Axton had to stop short in the middle of the hallway when he heard that sweet, singsong voice say his name, clear as day. His eyes were on Julie Cathers, but she couldn't really be talking to him. Julie was a freshman in high school. Freshmen did not talk to seventh graders. Despite this well known rule, there was no mistaking the fact that Julie was saying his name and walking up to him in the populated middle school hallway. Axton didn't know why she was in the middle school hallway, but he wasn't going to complain. Maybe she was dropping Courtney off this morning.

He could feel his heart jump wildly in his chest as she came closer. Julie wasn't aware of it, but he had the biggest crush on her. He'd met her through her sister Courtney, who was in his grade. Ax wanted nothing to do with Courtney. She wasn't pretty like her sister was.

"Hi." It wasn't the cool, suave, debonair persona he'd always pictured himself having the day Julie finally walked up to him. Instead he was breathless, geeky and almost a bit squeaky, which was quite hard to do all at once.

"Ax, I'm having a party tonight. You're invited. It starts at eight." Julie looked anywhere but at Axton's face, as though she didn't want to be seen conversing with him. Her invitation itself was given out with the dullest tones possible. Anyone nearby would be able to tell that she didn't actually want Axton at her party, but that wasn't how he was hearing it.

"I am? I mean, cool. Sure. I'll be there," he said, adding his characteristic grin while he held his hand up in the shape of a gun and fired off an invisible bullet. All the cool guys in all the best movies used that move. He took her small half-smile as her being shy. Ax didn't mind if she was a little shy. She'd already invited him to her party so he knew she was into him. She didn't have to be over the top about it like the giggling children around them always were.

He did wonder why she liked him, though. She was older than he was and had many options in the high school for boyfriends. There was also the fact that, though he was in the seventh grade, he'd only just turned twelve. Everyone else around him had already turned or would be turning thirteen. Axton had started Kindergarten a year early, and with his January birth date he was always behind everyone else in age. Including Toby, who never let him forget who was a year older.

"Great," Julie said, rolling her eyes. She seemed less than enthusiastic about the whole situation and more than uncomfortable standing in the hallway with Ax. Her weight shifted from hip to hip until the awkwardness seemed to be too much and she turned on her heel, walking away without another word.

Axton watched her go with a giddy grin on his face. He wanted nothing more than to jump up and down while singing various praises, but he didn't. Now that he'd been invited to a high school party, he had to act more mature. He couldn't be seen acting like the classmates that surrounded him anymore. He had to be cool and collected. Act like he belonged with the older crowd.

The rest of the school day seemed to be the longest one of his life. He found himself wishing desperately that he and Toby went to the same school so he could fill his best friend in on this new scene he was entering. Instead, Toby was sitting in public school while Axton's parents sent him to private. He'd been begging them for years to send him to school with Toby but they wouldn't relent.

When the final bell rang, dismissing them for the day, Axton ran to the car waiting outside. Jeffrey picked him up at the same time every single day and Ax was sure this was the first time the driver didn't have to wait for an extended period of time while he said his goodbyes to all of his friends. He wanted to get home. There were things to do before he attended his first high school party. There were new clothes to get so that he looked like he fit in, new faces to practice, like deep thinking and some kind of party one, and he had to call Toby to share his news.

In truth, he really wanted to take Toby with him. He wanted to have Toby there as his wingman so they could experience the whole thing together, but he wasn't sure if he was allowed to show up with a friend. Julie might kick him out. That would ruin everything. So, though unfortunate, he would be going this one alone. There wouldn't be anyone there to tell him if he looked like an idiot or needed to act more sophisticated. He would really feel weird without Toby with him tonight but he had to show up and make a good impression, with or without his best friend by his side.

Walking up to Julie's house was the scariest moment of his life. Until now, Axton had only ever attended birthday parties, and only with people his own age. He knew that attending a high school party was going to be different. Everyone around him would be older and more mature than him. That was part of the reason he'd made Carl the gardener take him shopping, not only for something new and fresh to wear, but for something that would help him look like he belonged in this crowd. Because Axton definitely knew he would want to be a part of this crowd after tonight.

He felt like he was starting on the right track by showing up showered and in his new, sophisticated, striped button up shirt. He'd debated between jeans and khaki pants for almost an hour, but in the end he'd settled on jeans. All high school kids wore jeans outside of school, and they had to wear khakis for their uniforms. It would be nerdy to wear khakis to a party.

Aside from clothes, he'd even styled his hair differently. Usually he simply let it stay wherever it fell. Tonight, he'd tried something out that he'd seen the high school guys doing. The dark, short strands were flat, with his bangs flipped up in the front and gelled there. All in all, he felt cool tonight.

The noise coming from inside as he approached the door told him that the party was already in full swing. His wardrobe alterations had caused him to be late, and he hoped Julie wouldn't be unimpressed by that. Hopefully, if she had a problem with it, he could just mention money. Axton was already well aware of the differences between poor, comfortable, and rich. He was definitely all right with being on the rich side of things. Being on this particular side often made the little things okay, like being late.

Unfortunately, it wasn't Julie opening the door as he drew closer. It was her dorky little sister, Courtney. The one with braces. It was difficult not to ignore her entirely, but he had to at least be polite. Sophisticated guys were polite to children with dreams. She was madly in love with him, and it was no secret to anyone. Axton had been denying her all year because she wasn't anywhere near pretty enough to be one of his girlfriends. Despite that, he did not sidestep around her like he wanted to. Instead, he stopped in front of her and stood stiff as she threw her arms around him in an obnoxiously presumptuous hug. Did she think he was here for her?

"Ax, I'm so glad you could come," she said into his shoulder, her words muffled. "You look really nice!"

"Hello, Courtney." Axton was going to loathe this girl if she wrinkled his shirt while he was maintaining his polite persona. If she ruined his chances with Julie tonight, he would make sure she was laughed out of school. He would make things so bad for her that she would have no choice but to transfer. Trying very hard to hide his disgust, he plucked her arms from around him and returned them to her own sides. Without waiting for her, he started walking toward the open door. "I really should get inside."

"Ax!" She caught up with him easily, reaching for his wrist, which he wrenched away. "Ax, do you want to come around back with me? The party is really just for the older kids. They don't want us in there. I have a radio and-"

"Courtney, shut up." Fuck being nice. He'd done what he could and she wouldn't leave him alone. She now looked like he'd slapped her, but Axton refused to feel bad. She couldn't take a hint. "I don't want to hurt you feelings or anything, but Julie invited me. Maybe she doesn't want you hanging out inside, but she fucking invited me. I don't want to go out back and listen to your radio, okay?"

"But she-"

"I'm going inside," he snapped. He stopped just long enough to glare down at her and took great pride in the fact that she looked like she had been scolded. It made him feel superior. Older. That was exactly what he was looking for tonight. With a small smirk at her brimming tears, he turned back toward the front entrance again. With her out of the way, there was nothing else stopping him from walking inside and finding Julie.

Julie was what all the magazines called a 'blond bombshell.' Axton had a few blond girlfriends, but they weren't like her. Blond hair, blue eyes, perfect body. She was everything he needed because she was everything all the other guys wanted. That was how he always picked his girlfriends. The girls that would get him the most attention were the girls he paid attention to. Julie would do wonders for him. He would be a god in the middle school and the guys in high school would be asking for his secrets. Life would be perfect.

Without any hesitation, he walked into the house like he owned it. Almost immediately a cup was shoved into his hands. When he took a sip from it as he looked around, he gagged. It tasted awful and it smelled bad, too. "What the fuck is this?"


The person who had yelled in his ear was someone that Ax didn't want to hang out with. He wanted to run in this circle, but he was certainly going to cut people out of it. However, despite his obnoxiousness, the guy had given Ax an answer. Budweiser was something he'd seen commercials for on the television. Beer. They were drinking beer. And even though beer was the most disgusting, horrible drink he'd ever tasted, he had to drink it, too.

Ax wanted his first party to lead to a second, and a second to lead to a third. To accomplish that, he had to fit in. He couldn't be known as the "party pooper." So, he gulped. Once he finished his cup, he would be welcomed and they would invite him again.

"That's the fucking way to do it."

Ax had no idea who this guy was, either, but that didn't stop him from nodding along like he had an idea of what was being said to him. What was he doing that this guy approved of? When the guy chugged from his own cup, Axton connected the dots. So gulping was good at parties. Gulping was cool when you were drinking beer. Well, he could do that. Hell, that was the only way he seemed to be able to do it. Maybe partying was his thing.

Grinning, he lifted the cup and swallowed some more of the putrid drink, forcing himself not to choke on the taste. He was a little surprised when he belched only seconds after finishing the cup off, earning random applause from various people in the room. Oh, he was golden. These people already loved him. Another cup was handed to him and he shrugged, setting down his empty one in exchange for the full one as he started through the house. With Julie's friends already enjoying him, all he had left to accomplish was making Julie fall in love with him.

He chugged from his new, full cup while he nodded at the people around him. They were all so cool and he was going to be one of them. The people around him were going to be his crowd from now on, and soon he would be able to get Toby invited, too. Surely Toby would be able to blend in just like he was. Axton had faith in his friend. They would rule the party scene together and people would think they were totally awesome.


The shrill screech made him jump, some of the beer in his cup sloshing out onto his hand. He frowned at it. Now his skin would smell like Budweiser. His eyes searched the room for the screamer.

Julie? Julie Cathers was the obnoxious, horrible girl who had made him spill his beer? She was grinning and tripping over her own feet while she waved him over. Honestly, Axton was not impressed. She was supposed to be mature. She was acting like a child. Only because she was so drop dead gorgeous would he give her a chance to redeem herself.

With his beer in hand, he walked over, putting on his best swagger.

"Julie," he said, nodding. High school kids didn't say "hi" to each other. They just said each other's first names and nodded in a cool way. "Great party. Good beer."

She ignored him completely and threw her arms around his neck, leaning on him while she giggled. "Oh, Axton. You're too cute. Guys! Guys, this is Axton! Isn't he just adorable? Courtney has the biggest crush on him. She loves this kid."

Ax noticed only now that Julie was taller than he was. He really needed to hit one of those growth spurts Gertrude always talked about. For now he had to settle for standing on his tip-toes as a few other girls moved closer, and he put on his very best grin to win them all over. He was a little confused as to why everyone at this party seemed completely unable to control their own steps, but he didn't want to ask questions. Questions would make him look stupid and young.

"Oh, you'll be a heart breaker when you get older," one of the girls said, her speech a little slurred, face red and blotchy. She stuck her hand into Axton's hair and ruffled it up, laughing as she did. "You need to call me in a few years. Promise me. Do you promise?"

"Uh, sure," he said uncertainly. "I promise. Listen, Julie-"

"Axton, are you drinking?"

"Yeah, Julie, but listen-"

"Aren't you too young to drink? You're not old enough, Axton," Julie said, trying to look stern when she finished.

"Neither are you," he replied coolly, lifting his cup to his lips to gulp from it out of spite. He'd wanted to talk to her about possibly making her one of his girlfriends, but there was something wrong with her right now. She wasn't acting like she normally did. She was acting… stupid. That was the only way to explain it. Axton didn't know what was going on with her, but he didn't like it.

"Shh," she whispered. "Don't tell anyone, 'kay? Now you should stop drinking and go find Courtney. She really, really wanted you here tonight. See, she found out that I was going to have a party and she said if I didn't invite you she was going to tell our mom. So now you're here, but where is-"


The interruption halted whatever train of thought Julie had and her head popped up from Axton's shoulder. He cringed as she screamed in return, busting his eardrum into at least twelve pieces in the process. Ax was finally realizing that he had no interest in any of Julie's friends at this party. They were all loud and obnoxious and not a single one of them seemed to be able to walk on their own. Were they retarded? He didn't want a retarded girlfriend. He wanted one that could talk and walk on her own, so when Julie let go of him and went to find her shouting friend, he was relieved. Axton used the opportunity to chug from his cup some more and mingle with the other people here. The less irritating people.

He didn't get far before he saw Courtney weaving her way through people, her face red and puffy. Ax sighed, knowing he had to go after her and apologize. Usually he wouldn't feel this bad, but since Julie had been a disappointment, he saw no reason he couldn't be friends with Courtney. Taking a few drinks out of his cup, he finished it off and refilled it before finally making his way out onto the back patio to follow the younger sister.

"Courtney?" He watched her stiffen and slap her hands up to her face to wipe away the tears that he already knew were there. Did she think she was fooling anyone? Clearly she had been crying for quite some time over him. The poor girl. It wasn't her fault that she wanted him. Everyone did.

"What do you want, Ax? Julie's inside," she said quietly, not turning to face him.

Taking measures into his own hands, he walked around the front of her, sipping from his third cup of beer. It really didn't taste as bad now. He was getting used to it and he could definitely drink it again with no problem. Stepping up to her, he sighed again. "Look, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be, like, mean or anything. I guess."

Her eyes stayed on the ground. He was trying to apologize and she wouldn't even look at him. It was starting to upset him. Axton didn't apologize very often, and she was taking it for granted. Where was her decency? Ax narrowed his eyes for a moment before he moved his hand to her chin, using two fingers to lift her head and make her look at him. Now that she wasn't grinning at him, he noticed that her eyes were actually a pretty gray-blue color. The horrible metal in her mouth was really taking away from that. In all the old movies, if a guy apologized to a girl, he usually kissed her. Well, he was not kissing Courtney with her terrifying braces, but he would try to make her feel better.

"I didn't mean to make you cry," he continued. "I thought I wanted to get inside and see your sister, but she's acting weird and she screamed in my ear and I really just don't want to see her at all right now. And then I saw you crying and coming out here, so I followed you to apologize since I know you're crying about me, but I don't know what else to say. I said I was sorry."

"I'm fine, Ax."

Clearly she was not fine. Axton was starting to get frustrated with Courtney. He was trying to make her feel better and she just wanted nothing more than to wallow and cry. Then he was going to let her do that. Why should it bother him? She wasn't his girlfriend. He didn't have to be nice. He'd only been doing her a favor. Since he didn't know what to say now, he resorted to drinking more beer.

"I don't think you're supposed to be drinking that," Courtney said, eyes a bit wide.

"I can handle it," he shrugged. "It's just beer. No big deal. So are you good, then?" She smiled at him after he asked, and her puffy red cheeks looked even puffier. She reminded Axton of that fish. That one really big fucking fish. It wasn't attractive at all.

"I'm okay," she answered, wiping at her eyes a bit.

"Cool. I'm going to go back inside then. Coming?" When she shook her head no, he shrugged again. "Fine. Suit yourself." Now that he'd made peace with Courtney, he needed to go make everyone in this house his friend. Come Monday morning, everyone had to know his name in the high school so that he would be invited to more parties. He couldn't make that happen by standing out here talking to a seventh grade girl. No, he had to go inside, drink more beer, and talk about himself and Toby so much that people would never be able to forget.

It was almost two hours later when he found himself stumbling up the stairs in Julie's house. He needed to find a place to just sit down for a little bit. It became very obvious to him why everyone had been stumbling and talking funny. They were drunk, and now so was he. He was incredibly drunk at his very first party, and he was a hit. People had been laughing at his jokes all night, high school girls had been dancing with him, and everything had gone pretty much perfectly.

He just needed to sit down and regroup for a few minutes. Bedrooms were usually found upstairs, and with the limited seating downstairs, a bedroom was probably the only place he'd find to hang out for a bit. Then he could even lie down, which he hoped might make the horrible spinning go away.

Axton immediately went for the first room on his left, and he wasn't disappointed when he saw the large bed in the center of the room. His mind registered nothing else save for how comfortable it looked. Until he face planted into the comforter, anyway, and realized that he could make neither heads nor tails of the pattern. It seemed to be continuously moving. Groaning, he turned over onto his back, eyes closing to stop the ceiling from spinning.

He heard the flush of a toilet and he let his head fall to the side, eyes opening up to one of the doors in the room. A bathroom. His own personal bathroom. This was good. He wouldn't have to go down and wait in line. He could just go here. Whoever was in there right now would have to leave, though. Ax didn't want to chance needing to use the space only to find it still occupied by someone. As though his thoughts had been read, a girl came stumbling out a few fast seconds later.

"Are… are you… him?" she asked, words sloppy and slurred, hand supporting her against the wall. It looked as though she couldn't even see straight.


"Never mind. Doesn't matter. Take off your pants."

His pants? What did she want with his pants? Axton wondered if she had peed in her own and now needed another pair to wear. If she'd pissed herself, she certainly wasn't allowed to have his jeans! She'd ruin them, and he would have nothing to wear. She was coming toward him as he was shaking his head. He was starting to get a bit worried. Did she plan on ripping them off of him if he said no? He felt nauseous. Anxious. His head hurt. This girl, whoever she happened to be, was now crawling over the side of the bed toward him and he was doing all he could to inch away from her without her noticing.

"God, I have to do everything," she mumbled, irritated.

The next few minutes were among the most confusing minutes of his life. One moment, his pants were on. The next, they were at his ankles and her hand was grabbing onto him down there. Ax had never experienced something like this. He was the only one who had ever touched himself like that. Surprisingly, she seemed to be better at it. Before he could even comprehend what was happening, her skirt was hiked up and she was sitting down on him. Shortly after, a slew of curses left her mouth and she was getting up, only to stagger out of the room.

Despite being very confused, he wasn't entirely stupid. Axton was well aware that what had just happened was technically sex, but it was nothing like he'd expected it to be. Unlike the movies, it wasn't satisfying or fun. He didn't want a cigarette. The girl hadn't been unbelievably happy with him; she'd seemed quite upset. Actually, he just felt gross. Sticky. Confused. Did this mean that girl was his girlfriend now? Was he supposed to know her name? What if she got pregnant? Could she get pregnant? He wasn't ready to be a dad. Ax felt tears burning beneath his eyelids as he tugged his underwear back up.

His stomach was rolling, and the more he thought about what had just gone on, the worse he felt. When his mouth started watering, he knew he was done for. Axton scrambled out of the bed, tripping over his jeans which were still at his ankles. Roughly, he yanked them up and ran for the bathroom attached to the room before dropping to his knees in front of the toilet. The resounding crack from his kneecaps hitting the floor made him lean over the porcelain and heave. It was painful and continuous. He wondered if it would ever stop. But finally, forehead beaded with sweat, muscles cramped and fatigued, he fell backward onto the cool floor below him. Things were still spinning, but not quite to the degree that they had been. Uncomfortable and in pain, he curled up on the floor. It was now that he realized he'd been completely wrong. He did not want to be in with this crowd. He didn't want to be invited to their parties or make any of the girls here his girlfriend. Axton just wanted to go home and forget anything had ever happened at all.

Unfortunately, a few minutes later, he was heaving again, choking and coughing his way through it. Why did people do this? Ax couldn't figure out why anyone in their right mind would choose to feel like this. It was absolutely awful.

It was another half hour before he was able to stand and leave the bathroom. He used the phone in the room to dial home. It was relieving, for once, that his parents weren't home. Talking to Jeffrey was an intimidating enough idea, and he hoped that this wouldn't get back to his parents when they finally came back again. He was still shaking while he waited for the butler to pick up. Axton had never felt so ill in his life.

"Tripp residence."

"Jeffrey, can you come get me?" He sounded more childish than he'd heard himself sound in a very long time. Axton knew he wouldn't be doing this again any time soon, if ever.

"Are you all right?" Jeffrey asked, concern clear in his crisp, English accent.

"Just come get me."

"What's the address?"

It was only now that he realized he had no idea where he was at. Carl had known the residence, so Axton had never gotten a street or a house number. "I don't know," he whined quietly. "It's Julie Cathers' house. She had a party, and I don't know where it's at or -"

"It's all right, Axton. I know the place."

"You do?"

"Yes," Jeffrey said softly. "I can be there in about twenty minutes. I trust you'll be safe until then?"

"Yeah," he answered, relief flooding him when he hung up for the first time in a while. Jeffrey was coming to get him. Soon enough, he would leave, and he would never have to go through this again. Hopefully no one would know what had happened up here.

As he set the phone into the cradle and walked out, he noted that the room was no longer spinning. His stomach was still upset, but he felt no immediate need to heave into a toilet. These were good signs.

Silently, he made his way back downstairs and through the rowdy teenage crowd. A few people clapped him hard on the back as he walked by, and he felt his neck flush a hot red when someone mentioned a "good time" with Sam. So they did know. She'd told people. Axton felt embarrassed, especially because the time had been so far from "good" that it wasn't even funny. At least he knew her name now. Sam. He'd lost his virginity to a girl named Sam.

He could no longer stand the thought of waiting inside. Not with these people. He moved through the people standing in front of the door and sat down on the front steps, leaning up against a column. He needed to bathe. Badly. He needed to wash all evidence of this night away. Fingers snapped in front of his face and Axton jumped a bit. His eyes moved to Courtney and he groaned inwardly. How long had she been out here? He really wasn't in the mood to deal with her right now.

"Hi," he said, his voice dull.

"Where'd you go?" she asked.

"Courtney, no offense, but stop sitting so close to me. I can't deal with it right now." With his hands out in front of him, palms facing outwardly, he looked a bit like a diva, but right now he didn't care. Right now he felt awful. In fact, he felt the urge to throw up again and he did not want to do it on her if it happened. That would make him feel even worse. It was bad enough that the whole invitation had been because of Courtney in the first place, but then he'd blown her off and treated her like absolute shit. All because he'd thought Julie liked him.

"Are you okay?"

"I'm fine. Tired," he lied. "I was upstairs." He was relieved when she moved away from him a bit. It felt like he could actually breathe comfortably again.

"So it's true."


"You had… you know…"

Axton cursed under his breath and let his head fall forward. So that was it then. Everyone knew. Even Courtney, who everyone here had avoided like the plague tonight. For a moment he wondered if he would ever be able to show his face in public again. If this ended up around the neighborhood, and his parents found out, he would never hear the end of it. His father would kill him for being such an embarrassment. "Don't, Courtney," he said quietly, feeling those tears burning under his eyelids once again, but he wouldn't cry. He hadn't cried since the day he'd run away eight years ago. "Just don't talk about it. Please."

"Sorry," she said awkwardly.

For a while, the two of them sat in silence. Ax even started to drift off, despite it being uncomfortable and even slightly painful in his position. He was never, ever doing this again. No way in hell.

"Are you really okay?"

His eyes opened slowly and he turned his head toward her. She looked so concerned about him and he couldn't figure out why. He'd done nothing to warrant her niceness. He'd done everything he could to push her away. Were good looks, money, and a bit of charm really that helpful? Would he be able to get away with more and more as he grew older? Even if he felt completely awful at the moment, he could still appreciate the grand nature of the knowledge he'd just learned.

"No," he finally answered simply, ignoring his thoughts. She said nothing else and they sat silently once again, this time right up to the point when Jeffrey showed up. She muttered something about seeing him in school and he waved his hand dismissively as he walked slowly toward the black car. Jeffrey had gotten out to open his door for him and Axton watched the butler's eyes survey the scene distastefully.

"Were you drinking?" Jeffrey asked, tugging on the handle to open the back door.

"Please don't tell my mom," Ax answered, crawling in. He didn't sit up and put his seat belt on. Instead, he sprawled out face down across the back seat, burying his head in the crook of his elbow while Jeffrey shut the door behind him without another word. The smell of leather below him was turning his stomach even more, and he mentally willed Jeffrey to get him home as quickly as possible. Axton wasn't sure what time it was, but it had to be late. By the time he got home and into his bed, he was ready to pass out. He didn't even bother changing out of his new clothes.

For a brief minute before slipping into unconsciousness, he missed the old house. Not only had it been smaller, but it had been closer to Toby's. Axton felt so incredibly alone in his own wing of the house right now that he would give anything to be able to walk that previously short distance to Toby's.

He fell into a fitful sleep that ended up lasting late into the afternoon the next day. He waited for the phone call. He waited to hear from his parents about how awful he was. When the call never came, and Jeffrey didn't mention it, Ax thought that he might actually get away without a lecture. He didn't need a lecture. The experience itself would keep him from doing this again.

Now he just wanted to talk to Toby. Despite not wanting anyone else to know, not wanting to admit it, and not wanting to be any more embarrassed than he already was, talking to Toby always made him feel better. Toby was his best friend throughout everything. He wasn't sure how to tell him or even start the conversation, but the only person he wanted to go to was Toby. He just hoped Toby wouldn't quit talking to him for this.

Awkward laughter bubbled from Toby's chest after he realized that Ax wasn't joking or exaggerating his story. Moments prior, he blew it off and dismissed the tale but Ax's change in attitude - which quickly became hostile - convinced Toby otherwise. Now that he believed Ax's experience, he stumbled over an apology.

"Sorry, I was just a bit of a dick, man."

"Yeah. It's cool."

Toby looked away, avoiding the subject of the conversation. Now that disbelief was gone, his reaction to the news brought forth questions and a tinge of jealousy. Ax was a year younger than him, he shouldn't get to experience this first. Despite the violence in their lives and other examples of debauchery, he was having a difficult time picturing Ax on his back, dick hard, being fucked by some high school-aged girl until he came. Toby gave an involuntary shake of his head, as if to dissipate the visual from his brain.

"I, uh… that's quite a night," he offered helplessly, giving a roll of his shoulders. "I guess some would consider you a lucky guy. Who got lucky."

There was temptation to add "with an unlucky girl" but Ax clearly wouldn't have appreciated the comment, so Toby kept it to himself. Toby brought his eyes toward Ax's only to see his friend's were diverted, looking off toward the ground. Tone deadpan, Toby made a shameful attempt to cheer Ax up. "Maybe you didn't like it because you like men."

If looks could kill, Ax's glare would have slit his throat. "Don't you fucking listen? Maybe I didn't know what I was doing, Tobias. It was fucking embarrassing."

Toby gave a grunt in response, the attitude in Ax's tone grating on his nerves. The desire to start making fun of Ax surged inside him, but died off as quick as it came. Instead he shifted in his seat, leaning away from Ax in fear of retaliation. "So are you saying you were, like, raped?"

Ax gave a dismissive wave of his hand. Toby felt stupid. "No," he said slowly, dumbing down his tone in an offensive manner. "I'm saying I drank beer, got hammered, laid down in a bed and then she was pulling my pants down. Boys can't be raped anyway."

Toby let out a sigh, keeping in his arguments and instead letting Ax win this one. It was just as well since he had almost nothing to say; a big part of him thought Ax was making the whole ordeal out to be worse than it was. If it were him, he wouldn't be sulking and worried. Toby was sure he'd have a pep in his step. The talk afterward would be a hard pill to swallow, but like all gossip, it would blow over soon enough.

"Dude, I don't think it's a huge deal. You'll forget about it in a couple of weeks, along with everyone fucking else. Except for me; I won't forget." He flashed a toothy grin before continuing. "I think you'll be alright."

"Yeah? And if it's not alright? Can't she get pregnant?"

"No fucking shit she could get pregnant, but I doubt it. She's probably on some sort of birth control because the cunt is probably a dirty fucking whore." Toby paused when he realized that he might not be helping. "But-"

"You need to forget about this shit, too, Toby. I don't want to talk about it anymore, actually. Ever. I wanted to talk to you because I thought it would help, but it hasn't helped at all and I still feel gross. So please just forget it?"

Toby blinked at the repetitive nature of Ax's words but eventually just nodded. That was all he could really do. He knew Ax well, and the only way to shut him up when he started rambling was to nod along with him and simply agree.

"Whatever you say, Ax. Whatever you say."