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"Oh my gosh. Is that...? I thought you weren't in music?" Emily was looking at the guitar I had leaning up against the wall in my den.

"Ah yeah. I'm not. My mother bought me that for Christmas. You can play with it if you want." I said off-handed as I set up the system so Eric and I could play Halo on coop mode. The look on her face was priceless.

"Greg honey, you don't play with a Taylor... you make it sing." She said with sass. I laughed and waved her off. I handed Eric a controller and then turned the music off so we could listen to Emily as she strummed but still hear the nasty aliens when they were coming to get us. She was really good at it, fixing the strings and plucking at them to make pretty sounds.

I should just give it to her for her birthday next year or something. My mother undoubtedly wouldn't care. She might not even remember she had gotten it for me. Actually she probably didn't get it, she sent William to do that sort of thing. That's why it was so nice looking and had all the accessories. Emily was having fun with my gift even if I wasn't.

"Can't believe Mark gave you a whole room." My new friend Deb said from the other couch as she snacked on a bowl of pretzels that Maria had brought up for us. I smirked and nodded.

"Yeah it was a bit of a shock. Pretty awesome of him though. First thing we did was played video games most of Christmas Day. My mother was pretty annoyed with us and made us keep the door closed so she didn't have to hear things dying." I focused on the screen and backed up Eric as he took lead. The game was fun and mindless enough to keep us boys occupied for hours.

The girls chatted and Emily played for a while, then they challenged us to a two-on-two killing spree. I was being blown up by a grenade for the third time when Mark poked his head in and said Emily's dad was here to pick her up. We all awed and followed her out the door to see her off. I gave her a hug and said I would see her back in school.

Emily's dad was at least ten years older than Mark, but he was really nice and they chatted easily while Emily got her coat and boots on. It was only when my friends' parents or my teachers were involved that I really felt how young he was. I wasn't certain, but I thought he might be under twenty-five. On the one hand, go mother. On the other hand, what the what!?

I mean he was literally closer to my age than hers. In just a couple months I would be eighteen and it would take all my sanity to resist going after that hunk of man living just down the hallway. I wished I was attracted to Eric or that senior that was checking me out just before the holidays. What was his name again? I forget, Emily told me but I have a terrible memory for names.

The game became a free-for-all once Emily left and I think I killed Deb at least five times before she started pelting me with popcorn. We were laughing and Mark watched in the door for a minute before calling Eric to leave. He waved us off when we were going to see him out, so we stayed put in the room and just started shutting down the game.

Deb was pouting a little about me killing her, and I was just grinning as I put away the controllers. When I turned back around, she was too close and my brows lowered in confusion. That is, until she leaned into me and batted her eyelashes. Oh. I cleared my throat and moved around her, successfully putting some distance between us.

"What's the matter Greg? Don't you like me?" She was pouting again, and tried and close in on me again.

"Sorry, Deb, I like you alright as a friend. Just not like the way I think you want me to." I replied, scooting around the side of the couch and turning so she couldn't close in on me again. If she thought she was kissing me, she had another thing coming.

"Awe, can't we date for a bit and see if we can be more? I really like you Greg." She batted her eyelashes at me again and I shook my head. She tried grabbing my hand, but I twisted it out of her hold and held it behind my back.

"No, I can't Deb. I don't think you get it. I'm not interested in girls like that." I tried telling her. Her eyes widened and she bit her lip.

"Oh. So you don't have a thing for Emily either?" She was really dense, and I had no idea what she meant by even saying that.

"No. I am not attracted to Emily either. I am gay, Deb. Not really sure how to spell it out any better for you." I was getting impatient with her. She sighed and stared at me wistfully.

"Okay. Damn. You are such a great catch too." She said with a little grin. I scratched my head.

"Thanks? Uhm, maybe we should go wait downstairs." I started for the door and she followed me out and down the stairs. We stood awkwardly in the entryway for her parents to pick her up. William got her jacket out and she slung it over her arm until they showed up. I was nervously shifting from foot to foot, not really comfortable with having her there anymore. Not alone at least.

I was really happy when their car pulled up and she pulled on her things to go. She looked like she was going to try one more time to kiss me before she went out the door, but I made sure to back off quickly and put space between us so she couldn't. I watched her go with a frown and rubbed my arms to try to get rid of the shivers.

"Everything alright Greg?" I heard his warm voice behind me and turned to see him leaning on the wall outside his office. I shrugged. He motioned for me to go in the room with him and I felt a little better going in this time around. The lamp I bought him was set up and sent a cheery glow about the room. The fireplace was lit; it was nice and toasty warm there too.

I curled up on the chair I sat on before, this time letting myself sink into the deep plush fabric with a sigh. He sat in his desk chair and waited for me to speak first. I just wanted to soak in the comfort of his nearness after the strangeness of the encounter with Deb. Even the hugs and kisses from my own mother felt gross to me, but a girlfriend? I shuddered at the thought.

"Are you okay?" He asked me intently, watching me closely. I cleared my throat.

"Yeah, I guess. Deb asked to be my girlfriend." I said dejectedly. My eyes flitted away from his in nervousness. Here's hoping he wasn't homophobic or something.

"I take it you said no?" His voice was a little amused. I glanced over and nodded, making his smirk grow a bit.

"What's so funny?" I asked testily. He shook his head.

"Sorry. I shouldn't smile. It obviously upset you. I was just thinking I might have to start keeping a bat at the front door to keep the ladies away." He was trying not to grin, unsuccessfully. I rolled my eyes at the joke.

"Yeah, ha ha. I'm not as good looking as you are. I doubt it will be a problem." I bit my lip and laid my head on my knees, not even registering what I had said to him.

"You think I am good looking?" He shot back quickly. I blushed and refused to raise my head to the bait.

"No. I know you are good looking. Don't rub it in." I muttered from my comfortable spot. I heard him chuckle. I heard the rustle of clothing and then I felt a gentle hand on my head. I closed my eyes, enjoying the feeling of his fingers running through my hair.

"So are you, Greg. You may not see it, but you are going to grow up to be a handsome man. Trust me. When you are ready to go after the person of your dreams, they won't stand a chance." He was being nice again, but I soaked it up anyways. I lifted my head and looked at him, standing only a foot or so away from me and feeling like eons away.

"You really think so?" I said wistfully. He smiled; that heart-stopping, blood pounding, make you feel alive smile of his.

"I know so."

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