"I'm just saying, man, if we're ever going to be famous I want it to be because of some food-related clothing idea."
Bucket burrows his hand deeper into the sand, giving a lopsided smirk to his best friend lying flat on his back to his right. The sun drowns the two of them in heat and the blaring color of yellow, but neither seem to mind, simply squinting at each other through the glare. The soothing sound of waves collapsing on the shore makes Bucket feel almost drowsy; the ocean has always had that lullabye effect on him. Sleepily, the brunette turns his head toward the water, watching the white foam billow at the sand before sucking backwards.
Perched on top of her magenta board, a dozen or so yards out, is the bronze and beautiful Kelly, brown hair glowing at the edges like a halo. Bucket props himself up on his elbows, sighing hard as he watches her throw her head back with laughter. She really is pretty and it makes Bucket nervous and hopelessly stupid. He likes to blame that entirely on hormones and the fact that she's older than he is and she's made it clear that Bucket is strictly in the Friend Zone, but it always seems like there's something else in the way, something he's overlooking or forgetting about. He chews his lip before rolling to his side, his head resting on one open palm. The other hand digs into the sand again. "I'm going to be alone forever."
One hazel eye cracks open, the other boy turning to perk a dark eyebrow at his friend. "Dude, I'm right here."
Bucket's lips press into a smile. "Yeah, Skin, I know. I mean, you know, Kelly."
Skinner sits up, mirroring Bucket's position on his towel. "You've just gotta wow her, man. Really rock her world."
Skinner sounds so confident, which is not unusual at all. He's always been that way; the ever optimistic blonde surfer bro. It's a title he has accepted gladly. He might be incredibly absent-minded a lot of the time (if not all the time) but at least he's a happy kid. Bucket threads his fingers into his hair and sighs again, giving a less than enthusiastic shrug. Unfortunately, even though he's been friends with Skinner longer than he hasn't, he has always struggled with sharing his best friend's general good mood. Skinner makes it seem so easy, the way he just wakes up already grinning and laughing and ready to go while Bucket has to go through the various normal stages of disgruntlement and reluctance to find something happy to cling to. Skinner doesn't have to try and it's something Bucket has always envied, how simple he makes it seem. Even now he's beaming, blonde hair still damp from the waves they had been riding earlier and slicked back like a young, surfing Elvis.
"How do I do that?" Bucket pouts. "I've had, like, two girlfriends in my whole life and they were back in sixth grade. And one of them only dated me because I let her copy my homework."
"Yeah, but you were a kid then." Skinner waves his hand dismissively. "We're freshmen now. Practically adults. You know, with responsibility and mortgages and all of that."
Bucket, like he often does, chooses to not say anything about how that really had nothing to do with what they were talking about. He's come to accept the way Skinner's mind works - like a casino slot machine. Sometimes, things roll up and ding and match, and other times, most of the time, they don't. But Bucket likes that about Skinner, the way these colorful things come out of his mouth like they're natural and make sense. If anyone could do it, Skinner could make complete and utter nonsense sound logical.
"I've only kissed one girl," Bucket continues negatively, punching his fingers into the sand. "And she had head gear for her braces. I mean, she was cute, but there was a lot of metal and it cut my lip." He frowns at Skinner. "I have no experience in rocking anyone's world."
"Luckily for you, I have a PhD in World Rocking." Skinner indicates to himself with a jiggling thumb, eyebrows vibrating. "They don't call me Skinny Lips for nothing."
Once again, Bucket doesn't say anything about the fact that the nickname 'Skinny Lips' really didn't tell much about whatever reputation it was supposed to represent. But Bucket is Skinner's best friend, and the blonde has dated far more girls than Bucket has. They usually just stick around because Skinner is blonde and cute and goes out of his way to be romantic. They leave eventually because girls their age like the idea of a boyfriend more than actually having one, and maybe it's rude of Bucket to generalize girls like that, but he'll stop believing it when he finally meets a girl that doesn't break up with Skinner after a week. Maybe Bucket is the only one who sees it, but Skinner's a great guy and, from what he's seen, a great boyfriend. That's probably weird to think, the brunette realizes with a frown, but they've been best friends for a long time, so he thinks it's allowed to have those kinds of thoughts about Skinner.
"What are you going to teach me, oh great one?"
"Well, there's a foolproof way I know that will get any girl just going wild. It's simple." He scoots closer to Bucket, sand clinging to his black wetsuit. "You get real close to them, like this, right? And you look into their eyes all serious and deep like you're trying to find something in them, like the best food you've ever had in your life or the secret of the universe or something like that." The hand not holding up Skinner's head sweeps forward, fingertips brushing along the waistline of Bucket's trunks. It makes the brunette jump in surprise, but his gaze can't seem to detach from Skinner's because the blonde looks so intrigued - like there really is the secrets of the universe buried in his eyes somewhere. The fingers continue their ascent, making Bucket's arm hairs lift to attention in their wake.
"Skin ..." Bucket isn't sure why he tries to talk, but the air between them suddenly feels dense and heavy, like they're trying to breathe in seawater. Bucket's heart is seizing because of the trouble, hurling itself against his still ribcage as Skinner's fingers fall onto Bucket's jawline. They trace the curve from behind his ear to his chin, the boy's pointer finger curling and lifting Bucket's head up slightly so his dark eyes are angled down, heavily lidded as they continue to focus on Skinner's.
"And then you get even closer." He inches toward the dark-haired boy, his head crooking slightly to the side as he draws near. Bucket can't even hear his own thoughts, the frantic beating of his heart completely drowning it out like the waves in the sea. He can feel his eyes closing as if being tugged down by the current, his head literally swimming as Skinner's hot breath melts against his mouth, smelling faintly of nacho cheese and cornchips. Somehow, it's intoxicating, and Bucket takes a shaky breath in as Skinner's lips ghost over his own. It's a strange sensation, searing and yet so brief, making Bucket's spine tremble in the sand.
And then the contact is suddenly gone, severed like a fishing line. The hand holding his chin disappears, the mouth that had been breathing in time against his own pulled back. Bucket falls forward slightly, not even aware that he had been tilting toward the boy as his glazed eyes struggle to focus again. Skinner's beaming at him triumphantly, rolling onto his back and clapping his hands high above his head.
"Just like that. I guarantee you'll have Kelly drooling over you in about five minutes."
Bucket blinks hard, not entirely certain what just happened. He lowers to his back as well, squinting up at the cerulean sky. His heart is still pumping like he was just being chased, a hand resting limply over his chest as if to calm the frantic organ. But as his other hand falls flat against the sand, he can feel the heat of Skinner's knuckles radiating against his skin and it does little to help the muscle in its speeding squeezes.
They lay in silence for a time, the sky dampening light shades of yellow and orange as the sun dips in the west. Bucket isn't sure how much time goes by, but he's sure he starts to doze, because the next time he opens his eyes, the beach is almost empty and he can hear Skinner snoring by his side. Bucket rolls onto his stomach, blinking blearily at his sleeping best friend. His lips are still tingly from the almost-kiss, the hairs of his arm rising just at the sight of the blonde. Bucket rubs his fists into his eyes. This is exactly what he needs, he thinks bitterly, another thing to make him confused and lost, like Kelly didn't do that enough just by existing. Frowning, Bucket turns to the sea again, but Kelly's gone; there's only one surfer left out there, riding a weak wave with little enthusiasm. He thinks about Skinner, about how he would love that wave regardless of its height, because that's the way Skinner just is. He finds the best in everything, and maybe that's why Bucket has stuck around the blonde so long. It's nice knowing that no matter how confusing things get, or how unsettling things are, he knows that Skinner will always have something bright and happy to say to make him feel better. And maybe it's corny and stupid, but Bucket likes corn, and Skinner's version of stupidity is just airheaded happiness and at least it never goes away.
"Skin." Bucket lands a soft punch into his best friend's arm. The boy groans in sleep, turning to face Bucket. His lips are slightly parted with his breath and Bucket focuses on them, acutely aware of how they felt when they brushed his - barely touching at all, but more than enough to set his body on fire. "Skin, wake up, you're going to burn."
Skinner's eyelids squeeze before opening, squinting at him through the late sun. "I was dreaming about bologna suits and you woke me up."
"What is it with you and edible clothes?"
The two sit up, gathering their towels and boards and padding their way off of the beach. Barefoot, they start their way home, since the beach is well within walking distance of both of their houses.
"So when are you going to lay the moves on Kelly?" Skinner's shoulder bumps into Bucket's. "Like I said, I know those tricks'll work, money back guarantee, once I get my paycheck for this week. Not that you'll need it, because it'll definitely work."
Bucket swallows thickly, shrugging his board under his arm. "...What if I don't want to use them on her?"
Skinner shrugs. "Well, those moves are so golden that they'll work on anyone. I promise."
The blonde takes a few more steps before he realizes Bucket has stopped, twisting to knit his brows curiously at him. Bucket chews his lip again, lowering his head slightly as the taller boy moves to stand in front of him. "Yeah?"
Bucket takes a deep breath that seems to inflate his entire body like a balloon, stepping so close, their black wetsuits, now dry from the sun, meet at the chest. He watches Skinner blink slowly as Bucket's hand lifts, fingertips grazing over the hidden muscles toned by the suit of his chest, rising farther to brush against the dark, tanned flesh of Skinner's neck. Skinner's eyelids fall halfway, like he's sleepy, and Bucket leans forward, his pulse crashing harder than the waves on the shore, beating beating beating. And he doesn't have to fake finding secrets in Skinner's eyes, because he really is, and he's realizing why thing with Kelly felt weird, why there was something in the way, why he felt like he was forgetting something.
Skinner still smells like nacho cheese and chips, but he tastes more like the ocean. Bucket's lips mold firmly against the other boys, his fingers gently brushing along Skinner's cheek before sinking into the field of his tangled yellow hair. Skinner's hips meet his, one hand gripping the bones of his hip and pulling him closer, harder, and it doesn't matter that a car could pass them at any moment, that someone could walk by and see them, because finally Bucket doesn't feel stupid or nervous or lost and something makes sense. Skinner makes sense.
"Bro." Skinner's voice is weak as they separate. Bucket's eyes peel open, carefully, almost scared, only to see the blonde beaming like he always is, cheeks red, his tongue running over swollen lips. "You mastered those moves like a god."
Bucket grins and twists his hand into Skinner's. It's warm and calloused from years of attending to his board, the sand, the water. "I learn from the best."
With their boards tucked under their free arms, the two walk home, and Skinner is happier than usual, and Bucket, for once in his life, doesn't feel like there's something in the way and everything he needs to remember is walking right beside him.
A/N: Oh, it's so fluffy it hurts.
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