Picture Me And You

Chapter 5

I should have paid more attention to Rory's email when I saw his name pop up on my computer tonight.

I should have answered him right away. It had been two or three days since our last date, and I was sure that he was already thinking that he had done something wrong. He wrote to me a few times with no response. The overall 'tone' of his emails was changing. Becoming a little bit darker. I could practically feel the worry in them increasing as time went on. Rory was so expressive in everything that he did. Like every last word came straight from the bottom of his heart. It was nearly impossible for him to hide what he was feeling from me...even when it was just text on a screen.

Instead of letting this sudden flare up of random stupidity pull on my emotional strings...I should have just talked to Rory myself. Maybe then, my thoughts would have untangled themselves to the point where I didn't feel so 'sick' inside anymore.

But I didn't talk to him. I chickened out like the gutless coward I am. I read his emails to me and gazed at his text based smiley face in an otherwise short message. And all I could think about was how much he probably didn't mean a word of it anymore. How he was just being nice. Or how...if he didn't love me as much as he said he did...I'd surely push him over the line and into the negative by doing something as stupid as asking him outright. I'd look weak. Whiny. Desperate. I didn't want that.

Don't get me wrong, I WANTED to believe. I really did. I didn't have any real reason to doubt Rory's affection. At least not because of anything that he did. But the more I thought about how awesome he was....how unnaturally gorgeous he was...and how he was everything that I could ever want in a boyfriend...hell, everything that I could ever want in another human being period, for that matter...the more I realized how fake this whole situation felt. Just....fake.

I idolized his surreal beauty, inside and out, and I just knew that he had absolutely NO reason to love me back the same way. No reason at all. No reason to actually need me the way that I needed him. Is that crazy? Like, completely bananas, or what? Even to ME, it sounds silly. But that didn't stop it from feeling like it was one hundred percent true. There's nothing worse than KNOWING that you're being a jackass, and yet not having that very concrete logic affect your gloomy feelings in any substantial way. I felt so helpless against it. That doubt. That heavy dosage of poison to my self esteem and my very concept of reality.

If Rory and I broke up tomorrow...what happens to us individually? Rory? He takes three steps outside of his house...and fifteen other gay boys who are cuter, smarter, and sexier, than I could EVER be...fall all over themselves to get a shot at being with him for just one night. But what about me? I just...fade into this abyss of loneliness and despair. Trying to find the energy it takes to secretly stalk him from behind bushes and around corners...maybe getting a peek at him and his amazing new boyfriend through the tears before crying myself to sleep for the next ten to twenty years of my miserable existence. It hardly seemed fair.

I don't know...Jason and Kyle...maybe they've got a point, you know? Maybe this whole relationship is a bit too much for me to handle on my first time out. I've never been in love before. I've never felt this way about anybody before. I can't even put the words together to talk to him half the time, much less say something sweet or romantic. I can barely look him in the eye, I blush to the point of feeling faint whenever he pays me a compliment, and the very idea of actually being sexual with him is, to put it lightly, TERRIFYING to me! It just feels like everything that I could possibly do or say to please him would come out backwards and wrong. Like...he'd get more of a kick out of laughing at my lame attempts to date him than he would actually going for a mutual relationship in all this. Hard as I try...I just can't see a boy like that seeing me as being anything more than a cute little 'pet' to him. Something to make him smile every now and then while he looks for a better set of options. God...why am I torturing myself like this? I could really do without these thoughts. This pointless paranoia is killing me.

I was still staring at my computer screen.

My fingers were resting on the keyboard...but I didn't have the nerve to start writing anything. There's some kind of rock solid barricade between the thoughts in my head and the contraction needed in the muscles of my fingers to type something legible. Something sweet. No matter what I say...it's going to be wrong. Totally wrong.

Jason was right. I'm such a 'virgin' at this. This is stupid. I should just...be friendly. There's nothing wrong with being friendly, right? We've always joked around and had a good time before. Being friendly is ok.

But...there's this stupid sense of pressure there now where it wasn't before. Because now I'm wondering if Rory is waiting for me to make a move on him or not. Like....like.....does he WANT me to be sexy with him right now? Is he sitting back, waiting for me to make him feel wanted and loved and beautiful? Is he getting impatient with my lack of intimacy? Does he think that I'm totally lame for not being stronger and a bit more sexually aggressive with him? What if he's thinking, 'God...why doesn't Kevin just pin me down and take me already? God, what a geek!'?

Then again...what if I say something sexual to him, and I frighten him away? Like, if I mention something naughty to him and he just cuts me off and stops talking to me altogether for being a pervert? I'll be crushed. Totally crushed. I don't want him to think I'm one of those boys he hates to be around. So what do I do? Does he want me to take the initiative or does he want me to leave him the hell alone? Why isn't there a TEXTBOOK for this kind of confusing bullshit??? I HATE always having to guess at this stuff!

If he's just totally happy with the way things are going now, I don't wanna screw it up and have him reject me for being a hormone crazy deviate.

Not that....the idea of licking that delicious body of his from head to toe hasn't crossed my mind. Because it has. Um....like a lot. I don't think I've closed my eyes once without actually seeing it in my mind's eye. I want him. I really really want him. But I really want a million dollars too. I don't know how to go about getting either one.

Great...so I can either be a lackluster wimp of a boyfriend....or a lustful predator who's just using him for his body and nothing else. Something I know he HATES...because he's told me so. Those are my choices. Both of them with potentially bad outcomes.

So...with my emotions trying to take sides in this matter, and me ending up with a complete stalemate on which one would best suit this situation and make me look like less of a creep...I ended up just leaving the email blank. I didn't send him anything at all. I just...I tried to take as much pleasure as I could out of this stupid, intangible, internet smile. Two finger strokes on a keyboard. Nothing more. Maybe it's more than I deserve at this point.

Maybe it's all I can handle.


I shut my computer down for the night, feeling guilty for not saying something when I had the guts to do so. I just wanted the email to go away. I wanted the choices to go away. I hope he doesn't put too much thought into my silence. I can write him back when this feeling of worthlessness goes away. I swear, I will.

Deep down? I think I was jealous. Is that weird? I was jealous of the fact that he could just...walk away at any moment and not miss me at all. I wanted to stand on equal ground. I wanted to have a bargaining chip in this game of ours, just in case things went sour between us. I wouldn't have to be the 'pathetic' one in the break-up if it happened. Call it a bittersweet dose of testosterone, but I felt really insecure about being with someone who could easily wake up one morning and just decide that he could do better. It's just an unsettling feeling to live with, you know?

I felt guilty about it all night long. I tossed and turned in my sleep. Was he thinking about me? Part of me hoped that he wasn't...because I was being a jerk and he didn't deserve to be hurt like that. But another part of me would be severely hurt if he wasn't thinking about me. If he had just written me off as a highly unimportant part of his day that wasn't worthy of his attention. I don't know which one was worse....the guilt or the rejection. Maybe a mixture of both. Whatever it was...it didn't let me sleep too well that night. Hardly a wink, to be honest.

The next day, I think I went over to Kyle's house just to keep from going home. It was a procrastination tactic on my part, where I could honestly say that I wasn't home to receive any phone calls or emails from Rory, trying to find out where the heck I was and why I hadn't answered him yet. Jason showed up as always, and took over Kyle's room and game system like he usually did whenever he was around. They could instantly tell that I was being unnaturally quiet again.

"What's with you today?" Kyle asked. I saw Jason give me the most...I dunno...it was like this look of 'disgust', but not quite. It was more like...envy. Seriously. I don't even know where it came from.

"Nothing." I said. But it didn't change Jason's look at all as he lightly rolled his eyes. Not only was I with the hottest boy he had ever laid eyes on, but even his 'idol', Kyle, was giving me full credit for it. It must have sucked for him. Hehehe, you know, I was kinda glad. GOOD! Maybe NOW he knows how it felt to be me all those days when I had to listen to the both of them go on and on and ON about boys that I could never have. He's got a lot of nerve, being on the other side of the coin and actually being a sore loser about it. Psh!

"Have you heard from him yet?" Kyle asked with a grin.

I heard Jason grunt slightly, and he spun around in his chair to face the TV as he started playing video games again.

I said, "Yeah. He wrote to me last night. We uh...we talk a lot." Should I be proud? I wasn't trying to brag. Honest, I wasn't. I just...I was happy to have somebody. You know? Even though I didn't know what to do with him at the moment. "Rory always gets online at a certain time of night. If we can get away from our parents for a while, we'll call each other. Just to hear each other's voice, you know?" I said.

Jason grunted again, and this time he cleared his throat really loud and turned up the volume on the TV so he wouldn't have to hear me. Kyle gave me a weird grin at first, and then he snatched the remote away from Jason and turned the volume down again. "Dude, quit being a fucking brat. We're talking here." He said.

Jason was obviously frustrated. He said, "What does it matter? Who cares? So Kevin's got himself an actual boyfriend, so what? We could have boyfriends too if we wanted one." Omigod, he really DID envy me, didn't he? Whoah...this was something new to me. Soooooo out of character for him. "It's not official until he sleeps with him, anyway. Until then, you're just internet buddies. It doesn't count. Anybody can do that."

Kyle said, "Jason...what's wrong with you? Why do you have to be like that?"

I said, "No, it's ok. Whatever. I'm not even worried about him and his little shots at me. Me and Rory are fine."

"Gee, is that why you have to say his name every third sentence? Total showoff..." Jason pouted. I didn't even bother to argue with him. If anything, I was flattered. It never seemed to bother HIMwhen he was making me feel left out like a discarded chunk of garbage. Why should I care about his feelings now? If he's so hot and has so much luck with boys...then let him go find one of his own to keep. One of quality. *I* did.

"Dude, you are being such a whiny little bitch right now." Kyle told him.

"WHAT? I'm NOT!"

"Yes, you are! Be happy for Kevin. He was happy for you when you were getting some?"

"He's not even GETTING any. He's just Rory's pal. If they're not having sex, then they are 'FRIENDS', plain and simple. There's nothing impressive about that. I made friends in Kindergarten. Who wants to have a platonic boyfriend? That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. It's like having a steak dinner and then poisoning it so you can't eat it. It's totally useless..."

This time before Kyle could speak up for me, I spoke up for myself. "You know what? If you can't love someone or have them love you back with your clothes on, then I feel sorry for you. Rory and I might not be having sexual romps every time we lay eyes on each other, but being with him actually makes me feel something. Something that I'm betting YOU can't get from ten or twenty or a HUNDRED of the mindless puppets you sleep around with. He doesn't have to get naked to satisfy me. Just face it, Jason...there's more to a boyfriend than how hot he is between the sheets. Grow up, already."

Jason pouted even harder than before. And he turned around again in his chair, mumbling, "Whatever. I don't care. Just...maybe I don't want to hear about your super model boy toy all the time."

Aggravated, I replied, "Maybe me expressing how I feel about my boyfriend has NOTHING to do with you! Did you ever think of that?"

Kyle tried to diffuse the situation by putting a hand on my leg. "Come on guys. Let's not do this."

I told him, "I'm just saying...it's not MY fault that Jason has been judging people on a shallow scale of beauty instead of looking for what really matters. He's playing a game, and he's hooking up with people who are just as shallow and clueless about affection as he is because of it. Don't sit there and get sore and angry at me because I held out for something more special than a quick screw on a Saturday afternoon.."

"You think you're so much BETTER than everybody! Who CARES???" Jason shouted. I couldn't believe he was so upset. But he tossed his controller to the floor and put his shoes on. "Fuck this. I'm outta here. I've got shit to do anyways." The next thing I knew, he was stomping his way to the front door.

"Yikes." I said, hearing Jason slam the door on his way out.

Kyle shook his head, "Don't mind him, dude. Seriously, it's not you. I think he liked that Robin boy he was with a lot more than he let on. It's still kinda rubbing him raw on the inside, you know?"

"Oh. Well, I didn't know. Still...that's no reason for him to yell at me..."

"No, you're right. Totally. He'll get over it." Kyle told me. Then he's like, "You know...deep down, I think he wants to trade places with you. He wouldn't stop talking about 'how lucky Kevin is' last night. It frustrated the shit out of him, hehehe! I had to literally feed him something out of the pantry just to shut him up."

I was quiet for a moment. But then I told him, "Well...there were times when I wanted to be in his shoes too, you know? Both of you."

Kyle just smiled at me and said, "Hehehe, no you didn't. Trust me. I should have known that you weren't the 'fuck 'em and forget 'em' type. That whole spin the bottle routine isn't your thing. We just wanted you to get out and live a little, that's all. You were wasting away without having any fun. That's never a good thing." I had to admit that he was right. It would have been nice to have gotten laid as many times as they have. But what would it have meant to me once the sex was over? How would it even count where matters of the heart were concerned? Kyle saw me thinking and he asked, "So what's it like?"


"The whole...love bug thing. I can't say that it's ever really hit me before. Not the way it's hitting you, obviously."

I thought about it for a moment, and I said, "I don't know. It's...scary. Really scary."

"Scary? That's hardly the answer I was expecting."

"Well...I mean, it's like...you're completely giving somebody a position in your life where they can hurt you like you've never been hurt before. Where...just a few mean words from them is like taking a dagger in the heart. You never know whether or not someone is just going to get in a bad mood one day and totally shred you to pieces. You never know if they're just going to get bored with you and just...walk away. You're completely exposed. Unimaginably vulnerable. Like I said...'scary'. The more in love you are, the more you have to lose. It's worse when he's sooooo beautiful. It's like, I have to compete with the whole world just to keep his attention. It makes me nervous."

Kyle said, "That doesn't sound like a very happy feeling at all. And here I thought I was missing out."

"Well, that's just it. Even though it's terrifying to be so open...there's like...this thrill in it, you know? Like...you just know that you have access to this really amazing emotion, and it's sooo fragile and so rare...but you have it, you know? You, like...own it. Sure, you're always afraid to lose it forever, but it just makes you realize how blessed you are to have had it in the first place. You'd do anything to hold on to it. There's no light without it. No oxygen...."

There was a silence in the room. I think Kyle was expecting me to say more. I think I was expecting me to say more. But I started thinking of Rory's smile, and got stuck on the image. Kyle peeked around at my blank stare and smiled.

"Wow. Ok, so maybe it is a good thing."

"Yeah. It is." I asked him, "You've never felt that way before? You know, with one of the boys you've dated or asked out?"

He shook his head. "Nothing like that. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm not totally heartless or anything. I think they're fun. We talk, we go out...but it's just a good time. I don't know, maybe I'm not cut out for that kind of exposure."

"Sure you are. If you allow it to happen. Don't you want that? It certainly seems like Jason does."

"Jason is pouting because he was trying to get a trophy boyfriend to show off to the world instead of looking for somebody that actually made him happy. That's the problem with trophies...they're only painted gold. It's not the real thing. He's learning that the hard way." Kyle gave me a little shove, "Don't let the pipsqueak get under your skin. You know he loves ya just as much as I do."

"He still deserves a slap in the teeth for being an asshole." I grinned.

"You name the time and the place and I'll hold him still for you. In the meantime...go tell your boyf that you're feeling all gooey about him. Make him smile."

I don't know why this horrendous blush suddenly rushed up into my cheeks, but as I bashfully lowered my head with a giggle, Kyle reached over and tousled my hair for a moment before practically kicking me out of his house. Be open. That was my problem. I was so afraid to be open. I should just be forever thankful that I got so lucky. Then again, that can be easier said than done. It's like finding a 100 dollar bill on the sidewalk. It's good fortune, and you should just snatch it up and be happy...but there's a part of you that always looks around you. Always expecting a trick. A trap. Something about human nature puts a limit on just how much good fortune we're allowed all at one time. I can definitely say that Rory falls into that category. Accepting that is going to take some practice. I just hope that I'm up to it.

I decided to take Kyle's advice and write to Rory right away. Maybe even apologize for being so silly about all this. I know he feels self conscious about his looks. Geez, it still feels so weird to say that. But when I turned on my computer, I got an email with the most heartbreaking little frowny face in the subject line. Awwww....what happened?

I opened up the email, and all Rory said was, "Am I supposed to be taking a hint here?"

Oh no! Oh no, oh no, oh no! I waited too long! It's been days. Oh God, I hurt his feelings! I didn't mean to do that! I SWEAR I didn't! Shit...I'm gonna write him back right now. I hope he gets this before he decides to give up on me.

I said, "Aww, Rory...I'm soooo sorry. Please don't be mad. I know that it's been a while. I've just been..." I thought for a moment, and then typed out, "...Busy with homework and stuff. That's all. I got behind in my studies, so it was a pain trying to catch up." The last thing I wanted to do was make it feel like my absence was his fault. Just because he was....gorgeous. Sighhh...

I was going to write some more. I was going to end it with 'I love you'. But as my fingers hovered over my keyboard, I decided to just hit send instead. I'll see how he reacts first. That would be for the best, I think.

I waited for a reply, trying to distract myself with something else online. But not even a heavy dose of random YouTube weirdness could really occupy my mind for more than a few seconds before I began worrying about Rory again. What if he's actually mad at me? What if he feels abandoned and rejected, and he tosses my email in the trash before even reading it? Should I call him? Or would that be pushing things? How long has it been since I sent my email?

SIX MINUTES??? Oh God....that's bad, isn't it?

Then, just as the hysteria in my heart was reaching levels of a major meltdown...I saw my little email alert brighten up. My adrenaline spiked for a moment as I checked to make sure that it was Rory and not some bullshit junk mail. I'd be totally smashed inside if it had been a Spam mail from nobody. This would be the WORST time fucking ever for a stupid Spam mail to come through. Luckily...it was my sweetheart. And I tried to settle my nerves as best as I could while I opened it up.

It said, "I thought maybe you didn't want to talk to me anymore." Followed by another sad face.

At least we were talking. I loved that. I needed that.

I didn't bother to write another email. I picked up the phone and dialed his number immediately.

I didn't know what to say to him, or how to explain. But...I had to at least let him hear my voice. Sometimes just that can mean so much.

His phone was ringing. I don't doubt that he hesitated before picking it up. "Hey...." He said.

"Hi...." I said in response. Then there was an awkward pause between us before I just told him, "...I missed you, Rory."

Another pause. "Then...how come you didn't answer any of my mails?"

"No reason. It's stupid."

"I got...scared." He said. I could have sworn that I heard a light sniffle on his end of the line. Had he been crying? I couldn't really tell. "So you're not, like....'done' with me?"

"Done with you? God no. Are you kidding me?"

Even without him saying a word, I could already detect a hint of that magic smile blossoming on that beautiful face of his. I heard him sniffle again slightly, and he said, "Ok...so....new rule. You don't get to ignore me for more than 48 hours ever again. Ok? No matter how busy you are. If you I don't hear from you within that amount of time, you had better be in a coma. Deal?"

I giggled at the idea, and I told him, "Ok. Deal."

"Sighhhh...you should be ashamed of yourself for tweaking my nerves like that."

"Hehehe, I'd be ashamed of myself for thinking that I was all that important in the first place." I told him.

"Well....don't be. Ok?" Rory said. "You're...you're important to me, ok? Don't you dare vanish on me. You promised. Remember?"

"Yeah....I remember...." I said. It kinda made me smile a little bit. It was still kind of hard to believe this was happening to me. I said, "Were you really worried about me?"

Rory giggled in the cutest way. "Maybe. Just a little though."

"You love me don't you!" I blurted out, and it made him laugh out loud.

"Don't get ahead of yourself! I'm....sighhh.....I'm working on it. Hehehe!"

"Unh unh! You love me. You think I'm hot. I know you do. You won't admit it, but I know."

Rory playfully bit his lip, and with a blush, he said, "We'll see. Let's just say that I'm a sucker for whatever it is your selling me right now."

"You can have it free of charge. Promise." I replied, and we both took a quiet moment to get our fluttering butterflies to calm down a bit before saying anything more.

Then...Rory said, just above a whisper, "You scare me sometimes. You know that right?"

I said, "You scare me sometimes too. But I think that's a good thing. It wouldn't be the same if you didn't."

"Heh...yeah. I guess you're right." He sighed. "I can't wait to see you again. Maybe we can do something soon?"

"Yeah...I think...I think I'd like that. We'll make plans."

"Cool." He smiled. "Don't be a stranger, k?"

And I said, "I'll talk to you in 48 hours. Hehehe!"

He giggled, and told me that it was a date. Then he hung up the phone.

I should have said 'I love you' before he hung up. Right? I mean...did I retreat back into my shell again? I should stop that. Even though Jason was being a total asshole to me today...there was one thing that rang true. I was letting my fear of getting too close to Rory keep him at a distance from me. I should try to find a way to up the ante somehow. Get closer. More intimate. Let's be honest...it's not going to get any less frightening from here on out. And Rory is someone worth putting forth that extra effort. So why not?

Yeah! I can totally do this! He's a person just like anybody else. That's what he's been trying to tell me. I'm gonna...um...hmmmm....

Ok! I got it. I'm going to ask my dad for some money, and I'm gonna treat Rory to a decent date this weekend. And....and I'm gonna buy him a ROSE! Omigod, yes! There's a florist on Main Street somewhere. I don't know how much they cost or anything, but he's gonna flip when I bring it to him. I have to write this stuff down. I just need to find some place for us to go We've already been to the mall and to the movies...where else can I afford to go? I'll have to put some thought into this.

Oh man, this is going to be AWESOME! I'll show him that I can be a real boyfriend to him. Not just some internet 'pal'. It's time that romance took over, and guided me towards being his sweetheart. Hopefully, forever.