Title: Perfectly or Not

Author: JMB

Spoilers: Pride

Summery: It's hard to love someone… perfectly or not.

Disclaimer: I don't own a single character in this story, some Canadian does so don't even think about suing me. Okay?


Jimmy Brooks likes taking care of people. You may not know that about him, but it's true. It's a story as old as time, well, maybe not that ancient, but it's a pretty old story. Jimmy likes to be needed, wanted; when he's thirty-something and totally neurotic a therapist is gonna say Jimmy has serious abandonment issues with his parents, and that's why Jimmy can't have a normal relationship—and Jimmy's faced that about himself. He doesn't like it, because he knows it's why he's going to lose lovers for some time to come, the way he lost Ashley.

He loved her, Ashley, by the way, and in a way never really got over her. He understands why she left him, too. Oh, forget about Sean "the thug" Cameron, because Jimmy's figured out it wasn't about that idiot. It was about Ashley. It was about him. Jimmy knows *now* he came on too strong. Held on a little too tightly. God, if he'd been any other guy and Ashley acted that clingy and over-bearing with him he would've bailed in a BC second.

Of course realizing he was demented when it came to relationships of the romantic variety didn't change Jimmy in the slightest. He accepted he was emotional and clingy and too willing to give his whole heart at the tiniest hint someone wanted him; needed him. Maybe he'd grow out of it one day, but until then Jimmy was going to stay the way he was until he worked out some other way to be.

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It was all too on the nose, that was Jimmy's problem. If his love life had been a movie the plot would be glaringly obvious and the audience would be sitting in their seats rolling their eyes counting the minutes until the celluloid travesty's closing credits rolled up the screen. Yeah, Jimmy's more upset about the predictable turn his love life had taken than the fact he has more than friendly feelings for Marco Del Rossi.

What bothers Jimmy more is that he should have seen it coming a kilometer away. His only excuse was that that night was fast and brutal and confusing as hell. Marco, covered in blood and bruises, was trying not to cry while sirens from the police cars wailed and the female cop questioned them with rapid-fire speed and professionalism.

Jimmy couldn't take his eyes off Marco. Jimmy's seen people beat up before, but he knew something more happened to his friend beyond being pounded, knew like he knew Marco needed help after they were cut off on their cells. And Jimmy pushed and pushed, because he doesn't know how not to push, to get the truth out of Marco. He didn't quite get the answers he was looking for, but Jimmy definitely got a response. Marco practically leapt into him, sobbing and trembling violently. It shocked Jimmy at first, because, well, guys just don't bawl like that no matter what, not in Jimmy's experience anyway. But Jimmy wouldn't have thrown Marco off for anything at that moment, every other instinct made him hold Marco close, every fiber of his being telling him to take care of his friend. He held on to Marco so long the other boy's tears and spit and blood soaked through his shirt. And he didn't let him go until the police dropped them off in front of Marco's house and Jimmy eased him into his parents care.

Jimmy remained blissfully unaware for almost eight weeks, seven full glorious weeks of not pining for someone utterly unaware and/or indifferent to his ineffectual crush. He never wondered or cared why he had no problem with Marco being gay—which he put together the day after the bashing—he just accepted, and it never occurred to him he shouldn't because that's what friends do. He paid close attention to Marco of course, given the circumstances that wasn't strange, and he gave Spinner hell for being an ass, but, again, to Jimmy all a part of being a friend. Friendship's why he forgave Spin for stealing from him, because friends aren't something you throw away for anything even if they make you mad. And Jimmy didn't think on his worst day he could shun Marco, not after holding him while he cried his heart out from fear and hurt.

He remembers the exact second the epiphany clobbered him up side the head—the concussion from which he suffers even to this day.

He was shooting hoops after school alone on the courts behind the gymnasium; Spin was off sniffing after Paige somewhere, 'cause let's face it, the kid had it bad for Degrassi's reigning queen. After he was done on the court they: Jimmy, Spin and Marco, were to meet up at Craig's to practice a new routine for their band.

Jimmy loved basketball, he loved being good at basketball, it was the only thing he did well he gave a damn about. And he didn't get good to impress his parents either. He practiced and trained with dedication because both made his body perform at its very best when he played, and Jimmy liked being the best.

It was just incidental basketball allowed Jimmy to focus on it and not the persistent mess his life turned out to be. Complete coincidence.

He'd been doing lay-ups for half an hour and was about to start refining his free throws when he saw them. Marco and Dylan. Marco's back was to Jimmy and Dylan faced Marco, towering over him. They were talking and Dylan was obviously flirting with Marco. No, Jimmy couldn't hear a word they said, but he recognized the warm smile and smoldering gleam in Dylan's eyes for what it was. Hell, even Spinner wouldn't miss what that look meant that's how obvious it was. The fact Marco wasn't running for his life under that kind of attention made Jimmy smile. He was glad Marco was getting comfortable with the attraction Dylan had for him, and vice versa, because it sucked when two people care about each other but all one of them wanted to do was find reasons why they couldn't be together.

Jimmy believed if you're in love you should want to be with the person you love all the time no matter what. He lived and died by that belief. Then Ashley's image flashed through his mind and he wondered if maybe aloofness on occasion wasn't the way to go; considering how fast she dumped his butt the first, second and third chance she got maybe a change in philosophy is in order.

Jimmy took his eyes off of the couple, or rather the pre-couple, still enjoying the benefits of ignorance being bliss and started to practice his free throws. He went on practicing for ten minutes, making eighty shots out of a hundred before moving on to footwork. This is where he really shined, he thought. There was no one he couldn't make a clown out of with his footwork on a court. He had a good rhythm going when he looked up and saw Dylan with his hand on Marco's face, his thumb briefly stroked Marco's swarthy cheek before Dylan stepped back and began backing away… then Jimmy looked at Marco and the basketball got away from him and bounced off into the chain link fence enclosing the court.

It wasn't like Marco showed a flirty smile or smiled at all, that probably wouldn't have bother Jimmy much, he thinks. The look on Marco's face is… Jimmy doesn't know how to describe the look on Marco's face—he's staring at Dylan with wide eyes, his cheeks flushed, and Jimmy can see from meters away he's breathing hard. It wasn't any of that that made Jimmy drop the ball though, it was Marco lowering his head and raising his fingers to his lips. Dylan'd kissed him.

At first, when denial was still a viable option in Jimmy's head, he tried to believe he was disgusted by the realization two guys just kissed, and why not? His stomach felt twisted up and he was angry, so angry he wanted to put his fist through a wall, of course he was disgusted, what else could the emotion boiling inside him be? Then Marco's tongue appeared and slowly slid over his upper lip and followed that by drawing his bottom lip into his mouth and wholly tasted Dylan's kiss. Jimmy watched it happen and he gave up on the denial instantly, because after seeing that all he wanted was for Marco to relish his kisses, not Dylan's, just his.

Jimmy knew his expression at that moment looked a lot like the one Marco wore, except his wide eyes and rapid breath came from an entirely different place—a weird, crazy place. Dylan's expression, though, is the complete opposite of shock and absolute bewilderment. He'd stopped walking away and stared at Marco like he wanted to snatch the boy up and help lick those lips… and kiss those lips… and do other things with those lips…

Jimmy turned his back on the scene and walked over to his basketball. He didn't pick the ball up, he kicked it into the fence over and over. The links rattling somehow felt soothing. The same way that crazy guy from the Langoliers must have been soothe when he ripped up sheets of paper to calm his nerves.

He didn't just think that, did he? That he wanted to kiss Marco? No…no, that couldn't be right. Marco's a good friend and that's all, not, like, somebody he wanted to… who turns gay in one day?

I'm definitely not gay, never in my life have I wondered 'what would it be like to…' with a guy, not until two minutes ago, anyway.

Jimmy stopped kicking the basketball and picked it up and turned back towards the court. He was through thinking about boys kissing and kissing boys. There was in fact nothing—

"Gahahh! Jimmy shouted.

Marco was standing in front of him.

Marco leaned back at Jimmy's outburst and said, "Hey, what's up?"

"Jesus, man, you scared the hell out of me!" In more ways than one, Jimmy added in his head.

"I scare the jock? Little 'ol me?" Marco asked smiling, but Jimmy saw there was more joy in the smile than ridicule. I guess getting your first kiss from the man you love would make anyone ecstatic, Jimmy thought bitterly. Amazing, five minutes ago he was delighted Marco let Dylan make him happy now all he wished was for Dylan to drop dead within the next five minutes, please.

"Yeah, you do, but you scare me the way small woodland creatures scare me," Jimmy said crisply, like he would to some random Grade 7 who foolishly thought it was okay to talk to him in the halls. "Congratulations, you're a ferret."

The cold retort was lost on Marco, he went right on grinning and even laughed at Jimmy's insult. "Good one!" he said, punching Jimmy in the shoulder. Goddamn, he was practically giddy.

"Yeah… right," Jimmy said gruffly and started to bounce the basketball between them, looking off to the side at a fire hydrant across the street. "What do you what, anyway?"

"Craig wants to practice tonight because he has a new song he wants us to play," Marco answered.

Jimmy looked back at Marco. "Why the hell are you telling me something I already know?"

For the first time since the conversation started Marco's stupid grin disappeared and he looked embarrassed. "I thought maybe… and I'll wait until you get done practicing and everything… we can walk there… together…"

Jimmy caught the ball in his hands and watched Marco fidget as he waited for him to answer. Why does he want me to walk him five blocks? Geeze, he really is a little sissy if he needs me… to… Man, am I an idiot! No, I am the biggest idiot to ever idiot idiot! And let's add a bit of 'I'm an ass' to the mix, too. Is assidiot a word? It should be because it'd fit me to a 'T' if it were.

"No, I'm finished… let me get my gym bag together and we'll go," Jimmy said softly, feeling about as low as any upright creature could get. He walked around Marco and moved over to his gym bag sitting open on a bench.

"Great. That's great," Marco mumbled, the glee in his voice was gone, replaced by quiet misery. Jimmy couldn't help but feel responsible for that. He was responsible. And it was never more obvious why the people he loved always leave him.