The Way My Heart Beats
Part 1: Pair of Idiots
“So gay.” Por laughs next to me as we stand outside our classroom.
“Yeah.” Smiling a little, I agree with him but I don’t actually find it funny. I’m happy for Ohm and Nong Mick that they found each other. I’m envious of them, too. Not of the accidentally (I hope) announcing it to the whole school over the intercom thing, but that their feelings are returned. Then again, it might not have been an ‘accident’ knowing Ohm. He could have planned it that way to make sure everyone in the school knows that Mick is now off limits. I can totally see him doing that even knowing the barrage of teasing he’ll get from it.
“Hey, Por. Have you finished the report?” A familiar voice interrupts us and a shiver runs across my skin. A tall, thin classmate saunters up with his hand in his pocket. He barely spares me a glance and doesn’t say a word in greeting.
“Yep. You?” Por straightens up from staring at his phone.
“Done.” The guy says with a nod and another barely there glance at me before walking on.
It’s been like this since our argument at Pharma Camp. Pete, my best friend, acts as if I don’t exist. There are no friendly hellos. We don’t sit beside each other in class, at lunch, or even in the library if he can help it. I don’t get to see his warm smile or feel his breath as he leans on my shoulder. It’s all gone and it’s my fault. I know it is. I deserve it, too.
I could say it was my last bit of insanity over Noh, who I had been crushing on for a long time and who had already outright rejected me. That was a part of it, but it wasn’t all of it. Pete flirting with Yuri was irritating and I thought it was because she is Noh’s ex-girlfriend so I tried to warn Pete off of her. When he asked for Noh’s permission to court her, something deep inside me twisted and I was angry. I said some things I shouldn’t have and used my friendship with Noh as an excuse. It finally broke Pete. The friendship I thought would always be there was over and it ended by my own words.
I admit that Noh was a lame excuse. Everyone can see that he only has eyes for Phun and, if you didn’t notice, Phun makes it quite obvious. The thought that I was Phun’s rival for Noh was a joke. I never even stood a chance and neither did Yuri. What I yelled at Pete was nonsense and, even as I said it, I knew it was ridiculous. I was angry and I lashed out at him without thinking and I’m paying the consequences for it.
I tried to act normal when I saw him in school after that but he turned away from me. Each time hurt a little bit more than the last. The peace offering of food didn’t go over so well either and I ended up having to eat the snack by myself, except for the donut which he smacked out of my hand. That I let the birds fight over. Now, it’s been long enough that the pain is a constant ache in my chest and I feel cold, empty, and ashamed.
As I watch Pete turn the corner into the bathroom, I realize that there is one thing that I haven’t done yet. It might be a worthless gesture at this point and he might walk away from me again, but it is something that I need to say. It’s something I should have said a long time ago.
“Hey..hey, you know how to play this?” Holding up his phone, Por tries to get my attention and gets frustrated with my lack of response. “You keep acting like you are in a MV again. What’s wrong?”
“I think… I’ve taken something for granted.” The same thoughts keep running through my head as I consider my answer. With a finally look at my confused friend, I turn and follow in the direction Pete went.
“Pete!” Throwing open the door, I yell his name. He jumps a bit and looks over at me with his eyes wide and mouth open. He’s taking a piss but thankfully his aim stays where it should and not all over the floor. This is probably not the best location but I need to say this and, if I wait, I’m afraid I really will lose him forever. Stepping up beside him, I grab him by the shoulder so he can’t turn away from me.
“I apologize. I’ve always seen you as a toilet. Always kept putting bad stuff in.” My eyes automatically look down at the basin and I realize that Pete’s dick is still in his hand. I look back up at his face quickly and walk around to his other side to lean against the wall. Pete turns his shoulder away from me. I muster up every ounce of sincerity I have in me and say the words I need to say the most. “I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.”
“Well, that’s it.” A small smile creeps across Pete’s face and he arranges his clothes back in order and flushes the urinal.
“Aren’t you mad at me?” That’s it? That’s all he’s got to say?
“Nope.” He answers simply and turns toward me, wiping his hand on my shirt. So gross, but I don’t say anything about it. I can’t. Pete walks over to the counter and starts washing his hands.
“What about all the shit I’ve always told you? Aren’t you mad at me at all?” I have seriously put this guy through a lot of crap this year. My feelings of guilt over this have been almost overwhelming and I expected a bigger response from him.
“Nope.” Pete says again and continues to clean his hands. “Because we’re friends.”
Hearing him say that upsets me. Just ‘friends’ is not what we are. It’s not strong enough or big enough to encompass all that is us.
“You are not an ordinary friend.” I walk up next to him, my voice serious. “You are an asshole of a friend!”
“Hey! You’re insulting me?” Pete asks in surprise, a tiny bit of hurt in his voice. Apparently, my humorous attempt to get him to understand has fallen flat.
“I mean the friend that I fucking, fucking love.” I say it thinking it will get across to Pete how important our friendship is to me but my heart swells at the words. I feel free after saying that to him and it makes me grin happily. Pete stops messing with his hair and looks over at me in shock as his hands slowly lower. His eyes soften as he stares, his mouth opens as if he’s going to say something but closes again. That look sends a thrill through me and one more thing slips out of my lips. “And I’ll never leave you.”
“I think…” Considering my words, Pete looks unsure of what to say and then sighs. “We should get out of here. It stinks.”
“Yeah.” It actually does stink in here. I mean it is a boys’ bathroom.
“And why did you chose to talk in here, huh?” Sticking his hands in his pockets, Pete looks around the room.
“I was afraid I wouldn’t reach you in time to say sorry.” Answering honestly, I feel a bit awkward about practically admitting that I panicked.
“Didn’t have to be in that much of a hurry.” Pete brushes past me with an amused smile.
Laughing at myself, I shake my head and follow him out of the bathroom. It wasn’t the best place or the perfect time, but I’m okay with that. Those details don’t matter because Pete is back in my life and I feel warm inside again.
The days went by quickly after that and the two of us were back to our usual selves. When testing time came, we spent hours together studying. Mostly it was Pete trying to pound all the information into my memory. He doesn’t really need to study that much, but he always says that helping me practically guarantees him a top ranked score. Our study sessions would go late into the night and we’d crash exhausted on my bed.
After so many days without Pete, I can’t seem to get my fill of him. Even with spending every night together and most of the days, as soon as we separate, I want to see his face again. It’s never enough and every day it gets a little worse and I get a little greedier. I finally faced the reality of it after we finished our last test and I had no more reasons to be constantly with Pete. The symptoms are familiar but the feeling is different. I liked being around Noh but I never had this all-consuming need to always be with him like I do with Pete. Noh made my heart race but Pete makes it pound a crazy rhythm. My feelings for Noh faded away. These feelings for Pete keep getting stronger. There’s no mistaking it. I’ve really fallen in love with my best friend.
Laying on my bed at home, I listen to music as I think about my situation. Thankfully, Ma and Pa are gone for the weekend, going to some seminar or other, so I have the whole house to myself. I love my Ma a lot but I really don’t want to deal with her questions on why I’m acting so weird. Turning the music on my phone up a notch, I close my eyes and melt into the song.
Several songs later, my phone cuts out to my ringtone and I roll over with a groan to grab it off the nightstand. The phone vibrates crazily in my hand as I tilt it up to see who is calling and I jackknife into a sitting position. It’s Pete. Pete’s calling me. Nervously, I wipe my free hand on my shorts before sliding a finger across the screen to accept the call and raising it to my ear.
“Earn, I already know who is the one that, when I get close to, my heart will beat lub-dub-lub-dub-lub-dub.” Pete’s quiet voice says as soon as I pick up. The memory of our conversation about how my heart beats when I get close to the person I like comes fresh to my mind. I look over at my desk where we had sat and talked not so long ago. My heart sinks as I realize what he is probably going to tell me and I wait for him to say Yuri’s name. “Can I come over?”
“Sure.” I’m confused over why he can’t just tell me over the phone but I’m not going to argue if he wants to come by. I was sitting here missing him anyway. No matter who he likes, he’s still Pete. After everything I put him through, I have no right to deny him. He’s still my best friend, no matter what my heart has to say about it.
A short while later, there’s a knock on my bedroom door and my favorite voice calls out from the other side. “Hey, Earn! You in there?”
“It’s unlocked.” I answer back from my spot by the sliding glass door across the room. Looking outside, I admire the bright and clear day. It’s a balm for my cracking heart as I hear Pete open the door. Keeping my focus on the blue sky, I don’t turn around. “Hey, Pete.”
I hear footsteps cross the room and stop behind me. There’s a pause as Pete takes a deep breath and lets it out. Waiting for the words that will crush me, I continue to lean on the door frame and stare outside. If I look at him, I know I will fall apart. Suddenly a bag of squid is shoved in front of my face, surprising me, and I turn around. “What..”
My words are lost in pair of soft, warm lips. Frozen, my eyes widen until they can focus on the face so close to my own. Pete. It’s Pete. Pete is kissing me. Oh my fuck! Pete is kissing me! He smells like peppermint.
When I don’t protest (or respond at all), Pete steps closer and his free hand wraps around my neck, pulling me in. He tilts his head and nips at my lower lip. I close my eyes as a tingling heat builds in the pit of my stomach and spreads outward. Just as I start to kiss back, Pete pulls away. A rosy blush tints his cheeks and the tops of his ears. Pulling my hand up, he presses it against his chest over his heart which is beating a mad rhythm. A rhythm that matches my own. He peeks at me with a shy smile.
“Is that… for me?” I’m not just imagining this, am I? Pete is really here, standing in front of me, holding my hand to his chest? If this is another fucking daydream, I am so going to bash my head into the wall next to me. It can’t be a dream.
“Unless you see another gorgeous Cheer Team President by the name of Earn standing around here.” Lifting my hand up to his lips, Pete softly kisses the inside of my palm.
“Give me a straight answer, you jerk.” I give him a light shove, not actually wanting to push him away from me. “I don’t want any more misunderstandings between us because of stupid assumptions. This is too important to me. You are too important.”
“Damn. I was gonna hit you for calling me a jerk and then you had to go say the rest of that.” Sighing, Pete steps closer and wraps his arms around my waist. He leans his forehead against mine and takes a deep breath. “Let’s see if I can clear up some of the confusion. My crazy ass heartbeat pounding out of my chest only happens when I think of you, when I know I’m going to see you, when I’m anywhere near you. Our time apart confirmed what I already suspected… I love you. I love everything about you and I think I have for a very long time. So, the only question left is: How do you feel about me?”
I can’t think. Pete has told me everything I had been hoping to hear from him, but didn’t think I ever would, and I can’t even move. Staring at him, my mouth opens and nothing comes out. As the seconds stretch out to a minute then two, Pete closes his eyes tight and grips me tighter.
“You know, now would be a good time to answer me.” Opening his eyes, he leans his head back slightly and stares straight into my eyes. “You can tell me the truth, whatever it is. I can handle it, even if you don’t feel the same way.”
“Idiot.” It’s the only thing that came to mind and slips out of my mouth. Let’s face it. The filter between my head and my mouth barely works on the best of days.
“Huh?” Pete’s eyes widen with hurt and he tries to step back.
“Most definitely you are an idiot.” Jerking him back to me, I give him a long and thorough kiss before pulling away with a wide grin. “Everyone can see how I feel about you, except you. Even Noh, who is the most oblivious person on the planet, could see it. So, yeah, you are an idiot… but you’re my idiot. I love you, too.”
“You think I’m the only one who couldn’t see what was right in front of their face?” A happy smile spreads across his face and his eyes are shining brightly. “I’ve been crushing on you for months and everyone knew it except you. If I’m an idiot, then so are you.”
“I can live with that.”
The Way My Heart Beats, Part 2 will be posted soon and tells what happens next…
and will be posted in my Gutter Files.
My readers know exactly what that means. 😉
Until then, thanks for reading!
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