I liked three am. Three am was a really awkward time, it was neither morning nor night, neither dark nor light, it was perfect. It always gave me the sense that anything could happen. The streets were deserted tonight as I suppose they were every night, but it seemed we hadn't seen a car for hours, we hadn't seen another person for longer, all I had was Keenan. All I needed at three am, at this awkward time, was Keenan. We'd been walking for about twenty minutes, walking from Finn's party on Kings Road to Keenan's house, we were walking because we were only slightly drunk and the air was doing us good but it was cold. Even with Keenan's arm wrapped around my own, it was cold.
"I'm cold." I said, Keenan looked at me then tilted his head.
"Your cold?" He repeated, I nodded because I was then even more so as he removed his arm from my grasp. I went to complain but couldn't once he began unzipping his coat and handed it over to me. "Be warm." He said, I frowned at him but took the coat anyway.
"Won't you be cold?"
"Freezing but whatever." He said as I put his coat on and linked our arms up again, cuddling a little closer to him, to share body heat. He, to be fair had a big black woollen jumper on with black skinny jeans and Doc Martens. He must have been reasonably warm really. "Why wear just a polo shirt." He added,
"I lost my cardigan." I said, "I don't even know where it's gone." I said, he laughed whilst shuffling our arms around a bit until we were just holding hands.
"You still wouldn't have been warm." He murmured, so I squeezed his hand.
"Alcohol makes you warm." I said, he laughed,
"Chippy?" He asked, I nodded whilst leaning my head on his shoulder and walking rather awkwardly with him to the nearest chippy, pooling our money together and getting a small portion of chips then standing in the shop, over them sharing the fork.
"I didn't realise I needed this until I got it." Keenan said, I smiled up at him.
"It's soaking up the alcohol, I don't think I'm drunk anymore." I whispered back, he laughed.
"You were hardly drunk in the first place Ty." He almost cooed, leaning towards me. I raised my head, smiling up at him then he kissed me lightly,
"Making a move there?" I gasped at him, he laughed whilst scrunching the chip paper up and getting rid of it.
"Hardly. Ty, if I wanted you, you'd be in my bed right now." He said, I tutted at him,
"Vain." I said, he laughed then took my hand again and lead me the rest of the way to his house, which when we arrived we both almost fell onto the front step.
"My keys are in my coat." He said, his voice sounding tired and rough. I searched through his coat, first finding his carton of cigarettes. "You know what, that'll do." He said, so I laughed as he took the carton from me then went into the chest pocket and got the lighter out.
"Did you pull at all?" I queried as he blew out the smoke,
"I got kissed." He said, "I didn't pull." He added, so I laughed,
"Who kissed you?"
"Emily." He said then frowned, "Her words, I'm going to do this now because I'd never do it sober." He repeated then laughed whilst taking a drag out of the cigarette. "And yourself?"
"Not even a drunk girl." I said thoughtfully, "I just wanted to leave." I added, he looked at me, "Every hour there I had another drink." I said and it obviously amused him. "I hate Finn's parties." I said, "Really."
"You hate Finn."
"That too." I said then leant my head on his shoulder,
"We don't have to go to another Kings Road party then, deal?" He asked, I nodded.
"Oh deal. One hundred percent, never again." I said, he laughed softly, "Please stick to it." I added,
"I will." He said softly then took another drag, "Come on, let's find my keys." He said whilst standing, I followed, taking his cigarette from him as he unzipped the coat and searched through it, finding his keys then raising an eyebrow at me as I looked at the cigarette in my hand. "Well, go on." He said, I laughed but took a drag all the same, holding it in for a millisecond before spluttering and coughing loudly. "Well I knew you couldn't handle it." He said amused then threw the cigarette away, I pulled tongues at him as he opened his front door.
"Hungover?" Keenan's Mum's voice woke me, dragging me out of sleep and into a sort of half-awake daze.
"Really wasn't drunk." Keenan replied, I tilted my head up to where the sound of his voice had come from, seeing I was lying on his chest.
"No fry-up then?" His Mum asked amused, Keenan laughed,
"If one’s on offer." He said, she laughed.
"Always. You have about twenty minutes." She said as she shut his door, he looked down at me.
"Are you okay?"
"Disorientated." I replied, he smiled.
"Not used to sleep?" He asked, I shook my head whilst burying my forehead against his chest again. "You fell asleep about ten minutes after lying on me, we talked for a bit then you just stopped so I went to sleep too." He said, I nodded.
"It's been so long." I moaned slightly, "You're a good pillow." I added then felt his laugh as it rumbled through his chest. We did manage to move before the twenty minutes was up, us both getting dressed and going downstairs to the kitchen where his Mum was.
"Morning." She said cheerfully, we both moaned back which amused her. "I have two fry-ups on the go." She said then disappeared towards the oven again. "Was it a good party?" She asked, I looked at Keenan,
"Not really." He replied, she tutted.
"What a shame." She stated, "An eighteenth and not a good party." She said,
"He probably enjoyed it to be fair." I said, she hummed then turned to us with two plates.
"That's probably true Tyler." She said then slipped one plate in front of Keenan before coming and placing mine down, "I couldn't remember about the egg." She said, I laughed,
"I eat eggs." I said nodding, so she smiled,
"Oh good." She stated then nodded to the plate before going back towards the oven.
"I can't work out if she likes you better or is trying to impress you." Keenan whispered whilst putting tomato sauce on his plate.
"Impress definitely. I accept your vegetarian way of life and will cook divine food for you, with no dead animals." I stated, he tilted his head at me. "What?" I added which made him laugh.
"Enjoy your mushrooms and tomato then." He said whilst cutting into his sausage.
The walk home was nearly a daze; I pretty much couldn't recount any of the walk home. It was just like walking from A to B, getting from Keenan's house to my house had become second nature, as had going from my house to Keenan's house. So, I didn't pay attention to it, because it wasn't necessary to, I just walked thankful that the day was a little warmer than the night, and my polo shirt was enough protection against the elements. I almost kept walking when I actually got into my house, I just almost kept going to my bedroom, because my bedroom was the final location, but, I stopped, because I was being spoken to, I just didn't register any word of it.
"Well?" Mum asked, seeming amused, so I frowned at her, "Whose party was it then? We could hear the music." She repeated, so I blinked at her slightly, then I nodded.
"Finn's." I said, and saw her instant frown.
"Why did you go to Finn's party?" She asked, "You don't like Finn, we don't like Finn." She said, I shrugged.
"Keenan." I said then frowned at myself, "I went with Keenan." I corrected, she hummed, I sighed in reply.
"Pick a stone." She said, I looked behind me at the very welcoming bowl by the door. The bowl that has always been by the door and is filled with stones and gems for guests to pick and be told why they picked them. You pick blindly or at least you're supposed to, the stone is supposed to pick you. Like Harry Potter's wand, you are not meant to pick the stone.
"Mum, I always pick dolomite." I said, she hummed, I picked one anyway and surprisingly, or maybe not surprisingly depending on how you look at it, I picked a different one.
"Garnet." She said then raised an eyebrow, "Hungover?" She asked, I shook my head because I wasn't, I really, really wasn't hungover. "Stone of health." She said then tilted her head slightly, "Raises one’s eternal fire bringing the creative powers to manifest." She added, "Curious." She finished by saying, I looked at the stone in my hand because I just couldn't make sense of this stone, or at least why I'd picked it. "I thought you no longer went to Kings Road parties?" She said, I looked back at her.
"In an ideal world." I replied and it made her smile,
"Go clean yourself up." She said, I nodded, "Burn some Lavender, it'll reduce the headache." She said, I nodded,
"Thanks." I said quietly because I did have a headache, although I wasn't too sure if it'd come on during is this conversation or not. I burnt the Lavender then stood looking out my window looking at the remains of Finn's party two gardens over, I could see him and his parents clearing up the mess. I watched, only for a little while. I suppose making Keenan promise not to go to another Kings Road party was unrealistic. Well, actually, Keenan could probably get away with it, it was me who wouldn't be able to. There were only six houses in our little cul-de-sac, I obviously lived in one and Finn lived two doors down from me, between us lived Harry, then opposite us lived Shane and Scott. We were all the same age, give or take a few months and had obviously spent many years playing together in the street as kids, we even spent most of primary school together as we were the ‘Kings Road Boys’. Well, that's what the newspaper called us at least. All our houses were newly built and everyone moved in around the same time, nineteen years ago, then one by one the new occupants, all newly married couples fell pregnant. First Finn’s then Shane's, Harry's then mine and finally Scott's, we were all born within six months of each other and of course, we were all boys. We were once all quite close really, then I suppose I changed that when the new boy who didn't dare speak moved to our school. I felt instantly drawn as an eight year who didn't want to speak as much and I essentially abandoned my friendship with the Kings Road boys, at school at least. Somehow, me doing that declared war between us, Harry soon drifted away from the rest of them, sometimes he came to Keenan and I, but he managed to find his own set of friends and of course, I was obviously to blame for this. So as ten year olds we had a war in the street, a real full blown war which ended in tears on all parts. Since then, my parents haven't been too fond of Finn and neither have I. The Kings Road boys essentially broke ranks. It was all very big and dramatic, I mean I was ten, it was the biggest thing that's EVER happened to me. But somehow, almost eight years later we still haven't been able to bury the hatchet and Finn has an unlimited dislike for Keenan, me and Harry kind of.
I spotted Harry out of my window, once the lavender had burnt enough that it persuaded me I no longer had a headache. I sort of waved to him, he waved back before I made my way down to the garden. Harry was waiting for me when I finally got into the garden. He was sat on the wall that separated our two gardens but was facing his house.
“Harry.” I said, he turned then smiled at me whilst moving back a little so he could lean on the wall of the house, giving me enough room to push myself up and sit on the wall also.
“I think I’m still hungover.” Harry said, I laughed. “I think all I did was drink last night then I took myself home.” He said then nodded.
“It was a horrendous party.” I said, “Like okay it was Finn’s, but other than that it was boring.” I said, Harry agreed. “Keenan pulled.” I said, Harry laughed. Really, really laughed.
“Emily. She was drunk, just sort of kiss-attacked him.” I said, Harry shook his head amused.
“Well? Are they dating now?” He asked, so I frowned at him, “What?”
“Keenan’s gay.” I said and got a frown straight back.
“What!” He repeated, just more shocked this time, I laughed.
“Yeah. Emily is so beyond his type it’s unreal.” I said, Harry began laughing. “Harry?” I asked, he looked at me, “You know I’m gay, right?”
“Well I do now.” He replied, I smiled. “You’re not out?”
“No, no I’m not. Keenan’s the only person I’ve told and now, you. I just assumed you knew.”
“Well, do you know that I am?” He asked, I nodded.
“I did. That’s why I presumed you knew I was.” I said, he tutted lightly.
“Well thanks. Ruined my coming out there.” He said, I smirked.
“I guess this goes without saying, but don’t tell anyone.”
“I’ll keep yours, Keenan’s and my sexualities very, very quiet.” He said, I nodded then smiled at him. I knew I could trust him, I definitely knew he wasn’t going to go and tell anyone about me or Keenan and probably not even himself. He was always the one I depended on after Keenan and I suppose it was because we lived next door to each other and always have, so have always seen each other much more. Although all our playdates had a rule: that neither of us were allowed to leave our own garden, when we were about eleven we finally beat the system. We figured that if we sat on the wall facing our house, with our legs over our own gardens, we weren’t breaking any rules and it worked for the most part.
“Are you not out to the masses?” I asked, Harry shrugged slightly.
“Mum and Dad know.” He said, “I guess they’re okay about it. They’ve not stated otherwise. Ben knows. But he’s twelve, he doesn’t have a real opinion.” He said,
“You’re brave.” I said, he shook his head.
“No. I just didn’t realise coming out had to be a thing. I literally just mentioned it over dinner.” He said, “No big deal was made, we just continued eating.”
“Brave.” I stated then nodded at him to ensure he understood that was a fact. “I get tongue-tied if I’m ever even close to mentioning boys. I’m even avoiding saying the word gay around them.” I said, he laughed.
“I’m about ninety-nine point nine percent sure your parents would accept you.” He said, I hummed.
“Probably.” I agreed, “But I’m not in the mood to find out just yet.” I said, he smiled.
“I can’t believe Emily kissed Keenan.”
“I can’t believe Keenan didn’t get shy. Like I’m impressed.” I said, he grinned slightly.
“The next party is Shane’s, he’s eighteen next.” Harry said, I nodded.
“If I can avoid that party I will.” I said, he laughed.
“That’s probably a good plan.” He said nodding, “Then it’s yours.”
“I’m not having a party.” I said, shaking my head. “There will never be a need for a party in this house.” I continued, “Keenan’s is before mine.” I said, so Harry looked at me, “Third of January.” I said nodding,
“Well I never knew his birthday. I just knew he aged at some point over Christmas.” Harry said, so I smiled lightly.
“Poor Keenan, so shy even his birthday is quiet.” I said, Harry laughed.
“Now I feel bad.” He said, I laughed then turned because the backdoor opened,
“Hello Harry.” My Dad said, Harry nodded to him.
“Hello Mr Damian.” He replied, making my Dad laugh,
“Coming in for lunch?” He asked, I nodded slowly,
“Harry?” I queried, Harry laughed.
“My kitchen is right there.” He said then pointed directly at his kitchen before jumping off the wall into his garden.
“Nurse that hangover Harry.” I said, which made my Dad laugh as I followed him into the kitchen.
* * *
I somehow managed to catch the same bus as Keenan the following Monday morning, it was a rare occurrence but I managed it.
“You look shattered.” I said, Keenan moaned,
“That was just rude. No hello, just you look shattered.” He murmured back then looked at me, I raised my eyebrow at him, “Lydia was sick last night.”
“And was it your problem?” I asked, he nodded.
“She hits my room before she hits her Dad’s.” he replied, “But she’s not allowed in my room, so she just sat outside of it.” He said then sighed, “When I went the toilet, I practically tripped over her. Then spent the night in her bed with her.” He said then smiled at me, I smiled back.
“Is she better now?” I asked, he nodded.
“And Mum let me go to school.” He said a little sarcastically, I smiled. Lydia is six and right now, I think just qualifies as Keenan’s Mum’s Boyfriend’s Daughter. Keenan quite likes her as well, he actually lets his guard down and will play six-year-old girl games with her. He, however does not like Lydia’s Dad at all, he is a no-go zone in many conversations.
“I take it you got home on Saturday.” He murmured, I frowned, “I didn’t get a message telling me you had.”
“Oh I am so sorry, overprotective boyfriend.” I said as we both began standing to walk to the front of the bus,
“Wow, I can’t just care.” He said then smirked at me, I grinned back. We always got off the stop before the recommended as Keenan usually wanted to use the extended walk to smoke. “Do you mind?” He asked, I shook my head.
“Do I ever?” I replied, hearing his hum as he got a cigarette out and lit it,
“I’m too tired to even human.” He said,
“Wait until sleeping makes you tired, then you know you’re fucked.” He said,
“What did you do last night?”
“All the Pokémon films.” I said then looked down, “It was fun. Dad came in as they were going to work, which was about six am.” I said then looked at him, “He varied between concerned and amused.” I said then smiled at him, although it felt forced, which amused him to some extents. He then put his cigarette out before we walked past our head teacher. We walked directly to the Sixth Form common room then into the bathroom,
“Where is your tie?” I queried, seeing him look at me over his shoulder.
“Backpack.” He murmured, so I went for it, unzipping his backpack and finding his tie wrapped around his deodorant then unravelled them as he washed his hands.
“Deodorant first.” He said, I threw it to him then attempted to catch it when he threw it back before throwing his tie,
“I won’t see you until lunch.” I said, he nodded. “Double IT.” I added, smiling at him which made him grin back.
“Double Maths.” He replied then seemed to look thoughtful, “When we meet for lunch remind me why I picked my options, okay?” He asked, I nodded then laughed.
“Sure thing.” I replied then turned him around to put his deodorant back into his backpack.
I caught Keenan two houses down from his as I walked to meet him, he'd obviously chosen to go towards the bus stop to catch me in case I arrived whilst he stowed away for a smoke.
"Your Mum still doesn’t know then?” I said, he shook his head,
"She does not." He said then laughed, "And I don’t plan on telling her anytime soon." He added then smirked, which made me laugh as he threw the cigarette away and unzipped my coat, looking at what I was wearing. "Oh come on."
"Oh what! It's all I own." I replied as he examined every inch of what I was wearing then looked at me.
"I'll dress you." He said, "You cannot go to a gig dressed like a seventeen-year-old at a family party." He stated, I laughed.
"Harsh." I said simply which made him smile.
"Come on." He said grabbing a hold of my wrist and walking me back to his house, not stopping until we got to his bedroom.
"Mum told me I looked sweet." I declared, making myself sound as wounded as I could, he laughed.
"You do. You look adorable." He said then looked at me, "But it's not right." He added and opened his wardrobe.
"You're hurting me, like words cut deep." I stated whilst sitting on his bed, he looked at me again,
"Seriously?" He asked, I shook my head, "Good. Stand, strip." He said, I followed the instructions, stripping to my boxers then waiting to have whatever clothes were going to be thrown at me, they soon were, I began to dress myself in them. I discovered he'd thrown me a long dark red checked shirt and a pair of dark denim jeans, he then passed me his leather jacket,
"You're letting me out in your pride and joy?" I asked, he laughed.
"Don't be silly." He replied then put the jacket on me, "This is my other one." He said whilst brushing off my shoulders and looking in the mirror at me. I did also, as he was bigger than me, as in stockier, more built, the jacket made my shoulders look more of a square than usual and as he was taller, the shirt reached my thighs whilst the jeans trailed on the floor. But somehow he'd dressed me so I looked good,
"Even I'd do you Ty." He said, so I turned my head to look at him, getting a smile back. "Put your Chucks back on, at least they're white so they'll go and look alright." He said, I followed that instruction as well then just sat back on his bed.
"And what are you going to wear?" I queried, seeing his raised eyebrow as a reply, before he went back into his wardrobe. "Or are you going old faithful."
"Sort of." He replied, whilst throwing his black drainpipe jeans onto the bed beside me then searched through his wardrobe until he found a t-shirt of his that had the sleeves rolled up, the main design of the t-shirt was a skull but it sort of had an explosion coming out of it so there was colour all around it, almost creating a flower-like shape. He put both his top and his jeans on then a grey hooded jacket, followed by his newer leather jacket and a pair of black vans. "Approve?" He asked, I shrugged.
"I prefer your jumper." I said, he laughed. "You look like you should be in a boyband."
"Well so do you." He replied then grinned at me, I grinned back. "Do we have a plan?"
"A plan? For what?" I replied whilst shuffling forward on his bed so I could sit with my legs over the edge.
"If like one of us, or even both of us pull. We need a plan. Are we going to go home with said pullers, or?"
"I'd like to come back here in the end. I don't want to go to some stranger’s house."
"Okay." Keenan said then nodded to me. "So say unless we're together, half twelve, we tell each other where we are, just a text, if we don't think we can go home at that point, say how long until. I won't leave without you." He said, I nodded to him. "I also won't bring someone home." He added thoughtfully, I laughed. "Call me if you need me."
"Why'd I need you?" I queried, he tilted his head at me,
"If things get too scary." He said, I went to laugh but he stopped me, "Tyler." He said simply, I nodded.
"If someone gets too scary for me, I'll get you. I will. I'm available for protecting purposes as well."
"You're funny." Keenan said, so I hit him.
"Mean." I said, he smiled,
"Come on. We don't want to be late, that wouldn't be a good start." He said whilst grabbing my hand and pulling me off the bed then down the stairs. "Bye Mum!" He managed to shout, getting a faint reply before we got out the door.
I don't think I'd ever been to a gig before. I'd been to concerts but not gigs, they already had a different feeling to them. I also don't think I knew who we were actually going to see, Keenan had just stated to me that we were going so I came. We stayed together for the most part, Keenan buying us both a beer because he could (even with two months until he legally could) then we stood and listened to the band. They were almost rock but not quite, I couldn't place a particular genre of music to them but they played their own instruments and could actually sing, so they were pretty decent. Then I lost Keenan, I know he had said something in my ear, but over the music I couldn't quite make it out, so as I nodded to him, I was hoping he'd said something along the lines of 'I love this song, doesn't this band rock!' He obviously hadn't and he'd disappeared. I wasn't too worried, I mean it's Keenan, beside that fact he can completely fend for himself, I knew he wouldn't leave without me. He might have just gone outside to smoke, but he'd still return. The music seemed to grow louder once Keenan had disappeared, so I focused myself on sipping my beer until it was dry and I had to find a way of getting another.
"Alright there kid?" Someone said directly into my ear, I turned and scowled.
"Kid." I repeated, seeing a reasonably sweet smile from the person who'd said it, he couldn't have been much older than me really.
"Well you can't be that old." He said, so I laughed,
"And how old are you?"
"Twenty-one." He replied then smiled at me again, I smiled back.
"Eighteen." I said, lied,
"Wow." He stated, "I put you as much younger." He added, I scoffed.
"So why are you hitting on me?" I asked, he laughed,
"I didn't even get to say my chat up line and you've already foiled me." He said, "Dammit." He added, I laughed which got a real smile back, everything about this encounter got that bit more relaxed. "Are you biting at my non-existent chat up line?" He asked, I shrugged,
"I might be." I replied, trying to be playful but feeling as if I didn't completely succeed, he still grinned back.
"What if I bought you another beer, would you bite harder?" He asked, I nodded, giving up the act of being playful.
"I suppose I would." I said and grinned, getting one straight back then feeling as he took my hand and lead me to the bar, putting two fingers up to the bartender and getting two beers put in front of him. "What was your chat up line?" I queried whilst taking a sip out the fresh beer.
"Surely someone as attractive as you wasn't left alone." He said, I laughed which made him smile.
"Actually, I was abandoned by my friend." I said woefully,
"Oh poor you." He cooed back, I grinned which made him smile again. "I guess I'll just have to keep you company now." He said, I nodded,
"I guess you will." I replied then took another sip of the beer. We talked for ages whilst walking across the floor, we walked towards a sort of lounge area where you could still hear the music but it wasn't too overpowering. That was when I figured out this gig was in a club and I could take a wild guess at what kind of club. How we got from talking with our beers to making out I don't think I'll ever know, but I was enjoying it and I guess I was kind of good at it too. I had however decided the moment our lips touched that it wouldn't go any further than that. It would stay in the realms of making out and delicate touches. I was a still a virgin and was so, so, not ready to lose it tonight. Or maybe I was. We pulled away to regain our breath, sharing a timid grin with each other as I also looked at the clock behind his head, it was made of strip lights, and told me in bright red that it was 12:25.
"I've just got to." I began but he nodded to me whilst reaching for his beer, I quickly got my phone out sending an almost illiterate text to Keenan. It buzzed about ten seconds later;
Go you. Having my own fun. See you at 1?
He replied. I nodded, sending back a smiley face, since he would just know I was agreeing with what he'd said.
"I have until one." I said then looked up hoping I didn't make it sound like I had a curfew, "Not like I have to be home but I have to meet my friend." I continued and wasn't helping my cause.
"Okay Cinderella." He replied raising an eyebrow at me, I smiled. "I'll set you free at one." He added, I nodded to him. "Would you like to explore further?" He asked, I frowned at him,
"Like where?" I asked and it obviously amused him.
"Like..." He began whilst lifting my hand, taking it over to him, running the tips of my fingers down his stomach until he could rest the entirety of my hand on his crotch.
"Oh." I said, "Further." I added, he laughed as I moved closer to him again, initiating the kiss because funnily enough, I was so ready for this. If I'd been asked about an hour ago I'd have probably said I was going to be a monk, never will I touch another boy’s penis, nor will they touch my own. An hour later, I was ready to spread myself out for this guy and let him have his way with me - that I wasn't going to actually do as I do have some self-control, but I could work with the penis touching. I could really work with the penis touching. He pulled away in the end, turning to look at the clock as I bit my lips. They felt odd, I don't know what I was but they felt different.
"One o'clock Cinderella." He whispered so I looked down, "Maybe next time." He added then winked at me, I nodded back and slowly we stood, both walking through the club, him falling back into the crowd as I aimed for the door, soon finding Keenan stood outside with his cigarette.
"Well you're late." He said, I laughed and it came out far giddier than it was intended to.
"I was occupied." I said and he grinned, an equally as giddy grin.
"Come on." He said then took my hand and began to walk us down the street, "Aren't you glad I dressed you."
"Keenan, I owe you a damn lot." I said then squeezed his hand making him laugh more.