He'd only known him for half the semester, but Misha already knew several things about Levi Hartman for sure.
The first and most obvious was that he had a fantastic smile. He was moderately famous for his outrageously bright teeth, and for the way his grin grew until his dazzling smile took over his face. Less famous was the fact that Levi never just smiled at just anyone or anything unless he absolutely meant it, and for Misha it was that, and not the teeth, that made his smile so fantastic.
Misha knew Levi thought that no band in the universe held a candle to Spindrift, even when everyone else thought they sold out. Misha was well aware that Levi much preferred cauliflower to pizza, and that he wanted to be a politician when he graduated from Berkley. Misha knew that Levi knew his full name, but was kind enough to call him Misha instead of Mikhail, because he was considerate of the fact that Misha didn't want to be known as The Russian Kid.
Misha also knew that Levi had plenty of friends he could have hung out with that afternoon, but instead decided to spend it helping him with World History.
Misha understood not everyone appreciated Levi like he did. Girls would talk about him, complimenting his pretty smile, then say it was a shame that his hair was so wild and floppy or he'd be cute. Some would mention how his speaking voice was nice to listen to, but they hated it when Levi sang. Misha wasn't sure how to feel about that. On one hand, it was terrible how quick they were to snub Levi, not realizing that his unkempt hair was endearing, and his singing voice wasn't that bad, just a little flat. On the other hand, those comments also meant that they weren't really into Levi, which was a very good thing as far as Misha was concerned.
Misha didn't know was if Levi was into girls. Sure, Levi hung out with girls, and hung out with them sometimes, but he couldn't really tell if they were girl friends or girlfriends. He couldn't be sure if, when he slid his arm around Misha's shoulder walking to his house, of he was just being friendly or more-than-friendly.
Was it coincidence, Levi's hand brushing against his a second ago? He didn't exactly jerk his hand away when it happened, he'd just let it sit there, so maybe he just didn't mind their hands were touching. Did he do it on purpose?
Despite everything that he's learned about Levi this semester, Misha was still completely in the dark about the things that mattered most. Then again, that problem could probably be solved if he just took some initiative.
As they sat side by side on the black shag carpet, close enough to see each little black hair in the little patch of stubble on Levi's chin, there was a lull in the conversation. The only sound in the room was the rustling of pages. During that lull, when no one was saying anything was a perfect time to say everything. Misha imagined his usual wavering, quiet voice sounding clear and confident as he said…
Well, that was the thing. Even if he wasn't so nervous about weather or not Levi liked guys (much less liked him), Misha really had no idea what to say. "I like you"? Too vague - he'd probably assume "like" meant "like a friend". "I love you?" Lord, no. Love was way, way too big a word, too intimidating. It might scare him. That wasn't a word you tossed around lightly. Sure, he could always just ask Levi out, but the two of them had already been going out to places as friends, and it might sound confusing.
This opportunity was perfect, though. No one could overhear him; no one can point and laugh at him. (Well, no one except Levi. Which would be miles beyond horrible.) It had to be said sometime, why not now?
Misha managed to pool together his courage, began to say… whatever it was he could manage to say, when he remembered Collin.
A year ago, back at Churchill High, Collin meant almost as much as Levi meant to him now. Misha hadn't been able to say anything aloud to him either, but he did get up the courage to write out a miniscule manifesto of his adoration on an index card and slip it into his locker. He'd forgotten the fact that Collin shared his textbooks with his other friends, who ruined everything. They'd thought Misha's note was hysterical. Collin, however, hadn't thought it funny at all, and gave him a black eye for his trouble.
Now, looking straight at Levi, but unable to think of anything except Collin, Misha's words congealed in his throat, and all of a sudden he felt very ridiculous. Maybe this was a bad idea after all. Maybe he should just say he wasn't feeling well and go home. Maybe-
Surprised by the voice cutting through his thoughts, Misha only stared blankly at Levi, now leaning in even closer than he was before.
"Mikhail? Is something the matter?"
Misha began to tell him that it's nothing to worry about, when he noticed the tightness in Levi's features, and realized that he just used his full name. Levi never did that, not unless he was real serious.
Misha remembered where he was. This was Florida in mid-October, not Tennessee in January. He was attending Orwell, not Churchill. And the person staring worriedly at him was many things, but certainly not Collin. This was Levi, and there were worlds of difference between the two. After half a semester at Orwell, Misha had learned many things about him, and if Levi really was the guy Misha thought he was, then didn't he at least deserve to know the truth?
Kind of. Probably. Maybe. Yes.
"Um… Yeah. There sort of is something the matter."
"Nothing's happened, has it? Aw, don't make that face! It's alight, you don't have to tell me if you don't want to, just stop making that face."
Oh, perfect. He'd made Levi feel guilty about something that wasn't even his fault. Now there was even more weird silence between them. Someone had to say something. He had to tell him something. Anything.
"Levi… I really, really like you and not like a friend, I mean in the other way because you're awesome and fantastic and have adorable hair and I understand if you're all freaked out right now and never want to hang with me ever again, it's alright, I can go home if you want but please don't be too mad at me, I can't help liking you so much even though you probably don't like guys." Softly, he added, "Oh my God, why did I just say that?"
For one terrible second Misha cautiously peered at Levi, who just stared back at him in bewilderment as that ludicrously long sentence sunk in.
Levi brushed back the hair from his face and shifted his position, so that he leaned easier on the carpet. "Done?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I… think so."
"Are you okay, now?"
"No. But better."
"Good. I was worried for a while, there." Then he leaned forward again, close enough to count the stubble hairs. "Misha?"
Levi's renowned smile conquered the entirety of his face when he kissed Misha on the nose. "Seriously. You really need to stop worrying so much."