I… wrote a highschool AU? Haha, shit.
Title: Lethal Crushes and Liquid Courage
Word Count: 2877
Rating/Warnings: PG, probably. Underage drinking and probably some foul language.
AN: I haven’t written in years and I’m not super happy with this, but it’s not bad. Please feel free to offer critique!
“Hey Ray, don’t look now, but your boyfriend is coming this way,” Michael said with a grin, enjoying the way his best friend’s face immediately turned red.
“Shut up!” Ray hissed, “he’s not my boyfriend and you know it”. He kept his voice low so as not to attract the attention of the boy who was indeed walking in their direction. The boy in question was a senior, two years older than Ray and Michael, and was arguably the most attractive guy in school. Yet despite his movie star looks, Joel Heyman was surprisingly not a stuck up douchebag. Although he was friendly with the pretentious in-crowd girls and their idiot jock boyfriends, Joel spent more of his time with the Drama club. He’d had a major role in the last two school plays. He was also in the advanced math class. He had a part time job on the weekends. He would probably receive a scholarship to the university of his choice, but might instead pursue an acting career.
Michael knew all this because Ray had told him, and Ray knew it because for the past year he’d had what Michael called a ‘sickeningly intense homo crush’ on one Joel Heyman.
Michael felt that Ray ought to be at least a little embarrassed by his constant pining, but mostly Ray was fine. He was a little lonely sometimes, sure, but he was confident that he could woo Joel and win his heart. Just as soon as he worked up the courage to actually speak to him.
Since that had yet to happen, every morning Ray and Michael would arrive half an hour early to school. They would hang out in the hallway, sprawled on the floor in front of Ray’s locker, and wait for Joel to walk by on his way to wherever he went first thing in the morning. Every morning, Ray would try to make a connection, but usually he would get so caught up in planning what he wanted to say that he’d lose his nerve and stare at the floor as Joel passed by.
Today he’d been caught off guard by Joel’s arrival and he managed what he hoped was a charming smile. He was rewarded with a ‘good morning’ and a friendly return smile. Ray flushed and mumbled something back, while Michael smirked at his flustered friend. He knew the brief interaction, if it could even be considered that, would be enough to have Ray grinning for the rest of the day.
Being a kind and considerate friend, Michael waiting until Joel was probably out of hearing distance before turning to Ray with a mocking smile.
“So, Ray, you gonna jack off to that tonight?”
Later that day, when Geoff Ramsey entered the cafeteria for lunch, he took one look at the distracted smile Joel was directing at his lunch and immediately knew the reason. And since teasing his friends was Geoff’s third favourite pastime (after video games and his girlfriend Griffon), Geoff couldn’t let it go without making a remark.
“Talked to your jailbait boytoy this morning, I presume?”
“Shut up, alright,” Joel looked up from his cafeteria casserole to fix Geoff in a glare. “He’s sixteen, that’s not so young. Or maybe it is… Anyway, he probably has no idea who I am, so nothing will happen.”
“Joel, Joel, Joel,” Geoff laughed and shook his head, sitting down and taking out his own lunch, “every person in this school knows who you are.”
Joel laughed self-consciously, but remained unconvinced. He wasn’t sure what it was that drew him towards Ray. The boy was sweet, a little shy, but at the same time he was full of confidence and spirit. He was comfortable with himself in a way that Joel had never been. He was also adorable. The more Joel watched Ray, the more intrigued he became. But still….
“I really don’t think he’d be interested in me,” Joel sighed, turning back to his meal.
“Okay, listen,” Geoff did not technically care whether Joel got together with this kid, but this was getting embarrassing. “You show up twenty minutes early every single morning just so you can walk past this guy, right?” Joel nodded and Geoff went on, “and that’s pathetic, but anyway, what about him? Why do you think he shows up so early? Why do you think he’s always there right when you walk by?”
“You think… he’s there every morning to see me?”
“Maybe. Just think about it, okay? Think about maybe actually talking to him, too. Now, I’m done playing nursemaid to your lovesickness. Are you coming to my place Friday night?”
“Gonna be late, I have to work. Because, you know, some of us have actual responsibilities,” Joel laughed. “But of course I’ll be there. I wouldn’t miss a Geoff Ramsey party.”
It’s not that Geoff and his friends were wild partiers, but now and then his parents would leave town for the weekend, and Griffon had an older brother who would buy them as much alcohol as they asked for. Who would turn down a night of beer, pizza, video games and no parental supervision? No one worth knowing, that’s who.
“So it’ll be me, you, Griffon… who else?” Joel asked, beginning to actually consume his lunch.
“Uh, Jack, Ryan, some of Griffon’s friends… Oh, and I told Gav he could invite some people, too.”
Geoff rarely admitted it, but he got on really well with the British exchange student his family was hosting. Although Gavin was two years younger than him, they had hit it off instantly, swapping jokes and playing pranks as if they were actually brothers.
They never really saw each other at school though, and Geoff had no idea just who Gavin would be inviting to his house.
Gavin was, at that moment, sitting on the other side of the over-crowded cafeteria waving wildly at the very boy Geoff and Joel had just been discussing.
“X-Ray! Over here!” Gavin was grinning as Ray made his way over to the table that Gavin was already sharing with Michael and Lindsay. “Hey, guess what we’re doing this weekend!” Gavin’s eyes were bright with excitement. That usually meant trouble.
Ray sighed as he sat down with his bagged lunch. “Same thing we do every weekend. Staying up all night playing video games and then sleeping in until two PM,” he deadpanned.
“Nope!” Gavin paused to consider, “Well, yeah. But we’re doing that at mine, and there will be bevs!”
“Yeah, and a bunch of senior assholes”.
“Michael! I told you, Geoff is really cool, and so is Griffon, I bet their chums are too.” Gavin turned back to Ray, “so, Friday night. Just show up whenever. It’s gonna be top!”
Ray sighed. He had no intention of drinking, and he knew from experience how much trouble his friends could be when intoxicated. But he agreed anyway. After all, it was just a party, what’s the worst that could happen?
Two days later, Ray was regretting his decision. He was squished onto a lumpy couch in Geoff’s den. Immediately to his right, far too close for comfort, Michael and Lindsay were engaged in some very passionate drunken makeouts. On his left, Gavin was trying loudly to explain the plot of some weird British sitcom. The entire room was very loud and very full. Ray had counted at least twenty teenagers, all enjoying various levels of intoxication. Most of them were clustered around an X-Box, cheering or jeering whoever was currently playing. Ray himself had played for a bit, earlier, but he had actually grown a bit bored of winning every time. No one there was even the slightest challenge to his mad gaming skills.
As he searched for something to occupy his attention, Ray was vaguely aware of some sort of commotion over by the door. He decided to ignore it, having dealt with enough drunken shenanigans for one night. Cursing whatever fate had declared that this would be his Friday night, he went back to pretending to pay attention to Gavin, who was explaining what sounded like the least funny joke Ray had ever heard.
Ray wished, not for the first time, that he knew someone here other than the assholes on the couch with him. But seeing as he didn’t, he figured drunken friends were better than drunken strangers and settled in for a long night.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Joel was getting as drunk as he could as fast as he could. In his mind, he was still picturing Ray sitting on that couch, looking bored and adorable and he couldn’t deal with it, and maybe a couple more swigs of the whiskey that some kind soul had left on the kitchen table would help.
Griffon laughed at him from where she was perched up on the counter watching him panic.
“So, how much of Geoff’s whiskey do you need before you go talk to the kid?” she asked, sounding equal parts concerned and amused.
“I don’t- I’m not going to…” Joel’s eyes were wide, “More than this.”
Griffon watched as he took another swallow, grinning when he made a face at the taste. Geoff was not going to be pleased by the loss of his alcohol, but it was his fault for leaving Joel in the kitchen with only Griffon to supervise.
Joel had turned up about fifteen minutes ago to find the party in full swing. When he had reached the den and caught sight of Ray, his sudden halt and immediate step backward had caused Geoff to bump into him, spilling whiskey and coke all down his front. Geoff had gone off to change, leaving Griffon to watch Joel and develop a plan.
Her plan was excellent. As soon as Geoff reappeared, she whispered some instructions in his ear and sent him off to the den. Once that was accomplished, Griffon turned back to Joel and noticed that he’d finished a significant amount of alcohol while she’d been talking to Geoff. Probably more than was good for him. Shit.
Taking the bottle away from him and placing it on the counter, Griffon took Joel’s arm and gently pulled him toward the stairs.
“Where’re we going?” Joel asked as he allowed himself to be pulled along.
“Just up to Gavin’s room for a minute. I need your help with something, okay?”
Joel paused. “Okay. But then I want to see Ray. I think. I think I want to see Ray.”
“Sure Joel. Ray will be there.”
“I didn’t know Ray would be here, Grif. I didn’t- He’s here, though. In this house, same as me.”
Griffon raised her eyebrow at Joel’s rambling. Maybe he was even father gone than she’d thought. She hoped he didn’t give Ray any trouble. She really hoped he didn’t puke on Gavin’s bed or anything. The Brit was easygoing, but surprise bed vomit was gross. Oh well. She deposited Joel on Gavin’s bed and waited for her boyfriend to show up.
“Alright Ray,” Geoff was finally headed up the stairs with Ray in tow. “Right through that door, please.”
“Uh, okay. In Gavin’s room? Got it.” Ray was a little uncomfortable, but he couldn’t really argue with Geoff. This was his house after all.
Geoff had told him that there was a drunk guy who needed help that only Ray could provide. Ray supposed it made sense. He was the only really sober person at this party, after all. He wasn’t sure why the drunk person was in Gavin’s room, though. Usually those sorts of people tended to hover around toilets, didn’t they?
The real reason Ray and Joel were being herded into Gavin’s room was a crucial part of Griffon’s plan. Three months ago, as a prank, Geoff had installed a lock on the outside of Gavin’s door, but Ray didn’t know that until he heard the click of the lock behind him. By then, he wasn’t thinking about much beside the way Joel Heyman was staring at him from across the room.
Joel’s eyes were wide and slightly dazed as he stared at Ray from his seat on Gavin’s bed.
“Hey, Ray,” he smiled, laughing a little at the rhyme.
Ray blinked, and then tried to unobtrusively pinch his own arm. Nope, he wasn’t dreaming. He was for real in a bedroom alone with Joel. In fact, as he thought back to the distinctive click he’d heard after the door closed behind him, he suspected he was locked in a bedroom alone with Joel. No way out.
Well, then. Time to break out the patented Narvaez charm.
“Uh… hi, Joel,” at least he’d kept his voice from shaking, “So, you uh… you come here often?” Smooth as silk.
Joel glanced around the room. It was small, just a bed, a desk and a shelf full of weird camera stuff. The walls held some video game posters and a portrait of the Queen.
“Yeah, I spend all my free time in nerdy British bedrooms,” Joel grinned up at Ray.
Ray laughed, and Joel grinned wider before flopping down to lay diagonally across the bed. He was beginning to wonder if he’d had too much to drink. The bit of his brain that usually kept his impulses in check seemed to be offline. He turned his head to look at Ray, who was still standing by the door, shifting uncomfortably.
“C’mere, cutie,” he drawled lazily, smiling at the way Ray’s eyes widened as a slight blush covered his cheeks.
Obediently, Ray moved to settle awkwardly at the foot of the bed. He was trying to think of something to say that wasn’t a cheesy pick-up line, but nothing in his life had prepared him for the prospect of confessing his feelings for a drunk boy while locked up together in his friend’s bedroom. How did one casually address that in conversation? He had a feeling that asking if Joel was from Tennessee was not quite the right approach to take.
“Relax,” Joel murmured, eyes fixed on Ray, “you think too loud”.
“Sorry,” Ray didn’t meet Joel’s gaze. He was pretty sure he was fucking this up.
“Nah, it’s alright,” Joel sat up and faced the younger boy directly, “it’s just, I’m not gonna hurt you. You can talk to me, Ray.”
“I didn’t know you knew my name,” Ray admitted, his voice soft.
“Well I do, Ray Narvaez Jr,” Joel swallowed, “I… notice you. Kind of all the time”.
Joel didn’t know if the funny feeling in his gut was from nerves or just alcohol, but whatever it was, it got worse when Ray grinned at him, eyes lighting up.
“I notice you, too, Joel.”
“Good,” Joel hesitated. He wanted to say more, but he was worried about scaring Ray off. “I don’t know how to tell you, but I-“ he frowned and looked away from Ray, fiddling with the bedspread, “I just, I want you to know… Ah, fuck it. I’m too drunk for talking.”
Joel let go of the blanket and reached out to grab Ray’s hand. He tugged at it until Ray was pulled toward him, practically in his lap. Ray drew a sharp breath at the contact, but he didn’t pull away. Joel took that as permission to continue, and he cupped Ray’s face with his free hand, as if to steady himself. He moved forward very slowly, trying not to startle Ray, afraid the boy would run and he’d lose his only chance.
Ray could feel Joel’s breath on his face; it still smelled slightly of alcohol, but Ray didn’t mind much. Joel was staring into his eyes as if searching for something. Ray didn’t wait around to see if he’d find it. Gathering his courage, he leaned forward and closed the distance between their lips.
Joel sighed happily into the kiss, melting his body against Ray’s. Wrapping one arm around Joel’s neck, Ray braced his other palm on Joel’s thigh for support as he pushed himself up and deepened the kiss.
Joel was drunk, and Ray was inexperienced and their kisses were sloppy and uncoordinated. Their teeth clacked and their noses bumped and Ray’s glasses pressed uncomfortably against his face, and everything was completely and unconditionally perfect.
Sometime later, they were lying cuddled together, Ray resting his head pillowed on Joel’s chest. He was comfortable and content, marvelling at his luck as he let the sound of Joel’s heartbeat drown out the sounds of the party still raging below.
“So, we’re a thing now, right?” he questioned quietly. He was pretty sure they were, but Joel had been drinking, and Ray wasn’t sure what he’d do if this turned out to be a one-time drunken mistake. “I mean,” he continued when Joel didn’t reply, “I like you. Like, I really like you. And I was thinking, maybe we could get dinner, or something? Y’know, like a date?”
When Joel still didn’t say anything, Ray sat up a bit, concerned. His expression softened into a fond smile when he saw the peaceful grin on Joel’s sleeping face.
“Alright,” Ray conceded, settling back down and closing his own eyes, “we’ll talk in the morning. You better not be too drunk to remember all this.”