36 // The Adventures of Stellone

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"Gay as in so delighted by my confession because you totally feel the same way?"

My wry grin was met with unblinking eyes and an arched brow. As a moment of silence passed between us and my hopeful smile began to falter, it was enough of an answer for me.

I nodded, a sigh pushing past my lips as I tried to make sense of his words, eyebrows knitting in concentration. "Right. Not that kind of gay."

"Not that kind of gay," Tyler echoed, his ice-blue eyes searching my face, carefully drinking in my reaction, I could tell.

"But like- it's a date. You did say that," I reminded him as I pointed a semi-accusing finger, eyes narrowing in skepticism. "Those words were definitely exchanged."

Tyler sucked his teeth, wincing slightly. "An expression?"

Considering that it was my life we were talking about, really, at this point, I shouldn't have been that surprised. Miscommunication had basically been the central theme of all things Stella, and of course. Of course. The love of my life was gay.

Stunned was all I felt, a cognitive dissonance making my head spin between the idealized boy I'd built up in my head and the one sitting in front of me, meeting my gaze, waiting for a response. Distinctly different. Despite the fact that it was his emergence from the proverbial closet, there was nothing stiff in the air around him, the words coming out too natural to be a recent epiphany, I could tell.

I was the only one in the room that was hearing something new, clearly.

"Really? Gay?" I asked again, brows pinched, curiosity bittersweet on my tongue.

Tyler shifted, his face unreadable, gaze unwavering. "Last time I checked."

"Huh," I hummed, scratching the back of my head in thought. "All right. Gay."

As I was combing through my memories to try and find some sort of hint towards this moment, all 20/20 retrospect and all that, I barely even noticed that a quiet had fallen between us. There had to have been some sort of indication, I told myself, but nothing that didn't rely on cheap stereotypes. I wasn't sure if there was any sound science behind a gay-dar, but I had been in love with him, I probably should've realized something was up since I'd been staring at him from across the room for ages. I was basically a Tyler encyclopedia. But when Tyler cleared his throat, lips pressing together, my train of thought was broken and my eyes widened in realization.

"Wait!" I blurted out hastily, shaking my hands in front of me, a heat beginning to creep up the back of my neck. "I don't- it's totally cool! I was just thinking about- never mind. Seriously, like, no worries there. Support you 100%. Have no issues with that, glad you've come to terms with yourself and all that. Finding yourself. Sorry, wrong time to be quiet. I was just thinking of like- you know, since when?"

Tyler's dry look was all I needed.

"Right, dumb question, I just- I'm a little shocked, to be honest. Not a bad shocked or anything, just like- shocked. I don't think of you any differently or anything. Although maybe a little differently in the whole romantic approach. But I think you'd want that. Given the circumstances," I rambled, feeling as if I was further digging myself into a deep, dark hole of no return, my words running into each other quicker and quicker as my face continued to heat up.

Tyler cocked his head, the edge of his mouth quirking upward. "It looks like you don't feel that way at all."

I blinked, taken aback by his tone, my brows furrowing. Facing his words felt like a larger ordeal than I was fully prepared for in the moment. "What? Didn't you hear? Unrequited love? Multiple years? The biggest of burdens on my heart? Didn't we just go over this?"

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