Pairing: Simon & Garfunkel
Summary: Two teenage boys trying to deal with their first heartbreak. This is a follow up on ‘the Turned on Kids’ and ‘True or False’.
Reviews: Yes, please. This piece has not been Beta’d before I posted it.
Disclaimer and other nonsense: The end still doesn’t look like a sweet ending, but the story is still not actually finished. I’m taking much longer than I planned and it seems the story is in control of me, not the other way around. God knows what gibberish my mind comes up with next.
the actual Disclaimer: Total make believe and fantasy. My apologies to the people bearing the same name; I did not mean to use your names in vain.
For the first time in their friendship it was Paul trying to lure Artie, but Art seemed to have lost interest in Paul. Why else was he avoiding him? A few times Paul had walked up to Artie’s house for their daily walk together to their school when he was informed Artie had already left. Confused Paul continued through the rough neighbourhood on his own. He might be small, an easy target, but he was also fast, not so easy after all. Paul made it through the neighbourhood two times unharrassed and with all his lunch money. Three times they chased him and only once out of the three times they managed to catch up with him and stole his lunch money.
It was not that which bothered Paul, it was Artie. He had very kindly shared his lunch money the one time Paul got robbed, but hadn’t said much to him and was still avoiding him as much as he could. After a week of hide and seek and cat and mouse game Paul had enough of it. One afternoon, immediately after their last class, Paul sprinted ahead making sure he was not going to miss Art. He knew Art had changed the route a little. He also knew Art left as quickly as possible. Both designed to try and avoid Paul.
Paul hid behind a hedge. He could see the street Art was coming out and knew he had to pass by where Paul was hiding. This way he could surprise him and Paul would be very surprised if Art would try to run away. Paul didn’t have to wait very long, Art’s trademark blond afro soon emerged from the street and made his way towards the hedge. Paul waited till Art was close; he practically jumped into his face. Art stepped back alarmed at first, then relaxed when he realized it was just Paul, then tensed up again when he once again realized it was Paul.
“You’re avoiding me?”
“No! Why would I do that?”
“How should I know, you’re the one leaving early without me every single time.”
Art sighed and rolled his eyes as he looked away from Paul. He wanted it to appear like he was annoyed with Paul’s apparent ignorance. Truth was, after what happened between them, he still couldn’t look Paul in the eyes.
“Artie! Ever since that afternoon you’ve been weird.”
Still looking away and with a fake irritation in his voice he replied: “What do you mean “weird”!? I’ve not been weird.” It was so easy to just look over Paul.
“Well actually,” Paul mused: “you’re always weird,” then he picked up the anxiety that led him to cornering Art: “you’re even weirder than normally!”
Now Art was looking directly at him, hurt in his eyes. He started walking again brushing passed Paul.
“No, wait!” Paul cried out grabbing Art’s elbow.
The look in Artie’s eyes was hard when he turned and faced Paul.
“I don’t mean “weird”,” Paul tried to salvage the situation. “I mean…uh…well maybe weird, but that’s not a bad thing. I like how you’re weird!”
Art pulled his elbow from Paul’s grip: “Oh, shut up, Paul!”
Art walked away in a brisk pace. He could hear Paul yelling after him in the distance. When he thought he was far away he let go of control, the harsh look making place for tears which he wiped away with his sleeves. “Weird”, Paul thought he was “weird”.
Maybe Art was too busy dealing with his emotions and maybe he forgot how quick and unnoticed Paul could creep up on people. Whatever the case, he nearly jumped out of his skin when Paul caught up with him and called out his name: “Artie!”
“Geez!” Art wailed. “Why don’t you ever consider other people!? You wanna know why I don’t want to talk to you!? Do you!? Because of just that, because nothing and no-one in your little world matters more than you! You don’t care about how I feel! Definitely not when it doesn’t suit you! That’s why I don’t want to talk to you. Now leave me alone!!!!”
Art left in a hurry leaving Paul shocked and perplexed. He watched Artie’s back slowly disappearing in the distance. Paul didn’t know what he expected, but it wasn’t this outburst. How had things gone so badly wrong for them? What went wrong? Paul wasn’t sure.
Paul felt dizzy and with every step he thought he was falling. The sounds around him seemed to echo in his head and the air around him was clammy, his vision blurred as if he was in water. In a daze Paul made his way home. Without greeting his mother he went straight to his bedroom and flopped down onto the bed.
His brain was feverishly trying to work out what happened. What just happened on the street. What had happened about a week ago? What did they do? When did it go wrong? What did he say or do? What could have upset Artie?
About an hour later Paul was still lying on his bed, his chin leaning on his pillow propped up forcefully with his arms creating a steady platform for his chin to lean on. He hadn’t gotten anywhere with his analysis of this Artie-situation. He couldn’t think of what he might have said or done that caused Artie’s withdrawal and meltdown. Artie’s words played through Paul’s head over and over: “Why don’t you ever consider other people!?” Paul tried to count the times he did consider other people, just to prove him wrong. “You don’t care about how I feel!” Now that was an outright lie, Paul did care about how Artie felt. Of course he did.
A soft knock on his door, Paul didn’t answer. The door opened and his mother peeked in looking worried.
“Is everything all right?”
Paul just shrugged.
His mother looked down at her son in the way only mothers can.
“Did you fight with Artie?”
This elicited a reaction, even though it was just his eyes rolling to look up at his mother.
“He’s downstairs,” she said trying to coax her son to get up.
“I think you should talk through whatever upset you,” she paused raising her eyebrows, slightly nodding. Paul’s eyes were now staring at his chair, trying not to see his mother’s gentle suggestions.
Eventually his mother disappeared and a few seconds later Art’s shy, pink face came around the door.
“Can I come in?”
Paul pushed himself into a sitting position looking Artie over. His voice sounded bitter: “Now you want to talk?”
Art shuffled into the room, the door closing behind him almost without a sound. He looked apologetic. “Well…” he started, his voice trailing off.
Paul staring at him with those dark unreadable eyes, made Art feel uncomfortable. It was as if Paul looked straight through him, judged him, sentenced him. He bought himself some time checking if someone was trying to listen in; he opened the door looking out, even stepped into the hallway for a moment before reluctantly moving back into the room.
“I think I didn’t make myself very clear,” Art tried again. “When I said you weren’t considered of others, I meant…” he paused trying to read Paul’s face though he still couldn’t. “I meant…I suppose I should have said something.”
Paul sat watching Art completely motionless. For a while he watched Art getting more and more nervous moving from one leg to the other. Nothing more came from Art, so Paul expressed his confusion:
“What are you talking about!?”
“Last week? When we were…you know…I didn’t want to spoil it, so I said nothing. You seemed to enjoy it.”
It became slowly clear to Paul: “You didn’t enjoy last week.”
Art turned his gaze to the floor: “No, it actually hurt quite a bit.”
A load fell off of Paul’s shoulder, though he felt bad for Art. If only he had said something; Paul always assumed Art enjoyed it as much as he had. He never intended to hurt him.
“Okay,” the next part didn’t come easy to Paul: “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
Art looked up at Paul through his eyelashes: “I know. It wasn’t your fault.”
Paul got up from the bed and checked the hallway, no matter Art had done that only a few minutes earlier.
When he closed the door, leaning against it, Art had not turned and was still facing the bed, his gaze still on the floor.
“Artie,” Paul whispered. He reached and touched Art’s fingers who pulled back startled.
Art crossed his arms hugging himself: “Let’s not, I mean…let’s just not do that again.”
That was not where Paul wanted their relationship to head; unlike Art, Paul had thoroughly enjoyed their intimacy and was hungry for more. Paul could only think of one way to steer it back to stolen kisses and awkward fumblings.
“You do me this time.”
Art’s mouth fell open his head almost invisibly shaking: “No, I don’t want to.”
“Art, I enjoyed it…and I want you to…I want you to experience what I experienced.”
Art was still not into the idea.
“We’ll take precautions next time. We’ll, we’ll…I don’t know…Whatever it takes.”
Art turned his gaze back to the floor still hugging himself.
“Artie,” it now sounded plaintive: “I don’t want to lose you.”
Art let his arms fall away from his chest: “Just give me some time.” Then he reached for the door, Paul narrowly letting Art get out.
Paul felt a lump in his throat he didn’t seem to be able to swallow away. His feet felt heavy again and his knees were buckling under his weight. Forced to sit down in front of the door. It was a good thing he was the only person in the room since he broke down crying.