my arms around his back and lost myself in his heat. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. Something I didn’t even know I was missing clicked into place inside me.
I would have been happy to stay like that forever but we were startled apart when Kelsey slammed the door on her way out.
Ryan gave me a slightly bewildered look and croaked, “So, ummm, that happened.”
“Yeah,” I replied hoarsely. I shook myself a bit. “Ry, what are you doing here?”
“Well, I came for that mostly. I did think you would need a bit more convincing though,” he said with a wry smile.
My brain was still trying to catch up from the whole impromptu make out session with my best friend so I didn’t really process that. “Huh?”
“You wanna sit down or something, Colin. You’re freaking me out just hovering over there like that.” Ryan motioned vaguely around the room. I took the desk chair after he sat on the bed.
I cleared my throat and tried again. “Huh?”
Ryan nervously looked around at everything in the room except me and finally settled with staring at the arm of the chair I was sitting in.
“Last night I came out to my parents. I was going to tell you next time I saw you. It seemed like an in person kind of conversation. Particularly with the me wanting it to end in kissing part. But they went apeshit. I don’t even know why. We aren’t religious or anything and they had that friend with a lesbian daughter and they didn’t care at all. But then they were yelling at me about how they didn’t want me near Matty and how they had to protect my brother...”
He started crying about halfway through his recitation and by the end he could barely keep speaking. My heart broke for him and before I knew what I was doing I had gotten on the bed and wrapped my arms around him. We sat like that for a long time, me holding him and him crying into my shirt. I rubbed his back and whispered stuff I hoped would make him feel better into his hair. I had no idea what I was doing but I just wanted to wrap him up and keep him safe.
Eventually, he cried himself out. He was so exhausted from traveling all night and all that crying that I tucked him into my bed and cuddled up behind until he fell asleep. Luckily I had one of the only freshmen singles so I didn’t have to worry about a roommate walking in on us.
I guess I must have fallen asleep too because I woke up to feeling of being watched. I opened my eyes and found Ryan’s face about six inches from mine. He was lying on his side facing me, propping his head up with one arm. His blue eyes were soft and warm and his dark brown curls were in a tousled mess around his face. He was beautiful, I realized with a shock. I leaned forward and kissed both of his cheeks and reveled in his smile.
“So you finally figured it out?” He murmured, smiling softly.
“Yeah, I guess so.” It took that a few seconds to percolate through my brain cells. “Wait, you knew.” I said, accusingly.
Ryan snorted. “Yup. Since like tenth grade. It took you leaving for me to figure out about myself. But you, I’ve had you pegged since we were sixteen.”
“How?” I demanded.
“I don’t know. It was lots of things. How you noticed certain things or how you looked at people. One day I just thought it and it made sense. I figured you’d tell me when you figured it out.”
“Yeah, well, thanks for that.” I said and promptly smacked him in the head with my pillow. He retaliated with tickling. After a few minutes we were both out of breath and crying for surrender. We just lay there on the bed next to each other, holding hands, and panting.
I don’t know what would have happened next because just as I was recovering enough to make a move, Ryan’s phone rang. It was Matty’s ringtone. Matty was Ryan’s fourteen year old brother. Ryan looked terrified as he answered it. He put it on speaker so we could both hear it.
“Hey, Matty. What’s up?”
“Mom and Dad just told me what happened and it’s total bullshit.” I could see about fifty pounds drop off Ryan’s shoulders at that simple statement from his brother.
“I’m sorry I had to leave without saying goodbye.”
“It’s okay. Are you okay? Where are you?” Matty questioned nervously.
“I went up to stay with Colin. I’m fine. When I figure out what I’m going to do, I’ll call you.”
“Okay. I’ll talk to you later.” He paused. “Ryan, you know I’ll love you no matter what, right?” By this point, tears are streaming down Ryan’s face again.
“Yeah, Matty, I love you, too. Bye.” Ryan said in a tear strained voice.
He hung up and I took the phone from him. We were sitting indian style on the bed facing each other. I leaned forward and wiped his tears off his face. Then I pulled him into a hug and kissed the top of his head. I pulled back when I felt him mumbling against my neck.
“So, are we really going to do this?”
He was still not looking at me so I grabbed his chin and lifted his face so I could look him in the eyes. “Yeah, we are. I think I’ve been half in love with my whole life. I just never realized until now.” I tried to sound as brave as I could. It must have been the right thing to say cause his whole face lit up with a smile.
“I love you, too, Colin.”