Chapter 1

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"Call of duty, or Fortnite?" Brent asked while filing through all of his video games in the cabinet beneath the television. I laughed from the couch.

"You nerd," I replied, amused. He rolled his eyes at me.

"Shut up, asshole. Pick a game."

"Why do we always have to play your stupid video games?"

"They're not stupid! And besides, what do you want to do? Some hipster bullshit like listen to bands before they're popular?"

"Ha ha, very funny."

He seemed quite pleased with himself.

He picked the game for us, in the end. He chose Call Of Duty, which was no surprise. He always chose the same game, no matter how many times he asked me which one I wanted to play. I didn't want to play any of them. I just watched him play them and he would just listen to me talk, or we'd listen to music. It wasn't anything special, but it was something that only me and him had.

He put the game in, the disc spinning making a satisfying whirring noise. He sat back with his head against the cushion of the couch and his bottom on the floor boards. He cradled his controller between his two hands, waiting as the system started along with his precious game. I kicked him, causing him to elbow my calf. It hurt, a little, so I kicked him again, even harder.

"Knock it off, jackass!" He ordered, elbowing me with more force.

I laughed at that, making him break his angry mood and laugh with me. He always told me about how infectious my laugh was. He told me the only one who could hear it without laughing is Collin Doon, who he claimed was a robot anyway.

I kicked him very lightly as he was starting the game, and soon he was back into his "mood". He elbowed my leg, then pushed me sideways away from him.

Stifling my chuckles, I said, "You are the most capricious person in the world, I swear."

"Use words us simpletons can understand, too, please."

"I'm sorry, I forgot you're stupid. It means that you have mood swings."

"I do not!"

"You do, too! We've been over this. Its like your PMSing, like, all the time."

"Then, buy me some midol. God, you're such a bad boyfriend."

"My bad," I replied. "For your birthday, I'll get you midol then."

"Oh yes," he said, his voice having a sing-song note in it. " My birthday is fast approaching, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is. You've only reminded me a hundred and one times."

"I couldn't let you forget."

"Of course not. But, I've remembered every year since your first birthday party I ever went to--"

"Spiderman themed. Man, those were the days."

"I know right? Dude, I wish I could have my parties now with an Avengers theme."

"Speaking of Avengers, we need to watch Infinity Wars."

"Yes!" I exclaimed. "Yes, we do!"

"Man, I'm so excited, though. Dr Strange was a great movie."

"Almost as good as Guardians Of The Galaxy."

He gave me a look, showing me that I messed up royally.

"You think Guardians Of The Galaxy is a better than Dr Strange?"

"We are not having this discussion again. What were we talking about before?"

He shrugged, "No idea."

"Your brain is fried from video games."

"No fair, you also forgot."

"My brain is fried from watching you play video games, so it's still your fault."

Brent smirked, shooting down enemies at every turn in his video game. He was exceptional at those things. I, however, kind of sucked at them. Then again, they weren't something I really cared about being bad at.

"What do you think of Cooper Benson?" Brent asked, the question catching me off guard as I brought my eyes from the screen to the back of his head.

"The guy with two last names," I acknowledged, amused, "What about him?"

"Do you like him?"

"Well, I'm not really into baseball, so I don't have that much of an opinion, but--"

"No, not the baseball player! The guy in our school."

"Oh. Which guy?"

"Cooper Benson!"

I hesitate, thinking for a moment, before shaking my head. "I don't know him."

"Oh, my god, Drew! You're the stupidest person I've ever met!"

"Is stupidest a word?"

Brent put down his controller to face palm and groan. He didn't even bother to pause the game, and I watched as his character was shot and killed.

After Brent had finally composed himself again, he turned to me and said, "You know Cooper Benson. He was the kid from my spiderman birthday party. The one that stuck the lolly pops up his nose."

The image of a little boy wearing a Thor costume stuffing cherry lolly pops up his nose as we all watched in awe flashed through my mind. "Oh, yeah. I know him. What about him?"

"What do you think of him?"

"I think he must have a very large nasal cavity."

"Nevermind, you're impossible."

Brent turned back to his game, starting a new match. I sighed and slid down the couch to sit beside him.

"I'm sorry, I was just playing with you. You're easy to piss off, you know."

"I'm not easy to piss off, you're just easy to get pissed off at."

"That, too. Anyway, what about Cooper Benson?"

"I wanted to see if you liked him. Theres a rumour going around that he likes guys. And, I don't know, he's not ugly or anything. I thought you might want to hit him up."

"Did you seriously just say hit him up? Who are you?"

"Think about it."

"Brent," I said, my voice showing my frustration. "We've been over this a million times. I'm not dating until I'm out of high school. That's it. End of discussion."

"Liking boys won't hurt your scholarships, or your college career!"

"Having a team of my fellow players hating me might. You know how high school is, man, its chaos. They'll rip me apart."

"For what? Whats the big deal?"

"I'm glad you see it that way, but other people don't."

There was a silence and I could see the thoughts bouncing off the inside of Brent's mind. It was a moment longer before he spoke again, and his voice was barely a whisper.

"I just don't want you to miss out on anything. I want you to be happy."

"I'm not missing out on anything. I promise. I appreciate the thought, really I do, but I have other things on my mind than dating, anyway."

"Okay," he caved, "If you say so."

I continued to watch him as he played in a comfortable blanket of quiet. We had a lot of conversations like that one. He cared far too much about my wellbeing. He also never took no for an answer.

After a few hours, I drove home from Brent's house and back to my uncle's. His work truck was in the driveway when I got there, so I expected a conversation when I got inside.

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