Author: Citizenjess PM
Virgil and Richie showcase their mastery of the art of avoidance. Slash.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Words: 5,648 - Reviews: 27 - Favs: 42 - Follows: 7 - Published: 09-11-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3149250
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Because I am fated to forever fall in love with nonexistant/dead fandoms, here is a "Static Shock" 'fic. Virgil/Richie, to be precise, because it is the Harry/Ron of Kids WB's Saturday morning line-up.
Summary: Virgil and Richie showcase their mastery of the art of avoidance. Likely the Richie-loves-Virgil-but-Virgil-is-confused motif is a common one, but here's take number four-thousand and thirty-eight on it, just for good measure. Rated PG-13.
He isn't completely sure how it first happened, though he remembers being a very active participant.
They were both in the air, close enough that their shoulders could almost touch; Ebon and the Meta-Breeds had been out painting the town red mere hours before, and Static and Gear had just gotten them locked up snugly until they figured out how to escape, again, and all too soon.
The night sky whizzed around the two heroes as they soared together, Static atop his disk, Gear gliding along on his skates. They rarely went home immediately after missions, the thrill of the chase, and the knowledge that Dakota was safe once again because of them kept the adrenaline pumping long past curfew. Occasionally, the two found themselves trading stories and barbs at their converted gas station. Mission nights left Virgil groggy in the morning, but relaying the details with Richie on the way to school the next morning, he knew he'd willingly do it again and again.
This particular night was different for some reason, though. The adrenaline rush was there, but it was more intoxicating, headier somehow. Shared glances at one another crackled with energy, and Gear lightly palming his shoulder through his costume to indicate that they should look for a place to touch down was enough to send shivers down Static's spine.
The face of the clock tower in the town's square was the most obvious destination. Gear's legs dangled over the edge of the rim as he perched in front of the 'six', pulling off his helmet with a refreshed sigh. "Two new bruises, one near concussion, and smudged boot rubber, courtesy of Hotstreak." He pumped his fist in a display of mock-bravado. "Another happening evening for Dakota's greatest superhero duo!"
Static pulled off his goggles and trademark mask, tossing them inside Gear's upturned helmet before sprawling next to his partner. His own injuries were even lighter, minor scrapes more than anything; often, Gear took the brunt of them in a fight, always watching Static's back. "Thanks for blocking Hothead," he grinned, patting Richie's leg casually, almost apologetically. "I'll make sure to return the favor."
Richie smiled. "What are friends for? I mean, besides telling everyone at school about how I was heroically battle scarred rescuing a kitten from a tree. In a rainstorm. In the dead of night. With merely the clothes on my back."
"That'll have the ladies crawling all over you," Virgil agreed, and then coughed. "Or, uh, you know, whoever."
And that was all he remembered of the specifics. He knows that one – or both – of them had sheepishly tried to change the subject from something as strange and uncharted as Richie's sexuality and that eventually it had failed. He remembers Richie seemingly very close to him all of the sudden, though not whether it was he who'd scooted nearer to the other boy or the other way around, just that his best friend's warm breath tickled his ear a little. He's pretty sure he'd asked Richie something about his preferences in guys, trying to show that he was 'cool' with it, whatever it was ("so what are you into, d'you think? Tall, dark and handsome? Super-muscled? Brainy? Does he have to look good in spandex?").
And - he's not one-hundred percent positive, but he's pretty sure Richie initiated it just to shut him up because he was rambling something awful – he remembers Richie's face next to his and their mouths connecting and lingering just long enough for it to really count as a full-on kiss. He remembers this really well, especially how Richie's normally expressive face went blank as Virgil jumped up and babbled an excuse for why he "really should get going"; then he'd zoomed off, hasty and shaky and confused.
It wasn't that Richie's coming out had been repulsive to Virgil, or even all that surprising. They'd always been close, more so than a lot of friends. Sharon had teased him about it more than once, sometimes harping on the fact that Richie was at the Hawkins' residence so often, he may as well just move in. Once, his dad had been in the room, and quieted her with one of his well-practiced, gentle-yet-stern expressions. "Give him a break," he'd rumbled softly. "Some people go their entire lives without a single enduring friendship. Virgil and Richie are very lucky in that regard."
Virgil had always secretly agreed. In some ways, he viewed his and Richie's meeting and bonding as fate, a quietly thoughtful plucking of the strings of destiny. It had happened shortly after his mom had been killed; brooding and angry at the world, Virgil had begun the ensuing school year getting into frequent fights on the playground, and generally trying to avoid communication with anyone else as much as possible. His grades were still good, though that was partially the product of his dad's keeping extra close tabs on his only son, particularly since the incident when he could slip away so easily, mired in his own pain. Also, it was easier not to talk to people with his head buried in a book.
He used to eat lunch under a sprawling oak tree when the weather allowed it, alone and shaded from the view of his peers, many of whom flitted to the various groups and cliques that would disband and reform numerous times in the upcoming years. The day he met Richie was different than most, because his usual spot was already, well, in use.
He recognized the kid, since they were in the same class. Richie Foley was even quieter than Virgil if it were at all possible, though whereas most people knew to leave him alone, Richie's oversized glasses and unruly cowlick made him easy bully fodder. Virgil didn't really care about him one way or the other, except that day, when he found Richie under his tree, cradling his arm and looking somehow even more miserable than Virgil felt those days. "W-what's up," he muttered as the other boy's shadow darkened the patch of grass even more.
Virgil blinked at him. "What's up is that you're in my spot," he said, glowering a little. His gaze softened as he watched Richie try to scramble up, putting pressure on what was apparently a sore or sprained wrist in his haste. "What happened?" he asked, compassion and curiosity getting the better of him in spite of himself.
Richie gazed downward, his cheeks flushing with embarrassment. "Some of the sixth graders cornered me before school and stole my lunch because I didn't have any money." He glanced at the other boy and nodded shortly. "I didn't know this was your spot. Sorry for sitting here. I'll leave you alone, now." He started to walk away.
"Hey, wait." Richie turned around, looking as surprised as Virgil that he was attempting to continue their conversation. "Who are those guys? Someone should have a talk with them, tell 'em to leave you alone." Virgil cracked his knuckles to emphasize his point.
Richie shook his head quickly. "It's okay. They don't bother me that much, and I don't want them to think I ratted them out. Nobody likes a tattle-tale."
"I guess," Virgil said gruffly. He looked down at the brown bag clenched in his fist and quickly made a decision. "You don't have to leave. And you can have part of my sandwich, since yours got stolen." Richie looked dubious, and Virgil reached into the sack and pulled out the turkey and cheese on wheat, his favorite. "My dad packed it, so it's good. I can't say the same for my sister's cooking." Richie finally cracked a smile, and after a moment, Virgil grinned, too. "Come on. I wouldn't mind the company, actually." They'd both sat down, and from then on, neither had ever eaten lunch at school alone since.
As they grew up, they fell into a comfortable pattern, Virgil standing up for Richie and simultaneously helping him to build up his own confidence, and Richie acting as the voice of reason. It was a good balance that kept them both out of a lot of tight spots. Virgil didn't have a mom; Richie had an emotionally unavailable dad. In a way, they almost needed each other.
And over time, they became close; interpreting one another's vocal inflections, body language and facial expressions was almost innate. And both knew that the other was always there, always ready to provide a friendly ear or a sympathetic shoulder. Virgil knew Richie almost better than he knew himself, and he was confident that that feeling was reciprocated.
They were fifteen when things started to get, well, weird – and after a gas leak that had turned them both into superheroes and two years of high school under their collective belts, 'weird' was only reserved for the truly bizarre, like why Richie suddenly began withdrawing from him. Virgil noticed it, in particular, whenever topics like girls, or sex, or romance came up. As a rapidly maturing teen, hormones – and acne, unfortunately – had hit him with a vengeance, and Richie was the most obvious and least embarrassing person to share it all with.
Unfortunately for him, Richie seemed, at best, completely uninterested, and at worst, flustered and avoidant when the conversation steered towards Daisy, or even the slightly more raunchy topics that guys their age indulged in. Virgil figured part of it was Richie's upbringing; his dad had obviously hoped for a son that shared his passion for gun collecting and football. What he got instead was Richie, sweet, sensitive, bookish Richie, who found guns as distasteful as Virgil did, and whose only interest in football was how to get out of it during P.E. class.
The gap between them had remained stagnant over the years, but was there nonetheless, and Virgil wouldn't have been surprised if the extent of Mr. Foley's sex-education discussions with his son had been to toss a box of condoms into his room and call it a day. At the very least, it was different than Virgil's own dad, who'd picked a night when his sister had been off volunteering at the Center for a telethon, and briefed his son carefully on all the things he felt he needed to know.
Of course, the rumors had started long before Virgil had known for sure. He'd ignored them all for the most part, Richie's and his dad's frequent admonishments that it was better to walk away from a fight if at all possible being the only thing to keep his fists at his sides at times. Sometimes, they implicated him, ever Richie's faithful 'buddy', but predominantly, the taunts and jeers were aimed at his best friend. Richie never acknowledged them, either in his own defense or when Virgil tried to bring it up. "Forget them, man. It's all bullshit, you know?" But Richie would just shrug noncommittally and refuse to talk about it anymore.
Sophomore Homecoming was nearing, and with it, the flurry of activity usually reserved for the seniors and their Prom. Love, or its melodramatic high school equivalent, was in the air, and Virgil was just one of the many students who'd caught the bug. "I'm pretty sure I'll ask Daisy," he said happily to Richie over lunch one day. "I was thinking I'd do something kind of goofy to get her attention, leave a note in her locker or something." He paused. "I wonder if I could get Adam to help me write a song for her. What do you think, man?"
Richie pushed his green beans around in his plate. "I think," he said after a moment, "that these are actually tiny, finger-sized aliens, bent on taking over the planet, one school lunch at a time."
"Come on," Virgil laughed, punching him lightly on the shoulder. "I'm being serious here for once."
Richie forced a quick smile. "I can see that. I don't know," he continued, "a song would definitely get her attention."
"Mmm." Virgil pushed his own tray (the green beans hidden underneath the soggy uneaten bun that his hamburger had come with) away and leaned forward. "So who are you gonna ask? We should go together; there's no way I'm gonna be able to endure three hours of bad pop music without you. Pops'll probably even spring for a limo." He trailed off and watched as Richie continued to poke listlessly at his food. "Richie!"
"Huh, oh, sorry. Um, I'm not sure. I don't even know if I'm going to go at all," he shrugged. "It's not really my thing."
"It's not mine, either, but it's a tradition. It'll be fun," Virgil enthused.
"Yeah," Richie said half-heartedly, but didn't appear to have changed his position on the idea.
Virgil sighed inwardly, and then tried again. "If it's the asking someone part that's got you freaked, I can lend a hand," he offered. "Like, you'd probably be way better at the love letter thing! With a little help from yours truly, we could turn you into a modern-day Cyrano de Burger – uh, de Bul … the dude with the really big schnoz we read about in Lit class."
"De Bergerac," Richie mumbled. "Really, V, you don't have to –"
"So that just leaves one question," Virgil continued brightly. "Who's the lucky lady?"
"I'm not sure," Richie hedged.
Virgil scoffed. "Come on, who do you like? I won't tell anyone, you know I'm good for it. Is it Frieda? Or Shanice? That cutie in Advanced Chem who asked to borrow your pencil the other day? Inquiring minds want to know, Foley," Virgil teased.
"Look, it's just not something I'm interested in right now, okay? Can we just drop it?" Richie demanded, his voice high with desperation. He was severely uncomfortable, and if Virgil had had time to think it through, he would have left the subject alone. As it was, impulsiveness got the better of him, and months of unanswered questions and unfinished thoughts burst from his mouth.
"Not interested in what, Richie?" he asked quietly. "The Homecoming dance, or girls?"
The atmosphere shifted dramatically in that moment. Richie's gaze shot up, his hurt expression unreadable, his eyes searing. "Neither, I guess," he replied simply. He gathered his tray, still adorned with green beans, his knuckles white as he clenched the sides. "I have to go." He turned and fairly ran in the opposite direction.
"Richie? Richie!" Virgil called after him, but he didn't even look back. He was absent in their next two shared classes, and Virgil may as well have been, the lump in his stomach keeping him plenty preoccupied. By the time sixth hour P.E. rolled around, he would probably have missed it if a school bus had burst through the doors and parked right in the middle of the gymnasium. He did, however, snap to attention when he overheard Richie's name in the midst of the usual locker room chatter.
"- Foley wasn't there." It was one of the jocks who always seemed to take special delight in sticking his foot out when Richie was walking by, or knocking his books out of his arms. Virgil gritted his teeth and tugged his shirt over his head.
"Good riddance. Kid couldn't run a touchdown if his life depended on it." The activity that day had been flag football, which Richie studiously avoided even on a normal day. Unfortunately, participation in the class was mandated, and Richie's near-perfect GPA wasn't about to suffer because he refused to run around in unflattering gym shorts for an hour.
"Fucking fag," the original jock muttered. It took all of Virgil's strength not to rush around to the other side of the row of lockers and start beating his face in. 'It's not true!' his mind screamed, the way it did every time he heard someone trashing his best friend. And suddenly, he was overwhelmed with guilt: he hadn't been able to accept that Richie was gay, had pretended and denied it and even almost convinced himself that it wasn't true, and now that Richie knew that he knew, he wanted nothing to do with him.
And that wasn't acceptable to Virgil. He and Richie had been through so much together, more than most people. And Richie was still Richie, gay or straight, meta-human or otherwise. He was still the guy Virgil could spend hours with at school and then want to spend the evenings with, banishing the baddies from the streets of Dakota. He was still the only guy Virgil knew who could both recite the first twenty-eight digits of Pi and also hold his own in a Star Wars trilogy (originals AND prequels) trivia contest. He was still Virgil's best friend, and that wasn't about to change anytime soon if he had anything to say about it.
He patrolled alone that night. The city was mostly quiet, and after nearly three hours of floating aimlessly overhead, he decided that Dakota could fend for itself for a while.
Most of the houses on Richie's block were dark, and the Foley residence was no exception. Even Richie's window, usually illuminated by the desk lamp he kept on while tackling his latest Static-related gadget or gizmo, was dark. Virgil gulped; what if Richie had run away or something?
He picked a small amount of pebbles off the ground, and then, carefully, lobbed the first couple at Richie's room. Enhanced by his powers, they made a slight crackling sound as they connected with the glass, not enough (hopefully) to wake the neighbors, but sufficient in getting Richie's attention.
Richie's cropped blond hair was sleep-mussed, and he fumbled with his glasses as he stared down. "Static," he greeted briefly. "What are you doing here?"
"I could ask you the same question." Virgil climbed aboard his disk and rose in the air until the two boys were at eye level, then pulled off his mask. "You weren't on patrol with me tonight, or at school."
"Yeah, I wasn't," Richie said flatly. "I figured you could handle schmoozing up the female population of Dakota without me."
Virgil shook his head. "Don't be like that, man. I know I was out of line earlier, and I'm sorry. It just … it surprised me, I guess. But, but it doesn't bother me, Richie, whether you're, you know. It really, really doesn't."
"Are you sure?" Richie said quietly, more vulnerable suddenly than Virgil could recall seeing him. The other boy reached out and clasped Richie's shoulder reassuringly.
"I'm positive," he said firmly. "You're my best friend, Richie. That isn't going to change, especially not because of this." He hesitated for a moment, and then, more quietly than before: "I love you, Richie."
Richie's face was warm, relieved. He looked down, then cleared his throat and grinned. "So tomorrow, what's say we go see Adam, and you can ask him about that song for Daisy?"
Virgil laughed, relieved that Richie was talking to him again. "That'll be tight. You think it's better than the letter in her locker idea, though?"
Richie snorted. "Yeah. I mean, no offense, Bro, but you'd make a crappy Cyrano de Bergerac."
Sharon's the first one to find out about 'them'. They're at Virgil's house when it happens, which is probably their biggest mistake; previously, all their fumblings and semi-romantic jaunts took place in their hideout, away from prying eyes and unwanted questions.
Virgil doesn't know when in his mind he went from being accepting of Richie's homosexuality and liking the fact that his best friend occasionally liked to make out with him. He's pretty sure that he didn't, that his brain is still stuck in limbo, which is why it's all the more awkward when they get caught by his older sister. To her benefit, she handles it well; the laundry she was bringing up to his room has to be refolded once it scatters all over the hallway, but Sharon herself is surprisingly calm, her eyes wide and her mouth simply forming an 'oh' as she closes the door with exaggerated care.
The same cannot be said for Richie, however. "Oh man, what have we done?" he moaned, jumping up from the bed where, only a moment ago, he had been half-straddling his best friend. His imprint was still in the covers, and he reached out to smooth them ineffectually, as if it would make a difference somehow.
Virgil's legs hung over the edge of the mattress. "Richie, man, just chill," he sighed, running a hand through his dreadlocks. "It's just Sharon, you know? I don't think she'll run out and alert the press or anything."
"No, but she'll tell your dad, and he'll probably mention it to my dad. And my dad will probably convince my mom that it's nothing a good reform school can't fix, and they'll send me away, and the food will suck and we'll never see each other and, and –"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, Richie, calm down, okay?" Virgil quickly stood and placed bracing hands on his shoulders, one of many fairly intimate gestures they had adapted as of late. This one was meant to comfort, and he was gratified to feel the shaking of Richie's shoulders quell for the most part. "I don't think my dad's going to say anything to your folks. And I don't think Sharon's going to run her mouth off, either. I – I'll talk to her, though," he said, sounding more confident than he felt. "Let her know that it's nothing, no big deal, just us fooling around. Okay?"
"Is that all it is, V?" Richie moved out of Virgil's grasp and turned away, his voice lower but still audible. "Is that what you think of it? Of us?"
"I …" Virgil trailed off. Of all the developments in their friendship as of late, the making out – because it had never gone any further than than that – was the one he thought about the least. Or rather, he thought about it plenty, but he still couldn't figure out how to explain it away, to himself or anyone else. And it made him uncomfortable, not knowing exactly where they stood. He was pretty sure he wasn't gay – almost positive, in fact. He liked girls, a lot, and they liked him.
But then there was Richie again, and Virgil liked him, too. Mostly, he liked that Richie was smart and funny and knew him better than anyone else, but he'd be lying if he said he didn't enjoy how it felt to kiss him. He liked how he could be both gentle and rough at the same time, and how Richie would give it back to him in kind. He liked pushing him down against a wall or the worn junkyard couch they'd found for the gas station and how Richie would clutch at his collar or roll over and pin him and grin triumphantly, making them both laugh. He liked the noises Richie made, so familiar and yet new and surprising at once.
He liked Richie, a lot. He didn't know why they couldn't just leave it at that.
"I asked you a question," Richie said quietly, reminding Virgil of the question he'd been trying to avoid for months now. He bit his lip.
"I … I don't know," he gestured helplessly. He managed to meet Richie's gaze, and then looked away quickly when he saw the hurt flickering in his eyes. "I don't know!" he fairly shouted again. "You want me to give you a definite answer about this, and I can't, because I can't even find one for myself. I just … I wish it didn't have to mean anything."
Richie was silent for several moments. When he spoke again, his voice was scratchy, as if he were holding back tears. "I wish it didn't mean anything to me," he whispered, and Virgil wanted to kick himself.
He found Sharon in the kitchen an hour or so later, Richie having hastily made an excuse why he had to get home. Their dad was staying late at the Center, and wasn't expected home for another couple of hours at least, and though Virgil seemed to be gaining quite a reputation as a connoisseur of ducking-and-running out of personal situations requiring his attention, it was time to nip this particular issue in the bud.
"Is there any casserole left?" he asked, watching Sharon fumble with the container holding the previous night's leftovers.
She nodded briefly and set it back down on the counter, then crossed to the sink. "Help yourself."
"Thanks." Virgil paused and collected his thoughts. "Look, Sis. What you saw just now … it wasn't … we didn't think you'd … I don't-"
"Virgil, you don't have to explain anything to me," Sharon cut him off, ringing the dish rag out with unnecessary force. She set to work feverishly scrubbing at the counter. "I get it."
"No, you don't," Virgil replied. "You can't possibly, because I don't even get it." He sighed. "I just know Richie's my best friend, and now I've screwed that up royally."
Sharon blinked. "How so?"
Virgil pulled out one of the dining room chairs and flopped down. "Because," he said, drumming his fingers on the table top. "I think he thinks about what we were doing differently than I do, and he's upset. Not that I blame him," he murmured.
Sharon was looking at him now, curiously, like she was studying him. "You know, baby brother, there's nothing wrong with being gay," she began, but Virgil cut her off.
"I'm not gay," he said firmly, and then, more gently when he saw Sharon's eyebrow quirk upwards: "I mean, I really like girls. I just … what I do with Richie is special. I wouldn't do it with any other guy." He paused, expecting a snide remark or something, but Sharon's expression was devoid of her usual scornful expression where it concerned him. "I think he likes me that way," he continued. "And it doesn't bother me, but I don't think I feel quite as strongly as he does. Does that … does that make me a bad friend?"
Sharon smiled. "Of course not. You're a great friend to Richie, as loyal as he is to you. That doesn't mean you're going to agree on everything one-hundred percent of the time." She cocked her head thoughtfully. "He's never had a boyfriend before either, has he?"
"That's right," Virgil said. "Not even a girlfriend. Why?"
"Because," Sharon steepled her fingers. "It's all new to him. And your relationship, whatever it is, gives him something to form his expectations. He's probably as confused as you are."
"Yeah, that makes sense." Virgil smiled. "You know, you're not so bad for a sister."
"That's what I've been telling you for years," Sharon replied, and they both laughed. "What are you going to do about Richie?" she asked eventually.
"I don't know." Virgil propped his chin on his hands. "Talk to him, I guess. See if we can't find a way to make this … whatever this is, work."
"Well, do it soon, will you?" Sharon complained. "I hate how you mope around like an abandoned puppy whenever you guys are fighting. Just kiss and make up already," she commanded, and then giggled. "Literally."
"Yeah, yeah." Virgil rolled his eyes and then stood up. He was nearly out of the kitchen before turning around hesitantly. "You're not going to tell Pops about this, are you?" he asked.
Sharon shook her head. "It's your place to do that," she said. "But I think if and when you do decide to let him know, you won't regret it. Dad'll surprise you like that sometimes."
He knew he'd probably broach the subject to Pops eventually, but clearing things up with Richie was far more prevalent. Unfortunately, it was the weekend, and after five or six times of calling his best friend's home phone, and a dozen more attempting to reach him via the Shock Box, he admitted defeat and spent the next two days catching up on homework. He was restless enough to agree to help Sharon clean the house, which put him in her good graces, and by the time Monday rolled around, he felt refreshed and ready to tackle the issue head-on.
Except Richie wasn't at school. They shared nearly all of their classes, and though Virgil had been anxious for the weekend to be over, by the end of sixth hour, he all but bolted out of his seat and out into the courtyard. He considered calling Richie's house yet again, but decided that if Richie were avoiding him, he probably wouldn't pick up anyways. On a whim, he checked out the gas station, but it, too, was devoid of Richie.
And then, suddenly, he knew exactly where Richie was.
Dakota Central Park had originally been nothing but a field of dead grass and the occasional tree. An ongoing community service project a number of years prior had seeked to change that, and as a result, the park now sported well-kept greenery, fresh flowers in the spring, a swing-set and other standard playground toys and park fare. Virgil bypassed all that, however, ending up in a usually deserted corner at the farthest perimeter of the park. It contained no toys, baseball dugouts, or even a bench, merely a tall, sturdy oak tree with branches that provided shade no matter the weather.
And underneath that oak tree sat Richie, just where Virgil thought he would be. "Figured I'd find you here," he said, approaching casually, though the way his heart was beating, he may as well have been climbing into a cage with a bunch of ravenous lions. "You weren't at school today."
"Yeah, well." Richie shrugged. "You know, sometimes a guy just needs some time to think. Look, V," he began, just as Virgil said, "look, Richie. You first," the other boy said, shifting the weight from one foot to the other.
Richie took a breath. "It was wrong of me to assume that any feelings I may have for you are reciprocated. I like you as a friend, and I always will. And I guess … I kind of like you another way, too. I'm sorry if it's weird and it creeps you out."
"It doesn't creep me out," Virgil argued. He sat down, putting them at eye level. "It's partially my fault for not setting boundaries or something. It's just … I don't really understand it that well myself. And I don't hate being, well, close to you, really. But I think I'm still going to want to have girlfriends and stuff, too." He sighed. "But you're one of the most important people in my life, Richie. And I know I've said it before, but you always will be."
"I know that," Richie said, reaching out and placing his hand over the other boy's. "And I guess that's kind of what I mean, too. There'll always be a place in my heart for you, no matter who we're seeing or what we're doing in our lives. I … I love you, Virg." He cocked his head. "What do you think about my having a boyfriend?"
"Just that he'd better like horror movies, so we can double date," Virgil grinned. After a moment, so did Richie. They sat in a companionable silence for a while, until Virgil stretched and declared he was hungry. "Let's head over to Burger Fool and grab a bite," he suggested. "Sharon's making meatloaf tonight, and I want to prep my stomach.
Richie snorted. "Well, actually, I meant to go to school today, and then chickened out. But I still have my lunch with me." He pulled out a brown paper bag. "You're welcome to share it with me."
"Sounds good. What've you got?" Virgil asked.
Richie reached inside and pulled out a sandwich. "Turkey and cheese. On wheat. Your favorite," he replied with a smile.
"My hero," Virgil swooned.