Sneakers


He felt a little impatience at the expanse of skin she barred. He was trying very hard to look interested, but it simply wasn't working. That was probably a sign. She, on the other hand, looked as if he had rejected the offer of her favorite toy, which, with Marxie, could all be true. For all he knew, her body was her favorite toy.

He supposed they were the hazards of having a virgin boyfriend like him. Really, he wondered sometimes why she chose to be with him. Was it the challenge? She enjoyed calling him her pretty boy, to which he usually just gave a perfunctory kiss on the nose.

"Do you like that, baby?" she purred. Blinking, he looked down at her in his lap, and gave a crooked smile. She had been playing provocative for a good 45 minutes, massaging his hair and back, brushing herself against him, always with her perfect face framed for his eyes.

"What's wrong?" she pouted, stained lips protruding like ladybug wings. He tapped her on the nose.

"I told you. I'm just really stressed for my exam at the end of the week. You know I've missed three of his classes already—doing what?"

She gave him a reluctant grin, "Not doing me, that's what."

That brought a smile to his face. "No. Spending time with you, though."

"But so much time!" her beautiful blue eyes rolled skyward, only to catch the black insides of her sockets. She threw her tanned arms up in the air with a scream laced between. "And we still haven't fucked!"

He glanced towards the top of the staircase, wondering if his dad had heard. Wouldn't he be disappointed.

"Mar," he began, only to be cut off by her body launching on top of him, that ladybug mouth latching onto his. That was one way to get things done. When a body was quite that insistent, a male body simply didn't resist long. Plus, he had his eyes closed, and the surprise did wonders for him.

.

"I guess this is what I get for dating a virgin," Marxie murmured a little later, long brown lashes blinking up at him from a face streaked just a little by smudged makeup. Her straggled hair curled around his forearm, and her pointed heart face tucked itself firmly into his chest.

He gave her a sardonic look, and glanced back up to the lazy ceiling fan. The wooden blades didn't contribute much to relief, but the pacing induced a hypnosis that he found addictive. They liked to play this game sometimes, or at least she did. She shot out what she considered verbal stings to watch his reaction, but he figured she deserved some sort of outlet. She inched higher up his chest, her elbows digging slightly into flesh.

"I mean, don't get me wrong. You're generous as hell, but you never bother for yourself. What's up with that? You gay?"

He closed his eyes, feeling her blunt nails tracing designs along his collarbone. And to think Janie had claimed girls appreciated a male concerned only with a girl's satisfaction. No, Janie, you lose this argument. Marxie's velvet legs slid over his own underneath the tangle of deep green bedsheets, the motion replacing the rhythm of the blades. Even with eyes closed, he could see the vivid green covering him, the kind of color that resembled the darkness in forests and jungles; dense, humid, and secretive.

"Yes, that's it. I'm mad for Joe," he deadpanned.

There was a pause where Marxie kissed him on the underside of his jaw, before raising herself just a little, tangled hair falling in a half curtain to the side of his cheek. "Joe's coming here to pick me up in a few. Maybe I should get dressed."

Her voice hedged the last sentence, and he understood that she wanted him to ask her to stay.

He murmured, "Why don't you stay longer? You could help me study."

She groaned. "Ugh, as if I want to hear anymore about fucking circuits," but she settled back down beside him, and her smooth cheek lay half on the hand that stroked his chest. He made a mental note to call Joe. He'd like to hear his voice.

His cell phone rang beside his head, briefly prompting him to wonder if that was him. He reached up the hand that Marxie hadn't claimed. Janie Angelson flashed on the ID. From beside him, Marxie gave a puff of annoyance.

"Jane Angelson? Why do you talk to that girl?"

He frowned at his girlfriend, "I love Janie."

She gave an exaggerated shudder, "I actually believe you when you say it like that."

He took the call, with Marxie pouting on his shoulder, but her lips felt rather nice this time—especially when there was no pressure to force a reaction. Janie asked what he was up to, and he responded by saying he was with Marxie, sure that his girlfriend was smiling rather triumphantly on his shoulder, which made him want to say good riddance to females entirely.

He agreed to meet Janie the next day for lunch, but he had to study tonight. This prompted a question of why Marxie was with him then, and didn't he know that she never let him study? Yes, he knew, but Joe was coming to pick her up soon anyway. He didn't like this discussion with Marxie listening so intently right by his face.

His lovely girlfriend didn't bring it up later while he was at his desk, though, and he ventured to hope that her growing maturity may have let the conflict go. In either case, Joe's presence prompted her to let it go, as he stormed down the steps without knocking.

"God, Joe!" yelled Marxie," What if we had been stark naked on all fours?"

Joe scrunched his face, "Jesus, Mar, thanks for the visual. Doesn't matter anyway, we grew up naked together. And El doesn't give a shit if I see anything. Don't you know about boys' locker rooms?"

Marxie continued glaring at her brother as she hoisted her sandals on, "What, that you compare dick sizes in the shower?"

"Among other things. Hey, Elliot, some of the guys on the team want to get lunch tomorrow, take advantage of the break before exams. You in?"

He turned away from his desk, "Sorry, can't. I've got lunch plans with Janie."

That seemed to stop Joe, and he barely restrained himself from looking at Marxie before he said, "Alright, well, tell her I say hi."

Elliot frowned, not having known Joe even knew Janie existed. Marxie apparently agreed, since she exclaimed, "Jane Plain? You talk to her?"

"Marxie, shut up," Joe muttered as they left the basement room. The door closed gently, the sound echoing in the emptiness.

.

The drive to Janie's house didn't count as a drive. He simply reversed his car to sit outside the driveway. He knew she listened, anyway, waiting for the telling hum. Her house stood solitary beside his, encased by plastic tiling that only the rain ever touched, and with front doors that shut with identical final clicks. Here, it opened, and Janie tumbled out in a light jacket over shorts and sneakers. Even in the summer with the heightened risk for sock tans—of which she proudly boasted—she clung to her worn out sneakers that caved when unoccupied. They'd caught his attention once sitting outside on her front porch, undemanding and caven, as if withdrawn to hide something in their recesses.

Still yanking on her flattened sneakers, Janie skidded to a halt outside his passenger door with a perfunctory, "Hey," before crashing in beside him as he pulled out.

He smiled at her, "Hey."

"How'd studying go last night?" Her left eyebrow arched, and it said simply, I know your secrets, which they did not discuss on the car ride to the restaurant.

Elliot parked, and they emerged slowly from the interiors, scanning the windows of the restaurant, as if they could maybe see past the tint that the sun's glow could not reveal. Inside, at least, bright glass window panes lined the walls. He figured that was what Janie loved most about the place: the way you couldn't see in, but from inside, the way out shone clear as day. Antique-looking brass instruments sat in a corner display, while glasswork and paintings lined the walls between the windows. The crowd seemed extremely sparse, and they seemed to pile in more from the heat than any desire for food. The slapping on the tiles told him they were all wearing flip-flops, and the idea made him want ice-cream. But he had restraint. He and Janie took time to order waters before plowing their way to the buffet lines. Elliot waited for the rice, since a man in a polo shirt stood clutching the designated spoon with a red hand. He placidly stood beside him, Janie continuing a story.

"You remember those new shoes I bought? No traction. My feet flew straight out from under me."

He laughed, and advised her to return them.

"No, Elliot. I'll give them to you to give to Marxie."

He didn't take the bait. "She'd pull them off, probably."

That earned him a growl, and he threw a grin over his shoulder. He waited for her to pull out the big guns, but she didn't. Then he remembered why they were best friends.

As they sat back down at their table, Janie asked, "When are you going to tell her?"

He was mixing his rice with rib sauce, and shrugged. "I don't know. Do you think I should?"

She frowned, "She may not be my favorite person, but you can't not tell her."

"Why not? It's not like she loves me." A pause before the fork hit his mouth. "Does she?"

A pink mouth crooked, "I'm not the person to ask for that."

"True enough." The rice was amazing. "By the way, girls don't appreciate you only taking care of them during...intimacy."

"What?"

"It's true. Marxie accused me of being gay."

That made Janie burst into laughter, and Elliot smiled in response. His Janie, for all Marxie's accusations of being plain, had a smooth round face, adorned by dark eyes and light hair that set off the flush in her cheeks. The thing that he suspected irked Marxie the most was his friendship with Janie.

It was really too bad, but he had only recently renewed their friendship, anyway. She had almost refused to talk to him after he started dating Marxie a month ago, which he made worse by having a heart-to-heart with Janie that set her on the path of interrogating his motives. But he had developed enough loyalty to Marxie not to leave her. Or something like that.

Plus, Janie couldn't stay mad at him long.

"You're still a virgin, right?"

That nearly made him spit out his rice. "What makes you ask?"

"Marxie."

He nodded absently. His girlfriend carried a reputation he was still learning to deal with.

"None of your business," he finally answered.

Janie, unfortunately, didn't tend to pout. She kicked him underneath the table, and he yelped.

"Yes! Jesus."

"I'm sorry."

.

The hours had ticked unconsciously by, hands glossing over numbers and lines—nothing but telltale marks. When they left the restaurant, the darkened sky fell startlingly on them, and the air remained warm. Their stained sneakers hugged the concrete as they approached his car and withdrew behind the glass together. The engine hummed pleasantly as he maneuvered the wheels. Janie sat antsily in her seat, fiddling with her jacket zipper—up down up down. She couldn't make up her mind. He was tempted to stop her hand, but he couldn't decide, either.

"So, are you going to tell her?"

"Tell her what?"

"Don't be obtuse."

"I'm too cute."

"Are you?"

"Of course."

"You are?"

"Am what?"

"Going to tell her!"

"That I'm what?"

Janie glared at him.

"You know," Elliot started off, leaning towards her. "Maybe I didn't make this completely clear to you, but I am attracted to girls. For example, I find you attractive."

That put her off, he could tell, and he didn't like that. He enjoyed poking at her, but not when it induced real fear in her eyes.

"I'm just kidding, Jane," he said softly, his eyes mocking.

"What does that mean?"

He backed up and shrugged, "I don't know."

It fell quiet in the car. They ignored the evening sneaking up on them, pushing time to the forefront, pushing departure closer; he found he didn't want Janie to leave. Could he hedge the way Marxie did?

But no, the shadows from the trees tapped on the windows, and the leather of his car creaked loudly in complaint. His house loomed forever in front of him, in front of his windshield, in front of the alarm, in front of the gated fence. He had to go in sometime.

"Your dad?" Janie whispered.

"I know," he whispered back. "No one has to know."

She gave him a sadly charming look, and he hugged her before she left.

.

He didn't find out until after his exam that Janie had gone on a date with a boy named Logan. Her text as he exited the classroom read I hav a bf, L. Thot u should kno.

He blinked at the cell phone screen before closing it and sneaking it back into his pocket, deciding to reply when he knew how she wanted him to.

Joe crunched up onto the gravel beside him, his glossy BMW purring in welcome, cold air blowing out from the crack between the car and window. Elliot fell into the popped-open door, and Joe announced an impromptu gathering at his place. Marxie was busy shopping with friends, "so we got time to spend with just the guys. Just the thing." Joe elbowed him in the ribs.

Elliot chuckled, staring out at the buildings flowing by, ignoring the scent of car freshener coupling with the musk of Joe's cologne. The car gleamed inside out, and Elliot felt as if he were dirtying the interiors. He glanced unwittingly at Joe as he leaned forward, unhurriedly attempting to select some music. The ac vainly swept through his crew cut and his plain blue T-shirt, where Elliot noticed it sticking in places with amoeba forms of navy, somewhat tight on Joe's body. He must have gone swimming earlier that morning. Elliot might have joined had he not been studying proper circuit function through transistors. He turned away again. The buildings were safe cold visages, and the BMW soon came upon the one that housed its owner.

The apartment door opened onto music blasting from a hidden room, and Elliot maneuvered around the littered ground. A street sign proclaimed the entrance into Kichen St., the spelling of which someone always protested made it useless. Joe threw a beer can at him from beneath the freezer door.

"Luke and Jon are in my room. The rest of the guys'll come later."

Joe ducked back down into the fridge scrummaging for God-knows-what, and his legs seemed propped up on their own, the top half of his body scuttling away. Elliot observed him silently from the kitchen counter, wondering how deep beer could hide. He squeezed his eyes shut as he poured alcohol down his throat, throwing his head from side to side.

Opening his eyes, he found Joe eying him strangely. "Yo, man, what's up?"

"Nothing, just something to get off my mind."

"Yeah?"

Nodding, "Yeah."

"Alright…it's nothing to do with my sister, is it?"

Elliot stared at the counter, the beer chilling his palm, aluminum painting his skin in water. "Maybe."

Joe moaned softly, and Elliot stared. "Don't put her on a crying binge, man. I'd have to beat you, you know?"

He smiled, "I know."

The refrigerator door glued itself back together, and Joe led his fellow man back into his room.

.

The light seeping in through the window hammered at his sweating forehead, and he groaned in helpless resistance, the tone of his grumble signaling a desire for help. His lids opened, and he realized happily he had a quilt thrown over him; he drew it up over his head and sighed contentedly, until he noticed someone lying there against him. His body had not registered the source of its warmth.

"Janie!" he exclaimed, or tried to. His voice came out a hoarse sound of terror.

A source unknown yanked the blanket back down, and he found Joe frowning at him from above, his head resting on a set of shoulders that rose forbiddingly over the horizon of the couch. Joe made the sound for silence, and tried to convey something by the convulsions of his wide lips. Elliot slipped as cautiously out of his position as possible, sneaking up to the end of the couch where Janie had tucked her sneakered feet into the wedge between cushion and couch. He rubbed his encrusted eyes, and jerked back when Joe settled onto the armrest beside him.

"She came to find you earlier this morning. Showed her your drunk ass, and she sneaks in with you. Funny girl."

He didn't know what to say to this. The scratchiness of the fabric beneath his thighs didn't just tickle his skin, it attacked it, abrading it like an army of pincushions on a dressmaker's gown. He shifted uneasily, but Joe took up so much room on that armrest. Elliot shoved him off so he could breathe, then turned his attention to Jane beside him.

He leaned in towards her face, holding his breath so that even the strays of her hair didn't waft. Her name didn't procure an answer. "Wake up, sweetheart."

"She looked tired when she came in this morning," offered Joe from where he had climbed up from the floor. He watched them from his vantage.

Elliot scoffed, "Tired from staying in."

Joe didn't respond until, "You should have invited her. You know it would have been cool." Elliot turned to find Joe looking at the keys and cigarette ash strewn about the coffee table. They made an interestingly chaotic pattern on the glass and wood backdrop, with a lone cell phone beeping intermittently to signal a missed call or text.

Janie woke up then, crunched ponytail clutching desperately to the couch, and profoundly asked, "Did Marxie come in?"

Both boys blinked at her. "No."

She smiled in relief, "Oh good. She would have murdered me."

"Why were you …what were you doing?" Elliot bumbled.

"Sleeping."

"With me."

"With you."

"Why?" came from Joe.

Janie turned her gaze to him, "Hi, Joe." He nodded briefly. "You're in my bio class, aren't you?"

"Yeah, I sit in the back."

Janie nodded, and replied to Elliot, "You looked so miserable, I didn't want to wake you, but it didn't seem safe to lie down anywhere else."

Elliot dropped the issue, taking her arm and hoisting her up. Empty beer cans clattered crushed to the ground, but Janie seemed too sleepy to take notice.

"Time to go home," she murmured, and Elliot mumbled an assent. They passed the sticky lacquered counter on their way to the door, kicking the vodka bottle out of the way, a few droplets escaping to nestle in the carpet. In the car, Elliot asked, "What were you doing at Joe's this early, anyway?"

"I couldn't find you at home."

This made sense, but not entirely.

"You were looking for me?" That's why.

Janie nodded, "You never replied to my text, El."

"Oh."

Silence.

"Congratulations?" he tried.

The brakes were applied, and he knew he got it wrong. She glanced at him, a reprieve given from the break at the red light. The neighborhoods were growing smaller and more crowded, and the shininess of Joe's BMW disappeared effortlessly into the layered storefronts challenging Elliot from behind the window.

"What's he like?"

Janie shrugged, and hit the gas as the light turned green. "He's got teeth, a nose, two eyes, and a mouth. He kissed me. I guess he's good-looking."

"Who is he?"

She told him his full name, but all Elliot heard was Logan, because all he could remember was that the first time he ever heard that name, it belonged to a girl.

"I don't know how I feel about him."

Elliot settled back in his seat, thinking he was far too hung over to deal with the philosophy of tragic humans.

"Why are you with him?" he felt it appropriate to ask.

Janie shrugged. "I don't know? He asked, and I just. I said yes."

Her car pulled up in front of his house, the blinds and doors secured safely against invasion. When he slipped in every night, the house never knew he was part of it.

"Janie, if you don't care about him, don't be with him."

"What if I could learn to care about him?"

Elliot didn't know how he would have responded, but his cell phone buzzed and the ID read Marxie. Janie made a moue of distaste.

"Plus, you're one to talk."

"I care about Marxie."

"Like you care about me?" she challenged. Even in his fuzzy state, he recognized that the question reached him on several others that he could not determine the truth from. Then Janie announced that she had to meet her boyfriend, which sounded like a foreign language to him before he realized she was dismissing him. The image of her with a boyfriend snuck into his mind but would not settle; it continuously fragmented, and no jamming of the pieces together could make it form.

She drove off as he picked up the phone, hoping to hear some reassurance from Joe.

Instead, the sister's melodic voice came on the line, "Hey, baby, how you feeling?"

"Hey. I'm good. You have fun shopping yesterday?"

Marxie cooed over her purchases as he scraped his sneakers against the bristly Welcome mat before his front door. His dad might be home. The door groaned open, but closed silently, and he padded toward the basement door to his room.

"El? That you?" a deep voice reverberated across the hall.

"Yeah, Dad, one second! Mar—"

"I know. I'll see you later, right? We have to celebrate your last exam!"

His dad was sitting at the kitchen table, the laptop on it wobbling with the dance of the table legs. His scruffy robe wrapped his tired limbs in a pitiful embrace, but he looked up with all the robust instinct of a man among men. His first question was what Elliot was doing sneaking around, and if he had been on the phone with Janie—with that sort of mischievous implication that always cropped up with Janie's name. When Elliot responded that it was his girlfriend, his father's eyes threw up torches to incinerate the previous hints, lighting his eyes with surprise and denial.

His father always did love Janie, defending how the "two of you were always inseparable as children. Why, your mother—"

But just as soon, his father asked to meet Marxie, to which Elliot responded that she was a liberal.

His dad grinned, "Oh let me talk to her. See if I can't bring her around."

Elliot retreated to his room later, collapsing on the bed to reward his pulsing eyeballs. He contemplated not meeting Marxie to celebrate; in fact, he contemplated breaking up with her. Would he tell her the reason? No, he couldn't do that, even if it might salve the blow to her pride.

A couple hours later, Marxie called, sobbing about Joe in the hospital from alcohol poisoning, and Elliot didn't break up with her. He not only drove her to meet up with her parents and Joe, but he stayed the night when Marxie needed to go home and sleep. The bed Joe lay on was blue and crinkled, his wan skin lying limp among the colorless sheets. Beside him not five feet away slept someone behind a listless curtain that folded in patterned waves, metal rings hitching to the narrow railing that defined Joe's small space. Elliot squeezed in beside the waves and the plastic bed, ignoring the silent monitor that sat guard. His friend lay asleep, a tube passing from an IV bag pierced into the skin of his forearm, pumping what the nurses told Elliot were simply fluids. He sat quietly with a cup of water, watching Joe until his head snuck forward to hit the papery sheets with the justification of exhaustion. Joe's hand lay trustingly by Elliot's face, and he fell asleep breathing the air that caressed his friend's fingertips.

The team found out the next day, and complained that they didn't have a chance to visit Joe with balloons and cards. The nurses had said they just needed to monitor him overnight; that he was actually fine. Elliot could have killed them. A text from Janie at midnight stated that she Broke up with Logan. Just letting u kno. He didn't talk to her for a few days after that.

.

Elliot met Logan a week later, startled by his appearance. Logan had the features that women might kill for, a handsomeness that almost hurt to look at.

Guess he's good-looking, my ass, he thought viciously towards Janie. Logan's large slightly slanted eyes arched over a nose that made a straight shot to a set of wide lips, a face that Michelangelo could never have foreseen, not until America's melting-pot reputation. His dark skin touted genetics proudly, with deep brown hair that flirted with the angle of his jaw. Elliot had emerged from the pool in his neighborhood when he heard a familiar name shouted across the grass. Even without it, he would have noticed this boy.

"Jane Angelson, huh?" Logan seemed awkward at the mention of her name. Elliot wondered why.

"Yeah, we—uh—went out for a bit. I don't know if it really counts. She's a good girl."

This man before him had held and kissed his best friend, something she had never allowed anyone previous to do, and all he could say was that she was a good girl.

"We didn't do anything," Logan added, almost defensively. Janie, you liar.

"Not even kiss?" Elliot blurted out, and Logan blushed, shaking his head.

"She didn't really mention you," Elliot confessed.

"Yeah?" he didn't seem to mind. "She mentioned you quite a bit, actually."

Elliot raised his eyebrows, "What'd she say?"

Logan shrugged with a bashful side smile, an alien expression that Elliot seemed transfixed by. "You'll have to ask her about that."

Two hours later, he did. Janie shrugged and made a noncommittal sound. They planted themselves feet apart in her room, devoid of comforts. Practicality; that was his Janie. He hung his towel over her bath towel, hoping the residue chlorine would soak in—but not too much. Throwing his bag onto her plain desk chair, he returned to his position across from her.

"I broke up with Marxie," he offered her.

Janie abruptly asked, "When?" her arms imperceptibly relaxing.

"Earlier this morning. I went out for a swim to cool off."

"How's Joe?"

"He's perfect."

Janie fiddled with her shirt sleeve. "Did you tell her?"

He shook his head. Janie frowned almost sadly. "She's not going to take that easily, you know?"

He nodded, and neither said a word for a moment, as if giving the moment to the absent Marxie, who would sit with her brother, crying and beating his chest until he felt obliged to pummel Elliot just a little. But who knew, since he'd woken up in the hospital to find Elliot asleep in the chair beside him.

"Always knew I could count on you, man," had been his first words, raspy, but he was fine. Elliot gave him a cup of water before he gave way to the parents.

"You should just do me, El," Janie announced now.

The two stared at each other from across a width of five feet, like opponents sizing each other up. Her curtains—the color and design of which he had never noticed—did not call attention or memory. The cotton pillows and blankets lay indiscernible but neat on the bed to his right: silent, immobile, unseeing. So why did he feel as if he were on stage? How serious was she? Likely not very.

"I mean, wouldn't that makes things easier?" Janie continued. Two misfits finding each other? Is that how she saw them?

He walked slowly up to her, watching the tension of anxiety sneak into her form, and knew she had been playing—waiting to see how he reacted. She was scared—he could feel it, but this was her punishment. He took her face in his hands and leaned down.

It wasn't too bad, all things considering. One, she'd never kissed a boy, and two, he'd never kissed her. He doubted either of them even viewed the other the way that they were trying to then. But she accepted his mouth, her face acquiescing, and it surprised him—this relaxation of control on her part.

Oh Janie, he breathed into her mouth, you fool.

Later, they lay in that immobile bed, fully clothed, faces slightly mussed, experiment complete.

"I love Joe," he said, the words expulsed on a ribbon, stunned at their release so that they melded off his tongue and into contact with the air. Janie didn't say anything from his side, which he liked. The words did not linger so much as stamp themselves into the world. He could almost see the shadows of the letters inscribed on the white walls encasing them, but their presence dissipated as easily as a current—only the memory of them ringing within a bland box.

"Then I guess it's a good thing I turned him down when he asked me out."

That brought his face to her. What was that for? his eyes asked her. To his knowledge, only Marxie enjoyed that stupid game.

"What?" his mouth said. But she stared intently at him, and in a moment, her mouth popped open.

"You love him."

He turned his angry eyes back to the ceiling, where he contemplated either strangling her or kissing her again. He felt new to this emotion of jealousy—of her, or for her? He honestly wasn't sure right then. He told her this, and she remained thoughtful beside him, their skin still sneaking touches.

He concluded, "Well, since I've had you, then it must be jealous of you, since I haven't had Joe."

She pinched him.

"When?"

"What?"

He turned on his side, his head resting on his bent arm, "When did Joe ask you out?"

She pursed her lips, but he waited patiently for her response, testing her as she had tested him. Wasn't that what friends were for? They had morphed into friends on new territory, uncertain of surroundings and of each other. He wondered briefly if that's all friends were—trusting only because of familiarity and the knowledge that no flaw could pull the other away. Dumped into new territory, however, familiarity disappeared, and you faced strangers born with the instinct to survive.

"He never did," she finally said, brown eyes closing him out, rolling onto her back. And he knew she lied. He remembered suddenly, clearly, how Joe looked at her that morning she picked him up. He tucked a strand of her hair, and kissed her ear. He appreciated the lie, and murmured Thank you, to which she responded by reversing to suddenly cuddle into his chest, unexplained tears wetting his neck.

Just as suddenly, she giggled, and he gave an exasperated look to his pillow. Girls. No matter how much he swung further in the opposite direction, he would never understand girls.

"I can't believe we made out."

He smiled, "Was it that good?"

"No," she wrinkled her nose. "It was gross."

He pinched her.

"Want to know why I broke up with Logan?"

Elliot waited.

"He likes boys."

He wasn't sure what to say. "I met him today at the pool."

Janie's soft head turned towards him, "He's handsome, isn't he?"

"Yeah," Elliot agreed. Then he swallowed and asked, "Did you tell him about me?"

His friend's face took on a red cast, "You think I'd do that to you?"

Elliot laid his other arm over her to keep her from leaping on him in anger, and said simply, "No. I'm just new at this, I think."

Janie settled. "Maybe someday."


.

A/N: I wrote this after a friend came out to me. It startled me a lot, but then I began thinking. This resulted. (It helped that I needed to submit something in a class.)

Thanks for reading! (=

PS. If you caught the implication of "Sneakers" or any of the sneaky(:D) things I threw in, please let me know! :) I was analyzing John Donne's works in a class at the time I wrote this, and all that analysis probably carried over some.