In an unusual burst of good luck, spring break coincided with the best weather of the year so far.
Of course, such good karma required some sort of balance, and because of this, Dutchy was sitting on a swing on his own, not-so-happily taking one for the proverbial team. Because of the perverse nature of the universe, he had managed to escape school without any homework over the break (well, except for sketching a moving person for his art class, but he could do that easily), which should have meant he could spend the whole week doing unspeakable things with his boyfriend, were it not for the fact that he'd just broken up with the aforementioned boyfriend.
He pushed off in the dirt, swinging back and forth lethargically. He didn't actually want to be here, but anywhere more popular with high school kids held the chance of running into him, and if he stayed at home, his parents were sure to quiz him about what was wrong.
Dutchy sighed, swinging higher. The first warm day of the year, and anything I do outside makes me think of him, he thought to himself. There, in the grassy hill in front of the bandstand, he and Specs had gone to an open-air concert and just as the band had been finishing, the last echoes of their finale floating around the park, the brunet had leaned over and hesitantly kissed him.
"Fuck this," Dutchy muttered, shutting his eyes and trying to shut out the memories by swinging harder. It was easier said than done, because there were too many of them, memories from everywhere in the park because it had been their favourite place to spend the day just laying around and doing nothing but enjoying each other's company. Why he'd chosen this, of all places, to come and sulk Dutchy didn't know, unless of course he secretly had a masochistic side that he'd never even realized.
He was so intent on swinging and forgetting that he didn’t realize anyone else was around until he heard someone clear his throat. He opened his eyes and looked up, to see the grinning face of Bumlets, one of his other friends.
"Looks like you're having fun," the Spanish boy commented lightly. "D'you mind if I use this?" He held out a small sketchbook as explanation. "For the project, I mean." Bumlets was in Dutchy's art class, and was obviously more intent on it than he was, if he was about to get started on the sketch on the first day of their break.
Dutchy shrugged. "Sure," he said flatly, resuming his swinging. Bumlets sat himself down out of reach of the blond's feet and opened the sketchbook to a blank page. Soon, the only sounds were the faint sounds of Bumlets' pencil on the paper and the robins that chirped in the trees.
After a moment, the dark-haired boy broke the silence, asking, "So why are you out here, instead of with James? I figured the two of you would be attached at the lips all week." He glanced up at Dutchy, then added, "Don't say anything if you don't want me to know."
Abruptly, Dutchy dug his feet into the sand, halting his swinging. "Doesn't matter," he said. "Specs is just--" He stopped, not having any idea how to go on. Specs was just what? Just perfect for him, just one of his best friends, just a lying bastard? He shook his head. "Just fine on his own for a week," he finished lamely, knowing even as he said it that the excuse wasn't good enough.
Sure enough, Bumlets looked up from the slightly smudged page on his lap, raising an eyebrow. "'Just fine on his own for a week'?" he repeated incredulously. Then, he tapped his chin with his pencil. "Maybe. But are you gonna be 'just fine' on your own for a week?"
The blond swore mentally. Sometimes, he liked the way Bumlets could seem to read minds, but right now, he was cursing the fact that the other boy could read his friends like books. "Yeah." He gave Bumlets a look that hopefully conveyed just the right amount of disbelief and scorn, tempered with a tiny bit of thanks for the concern. "He's just a guy, Bumlets."
For a moment, Bumlets just looked at his friend, staring at him as if memorizing the way his hair fell into his eyes and the way his foot was drawing tiny circles in the sand. Then, the Spanish boy put aside his half-finished sketch and sat on the swing beside Dutchy. "That's not what you were saying a few months ago," he said quietly.
Dutchy looked away. "Well, things change," he replied, starting to swing again. "And I guess some people decide that one of the things that should change is blond hair for brown," he added bitterly.
He was expecting something, an ‘I'm sorry, Dutch,’ at least. God knew he'd gotten enough sympathetic looks from the handful of people who already knew. When nothing came, he risked a look over at the other boy.
Bumlets was staring intently at the ground, gnawing thoughtfully on his lower lip, the way he sometimes did in class. It was his focussed look, the on that meant anyone that wanted to talk to him was going to have to literally yank the sketchpad out from under his nose before he'd so much as notice that there were other people in the world besides him.
For a moment, Dutchy wondered when he'd learned so much about his dark-haired friend. Then, the Spanish boy, apparently in response to a private thought of his own, shook his head and looked up. "Come on," he said, shattering any illusions Dutchy had had of a comforting pat on the back or an apology. Somehow, though, Bumlets' smile and outstretched hand was even better than the sympathetic looks his other friends had been giving him.
Grinning for the first time in what felt like too long, Dutchy accepted his friend's hand and let himself be pulled towards the jungle gym.
Sitting on top of the monkey bars, with his feet dangling in the air, Dutchy finally asked, "So, why, anyway?"
Bumlets had been staring into space, doodling nonsense lines and whirls on a blank page in his sketchbook. He blinked slowly, brought back to earth, and looked over at the blond. "Why what?" he replied.
"Why're you here? Why are you cheering me up? Why am I asking you so many questions?"
"You sound like one of those bad health insurance commercials," Bumlets informed him, poking him gently with his pencil. "I'm here because I wanted to try and sketch the soccer game"--he gestured towards the soccer field, where a group of boys was playing--"I'm cheering you up because you're my friend, and you're asking me so many questions because you're intolerably nosy. How's that?"
Dutchy made a noncommittal noise and moved to the edge of the monkey bars, flipping over to hang upside down. After a moment, Bumlets moved over as well, hanging beside him. "World look any better this way?" he asked, grinning.
Dutchy couldn't help but grin back. "Naw," he replied, ignoring the flutter in his chest. Bumlets was much closer than he'd ever been before, and something about the way his dark hair flopped around his face, spilling out from under the bandana he always wore, made Dutchy's pulse beat hard in his ears...though, thinking about it, that might have been the fact that the blood was rushing to his head.
It had to have been the blood rushing to my head, he thought to himself, hauling his body back to an upright position and closing his eyes as his head swum dizzily.
"You okay?" Bumlets asked, pulling himself upright as well. He reached out a careful hand, resting it on Dutchy's shoulder.
The blond opened his eyes, startled to find the other boy that close to him, and instinctively jumped back. It was only Bumlets' grip on him that kept him atop the metal bars, though there was a moment where it looked like they would both go tumbling to the ground.
Dutchy laughed shakily. "Sorry. Um. Just got up too fast," he said. He could still feel his heartbeat pounding against his eardrums, and this time he knew he had no real excuse.
Except that Bumlets' face was less than an inch from his own, and he could feel the other boy's breath against his lips. Dutchy's eyes darted down to the Spanish boy's mouth, then back up to his eyes, which looked...hopeful? Something about them sent Dutchy's head whirling again, and thinking in straight lines suddenly seemed much too hard. He felt like one of the spirals in Bumlets' sketchbook: doubling back on himself, going in circles without ever retracing his path. Bright noon sun instead of moonlight, and a black bandana instead of a backwards baseball cap, but the same almostsick feeling of leaping and flying.
Dutchy wasn't sure if he leaned in or Bumlets did, but in the next second, their lips were together, and he thought he could feel himself slipping off the monkey bars, but he didn't want to move. Moving meant thinking, meant acknowledging what was happening and, most of all, meant trying to talk about it in words that were never, ever enough.
An unknown length of time later, though, Bumlets pulled back, shifting to a more comfortable position of the cold metal. Dutchy could feel his face flush, and he looked away, staring down. He caught sight of Bumlets' sketchbook, laying where it had fallen, open to the picture the other boy had started of Dutchy on the swings. The smooth, careful lines, the hint of a flash off of glasses lens--he'd have to ask the Spanish boy how he managed to capture that with a pencil and eraser--the flow of hair, back and carefree; Dutchy studied it all as best he could from that distance, waiting for Bumlets to say something, anything.
Moments passed, and still the silence stretched out. Finally, Dutchy gave up and looked up, meeting the other's eyes. Bumlets was smiling, that usual, carefree grin he had. "Dutchy," he said quietly. That was all. Just his nickname. Then, "Kyle. This isn't--it doesn’t have anything to do with James, does it?"
Dutchy felt himself blush harder at that. Specs rarely, if ever, used his real name. It was a joke between them, and suddenly, Dutchy wondered what else had been a joke. "Um," he started, but he never got to finish, as Bumlets reached up, placing a hand gently at the base of his neck, and pulled him in for a deeper kiss. When they broke this time, Dutchy was the one who grinned. "James who?" he asked slyly. His spring break was definitely starting to look up.