"Sydney, I-I need to tell you something" Chase whispered.
Sydney looked, intrigued. He was texting Flynn, apparently there was a Day of the Dead party going on and he decided to crash it. He was hoping Chase and Carl would join him, and for a moment he decided this was as good an opportunity to bring that up as he'd get. Seeing Chase's nervous face, however, instantly told him he was going for some heavy shit.
"What, are you coming out or something?" Sydney whispered back sarcastically.
Chase sighed, turning his head away.
"Holy shit, I was just joking. But, thanks for trusting me with that I guess?"
"I just- ugh, this was so stupid."
"If it makes you feel better Flynn is gay too."
"No seriously, that's why people are talking about the septic tank thing. You know how it is, they're bitches who think gays are into shit or whatever."
Chase turned back to Sydney. Seeing his more understanding look, he relaxed a bit.
"Hey, what do you kids want to listen to?" Karen said, breaking her conversation with Carl.
"You're just going to put the same shit but louder so how about you fuck off?" Sydney said back at her.
"Watch your mouth Mormon boy!" Karen growled, raising the volume before Sydney could retort.
"Crazy bitch" Sydney said, speaking at normal volume, "So, what do I owe the privilege of you coming out to me?"
"I dunno, just felt like you'd understand somehow" Chase said, his ears red.
"What, you think I'm gay too?" Sydney teased.
"N-no, I mean-"
"Because you'd be correct."
"Wait, seriously? But you're always talking about girls."
"Well yeah, I guess I'm bi?"
Sydney paused, pondering about how to explain himself.
"I mean, you know how I am, I love hoes with titanic tits to die for" he said, grasping at the air while biting his lip, "But the guys who pound them are pretty hot too. Sometimes I want to touch and rub them, you know? And well, if they're muscular and big, they're just begging to be my bitches too."
"I don't know what to say" Chase said, his ears pratically binary suns.
"Well, you can start with 'Oh Syd, you're so fucking hot, won't you stuff my greedy throat while Bitch McGee keeps on babbling to her shitty music'?"
"What, Flynn isn't putting out for you?" Chase said, now more confident.
"Ew, he's bsically my brother you sick fuck" Sydney said, playfully sticking out his tongue, "Plus I don't want to lose my dick if he bites me."
Just then, Sydney's phone buzzed.
"Speaking of the devil" Chase said, looking over.
"I got gorgonzola at the mini-market in Payton" Flynn texted.
"Hey, Chase over here is asking if I fuck you" Sydney texted back, "Turns out he's gay too and can't get his hands off my sweet abs."
"Wait seriously" Flynn texted back.
Chase's phone buzzed.
"Are you gay?" Flynn texted there.
"Yeah, but I don't want to fuck either of you" Chase texted back.
"That's a shame" Flynn texted, "Though I guess you'd rather have us fuck you?"
"Fuck off" Chase typed.
"Tell him about the party" Sydney texted.
"Oh yeah Chase, there's going to be a day of the dead party today. Buncha jocks and towny types are gonna be there. Route 65 at Parsons Manufacturing."
"Did you know about this?" Chase said to Sydney, showing his phone.
"Yeah, was hoping you and Carl would help me crash it" Sydney nodded.
"You going?" Chase texted.
"Nah, I'll be working and I'm heading to Jasmynn's when I get off. Gotta go now."
"Leo didn't tell me about this" Chase said as they put their phones back in their pockets.
"Yeah, he's being a bitch right now" Sydney said, "Guess it comes with the territory."
Chase looked as if he wanted to retort, but noticed that they were approaching Carl's stop.
"So, I'm gonna get off with you here, okay?" Chase said to Carl.
"Me too" Sydney said, "I'm gonna escort you guys to the party."
"Wait, what party?" Carl asked.
"Carl, this is where you get off" Karen said.
"Chase and Sydney want to get off, too."
"The bus" Chase clarified.
"But also my huge cock" Sydney teased.
"You each have a note from your folks?" she asked.
"As a matter of fact we do" Sydney said, taking out a pair of former scavenger hunt papers from his pocket, handing one to Chase, "I'm honestly very flattered you're making excuses to keep us here. I can imagine why an old broad like you would be into kids, what with your unused pussy being full of spiderwebs and such."
Karen didn't even bother to chek their notes, stopping the bus suddenly.
The walk to the abandoned factory was far from boring. They passed by Jasmynn's house, Sydney picking a fight with Jeremy while Chase talked to Jasmynn. After learning that her room's door was taken Sydney called her father a pedo, prompting them to run like hell, narrowly missing being shot. In the heat of the moment Chase had decided to come out to Carl, who in turn confessed about his imaginary girlfriend. That conversation died quickly when Sydney chipped in with his extensive and well detailed descriptions of his sexual fantasies. He kept going on and on until they reached Parsons, where both his mouth and legs stopped.
"What?" Carl asked, "No one else you'd like to shove salmons in?"
"TJ's here" Sydney whimpered, pointing at a familiar vehicle.
"Uh, cool" Chase said.
"No its not cool you fucking retard" Sydney said, "What if this is a rave or something?"
"People still have raves?" Chase asked.
"Dude's got a point, I'm getting some really bad vampire cult vibes from all this" Carl said.
"Lets go look for him" Sydney said, wandering off to the parked cars.
"C'mon, lets go check around the back" Carl said to Chase.
Not long after he began his search Sydney heard Carl shout. He turned back, finding TJ dressed in a ghost sheet while Carl recovered from the shock. Sydney couldn't see TJ's face under the white blanket, but he noticed him stiffen as he saw him.
"H-hey Sydney" TJ said, rubbing his own elbow.
"H-hey" Sydney responded, scratching his neck.
As always, an awkward silence followed.
"So, why the ghost costume?" Sydney asked, trying desperately to not sound sarcastic or condescending.
"Oh, my mom and I put this together at the last minute" TJ said, "I didn't get to go trick-or-treating yesterday because of church stuff, so mom said now would be my chance with this party."
"That's very considerate of your mother, TJ, but I don't think this is that kind of party" Chase said, trying to break the ice.
"He's right" Sydney said, "I think you might want to sit this one out. If you want to, I mean, not trying to get you down or anything. I guess you'll be alright if we find Leo?"
"Leo's here?" TJ asked, "He didn't mention anything of that nature to me. I'm sure he just forgot to though."
"Its cool, he didn't tell us about this party either" Chase said, "We found out because Flynn told us about it. He's not coming by the way."
"Oh, my mom just told me about this get-together after she found out about it" TJ said, "She said this would be a good way to treat myself after volunteering yesterday."
"So you weren't invited here?" Carl asked.
"No" TJ said, looking down, "I guess we're crashing this party uh? Maybe we shouldn't be here."
"Yeah, we probably shouldn't" Sydney said, thankful TJ agreed.
"It was your idea to come all this way though" Chase said, "Plus if Leo's there we'll be fine."
"I guess if Leo was invited he'd be like his plus-ones, right?" TJ asked, "Though there are three of us."
Sydney shoot daggers at Chase with his glare, who quickly turned aside.
"C-can you see Leo in there Carl?" Chase asked.
Carl looked, craning his neck awkwardly.
"I see Jack" he said.
"Who?" Chase asked.
"Jack Shit" Carl responded, "You might know him."
TJ covered his ears, muttering a soft "Stop". Something in Sydney's chest wrentched, seeing TJ upset like that brought back some dark memories that fed his guilt further and further. TJ had forgiven him, and eventually Chase and Leo stopped hawking over him whenever he was close to him, but ever since Lake Emma Sydney couldn't stop feeling horrible about how he tormented the lynx for so long. He wanted to make him happy and safe somehow, to show him how much he cared instead of simply asking for forgiveness again and again, but whenever he had the chance to do so he felt awkward and ashamed.
"Do you wanna call the shots on this one?" he asked, "If you still want to go we'll stick by you and find Leo. But if you wanna go we'll all leave with you, alright?"
"Thank you Sydney" TJ said, "But my mom will just pick us up if I don't want to go. O-or just pick me up. There is no reason why you can't just go if I don't want to."
"I mean, if you're not having fun what's the point of me having fun?" Sydney said, immediately regretting how stupid he sounded.
"I don't mind that!" TJ blurted, seemingly also regretting that, "I mean, you should be having fun at this party, you walked all the way here so its not fair for me to stop you from doing that."
"Dude, what's happening right now?" Carl asked confusedly.
Suddenly Chase's phone rang. He checked it and whatever he saw mortified him, prompting him to run to the abandoned factory.
"Dude wait!" Carl said, sprinting after him.
"Chase!" TJ followed suit.
"Fucking cunt!" Sydney concluded.
TJ was the first to step inside the decrepit building. Fear started to creep inside him, but when they finally saw the other party goers - some 20 or so people in three rooms - he began to relax.
"I think I see Heather over there by the barrel-thing!"
"Oh great, that over wet pussy is here" Sydney said, a hint of jealousy mixed into his sarcasm.
It took TJ half a minute to understand what Sydney fully meant by that, and in the end he didn't know what made him flush more: Sydney being this naughty or himself taking so long to get it.
"C'mon, she can be very nice and helpful" TJ said, pleading a little, "She likes the same bands as you, to start with. She likes working out, like you, though probably in a more sport-sy way than you. Oh, she also likes Pirates of the Black Water, she gave me those links I showed you."
"What, you trying to match make us?" Sydney teased, "For future reference, my types don't break into hysterics whenever something doesn't go her way."
"N-no, I just think you should give her a chance because she's a great friend who needs help" TJ said, lowering his ears, "Like you."
Sydney said nothing, his face a strange mixture between flustered and hurt. Thinking that he hurt Sydney in turn felt like a dagger inside TJ's chest, because the person who bullied and almost killed him had since been replaced by someone who looked after him, who engaged him, who showed him his poems and cool stuff both liked and sometimes even gave tips on church service - even he if stopped believing, much to TJ's sadness - who regretted his actions so much as to ask Chase or Leo to watch out for him whenever he and TJ were together. That person, the real Sydney, was one TJ felt safe with and completely trusted even if things were a bit awkward between them.
What could TJ do to bridge that gap?
"Hey Sydney, watch this" TJ said mischievously.
Before Sydney could ask, TJ began creeping towards Heather and her friends.
"Ooooooooowoooooooooo!" TJ moaned ghostly, raising his arms like an apparition, "Happy Day of the Deeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaad!"
The party goers, already confused, grew more intrigued. TJ personally thought they were very silly, not even knowing what a ghost is. That confusion came to pass when Heather accidentally walked into him, prompting him to hug her.
"Get the fuck off me!" she screamed, "Oh my God!"
TJ didn't even have a moment to react before she shoved his chest away, making him fall on the ground.
"Ow!" TJ whimpered.
"You alright buddy?" Sydney said, kneeling next to him.
"Yeah, thanks" TJ said, thankful that Sydney came to comfort him.
All around them, the party goers began to scream and shout, accusing TJ of being a pervert and a creep.
"Aw, here I thought your friend was used to being covered in white" Sydney said, much to Chase's and Carl's horror and TJ's confusion.
That did it, as the already distressed and drunk crowd turned violent. A large coyote began to approach Chase and Carl, while another one poked at TJ with her foot, before dropping the contents of her drink on TJ. TJ, embarassed and afraid, tried to hold back tears, but couldn't resist crying softly.
"You gonna regret that you fucking cow!" Sydney growled, rising to his feet.
She laughed mocking at him, prompting Sydney to grab her wrist and break it. This prompted the other coyote and a fox to turn on him, abandoning their wrath at Chase, Carl and TJ to focus on Sydney, now huffing proudly in true wrestler fashion.
"You fuckers stay away from my friends!" he said, in a mixture of anger and arrogance, "Or I will fucking tear your spines out!"
Predictably, the coyote and the fox held him, punching his gut. Tears came to his eyes and he vomited on the coyote's shirt, but he kept clawing and biting at them. In a struck of luck, he bit the fox's ear, ripping out a chunk of flesh, prompting the drunkard to release him. Once he did he jumped at the coyote, the larger male grabbing him by the scruff and tossing him away. Sydney grunted, eyes darting as the still injured fox and the coyote still approached TJ, kicking at him.
"Fuckers!" Sydney screamed, jumping at them again.
Only this time, they were lined up next to each other, making the fox fall on the coyote. Combined with the increased momentum, Sydney was able to tackle the drunkards to the ground, and once there he was free to punch and kick at their limbs. He managed to break the coyote's wrist and crush most of his fingers with with own teeth, while he got the fox pinned down with a foot on his throat.
"I will fucking kill you!" Sydney said, spiting at them in their faces.
Already immobilised, neither could resist the beat down Sydney delivered them, punching their ribcages and stomping on their heads. The disoriented drunkards fainted, too hurt to move.
"Anyone else, bitches!?" Sydney said, slapping his pecs.
Most of the crowd stood away, though a few guys were looking for a fight. Sydney scoured the room and found Heather, crying hysterically amidst her friends.
"Some fucking friend you are!" Sydney shouted at her, "The guy in the ghost costume is TJ you dumb bitch!"
"Leave me alone!" she cried.
"No, you leave TJ alone from now on you shitty whore!" Sydney shouted louder, "And Jasmynn too! I just know that how she's hurting lately has something to do with you, so drop dead you piece of shit!"
He began to run at them, scattering them away. A few people remained, still looking for a fight but keeping a safe distance. Sydney paid no mind to them, quickly kneeling down beside TJ.
TJ was now openly crying. All the shouting and screaming, the sounds of bones cracking, the two men kicking him. His right side hurt a lot, but the pain mattered very little compared with the sheer terror he was feeling. He was fully blanketed by his ghost sheet, as if covering himself from a monster under the bed.
"Are you okay!?" a voice asked him desperately, fully breaking into tears from the sound of it.
"S-Syd-n-ney?" TJ asked, still sobbing.
Sydney grabbed the sheets, tearing them off TJ. As he did so TJ stiffened, but as soon as he saw Sydney's eyes all the fear and pain were gone. It was as if Sydney's blue eyes were a light that exorcised all demons and shadows, that filled TJ with a warmth in his chest. At first, his heart seemed to stop, but it was quickly followed by a rapid, faster heartbeat, drumming inside his chest.
"I'm so sorry" Sydney cried, his face matted with tears and blood, "I promise I won't let anyone hurt you again."
"I-I'm ok-kay!" TJ said, hiccuping a little, "I'm not hurt."
"That Heather bitch, that's what you call a friend!?" Sydney said, turning aside as to not seem like he was angry at TJ, "She made those fuckers almost kill you!"
"N-no, she was just scared!" TJ pleaded, sniffing.
"TJ, I know you see the best in people, but she's just a bad person" Sydney implored, looking at TJ again, "I know I'm a bad person myself, and you can stay away from me if you want. Just promise me you won't get close to her, she and her friends want to hurt you."
"M-maybe you're right" TJ said sadly, "But I won't stay away from you. You just saved me! You're my hero!"
Sydney smiled, and that warmth grew in TJ's heart. TJ had found Sydney beautiful and even cute at times, but now he was truly handsome. The good TJ saw in him was in full splendor now.
Then, suddenly, the otter leaned forward, and their lips met.
A month passed, and TJ decided it was time. It took some convincing, but he managed to get his parents to drop him off at Lake Emma. The sun was still high in the sky, and they would pick him up in two hours anyway.
Plus, he wasn't counting on being entirely by himself.
"Sydney, can you meet me at the lake?" TJ texted.
"You sure?" Sydney texted back, faster than TJ anticipated.
"Yes. I want to talk to you. Just the two of us."
"I don't think that's a good idea."
"Don't worry, I trust you. I know you won't hurt me."
"What if I don't trust myself?"
"Then I guess you'll have to trust me. Please, this is important. I need to talk to you."
"Its about the kiss isn't it?"
"Yes. Please Syd."
TJ gulped a little. He knew Sydney tried to get the others to call him Syd but it never stuck, so he figured that would be the one thing to get him to come. Still, TJ began to wodner if he had instead offended him as it took a while for him to answer.
Much to his relief, he did not:
"Yeah. Be there in an hour."
Indeed, an hour passed and TJ heard Sydney's footsteps, growing slower and more nervous as he spotted him.
"Over here!" TJ said, motioning at Sydney.
TJ walked the rest of the way towards Sydney, who had slowed down and stopped altogether, seemingly unwilling to go further.
"H-hi" Sydney said, his head lowered.
"D-did you like when I called you Syd?" TJ said, scratching the back of his neck, "I remembered that you wanted us to call you that."
"Yeah, thanks" Sydney said, raising his head a bit, "It means a lot to me."
"You can call me Toby if you want."
"I thought you didn't like that."
"Not when the others call me. But I don't mind when you do it."
"It could be, like, our thing."
An awkward silence followed. TJ sighed, gathering courage faster than he had ever before. He never felt more certain about a question than ever before in his life:
"Syd Bronson, will you be my boyfriend?"
Another awkward silence followed. Sydney was shocked, but TJ could see his ears flushing with red and a small hopeful hiccup forming in his mouth.
"Y-you mean it? For real?"
"Yes! When you kissed me, I felt like I never felt before. And you saved me, too| And even before that, I always wanted to be with you."
TJ took a step closer.
"Syd, I think I love you."
Sydney smirked, a stark contrast to the tears in his eyes.
"I love you too, Toby. So fucking much."
TJ cringed, then stuck out his tongue at him playfully.
"You better wash that mouth if you want to kiss me."
"So sassy today. I really like you being assertive like this."
"I learned from the bestest, most kind Syd I have ever know."
Sydney reached for TJ's hands, softly touching them before their fingers entwined. They looked into each other's eyes, each seeing a heavenly blue, amidst each other's ideal of beauty. Granted, TJ was cute to Sydney and Sydney was handsome to TJ.
"Would your parents be okay with this?" Sydney asked concernedly, "You know how religious types can be. My own dad would probably kill me if he knew. Mom might be a bitch about it, but she wouldn't dare to do anything."
"I know Syd, but you don't need to worry about that. I told my parents and they accepted me, they even figured out I have a crush on you! Don't worry, they don't know about the kiss."
"What about the rest of your church?"
"Syd, one of our youth pastors, Asha, is one of those biosensual... I mean bisexual types. Nobody treats her different there. I think I'm bisexual too. As are you, I guess? You do talk about girls a lot."
"Yup, I'm bi too. Oh, so you did have a crush on Heather."
"N-no, she's just a friend, Syd. Now that I know that I love you, I'm more sure of that than ever."
"Did she ever apologise that thing at the party?" Sydney asked, imagining all the ways he could get revenge on that scumbag.
"Yeah, and I forgive her. But I'm not going to hang out with her for a while, not when I have you" TJ said, disentangling his hands from Sydney's in order to give him a hug.
"Guess I won't need to get jealous then" Sydney said, hugging TJ back.
They nuzzled into each other, and TJ swore he could hear Sydney's heart beat. Fast but strong, so alive and full of love, dismantling TJ's lingering doubts that this wasn't real and that Sydney died that day some four years ago. He felt guilty for even pondering that, but he was quickly submerged back into a feeling of intimacy and happiness that made the sun look dark and bleak in comparison.
"Holy shit, are you purring?" Sydney said, kissing the top of TJ's head.
"Language" TJ said, raising his head a little so Sydney could hear his purr better.
"I can't believe how lucky I am" Sydney said, touching TJ's soft cheek and stroking his hair tuft gently, "The most beautiful, sexy and sweet lynx in the galaxy wants me to be his boyfriend, he purrs the cutest purrs I've ever heard and is in the only pro-gay church I've heard off."
"Well" TJ said, "There's one more thing."
TJ kissed Sydney, and Sydney reciprocated by pouring as much love as he could unto their kiss. A peck opened up to become a tongue fight, their mouths so hot they were pratically incinerated. It was an awkward short kiss, but after catching their breaths they repeated it again, and again, each time longer and more passionate. Their arms grasped each other's bodies, as if desperately trying to bring each other closer than they were, and eventually they were so enraptured that they lost their equilibrium and fell on the side, on the hard pebbles.
"Fuck!" Sydney said, "Toby, you alright?"
"Yeah, I'm fine" TJ said, wincing as he felt his right side become very sore, "There's a nice view from here."
Sydney turned to the lake, and while not quite sunset the light of the sun was turning from white to yellow, casting gold on the black and blue waters.
"Yeah, this is pretty neat actually. Wanna cuddle like in a shitty romantic comedy?"
"Sure, just give me a second. I still hurt all over."
After a few minutes Sydney crawled next to TJ and put his arm against his left side, pulling his boyfriend closer. TJ and Sydney winced as the impacted sides collided, but soon they were able to ignore the pain, each other's warmth making both of them moths.
They sat together, watching the lake that went from the stuff of nightmares to where their love first blossomed, listening as wheels were followed by opening doors and TJ's mom's "aw".
"Sooooo...." Chase said, looking at Sydney.
It was lunch time, the cafeteria the stage for a chaotic cacophony. Leo and Chase were the first to sit, pratically glued to each other as always, followed by Jenna, Carl and Flynn, the latter not eating anything. The last to join their table were Sydney and TJ, sitting close together much as Leo and Chase had. Sydney had first checked if their bench was dirty, before sitting down and motioning for TJ to join him.
"So what?" Sydney said in mock irritation.
"So, you and TJ have been pratically glued to each other through all this morning" Chase accusatorily.
"I think I saw them kiss each other in the cheek a few times" Jenna nodded, a "bad cop" impersonation barely concealing the squeeing.
Sydney shared a quick glance with TJ, who was surpressing a giggle. He nodded.
"I am shocked!" Sydney said dramatically, "Ignoring your horrific orwellian breaches of our privacy-"
"Everyone in class saw" Carl said, chewing on some peas.
"I am more than appaled that you perverts would assume anything is going on between me and my best friend over here."
"'Best friend' uh?" Flynn said, amused.
"Duh!" Sydney said, "You're my brother, Flynn. TJ's like my... bestest friend. That happens to be a boy."
Sydney wrapped his arm around TJ pulling him close and kissing him on the cheek. Jenna bit her lip, trying her hardest not to squee.
"I'm so happy for you two puchicas!" Leo said, practially squeeing himself.
"Okay, I don't know what the fuck that means but me and TJ are just doing what best friends do" Sydney said, actually stealing a lightning fast kiss from TJ's lips, "That also happens to be a boy."
"You know, I'm actually surprised" Carl said, "I knew you were bi thanks to you not shutting the fuck up and giving me nightmares about your sex fantasies, but I thought you were into jock types."
"Jock, wrestler and pirate types" Sydney corrected.
"Of course" Flynn said indignantly.
"So as you can see, there's nothing suspicious about me being best friends with this cute, sexy piece of heaven given lynx form. That also happens to be a boy."
TJ's ears were red and he dove his head into Sydney's neck, nuzzling into it while the latter kissed the top of his head.
"Aw, he's purring" Jenna said, no longer able to contain herself.
"TJ loves to purr into his best friend's neck" Sydney said, "That also happens to be a boy."
"Okay, just stop said" Chase said, in a mixture of laughter and "awwing" at the couple's cuteness, "You're not fooling anyone."
"Fooling?" Sydney said in mock exasperation, "Me? Its not our fault your minds are filth and you can't understand bestfriendly love."
"Filthy!" TJ said playfully, before continuing to nuzzle and purr against his boyfriend.
"Best friends?" said a jock wolf passing nearby, "More like best FAGS!"
The gang turned towards him. TJ and Sydney were sure he was in the party, but other than being a former friend of Leo's they couldn't quite recognise who he was.
"Rude" Sydney said, holding TJ close, "How about you fuck off?"
"What are you going to do, scratch at me and then cry when I bust you and your boyfriend's faces?" he said, eyeing TJ in particular.
The commotion was attracting the attention of other jocks, and on cue Leo, Chase and Flynn rose up.
"Vete a la mierda" Leo snarled.
"Pfft, whatever, go eat shit in the septic tank for all I care" the wolf said dismissively, before sitting down elsewhere.
"Thanks guys" Sydney said.
"Well, we're all in the same boat now" Chase said.
"I really appreciate it though" Sydney continued, "Even though I'm not since I'm simply looking after my best friend. Who also happens to be a boy."
The gang collectively rolled their eyes, except for Sydney and TJ, who shared another kiss.