A/N: Hi Folks, I assume some of you are still with me, since I've received a few PMs over the past year asking about this fic. First, let me apologize for my prolonged absence. It could not be helped. This fic started out as a way for me to cope with the tedious writing that was required of me for the PhD I was working on. It was my creative outlet and it actually helped me to do the more academic writing, but somewhere along the line, it became a huge distraction and I had to put it aside if I had any hope of completing my degree, hence the 1-year hiatus. So, here we are a year and a little later and I'm set to walk in May. I guess you'll be calling me Dr. Luvjordan soon. :-)

Longest A/N ever, I know. Okay here's the deal, this is a snippet from the next chapter, which is written, but needs major editing. I've been anxious to get something up on the board in response to your PMs, so I decided this little preview would suffice for now. I'm still writing and editing parts of the dissertation, that's why you didn't get a full chapter. I should be back with a full chapter sometime in May. Just a little more patience, duckies.

Rickie sat on the steps overlooking the school parking lot as he waited for Rayanne to arrive. He sighed as he went over his biology notes for the second time, frustrated with his inability to retain what he'd learned about the Krebs cycle in the preceding week.

"Why do I even need to know this? I'm never going to medical school, so what does it matter?" He said to no one in particular.

"Hey."

Rickie looked up to where the familiar voice came from, and confirming that it was indeed Corey who had spoken to him, he turned back to his notes.

"Studying for bio?"

"Yeah and it's not going well. I'm kind of busy right now." Rickie replied bluntly.

"Yeah. I'll um- I'll just let you get back to it then. See ya."

Had Corey been paying attention, he would have noticed the slight shake in Rickie's hands and his sudden inability to sit still. Instead, all he saw was how much Rickie wanted to shut down any possibility of a conversation. Rickie took as deep a breath as he could manage without changing his position. He was trying to steady his nerves while looking disinterested, in case Corey was still nearby.

Why is he talking to me? I thought we weren't talking to each other? Wasn't he the one who said he wouldn't be speaking to me anymore? Great, this is exactly what I need before my bio quiz. One more reason I want nothing to do with Corey Helfrick. He's selfish and clueless and so cute when he's unsure of himself. No, stop it. Just because he's decided he wants to talk to you doesn't mean you should talk to him. It's not all up to him. Have some self-respect. There was a reason you gave him that ultimatum and there was a reason he didn't go for it. Move on.

Rickie's shoulders slumped just a little bit. It would have been imperceptible to anyone around him. Rickie gathered his books and the extra 25-pound he carried around daily in the form of isolation and exclusion, and headed off to class.

xXx

Please be home. Please be home. Please be home.

Corey stood in the hallway for what felt like forever before summoning the courage to ring the bell. He'd gone home after school, but couldn't contain his restlessness, so he ended up outside, walking. An hour later, he'd found himself in front of Rickie's place. He spent another half-hour walking around the block before making his way inside and up the stairs. He alternately stood and sat next to the door for at least another ten minutes, thinking of what he could say to make Rickie listen to him. He wasn't even sure what it was he really wanted to say, but he'd decided that he wasn't going back home without having said it.

The doorbell rang and steps could be heard behind the closed door. The door opened and the two boys stared at one another for a beat too long.

"Why? Just, why?" Rickie stood in the doorway with his arms folded, shaking his head. "Look, Corey, I don't have time for this and to be honest, I don't really have anything to say to you."

"Then just listen. He responded, pleadingly. "You don't have to say anything."

Rickie looked at him for a moment before curiosity got the best of him. He gestured for Corey to come in and take a seat on the couch, taking a seat for himself, across the room. After a moment of uncomfortable silence, Corey cleared his throat and snuck a glance at Rickie who was sitting with his legs crossed and his arms folded in his lap. He couldn't have looked more guarded if he'd tried.

"Mr. K home?"

"No, he won't be for awhile. Not enough that you don't want people at school to see us together, now you don't want Mr. Katimsky to see you with me either?" Rickie snapped.

"What? No. I just…I wanted to know if we were alone."

Rickie looked around exaggeratedly, "Looks like it to me."

"So, um, I've been wanting to talk to you for awhile, but I wasn't sure what to say." Corey fidgeted before continuing. "I'm sorry."

"For what?" Rickie asked, his tone challenging.

"For walking away from you that day. For not being a good friend…when you needed one."

"Is that what we were, Corey? Friends?" Rickie challenged.

"Yeah, I thought so. I mean, I considered you my friend. I'm sorry I walked away like that. You were so upset and those idiots…I should have made sure you were okay. I should have been there for you."

"Yeah you should have." All of the hurt Rickie had tried to suppress came rushing to the surface and it took all of his will not get emotional. He refused to let Corey see him cry. "Doesn't matter, nothing's changed, Corey. We didn't stop talking because you weren't there for me. We stopped talking because I asked you a question you refused to answer."

Corey dropped his gaze to the floor, which Rickie interpreted as avoidance, serving only to anger him further and leading him to put an abrupt end to the conversation.

"Okay, we're done here. Nothing's changed. Look, you don't have to keep beating yourself up. We're not friends and we never were. Okay? It's fine. I have lots of real friends. I really don't need any more." Rickie spat the words at Corey, his eyes narrowed and his fists balled up. Rickie stood to his feet and began to turn away, losing the battle with his emotions, when Corey grabbed his hand.

"Please." Corey pleaded. Despite feeling completely defeated, he couldn't let their discussion end like this.

"I just don't see the point. I don't know what your problem is, but it's your problem, not mine." Rickie argued, looking down at where they were joined, noticing Corey's hand, still on his wrist.

"Please?" Corey continued to plead.

Rickie rolled his eyes and at took his seat, once again.

Another uncomfortable silence ensued. Corey could feel Rickie boring holes into his skull with the intensity of his stare. Swallowing hard, he summoned all of his courage.

"I-I like you." He stated bluntly, not daring to make eye contact. If he had, he would have been met with Rickie's narrowed eyes and reddening face.

"You like me." It was a statement, not a question.

"Yeah."

His heart felt like it was going to beat out of his chest. He wondered if he had misread Rickie's actions all those Saturdays at the mall and he felt like an idiot.

Just because he likes guys doesn't mean he likes you.

Corey was mentally beating his head against a wall for having opened this can of worms. He slowly raised his eyes to meet Rickie's and found anger reflected back at him. He panicked and proceeded to babble.

"I should have said something before, but I didn't know how…I'm, I'm sorry. I was just really confused. I mean, I still am, and then I wasn't sure if you felt the same way. I'm really sorry. It's obvious that I like, made a mistake and you don't, so forget I said anything. I'll just go. I'm sorry I like, barged in here or whatever. Let's just forget the whole thing, okay? Sorry."

"Was there a sale on 'sorry' or something, because you're using it a lot." Rickie sniped.

Cory was dumbstruck. He'd never known Rickie to be mean or cruel. Quite the opposite and it was one of the things he loved about Rickie, the depth of his compassion and his sense of fairness. Apparently, he was no longer entitled to be a recipient of any of it.

"C'mon Rickie, this isn't easy." He pleaded.

"Yeah, because it's not like I would know anything about how hard it is to be gay in high school." Rickie rolled his eyes dramatically.

Internally, Rickie warred with himself. He was being intentionally cold and combative because he knew that if he allowed himself even the slightest bit of compassion, he would be powerless against his own romanticism and longing for just what Corey seemed to be offering. From the moment he decided to hear Corey out, he'd launched into his best Rayanne impression.

"I'm not gay." Corey replied.

The mental traffic ground to a screeching halt and Rickie stared at him as though he'd spoken a foreign language.

"Excuse me, but you did just say you like me, right? Did I misunderstand or something?"

"No."

"Okay, let me help you. Boys who like boys? They're gay." Rickie offered in explanation.

"I don't like boys." Corey responded.

"Uh, I'm a boy, Corey." Rickie struggled to bite back a more acerbic remark.

"I know."

"You didn't seem slow before, but now I wonder. See, if I'm a boy and you like me, then you're gay. Get it?"

"It's not that simple." Corey mumbled as he rubbed the back of his neck.

"This is ridiculous." Rickie threw his hands up and then dropped them back into his lap, slapping his thighs in exasperation, questioning why they were still having this conversation.

"Just…listen. I didn't say anything before because I didn't understand what was going on with me. I still don't. I just know that I like you. I really like you." Corey looked everywhere except at Rickie. He had no idea if Rickie felt the same way he did, but it didn't matter, he couldn't seem to stop talking. "The past couple of weeks have been beyond confusing. I think about you…all the time."

"Exactly. Gay." Rickie asserted.

"No."

"No?" Rickie repeated.

"No."

"I don't get it." Rickie shook his head and sighed heavily.

"I don't know what I am." Corey groaned as his hands moved into his hair, tugging at it unconsciously. "I like girls. I've dated girls. I've had sex with girls and I like it…a lot, but then I met you and I don't know. The same way I feel about girls, I feel about you and I don't get it. I've never been attracted to a guy before, so I don't think it's guys, you know, like all guys. I think it's just…you."

Rickie sits mute and staring at Corey.

"Say something." Corey prods, his hands still buried in his hair. "Rickie? Please, say something!"

Rickie cocked his head to one side and narrowed his eyes. "Are you saying that I'm like a girl and that's why you like me?"

Corey eyes shot up and he immediately recognized the hurt in Rickie's face. "No! No, that's not what I'm saying. " He closed his eyes in frustration, "Why is this so hard?"

He runs a hand through his hair and Rickie has a random thought that Corey will surely be bald by the end of this conversation if he keeps pulling and tugging at his hair. He decides, in some part of his brain that is not active in this conversation, that it would be a shame for all of that beautiful, dark hair to go away. Eventually, Corey's muttering grabs Rickie's attention.

"I mean, I see the make-up and stuff and I like it on you, but I don't think of you as a girl. You're obviously a guy, but I, um, I want to be with you…the way I have been with girls."

"I don't know what to say to that."

Rickie stood up, wanting to leave, but realized that they were in his house. He needed time to process everything he'd heard, but there was no escape and he couldn't bring himself to order Corey out of the apartment. He made a move to leave the room, just for a moment, when Corey grabbed his wrist.

"Corey, I really…" He started, shaking his head. "I need to-…"

His next words were silenced by a pair of lips moving over his. A hand was on his back of his neck, another was grasping his own. His lips yielded to their counterparts and he relaxed into the embrace, feeling fingers entwining with his. The hand at his back of his neck slid past his shoulders and brought him closer. The lips parted and he felt a warm, soft tongue brush over his bottom lip, begging for entrance. Again, he yielded. It was slow and sensual and it wasn't not until something hard pressed into his front that he consciously realized what was happening. Breaking the kiss, he stepped back and away from Corey.

"Omigod, omigod…" He muttered to himself as he looked back and forth from Corey to the floor in front of him. "What was that?"

"I don't know. I just…had to. I'm sorry if you didn't want me to. I just had to know."

"Know what?" Rickie asked breathlessly.

"What it felt like to kiss you." Corey replied quietly. "What you taste like." The last part of the response was barely audible, but quiet as it was, the effect was titanic.

What I taste like? Omigod! Does he have any idea what he's doing to me?

They were both quiet for too long.

"Well?"

Rickie wasn't sure why he asked, but he felt like he had to hear the response and at the same time, he was afraid because if it was the response he'd hoped for, the keep-Corey-out-at-all-costs wall that he'd built would come crumbling down and he would probably be hurt all over again, like he had been with Aaron. He touched his lips and remembered his last kiss. Wincing at the memory, he almost didn't hear Corey's response.

"It was…perfect." Corey's cheeks burned as he looked away. He was sure that Rickie felt something for him given the way he'd returned the kiss and with that, Corey began to feel hope at restoring their friendship.

Rickie wanted to smile as cracks began to form in the wall he'd constructed. He wanted to kiss Corey again, despite the fact that he was completely freaked out by what he'd felt earlier, but the wall was still there, fractured and tenuous, but there.

"What does this mean?" He asked.

"I have no idea." Was Corey's honest reply.

Rickie fought back tears as he turned away.

Corey moved after him, placing a hand on Rickie's shoulder. "I meant that I don't know what to call it, but I know that I want to do that again…with you…a lot." Corey turned Rickie around to face him and smiled. "A lot."

Rickie felt the smile tugging at the corners of his mouth and he just didn't have the will to contain it any longer. Corey's lips brushed over his, softly, timidly, until consent was given again. This time it was Corey who was shocked at the feeling of something hard against his own hardness. A tiny, soft moan was heard, or maybe it was two. Corey pulled Rickie down onto the couch, never breaking their kiss. Rickie could feel himself melting into Corey's strong embrace. He wanted nothing more than to feel this way forever. The heat between them was fierce and consuming. It was like nothing Rickie had ever felt before. Each of them surrendered to the moment, a tangle of limbs, and it was this way that Mr. Katimsky found them when he arrived home an hour later.

As usual, many thanks to Goodnite Girl, who is my trusty beta and has been suffering through this degree right along with me. This is probably a surprise to her as I'm posting on a whim. That said, I apologize for any typos or grammatical errors. I didn't have the self-restraint to submit it for beta'ing before posting. Leave me a review, words of encouragement or even a good cursing out for my prolonged absence. I'd love to hear from you. I miss you guys!