AN: I've reached a new low... I do love this show, however.
Disclaimer: Don't own the show/characters.
If there's anyone out there Ethan and Benny can count on to be nerdier than them, it's Rory. Undead or not, he's pretty much the geekiest kid they know. In fact, he makes Ethan and Benny look positively cool.
That's why when Rory shuns Ethan and Benny Monday before chemistry they know the end is near.
"Look guys, I'm sorry," Rory says apologetically, wearing those ridiculous sunglasses and looking somewhere past them, "but you guys are just bad for the rep, you know?"
"B-Bad for the rep?" sputters Ethan indignantly.
"Rory, we take pity on you," says Benny graciously.
Rory shakes his head sadly at the pair of them. "Nothing personal, amigos," he says grandly, and saunters away.
Ethan and Benny stare at one another in disbelief. "That kid's a loser," says Benny finally, bracingly.
"Well, well, well," says Erica, smirking quite nastily when she and Sarah catch them in the hall before lunch, "if it isn't Anakin and Spock, strolling along hand in hand."
Ethan sputters for the second time that morning—there are simply no words. Benny puts a comforting hand on his shoulder.
"Anakin and Spock aren't even from the same fandom—" he begins, duly outraged, as Ethan furiously nods his assent.
"Oh, shut up, lovebirds," snaps Erica, rolling her eyes.
It's Benny's turn to sputter. "L—love—"
"Lovebirds?" Ethan manages.
Sarah looks a bit more sympathetic, but there's something in her expression that puts Ethan off-ease. "You mean you guys haven't heard the rumors?"
Ethan and Benny exchange a panicked glance, and then say at the same time, "WHAT RUMORS?"
Sarah ducks her head. After a moment, she wordlessly hands them her phone.
"Oh my god!" shrieks Ethan, high-pitched, as Benny simply yelps, "SHIT!" He quickly retracts his hand, which was still resting discretely on Ethan's shoulder.
On the small, glassy, slightly smudged screen of Sarah's cell-phone is a terrible, vicious, babe-repelling, reputation-squashing picture.
"Where did you get this?" Benny positively screams. "I mean—why—How did this come to be?" He's turned a very strange color, a sort of grayish-white, and Ethan is reminded of the time he became a zombie.
For his part, Ethan is turning a sickly green. "Uhm… my mom," he says finally. Benny rounds on him with wild eyes, and Ethan continues embarrassedly, "She took it a few weeks ago, when you came over and we fell asleep talking about Battlestar Galactica 2.0, remember?" He looks down, now with a pink flush creeping over his greenish skin (imagine a mottled watermelon with a face). "I guess she thought it was cute. Either way, I found it on my camera and just…left it." He stares determinedly at the ground.
Benny looks even stranger now: he's as red as Ethan, and his expression is darting between horrified anger and something else that is quite unfathomable to all present. "Why," he croaks, "why wouldn't you delete it? And why," he says to Sarah, "do you have it!"
Sarah doesn't meet his gaze. "It was the spirit that possessed me," she says sheepishly. "It…sent it to a few people."
Benny buries his head in his hands. Ethan looks like he's going to be sick.
"You know," says Rory, as he stops by the table at which Rory and Ethan are miserably picking at their respective lunches, "this," —he waves his hands over their downcast heads— "isn't really helping your case."
Benny and Ethan stare at him incredulously. "What, eating together?" says Ethan. "Where else are we going to eat?"
It's true. Benny and Ethan always eat lunch together, and Rory joins them upon occasion.
"I don't know," says Rory imperviously. "I'm just saying. Two dudes, eating alone together everyday—no wonder people think you two are gay."
Then he saunters away for the second time that day, and Benny stares after him murderously. (Ethan would, but he's too busy trying to suffocate himself with his own arms.) Then they separate, eating alone on opposite ends of the cafeteria, and lunch is worse for both of them. Afterwards, they meet up in the hallway and by silent agreement proceed to class together, hyper-aware of the stares they are receiving.
It's afterschool, and Benny and Ethan are in Ethan's room, sitting on his bed, staring at the Picture.
"Dude, what're we gonna do," groans Benny finally, after they stare at it for two straight minutes in dead silence.
"I don't know," says Ethan tiredly.
Silence reigns again.
"The funny thing is," says Benny finally, with the air of one who has simply given up, "we do this all the time."
Ethan grunts his assessment. So they do.
They resume staring at the Picture, which really is just a quick snapshot of the two of them curled up in Ethan's bed, limbs akimbo and tangled. Both their hair is mussed, and Benny's head is resting on Ethan's collarbone, just below the Ethan's shoulder, and Ethan's arm is curled around Benny's back.
It's not that big a deal, really—Benny's always over, and sometimes they both just…fall asleep.
"I guess it does look kinda gay, though," says Benny finally. Then he looks up, his eyes glinting for the first time all day. Ethan feels something very strange in his stomach—an ominous sort of lurch. "Man, if they knew about some of the stuff we've done…"
Ethan grimaces. "Yeah," he says in agreement. "We've done some pretty incriminating stuff."
"Remember that time we went skinny-dipping in Grandma's pool?" says Benny, eyes unfocused in fond reminiscence. "Or when we practiced slow-dancing before the homecoming formal? Or," he smirks wickedly, "That day we were wrestling and you got a boner?"
"Dude!" Ethan half says, half screams. "You swore we'd never talk about that!"
Benny chuckles but falls silent, looking Ethan over speculatively. "Dude, Ethan," he says suddenly, "you're totally gaying up our friendship."
"Me?" says Ethan shrilly, sputtering yet again. "I—you—you were the one who suggested we practice kissing together!"
Benny promptly turns a blazing scarlet color, all the way from his ears to his neckline disappearing beneath his collared shirt. "We had an unspoken agreement to never even think about that day!" he whispers furiously. "Besides, that was years ago!"
Ethan rolls his eyes, but the effect is somewhat lost considering that he's bright red now too. "Oh, shut u—"
He cuts himself off with a squeak, as Benny's lips are on his, thin and—and—strange. It's funny, Ethan can close his eyes and recall with startling clarity the precise image of those lips, but now that they're on his they feel so…different. Unexpected. Startling, enough so to cause Ethan's stomach to do that ominous lurching thing again.
"There," says Benny, pulling away and looking smug, "now your first real kiss—and for the last time, your cousin didn't count!—was with a boy. You gay," he adds in for good measure.
Ethan is vaguely stunned—but somehow not. This seems…okay; easy, almost: an extension of Benny and Ethan, and what they've always been.
At the same time, though, Ethan's heart is beating so fast it's terrifying, and his hand is at his lips, touching them softly. His chest is expanding, ballooning up and out, and he's feeling very warm.
"I'm not the one who just kissed a boy," he says finally, quietly.
Then, before Benny can puzzle out a response, Ethan leans in and kisses him. And then there's no words needed.