Next to You

I walk into first period English with Abby and Nick, and immediately lock eyes with Bram, sitting at a desk behind the couch, which is already full. I smile at him and he smiles back, and I get this happy twist in my stomach. I go to sit at the desk beside him, and Abby shoots us a grin before sitting at a desk beside Nick. I slide the toe of my sneaker over to touch Bram's.

"Hi." I say, swinging my backpack onto the back of my chair.

"Hi." He says back.

"So. Do you have a date for prom yet?" I ask, turning in my seat to face Bram.

"I do. I guess you don't remember, since I asked my boyfriend in a totally conspicuous way." But I do remember, because it was me he asked, and in the most inconspicuous way ever. Which surprised me, because he's still a pretty guarded person.

It was March 23rd, a few days after the date of the junior prom was announced. Abby and Leah and Nick had been acting weird all morning, and then they wouldn't let me go to lunch until Nick got a mysterious text. All three of them were grinning when we finally entered the cafeteria, and when we got closer to our table, I saw why. Bram was standing behind it, smiling, and on the table (which was covered in a red tablecloth, for sanitary reasons), was the word 'Prom' and a question mark. Spelled out in Oreos. I kissed him right there in the cafeteria. I didn't care one bit that we were surrounded by a couple hundred high school kids. And I think I fell in love with him all over again in that perfect moment.

And as I remember that day, I really, really, want to kiss him. Which I can't do right now.

Instead, I blush and look down at our toes. "I do remember." I say quietly, looking back up. And suddenly we're not joking around anymore. My heart aches happily when he blushes too and smiles. And it's like we're kissing with our eyes.

The rest of the day passes in a fluttery blur. The energy is high because of prom tonight. Nobody can focus in class, and a couple teachers give up and let us talk among ourselves. During which I think about Bram. I'm just so excited, and I guess it's because of him. I mean, I've only ever gone to prom with Nick and Leah. But this year we're all going as couples. And it's weird, but kind of a good weird.

Bram picks me up at my house later that night, with Garrett and Leah already with him. My parents insist on pictures before I manage to drag everyone out the door, leaving my parents yelling after me.

"Have fun!"

"Don't stay up too late!"

"Call us if you need a drive home, Simon!"

Which is funny, because literally all my friends have cars. My parents think we're all sleeping over at Nick's after the dance, but we're not. I'm going over to Bram's, whose mom is out of town for this meeting. And I'm excited. And nervous. Just thinking about it makes my stomach flutter.

I get into the passenger seat beside Bram, and Leah and Garrett climb in the back. Leah has been insisting since Garrett asked her to prom that they're only going as friends, and Garrett has been so pumped she said yes, I don't think he cares. But I don't know. We'll see what happens.

Leah and Garrett talk animatedly the whole way to the school, and Bram and I comment at some points, but we're both pretty quiet. We keep glancing at each other and smiling. I don't think I'm the only one who's thinking about later.

We get to the school about half an hour after prom starts, which, Leah, Nick, and I found out, is the perfect time to get to a school event. We're not the awkward first people there, but it's not too crowded yet.

Leah and Garrett are in front as we walk towards the big tent in the soccer field (I mean, really, they couldn't get anywhere else?). I walk next to Bram, and because it's just school people and it's getting dark, I walk close enough that our shoulders brush together. Which leads to Bram softly intertwining our fingers and glancing at me, smiling. Which leads to me quickly kissing Bram on the cheek and smiling back.

When we get inside the tent, I stand on my toes, looking over the crowd to find Abby and Nick. Before I can locate them, however, I hear them behind us. And then all of us are talking, and it's fun.

But then a little while later, someone (ahem, Abby) decides that we should all be dancing, because this is prom. But the thing is, I've never danced at prom before. Actually, I haven't danced in public since the 'Boom Boom Pow' incident. So, yeah.

But then Bram's pulling me onto the dance floor by our still connected hands, and I'm I guess I'm an idiot in love because I follow him.

I actually love this song. 'Shake it Off' by Taylor Swift. I think Bram knows. I bounce awkwardly on the spot and Bram laughs at me before starting to dance himself. And he surprises me again. He actually looks good. I kind of thought soccer guys didn't dance, but Bram obviously does.

"Where did you learn how to dance like that?" I ask him, trying to copy his moves. Bram blushes and shrugs, now a little self-conscious. I laugh out loud, and Bram looks at me shyly from under his dramatic lashes, and I just. I can't even. He's so cute. I can't believe he's my boyfriend. I quickly press my fingertips against his and he rewards me with a small smile.

Soon, Abby, Nick, Leah, and Garrett join us and then we all take a break to shove snacks and water into our mouths. Our group kind of breaks apart, and Bram and I are just standing by the snack table, talking. Then 'Wish You Were Here' by Pink Floyd comes on. A slow song. I look at Bram, and I suddenly feel bold. It's pretty dark in here, and nobody has really noticed us this whole time.

"You want to dance?" I ask Bram, flattening my palm against his. He looks a little uneasy, but his eyes are happy. He nods. "Are you sure?" I ask, because I don't want to make him uncomfortable. Because that could lead to bad things. He nods again, and smiles this time. His expression is new and open, and I love that it's just for me. I smile back. "Okay." This time we walk onto the dance floor together, holding hands. And I was right. Nobody notices. Well, except for Abby, who shoots me a gleeful smile. I ignore her.

Bram and I are surrounded by dancing couples. With no communication at all, I place my hands on Bram's shoulders, and he puts his on my waist. My chest tightens happily as his long fingers press gently into my sides. We're so close together that I can see the two little freckles on his cheekbone, even in the dark. We're looking into each other's eyes, and wow. I mean, this might sound cheesy, but we're definitely having a conversation without words right now. I can see every speck of light brown in his dark eyes, and they're wide open and incredibly soft. I get lost in them. As we dance in a small circle, we move unintentionally closer and closer together until our lips are almost touching. I feel his breath on my mouth, and that's all I can think about, and I'm about to kiss him. But then I snap out of it. And remember where we are. I sigh against his lips and pull back the slightest bit to pull him out of it too. I'm disappointed, even though I'm not sure why. I can tell Bram is too.

Things are going pretty well until one of the douchebag soccer guys sees us and wolf-whistles, and then a bunch of people around us start laughing. And then we get noticed a lot more. Bram pulls away from me completely, and his expression slams shut, but his eyes are screaming.

Fuck. Fuuuuck.

I should have known dancing to a slow song was a bad idea. Now Bram's freaked out. I follow him off the dance floor and out of the tent. I catch up to him when he stops outside. I face him and am about to touch his elbow when I see his face and decide against it.

"Bram, I'm so sorry."

"It wasn't your fault."

"I'm the one who had the idea. I'm an idiot. I'm sorry." I repeat. Bram's quiet. "I don't even know why I thought no one would notice." I continue. "I mean, I guess I just really wanted to slow dance with you. Which, I wouldn't undo. That was really amazing." Bram takes my hand, and I look at him. He seems calmer.

"Do you want to get out of here?" He asks. He shoots me his mischievous smile, which I've come to realise is totally Bram-like.

"Okay." I say, smiling and squeezing his hand. I figure Leah and Garrett can get a ride home with Nick and Abby.

We walk all the way back to Bram's car and Bram hands me his iPod. I put on Otis Redding's 'Try a Little Tenderness' to fill the silence, the first song I ever played from Bram's iPod.

I can tell Bram's nervous, but, like me, also excited. I've never been to Bram's house unsupervised before. We haven't been at my house unsupervised since that one and only time after the talent show. So this is the second time we've been completely alone together. And this time we have the. Whole. Night. There's this flutter in my stomach when I think about that. I glance at Bram. He's tapping his fingers on the steering wheel. And I guess he feels me looking at him because he sort of smiles and glances over at me.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah. I mean, yeah." I smile back at him, and I don't know why I've been nervous. Because this is Bram. This is my Blue. This is my boyfriend. A sudden happy feeling overwhelms me and I lean over and kiss Bram's cheek.

He blushes, and good thing we're stopped at a red light or we might have gone off the road. "What was that for?"

"I guess I just really like you."

We arrive at Bram's house and he stops me when I automatically head for the stairs. He smiles. "Wait." He says. He runs off up to his bedroom and brings down a speaker, which he connects to his iPod in his living room. His living room has these lights that can dim, and he turns them almost all the way down. Bram turns around to fiddle with his iPod. I smile at him when Sufjan Steven's 'To Be Alone With You' fills the room.

"What are you doing?" I ask as he pulls me into the middle of the room and puts his hands on my waist. I put my hands on his shoulders.

"We never got to finish our dance." And I could really just kiss him right now. So I do.

The music surrounds us, and we're really in our own little world. I sigh happily and rest my head on Bram's shoulder. Bram wraps his arms around me, kisses me on my forehead, then rests his chin on the top of my head. Our steps match perfectly.

When the song ends, there's this really happy ache in my whole body. I can't even explain it. I've never felt like this before, but I think I like it. I look up at Bram and he's already looking at me with those tender eyes, and there's a new emotion in them, too. Before I can place what it is, he's kissing me, soft and slow and lingering.

"Simon." He says it quietly, softly.

"Bram." It comes out a sigh. We push into each other, and I don't even know how long we stay like that, before Bram pulls away enough to talk.

"Do you want to see my room?"

"I've seen your room before." I laugh as Bram places another quick kiss on my lips.

"But you've never seen it when my mom isn't home. It's different then."

"Oh, really?" I smile at him. "Okay, let's go see your room that's different when your mom isn't here."

I walk so close to Bram on the way upstairs that our hands get squished between us. Neither of us minds. He opens his bedroom door, and it is different. I mean, not physically. His desk and window and bed are all in the same places as always. And his bed is made. But I have a feeling it won't be made for long. Because the energy in the room is different. It feels like possibility.

Bram is now kissing me urgently, and I'm kissing him back. And I push him backwards until he's sitting on the bed and I'm sitting for one wonderful moment on his lap, before Bram's lying down and I'm lying down on top of him. And, wow. I mean, this is nothing like anything we've ever done before. Maybe it's because we know we won't get interrupted. Because we have the. Whole. Night. But, I really like this. I don't ever want to stop. Little sighs are escaping between Bram's lips, and I'm pretty sure I'm making some of the same sounds, because Bram starts to smile against my lips, which makes me smile. My hands are fisted in his dark curls, and his fingers brush against the nape of my neck, then move down my back. And then his hands are pushing up my shirt and touching the bare skin of my ribs. God. I trail my hands down his chest. And then both our shirts are off. My heart is beating really fast. We devour each other with our eyes for about five seconds before molding our bodies together again. Happiness explodes in the pit of my stomach.

"I love you." I whisper between kisses. And suddenly I open my eyes and I'm self-conscious because we've never said that before. Except when he was still Blue and I was still Jacques and we signed our emails with 'love'. But I'm pretty sure that doesn't count.

Bram opens his eyes too, and we're both breathing hard. "I love you too." He says, smiling, without even hesitating. And oh my freaking god, he's adorable. So I go back to kissing him.

We finally fall asleep at five in the morning. We spent lots of hours of the night (but not all of them) just talking, our bodies pressed up against each other from our foreheads to our toes. We stared into each other's souls through our eyes, and I don't even know if I believe in that kind of stuff, but that's what it felt like. And it was seriously wonderful. Maybe even more wonderful than kissing. Maybe.

Even though we already knew pretty much everything about each other, we had so many things to talk about that we didn't stop until we literally couldn't keep our eyes open anymore and we both fell asleep practically mid-sentence.

I wake up before Bram, and I'm still pressed up against him. Except during the night, I must have rolled over, because it's my back that's pressed to his stomach, and his arm is around my ribs, and his head is in the crook between my head and my shoulder and I can feel his soft sleeping breath on my ear. I want to wake up like this every morning. I roll over as quietly as I can and watch Bram sleep for a little while. I smile to myself the whole time. He looks so precious when he's asleep, all the school stress gone from his face. His lips are parted slightly, and I brush mine against his to wake him up. His eyes are still closed, but he kisses me back softly. He opens his eyes and smiles. His eyes also smile. My eyes and I smile back.

"Good morning." I say, peppering his mouth with small kisses.

"Morning." He says quietly under my lips. As he shifts his head so it's turned more towards me, I get a glimpse of the alarm clock over his shoulder.

"Oh, shit!" I sit straight up, staring at the clock.

Bram's eyes widen. "What? What's wrong?"

"Your mom's going to be home any minute." Because we slept in until one in the afternoon. And Bram's mom doesn't know I slept over. "Shit. Okay. We have to get over to Nick's, like, now." I grab Bram's hand and pull him out of bed, but he stops me halfway to the door.

"No, we don't have time. We can just pretend you came over after Nick's this morning. Let's go watch something on TV." And he's so calm that I feel like I overreacted. As usual.

So we go downstairs and turn on the TV and only a few seconds later, we hear a car door slam outside. Bram's mom unlocks the door and steps inside, then comes over to say hi.

"Hey, Mom. Simon just came over after Nick's this morning."

"Hi, Simon. That's fine, but just remember to tell me next time, alright, honey?" Bram blushes at the nickname, but nods. I love that she doesn't think it's a big deal that I'm here.

Later that day, we go over to my house and Leah, Abby, Nick, and Garrett show up in my basement a little while later. I look up from where I'm curled up on the couch against Bram.

"Where did you guys disappear to last night?" Abby asks, grinning.

"Yeah, how come you left us with this mushy couple?" Leah asks pointing at Abby and Nick. I look at Bram. We both blush.

"Aw, look how cute they are! We definitely can't get mad at them." Abby says, coming over and poking my cheek. Nick and Garrett kind of chuckle.

I look at Bram, and he looks at me, and I can tell that he's reliving last night too. I reach over to squeeze his hand, smiling at him. He traces circles on mine, smiling back. Then I'm imagining a future in which I wake up next to Bram every morning. And my heart feels like it's overflowing with happiness.