Dylan lowered his eyes to his sketchbook as William caught him staring. At him. Again.
Stop it, man. He's going to think you're a bigger freak than he already does. Dylan thought, absently doodling some adjustments to a sketch of his roommate.
"Hey, shouldn't you be doing that chem homework the mad professor set?"
Dylan looked up surprised. "Since when do you refer to your favourite teacher as the mad professor?"
William shrugged. "Christina said what he set was horrible and she's good at chem. You're not. Don't you think you should get started on it instead of doing your version of art?"
"For the millionth time art is-"
"What the artist says it is." William finished smirking.
Dylan scowled and returned to his sketch.
"What are you drawing anyway?" The question caught Dylan off balance and he shut the book quickly.
"It's none of your business." He snapped, inwardly wincing.
William raised his hands in surrender. "Ok, ok. Sorry. I was just curious."
"I'm hungry. You want anything from the kitchen?" Dylan said it more to change the subject than anything.
"Dude you're always hungry. And no I'm alright."
Dylan shrugged and got up, leaving the sketchbook on the bed. When he got to the door, however, he paused. "Dude why do you have that class president poster on your wall?"
"Um…it won me the election so I keep it as a reminder."
"You need a reminder that you're class president, a job you do every day? Dude you stink at lying." Chuckling Dylan left and William heaved a sigh of relief.
It was late, so everyone was either asleep or doing homework. Jimi had midterms the next week so he'd probably be up revising for them. Dylan tried to be as quiet as possible so he didn't disturb anyone, but this was an old lighthouse with old wooden floors. And old wooden floors in old houses tend to creak when stepped on. Especially when you're trying to creep around quietly.
He got himself a glass of milk from the fridge and sat down at the table, facing the window. He could see the sickle moon, looking like the grin on the Cheshire cat and an idea for a painting came to mind.
"What are you doing up?" the surprise voice jolted him out of his thoughts. In the doorway stood Christina, not dressed for bed yet and looking decidedly frazzled.
"You're oh so charming brother isn't letting me get to sleep."
"Don't give me that, you're not even in your pj's yet."
"I don't wear pj's."
"Fine then. Your raggedy old t-shirt and pj bottoms. While we're on them can I make an observation?" she asked sitting down next to him.
"If it won't hurt then yeah."
"Has anyone noticed that the t-shirt you sleep in is an old one of William's?"
Dylan's eyes widening told the answer.
"How has he not noticed?"
"I put it on after he's gone to sleep and try and wake up before him."
"Dylan, this is you, you never wake up before he does."
"You'd be surprised."
"Am I allowed to ask why you wear it?"
"Because it smells like him. You wouldn't understand."
Dylan looked at her smiling preppiness and part of him wanted to confide in her, because he needed someone to confide this in. Another part of him just wanted to slap her.
"Go on. You've been moping for days and frankly it's depressing the little kids. The sooner you tell William how you feel about him the better it'll be for all of us."
Excuse me? What?!
"You heard me." She said, reading his expression.
"Of course I know. I make it my business to know everyone else's business. I'm a cheerleader, it's what we do. I'll let you in on a secret since it'll help you along. I know my brother, and that means I can tell when he's gone into super hiding mode. I mean he's a pretty private guy anyway since mom died, so not many people notice when he has something big to hide. In fact I think I'm the only person who notices it."
"He's hiding something big?"
"Yeah. Since we met you North kids he's gone into super hiding mode big time. I thought that it was to do with dad marrying Helen, but then I noticed how he started to be like you. Haven't you noticed? He's started using phrases that you use all the time. And he's not wearing Jake Crew clothes so much."
"I noticed that."
"Did you also notice the way he looks at you the way you look at him?"
"He's got better reflexes than you so you never catch him looking. You're slow so he sees you. You should work on that."
"I can't help getting caught. Every time I look at him my mind wanders off into fantasy world and it takes a moment to get it back."
Christina giggled. "Nice…what-d'you-call-it?"
"That's the one."
They sat in silence for a moment, staring at the moon. Christina reached over and took his glass of milk and took a sip. Dylan rolled his eyes. She was always doing that.
"Why don't you tell him?"
"I can't. I mean, what if Frank found out? I don't want to think about what he'd do to us."
"Don't worry about dad, we can keep it secret from him. Helen won't mind too much I don't think."
"Nah, she just wants us to be happy."
"What's stopping you?"
"He's my stepbrother."
"Yeah, STEP-brother, not blood brother. Not the fact that he's…male?"
"God no. I knew I was gay when I turned fifteen. The family doesn't know."
"And I won't tell them. Just tell him."
"What if he doesn't feel the same?"
"He does. Look, I know him, and it's hard for him to be happy when he's hiding something this big. I want him to be happy. And I want you to stop moping."
"You really are a cheerleader aren't you?"
"Duh. Tell him. Please. You'll both be happier, I promise."
She stared at him intently, trying to force an answer out of him.
"I'll think about it."