A/N: this isn't a new chapter, the end is still the end, I just had to add the original one shot that this sequel stemmed from in here at the beginning, because I had so many comments from people starting with the sequel and wondering where the first part was, not realising it's right there on my list above this one... but anyway, I thought it'd help if I put it all together...
Cody was squirming in his seat, watching as every member of his year took to the stage, receiving their certificates one by one up at the podium from their home room teacher. From their fucking home room teacher! Fuck. FUCK.
How was he going to face Randy up there? He didn't think he could do it. They were slowly making it through each class, and his was next. He felt sick. His hands were actually trembling and his stomach did a flip as he watched Randy walk up the steps to take his place. He could tell he was shitting bricks too, he could see it on his face. How was he ever going to make it through, having to look into his eyes?
He knew this was how it was going to happen but it didn't stop him being any less freaked out by the whole ordeal. He'd been successfully keeping it somewhere in the back of his mind where he didn't have to think about it, acknowledge it, face up to it… but it was finally here, the moment of truth, in more ways than one.
It was all over. This was it. The end. Goodbye.
Goodbye to school at least… what would happen now? He didn't dare to get his hopes up, about anything, he was trying not to think about it even though it was the one thing his mind was constantly wandering to, conjuring up scenarios that it shouldn't be… but right now, he had more pressing things to worry about…
Eyes locking for the briefest of seconds, stormy grey penetrating hesitant blue… there was a flicker of something unrecognisable… a pulsating shock of electricity ran through them as their fingers brushed together, mirroring eyebrows raised in surprise. The flash of the camera, a platonic handshake, the symbolic passing of the baton, and it was over, it was done, both barely registering anything as their fingertips continued to tingle…
A silent gasp of realisation from the crowd, the promise of a secret to be taken to the grave…
The mortar boards were raining down in a flurry and Randy could hear the cheering and applause, resounding around the inside of his head, drowning out all other, wildly inappropriate, thoughts… fuck, his parents are out there somewhere…
His eyes began to dart wildly around in terror as the thought struck him, petrified of the wrath of the Runnels Sr and searching for any signs that they knew… but why would they know? How would they know? And just as he took a deep breath to calm himself down, realising how incredibly stupid and paranoid he was being, a large warm palm clamped down on his shoulder.
"You better take care of him otherwise you're a dead man, but you already knew that, right?"
"I know you'd never intentionally do anything to hurt him Randy, which is why I'm extending you the courtesy of this friendly warning and not just knocking your block off now. Okay?"
"Good. Now that's out the way, how you doing man? You weren't in too good shape last time I saw you…"
As he made small talk with Dustin for a couple of minutes, he could feel a certain blue pair of eyes staring intently at his back. He wondered what on earth that conversation was all about, did Dustin know something he didn't know? Because that was just weird. Did Cody have something he needed to tell him? His stomach twisted in a knot at the thought. Was he going away for college?
He sighed, resigned to the fact. But regardless of that, he sure as hell had something to say to Cody, something he'd been working hard towards all year, something that could make all the difference to their lives, but he just didn't know how to go about it. He didn't even know where to begin.
Sitting tensely in the bar across the road, pushing away his empty plate and knocking back his double JD, Randy had an uncanny feeling of being here before. He smiled ruefully to himself, throwing down a couple of bills as he stood, mustering all the courage he possibly could as he headed for the back of the rapidly forming queue, a sheen of sweat lightly covering his face as he was illuminated under the giant flaming torches.
He hoped he hadn't got it wrong, what he'd overheard, the snippet of conversation between Cody and Andrew after the graduation… he was sure Cody had meant for him to hear…
"…I got a job for the summer, working the bar… just some place in the city, you wouldn't know it… money for college, you know how it is…"
He'd lingered a while longer, debating what to do, but Cody had given him a meaningful look, meaning what exactly, he wasn't quite sure, but he made up his mind. As he turned to leave, a whiff of Chanel number 5 reached his nostrils and a voice whispered in his ear, before re-joining her brother and his best friend by the buffet, an instant jolt of recognition running through Randy as he froze,
"I wish the teachers looked like you when I went to school here…"
He almost laughed now, at how jealous he'd been, almost, but not quite, and he made his way inside, taking his customary place at the buffet.
Cody almost passed out when he saw Randy appear at the bar, he'd been watching the door of the club all night, desperate for him to come, but now that he had he didn't know what to do, what to say. They'd come so far, he could almost taste the freedom, but he was still filled with dread that something would fuck it up, that it was too soon, too fresh, too raw. Too real.
Because that's what it really was, now it was here, what he'd been wanting for months, dreaming about for months, when it all boiled down to it, he was too scared to do anything about it. There was still the possibility that something could go wrong…
They talked briefly between customers, Randy having to turn a blind eye to the fact that Cody was proving to be a hit with the clientele, a fact Cody barely even seemed to notice. Randy wasn't doing too badly either, in the getting hit on stakes, but they only had eyes for each other.
"What are you doing next year?"
The room was hot, loud, pulsing, sweat poured from Randy as he fiddled with the rim of his glass, ripping his coaster into a million tiny bits, watching Cody serve a guy down the other end of the bar, laughing, smiling, it never quite reaching his eyes…
"I got a scholarship…"
"That's awesome, well done…"
I knew it I knew it I knew it I knew it I knew it, he's running away…
"Fuck… hang on a sec…"
Randy watched as he darted away again, sighing forlornly into his drink as he swirled the ice around the bottom, before draining it in one… running away from me.
"I'm moving away…"
Cody bit his lip, trying to gauge Randy's reaction, the look on his crestfallen face breaking his heart as he nodded, offering hearty congratulations,
"Yeah, I thought as much… figured you would…"
"It's not what you think…"
"What do I think?"
What he really wanted to say was that he was staying right here, that he'd received his acceptance letter in the post for the option he'd intended on taking all along… but he hadn't, so he couldn't, not yet… because he just didn't know, there was still a chance that he hadn't got in… so he didn't say a word, letting the uncomfortable silence hang in the air as he was called down the other end of the bar again.
"So what about you?"
"What about me?"
"Oh you know, same old same old… teaching, ha!"
Randy didn't say a word either. He didn't say a thing about how he'd been working his butt off all year, throwing himself into his studies after everything that went down, topping up his degree, applying for the job at St Luke's… it looked like a nice school, pretty exclusive, more money, just round the corner from Dustin's place it was too… he didn't tell him that he got the letter this morning… didn't tell him that he got the job…
It was a new start, just what he needed really, a change is as good as a holiday right?
It was all over but it still didn't feel safe and they both knew it. Not that had ever stopped them before.
Randy downed the rest of his drink, "What time do you finish?"
He stared at the seemingly endless traffic stretching ahead of him, he was on his way home at the end of the week, staring out the window as he waited for the lights to change, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel as he hummed listlessly along to the radio. He wasn't really listening to it, just in a hurry to get home and shower, change before work tonight. He was driving back to Dustin's after college, big pile of books on the seat next to him, he did get in to the first option after all.
The heat of the summer was beginning to dwindle, the academic year well underway. The first few weeks had passed uneventfully and Cody thought back to this time the year before. He'd turned eighteen and hit the clubs, forging out a niche for himself in his new incarnation, he had just met Randy, had an amazing time, gone back to school and got the shock of his life…
A lot had happened since then, and he wondered what was on the cards for him next.
Just as that thought manifested itself in coherent form, he looked out the window, almost swallowing his tongue in shock, gulping frantically, his whole body tingling. A bevy of car horns honked impatiently behind him as he stared, the lights now green, the lone figure looking up at the commotion.
He was bending to put his briefcase in his car, and glancing up over the roof, their eyes met. It was almost as if there's was the pull of the ocean, it was just a fraction of a second yet it was enough to entice both of them to do anything just to feel it again. Cody saw Randy staring at him, eyes wide in shock, he still would have thought he'd gone away to school… and it took everything in his power not to do a U-turn in the middle of the street…
It was only as he drove away, fighting every fibre of his being that wanted to drive straight to Randy's, that he realised where the older man actually was. Was he teaching at St Luke's? If only he'd got a job there in the first place then everything would've been fine from the start… fuck my life…
It was all he could think about as he sat toying with his food, unable to do much more than stare at it, wondering whether that feeling in his stomach was it eating itself from the inside out. He was oblivious to Dustin watching him wryly over the top of his paper, wondering what the fuck was wrong with him this time.
And now as he stood under the hot spray, the shower turned up as high as it could go in an attempt to, to what? To wash away this feeling, all these feelings? He didn't know. In fact, he really didn't think it was a very good idea afterall, the hot water that is, now that he actually thought about it… because that was the problem, he hadn't been able to really cope with that, thinking, in general, what with his brain having turned to a giddy pile of useless mush as soon as he saw Randy earlier on.
He was beginning to wonder if it was even real, did he dream the whole thing? He certainly didn't dream the way it was making him feel. He was sweating, even under the water, especially under the water, and he hit the cold, feeling some bizarre need to punish himself further as the driving needles drilled into his skin. He really wasn't sure he was going to make it through the night the way he was feeling right now, what with work starting in less than an hour.
His head was spinning and his mouth was dry, he wanted to reach out and grab hold of the situation with both hands, get a hold of himself, feel normal again. Because he had just started to think he had come to terms with missing his chance with Randy, accepting that it was always going to be a case of monumental bad timing. Then he saw him again, for all of three seconds, and it was enough to send him spiralling back to square one, instantly messing up his head again. It had taken all his self control to drive himself home and not drive straight to Randy's house, to run straight into his arms and never let him go.
Oh my god you're such a fucking girl… he was thoroughly disgusted with himself, why was he so hung up on this guy?
But it didn't stop him from continuing that train of thought, his memory awash with moments they'd shared. Moments that provided his mind with a barrage of imagery, imagery that chose that very moment to appear, in full technicolour, bombarding him with a slideshow of such vivid intensity…
He couldn't stop the groan, the vision of Randy writhing beneath him the last time they met, overcome with lust, it was the hottest thing he'd ever seen. It was clouding his better judgement and he knew it, but he couldn't stop the awareness in his loins, and his hand slipped down, encouraging himself further as he sprang to life.
Panting into the tiled wall, his body trembled, biting down hard on his lip to stifle the strangled cry as he came hard, spurting into his hand, thick ribbons washing down the drain along with any shred of self decency he had left. At least that's how it felt. He had to get over it. He had to stop this. Stop scouring the bar every night, waiting for him, on the off chance, stop watching the door for him to come in. Stop wishing he'd come by…
You've only got yourself to blame, you could've told him, why didn't you tell him?
'I didn't know yet, I wanted to be sure…'
And then you were sure and you still didn't…
'It was too soon, it was too soon, I didn't want to hurt him any more…'
Don't you think you've hurt him even more this way? What's he gonna say when he finds out? You've been here the whole damn time!
Cody wondered who the fuck he was justifying himself to as he got in the car, banging his head against the steering wheel in frustration, driving past the school again, he didn't know why…
Looking up as he entered the room, the heat hit Randy instantly the moment he walked through the door, the instant tickle of the smoke machine in his nostrils, pungent stench of sweat, men and sex hanging in the air. He felt at ease, like he'd come home, a far cry from this time last year… it's where all his best memories began. He could feel all eyes upon him, the heavy thud of the bass running through his body as he made his way to the bar, only one pair of eyes that he was interested in tonight…
He's gone home?
Is he okay?
When did he leave?
What did he say?
He ran long fingers in frustration over the stubble of his freshly shaven scalp, concern written all over his face, evident in his features, brow furrowing further as he realised he may have missed his final chance. Something in his mind was telling him there was always tomorrow, and the next night, and the next, but he knew within himself he'd long have lost his nerve before he even got that far. No, he had to do it now. As he debated his next course of action, the decision was taken out of his hands, a large and familiar palm coming to rest on his shoulder once more.
"Randy, what the fuck am I gonna do with you two, huh? You're both driving me insane."
It was the longest four hours of Cody's life as he hovered behind the bar, making himself nervous as he glanced at the door every two seconds.
"Dude, what the fuck is wrong with you?"
"You're fucking wired. Get the fuck out of here until you calm down, you're freaking me out,"
"I'm not on drugs!"
"Cody, go home!"
He sat in the car for what felt like an eternity, trying to muster the courage to knock on the door. Randy's house was in darkness, but it was late… he might be asleep, but he might be out… which meant he could be home soon… right? He'll just wait here for a while…
Suddenly the thought struck him that if he was out, and he did come home soon, he might not be coming home alone, and he didn't know if he could handle that… and there was always the chance that he might not even live here anymore anyway…
Or he could be inside, and saw him pull up, and is peering through the curtains with all the lights off waiting for him to go away…
Okay now he was just being paranoid, of that he was well aware, but something in his gut was still stopping him from getting out of the car.
''Oh man up you stupid fuck, you're never gonna know if you never even try…'
Pulling into the drive back home, Cody didn't think he'd ever felt so defeated. He'd waited well into the small hours but still Randy hadn't shown. He finally grew the balls to knock on the door but only compounded his misery further at the lack of response. He thought back to how he'd dared to get his hopes up on the drive over, his body alive with nerves, excitement and something akin to unbridled lust at just the thought of seeing Randy again, maybe this time things will be different? They could be… maybe… right?
Turns out you're just a glutton for punishment… he smashed his fists into the steering wheel, sick of the gloating of the voices in his own head all the way back home, slamming the door as he got out of the car…
"About fucking time, where the hell've you been?"
"What the fuck? Nowhere, what's it to you all of a sudden?"
Dustin was looming in front of him as soon as he walked in, waving his arms around in annoyance as he tried in vain to get his attention, waggling his eyebrows at him not so subtly as he tried to indicate over his shoulder,
"Just… just out…" he was well aware he was stammering… Oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god…
Cody stared, he just blatantly stared, unashamedly and without any ability to stop.
Randy had stood from his spot on the couch, nervously hovering behind Dustin, "How've you been?"
Cody shrugged, going from staring to barely able to even look at Randy at all, "Not bad, you?"
"Okay…" Randy was pretty good at shrugging too,
The silence was awkward, and deafening. And awkward. Very awkward. Until both tried to break it at once,
"I went to your house…"
"I went to the bar…"
"I was waiting for you…"
"They said you'd gone home…"
"I needed to see you…"
"I was looking for you…"
"I want to explain…"
"But you weren't there…"
"I want you to know…"
"And you weren't home…"
"I waited for you…"
"I want you to know…"
"And now you're here…"
"That now I'm here…"
Everything they said was said in unison,
They managed a laugh, "This is ridiculous, you go first,"
And now that he could, he didn't know what to say, he could tell him everything, but he didn't know where to start…
"I saw you today…"
"Yeah," Cody smirked,
"I noticed. I saw you too…"
"So… St Luke's?"
"Um, yeah, I wanted to tell you…" Randy bit his lip, "But you were going away, figured what's the point, you know? Woulda made no difference, too little too late an all that…"
Cody watched him ramble, the pieces falling into place in his mind, maybe, just maybe…
"So I figured maybe just whenever you came back…"
"How long are you home?"
"Um yeah, about that…"
"You're not coming back?"
"No," the second the word left his lips he saw Randy's face drop, "No, I mean yes, I mean…" he hurried to correct himself, "That's not what I meant… Randy…" he took a deep breath,
"I've been here the whole time,"
Randy stared at him, his stomach in his mouth, not sure at first what he was saying, "What? Why didn't you tell me? Are you… are you seeing someone else? Cos I can go…"
"Randy! Get back here! No! I applied local to be near you! But I… well I didn't think I got in, okay? It took ages before they accepted me, and I, well I guess I didn't wanna get my hopes up, you know?"
"It was my first option, well, you were, Randy… I was waiting for you…"
"What for? You still could've told me…"
"I know, I dunno… For the right time…"
"Will it ever be?"
Cody's shoulders slumped, he couldn't help it, he could feel it all slipping away through his fingers, the more he talked, the more he seemed to talk himself out of it, "Well, what about now?"
"Well, yeah. I dunno, I mean, we're both here…"
"I dunno Cody, it's like…" he sighed,
"It's okay, I understand. I can keep waiting, I mean, I don't mind, if you want… you're worth it…" he took a step forward,
"So… you're staying?"
Randy chewed his lip, his stomach flipping over and his heart in his mouth, "I waited for you too,"
They were standing face to face, arms aching to touch, aching to feel, Randy couldn't stop his eyes lighting up, couldn't fight down the small glimmer of hope threatening to overcome him, already making its way to the surface, rising until it reached the point of no return… and finally, their lips met… finally, after all this time… finally, after everything they'd been through, maybe they could be together, after all?