Innocent Without Complications

Lan moved into our neighborhood on my fourth birthday and we have been best friends ever since. I suppose it was similar interests and convenience that drew us together. Our bedroom windows faced each other across our yards and we both enjoyed screaming "BA-AAHAAAAH-AAH" past our bedtimes with our windows open. During the day, after kindergarten, we would scream the same mantra as we ran up and down our street in makeshift flower patterned bed-sheet capes. We started holding hands when we were five years old. My mom saw an episode about Chinese culture on the Discovery Channel, and it mentioned that holding hands between the same genders was the norm for Chinese people. Ever since then, she insisted that I hold Lan's hands so he would better adjust to the United States. She thought it was cute and everyone just assumed that I did it to obey my mom, never mind that Lan was born in the States.

In truth, I secretly liked holding Lan's hands. They weren't soft and round like a girl's, or hard and bony like a boy's, but something of an in-between; it was like the structure of his face: androdgynous, soft, strong, and beautiful like him. And man, those fingers of his could move something crazy on the piano, guitar, and Nintendo controller.

I also liked teasing him, and this would often lead to unintentional fights. Usually telling him a certain part of him looked feminine set him off like some red hot Chinese firecracker; His pale skin would flush pink and his eyes darken as his bangs sweeps over them. In my mind, his flushed face is more beautiful than any sexed up Jessica Alba or anorexic Angelina Jolie.

"Take that back, Kay" he would say with a frown when I made comments like that.

"It's okay, babe, I'll punch out the guys who hit on you."

I was always sincere when I said that, but somehow the words would end up sounding sarcastic and I would want to smack myself afterwards. I was both a calm and nervous around him. And always, his presence brought out the biggest idiot in me.

He made me do stupid thing, physically, too; like during Sophmore year, he made me act in our high school's crack version of Cinderella as one of the two evil sisters. He was the prince, of course. The goth theater chicks were all in love with him and nominated him for the part. They told him he looked like Toshiya from Dir en Grey, some Japanese band that he was always trying to get me to listen to. He really liked that.

Junior year, he bleached his hair and told me that his idol was Gackt. I thought he was choking when he said 'ga-ckckkto' so I smacked him on the back three times, for this I received a sound slap on the back of the head.

A month later, he showed me Gackt's live version of Vanilla, complete with men gyrating against each other in the most sexual fashion I could imagine up to that point. I left after that video, claiming fatigue I didn't have.

That night, I couldn't sleep. I was confused about what I saw earlier that day; my confusion and lust was all jumbled into one big ball of anxiousness. Worst of all, I ended up masturbating to the image of Lan and I in the same positions as the performers in the video.

For the next three days, I successfully avoided seeing Lan. That was quite a feat in itself because we had two classes together. On the fourth day, he confronted me while I was opening the door to my red Civic.

"Hey." He fist jabbed me lightly on the shoulders to get my attention. I turned around, startled. I thought I had successfully evaded him for the fourth day.

"Hey," I replied.

"Gimme a ride, I can't find my car keys."

"I can't, dental appointment." I fumbled with my keys. Lie.

"That's okay, I'll go to Dr. Cash's with you. I can walk home from there." Dr. Cash's real name is Dr. Cashalton, but we called him Dr. Cash because he has a lot of money.

"I'm going to the Cleveland Clinic. It's on the other side of town." I pretended to be fascinated with perfecting my hair in the side-view mirrors. Lan looked away. My heart clenched. I hate lying to him because 1) it sucks to lie, and 2) he sees right through me.

"Did I freak you out with the video?" He asked with a light laugh that I imagine being anything but.

"What are you talking about, man?" I replied with the same lightness in my voice.

"Fuck you Kay. Fuck you and your car." He turned to walk away. I watched him go towards the other end of the lot and it hurt so much I felt like I had to curl over. That night of masturbating to his image, those days of holding his hand, and every afternoon we fought over the better gaming controller…

"Lan. Wait." I ran after him across the school's parking lot. A car's horn honked. I almost get hit as a car backed out.

"Fuck off Kay. If you don't wanna give me a ride, I'll just ask someone else." He sped up his pace but I caught his arm. He struggled as my hands clenched tighter.

Suddenly, his right arm swung around and his fist crunched into my nose. I was down on the pavement immediately. I touched my nose and damnit, it was bleeding like a motherfucker.

By then, all the seniors in the parking lot had gathered around to see a fight. I pushed off the ground, grabbed Lan's hand, and dragged him towards my car. No fight to see here, I pushed away the bystanders, out of the way please. The blood from my nose left a trail in my wake. I was surprised to find no resistance in Lan.

"What are you doing?" He asked as he was dragged along.

"Talk, we need to talk."

"About what?"

"You. Me. Us." I answered simply.

"Dude, stop squeezing my fingers so tight. If I can't play guitar later, I'm gonna ruin that pretty face of yours."

I stuffed him in the passenger's side, careful not to slam the door on his guitar fingers. I settled inside the driver's seat. There was a pause while I caught my breath

"You think my face is pretty?" I asked and look him in the eye. The blood from my nose continued a downward drip. He made a motion to wipe it with his sleeves but I turned away.

"What are you talking about man? First you ignore me for three days, then you won't even gimme a ride, and now you wanna know if you are fucking pretty? You sick in the head or something?"

"Isn't this what it's about? Isn't this why you showed me the video?" I continued.

"What the fuck, I wasn't thinking about anything when I showed you that video! It was something my older sister sent me and I thought it was funny. Is the video really why you've been freaking out on me for the past three days?" He sighed. "Geez, I don't understand why you can't even gimme a fucking ride—"

"I love you!" I shouted. Lan-an's eyes widened. I realized all too late what I had said and I froze.

Okay, that was not what I wanted to come out of my mouth. I quickly prayed that this was one of those dreams. An uncomfortable silence filled the car.

I didn't know what to do because my hands were shaking and I couldn't see clearly because tears were blocking my vision.

"Fuck the ride." I whispered. I love you, I mouthed. Because my chest was so tight and my sinus so sore that the words wouldn't come out again.

I heard the car door slam as Lan got out and I was alone in the gray interior of my car. Gray, gray like my emo heart.

That was four days ago.