Robbie nearly drops his backpack in the ice. "You've gotta be kidding me."

Beck runsa hand through his hair, his fingers clenching in the black strands. "Fuck!" He repeats, rearing his foot back to slam it in the flat tire of his car. The car is resting on one side, dipped by not one, but two viciously slashed tires. The rubber is deflated in the snow, the air having escaped who knows how long ago. Robbie finally lets his backpack fall to the ground as Beck continues to kick the flat tires, and then the car door. His fists slams on the roof and Robbie moves forward, fearing for the other boy's safety at this point as he grabs Beck's elbow and pulls him backward.

"Dude, you're going to hurt yourself."

To his surprise, Beck doesn't fight back. He actually turns to Robbie in search of comfort, pressing his forehead to the curly-haired boy's shoulder. Robbie blinks, arms raising slightly, awkwardly, before gently resting on Beck's back. For a fearful moment, Robbie thought Beck was going to cry; to his relief, Beck just made a few, angry grunting noises into his shirt.

Robbie found his hand gliding up and down the boy's spine, unable to keep himself from trying to make the other boy feel better. He turns his head slowly, lips pressing to Beck's ear. "Would it make you feel better if I totally dumped my milk on Jade's head tomorrow?"

Beck muffles laughter into the other boy's shoulder. "You're too chicken shit to do it."

Robbie smirks, shrugging slightly. Through his chattering teeth, he says, "I'd risk losing my life for you."

There was a brief moment of silence, the only sound being Robbie's heart slamming in his ears, and then Beck pulled back and met the other boy's eyes. Beck's are so deep and an interesting mixture of so many things he can't read that Robbie finds himself sufficiently lost in them.


Robbie blinks, nodding. "Yeah. I'd risk your ex-girlfriend ripping off my testicles if it got a smile out of you."

Beck's lips, which have been dormant of anything for far too long, twitch upward. A smile is almost squeezed out of them until they slip back to his destroyed tires. Robbie watches with a frown as anger pulses down to his hands again, clenching his fingers into tight fists. Robbie reaches down, taking Beck's wrist in a gentle noose and forcing his gaze back to his own.

"I'll call someone to get us, okay? And then we'll get a tow for your car and we'll go back to your place and drink your dad's whiskey."

The taller of the two sighs so hard it sounds like glass breaking and Robbie's frown deepens, pulling the boy forward without much thought behind the action. He hugs him because he's never seen Beck so broken before, never thought that he could be so torn up like he is now and Robbie ... Robbie's his best friend, but even he doesn't know how to make him feel better. It's weird having to be the strong one when he's always been known as the skinny weirdo with the puppet.

But here he was with Beck's arms around his waist, choosing to embrace him as opposed to breaking the windows on his car and he saw that as progress, honestly.

"Whiskey sounds fucking fantastic," the boy whispered bitterly, heaving one last sigh before he stepped back again, eying Robbie slowly. His brows met over his nose, gesturing with his hands. "Where's your coat?"

Robbie blinks. He had hoped that the fact he forgot to grab a coat before leaving school would go unnoticed - they didn't get a lot of snow in Hollywood, so he hadn't exactly been prepared for the thin layer that coated the parking lot after school let out. He opens his mouth to say something, only for Beck to roll his eyes and shift his shoulders. Beck's jacket slides down his arms. He hooks it in one hand, draping it over Robbie's trembling shoulders before he can get a word in to refuse.

Robbie's fingers curl around the collar, bringing it to his chin. It smells like Beck; an exotic cologne and hand sanitizer. Beck perches on the hood of his car, head hanging slightly as Robbie sits beside him. He calls Tori and asks for a ride, sliding his phone back into his pocket as soon as the call is over and leaning his head on Beck's shoulder. He claps a hand on his friend's knee.

"It's okay, dude. I'll help you pay for new tires."

Robbie's hand stays on Beck's knee and neither of them seem to notice.

"It's been, like, two months, Rob. And she's still -" Beck shakes his head, tilting it to rest atop Robbie's curls. "She's still messing with me."

Robbie chews his lip. "Do you regret it?"

"Breaking up with her?"


Beck sighs and Robbie hopes it's not because he is. Robbie's been Beck's friend for so long, life before him is a blur, and he knows that the two years he spent attached to Jade's hip were incredibly unhappy. He just hopes that Jade hasn't become a constant for him.

"No," he says, finally, Robbie nearly melting with relief. "I regret dating her in the first place."

Robbie pauses, sighing in the smells that make up Beck. "Did you learn anything?"

Beck snorts, an arm wrapping around the smaller boy's waist. Robbie feels him shiver and shifts closer to try and give him some kind of warmth.

"Yeah," Beck mumbles, lips lost in Robbie's hair. "Avoid girls with eyebrow rings."


"Robbie, please tell me you are not weaving a crown out of dandelions."

Robbie frowns, giving the boy on the other side of the blanket a scowl. "We're having a picnic. You always make crowns."

Beck just stares at him before rolling his eyes. "This isn't a picnic. We have a ratty old blanket and McDonalds."

The curly-haired of the two laughs, humming down at the dandelions in his hands. "Still counts." He gives Beck a careful glance to see that the dark-skinned boy is smiling, and it touches his eyes. Robbie feels like melting. It's been so long since he's seen Beck genuinely smile. It's like Jade was this ice cap that surrounded him and now that spring is coming, it's melting. He's growing anew.

Beck digs a burger out of the greasy paper bag and starts eating in silence, laying on his stomach. His eyes travel over the park down the hill. It's warm. The sun is out, kids are laughing, there's a dog chasing a Frisbee. It was a Kodak moment, a moment in which Robbie momentarily wishes he was a photographer instead of a ventriloquist. He wants to freeze this moment and put it on a postcard.

He leans over then, placing the finished crown of dandelions on Beck's head. The boy huffs but makes no moves to dispose of it, and Robbie smiles, laying down next to him on his back, balancing a box of fries on his chest. He lifts one toward his mouth only to turn and see Beck with his mouth open and tongue out, waiting, eying the skinny boy expectantly.

"Did you want something?"

"I will bite off your finger, too."

Robbie laughs, pushing the salty, yellow fry into the other boy's mouth. Beck smiles down at him and Robbie's just so startled, so shocked, by how ... how pretty his best friend is, how anyone could possibly throw him away.

Jade is an idiot.

Beck takes another bite of his burger and his eyes turn back to the park and the kids and the dogs and Robbie laughs, hiding a giggle behind his hand. Beck narrows his gaze down at him and Robbie gestures vaguely.

"You are a messy eater." Robbie reaches upward, his finger gathering the tiny drop of ketchup on the tip. He wiggles it in front of the dark-skinned boy, looking away to search for a napkin when suddenly something hot and wet wraps around it. He jerks in surprise, flicking his eyes back up to Beck behind his glasses and the older boy is watching him with a strange kind of intensity, a new kind, and it makes the poor boy's heart stutter.

It also does things to other parts of his anatomy but he's trying to ignore that right now.

Beck pulls back slowly, removing his lips from Robbie's finger with a soft smack. He studies him for a moment, eyebrows growing increasingly concerned as they meet over his nose.

"Breathe, Robbie."

He inhales so hard, so fast, it sounds like paper ripping when he finally remembers how. Beck laughs and Robbie pushes him over, climbing on top of him, and he knows that Beck is about a hundred times stronger than him and he only lets Robbie do this because ... well, he doesn't know, actually, but Robbie's straddling his hips in the middle of a park with the sun on his back and it smells like McDonalds.

"Shut your mouth, Oliver, or I'll -"

"You'll what?" Beck props himself on his elbows, eyebrows raising. "Shut it for me?"

Robbie hesitates. There's a line here, somewhere, and Robbie doesn't know if the steps forward are safe anymore. He swallows, the playful fight dying. "Do you want me to?"

Beck laughs, folding his arms behind his head and laying back on the ratty old blanket. "If you think you can."

And Robbie, he's really thinking about it, and he starts to lean down, and he ignores his stupid fears and his stupid thoughts and puts his hands on either side of Beck's face and starts to fall and then -


Robbie falls backward, holding his forehead, legs tangling with Beck's. He blinks, moaning at the dull pain echoing through his skull, narrowing his angry gaze at a green Frisbee at his side. Before he can say much else, there's a dog galloping up the hill, tongue out, spit flying, and his target isn't the Frisbee, no, but the victim of the pain the stupid toy caused. Robbie lifts his hands as the dog barrels him over, a hot tongue and a wet nose sliding all over his face, fogging his glasses, and somewhere behind the stupid thing, he can hear Beck laughing.

"Help me, you - get off! - you bastard, get him off!"

The dog is pulled away, but not before he gets a nice swipe of slobbery tongue in his mouth. Robbie spits, tearing his glasses from his face and wiping them furiously on the hem of his shirt. He shoves them back up his nose, the world sharpening again, and Beck is standing cross-legged, a pack of fries dangling from his hand.

"Well, you can't shut my mouth now. You smell like dog. And you probably taste like dog, too."

Robbie makes a face at him, extending his arm. Beck pulls him up and the two roll up the blanket, pack what's left of the food, and head back to Beck's car.

An arm slides around Robbie's waist. Beck's still laughing, and he turns his lips to press a kiss that sends Robbie's heart thudding wildly in his ribcage to his hair.

"I was right. You reek."

He's still wearing the dandelion crown.


It's obvious, now, for both of them.

But it's kind of like having a crush in the third grade. The butterflies.

Robbie kicks off the edge of the pool, grabbing Beck's trunks as he passes him. Beck reels, motioning violently in the other boy's direction as he leans over the edge of the pool, phone pressed to his ear.

"Yeah, Mom. We're just hanging out. Yes. Yes, he's staying with me all weekend."

Robbie leans on the pool wall and watches the other boy with a smile, eyes traveling unconsciously up the boy's body. It's weird, because Robbie never thought he was gay, and it's not like he has an eye for any other boy - or anyone period, really. It's just Beck.

Beck laughs suddenly, shaking his head. "No, Mom. No girls. Promise." He glances at Robbie, giving a rogue wink.

It's a good thing Robbie's floating in a pool because his knees would have surely failed him just then. Beck gets off the phone and turns toward his best friend, hands on his hips. Robbie cocks a brow at him and hums nonchalantly as Beck wades toward him. The ripples meet his chest before Beck does and then he's there, hovering in front of his face, and he smells like chlorine and home.

"I have a question." Beck tilts his head, the damp strands of his hair dripping water.

"Hm?" Robbie reaches up, twirling one of the strands around his finger.

"Why haven't I seen Rex in awhile?"

Robbie pauses, frowning. His hand falls and he looks away, a blush crawling up his cheeks. "I, uh, well, he, uh-"

Beck chuckles, a finger curling under Robbie's chin and forcing him forward again. His eyebrows raise. "Don't hurt yourself."

The ventriloquist sticks out his tongue before crossing his arms. "I guess I just don't ... need him like I used to."

Beck frowns this time. "Why not?"

Robbie sighs, adjusting his arms as he leans forward, pressing his cheek to Beck's chest. He can hear the boy's heart bumping under the skin and the bones and Robbie smiles faintly. "Rex made me feel safe, and he could say all of the things I couldn't, and he just ... he made me strong. But I don't need him anymore."

Beck's hand is on his back. "Why?"

Robbie laughs, leaning back slightly. "Because I have you. And you're much better than a puppet, might I add."

Beck's eyes are so bright, they're like two suns. "I like to hope I have better sex appeal than a wooden doll."

"Trust me, you are three hundred percent more satisfying than Rex." Robbie lets his arms drape over Beck's shoulders and smiles. He's warm and wet and Robbie doesn't think about Jade much anymore, neither of them do, but he wonders for a moment if she was ever in here with him like this. The idea is dismissed pretty quickly - even if she had been, Robbie can guarantee it was not on these terms. It wasn't like this, where Beck is genuinely happy and holding on and -

Arms tighten around his waist. Robbie tenses. "Don't you even, Oliver, I swear to God -"

Beck laughs and before the other boy can struggle he's dunking him under the water, holding him hard to his chest as the water closes above them. Robbie closes his eyes and there, suspended between the floor of the pool and surface, it's just Beck's limbs and Beck's body and just Beck. Robbie clings to him, sucking in a breath as they come back up and he's about to yell at him, to pull his hair or something, but before he can get the chance, Beck is kissing him.

Robbie's eyes fluttered close, the fight melting out of him, trembling hands reaching up to hold the other boy's cheeks. He can feel Beck smiling behind his lips and his heart swells and pushes against his sternum and he's whole here, right here.

Beck pulls back, lifting a hand to swipe back a mop of wet curls from Robbie's forehead. He leans forward, placing a soft kiss there before he steps back, sinking into the water and swimming away.

"Want a pizza? I'm hungry and too lazy to cook."

Rob touches his lips, trying to hide the blush and smile that's dominating his face. He swims to the boy's side, Beck reaching for his phone again.

"Sure, B."

Robbie kisses his arm, Beck grins, and then he's dialing.


They're going to college now. They have an apartment together.

Among other things, they have a lot of sex. And that's great and all, but Robbie likes waking up the morning after and seeing Beck strewn across the sheets with drool dribbling over the corner of his lip, his eyes crusted shut, and his boxers flung on the lamp across the room almost more than the sex.

Okay, maybe not, but it's just as good.

He never would have imagined this.

They're sitting on a park bench looking at a newspaper for furniture ads when a voice he hasn't heard in months comes up from behind them.


They twist. Robbie's legs are in Beck's lap and when he sees her, standing there in a wool jacket with her hands in her pockets and her hair up, Robbie almost flinches away from Beck, like she still owns him. Robbie swallows, nodding in the girl's direction. She doesn't address him. She stares, certainly, but she doesn't say hi. She eyes the newspaper and Beck and Robbie and stands there, her mouth falling open.

"Hey, Jade. How are you?" Beck offers a smile that doesn't touch his eyes and Robbie focuses on him instead, a hand Jade can't see rubbing the man's leg.

"Good." Jade flings her eyes to Robbie then, narrowing her gaze. She adjusts her purse on her shoulder and shifts awkwardly before giving up. There's something in her eyes Robbie doesn't like, like she's getting ready to pounce, or yell, or demand an explanation.

"Good. Me too." Beck glances to Robbie and smiles again, only this time, it's real, and Robbie's heart pings.

"Good." Jade shifts her eyes between them and Robbie doesn't know what she sees but he doesn't care. She didn't understand Beck back then and she certainly wouldn't understand him now.

Not another word is spoken. She walks off and Beck goes back to the newspaper like nothing happened.

Robbie smiles. He kisses Beck's temple and the dark-skinned man smirks, meeting his eyes.

The leaves are changing colors behind them, but some things always stay the same.

A/N: ... Good god the fluff could give you cavities.

Review, yes?