"But dude, tomorrow night's the midnight release for GRAVE PUNCHER 6! SIX!" Howard loudly exclaimed, before holding up five fingers at first, and then quickly correcting himself by adding one extra from the other hand. "We gotta go and get it and stay up all night punchin' the cheese outta those graves! Don't be a shoob and ditch on me again dude… You've been doing that a lot lately Cunningham. Like ever since you became the ninja you've been ditching me all the time during school, but now you're ditching me when we're out too. It's totally wonk."
Howard lowered his head to face the ground with his bushy eyebrows narrowed and a pouty expression on his face. His anger seemed to have switched from being active in its aggression, to a more passive kind. Randy might not have been able to see it, but there was a lot of sadness mixed into Howard's frustration. Looking back up at his supposed best friend with an expression masking any sadness returned to his face, he spoke up loudly again, "Dude, you promised you'd hang out with ME this weekend!"
"I know I did Howard, but that was before Theresa got two tickets to a concert for us to go to!" Randy tried to defend himself, not quite matching the volume Howard was speaking at. "This could be my big chance to really put the moves on her! Dude, I'm going to do it. I'm going to put my arm around her during the concert. She'll tooootally dig it," he continued with a smug smile on his face from how much of a charmer he perceived himself to be.
"What the juice, Randy?! Do you even know what the name of that weirdo boyband she's taking you to the concert for is? Cuz I don't think you do." Howard asked, pointing his finger at Randy in an accusing manner.
"Of course I do! I love their music. It's called Fifth Direction!" he answered, sounding pretty sure of himself until he added the phrase "Or something like that," onto the end of it.
"I knew you didn't know what it was. You hate that kind of music and you know it! We both know those boyband losers are a bunch of shoobs. They're all such wonk! We've only agreed on that about a bajiliion and infinity times. Do you even remember that? Or is she going to wipe your memory like the nomicon is going to after we graduate?"
"Howard!" was all Randy said at first. Howard could see from the expression on Randy's face that the comment had upset him a bit, but Howard found it kind of hard to feel bad. It was Randy's fault for blindly trusting the book. "I've told you a bunch of times, the nomicon isn't bad! If it wipes my ninja memories then it'll be because it had to, but even if I forget being the ninja, it won't get rid of my other memories! I'll remember stuff like this, like having a girlfriend. I want that. This isn't about the nomicon or ninja stuff or anything! This is normal high school stuff, and I want to experience normal high school stuff sometimes! I want to experience the things I'll remember."
Howard didn't have much time to process all of that before Randy started up again, "I know you don't like the nomicon, and that bugs me a little but with the nomicon I don't care. But Theresa and I are dating, and I want you guys to get along. Can't you just be happy for me? Don't blow this for me dude, come on. Do you want to ruin my chance to make it get serious with my first girlfriend ever?"
Yes. Howard fought the urge to vocalize the one thought that was prominently ringing throughout the top of his mind after being asked that question.
"We'll hang out next week dude. I promise."
"That's exactly what you said about last weekend Cunningham!" Howard snapped back. "And the weekend before that. And the one before that even! This has been going on for the entire two months that you've been dating that…. that…," Howard searched his mind for a word to use to describe her, but could only come up with one. "That shoob."
"Theresa is not a shoob Howard! She's my girlfriend, so that makes her the closest person to me. So if you call her a shoob, you're calling me one too."
"But… Randy," Howard began, not quite knowing how to finish. He wasn't sure what to say. I'm supposed to be the closest person to you? No no, that'll totally give it away. I can't say that. "I'm supposed to be your best friend!" Howard blurted out the next closest thing on impulse.
"You are my best friend Howard!"
"Are you sure it's not her now? Cuz that's how it looks to me," Howard responded, crossing his arms to show he was still angry.
"Yeah I'm sure! And if you were my best friend you'd be happy for me for finally getting a girlfriend! But you're mad at me for it! Why dude? Why are you so upset? "
"I don't remember you ever saying before we went to high school that you even wanted a girlfriend," Howard said, choosing not to answer his friend's question.
"Well… that's…," Randy began before pausing to think about it. "That's because I didn't. But, I'm supposed to want a girlfriend, yknow? Isn't that what teenaged guys are supposed to want?"
"Well why does it have to be a girlfriend?!"
"Well what the juice else would it be Howard?!"
"Maybe… a friend who… isn't a girl."
A prolonged moment of silence immediately rang throughout the air after Howard said that.
Howard's heart was beating fast now. Really fast. He hoped to god that Randy didn't notice it if this went wrong. "Maybe one who's a boy instead."
Howard knew for a fact that it was going to have to come out into the open sooner or later, but that didn't stop him from being frustrated at himself. Why the flipping JUICE did I SAY that?! His face felt hot. He knew it was probably red.
Randy was wide-eyed, and Howard couldn't tell if that was a good or bad sign. He endured the silence for what seemed forever, before Randy quietly responded.
"You're a boy."
"I am a boy."
Howard was facing the floor, but after a while he looked back up at Randy once again, and noticed that he didn't seem angry, and he didn't seem freaked out. His expression was honestly a bit hard to read.
"Howard…I," Randy began. Oh no, here it comes. "I've thought about that before but, you're not a girl! So that doesn't work, right? Can you do that? Go out with a guy instead of a girl; Is there even a word for something like that?"
"Cunningham are you serious?! Of flippin' course there's a word for it! It's called being gay you shoob!" he replied, actually shocked that Randy seriously didn't know.
"Yeah gay! For the love of cheese Cunningham, have you really never heard that word before?!" He was becoming a bit more flustered with every word he blurted out.
"N-no, I haven't," Randy answered plainly, and after a pause he asked, "So, Howard, are you gay?"
Howard was quiet for just a moment before he decided he might as well just admit it. "Yeah dude, I'm gay."
"I think I might be too." Randy echoed the sentiment with an almost blank expression on his face as he began to realize it.
"Well that's kinda hard to believe when you're dating a chick."
"I think I'm going to have to… break it off with her. I don't think her and I are compatible in that way," Randy answered somewhat reluctantly. It was almost hard to admit, but it was true; it had been true all along.
"Bruce yeah, you aren't! I coulda' told you that a hundred times! Oh wait, who was the guy who did tell you that? Oh yeah, it was me!" Howard sarcastically responded to Randy's extremely obvious statement. When Randy didn't respond right away, Howard became dead quiet. Ah man this is a mix of super awesome and super awkward.
"I think I still want to be friends with Theresa though. She's really nice and she doesn't mind the fart smell from the smoke bombs. Is it okay with you if she hangs with us once in a while?" Randy asked.
That was a weird. Randy was asking for Howard's permission on something for once. Howard didn't have much of a problem with the idea, or with Theresa at all for that matter. So he had no objections. He responded to Randy, "Yeah, as long as you aren't making out with her I don't care. It'll give me someone to talk to when you're NNSing."
Randy seemingly ignored the NNS jab. He was too distracted with what was going on with himself, as always. "It's going to be tough to do though. Breaking up with Theresa. I think she really likes me. I just… don't feel the same way. I thought I did, but I really don't."
"Howard, do you like me too? Have you always?"
"I think that maybe I have too but! I don't know. I remember thinking once, in my head 'Why can't I just go out with Howard? It'd be way more bruce than going out with a girl. Girls don't even think fart jokes are funny! How am I gonna deal with that?' But I just thought it was wrong, so I tried to be into girls. I think I convinced myself I was, but I don't think it was real. I do like you Howard but, I didn't think I was supposed to. Like you'd think it was totally wonk and really weird if I told you."
"Weird?! Come on dude my last name is WEINERMAN, do you really think a dude with a name like that would be straight?"
"Well a name is just a name."
"Shut up Cunningham."
"Wait dude by the Weinerman thing do you mean…?" Randy began to ask before he fully realized. "Awww dude! That's a dirty joke man! Weiner man, that's a good one!" Randy laughed at it, and Howard couldn't help but join in, but their laughter was soon interrupted by the all too familiar lights and sounds coming from the nomicon inside of Randy's bag.
"Uuuuuugh, come on! Don't tell me that flipping book is going to go all preachy suburban mom on us and tell us that being gay is a sin or some crap. Like we'll 'go to hell' or something. I don't have time for this, that book can go to hell!" Howard whined.
"Aaaactually Howard, I think it's just trying to alert me to that." Randy pointed to a small army of stank-ified students fast approaching the both of them. "Sorry bro I know we're kinda having a moment here but I've gotta take this!" He quickly grabbed the mask and pulled it over his face, and within seconds he was in the suit. He made a motion to run off, but stopped for just one more thing beforehand.
"But Howard," Randy said, turning around to him one more time before running off to kick some robot butt. "Are we still on for some grave punching tonight?"
"Yeah dude. Yeah we are. I'll see you tonight." Of course he has to leave just when things are getting good. Jerk.
"Yeah. Tonight." Before running off, Randy did something that was probably stupid on the spur of the moment. He bent down to get to Howard's height, still ninja'd up, and pressed his masked lips briefly to Howard's, changing Howard's pouty expression into something completely different. He then ran off as quickly after lip to lip contact had occurred as possible, thankful that the red color on his face wouldn't show through the ninja mask.
Howard however, had no such mask to hide it himself.
That honkin' idiot. Kissing me with that stupid mask on.