A/N: I decided to stick an additional Tom chapter in, so you guys can see what'll go on between him and Maureen. :) If you haven't guessed his secret by now, well, you'll find out in this chapter.


At 3:10 the following day, Tom found himself standing anxiously under the shade of an aged oak tree that stood outside the school, his blazer off and hanging limply from his messenger bag where he'd placed it. Usually, he, Roger, Mark and Maureen would go home together in one car, but today Tom had sent the two boys off, assuring them that he and Maureen would just walk home. Both Mark and Roger had thrown suspicious looks in his direction, knowing that he'd be alone with Maureen, but he'd had them go before they'd had a chance to retort anything. Now he was alone, waiting for her, who had never been keen about time. Tom checked the naval watch his father had bought for him that he wore on his wrist: 3:14.

Damn it, he thought almost angrily, where is that drama queen?

He was sweating. Not because he was hot, but because he was nervous. He loosened his school tie and rolled up his cuffs. He couldn't stop moving. Once every three seconds he scanned the rapidly decreasing number of people exiting the school, hoping he'd catch sight of Maureen's bouncing brown hair. She'd said yes, she would meet him, didn't she? Damn it, damn it. Tom rubbed his hands anxiously, replaying that day's events.

"Mo, you promise, meet me later?" he'd asked her in the hall as she put her things in the locker. She'd raised an eyebrow at him, a small smile on her face. She'd been wearing some sort of lip gloss and had smelled of something sweet, something fruity. It had given him a slight headache.

"Thomas W. Collins, what do you want from me? Of course I'll meet you," She'd flipped her hair away from her face and had bit her lip, hugging her History book to her chest. She'd been flirting. Tom knew flirting when he saw it.

"3:00, in front of the school," he'd said. His heart had started beating faster, but not because he was actually turned on by whatever the hell Maureen had thought she was doing.

"Whatever you say, Col,"

"Okay. See you, Mo."

It was now 3:17, and Maureen was still nowhere in sight. Tom was starting to lose patience. He was afraid that if Maureen kept him waiting any longer he'd lose courage. She had to come now or else…

There! Tom spotted her walking out of the school, her hair flying in the wind. She'd done a lot of growing up during the summer, though not in the way Cindy had. Maureen had become taller and skinnier, but not in a gangly way. She played tennis, so there was some muscle on her. She was beautiful, but Tom only said it through an outsider or a friend's point of view.

"Mo!" Tom yelled. He saw as she turned her head and looked for him. She smiled at him and waved, then began to walk towards him. Automatically, Tom jogged towards her to relieve her of all the stuff she was carrying.

"Why thank you, Tommy," Maureen, Roger and Mark were the only ones who could call him 'Tommy'. In school, he was strictly 'Collins' now, or 'Col'. They were about to go into highschool anyway. "Mark and Roger home already?"

"Took you a long time, didn't it? Yeah, I sent them home." Tom eyed her, looking for clues to confirm Mark and Roger's allegations. Maureen tucked a few stray curls behind her ear. Her cologne smelled stronger and her lips seemed shinier. She kept biting her lip and smiling, though not in an obvious way.

Oh God. Had they not been seeing each other in school for that long? Why the hell didn't he notice anything?

Tom's heart beat faster.

"Yeah well, I had to fix some stuff up for…English," Maureen told him. Tom almost laughed. She'd always been a pretty bad liar. He could imagine her taking eons inside the bathroom, staring at herself in the mirror. "What's all the fuss about anyway? What do you want to talk to me about?"

She blinked at him innocently. It was almost hilarious. Innocence didn't suit Maureen Johnson. It never had. He reached for her hand.

"C'mon." They couldn't do it in the schoolyard. Tom led her to the side of the school, which was shaded by a dozen trees or so. It wasn't a very good choice since it was usually used by some people for making out, but there was no other place to go. It was the nearest private place. He wanted to get it over and done with.

"What's up, Collins?" Maureen raised her eyebrows at him. "Some place you brought me." She smirked as she surveyed her surroundings. Tom placed their things at the base of a tree then hurried to gather his thoughts and senses. He pretended he was looking for something in his bag.

Okay, you can do this. It's just Maureen. It's just Mo. Good old Mo.

He ran a hand over his face.

Just do it. Just DO it.

Oh my God, he was going to chicken out. He could feel it. Dread crept into his stomach and he felt as though he was going to throw up.

"Mo…" his voice came out weaker than a whisper. He wasn't sure if Maureen had heard him.

Don't BLOW this, Collins. Take control. Take control.

"Maureen," he said it a little louder this time. He straightened up then turned around to face his best friend. Tom almost jumped out of his skin when he saw that Maureen had moved from where she'd originally been so that she was now only a few millimeters away from him. She was so close in fact, that when Tom had turned around their foreheads had almost collided. The smell of her cologne became magnified and stung Tom's nostrils in the most unpleasant way possible. He gasped, half in surprise and half at the fact that his brain had become too overwhelmed by the sweet sickly smell her cologne provided. Maureen's eyes shone.

"Tommy, I…" she started to say. Tom sensed he was in trouble. He opened his mouth to tell her right that moment what he was supposed to tell her but Maureen caught him by surprise.

Now Tom Collins believed in logic. It was, in fact, the only thing he really believed in, because it gave tangible results. Math and Science were fields of logic and he excelled in those. But there were times wherein logic seemed to be defied. Sometimes they were actually people. Maureen Johnson, for as long as he'd known her, always managed to somehow defy all logic.

Maureen actually kissed him.

Before he could realize what was happening, Tom felt something press against his lips. Something warm, something sweet. The pressure of her mouth against his pressed against his teeth and it hurt. His eyes opened wide, his brain in full alert. There was Maureen's cologne congesting his nose, the bubblegum sweetness of her mouth in his, and a mini nuclear explosion taking place in his crotch. It was pleasant in a strange way yet extremely frightening at the same time.

"Mmmpf!" he exclaimed. He fought to push Maureen off of him. She was actually pushing him against the tree. "Mo!"

He succeeded in pushing her away and almost instantly the warmth in his mouth was gone. Maureen sat on the grass, her bangs falling into her face, her face flushed and her breath coming in pants, like she'd run a marathon. Tom realized he was panting as well. He put a hand to his head, unable to digest just what had happened.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" he demanded angrily. He was upset. This wasn't supposed to happen. This was a nightmare. Maureen looked at him, confused.

"What did you push me for?" she asked.

"You kissed me!" Tom was yelling now. "You goddamn kissed me!"

"I did!" Maureen declared back. She got to her feet, her hands on her hips. "So what? What the hell is your problem?"

"What the hellis your problem?" His heart was beating like crazy and the world was spinning. Oh, he was really going to throw up now. For once, he wasn't taking charge. He hated it. He hated feeling so helpless. Women are evil, he thought bitterly.

"I like you, Tom!" Maureen told him angrily. "You're a blind fool if you don't know that. We've been friends for so long…"

"No!" Tom faced her sharply. This was probably the first time they fought. He'd never yelled at Maureen before. She was his best friend. She was almost his sister. This couldn't be happening.

"No what?" Maureen was almost crying. "I didn't…I didn't want it to begin like this…I broke up with Tim Hargrave just so I could get a chance…"

"You did what?" This was getting worse by the second. Tim Hargrave was one of the nicest boys Tom had actually approved to become Maureen's so-called boyfriend. He'd lasted the longest, since Maureen changed her boys almost as much as she changed her underwear. Tim had miraculously survived three months with her. "He was a great guy, Mo!"

"I want you! Tom, you're the only one who really understood me…" Maureen touched his shoulders but he inched away.

"This can't happen, Maureen. This…you can't…" Tom felt as though he was choking. Damn it, get a hold of yourself! He turned around to not face her and covered his face with his hands.

"I can't what?" Maureen was yelling again. Tom prayed no one was near enough to hear what they were saying. This would really make the front pages of the school paper. He could already imagine several headlines: Boy Genius and Drama Queen: An Item! or Lovers' Quarrel? "I can't what, Thomas?"

"You can't like me! At least not in that way!" Tom turned to her again, raising his arms as he hollered, as if he were proving some significant point. Maureen actually inched away from him, probably taken aback by his sudden outburst. Seeing that he now had the upper hand, Tom sighed and dropped his arms, regaining his self-control. He shoved a hand into one of his pockets almost defeatedly.

It's now or never.

"I'm gay, Maureen," he told her quietly. He looked at her straight in the eyes as he said the words. That was it. His secret. That tiny part of himself he'd guarded so severely for the past few months after he'd finally realized and acknowledged its presence. He saw as several expressions flashed through Maureen's own eyes after he said it out loud: hurt, disbelief, surprise, shock. She'd always been a better actress whenever she wasn't acting. Her eyes said it all.

"That's why I asked to talk to you," he said. "I needed to tell you. You're the only one who knows."

Silence enveloped them. Maureen stood like a statue in front of him. The flush had gone from her cheeks and instead her face looked pale. An ill wind blew a curly lock of her dark hair into her face. She brushed it back carefully. Their stares at each other never wavered. Tom felt as though she was reading his soul through his eyes. Maureen had always been pretty good at things like that. She knew him more than anybody did, just as he did her.

"Say something," he almost pleaded her. He regretted yelling. He regretted pushing her. But he didn't regret telling her. "C'mon, Mo. Please."

"How long…have you known?" Maureen finally asked. Her voice was soft, the softest he'd heard from her yet. "I mean…are you sure?"

Tom nodded. "I'm sure."


He shrugged. "I just do. You feel things like this, Mo. You just do."

"How long?"

"I think I've been one my whole life. I just didn't realize it." He frowned. "Are you…are you okay?"

Maureen nodded slowly, though she looked as if she was still processing the fact that he was gay. Tom neared her and reached out to touch her. Maureen flinched the second his fingers met her shoulder but then she quickly relaxed, and Tom let his hand rest there.

"Are you okay?"

"I told you I am."

"I mean…about that. About me being…" Tom trailed off. It was still something he'd rather not say out loud. "You know."

Surprisingly, Maureen looked up at him and gave him a small smile. "Yeah, of course. Why wouldn't I be?"

Tom raised an eyebrow. "Really? But…you kissed me."

"Yeah," Maureen sighed wistfully. Then she gave a little laugh. "It was sweet. That was my first kiss."

"Mine too."

"You're a great kisser."

Tom had to laugh. He hadn't even attempted to kiss Maureen back. "Yeah well…thanks."

"Too bad you're gay," Maureen laughed a little louder now. Tom punched her playfully on the arm.

"Shut up."

"My lips are sealed, I promise." Maureen assured him. "I'm disappointed, but I'm glad you told me."

"I'm glad I did, too." Tom put an arm around her shoulders. "I can't believe you liked me…."

It was Maureen's turn to punch him. "Shut up. Well, can't have everything. I knew you were too perfect to be true."

"Better go back to Tim Hargrave then. Sorry, Mo."

Maureen rolled her eyes. "Whatever. I never really liked him. He was like a puppy dog. Let's just go home."

They went over to the tree to get their things but as they did, Tom stepped in front of her and planted an unplanned kiss on Maureen's lips, stopping her in her tracks. It wasn't long, but it wasn't short either. He tasted her bubblegum mouth better, her pear-scented cologne made his head swim in a good way, and his teeth weren't forced to embed themselves in the inside part of his lips. Astonishingly, Tom enjoyed it. When it was over, Maureen looked at him, surprised. Her eyes had been closed the entire time it happened and she slowly opened them, her lips still set in a small pucker. She'd enjoyed the kiss as well; he could see it in her face.

"What was that for?"

"Thank you," he told her simply. "And I thought you deserved a better kiss. A real, Thomas W. Collins kiss."

"Aww," Maureen pouted. "Jeez, man. Do you really have to be gay? That was really…nice."

Tom laughed, slinging his bag strap over his shoulder. "Sorry, Mo."

"Well. I can't say I didn't try. At least I can say that my first and second kisses were really really good." Maureen sighed, hugging her notebook to her chest. Tom put an arm around her shoulders.

"Damned right."

"Shut up," she giggled. "Maybe I'll just wait for either Mark or Roger to grow up. Hopefully they're not gay."

Tom jabbed her side in response and Maureen laughed out loud.

It was a start. To Tom Collins, the universe, his universe, was starting to fall into place. Things were beginning to make sense and things were beginning to become malleable. For once, he finally had things being molded the way he wanted them to become. He finally knew where he wanted to go and what he wanted to become. Finally.

The world was a smaller, less scarier place to Thomas W. Collins, now that, at fourteen, he'd succeeded in what most people as old as thrice his age didn't: he'd found himself, and he wasn't shunning it.


A/N: Okay so maybe in the real world, thirteen and fourteen year olds don't actually make out and publicly announce that they're gay like this. I wouldn't know. Do they do that now? During my time they didn't. We were just being kids. But this is Maureen and Collins we're talking about. Impulsive Maureen and mature Collins. I'm betting that they would do something like this. It's just so…them. Haha. :)

Anyway, leave a review to tell me what you guys think. I do love your reviews, especially if they give me insight on what the story actually means to you guys, because I've read some really good reviews that made me go "Oh really? She realized that in the story? That's cool!". So yeah. When that happens, it delights me to no end, because you guys pick up insight I had no intention putting in the first place. :)

This is going to be the last update in a while. School's up again. Meh. College sucks. Have a good one:)