It was a miserably hot day, and the last thing Nick wanted to do was sit idle in a stifling classroom. He leered at the stout, balding man at the front of the room. The fat bastard was going on and on about some war in some country he'd probably never see. Who the hell gave a fuck about Germany anyway. The only place he wanted to see was Amsterdam, and he wasn't getting there any quicker by sitting there, pretending to listen to this fat fuck.
He raised his hand. The teacher paused and shot him an incredulous look.
"Yes, Mr. Oliveri?"
"Can I take a leak?" The class giggled at his bluntness. No sense in beating around the bush, he always thought.
His teacher sighed. "And here I was, thinking you'd actually have something to contribute for a change." The class laughed again. "So long as you do it in the bathroom this time..." Nick stood and strolled to the front of the class, shot his teacher a wink and bailed.
Shoving his hands in his pockets once he'd left the classroom, Nick breathed a sigh of relief. It was no less hotter in the halls, but at least there was circulation. A slight wisp of air licked at his hair. Perhaps that was the solution, just cut the lot of it off. But as Nick passed a group of sophomore girls, who giggled stupidly at the sight of him, he quickly dismissed the thought.
After dodging a hall monitor, Nick ducked outside, resolving to sit under the bleachers. There was nothing more gratifying than wasting a school day getting stoned under the-
Nick froze. Sitting in his spot under his bleacher, was that tall, skinny red-haired kid that was in some of his remedial classes. Nick snarled. Squaring his shoulders, he stormed over to the intruder and leered at him.
"What the fuck do you think your doing," he snapped. The kid started and dropped the joint that had been in his hand. Nick bent and snatched it up before the kid could get it, glaring daggers at him. It took a moment, but the kid finally spoke.
"Oh, hey, man," he said, his gaze distant and, well, stoned. "What's goin' on, I didn't see you come over."
"That's my spot, fucktard," Nick snapped again. The kid just looked at him before grinning.
"...oh, yeah," he said, realizing where he was. "Yeah. Yeah, I know, man. You always sit here, right?" Nick stared at him. There was an annoying surfer look to him, and he felt dwarfed by the sheer size of him. He wanted to be angry, but the strongest emotion he could muster was confusion. He eyed the joint in his hands.
"...must be some good shit."
"Heh, yeah, man," the kid giggled. "Hey!" He'd said it so loud, Nick jumped. "I'm Josh, man."
He eyed the kid carefully before taking a drag from the joint. "I'm Nick."
Josh smiled. "Cool."
It became a regular thing for the two of them. Even after Nick graduated, he'd roll out of bed, ignore the complaints from his mother, and saunter over to the school. Josh would be waiting for him under the bleachers, usually already baked out of his skull. They talked about girls, pot, and music. They talked a lot about music.
"Hey, d'you ever think about starting a band, man?" Josh asked one day after a coughing fit.
Nick stared at him. "Not really," he answered honestly. "Never knew anyone who could play, ya know?"
"Well hey, I play guitar," Josh said, struggling with a particularly difficult braid. Nick noticed.
"What the hell is that shit."
"Huh?" Josh replied. Nick looked at his hair. "Oh. Oh yeah, some girl did it at lunch. I think she wants me." A pang of jealousy ran through Nick. No one ever wanted to play in his hair. "But seriously, dude. We should start a band. I know a few guys who play. You ever play anything?" Nick's mind went instantly to his bedroom, where his three guitars and the bass he'd won shooting dice sat worn from practicing.
"That's badass, man," Josh said, suddenly wide-eyed. "What's your thing?"
"Guitar, mostly," he replied. "But I just got a bass-"
"Dude," Josh said, standing. "We should start a band."
Nick eyed him incredulously. "You any good?"
Josh grinned smugly before answering. "I don't suck."
Nick coughed violently and passed the bowl to Josh. "Yeah, okay." Josh's grin faltered as he took it. "Come over after school, then."
"I'll come over now," said Josh earnestly. "I gotta run home and get my guitar, but I'll come over after that." Nick eyed him carefully and considered it. He had nothing to do for the rest of the day, after all. What's a couple hours?
"All right," he said finally. Josh's face lit up. "I'll go with you." Then Josh's face fell.
"Okay," he said.
"You done?" Nick asked, nodding at the bowl as he pulled out a smoke. Josh shook his head and lit it, taking long, deep puffs, reducing what was left to ashes. Nick stared at him. "Jesus Christ, man. That shit ain't cheap, okay."
"Okay," Josh said, his voice deep with smoke. "I've got some at home. We can grab that too." Nick perked up.
"Cool, let's go."
They walked the four blocks in virtual silence. Nick had been babbling on about having to find a job, and almost didn't realize that Josh hadn't said a word since they left campus.
"You okay, man?"
Josh looked at him, his mind clearly somewhere else. "What? Yeah, cool." Nick arched an eyebrow at him. He opened his mouth to say something, when Josh made a sharp turn onto a small, shabby looking lawn. Guessing this was the place, he followed.
He watched as Josh fumbled in his pockets for his keys, taking the opportunity to finally look at him. He'd grown another inch and filled out a bit, and his hair was wavy from the last set of braids what's-her-face had done. Nick blinked and shook his head, mentally beating back the thoughts with a stick. Josh gnawed at his bottom lip and finally got the door open. He turned to Nick, pressed a finger against his own lips and crept inside.
He first noticed how much Josh's house looked like his own, and started to mention it when he spotted the rather beastly looking fellow asleep on the couch. Guessing he was Josh's father by the man's face, Nick followed Josh's lead and climbed up the stairs, their footsteps muffled by the lush carpet. Josh's room was the first on the right, and glancing quickly down the hall, he ushered Nick quickly inside.
It was a typical teenaged boy's room, the walls covered in band posters and naked women. His bed would have sent Nick's mother into shock, the mattress was exposed and the sheets lay in a heap at the foot of the bed. What took Nick by surprise was the amount of guitars strewn all over the room. He was just getting over the initial shock of it when Josh hissed his name.
"C'mon," he said, and grabbed his guitar case. Nick nodded and shut the door behind him.
They were out of the house in a blur, and halfway down the block before Josh let out a string of curses that even Nick was startled by.
"I forgot the weed," he said. Handing Nick his guitar, he darted back to the house. Nick shoved his free hand into his pocket and walked slowly back to the house, feeling oddly lost without Josh by his side. As he neared the lawn, he overheard shouting coming from Josh's house. He tried not to eavsdrop, but really, Josh's dad wasn't making it too difficult.
"Get your faggoty ass back to school," Nick heard him bark. "It ain't time to be home yet." Josh said something that Nick couldn't quite make out, which only seemed to enrage his father further. "You watch your fuckin' mouth in this house, boy! And don't you bring no more of your faggot friends in here, neither!" Nick quickly looked away as Josh emerged, slamming the door behind him. He stormed past Nick, a look of reserved rage on his flushed face. Nick decided not to mention anything, and they continued the rest of the way in silence.
Josh had a look of defeat on his face when Nick let him in. His mother shot him an annoyed look before she noticed Josh behind him. A look of interest settled over her as she stood.
"Who's your friend, Nicky?"
Nick winced and nodded at Josh. "Mom, this is Josh. Josh, my mom." She offered her hand, which Josh shook gently.
Grinning, she eyed Josh from head to toe and turned down the tv. "You boys going to play some music?"
"Oh, all right," she said, her gaze still fixed on Josh. "Just keep it down, okay?"
"Great," Nick said and pushed Josh towards the basement.
Josh grinned at Nick's mother. "Nice meeting you." She blushed a bit, and Nick thought he was going to be sick. They descended the stairs and Nick flicked on the light.
"Sorry about that," he said and tossed his keys on his desk. Josh, still grinning, plopped on the bed and shrugged.
"What for," he said. "Not her fault I'm hot." Nick paused, taking in the scene before him. Not ten minutes ago, Josh had been in a towering rage. Now, as if none of it had happened, his lithe body was draped across Nick's too-short bed, his shirt tail riding up just enough to see the pale skin beneath it. Josh shifted, and Nick watched the corded muscles of his abdomen shift with him. His train of thought went somewhere down the lines of admiring Josh's ability to bounce back so quickly, but the rest of him was trying to figure out why he hadn't looked away yet.
"Hey," said Josh, snapping Nick's gaze to his face. "You all right?"
Blinking, Nick shook his head. "Where's that weed, man," said Nick.
"Oh, right," Josh exclaimed and jumped up, hitting his head on the low ceiling. "Ow." He ducked and rubbed his skull, and Nick noticed how close their faces suddenly were. He could smell the pot on Josh's breath, and the faint scent of his shampoo. They locked eyes for a moment, and Nick waited for the awkward realization of just how close they'd gotten. Instead, Josh smiled and pulled a small bag of pot from his pocket.
Nick grinned. "Cool."
♥ Probably more where that came from. I likes it.