They were miles from Everwood, under the guise of recital they were planning to see in Denver. They had to get out of town. Everwood was just too small. Anywhere they went, they were likely to find someone they knew.
Even here, in the big city, they caught a few suspicious glances as they headed to the back corner of the café. The pretended not to notice or care, though they both did. They just wanted to be left alone and not judged. But because that wasn't going to happen, they settled for looks from strangers over questions from friends.
The whole café was dark, this corner particularly so. It was nice. It provided a cover, a kind of thrilling danger. It was security and enclosing. Everything they needed it to be.
They ordered two scones. Chocolate chip for Ephram, plain with cherry jam for Kyle. Ephram ordered his plain black coffee, and Kyle ordered a hot cider, not liking coffee himself. It was the same thing every time. They made this journey every month, with some excuse or another. Each wished it could be more.
Ephram reached across the table, placing his hand on Kyle's. He could feel Kyle resist the urge to pull back. It was okay here. There was no need to the secrecy. But it was a hard habit to break.
Kyle smiled. Though just a small smile, it was still a victory in Ephram's eyes, as Kyle's lips usually only curled up in sneers. Though they'd been sneaking around for a couple months, Ephram had found he was a fool to have thought Kyle would change. He was still just as sarcastic and condescending towards him as ever. Ephram took it though, because it was truly Kyle.
"I don't want to drive home tonight," Kyle said as the waitress brought them their order, her eyes lingering awkwardly on their hands. Kyle withdrew his hand from Ephram's.
Ephram sat back in his chair, crossing his arms. "And what would our excuse be when we're not back in Everwood tomorrow morning?" he asked, ever the realist.
"Say you were drunk so we stayed the night," Kyle said, his need to always be right, always have the answers surfacing quickly. "People would believe it. It's you, after all."
"I don't know why I even bother with you," Ephram said, only half honestly. Sure, he really enjoyed spending time with Kyle outside of piano lessons and field trips, but in the end, he was still a pain in his ass.
"More reason than I bother with you," Kyle retorted, picking up his scone and biting half of it off in his mouth.
"I can see that," Ephram said, a smile forming on his own lips this time. Kyle wasn't the best at getting his points across, even if he did think he was brilliant.
Kyle swallowed. "What?" he asked. "You afraid I'm going to touch you now or something?"
Ephram shook his head, then picked up his coffee. "Sometimes, it's impossible to have an adult conversation with you."
"We're going to get back in the middle of the night anyway," Kyle reasoned. "I think it's understandable we don't want to drive when we're that tired. What difference will it make if we get back at three in the morning or ten?"
Ephram considered. "So what makes you the genius tonight?"
"I just don't want to drive all the way back tonight," Kyle shrugged, burning his mouth slightly on his cider. "I'll just fall asleep in the front seat anyway, and I'll be pissed when you wake me up, instead of letting me stay in the seat until I feel like getting up."
"This is Colorado," Ephram reminded him. "And it's October. You'd freeze to death."
"So then let's stay," Kyle repeated.
Kyle was being unusually persistent. "Fine," Ephram finally agreed. "I'll be paying for the hotel?"
"Of course," Kyle said. "I wouldn't spend good money on you."
"I guess this means I get the bed?"
"Screw that," Kyle replied. "Get two beds."
"'I wouldn't spend good money on you,'" Ephram quoted back to him.
Kyle sat huffily in his chair, eating and drinking his late night snack. Ephram did the same. Though amused, he didn't let it show. He was sure they hadn't quite reached a battle of the wills yet, but just in case, he wasn't going to let Kyle win.
The waitress came along to ask if they needed anything else. Ephram looked at Kyle to see if the other needed anything, but he was being plainly ignored. Ephram asked for the bill instead.
He looked at Kyle again. "Will you stop it?"
"Pretending I'm not here. I'd hate to stick you with the bill."
Judging by the look on Kyle's face, he wasn't amused. "You know, you might have thought of this bright idea an hour ago. I don't know how many places are still open for check-in after eleven."
The waitress brought the bill and Ephram put two tens down on the table. "Let's go," he said to his apparently mute partner.
Kyle got up, shoving the last crumbs of his food into his mouth, and followed Ephram out to his Jeep. Ephram opened his door for him, but Kyle ignored the gesture as he climbed into the seat.
Ephram went around and started the vehicle. The younger boy already had his head settled against the cool window.