A/N: This is an AU fic and quite a few of the details in canon have been changed significantly. Some of the characters and things that happen are similar to canon but others are very different. I'm kind of assuming that anyone bothering to read a Seth/Riley slash fic isn't really going to be expecting me to stick too close to the original storyline, but I thought I'd give you fair warning just in case!
A big thank you to my pre-readers, brit purgers and betas. I won't name them every chapter, but Miss Dare, Beckybrit, Sadtomato and Mamdi, you rock.
The first time I see Riley, my eyes lock onto him and I can't look away. I'm sitting on the beach at La Push with my friends, letting the warm sand trickle idly through my fingers as we talk and joke around. It's a beautiful Saturday afternoon in late spring and we've all been tempted out by the unusually warm sunshine.
I lift my head and glance along the beach, and then I see him.
I freeze, my mouth half open, my hand now empty as the last grains of sand escape. Suddenly my focus is entirely devoted to the boy who's just walked onto the beach with Embry. His skin's paler than most of the Quileutes and his hair is brown rather than black, but his eyes are dark like mine. He's slender and graceful, and when he turns his head and smiles at something that Embry says his face lights up. The only thought in my head is that I've never seen such a beautiful boy before. I can't stop staring as Embry catches sight of our group and heads towards us.
A fistful of sand being shoved down the back of my board shorts brings me abruptly back to the here and now.
"What the fuck?" I yell in protest, jumping up and shaking out as much of it as I can, glaring at Quil who's laughing at me.
"You zoned out there for a minute, Dude. I was just helping to bring you back."
"Next time, do it without the sand, asshole." I wiggle my butt, and feel the soft whisper as more sand falls down the backs of my thighs. "That shit's uncomfortable!"
Embry and the boy are right there now and Embry laughs when he sees my predicament.
"Hey, Guys. Meet Riley - my new neighbor." He introduces the rest of us to Riley. "It's a lot of names to remember, we'll quiz you later." Embry smiles and the boy grins back.
"Nice to meet you all," he says. His eyes flick around the circle as they sit down with us. I can't decide whether it's just my imagination, or whether they really do rest on me for a fraction longer than everyone else.
Once he's there I find myself struck by a peculiar kind of shyness. Normally I'm pretty sociable but this boy's thrown me. Luckily my friends more than make up for it, and I don't think that anyone notices my confusion. I try to keep my eyes away from him, but once or twice I look up and catch him watching me. His face is interested, thoughtful.
I get the lowdown on Riley from my mom. She knows everything that happens on the Res.
"He's just moved back here with his mother," she informs me as I help her sort the laundry. "He's half Quileute, his father's white. They moved away to Seattle when they married. But Riley's dad died last year so she's come back to live here again."
"That sucks - about his Dad I mean." I feel sad for Riley, I know what it's like to lose a father. My Dad died of a heart attack the year before - totally out of the blue. We were all devastated.
"Yes. It was cancer apparently. It can't have been easy for them."
My mom doesn't meet my eye as she shakes out a pair of pants and folds them vigorously. Even now, she still finds it hard to talk about my Dad. I change the subject quickly.
"I guess he'll be going to Forks High." There's a school on the Res for younger students, but we get bussed out to Forks for high school. "Do you know how old Riley is? He looked my age."
"Yes, he'll be a junior too, I think," she replies. Her eyes narrow as she looks at me with a knowing smile. "Why all the interest?"
I feel my cheeks heat. My mom knows that I've never been interested in girls. She brought the subject up with me before I got around to mentioning it myself. I'm not open about my sexuality and have never had a boyfriend. But I know that I'm gay and Mom and my sister, Leah, do too.
"No reason," I shrug and she chuckles. She knows me too damn well, so I add. "He probably likes girls anyway."
But I remember the way that he kept looking at me on the beach and feel a secret thrill of hope.
On Monday I see him in the line for the school bus. He catches my eye and grins so I smile back, trying not to look too eager. He's standing with Embry, and Quil, who are chatting with each other as usual, so I move over to greet them. They're my friends, I can do it without it looking weird.
"Hey, guys, how's it going?"
"Not bad, Man," Embry replies and the others grin and acknowledge me. But soon Quil and Embry are deep in conversation again, girl-related as usual. I take courage from the fact that Riley doesn't seem too interested in what they're talking about and grit my teeth and man up, moving a little closer to Riley and speaking to him directly.
"Hi again. I'm Seth," I meet his eyes. Close up they're a beautiful warm brown; lighter than mine but striking in his paler face. "We met at the beach, but I thought you might have forgotten - there were a lot of us there on Saturday."
"I remembered your name actually." His lips curve in a smile and he flushes slightly, looking down at his feet for a second.
I'm feeling awkward now, not sure how to continue the conversation. It's not like me to be lost for words but something about Riley throws me. I want to make a connection with him but my social skills have deserted me.
I'm rescued by the arrival of the school bus, and as luck would have it he sits beside me as we scramble for places. Quil and Embry get on after us and sit on the other side of the aisle. I'm next to the window and am achingly aware of Riley - right there next to me, close enough to touch as the bus pulls away.
Once we get on the main road to Forks I work up the courage to strike up conversation again. Knowing that we won't be overheard because of the engine, I turn towards him.
"So, my mom told me about why you've moved back here. I'm really sorry about your dad."
He meets my eyes and I can see the sadness there. "Thanks," he says, then chews on his lower lip for a moment. When he releases it, the blood rushes back into it, leaving it pinker than usual. I realize that I'm staring at his mouth and pull my eyes back up to his but he doesn't seem to have noticed.
"My dad died last year too," I tell him, wanting him to know that I understand how he's feeling.
Concern washes over his features and his eyebrows pull together in a frown. "Sucks, doesn't it?" He says wryly, and I nod and grimace.
I don't think either of us want to get into a detailed conversation about heavy shit like that right now. So I change the subject and ask him about his classes. He's a junior too and it sounds like he takes some of the same electives as me, so I hope that I'll get to see plenty of him around school.
When we get to school I show him to the office and leave him there to work out his schedule with the administrator.
"See you later," I say as I leave the room.
He raises a hand and turns his beautiful smile on me. "Yeah, thanks, Seth."
I don't see him for the rest of the morning, but at lunchtime when I head into the cafeteria he's there before me. I'm glad to see that he's sitting at the table with the crowd that I usually hang with. Once I've got my lunch I pull up a chair on the opposite side of the table, not quite facing him - but close enough to talk. He looks up and smiles as I sit down and I grin back.
It's noisy and busy in there as usual. Quil and Embry are there, along with Jared and his girlfriend, Kim. My sister, Leah, is down at the end of the table with Jake. They're seniors but they tend to sit with us at lunchtime.
Bella's there too, sitting next to Jake. She looks pale and ill, her mouth turned down at the corners. She's been a mess since she split up with Edward Cullen. I don't know Bella that well, but she's close to Jake, who's a good friend of mine. According to Jake, the bastard dumped her before leaving for a student exchange in Europe. He's been gone for over two months now and hasn't contacted her once, despite saying that he'd stay in touch. Bella's become really dependent on Jake since Cullen left. This worries me because I know that Jake has feelings for her, but Bella is clearly still totally hung up on Cullen.
I glance over at the rest of the Cullen kids, who are sitting together as usual, and I notice Riley turn to look curiously at them. The Cullens always attract attention - the way they look it's impossible not to notice them. There's something about them that gives me the creeps but I can't pin down exactly what. There's some tension between the elders of the tribe and the Cullen parents too. I don't know what it's about; Mom was evasive when I questioned her about it. But the upshot is that the Cullens aren't welcome on the Res - under any circumstances.
Riley turns back to me and his lips quirk in amusement. "Is that table reserved for the beautiful people?"
"Something like that," I chuckle, thinking that Riley wouldn't look out of place with the Cullens if that's the criteria. "They're a weird family."
His eyes snap back to them and the surprise shows on his face. "A family? What, all of them?"
"It's complicated," I reply. "There are five kids but they're all adopted or fostered by the local doctor and his wife. The parents only look to be a few years older than the kids they're responsible for, and are also too goddamn perfect looking to be real."
"There's only four of them there today," Riley points out.
"Yeah, Edward - he's the older brother of the little dark girl, Alice - is away on a foreign exchange at the moment." I glance down the table at Bella as I speak, but I'm out of earshot. I look back at Riley and continue. "The two with fair hair are twins - Jasper and Rosalie, and the big dude, Emmett isn't related to any of the others but he's going out with Rose." I see Riley frown as he tries to absorb all the information. "I know - it's complicated isn't it?" I grin. "And to make it even more fucked up, Alice - the little one - is going out with Jasper."
"Holy shit," Riley shakes his head and wrinkles his nose. "That's just weird."
"I know, right?" I shrug and dig in to my lunch. "Small town life, huh? You couldn't make this shit up."
Over the rest of the week I find myself spending more and more time with Riley. We have a few classes together so I see him around school a lot. At lunchtime he usually seems to end up sitting near me. Sometimes it's my doing, sometimes it's his.
We get into the habit of sitting together on the school bus too. It just makes sense. Quil and Embry are pretty inseparable and although I have plenty of people that I hang out with, I've never really had a best friend before. There's a space in my life that Riley naturally seems to fit into and it feels good.
We talk a lot on the bus journey since it's the only time that we're alone together - or close enough to alone, because people can't really listen in to our conversations over the sound of the engine. The more we talk the more I like him. He's funny and interesting and easy to talk to. He tells me about his old school in Seattle and the friends that he's left behind. He never mentions a girlfriend and I can't bring myself to ask. I tell him about life on the Res and about my family. We tend to avoid the subject of our fathers by mutual, unspoken consent.
We're in the same gym class on Friday afternoon and my eyes are drawn to Riley when we're in the locker rooms changing. I try really hard not to look at him too much. I'm afraid of the effect that he might have on my body, but it's difficult to resist the temptation.
He's a similar height to me, around six feet tall. But where I'm broad shouldered and still filling out rapidly, Riley's quite slender. His body is all lean, graceful muscle. As he pulls his t-shirt over his head his abs flex and my eyes are drawn to the dark line of hair on his belly. I feel my dick start to fill and look away quickly, glad that I've already got my pants back on. If I was still in my underwear I'd never be able to hide the fact that I'm popping wood.
I reach for my t-shirt and pull it on quickly. When my head emerges I find that his eyes are on my abs as the fabric of my shirt slips down to cover them. His eyes flick up and he realizes that I've caught him looking; his cheeks flush slightly as he turns his eyes away.
On the bus after school we're unusually quiet. I'm thinking about the way that he was looking at me earlier and trying not to get my hopes up. It was just a look, it probably doesn't mean anything at all.
Quil and Embry are in the seat behind us, discussing some new girl in their science class and how hot she is.
Riley breaks the silence between us as he leans in close, his voice conspiratorial. "Do they ever talk about anything other than chicks?"
"Not really," I chuckle. "Maybe football sometimes?"
Our eyes meet and he holds my gaze. I feel a thrill down my spine at the intensity of his expression and I can't look away.
"I've never heard you talk about girls," he observes.
There's an unmistakable question there, although it's unspoken and I take a deep breath, steeling myself. I feel like I can trust Riley with this, even if he's not the same as me... but I really hope he is.
"I'm not really interested in girls." I say the words quietly, still meeting his eyes.
When he smiles I'm exhilarated. And then when he leans in even closer - close enough that I can smell the warmth of his skin - and murmurs, "me neither," I don't think I've ever felt so happy in my life.
He pulls back and we grin at each other, our secret shared.
A/N: So, your thoughts so far? I'd love to hear them.
This is going to be quite a long story by the look of it. But I have it all planned out so I know exactly where it's going. I'm aiming to update weekly so hopefully you won't have to wait too long between chapters.