EDIT 2/23/11: This turned out to be a surprisingly well-received fic. I hadn't expected the MBS fandom to be so open towards something like slash, seeing as how the actual series is... well, it's in the children's section, so what does that tell you? Anyhow, I'm very glad people were as open to it as they were.
Akime the Sin Spirit, when she read this, pointed out that I was "spreading the image that homeschoolers are anti-social!" I'd just like to say that being a homeschooler doesn't make you anti-social. ;)
Oh, and I love Kaynie. I'm definitely down with the Kaynie. I'm just getting tired of so many cheesy confessions that keep cropping up, and I like slash. So.
I blame Akime.
If someone had told Sticky that, in a few years' time, he'd fall in love with his best friend, he probably would have backed away slowly and made every attempt possible to have said someone committed. It was that scary a prospect.
But now, he wasn't so sure that would have been the case.
After all, he was growing up, and starting to think about that sort of thing: who am I going to spend my life with? Who likes me? Do I like her? Who's going to be my first? and the answer was always, I don't know.
That didn't bother him for his first teenage year. Total. After that, the questions began nagging him again, eating away at him, worrying him so much that he was almost in tears occasionally, because the reality was he didn't know. He was homeschooled, and so didn't have the greatest opportunity to meet people. He wasn't handsome, like Reynie, and so didn't have the greatest chance of hooking someone even if he could meet people. And even though that shouldn't have bothered him, because Kate was there, and Constance if he waited long enough (honestly, the thought made him shudder), they just... they didn't do it for him. To be quite honest, Kate scared him probably more than was plausible. She was nice and all, but she was just too out of his league.
She was much more Reynie's league. But Sticky could see that when she tried to get Reynie to notice her, he didn't see anything differently, and eventually she stopped trying.
Things went pretty well for a while. Then Sticky figured out his problem, solution, and worst fear all in one.
He noticed first that, whenever Reynie touched him, a little thrill went up his spine. He noticed second just how above average Reynie looked to him. Third was the fact that anything Reynie said was mentally written down and stored away for all time. Fourth?
Fourth was that he didn't even have a problem with it. He would avoid Reynie, always hoping that the other boy would happen upon him at random times and they would just talk, eventually touching upon the subject Sticky was so loathe to think about. He even imagined what he would say, though he knew he would never be brave enough to say it out loud, in an actual public room that any one of Mr. Benedict's large family could walk into. And he tried to forget it, tried to live his life without bringing Reynie into it.
Because it was wrong, really.
But he didn't give a damn.
Eventually, most of the family had gone out. Miss Perumal and Pati were still there, with seven-year-old Constance, who was learning to make the treats she so enjoyed (and she wasn't too bad at it, actually – her experiences in the kitchen were the first poems that weren't even vaguely insulting). Reynie and Sticky had decided to stay behind, Sticky because he wanted to avoid the rest of the family, Reynie because he had homework that still needed finishing. Rhonda enjoyed assigning inordinate amounts for some reason, and not all of them were as fast as Sticky.
(Kate managed by working nonstop – she'd gone shopping only because she claimed that, when she sneezed, algebra came out. Rhonda had told her to sneeze on Constance.)
So both boys were in the library that day. Reynie had hit the books (once, in frustration, literally) and Sticky was trying to accomplish the goal he'd assigned for himself since his first day in Mr. Benedict's library: read every book in the house. He was about halfway there, and was currently reading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. He wasn't enjoying it particularly, but it was in the library, so he had to read it.
Reynie gave a sigh of frustration and sat back, plopping his pencil onto the textbook. "You'd think," he said casually, "that college-level physics wouldn't be this complicated, especially for us."
"That's why Rhonda assigned the extra work," Sticky replied absentmindedly, somewhat ecstatic that Reynie was talking to him and telling himself that he was the only one in the room: why shouldn't Reynie talk to him?
"She needn't have," Reynie said.
"Well, she did, and there's not much we can do about it."
A frustrated exhalation. "You're right," Reynie said, and there was silence, but he didn't go back to working. Sticky's eyes fluttered from his book to Reynie, and then shied back again, his ears turning red when he saw Reynie's completely above-average brown eyes staring back at him.
After a lengthy amount of time, Sticky tried again, with the same result.
"Why do you keep doing that?" Reynie asked finally.
"Doing what?" Sticky asked, suddenly extremely self-conscious.
Reynie looked like he was trying to solve a very hard math problem (which he had been a few minutes ago), and said, "You keep looking at me, blushing, and then looking back."
"I'm not blushing."
"Sorry, Sticky, but you are." Reynie smiled gently. Sticky loved that smile.
He hurriedly thought of a good excuse. "Well, you're not exactly making it easy to read, what with you staring at me and all."
"Sorry," said Reynie, and turned back to his physics homework.
The grandfather clock, which was somewhere in the house buried by books and yet never wound down or failed to be heard, chimed four-thirty about ten minutes later. Sticky looked back at Reynie, who seemed to have gained momentum and was now wielding his pencil powerfully across the paper. "Reynie?" Sticky said quietly.
"Mm?" Reynie replied.
"How would you react if I told you I liked you?" What in the name of all that is relevant in the universe am I doing?
"You're my best friend, Sticky," Reynie said absentmindedly. "If we didn't like each other that'd be a bit strange."
"Not like that," the best friend replied slowly. Stop now, before you say something you'll regret...
Reynie's pencil came to a complete halt, though that was the only thing about his position that changed. His tone, however, was a bit suspicious. "What do you mean?" he asked slowly.
Don't say another word. Not one word. "Never mind," Sticky said quickly, and turned back to his book.
"Okay," Reynie said, and then, "You know, Sticky, you can tell me anything. At all." He resumed writing.
Another long while went by.
"I like you, but in a different way. It's complicated, because it's wrong and I shouldn't like-you-like-you, but I do, and I don't know why because we're never going to be able to be friends again, because it's just wrong because you don't like your best friend like that, and I'm rambling now aren't I? Yes, I am, but you're not going to stop me, are you? Because we're not even friends anymore, are we? See, that's exactly why I didn't want to tell you, and now I've gone and told..." and his rant pretty much went on like that.
Reynie didn't know what to think. At all. Because while it wasn't wrong, in fact plenty of perfectly nice people did the same thing throughout the course of their lives, he simply couldn't believe Sticky would up and tell him about it. Reynie had thought he'd be the one to break it to Sticky...
He felt bad for Sticky, but this made things ever so much easier.
"Sticky," he said finally, putting down his pencil and looking at his best friend. He had the feeling he was grinning like a maniac, but he didn't care, because this was probably the best news he'd ever gotten. "You know, I'm not sure I actually mind."
Sticky's face turned redder, if that were humanly possible. "S-sorry?" he stammered, looking completely embarrassed and at a loss for words.
Reynie, having never done this before, didn't actually know what to say next. "Well," he started, because that's how you buy yourself time without sounding stupid. "I kind of... I thought... you know..."
At that moment, Reynie would have sworn in court that Sticky was related to a tomato. "You... Um, like me... back?" he said slowly, and so quietly you would have had to fight to hear him.
Reynie was blushing now, too. I'm such an idiot, he thought. "Yeah," he replied. How did I get myself into this?
Sticky breathed a sigh of relief. "Okay," he said.
"Yeah," Reynie replied. A long, awkward silence passed before Sticky said,
"So... we never speak of this to anyone?"
"I'm all for it."
"But we don't forget, right?"
"Of course not."