The locker room smells of stale sweat and piss from the urinals hanging haphazardly in the corner. For the rest of my life I'll relate this school to that specific scent. The only times it doesn't smell like this is the one time a year that the janitors decide to scrub it down with ultra-strong cleaning solutions that burn my nostrils for a month after I take a whiff. What's worse than the smell is the fact that it gets absorbed in my clothes and radiates off me for the duration of the day. Fantastic.

You'd think I'd try to spend as little time in the place as possible then, right? No. I make a point to go to school extra early, sometimes spending ten or twenty minutes with my back up against the row of puke green lockers and a book on my lap. I never really read anything though. Instead I observe.

See, because I am not the only one who is crazy enough to go to school a half an hour early, stuck in this foul room. He has done this long before me, ever since freshman year, I believe. I remember sprinting through the doors at the last second before the bell, my first sight of him curled in the corner with his ear buds in and his head tilted back, asleep. I thought simply 'this kid is fucking mental' and didn't pay him any notice for another two years.

But, of course, a lot has changed since freshman year. My dad got fired from his job, I got a Wii, my parents got a divorce and my sister got married, I traded in Spongebob for Jon Stewart, I had a mental breakdown and had to spend a month in an institution, I grew five inches…

You know, all that normal teenage stuff.

Last year I went through a tough time though, and that's probably when I changed the most. My best friend was an ass and there was all this drama and my world changed. One by one my entire group of friends abandoned me. And one by one I formed a new one, who I have come to realize are so much better than my previous ones. And one day I decided to come to school early, and I saw him.

I had seen him every day for three years (of course I'm the lucky one who gets stuck with gym period 1 three years in a row) but had never really seen him, you know? I knew his name and that his brother goes to NYU and that he got a 1340 on the SAT's. But I think I've only managed two words to the guy "I'm sorry" when I accidentally step on his feet as I rush in as the late bell begins to shrill. And, yeah, it's not like they mark you down for lates anyway, but it's the principle of the thing. But, anyway, this one random day in May I came in early and saw him, lying on a spread out sweatshirt on the disgusting locker room floor, asleep with his i-pod held loosely in his hand. And I think I fell in love.

All the air seemed to leave my body as I saw for the first time the dimple on his chin, the golden tint to his hair, the way he absently rubs his thumb along his bottom lip, even while asleep. I don't see just a body on the floor but a person with a soul and someone who I wanted to know, more than anything else. My epiphany made me grab for the wall and slide to the floor, my eyes never leaving his form. He looked like a fucking angel, with the fluorescent lights casting over him a white glow. He seemed to exist only for me, and he was beautiful.

At the time this didn't seem overdramatic or obsessive, it seemed wonderful. It felt like the freefall ride at Great Adventure or the buzz I get in my limbs after drinking five Monsters in a row. This was at the climax of that tough time I was going through, by the way, and feeling anything after so long of being numb was enough to make me feel dizzy with ecstasy.

When he revealed glazed grey eyes my stomach rolled over and my throat began to burn from the beauty of it. Those eyes widened and his pink lips parted, letting out a gurgle sort of sound. After clearing his throat once, twice he said only, "Hi."

Normally I am quite the charmer. Even in middle school I was known as a player. I have been known to sweet talk my way out of detentions and groundings. I'm even on the freaking debate team. I talk often and quite well. But a simple "hi" was enough to cause my throat to close up and my mouth to go dry. I didn't say anything in response, only pleading with my eyes, trying to convey what I was feeling.

He didn't understand it, though. He couldn't feel the intensity of my love for him, seeming to come off me in waves. It seemed amazing to me that his skin wasn't burning from it. Mine was.

His stormy eyes swept over me slowly, taking in every inch, and I couldn't breathe. Finally, he rose and dusted himself off. Now I was peering up at him. He was so tall. So intimidating. He began mumbling quickly, averting his eyes, "I-I don't always sleep here. Don't get the wrong idea. I'm not homeless or anything. Really, I'm fine. I'm great. I'm brilliant. I don't need help. Crap, I mean, not that you offered. Just in general… I'll shut up now."

I wanted to tell him to not shut up, not ever, because this was the first time I had ever really heard his voice (apart from the quiet hiss of 'ow' all those times I accidentally stepped on him) and it was all low and soothing and husky from sleep. For a moment I even thought there was a trace of an accent, but no, I went to elementary school with him and would know if he was foreign. At the time I couldn't relate the little kid who chewed on his t-shirts in elementary school to the guy standing over me, tugging on his ear nervously as he continued to babble. He was the most wonderful shade of red.

Before I knew it he had ran out of the room, not giving me time to react. I noticed he had left his sweatshirt behind. It had a picture of Stewie from Family Guy on it, and part of Stewie's red jumper was peeling off due to overuse. I folded it neatly and slipped it in my gym locker. Maybe I would try to return it to him.

I didn't get the chance. Two days after that the incident happened and I was out of school for awhile. It made me feel guilty thinking about him searching around for his sweatshirt and how it still lay neatly in my locker. It wouldn't smell like him anymore after being in there for so long. It would probably smell more like metal and mold.

I only came back to school for finals, and was exempt from gym, so I didn't get the chance to see him again. I thought I saw him outside the Smoothie King at the strip mall but I may have been imagining it. Over the summer I slept mostly and thought about him a lot… then not as much. By August I had convinced myself that the moment had never happened… that I had created it all in my crazy messed-up head. I was so sure of myself that as I walked confidently into the locker room on the first day of my last year of high school I did not even look for him, did not look for anything, and ended up tripping over a pair of long legs stretched out by the door. My jaw cracked against the ground loudly and somewhere in the back of my mind I thought that this should probably hurt… but it didn't. Because for how long it took my head to hit the tile floor I realized just who exactly it was I tripped over. Figures we would have gym the same period. Fate and all that romantic shit (I would have thought it was all so very romantic four months ago, but I had gotten over it, really. )

I glared at him with piercing eyes because my chest began to hurt and I could hear my heartbeat pounding in my ears and I felt so out of control. My therapist says I have control issues. Go figure.

He stared at me in shock, his mouth forming words but nothing coming out. And for some reason I couldn't hold my angry glare and the words of fury halted on my lips. Instead, I gazed lazily at him and saved the ache in my jaw to examine later. He looked different from last year. His baby face had slimmed down, revealing defined cheekbones and chin. His eyes seemed wearier, although that could have only been because the last time I really looked at them he had just awoken.

He cleared his throat roughly and finally managed a weak, "Sorry." I only shook my head at him in response.

I felt like no time had passed, that the summer had simply not existed. And we were the only ones in the world, thrown together by Fate. We had been transported to a fantasy land where all was perfect and happy.

Of course, in actuality, we were in the boys' locker room where fifty or so half naked guys were staring at us. My friend Billy hauled me up by the collar of my shirt and rudely told the love of my life to "watch where the fuck he's going", even though it was me who had run into him. He dragged me to my locker while affectionately calling me a crazy klutz, and my eyes never left my love's grey ones and something happened in that look. An incredibly sadness passed through me, then disappeared as he smirked at me and waved sarcastically. I smiled back dreamily and let Billy push me behind another row of lockers, out of sight.

I have not talked to him since then, but I observe. I come to school twenty minutes early and sit in the corner across from his, a book in my lap. I watch him curl up in a ball, head resting against the wall. I imagine what songs he's listening to. I think of the Family Guy sweatshirt in my locker and if he knows I have it. I watch his lips mumbling in his sleep.

Today is Christmas. Well, not Christmas exactly because if it were I would be in my reindeer PJ's at home opening presents, but rather it is the day before Christmas break. Starbucks had a special peppermint mocha coffee today and I bought two grandes on my way to school. I'm actually not supposed to be having any caffeine, makes me anxious and all that…

I always bought two coffees. The second one was supposed to be for him but I never had the courage to give it to him. So every day the second cup – full of hot frothy goodness – would sit next to me, going to waste. I've seen him give it a glance now and then. It's all part of the subtle seduction I've had going for the past few months.

Today was different, though, for some reason. I woke up with a warm feeling in the pit of my stomach and my mind seemed particularly clear. When I walked to my car snowflakes cleansed my skin and wetted down my hair. And when I walked into the locker room it didn't smell like grime or piss or sweat, or even of the harsh cleaning chemicals. It smelled of something decidedly better.

Okay, so it was just pancakes. But, fuck, these pancakes were the best pancakes to ever grace my nostrils. It smelt like maple and warmth. I was so absorbed in my sniffing expedition that it took me practically a minute to take in the scene in front of me. And when I did I practically dropped my precious coffees.

The first thing I noticed was a lack of fluorescent lights, instead everything was in dark shadows, bringing softness to the normally stark room. After my eyes adjusted I was able to discern the rest of this amazing scene. There he was, sitting on a blanket on the floor, with a huge stack of pancakes in front of him. And two place settings on either side. I faintly noticed that the blanket had a quote from the Bible on it which struck me as odd for some reason. It wasn't just pancakes though, it was pancakes on crack. There were at least five different kinds: normal, blueberry, strawberry, banana nut, some multi-colored thing which looked like M&M's. And surrounding this mountain of food was three different types of syrup, apple juice, orange juice, two clementines and pez. The pez dispenser was a rabbit.

So now, at this moment, he is staring at me with a passive expression while I stand in shock. The only thing I can think to say is, "Why pez?"

He smirks at me and shrugs, gesturing at me to sit. I sit.

Lamely I hand him the second cup of coffee and hold my breath as he lets his hand rest over mine. He thanks me and takes a sip, moaning low and long. My hands shake as I bring the Styrofoam to my lips. I scald my tongue and don't even notice.

He watches me as I bring a forkful of pancake to my lips. My mouth explodes with happiness as chocolate and syrup coat my tongue. I close my eyes and let out a little groan of appreciation. I can sense his smirk. "You like?"

I grin and heap another giant forkful into my mouth in response. Through half lidded eyes I watch him sip at his coffee while I devoured the food in front of me. Greedily I consume more and more of the chocolaty and sugary goodness, letting powdered sugar fall messily on my clothing and syrup smear across my face. I feel the rush of sugar travel all the way to my fingertips. I can't stop; I eat and eat and eat until all that is left in front of me is a forlorn M&M. And then I eat that too.

Feeling sated and worn I look across at him. He has barely touched his plate, but his coffee cup lies discarded beside him. When I meet his eyes it is like I'm being suffocated, my limbs feel heavy and I lay my hands on my lap. I can't avert my gaze from his wild grey eyes. Their intensity tears at me until I give up and cover my face with my hand. I'm thinking that I should say something, anything. So, to my fork I say, "Thanks for the pancakes."

"Thanks for the coffee," he responds back in a strained voice.

I look anxiously at my watch and my eyebrows shoot up. "Ten minutes until the final bell. They'll be filing in pretty soon."

He nods his head and looks disappointed. Together we clean up; he collects the dishes and stores them in his locker, I fold up the blanket with the Bible quote on it and stuff it in next to his Family Guy sweatshirt. I'm about to give it back to him but then figure that it's already been seven months, he's probably forgotten all about it.

We meet back in the middle of the locker room. I stop only a few feet away from him, running my tongue over my lips and tasting syrup. We hear loud, obnoxious voices right outside and look at each other. He frowns.

I take another step forward and now we are only inches apart; I can smell the peppermint on his breath. I begin to hear my heartbeat again and it seems to be going way too fast. I hear footsteps getting closer and I panic. I don't want this moment to end. So I pull him towards the showers, which are no longer used but are at least partially obscured from the rest of the room.

Sound reverberates oddly in here and I can hear our breaths as if they are pounding out of loudspeakers. I push him further back, towards the farthest stall, and don't stop until his back is against the wall. He looks surprised.

For a moment I just hold him there, my hands resting lightly on his shoulders. The sounds of the class filing in are muffled and seem to be in an entire other universe. I wonder if Billy had brought in the CD's I left at his house or if he forgot… again. And then I think of nothing at all as I lower my mouth to his and press gently.

And then everything loses focus for awhile. All my perceptions are whacked out and distorted. He runs his hands all over me, through my hair and over my clothes, finally stopping to grip my elbows. I have my hands on his neck, thumbs digging harshly into his clavicle. It is a harsh and violent position and we both are struggling against one another, pushing away and pulling closer simultaneously. The kiss itself though is gentle and sweet. He's tentative and unsure and I wonder if this is his first kiss.

And then he grabs me and shoves me against the opposite wall. The shower knob digs into my back. And then it goes from sweet and innocent to rough and sloppy and I can feel myself spinning out of control. My heart is beating way too fast and I get that suffocated feeling again. It's more than just lust. I grab for his hands and yank them together behind his back. I take a deep breath and we go at it again; he wriggles against me but I don't release him. Again, the control issues…

Everything is a wonderful blur and all touches and smells and tastes come through tenfold. I don't know where I end and he begins. And, of course, we completely forget where we are and how many people are right around the next corner.

I don't even know the kid that finds us. All I know is the sound of his laugh – a guffaw that goes on for an hour – and after that everything goes blank. Ten, fifteen, twenty more guys congregate around us and it all feels surreal. It takes me a moment to realize when he runs off, fighting his way through five or six football guys to get free. Numbly I listen to the door slamming shut and wonder if he'll get in trouble for skipping school. I hope he does.

Billy comes up to me and waves a hand in front of my face. I begin to recognize a few more faces – Sam, Rodrigo, Neil, Trey. Some friends, some not so much. Jason, a guy I was best friends with up until sixth grade and haven't talked to since, hands me my belt. I don't remember losing it. It takes awhile before noise penetrates my bubble. Laughter pours in from all around me and somehow I can still hear my heartbeat over all of it. Someone whistles and another guy calls out 'fag.' Another asks me to blow him. The room begins to spin and my stomach lurches. I feel weightless, as if I will begin to float away.

Then I feel hands on my face. I think its Billy but when I look up I see Jason staring sadly down at me. He whispers, "Hey, let's get you out of here."

I let him lead me out of the locker room. I finally find Billy; he's talking to the teacher. My face burns as I realize that he's telling him what happened. I duck my head.

Together they lead me to Billy's car.

We drove for a few hours and found ourselves at an old abandoned Cold War missile base that sits on the beach. It's cold and Jason hands me his jacket. It seems so out of place for him to be here. I associate him with legos and kickball and Pokemon cards, not gay sex in the locker room. I hardly even know him.

And Billy. All he's managed to say to me is, "Dude, why him?"

Of course I didn't answer.

We haven't spoken since then and Jason finally breaks the silence. His deep voice surprises me, since the last time we spoke we were still speaking in squeaks. He says, "I heard what happened to you."

I nod my head, staring out across the ocean. The sand burns my hand as I run my fingers through it.

Billy and Jason start to talk. They talk about me, school, colleges – apparently Jason got into Dartmouth early decision – and I let their low murmurs calm me down. I've always liked the beach.

The three of us fall asleep. When I wake up I find myself covered with sand. It's everywhere, in my hair and ears, the pockets of my jeans, my shoes, my mouth. Little particles stick to me and I jump up, trying to shake them off. Desperately I scratch at my skin, tearing into myself without noticing when I begin to bleed. I scream and kick at the sand, wishing that I could just fly across the ocean all the way to England.

I wake up Jason and Billy with my tantrum. They stare at me from where they lay. Billy's eyes are cold, regarding me with determination, as if ordering me to quit it. Jason looks sad. But how do I even know if I can read his looks anymore? A lot has changed.

I let out one final howl and a flock of seagulls explode into the air a few feet away, scared. The waves drown out the rest. I look towards the East at the buildings lying abandoned, the grey stone being clawed at by roots and plants. It looks so lonely.

I run up the steps, my breath fast and shallow, and don't stop until I reach the top. The sun is high in the sky and it shines directly in my eyes. It hurts. I look into the distance, at all that blue sky and those rolling waves. And everything is so undeniably beautiful I want to cry. I see my friends standing far below me, looking up at me. Billy shouts, "You're not gonna jump are you?"

"Nah." I yell back, laughing.

They join me on the steps, one on either side, and we sit for awhile. Jason hugs his knees to his chest and rests his chin on them, contemplating. He used to be so hyperactive, and now he seems so quiet and thoughtful. Billy hangs carelessly off the side, legs swinging. I'm somewhat afraid he'll fall over.

We stay like this for hours and for each second spent there I find a part of myself being picked up and blown away by the wind. And for each part taken away a new part of myself is found.

It is almost twilight and Billy asks me if I'm going to have to go back to the institution. I respond, "No, I think I'll be alright."

Billy doesn't respond but Jason nods his head. Then he says, "Damn, I'm missing soccer practice. Coach is gonna flip."

"You play soccer?" I ask, amazed at this revelation.

He nods again.

And then we all pile back in the car, not caring when sand gets ingrained in the folds of the cushions. On the way home John Lennon comes on the radio and Jason begins to sing along. Billy asks who John Lennon is.

And all I do is rest my head against the window and watch everything fly by. A blur.

A/N: Please review.