Of Algebra and Automobiles

bowlerhatbadass: u there?

Devon H. Snitcker III stared at the blinking chat window on his computer screen then sighed down at his math homework. Algebra sucked, but he had to get these problems done and get most of them right if he wanted a B average at midterm -- the B average that somehow showed his mom that he was responsible enough to sign up for driver's ed next semester, even though all friends had already taken it.

Like Jake. Jake had already passed both sections of driver's ed and had his own car (okay, so it was just an old red Buick, but it was a car). He was just waiting to pass his road test. Jake played it cool, but Devon knew he was excited. Heck, Devon was excited. Jake would have a car to drive, man. They could do anything then.

bowlerhatbadass: dude i know ur there

The chat window blinked merrily while out his bedroom window Devon could see snow falling through the dark.

Winter break was only a week and a half away, and that marked the end of the grading period. Next week was for taking the actual midterm tests in every class, so his choices were complete this homework and hope to get a B, or not complete this homework and be sure to get a C -- or lower, because Devon's brain and math don't seem to get along that well.

bowlerhatbadass: i just got done making ur mom shout my name, didn't u hear it XD

Devon rolled his eyes. He liked Jake. He did. In fact, he liked Jake. And that was all the more reason why the MILF jokes made his stomach twist. The longer he waited to respond the worse it would get.

snitch96: shut up
snitch96: I'm doing my homework
bowlerhatbadass: ha knew u were there XD
bowlerhatbadass: want 2 come over?

Yes. Devon and Jake spent almost all day every day together. They had math and history class together and choir -- which in itself took up a lot of extra time, especially for special performances like the upcoming holiday concert -- not to mention that Jake was always asking (or just expecting) him to hang out. Choir was definitely Devon's favorite class on its own -- Jake and his ridiculous bowler hat and snub nose and fantastic calf muscles were all bonus.

snitch96: no
snitch96: I mean I can't
snitch96: have to finish this. the only class I for sure have an A in is choir and I got a C- on our last history paper, so . . . .
bowlerhatbadass: so Pulitzer's a dick 8==D
snitch96: exactly, so I have to do this
bowlerhatbadass: so do it here
snitch96: yeah, 'cause that's gonna happen

What was he going to do? Ask his mom for a ride to Jake's at 7 p.m. on a school night in the snow? Right. She knew as well as Devon did that he would never finish his homework at Jake's.

bowlerhatbadass: but devvvvonnnnnn i'm borrrrrrrrrrrrred DD:

Devon frowned at the number his graphing calculator produced. He had no idea why x = 6.2, but that's what the formula for the equation he'd entered gave him. He scratched down the answer and some figures that he hoped would meet Seitz's "show your work" requirement.

"Yeah, well, me too," Devon said out loud, moving on to the next question.

bowlerhatbadass: i'm glad ur doing good king wenslesauce

That made Devon smile. He'd really been hoping to get a feature part in the winter music program, and the fact that he made it into the same song with Jake was awesome. They weren't the leads or anything -- just basically backup singers -- but they'd had to audition for the spots. Medda had chosen them and a kid everybody called Specs, plus Ryan for the King Wenceslas part and Mike for the page's lines.

snitch96: me too
snitch96: and it's Wenceslas, dumbass
bowlerhatbadass: blink's a total ham tho
snitch96: haha yeah. but it works.
bowlerhatbadass: i like the stuff u added

Devon beamed. It was true that Ryan's a ham -- he played up the "monarch" bit to a ridiculous degree. He'd brought in a swirly purple robe and a plastic crown and made Mike wear a floppy hat he insisted was authentic for a medieval page. But it gave Devon the idea to add some choreography, and when he asked Medda, she was over the moon about it. It was just simple hands-on-shoulders, step- to-the-left barbershop stuff during page and monarch, forth they went / forth they went together and in his master's steps he trod / where the snow lay dinted, but she cooed and clapped at every rehearsal.

snitch96: thanks
snitch96: it's no big deal, really
bowlerhatbadass: its good tho
bowlerhatbadass: ansd at least its not what Jack and David have 2 do in baby its cold outside*
bowlerhatbadass: XD

Devon laughed out loud, algebra homework now completely forgotten.

snitch96: LOL right?
bowlerhatbadass: idk why medda gave them that part
bowlerhatbadass: david cant dance XD
snitch96: well, it's not like they're really dancing . . .
snitch96: it's more like cuddling
bowlerhatbadass: LMAO totally

At first David had balked at being cast as the "mouse" to Jack's "wolf," as the parts were marked in the score, but (as usual) after some from cajoling from Jack and a few practice runs, he'd melted right into the role. Medda had really only added a few foxtrot steps here and there to what seemed to be Jack's natural inclination to have his hands all over David.

bowlerhatbadass: bet jack loves it
bowlerhatbadass: one step closer to gettin dave to do the horizontal tango ];->
snitch96: dude
bowlerhatbadass: finally get all up and on it if u know what i mean
snitch96: DUDE
bowlerhatbadass: what? jacks wanted 2 tap that since freshman yr
snitch96: I KNOW but you're scorching my BRAIN!
snitch96: nobody needs to see that
bowlerhatbadass: LMAO
bowlerhatbadass: ur right
bowlerhatbadass: guess i shld take that camera out of the practice room then XD
snitch96: you're gross
bowlerhatbadass: whatever u love me
snitch96: yeah right
bowlerhatbadass: yeah right :*

Devon bit his lip. Yeah, he thought. Right.

He had no idea what to say next. No idea whether, or to what degree, Jake was kidding. Whether Jake knew Devon had a crush on him. Or if -- it seemed possible -- Jake had a crush on him, too.

bowlerhatbadass: devvvvvvvvvvvvvvonnnnnnnnnnnnnn
bowlerhatbadass: u have 2 hang out w/ me
bowlerhatbadass: u know u want me

Devon's stomach did a funny flip-flop thing and he smiled. It was a chance to tell the truth, no consequences.

snitch96: yeah, I do
snitch96: so you should come here

Jake's reply wasn't immediate. Devon held his breath. Then the chat window flashed.

bowlerhatbadass: i AM here
bowlerhatbadass: LOOK

A snowball splattered against the pane of his bedroom window.

Devon clambered out of his chair and onto his desk, knees scattering his algebra homework. His chest pounded as he cupped his hands to the glass and peered out in the dark.

Sure enough, there was Jake in his winter coat, bowler hat, and a scarf, leaning against the old red Buick and grinning up at him. He waved the glowing screen of his phone at Devon.

Devon skittered off his desk, papers and graphing calculator sliding to the floor.

snitch96: YOU DIDN"T TELL ME
bowlerhatbadass: LOL
bowlerhatbadass: took it today, after school
bowlerhatbadass: get down here

Devon danced in a happy circle then bolted for the door, tripping over his algebra book on the way. In seconds he was downstairs, shoving on shoes, grabbing his coat, and shouting to his mom he'd be back in an hour.

Jake crowed into the neighborhood night as Devon barreled toward him. He clutched the shoulders of Jake's coat and whirled him, laughing, in circle. Jake's nose and cheeks were ruddy with cold, his eyes bright below his bowler brim, and Devon kissed him. Right there, against the Buick, in the falling snow.

They beamed at each other for a couple seconds, breath steaming in the cold.

"So, do you want to take a ride, or what?" Jake squeezed Devon's hands where they still gripped his coat.

"Dude, of course." Devon let go, twirling away and half-dancing his way to the passenger's side. But as he lifted the door handle, he caught a glimpse of his bedroom window, glow from his computer monitor like a beacon in the dark. His shoulders fell. "Crap. What about my math homework? I have one whole problem left."

Jake wagged his head at him over the roof of the car, smiling like Devon should know better. "I've already done it, dumbass. I'm good at math, remember? Just copy mine," he said with a shrug before stooping into the car.

Heart full and heady with freedom, Devon peered up at the falling snow, but Jake pounded on the roof of the car. "Come on!" came his muffled shout, just before he cranked the engine. Devon scooted into the car with a grin that only grew wider when Jake leaned over to peck Devon on the mouth as he turned to back down the driveway.

*Yeah, I know there was that whole Kurt/Blaine "Baby It's Cold Outside" thing in Glee. But I didn't know about that when I got this idea, and I was too married to my Javidy moment to let it go. And my version is a lot more handsy!