This one's the last chapter *sob, weep, moan, sob*. Yep, the VERY LAST CHAPTER! I told my dad about an hour ago that I was finished with my story, and he wrinkles his nose, looks at me, and says, "Well God, Caroline. What are you going to do with your life now? Does this mean you're going to actually eat dinner with us now?"

Chapter 20

The next day, Chris woke up in Gordie's bed. That was the first thing that sunk in. The second was that Gordie was nowhere to be found.
Peering over the side of the bed to look at the clock that Gordie kept on the floor, he was met with the image of the dark-haired boy curled up inside a hunter-green sleeping bag. He was sleeping peacefully.
"Mouthbreather," Chris murmured, grinning, then pushed the blankets off of himself and shuffled over to where Gordie was sleeping. "Boo."
Gordie's eyes flew open. "When someone's sleeping," he muttered sleepily, putting a hand over his eyes to shield from the morning sun, "you leave them there unless you are bleeding to the point that you can no longer see clearly enough to bandage yourself and go the hell back to sleep."
"Gordie, your words just left me bleeding inside."
"They make band-aids for that," Gordie mumbled, and pulled the sleeping bag over his head in another desperate attempt to squeeze all the sleep out of the day.
"No. They make Gordies for that."
Gordie's head appeared over the top of the bag. One sleepy eye opened. "You think?"
"Yep. Bandage me, guru of peace."
"You're a contributing member of society. Now go the hell to bed."
"That didn't really help me. My self esteem lies shattered in pieces on the ground."
"Chris, it's too early for you to be acting like a moose on heroin."
"Gordie, if you were more awake, you'd know that moose can't talk."
"If you'd let me sleep, I'd be more awake."
"If you were more awake, you'd realize just how much sense you're making right now."
"Eh," Gordie whined. "Stop making sense. If you really want me out of bed, start making coffee."
"Oh, all right," Chris grumbled, and headed downstairs.
Half an hour later, Gordie, bleary-eyed but somewhat more aware than he had been, stumbled down to the kitchen, where, to his horror, he found Chris trying to fry coffee using a mug.
"You can't do coffee on the stove!"
"Why the hell not? It's hot, isn't it?"
"Well, yeah, but you use a coffee maker."
"Maybe. . . maybe I should check on the eggs." Gordie got a sinking feeling as Chris's eyes flickered to the oven.
"You made eggs in the oven?"
"Well. . . um. . . yes. . . " Chris opened the oven to see a flaming ball of charred. . . something.
"What did you DO?" Gordie asked, trying for the life of him to be alert and not yawn as he extinguished the fire.
"Nothing! I put the eggs on the plate, and then I put them in the oven!"
"You used my mom's good china?" Gordie asked, eyeing the smoking ball of ashes critically.
"Of course not! Gordie, give me a little credit here! I used a PAPER plate."
"You tried to scramble eggs in the oven with a paper plate?"
"I didn't scramble them. . . I just kind of put them from the fridge onto the plate into the oven."
"Did you CRACK them?" Gordie asked, an eyebrow arched.
"Technically speaking, no."
"Wow, Chris. Maybe from now on you better let me cook."
Gordie found his way over to Chris and nudged his way into his arms. "It's too early to do anything," he murmured from inside the safety of Chris's shoulder.
"Gordie, when did you become such a lazy little girl?"
"About five years ago. I'm waiting on you so that I can actually get some sleep on vacations. That's what normal people do, you know."
"And just how would you know?"
"Uh. . . "
"Yeah. That's what I thought."
"At least I can cook."
Chris hugged him tighter. "Yes. This way we won't starve when we're up at insane hours of the day."
"I love you, you know that? Even when you're using my oven to burn up my eggs on paper plates, I love you."
"Well, that's good, because I'm not going to use the oven of someone I don't love."
"You can get in trouble for that."
"That's why I practice my experiments of death at your house."
"It all makes sense now."
"Let's run away."
Gordie pulled away so that he could look up at Chris. "What?"
"We're graduating this spring. Let's live in a tiny little box behind the community college, go there for two years, then move to the city and get a bigger box."
"Actually, I'd like to move someplace slightly less. . . brown."
"What do you have against brown?"
"Nothing. It's just that you'd inevitably try to make me breakfast sometime and burn down the box. And then where would we be?"
Chris pulled Gordie back into a hug. "Good point," he muttered, his chin resting on the top of Gordie's head. "But we have to go somewhere."
"Like I said, I'd rather go someplace that doesn't have such a high danger of being burned down every time you decide to try your hand at the culinary arts."

"Gordie, your faith in me is astounding."
"Thank you. In all seriousness, Chris, why are you thinking about this?"
"Thinking about what?"
"We don't graduate for another six months, and you're already thinking about what we're going to do afterwards. That's not like you."
"I dunno. I just don't want to be one of those bums with a law degree and a box on the street."
"Good thinking."
For the next few minutes, neither of them moved. "Can we just stay here all day?" Chris asked.
"You're the one who woke me up so we could do something constructive."
"This IS constructive."
"No it isn't. I'm hungry. Your failed attempt at breakfast has made me hungrier."
"Maybe if you'd gotten up so you could do something constructive we'd be eating now."
"I'm sorry for being a lazy midget. Can I make food now?"
"Please," Chris concurred, releasing Gordie from his hug.
For the next few minutes, Chris watched Gordie putter around the kitchen, collecting eggs and cheese, pots and pans.
"What are you doing?" he finally asked.
Gordie looked at him like he was stupid. "Making an omelette, dumbass."
"Well where's all the stuff?"
"All what stuff?"
"You know, the stuff!"
"What damn stuff?"
"Everything you put IN an omelette!"
"What do YOU put in an omelette?"
"Mushrooms. Peppers. Sausage. You know, STUFF!"
Gordie wrinkled his nose. "Oh. You're one of THOSE people."
"What do you mean, those people?"
"Those weird people who corrupt the eggs."
"What do you put in an omelette?"
Chris raised an eyebrow. "That's not an omelette. That's some pussy thing that gay short people eat."
Gordie put a hand on his hip. "Hmm. Gay. Short. Who do we know who fits both of those categories?"
Chris laughed. "Oh yeah."
Gordie went back to frying eggs. "As long as I am cooking, there will be no corruption of eggs going on. By the way, Chris, note the pan."
"I'm also noting the lack of paper plates in your cooking."
"Real men use paper plates."
"If you'll notice, real men also have their wives cook for them."
"The shorter, darkhaired boy assumes the role of the female," Chris intoned in the manner of a Discovery Channel announcer. "The rest of the clan rejoices."
"Yeah," Gordie murmured, grinning and turning around to flip the omelette. "Almost done."
"Good. I'm famished."
"Normal people can go more than eight hours without food without having convulsions."
"I'm not having convulsions. I'm expressing a deep-rooted hunger."
"Well, here," Gordie said, reaching for a plate, finding one, and sliding the omelette onto it. "Do you think you can manage to choke it down?"
Chris smiled. "I'm sure I'll love it," he said, taking the plate with him to sit down at the table.
"Good," Gordie muttered, coming over to sit next to him. "I worked damn hard making that. It's like my spawn or something."
Chris looked down at the plate and raised an eyebrow. "I don't wanna eat it now."
Rolling his eyes, Gordie scoffed and clarified. "I didn't mean SPAWN spawn. I meant like labor-of-love spawn. And that you better like it, veggies or no."
Chris bit into a forkful. "Mmm. Yummy."
"Yummy. This from the guy who just a few minutes ago called ME gay."
"It IS yummy."
"I'm sure."
"Aren't you going to have any?"
"Nah, I'll get some cereal." He stood up and headed over to the pantry.
"Okay. So, hey, do you have any plans today?"
"Nope. My parents are coming home tomorrow, so I'll probably just stick around here destroying any traces of evidence of the fact that I didn't stay locked in the house alone all week."
"Sounds riveting."
"By nightfall I'll probably have passed out from all the fun I'll be having." Gordie sat down at the table again, this time with a bowl of Cheerios and a spoon. "Why?"
"Can I stick around here? Crash at your place again tonight?"
"Yeah." Gordie wrinkled his brow. "Why?"
Chris shrugged. "My mom's going to my grandma's up in Greenview until Tuesday and I just don't wanna go home to an empty house, that's all."
"Oh. Sure, man."
"No problem."
Finished with his omelette, Chris reclined in his chair, looking over at Gordie, who was still hungrily wolfing down cereal. "So, man, Teddy and Justi. What do you think?"
"I think Justi's the group whore."
Chris burst out laughing. "Eh, so it took her a few guys to decide which one she liked best. That's okay, I guess."
"Seriously? I think it's really cool." He put down his spoon. "Teddy needed a girl, anway," he added thoughtfully after a few seconds.
"Yeah," Chris agreed, "and they're pretty perfect for each other."
"Just like us!" Gordie said brightly, chomping down another mouthful of Cheerios.
"You know, a part of me tells me I should kiss you for that, but the other part just looks at the Cheerios on your lip and the milk that you've somehow managed to get all over your face and says 'No, Chris. No.' "
"Thanks. That's unconditional love for you."
"I DO love you! I don't love your eating habits."
"Who's the pussy gay guy now, huh?"
"I'm not pussy, I just don't want your regurgitated chunks all over me."
They looked at each other and laughed. But a moment later, Chris's face softened and he said, "Hey, I do love you, you know."
"I know," Gordie replied, as if discussing the weather.
"I feel like I don't say it enough."
Gordie shrugged. "That's okay. I know you do."
Chris smiled. "Aw."
Gordie nodded. "Yeah, I can be pretty sweet sometimes. Not to mention the fact that I'm totally suave."
"Totally," Chris agreed, grinning, and leaned over so that he could kiss Gordie, Cheerios and all.
Normally not one to break the mood, Gordie couldn't resist letting loose with an almost hysterical gale of laughter in the middle of the kiss.
"What?" Chris demanded, looking highly affronted.
"This is so absurd," Gordie explained. "We're sitting here in my kitchen eating food and all of a sudden you tell me you love me and you kiss me."
"Well, I do," Chris said, confused.
"I know," Gordie assured, nodding. "And I'm so glad."


Aww. That came out a lot sweeter than I'd planned. Okay, it really feels weird now. . .

Now that it's the end, I want to thank all my reviewers. I know I should have done that earlier, but hey.

I also want to tell moonriverandme, probably my most faithful reviewer, that I absolutely love your story. I don't know if I've already said this, but I can't review stories anymore (I think it has something to do with my Internet firewall. I dunno). I just wanted to tell you, since I can't review it where you're supposed to, that I love it. I didn't want you to think "Hey! I've been reviewing her story for forever! Has she even READ mine? That BITCH!"

Heart to the world,

The Masked Penguin