Disclaimer: Thanks to Adri for dragging me into an arcade for the first time ever and putting up with me singing "Life Happens" in the middle of ESPN Zone. Buena Vista owns the Power Rangers.
The roar of the engines was loud in his ears as his car tore down the track with single-minded determination. Too close to one side, not close enough to the other, he managed to cut off three cars almost by accident and then #24 was back on the screen as he came screaming up behind the leaders of the pack. A bubble appeared over top of the car highlighted in red: "Hunter".
He flinched away from the wall, slamming on the acceleration even as the wheel started to drag. The car leapt forward, skidding madly across the track and knocking one of the virtual racers aside. He managed to regain control just in time to cut the corner and slide in front of the highlighted car, flooring the gas again and smirking at Hunter's shout of dismay.
The controls seized up as he sailed past the checkered flag, and #88 began its victory lap around the suddenly empty track. In the next booth, Hunter slammed his hand down on the steering wheel as his screen flashed a score with the word "second" in large letters. "That is so wrong!" he declared indignantly. "You should not be better than me at this!"
Cam laughed at his annoyance, reaching above his head to grab the simulated roll bars and stretch his shoulders out. "Guess I just pick things up quickly," he gloated, lifting himself half out of the driver's seat before settling back down. "Go again?"
"And have you beat me for the third time?" Hunter demanded, mouth twisting into a half-smile. "Yeah, maybe after we eat. I can take defeat better on a full stomach."
"Since when do you take defeat at all?" Cam scoffed. He caught the back of the booth as the screen flashed "NASCAR Thunder" and reverted to demo mode. Jumping down, he joined Hunter in the aisle. "You're not the world's most gracious loser."
"Hey!" Hunter stopped abruptly, letting Cam walk into him and leaning forward instead of stepping back. "You got a problem with my attitude?"
"Yeah," Cam sneered, returning the challenge without flinching. "Your 'attitude' pretty much sums up my problems, actually."
Hunter smirked at that, so close that Cam didn't realize what he was doing until their mouths were a breath apart. Cam turned his head and pushed past Hunter hastily. "Don't do that," he hissed over his shoulder.
"What?" Hunter demanded, dogging his footsteps as he headed for the arcade exit. "Kiss you? Since when do you mind me kissing you?"
And if that didn't draw stares, Cam didn't know what would. Ears burning, he had almost made it through the door when Hunter caught his arm and forced him to stop. "What's going on? I thought we were on a date, here."
Cam glanced around, trying not to catch anyone's eye. "I'm not talking about this in an arcade," he said stiffly.
Hunter took two steps out into the mall proper, stopped, and folded his arms expectantly.
Cam moved away from the door with a sigh, trying to keep his voice down as Hunter joined him reluctantly. "Look, do you know any of those people?" he asked, nodding back toward the arcade.
Hunter frowned, not relaxing his posture. "I don't know. Maybe. I wasn't paying attention"
"Do any of them know Blake?" Cam insisted. "Or Dustin, or Shane? You might not have been paying attention to them, but they were paying attention to us."
"So?" Hunter looked more annoyed than alarmed. "You saying you don't want to be seen with me?"
"I'm saying you're the one who didn't want to 'advertise'!" Cam shot back. "Kissing someone in the middle of the mall is a pretty good way to do that!"
"I'm not going to tell the others," Hunter said bluntly. "But I'm not going to sneak around either. If they find out, they find out."
"Great," Cam muttered. "Gay and out all in the same week."
"I'm not gay!" Hunter exclaimed.
Cam forced himself not to look over his shoulder. "Well, maybe you convinced some people on the other side of the mall. Can I redefine the word for you?"
"Look, I'm not saying I'm straight," Hunter said uneasily. His tone was quieter now, but his gaze was still fixed on Cam. "I'm just not saying I'm gay, either."
"So what is this?" Cam demanded. "Some kind of experiment, then?"
"No!" Hunter looked frustrated. "It's just--"
"Just what?" Cam wanted to know.
"It's a date, all right?" Hunter was glaring at him now. "I don't know what else to tell you. I can't help noticing that you're not rushing to call yourself gay... and I'm not the one who has a problem kissing in public!"
"I don't have a problem kissing in public," Cam snapped. The reaction was automatic, and Hunter's response was predictable.
"Prove it," he said, dropping his arms and stepping closer. "If you're so sure of yourself, then prove it."
They stared at each other for a moment, frozen in place, both waiting for the other to break the stalemate. He was not going to kiss Hunter, not now, not here. He already knew that. He opened his mouth to inform the other that he didn't need to prove anything, and Hunter surprised him again. Or maybe he surprised himself more.
Fast, close, warm, Hunter was in his face before he could pull away. He didn't bother to try. He opened his mouth and leaned into the kiss, startling Hunter if the hands gripping his shoulders were any indication, but instead of being pushed back he found himself drawn closer. He wasn't sure whether that was a good thing in and of itself, but his body flush against Hunter's felt good and for once he gave in to the feeling.
Someone whistled, one of them stepped back, and their mouths parted reluctantly. Hunter didn't take his hands off of Cam's shoulders, eyes wide as he considered the Green Ranger for a long moment. "Yeah," he said at last. "Okay. I'll be gay if you will," he quipped.
Cam couldn't suppress a smile, looking away as if he could hide the expression somehow. That was the kind of kiss he'd wanted since the first time, confident and unapologetic. Was it wrong to want it again? Now?
If not wrong, he decided finally, then at least inconvenient. "I'll date you," he countered, "as long as we clarify what it means."
Hunter let go of his shoulders, a little belatedly Cam thought, and gave him an amused look as he folded his arms. "Clarify away."
"We aren't telling the others, but we're not trying to keep them from finding out?" He paused expectantly, and after a moment Hunter nodded. "And... kissing in public."
"If that was a question," Hunter said with a smirk, "then the answer is yes."
"Kissing at Ninja Ops," Cam warned.
Hunter's expression didn't change. "I'm guessing from your tone the answer to that one's no."
"Would you really kiss me in front of your brother?" Cam pointed out. "In front of my dad?"
Hunter eyed him. "Yeah," he said frankly. "But that sort of falls into the category of telling them, which we already agreed not to do."
Cam shook his head, wondering--not for the first time--how much of Hunter's attitude was real and how much of it was because he knew he could get away with it. "What about dates? Do we tell them where we were tonight?"
"I don't care if we tell them we're doing stuff together," Hunter said with a shrug. "We don't have to say it's a date."
"They're not slow," Cam reminded him. Then he grimaced, and admitted, "Most of the time."
Hunter snorted, but chose not to respond to that. "You really want to sneak around?" he asked instead.
"No," Cam said quickly. "It's just... they will figure it out."
Hunter shrugged again. "So let's give them something to figure out," he suggested, glancing around. "You want dinner or what?"
"Yeah," Cam said after a moment. Then something occurred to him, and he narrowed his eyes at Hunter. "Don't think you're buying."
Hunter just smirked. "Who said I was offering?"