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"The sum of x is equal to..."

Michael let the voice of his Math teacher wash over him as he stared out of the window. The sky was blue, with wisps of clouds floating along, pushed by the breezy winds of March. The crocuses had taken over the grassy banks lining the streets. Michael sighed to himself. It was the perfect first day of spring, and he was stuck inside trying to understand algebra.

A sudden punch to the shoulder was however enough to knock him out of his daydreams. He looked up to see Tony standing over him, carrying his books and looking exasperated.

"Michael, could you please hear the bell when you decide to daydream? Come on, lesson's over."

Michael gathered his things and quickly followed Race out of the room. They fought their way through the crowd to Tony's locker, their usual haunt between lessons. Michael watched, amused, as Tony paid homage to the pictures he had stuck up of the bands he considered the greatest thing since sliced bread.

"Tony, how do you even know who half of these bands are? They're decades old!"

"These aren't mere bands! They're legends! Preserved with the greatness of their musical talents! They should be worshipped, and idolised for cent...."

Tony's voice faded into the background as Michael glanced up and spotted the flash of blonde hair that had had him hypnotised ever since he first laid eyes on the owner. Michael's heart melted as he watched the jock walking along the corridor, talking to his friends. His eyes took in every detail from the way his shirt fell loosely over his chest, to the trademark eye patch he wore. Michael almost fainted when the boy of his dreams looked his way, and shot that heart stopping grin in his direction. However, the shock was short lived, as a brunette girl ran towards the blonde haired wonder from behind Michael, and embraced him.

Michael stood there, crushed after his hopes had been raised. He didn't notice the sympathy Tony was sending him until he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"Come on. Don't get too obsessed. Ryan's straight. You know better than to fall in love like this. That's how Simon hurt you last time. Tell you what: I'll buy you an ice cream after school, and maybe we'll find a nice guy serving it for you to ask out" Tony was used to Michael going for the wrong guys, but was worried because he'd never seen him so infatuated before.

"Uhm yeah. Ice cream sounds nice." Michael tried to force a smile to his face for Tony's sake, and said goodbye before heading to History.

Taking his seat, he glanced over at where Ryan sat, joking with his friends. As the teacher walked into the room, the class quieted down, and Michael turned his atttention back to the front.

"Ok. Today, class, I'm going to put you in pairs to do an assignment. Now, we've been starting to study the American Civil War. I want you to research it, and find out more. I'm expecting at least 2000 words from you, and a short class presentation at the end. Right then. Adam Archers with....Arthur Prefect. Ryan Ballat with....Michael Meyers."

Michael sat up straight in his chair, shocked, and unsure he'd heard the teacher correct. However, it only took a glance in Ryan's direction to confirm that he hadn't been daydreaming again. Ryan was watching him, and noticing that Michael was looking over, Ryan nodded at him, and smiled. Michael managed a shy smile in return, and spent the rest of the lesson in a slight daze while the teacher went through everything that needed to be in the assignment.

"Its almost like someone is working against me! The one guy I know I can't have, and now I have to spend a lot of time with him. Someone up there has a twisted sense of humour." Michael was sitting in Tibby's ice cream parlour with Tony, moaning about the last class while devouring a chocolate sundae. Tony just sat and nodded, letting Michael's storm blow itself out as it so often did.

"Hey. Can I sit down?" Michael and Tony's heads shot up, to see Ryan standing there, looking awkward.

Noticing Michael's gawp, Tony kicked him under the table while saying, "sure. No one's stopping you."

"Thanks," Ryan sat down at the table, ignoring the comments his friends were shouting over. "So, about this project, where should we meet to get started on it?"

Michael seemed to suddenly notice he was expected to speak, rather than just sit there looking like a moron. "Erm..well, we could always go to the library..." This seemed like the most sensible suggestion to him, and guaranteed not to make him look like a loser.

"Well, I don't think that would work. I got banned from there when Jack decided that he didn't like the silence rule. The librarian didn't like his protests, and so banned him and everyone who was with him at the time. I still hit him about it every time I need to go in the library." Ryan looked halfway between amused and sheepish.

"...ok then...how about my house? I can get the books beforehand, and we can study there."

"Ok. Sounds like a plan. What time should I come round?"

"Erm..about 6 would be alright."

"Cool."

Ryan and Michael sat there, watching each other, after this very awkward and rigid conversation. Eventually, Tony's cough was enough to make Ryan break the silence.

"Erm I should be going...yeah...I'll see you later." With this, he left, Michael and Tony watching him.

"Well...that was strange," Tony stated. Michael was still staring.

Michael was in his room when he heard the doorbell ring. He went to move, but heard his sister running for it and flopped back down on the bed. It wasn't long, though, before he heard his sister shouting at him.

"Michael! You've got a visitor! Michael!" Hannah shouted up the stairs.

"I'm coming already!" Michael shouted down to her, knowing she wouldn't shut up otherwise.

As he walked toward the door, he noticed that Hannah was still standing there.

"Oi shrimp. Who are you bugging this time?" Michael pushed her lightly out of the way, and looking through the door found himself face to face with Ryan. His jaw dropped, and he forgot how to form a sentence.

"Erm...hi. You said I should come round about six?" Ryan looked uncomfortable

Michael just looked at him blankly.

"For the History project?"

"Oh right! That! Yeah sure. Come on in." Michael moved aside to let Ryan in, after shooing Hannah away with a look.

Michael led the way through into the living room where he'd left the books, and sat on the couch. Ryan sat next to him, causing Michael to go slightly hot.

"Uhm so... the civil war..." Michael pulled the books towards him.

"Yeah civil war...so what happened in it?" Ryan turned to Michael, fixing him with his beautiful eyes.

Michaels mouth went dry. "Uhm well the south didn't like some stuff, and stuff happened."

Ryan smiled at Michael's stuttering. "Its so cute when you do that"

"What?" Michael looked at Ryan unable to believe his ears

Ryan suddenly realised what he'd said, and turned red "Uhm nothing! I mean....uhm" He pulled a book open and became very interested in it.

"So the civil war was basically about the south not wanting slaves of the liberation?" Ryan said looking back up towards Michael.

Michael smiled as he realised that Ryan was nervous, "I think you mean liberation of slaves."

"Er Yes. I meant that. I don't know why it came out wrong."

"Ryan. Are you ok? You seem nervous." Michael looked concerned.

"Me nervous? Why would I be?" Ryan's voice took on a little squeak.

Michael just raised an eyebrow.

"Ok its just that you're really nice, and I suddenly noticed that you're actually kinda erm...." Ryan stopped midsentence, seemed to come to a decision mentally, and moving his face towards Michaels connected their lips.

Michaels eyes went wide, shocked that this wasn't actually a dream. Then he closed his eyes and kissed Ryan back. They stayed like that for what seemed like forever, until Ryan suddenly jumped up like he'd been electrocuted.

"Erm, I should go. I'm really sorry."

Michael watched as Ryan walked backwards out of the room, then turned and practically fled from the house.

Michael didn't see Ryan much over the next few days. They sat in silence, each writing a few lines of the presentation, during History, but neither of them spoke about what had happened that night. Michael was finding it very difficult to follow Tony's advice of not getting too involved.

Walking home from the park however, Michael found he had some unexpected company.

"Hiya Fag."

"Where's your boyfriend Fag?"

Oscar and Morris Delancy, the school morons, had decided to harass him on this beautiful sunny day, thus spoiling it.

Michael ignored them as they flanked his sides.

"Are you ignoring us? Don't you want us as your dates tonight, you Queer?"

"Seeing as your boyfriend isn't here, we thought we'd have some fun with you."

Morris suddenly stepped in front of Michael, blocking his path.

"Didn't your mother ever tell you its rude to ignore your superiors?"

Michael stopped, and stared at Morris. He bit his lip. No way was he going to say anything to these two.

Morris pushed him backwards into Oscar. Oscar then pushed him forward, where Morris's fist was waiting. It landed across Michael's cheek, stunning him. He tried to run, not wanting to get caught in a fight especially when it was two against one. However, Oscar had other ideas. He caught Michael around the waist, and picked him up. Carrying him the short distance, he threw him into the duckpond.

The two brothers ran away laughing, as Michael came up splashing and spluttering. Luckily it wasn't deep and he was able to find his footing. Wading to the side, Michael was surprised to see a hand waiting to pull him out. He grabbed it, and allowed himself to be tugged out of the brown murky water. Looking up, he was shocked to see a familiar blonde haired face.

"Are you ok? I saw those idiots throw you in. I'm sorry I couldn't get out to help you earlier," Ryan said, taking off his jacket and putting it around Michaels shoulders, since he was starting to shiver. Michael noticed that Ryan was staring at his chest, and looked down to see that his white school shirt had gone see-through.

Ryan and Michael both blushed about this, and were suddenly very interested in their shoes.

"Thanks for helping me out of the pond," Michael said to the dirt he was currently disturbing with his shoe.

"No problem..." An awkward silence followed, with the boys both studying various parts of the surrounding scenery. An unspoken agreement that they needed to talk floated in the air, but neither one seemed willing to start.

"Erm do you wanna go sit down?" Ryan led the way over to the childrens playground, and they sat on the swings.

"Listen. about the other day: I'm sorry. I shouldn't have bolted like that. I was just so confused. You were just right there, and your lips looked so...I wanted you. It felt like I needed you. But I'm straight!"

Michael held his finger up to Ryan's mouth causing it to stop moving. "Ryan, you're babbling."

Ryan looked sheepish yet again, and ducked his head. "You're just so....beautiful...."

Michael looked startled, and shocked. "Listen. You're straight. I know you are. Don't play tricks on me, Ryan. I really really like you, but I don't want to get hurt so that you and your friends can have some fun."

Michael pulled back. He knew how the story went. Make the gay guy fall in love with you, and then crush his hopes. He got up to go. "I'll see you later, Ryan"

Ryan grabbed Michael's arm, causing him to turn. When he did, Michael saw a mixture of emotions within those blue eyes. Confusion, and sadness, as well as longing and lust. A tug on his arms brought his face down towards Ryan's. Their lips locked, Ryan giving Michael one of the tenderest kisses he knew. When they broke apart, Ryan fixed Michael with a heart melting honest and innocent gaze. "I'm not joking, and I would never hurt you."

With that, he pulled him into another, more passionate kiss, which Michael returned.

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