Appearances must be kept, you know, in public. It's not like I can treat Shane like anything special in front of everybody. It's hard enough, what with him and I being on completely different social levels and all. I can't even be his friend in public. It frustrates me.
"You going to the game tonight?" I ask during class.
He laughs. "As if," he answers. "Sports mean nothing to me."
My face burns with embarrassment. "Oh… well, it, uh…" How am I going to say this? "It'd, um, mean a lot to me if you were there."
He turns his head away from me and his shoulders quake with laughter. He shakes his head. "And what makes you think I care?"
"I— I just…" I look down at the desk, which blurs in my vision. No way, am I really tearing up? I breathe in sharply and look away, eyes closed, trying to regain my composure. Get ahold of yourself, Alec.
The bell rings and signals the end of class and the day. Everyone flies out the door, and I know I should get my ass moving and heading off to meet with the team, but I'm moving so slow. Shane is putting his backpack over his shoulder and the teacher has left the room, leaving just the two of us.
I ignore him pointedly, still wounded.
"I didn't mean it. I'm sorry. Just… sports really aren't my thing, y'know?"
I hesitate, and take a deep breath before standing and turning to him. He's looking at me with a blank expression on his face. How can he make me feel so much, and yet he looks as if he feels nothing?
"So then what was that crap last night?" I demand. "You kiss me and then you leave and don't even text me back. And then you pull this kind of shit? What the fuck, Shane?"
I expect him to laugh or crack a joke about how much of a faggot I sound like. But instead, he says, "I don't have text."
"Oh," I say, as if that answers all my questions.
"If you really want me to go to the game, I can see what I can do about getting there."
Trying to save face, I roll my eyes and scowl at him, and scoff, "Please. Don't even bother. Why would I want you at the stupid game anyway?"
He tilts his head to the side, and he looks concerned. "I'm sorry I said that," he murmurs, taking a step closer to me. "I just don't know if I want to get involved with someone like you. Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely interested, it's just… I don't want to be treated like a nobody in front of your friends. You know what I mean?"
Is he trying to kill me? I can't look at him anymore. "It doesn't have to be that way…"
"Oh, it doesn't? And so, what, you're just going to let the entire school know that, hey, by the way, not only is Alec Peterson not straight, he's also got really bad taste in guys?"
My mouth gapes open and I look at him in surprise. "What do you mean?" I ask. Is he implying that he falls anywhere short of perfection?
"Face it, Peterson. No one's ever been into me, and for good reason. You at least ought to go for someone good-looking."
Though I desperately want to, I'm not going to get in an argument with Shane in a classroom about how he thinks he isn't attractive when in reality he is so far beyond that.
"Besides, you have Emilie as a cover, so, no need to ruin stuff there."
"I broke up with Emilie last night," I tell him, getting frustrated. "I don't like her and I never have. She's a little skank and full of drama." I clench my fists impatiently. "Why can't you see that I want you?"
A sad smile curls onto his face. "I want you, too," he says. "But you have to be logical about this. We wouldn't work out. I'm sorry. Good luck tonight."
And just like that, he leaves. And I... let him.