Return of an Old Friend
by Z. Wolf(return to fan art page)
I gotta hand it to Joel. For someone who doesn't normally comfort people, he's pretty good at it. I don't remember a lot from last night, probably because I was so enraged at my dad, first for raiding my computer, and then for kicking me out of the house. I remember packing as much stuff as I could into my duffel bag and book bag, and walking to Joel's house in the rain. His mom let me in, but I didn't tell her exactly what happened. Then I went to Joel's room and told him what happened, but then he just lectured me about putting a password on my computer. Not what I needed at that point. I kinda flipped out on him, I think, and scratched his face, but I don't think he cared, because the next thing I remember is being cradled in his arms, crying into his chest. I think we fell asleep like that, too.
The next morning was a little better. I was still upset, but Joel seemed different. It was like he actually cared for once. Mrs. Calley made sandwiches for us for lunch, cuz it was around noon by the time I woke up. We ate in silence, except for the radio, which was playing a song by some chick who was popular back in the 80's. When we finished, Joel spoke.
“So, uh... you wanna go see a movie or something?” he asked. “My treat.”
I looked up at him, smiled a little, and nodded. Then we both stood up and went out to his car. I guess I just assumed he'd go to the theater we work at, but he went a different way. I didn't bother asking where we were going instead. A few minutes later, we were on our way to see a movie called Stonewall: The Musical. I said I didn't want to, but Joel insisted: “Trust me, kitty. You'll love it.” I just sighed and went along with it. We got our popcorn, drink, and of course Skittles, then went in to find seats. I guess things were going ok, until I saw who was sitting to my left...
I had to get out of the house today. Things just hadn't been going well with my mom. Lately she's been constantly on my case about why I don't have a boyfriend. She keeps asking me if I'm seeing anyone or if there's anyone I'm interested in or stuff like that. It gets annoying after the eighth time in an hour. So I grabbed my keys and drove to the nearest movie theater.
As I drove, I thought about what she said. I had to admit, she had a point. I hadn't had a steady relationship in years. In fact, I've never had one at all. The more I thought about it, the more I came to realize... The first person I had ever really wanted to be with was Matthew Gein, and he turned me down for some religious bullshit reason.
“Damn it!” I swore out loud. The thought of that damned cat brought back memories... memories I hadn't thought of in a long time. And they only served to make me even more pissed than I already was. If I ever saw him again....
I didn't quite get to finish that thought, because that's when I pulled into the movie theater parking lot. As I walked towards the lobby, I glanced up at the sign to see what was playing. One title caught my eye: Stonewall: The Musical. I remembered hearing about it, something with gay people. I figured why the hell not, and went in to get my ticket. I made a quick stop at the snack bar for a pack of Skittles and a drink, then went to get a seat. As I was absorbed in a preview, a motion to my right caught my attention. Well, speak of the devil... and a satanic wolf. Go figure.
“Joel... please,” I whispered. “Just switch seats with me... it's not that big a deal.”
“Obviously it is a big deal,” he whispered back, “otherwise you wouldn't act like your life depends on it.”
He had a point, but I wasn't about to let it go that easily. “Just... Let me out, I um... I have to go to the bathroom.” I didn't wait for an answer before standing up and stepping over him, then, as inconspicuously as I could, ran out. I went into the bathroom, and locked myself in a stall. I had no idea how long I'd been in there, but it must have been pretty long. After a while, I heard the door open and someone walked in. I stood as still as I could, and waited. The door never opened again, and the room was silent. I blurted the only thing I could think of.
“I'll be right out.”
“Take your time.”
The response made me freeze again. The voice wasn't the same as the last time I'd heard it, but I still recognized it. “Jeremy...”
“Nice to see you again too, asshole.”
“Jeremy, I didn't know you'd be here...”
“Just shut up, Matt. I don't wanna hear it.”
I took a few moments to come up with something to say to him that accurately summed up what was going through my head. But the more I thought about it, the less I had to say and the more I did want to hear it. I guess it was time to play “20 Questions.”
“How long have you been with him?” I asked, trying to make my voice as cold as possible. I could hear his ears folding back, and I knew he was blushing. It was funny, up until that day, I'd always thought he looked really cute when he blushed. Not anymore.
“You mean Joel? Um... I guess it's been a little over a year now... Something like fourteen months.”
“And how many before him?”
A pause. “None. Joel's my first. Look, Jeremy...”
I cut him off. “Why?” As much as I hated to admit it, my loathing for Matt was starting to lessen. “What changed between then and now?”
I took a deep breath. “Jeremy, the best answer I can give you is that, well, I guess I just wasn't ready for it when you asked me... I was afraid. And since my dad's such a fanatic about Church, that was the first thing I could think of. But when I met Joel, he showed me that I was wrong, and that it's ok for me to be in love with another guy...”
“So you started going out with him?” Jeremy asked.
“You know what people say about him on the streets, right? I assume you've heard the rumors? They say he killed his twin sister when he was just a baby, and they had to put him in the psych ward.”
My mouth hung open. I'd had no idea that people were saying stuff like that.
“So what about it, lover boy?” Jeremy continued. “Is your 'knight in shining armor' a killer?”
“He... he didn't kill his sister...” I stammered. “Jeremy, I'm not comfortable talking about that...”
“That's fine,” he said. My ears perked up. Suddenly he didn't seem like he had when he came in... he didn't seem angry anymore. I decided to take a venture and come out of the stall and come face to face with my former best friend for the first time in years.
I have to admit, I didn't expect Matt to come out of the stall so soon. But when he did, I was blown away. Except for the brown fur and dark stripes, I would never have recognized him. His hair was much longer and he was wearing a T-shirt for some 80's metal band. But what was most surprising to me was the red choker collar around his neck. I felt my face flush as my mouth hung open, and I saw him blushing too. That and the little jingly bell on the collar was probably the cutest pose I'd ever seen him in.
“My god Matt... you look so different...”
“Jeremy...?” he asked tentatively.
“Can... can we maybe be friends again?”
That question caught me off guard. “Uh... I... I don't know... Could you at least let me think about it for a day or two?”
He nodded, then pulled out his cell phone. “Why don't we exchange numbers, then?”
“Sure.” I gave him my number, and he gave me his.
“Oh, and um... don't call my house...” His voice trailed off, and his ears folded back as his head went down.
“Why? What's going on?”
I told him what had happened the night before. It made me feel really bad, because as I was telling Jeremy what my dad said to me, I remembered what I had said to my best friend years ago. I had sounded just like my father did last night. As that realization hit me, I leaned back against a wall, and put my paws over my face in shame.
I looked up when I felt his paw on my shoulder. The look on his face wasn't what I expected. Instead of anger, he had a look of concern. As our eyes met, he slowly moved closer to me, and wrapped his arms around me. I soon found I had done the same to him. We hugged each other for a long time, and I took a couple deep breaths to keep from bursting out in tears. He was my best friend; how could I have been so stupid to push him away like that?
“It's ok, Matt,” he whispered in my ear. “I understand now.”
My mouth hung open as he told me about his dad freaking out and kicking him out of the house. I always knew Mr. Gein was a piece of work, but I never thought it would come to that. But then again, I'd always Matt was straight.
As Matt went on with his story, I saw a lot of similarities between what his dad had said and what Matt had said to me. Apparently, Matt saw those similarities too, and he put his head in his paws and leaned against a wall. All at once, I understood why Matt had acted that way back then. And with this new understanding, there was only one thing I could do. After years of holding a grudge against him for breaking my heart, I had to forgive Matt.
I put my paw on his shoulder to comfort him. He looked up, and our eyes met. In that instant, I think he knew what I was thinking, and I started to wrap my arms around him. I felt his arms going around me, too, and I smiled. Something told me I wouldn't need a few days to decide whether or not we were friends again.
“It's ok, Matt,” I whispered in his ear. “I understand now.”
It felt so good to be in Jeremy's arms like that. I closed my eyes and held onto him tightly, wishing I hadn't been so mean to him years ago. But from the way things were looking, it seemed to me that I wouldn't have to worry about that anymore.
I slowly moved my head a little, and blushed deeply as I felt his lips brush against mine. I felt him tense up a little, but neither of us pulled away. We stayed like that for a while, and then he pressed his tongue against my lips. I was deciding how to respond and the door opened. We both jumped and snapped around to see who it was. I should have figured. Joel.
“Joel, this is Jeremy...” I stammered.
“I didn't know you two were still seeing each other.” Just the sort of sarcastic remark Joel would make. But Jeremy didn't know that.
“We haven't seen each other in years,” he said as he put his arm around my shoulders.
“I know,” Joel replied. “Matt told me. Glad to see you two kissed and made out.” Jeremy scowled a little, but it took me a minute to figure it out.
“Hey!” I said, blushing deeply. I punched him in the arm.
“Anyway, the movie's over already. Better get moving before we get cited for loitering.” He didn't wait for a response before turning and going out of the bathroom. I turned back to Jeremy and blushed a little.
“Can I call or text you later or something?” I asked
He nodded. “Yeah, I'll be around all day.” He hugged me again. “It was nice seeing you again.” He smiled at me, and I smiled back.
“Yeah, you too. Maybe we should hang out sometime...?”
“Sure, but... could you not bring Joel? Just you and me, at least till we get all caught up...” He blushed deeply, then got a serious look on his face. “How can you love him? He's a total asshole.”
I grinned and giggled a little. “You get used to it,” I said. My phone vibrated. It was a text from Joel: “Leaving now. Come out with your hands up and your pants down.” I blushed and giggled a little as I showed it to Jeremy. He giggled too, and took my phone from my hand, typed a reply, then handed it back to me.
“I guess I gotta go, then. Talk to you soon!” We hugged one last time, then walked out together. Somewhere between the theater lobby and Joel's car, I looked at my phone to see what Jeremy had sent to Joel: “Cockblocker! D:< <3Jeremy” I giggled and smiled as I got into Joel's car.
As I drove home, I couldn't stop smiling as I thought about getting back together with Matt. Mom would be thrilled. She'd always liked Matt. Then I wondered what the other guys would think. Paul, Liz, and Macy had all gone away for college, but we still kept in touch. We even got together when we could. I wonder how they'll react when I bring Matt along next time...
There was just so much going through my mind, and the anticipation was so high that I as soon as I got home I went up to my room and actually had to write everything down. Then my mom called me down for dinner. I hardly touched my food as I excitedly told her what had happened that day. Things got better between her and me very quickly. I guess today wasn't such a bad day after all.
I was still smiling when we got back to Joel's house, and I bounced as I told Mrs. Calley what had happened. She was happy, even though she didn't quite understand how important this was for me. Not that it matters, anyway. I was just so happy that Jeremy and I were friends again. I bounced into Joel's room and flopped down onto the bed, smiling up at the ceiling. Then Joel came in and stood over me.
“Did that help?” he asked.
I blinked. “Huh?” I sat up and turned to face him. “What do you...wait.... YOU did this!?” I raised my paw to slash the other side of his face, but he spoke up.
“Wait. Just listen.”
I sighed and lowered my paw.
“All I did was get Jeremy to go to the theater. That's it.”
“So... in the bathroom...” I thought about it for a moment.
“That was all you and him. I had nothing to do with it.”
“Then that means...”
He said it just as I was thinking it. “You really are friends with him again.”
It took me a minute to realize what had happened. Joel had brought Jeremy to the theater. He knew he'd recognize me and that there would be a confrontation. But he hadn't known what the result would be. He actually did something to help for once.
I sprang up and hugged Joel tightly. After that, things happened fast. We made out for a while, and that lead to what may have been the best sex we've ever had. Then we just lay in bed, holding each other. He fell asleep a lot sooner than I did, but I didn't care. I had a lot to think about at the moment: I was staying with my boyfriend because my dad kicked me out; I reconnected with the best friend I lost years ago. The more I thought about it, the more I smiled. So what if my dad didn't want me? There were plenty of others I could go to. I guess today wasn't such a bad day after all.