Contrary to popular belief, I'm not dumb. Stupid, moronic, idiotic… all words that should not be applied to me. People look at me and they see my broad shoulders, they see my blonde hair (Like I can help that, right? Coach doesn't allow peircings or dye jobs). They don't see the pages and pages of integers and tangents I doodle in my notebooks, or the amount of time that goes into calculating the play that won the game last Saturday. I may look obtuse, but I swear if you divide me by the square root of three sides, I don't come out as a right triangle.

I can add.

One plus one equals two. One misfit half plus one emo half equals one fucked up whole. Charles plus Metis equals one pissed off jock. Also hurt. Go figure.

I don't know why he followed me out of the party. You'd think he'd stay by his friends' sides, make sure Metis calmed down, make sure I didn't drive a bone fracture up into Charles' brain (if wishes were fishes…). He was in the room. He did the addition too. He knew how I felt about Metis… the only one who didn't know how I felt about Metis was Metis himself. And obviously he didn't care, since I just witnessed him macking on that smug…little… grahhh!

Yeah so punching that street light post was a dumb idea. I can have dumb ideas, without being dumb. He came up behind me, I could smell the fancy shampoo he wore rising off him, riding the heat of all those bodies packed together inside. He didn't touch me. Smart kid. Ever since we took basic music theory together (don't ask me how the hell I got dumped in that one), I'd had a healthy respect for Jay. The guy knew his jazz, he was popular in a completely different sphere than me, everyone knew Jay. He was always pretty… calming, I guess? Smiling and shit.

Crouching down I cradled my knuckles in my other hand, cursing proficiently at the offending pole. Also Charles. And Metis. And blitz attacks from the right in fourth quarter. Yeah. I really fucking hate those.

I fell silent as Metis helped Charles out of the house, talking in low tones with one of Jay's friends. The one with the glasses, uh… Daniel? Whatever. They got in a car and drove off. The moon slipped behind a web of wispy clouds, and there was no one around to see me so I just sat down on my ass and hunched my shoulders, elbows propped on my knees. I hung my head, taking in a deep breath. The air burned my throat as it went down, cold, and I realized I only had a t-shirt on.

"Didn't they come with you?"

"Yeah. But I don't really feel like indulging Charles' whining on the way home." He was closer than I thought, then he was sitting next to me and he was colder than I was because he was shivering. I glanced at him, but he wasn't looking at me. He had his knees drawn up to his chest, and he was staring down at his green and red nail polish decorated high tops, fingers brushing over the gravel by his feet. A long swath of black hair fell forward across one eye, and he absentmindedly brushed it back, tucking it behind one multi-pierced ear. He had a smile on his lips, but it wasn't reaching his eyes.

"If you hate Charles so much, why do you hang out with him?" He gave me a funny look, tilting his head and resting his cheek on his knees, wrapping his arms around his legs and hugging them tightly.

"I don't hate Charles. Do you hate Metis? You punched him."

I opened my mouth, then shut it. Well yeah I punched him… that was another one of my brilliant ideas. But that didn't mean… I mean… I… My mouth sagged open, and Jay gave me an amused arch of his eyebrows. Oh. Oh.

"So you and uh… Charles…"

"Not Charles," he said quietly, looking away from me and straight ahead. "Just me."

"Oh."

We sat in silence, raucous Static-X blasting from the house behind us. A dog barked down the street, deep belling woofs from what must have been one fucking impressive barrel chest, chain rattling along concrete. I felt a surge of liquid warmth in my stomach, and a loosening in my chest. Well… at least I wasn't alone in what I was feeling right now. I still felt fucking sick about it. That slender hand slipping into thick pale blonde hair, those eyes closing as their mouths pulled together like magnets. That tender moment of whispering afterwards, foreheads tilted together. I clenched my fists together, gritting my teeth. My belly burned and heaved, and before I knew it I was crouched with my head in a tangle of bushes, heaving up the reincarnation of pretzels washed out on a tide of sour beer.

He's gone, I don't feel the warmth of his body next to me anymore so he must have fucked off and gone to find something more amusing than the star quarterback of our school puking his guts out on a pair of discarded flip flops and a patch of slowly thawing gray grass beneath an uncaring moon. Charles would have stayed. Charles would have laughed, and possibly passed around popcorn. Fucking Charles. Fucking Charles! Why does he mess with me? Why does he have to be so damn close to Metis, why did he have to kiss him, put his arm around him, look at me with that triumphant all-knowing look? I groan, shoulders shaking as another spasm moves up in a wave from my toes all the way through the top of my now aching head. Then I feel the cool hand on the back of my burning neck, and a red plastic cup thrust against my arm.

"Here. I got you some water. If you promise not to hit me, I'll even give you the last two mints in my pocket."

Jay is a beautiful human being, and I don't think I've ever been so grateful that he is, in fact, not Charles. And that he is, in fact, right here next to me, rubbing the back of my neck and feeling my pain.

I crawl back out of the bushes, wiping my mouth with a shaky wrist and accepting the water from him. He keeps his hand on the back of my shoulder, and it's not cool anymore, it's warm. He peers at me from beneath his bangs, lips parted slightly in concern. Huhn. Jay has really nice lips, kind of like a girls. Except I would never tell him that, cause that's just not something you want to insult a guy with when he's doing his best to make you feel better. I take the mints and crunch them between my teeth, tasting the sharp tang of spearmint dissolve on my tongue.

"Thanks." I mumble, and I'm just too dejected to even bother blushing. I mean, we both just saw the guys (guys!) we like making out with each other in a fairly public place. I don't think me yurking my guts up in front of him is really going to make a difference on the embarrassment scale.

"You okay?" He rubs my upper back soothingly, and I should be pulling back and shooting him an are-you-kidding look, except it feels really good and it's helping keep the sharp thick taste in the back of my throat from moving to the front of my mouth.

"Yeah. You?" Stupid question, right? Cause Jay's not the one stinking of cheap beer and when did I have bananas? Uh… gross.

Except it's not a stupid question, Jay's looking at me and his eyes are telling me he's glad I asked. Since really… who else is going to ask? Who else would even think to ask? He nods, and smiles lopsidedly, and I'm suddenly really glad I asked. 'Cause he's grateful I'm there with him man, he's relieved I'm concerned about his feelings just like I'm grateful he's there with me, and relieved he's concerned about my feelings. It's a moment I can't really understand, and don't want to dissect, 'cause it works for us. We're from two different worlds but we've got that CharlesMetis thread connecting us, and we're not alone in feeling miserable and sickened and left behind in the dark.

The night closes in on us, my arm goes around his waist and he sits in my lap without a word. His hair is really soft under my petting hand, and with my eyes closed it's a thinner, shorter boy in my arms, with hair as black as Charles' soul. His cheek is pressed to my chest, and behind his closed eyes it is a blondes' heartbeat he is keeping count with. That's okay. We're okay with that.