I exhaled heavily, slinging my backpack to the side and letting it fall to the floor before surveying the area. Everything seemed decently normal, considering what constituted normal in my life, the sounds of Kendall and Logan's fag-fest carrying down the hall from Logan's bedroom, Kendall's mom busy at work in the kitchen preparing for everyone's favourite day of the week, all the guys' school stuff piled on the table or the floor or even the slide, in Carlos' case.
Which, speaking of, Carlos himself sat on the couch, spine oddly straight as he watched Wayne Wayne/Towel Boy's new television programme. Shrugging, because, well, I had nowhere to be and no work that I cared enough to do (male models didn't need high school), I plopped myself down next to my best friend.
"Always eat your bananas," he whispered, a delayed repetition of the song issuing from the TV set. He lifted a finger and traced the movements of the man in the orange jumpsuit across the screen.
I gave him a sideways look. He was strange enough on a regular basis (where's a normal guy that wears a hockey helmet around the clock and wages war against coffee makers?), but this was a little much even for Carlos. He turned to me, eyes wide in anticipation, of what I couldn't guess for the life of me, and put both hands on my shoulders, mouth hanging open limply.
"You can see, like, all of Jupiter's moons from where I am," he said profoundly, slowly turning to the television and then back to me again. "The palm trees, and the oak trees…just sit down, man, I need you right now."
I looked back at him a bit unsurely, for I couldn't see any planets (or their moons for that matter) and already was sitting down.
"Carlos," I said tentatively, bending down so I was level with him and looking into his dilated eyes. "Can you tell me what happened?"
He glanced back at the television, where the inane song continued. "Well…I…Katie, and…"
"Aw, come on," I interrupted, throwing my hands up in the air. Carlos looked mildly disturbed at my reaction, staring at me with a strange look on his face.
"Where is she?" I asked, and he shrank back from me.
"I-I don't know, James, dude, ahhhhh." He pointed at something behind me, though I didn't even look because the object in question either didn't exist or wasn't doing what Carlos thought it was. A stupid grin formed on his face, admittedly cute even though I was a little angry with Katie and him.
I patted him on the head because some weird part of me wanted to, although I didn't exactly expect him to shriek.
"Did you just touch my hair?"
"I guess, yeah."
His wide eyes widened, expression turning into one of desperation. "Where's my helmet?" he demanded. "Did you do something to it? You tell me. No one steals my helmet, Oliver, no one steals my helmet."
"Carlos," I said softly, again levelling myself with his reddened face. "It's right next to you."
He looked down at the couch to the left of him, in front of me, and sure enough there sat his helmet. Wincing, he put it on, snapping it around his chin and sighing in relief.
"Okay now?" I asked, as if talking to an injured animal or a little kid.
"No," he mumbled, digging the heels of his hands into his closed eyes and whining. "Make it stop, man…seriously, I…"
I wrapped my arms around him comfortingly, and he melted in my grasp, leaning against my chest and sighing. I ran my hand up and down his back soothingly, startled at how warm he was (whatever Katie gave him was making his heart rate super fast and his temperature really high), murmuring calming things as he squeezed his eyes closed.
"J-James?" he asked at last, voice timid. "Do you see them?"
Jupiter's moons? Yeah, they're all over the floor, man. "No."
"James, I really like you."
I shifted on the couch, because, well, who wouldn't feel uncomfortable in my position? Maybe Logan or Kendall, but I was James and I like girls. I shuddered as I felt Carlos' fingers tracing down my jaw, eyes snapping open to stare at him. I was not attracted to Carlos, of all people. I was attracted to soft, glossed lips and long eyelashes and hips and tits. And angled, firm, slender bodies and broad shoulders and strong legs and…what.
I watched as his mouth hovered over mine, heart pounding in my chest, before I, yes I, straight James, closed the distance between us and pressed my lips clumsily to his.
We both stared at each other in shock, my arms still wound around Carlos.
"Dude," he stated matter-of-factly, falling silent so I could hear the television spewing nonsense about bananas and Kendall whimpering in the background.
"Dude," I repeated, looking down at his mouth, which looked really, really delicious. Maybe Carlos' insanity was rubbing off on me.
"Can we do that again?" he asked enthusiastically, bracing himself on my shoulders and kneeling between my legs. "James? Hmm?"
I looked up at him worriedly before deciding that Katie should come up with more plots to achieve the combination of Carlos and what I guessed was LSD. And that I still liked women and under no circumstances men like this guy.
I kissed him.