The hints had been subtle at first, a word written in his foggy bedroom window that first snowy day, 'Hi' it read, then the little note in his backpack the next week, asking how he felt that day…he had been a little sick and was flattered someone had noticed. Then there was the cute valentine's card in his locker, the little daisy taped to his mailbox, the smiley face sticker on his football helmet, the funny e-card for his birthday, the little trophy keychain during summer school saying he was 'one smart cookie' when he had felt so stupid, the smiling tiny pumpkin with a single chocolate kiss during Halloween, the funny looking turkey doll that said 'bite me,' really there were so many of them, some he couldn't even remember, some he may have overlooked because they had just been too subtle, too conveniently placed for him to attribute it to his little admirer. Really, he had wondered if maybe they weren't pranks from his teammates, from a nerd he picked on, or maybe a girl who crushed on him, or a fan of his.

A year passed, one full year since that snowy morning when he had read that one little word, 'Hi,' on his window, one year of little things, of small nearly unnoticeable gifts that made him smile. The one year mark, that very same day, was when they took a little turn. He got a mistletoe above his front door. At first he thought his mom had put it up, but she said she didn't, and his dad hadn't a clue why it was there.

He knew, in that itching little soft part of the mind right above his spine that made the hair on his neck stand on end, that it was from his 'fan.'

Two days later he got a heart sticker on his pencil. His pencil had been in his locker…slipping a note in or a card was easy, but putting a sticker on his favorite mechanical pencil was just not achievable without opening the door. A week after that he got a Christmas gift, sitting ever so innocently on top of his folded football uniform. It was a ballerina figurine, about an inch tall, his teammates laughed at him, he smiled and said it was no doubt from his 'secret admirer' and gave it a cute little kiss in front of them.

He threw it in the trash after the game.

He was uneasy, but brushed it off. He had no reason to be nervous, he had spent a whole year with this person, albeit a distant, secretive relationship, but he could still feel some kind of fondness for this mysterious watcher. Sure, it was strange, but he hadn't felt so during the previous gifts.

But then…none of the other gifts had left these traces of…violation. He hadn't noticed before how close this person was…

Almost two months of nothing, somehow he had thought he'd miss it, instead he found some kind of strange ease, a tension that had been building within him so slowly so long he had barely noticed the knot between his shoulders until it had suddenly loosened on him, and left him feeling so incredibly light, so relieved, that he stumbled through his life in a dizzying drunken blur, a sugar high of sorts. His mood so incredibly lifted.

But it wasn't permanent, a Valentine's Card. He didn't know how, but it was there, in his letter jacket pocket. How had it been slipped there? He hadn't removed it all day! It wasn't a cute funny one either, but a deep, passionate purple and red and black. Lacey designs shaped hearts across the cover, and inside an erotic poem, the kind that you give when you either want to turn someone on, or make them blush.

What was the purpose for this one? What had been his admirer's intentions? Was he simply joking, or was it something a bit more…

In the following weeks, when he found the little trinkets, key chains, notes, and other such acts of affection, he forced himself to once again remember that this was ritual, that he was used to it, but the sudden turn it had taken Christmas and Valentine's day, and the strange relief he had felt when he opened his locker to nothing, when he went an entire day without, plagued him.

His birthday came again, and once again he found the 'little things' had jumped ahead just a bit.

He received a very pretty looking box, all wrapped up in colored paper and ribbon, and within it he found a little snow globe. His first thought was 'how sweet' as was his usual reaction, until he looked more closely at the little statues inside, and the inscription.

'To another year of health, happiness, and love.' It read, and within it held two people embracing, their cloths carved in a fluttering motion, as if tugged on by some imagined wind, and little flecks of glittering plastic settled on and around them.

They were both guys.

His eyes widened as the realization struck him in the back of the head, his fingers released and in seconds the little bauble had shattered on his kitchen's tile floor. His mother looked up from the paper with a start, jumping up and rushing over with cries of worry and question.

He had simply slipped, he explained, and to his own mind declared it a mistake, a simple illusion of his mind, or perhaps a fault of the makers? Maybe his fan had asked simply for the engraving, and they put it on the wrong globe? Or perhaps this person didn't notice, and simply thought it was a nice sentiment and sent it?

Or it was just a joke, yeah, a joke his lunatic friends were playing on him. Get his goat, make him twitch, yeah, that's all, he'd handle them later, right now, cleaning up the mess.

-

Someone's messing with Brad.

Photo Opportunities update coming in a few weeks.

-Rin