(The cover art's a little unusual, isn't it? I wrote about making it here. )
Two boys bond, sharing geeky things and fast food. And falling in love.
When Luke's parents take in a foster kid named Randall, Luke is immediately taken with him, although he doesn't want to admit to himself why. He wasn't planning to be gay. He wasn't planning to fall in love with another boy. But then he met Ran....
I remember when I first met Ran. He was absolutely unprepossessing, all skinny white boy wearing his insecurities on his sleeves, which were tattered and faded on a too-big flannel shirt. He wore jeans that didn't quite fit him, cheap tennis shoes that had once been white, and glasses that made his eyes look too big in his scrawny, pale face.
And he was holding a trash bag and standing in the middle of my bedroom looking miserable...
He looked down at his bare feet. I did, too. Even they kind of appealed to me. "Thanks," he said quietly. "But you don't have to. I probably won't be here long."
"Why not?" I was surprised how annoyed I felt at the suggestion of him leaving. "You just got here."
He shrugged his sharp shoulders, too high. "I just don't usually last long, that's all."
He climbed up to the top bunk, all scrawny elbows and sharp knees. The bed creaked a little, and then he was still. I flopped back on my bed, putting my hands behind my head, scowling at the bunk above me. There was a faint dip where he lay, but not much.
"You want to play some more games?" I asked, because I couldn't think what else to say.
The bed creaked a little. "No," he said hesitantly. "You just do whatever you normally would. I'll stay out of your way."
What I normally would do was probably masturbate when I was feeling like this--out of sorts and confused and frustrated without really knowing why--but I couldn't exactly admit that. I'd just have to stick to showers for now, while I had a foster brother in my room. And why wasn't he going to stay? I pushed that thought away, irritated by it.
"Sometimes I make YouTube videos for my channel," I admitted. I hesitated as I thought of something. "Do you mind if I introduce you?"
The bed creaked above me as he sat up. "Really?" He sounded intrigued. Good.
"Yeah. Come and watch. I'll introduce you. It's a lot of fun. I had over two hundred views on my last video," I bragged.
He climbed out of bed slowly as I got my computer turned on and my webcam going. "You do this a lot?"
"Yeah, it's fun. Sometimes I talk about like movies and stuff, sometimes I do one-man skits."
He stood to the side, out of camera range as I started talking. I sort of open up on camera. Most of the time, people aren't exactly clambering to hear what I have to say and what I think about stuff. So it's kind of cool to think that hundreds of people might click on my video on purpose and actually listen to what I have to say, maybe even respond with a comment or video of their own. From all over the world, too!
I got to the part of having a new foster brother, and it felt easy and natural to motion him over and put my arm around his shoulder. He bent down a little, smiled nervously, and waved to the camera, one quick, awkward jerk of his hand, his fingers pressed tightly against each other.
"And here he is, guys. Randall! My new buddy."
"Actually... " He looked at me, blushing a little.
"What? You don't want to be my new buddy?" My mouth turned down in a pout. I wasn't totally faking.
"Um." He reached up and scratched at his hair. "No, I'd love to. But I hate 'Randall.' Can you call me 'Ran?'"
"Ran." I turned to the camera. "This is my new buddy Ran. And yes, he's wearing my pajamas, and he looks better in them than I ever do." I winked at the camera, flexed my bicep once...
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