Hair perfectly spiked over his visor

Uniform collar popped

Just a hint of Mascara

A touch of concealer

He is flawless

Brutal wink of a boy

He's been called "FAG" so much

He dropped a beat behind it

And made it his ringtone

-"World's Tallest Hill" Lauren Zuniga

[]

Backwoods Mafia King

When Jimmy opened his eyes the first thing he realized was that sleeping with someone pressed against his back was not nearly as horrible as he'd always assumed it would be. He'd honestly been expecting a sweaty and uncomfortable tangle of his and Edgar's limbs come morning. Thankfully the grip around his waist was relaxed enough, the rest of their bodies pressed but not entwined.

In a sleepy haze he checked the clock blinking by Edgar's bed.

4:15 PM Thurs

The display flashed its bright red jumble of numbers and letters at him at him and he scowled back at it. Now that he'd seen it he wouldn't be able to ignore the light.

With a grunt he flung out his arm to knock the damn thing to the floor and hissed at the sharp twinge of pain that shot up his entire right side. Blearily Jimmy stared at the source of his pain in a pissed off sort of wonderment. Why was his right hand in a fucking wrist brace?

'What the fuck?!'

As if on cue Edgar shifted behind him. His arm slid from where it rested over his stomach to just below his ribcage. Jimmy grimaced as the movement was made terrifyingly painful by the tender knot of bruising there.

'What the flying fuck happened to me?'

Fighting back the kind of panic that would normally encourage him to beat the shit out of someone to get away, in this case Edgar, Jimmy tried to remember how he'd gotten back into the Vargas home when the last thing he could remember was walking away from it.

"Are you sure you don't want to stay?"Jimmy's expression twisted into disgusted disbelief. "I could set up the guest bedroom for you. No one would mind you if you stayed in another room."Edgar amended in an attempt to forestall disaster. Jimmy leaving was never a good thing. It never ended well.

"Nah, I've got shit to sort through. Can't put it off anymore." The words leave behind the nasty aftertaste of a really stupid lie in Jimmy's mouth. Edgar glared halfheartedly, his mouth curling into a disappointed grimace.

'Well that makes two of us you dumb motherfucker.'

"Okay. Bye then." He said without any inflection. And it seemed he understood Jimmy was pulling back, was pulling away from whatever the fuck they'd had before. Edgar's response, short and clipped, lacked the casual humor he was used to. No "See you later, vampire wannabe," or the ever affectionate "Try not to rub the paint off my windowsill when you scale the walls of my home next time." Instead Edgar smiled impassively at him and nodded goodbye. The hand white knuckling the door was suspiciously tense so Jimmy stepped out of grabbing range. He hated dealing with that sort of shit.

He turned and walked away, the door closed with a click behind him and Jimmy wondered how much of the rest of the year he'd need to spend avoiding Edgar. It seemed unfair that he'd even have to considering just how much of it was the dorky dipshit's fault in the first place.

It would've been better if they'd fucked, no talking, no playing house or whatever the hell Edgar wanted to do.

He glanced up and down the street unsure of where he'd be able to go. There were several different places he could crash for the night. At least he hoped they were still there. He hadn't needed to visit them in a long time so he wasn't sure if they were still around. If anything he'd spend the night checking his old hideouts and visiting old acquaintances.

With a familiar porch light at his back Jimmy steeled himself for the long trek to the other side of town. He wasn't going to be responsible for Edgar's sudden interest in boys. He had enough shit to deal with, didn't need Parents-Of-The-Year Mr. and Mrs. Vargas gunning for his organs.

They definitely should have just fucked and gotten it out of their systems.

The familiar sound of an alarm clock a few rooms away brought him back to the present. It was something heard most mornings, outside of the fact that said alarm had been set to go off sometime after 4'oclock in the freaking afternoon, so yeah he knew what it meant. Jimmy listened and sure enough he heard the sound of a shower starting.

It looked like everyone was having a late start. Jimmy wiggled a little, unintentionally rubbing Edgar in awkward places, as he felt around first the bed then his own pants for his phone. The movement seemed to encourage his little bed buddy to cling harder, arms tightening fractionally around his badly bruised diaphragm. Nausea was not something Jimmy wanted to feel while being manhandled so affectionately.

"Aw fuck man, leggo." He pushed weakly at Edgar's hand, his strapped wrist shaking with the effort to adjust the python grip. Eventually he managed to wedge his elbow under Edgar's and in a flurry of uncomfortable shifting they settled again, this time with Edgar wrapped more comfortably around the upper part of his chest, his left bicep pillowed under Jimmy's neck.

"Mhmmm." Edgar nuzzled into Jimmy's hair.

'Creepy motherfucker.'

Because honestly, what else could've happened? Edgar had obviously stormed after him in a jealous fury, unable to cope with the fact that Jimmy didn't want to play house and had hit him over the head with a 2x4.

Initially Jimmy took his time getting to the first place. He'd decided to stay in a secret little hole-in-the-wall storage room he'd camped out in several times before meeting Edgar. The small room had a cheap lock and small cot wedged between shelves of empty boxes and bottles of cleaning fluid.

The first fifteen minutes of walking were safe, Edgar lived in a nicer neighborhood on the safer side of town, where crime was limited, relatively speaking, to embezzlement and the random car jacker. He glanced back as he rounded the corner of Delacroix and Novak, watching the Vargas home vanish out of sight as he turned down an adjacent street.

Except he couldn't remember seeing anyone for a long time after he'd left which meant Edgar probably wasn't reason he could feel stitches under his shirt. And so Jimmy kept that thought in mind and let himself relax a bit. He thought long and hard about what he could remember from the night before. Fuzzy moments slowly slip like mismatched puzzle pieces, forced into place by sheer stubbornness on Jimmy's part because had to fucking know what the hell happened to him.

Slowly the smell of freshly cut grass faded into the choking smell of oil and loose dirt. He stood for a moment under the glaring light of a corner streetlamp, debating whether or not he had the money to stop by the convenience store for something to eat before holing himself up in the tiny storage room at least a mile or so away.

More movement from Edgar startled Jimmy back to the present. The trapped teen didn't know what to expect and the memories that had resurfaced so far hadn't shown anything beyond the corner Jimmy usually turned on that led straight to the other side of town.

He'd been hoping to avoid confrontation until he at least had a good idea of what'd happened.

Scrounging around his pockets Jimmy managed to dig out the 4 bucks he'd stolen from the back of Edgar's locker a few weeks ago and figured he'd at least grab something hot to help keep him warm. The dusty sheets on the cot had been stashed in there back when the weather was much warmer and so there wasn't much else to keep out the cold.

He was almost to the convenience store when he saw someone familiar through the glass door.

"Morning." Edgar's voice was disturbingly rough. Jimmy had spent many summer, fall, and winter nights camped out in his bedroom, often spending the night to avoid going home, and not once had he woken to that kind of after-sex drawl. He wasn't sure he liked where the equation was leading. "How're you feeling?"

God he sounded like he'd been screaming all night.

"Like I was shoved in a blender." Jimmy realized he sounded like a mess too. Reassessing himself he thanked his lucky stars that his ass didn't feel like he'd been fucked.

He quickly turned, and trudged back to the sidewalk as casually as he could. Each step he took was painfully loud, the fwump fwump fwump of his boots on concrete sharp against the steady drone of nearby cars.. A few blocks down the main road he looked back, this time his pulse thudding so hard he was sure it could be heard by anyone within a few feet. Between the cars driving in and out of the service station he saw the silhouette of a man leaning up against a truck.

His cellphone screeched from his pocket, his hands fumbled dig it out and flip the damn thing open. His father's voice rumbled into his ear.

"Where are you, boy?" In the distance, a door slammed and the low growl of the truck's engine started up.

Jimmy resurfaced when he felt warm, dry, and chapped lips press briefly against the back of his neck. Edgar sighed sharply before pulling back and nuzzling into his hair. For several minutes Jimmy waited for a boulder to fall and crush them where they lay but outside of the slight undercurrent of pain throughout most of his body nothing could distract him from the crappy situation he'd inevitably stepped into.

Edgar's breathing began to slow and rhythm of if against his back lulled him back to the foggy landscape of the night before.

Jimmy reached the end of the street, where the railroad cut a small section of the city off. The abandoned bar he was heading towards was just a few blocks away.

Looking back he couldn't tell the difference between the cars heading in his direction. Deciding not to risk getting cornered by one of his dad's drinking buddies Jimmy jogged the rest of the way, skidding to a stop when he reached the empty parking lot

His phone rang again, the abrupt sound of synthesized guitar work breaking through the chilling silence of the empty archway. Squealing tires followed. Jimmy tore around the building, slipping behind it as two cars pulled up.

The clicking of several car doors filled the air. He cursed, eyes reading his dad's number, fingers fumbling to put the piece of shit phone on silent. Jimmy ran towards the chain link gate, scrambling halfway through the clipped fence before someone grabbed his arm and tugged him so hard the sharply cut links scratched his stomach, catching and slicing through the knees of his jeans.

The alleyway floor was littered with broken glass but he hardly felt it after the first kick knocked him head first against the nearby dumpster. For several blissful moments he couldn't feel a damn thing, couldn't hear a damn thing. When sensation and awareness flooded back in it hit him harder than a ton of bricks.

They only stopped once that he could remember. He looked up into the pinprick eyes of four hulking shadows and knew his dad wasn't there in anything other than spirit. Nobody could rile up local drunks like he could.

"Ya' know why he's not here?" Jimmy laughed out, blood leaking from the corner of his mouth to the hollow of his neck. "He lets dumb assholes like you guys do his fag bashing for him." He couldn't help it, couldn't fucking help laughing so hard he thought his stomach might hemorrhage.

When it started again it wouldn't stop until long after his vision fizzled out.

Edgar's thumb rubbed circles against Jimmy's collarbone as if sensing his anger and attempting to quell it.

Jimmy snarled silently at his wrist brace, his whole body rigid as the truth behind each and every injury came to light. His stitches, the bruising and bone deep ache, all of it fueled an intense hatred Jimmy hadn't felt for anyone or thing in months.

Edgar's hold on him slackened. A little more light slipped through the branches of the tree in Edgar's back yard and darted along his hand.

They took turns dragging his sorry ass through the grit and glass of the alley floor by his ankles, grunting and panting like stray dogs in the brutal cold. For every kick he landed he got at least 10 back. The men were so smashed that each one they doled out was uncoordinated and some missed altogether but their lack of finesse was made up in inebriated fury for whatever the fuck it was they thought he stood for.

At some point one of them tried to straddle his stomach in a clumsy attempt to use his fists on Jimmy's face. That one found out how much of a mistake it was to have his soft bits within striking distance.

The amount of satisfaction Jimmy felt when the man howled, rolling away to clutch between his legs in agony was unparalleled. It also meant he'd had to curl his legs up to his stomach and keep them there to shield himself from the renewed surge of violence that followed but he'd say it was more than worth it.

A small pale birthmark above the sensitive slip of skin between Edgar's thumb and first finger caught his eye.

'Huh.'

Jimmy realized that it was easier to remember when he wasn't angry. Losing his temper would only lead to being really fucking pissed off and having the worst goddamn headache of his relatively short life so Jimmy tried to separate himself for the duration of his trip down nightmare lane. As each nuance of phantom pain filtered into his brain, from the violent kicks against his stomach to the drag of his body against a gravelly, glass-ridden alleyway floor, he found a few different ways to distract himself. First he played with Edgar's hand, tracing the lines of his knuckles in one continuous stroke. His focus slid from the difference between scars and the natural swirls in Edgar's skin to the only piece of jewelry he'd ever seen Edgar wear, eventually just pulling off the class ring and letting the natural light play on the smoky gray-green of its synthetic Alexandrite. When he slid it on to his left ring finger he took in the looseness of the band, noting with mild interest that the ring didn't really fit on any of his boney fingers

Jimmy woke up alone in the alleyway with a savage chunk of beer bottle pressed deep into left shoulder. He pushed himself up, introducing all new kinds of pain. He had to get somewhere safe, had to ride out the night and hope he wasn't bleeding hard enough to warrant a hospital visit. He started walking.

Seeing Angel, Mr. Vargas's old pit bull, was like seeing the beacon of a lighthouse. He'd been staggering around for so long that he was sure at some point he'd wandered in the completely wrong direction but the sight of those beady yellow eyes staring at him from the top of the fence was a kind of relief he couldn't describe.

He'd made it somehow.

Jimmy grimaced at how shaky his memories were of what happened after the beating. How the hell had he dragged himself all the way back to Edgar's part of town without getting mugged?

Oh wait . . .

Hands, skimming his hips, slipping into his pocket . . . pungent breath and the warm stink of cigarette smoke . . . the worn leather of his cracked and threadbare wallet thudding against his chest . . . obnoxious laughter . . . his cell ringtone playing behind him, away from him . . . empty wallet slipping under his foot . . . behind him too, left behind . . . blood dripping down his chest . . . sticky shirt . . .

Should've stayed . . . stupid . . . nerd . . .

Everything between the halfhearted mugging and seeing that great ugly, wonderful dog was blank. Everything after was a mess of indecipherable colors, light, and Edgar yelling for him from somewhere very high up.

'I must have been shit to look at.' He thought as he traced the skin of Edgar's arm with his thankfully unbroken fingers and enjoyed the occasional puff of breath against his neck for the reassurance it probably wasn't. He'd been hanging around since Halloween, been sleeping over since late January but that didn't mean shit.

A woman slowly slid into focus. She had dark hair pulled back into a tight bun, dark eyes puffy from lack of sleep. She asked him questions that made no sense and brought out a penlight that made spots dance across his eyes.

He realized at some point that there were other people there. Familiar people. The Vargas's sat in several chairs around him. He heard the lady tell them that most of the cuts were superficial, that he was in pain but they'd give him a prescription to help. Jimmy slowly started to understand that they were talking about him and that he'd already been given something.

He'd practically told Edgar to fuck off. And he'd meant it at the time, he didn't want to be Edgar's little fuck buddy or god forbid his boyfriend, 'bleh'. The Apple Pie Life wasn't his thing and if there was anything the Vargas family was it was Apple-fucking-Pie.

His mother cooked like she lived out of a sitcom, all butterscotch cookies and chicken casseroles, which were all awesome when he stayed for dinner but somehow he couldn't imagine her greeting him with the same enthusiasm if he was banging her son.

And he didn't want to imagine Mr. Vargas's reaction. Jimmy already had a clear picture of Edgar's very quiet, but still very intimidating, father in his mind and being okay with ass-fucking didn't fit said portrait.

'It's always the quiet ones,' and he was sure that pissing that man off would not end well for him. He liked having all of his limbs attached to his body. He also liked being alive as opposed to being buried in various places for committing the heinous act of deflowing his only child.

Jimmy was still a little woozy, he was maneuvered out of the car and up the stairs. The upstairs bedroom was warm, the light low, and he giggled stupidly about Edgar having nice digs as he was pulled down, laughing like a fool when they toppled into bed together.

"Heh, you sure know how to treat a girl."

Whatever Edgar said to that, however he managed to finagle Jimmy off of him and under the covers was a mystery.

If they knew what their son had asked of him, if they knew that their valedictorian, straight-A student, wanted from Jimmy Reid, general fuck up and potential highschool dropout he was sure they'd have a fit.

A violent one, with pies laced in arsenic and nail studded broom handles. Mr. Vargas would wear elbow pads and use his sawed off shotgun to chase Jimmy around the neighborhood. From an outside perspective Jimmy assumed the whole fiasco would look epic.

They'd put up with him until that point, he was sure that their hospitality had a limit and he was also sure stumbling into their backyard with a concussion, body bloody and broken, was near the end of it. So he decided to savor the comfort of Edgar's room and the desire implied by the loose limbed embrace for as long as he could.

And life, as it so often did, decided right then as well to put an end to his comfort in the only way it knew how.

He froze when he heard voices just outside of Edgar's door.

"I'm just going to check on them."

"Let them sleep, they had a rough night."

'Oh fuck.' Jimmy's eyes snapped shut instinctively. Maybe if they thought he was out cold they wouldn't be too mad about the spooning.

"Just a quick peek, Isaac, Jesus!" She hissed at her husband.

He heard the squeak of door hinges and tried to keep still, taking long and uncomfortable breaths to feign sleep.

"Oh my God . . ."

Jimmy braced himself.

". . . that is so adorable!"

'Huh?'

"Adorable? The kid's been beaten to hell and back."

"Shhhhhhsh! You'll wake them up."

"I'll wake them up?" They whispered furiously back and forth, ducking into the hall after several minutes. Jimmy suddenly felt very small.

They weren't mad, 'fucking lucky stars-'

"I'm gonna go get my camera, stay here."

"Get your camera!? No Ester, just let them sleep. You can take pictures when your son's boyfriend doesn't look like he got mauled by a bear." He said boyfriend like a man who, though never expecting to have to say it, was more than willing to get used to saying it.

By taking any obvious chance to do so.

"What difference does it make?"

At that moment Jimmy's brain decided to implode on itself.

There was no way, no way in hell that they were actually having that argument. Jimmy was probably dead and trapped in limbo, his punishment for acting like a dick to all those girls at school, and Edgar, about their girly habits.

Like reading poetry and shit, yeah, he'd never understood why anyone would read that crap.

'God must be some sappy romance poet then.'

Click FLASH

Mr. and Mrs. Vargas with their perfect marriage and their well-paying jobs and comfortably decent lifestyle apparently had no problem letting their only child, their son, become emotionally involved with Jimmy. Jimmy who was so far out on the other side of the tracks that he couldn't see the fucking train without binoculars. Jimmy who had a dick and wanted to use it . . .

. . . preferably with their son . . .

. . . who was a boy . . .

. . . and wanted to use his dick with Jimmy . . .

. . . who was also a boy . . .

"You're going to embarrass Edgar."

"Oh, he'll be fine. Now scoot over, you're blocking my light."

And Edgar, who'd volunteered to help out in the main office during his free period, liked spending time with him. Edgar the school office aide who, despite seeing him go in and out of meetings throughout the year with their school principle over bad behavior, had confessed a few days ago to having feelings for him. Edgar who wanted to be more than just friends and definitely more than friends with benefits.

Whose vice-like grip was inadvertently feeding his Mother's incessant need to photograph everything. Jimmy assumed it was for future blackmail. That's what he'd use it for.

Click FLASH

"Just one more."

"Dear Lord, one is enough."

Click FLASH

"Okay," Mr. Vargas piped up immediately, his voice uncomfortably high "I really insist now. We should be downstairs anyway; the police will be here soon."

"Oh, right!"

The door quietly snapped shut, their voices and footsteps echoing as they left. Jimmy felt tension build in his back as he hunched into himself, spine pressing hard against Edgar's chest.

And as if in response Edgar tugged Jimmy flush up against him, his whole body shaking with what he realized was repressed laughter. He cleared his throat and when he spoke he sounded a lot less like he'd been fucked the night before.

"I think they'll be the death of me."

'How fucking long has he been awake?'

"Hey, are you okay? Am I squishing you?" Edgar propped himself up on one elbow, gently tracing the velcro straps of his wrist brace as he waited for Jimmy to stop pretending he was asleep. The gentle smile Jimmy saw once he managed to look up at his former best friend was unintentionally creepy.

"You told them?"

"They already knew." Which of course was stupid, how the fuck could they already know?

Then again, Edgar always had been somewhat of a leech and his parents always had been a bit snoopy. Maybe it shouldn't have been as big of a revelation as it was. Jimmy had wrestled his way out of Edgar's python grip on many other occasions and his parents had yet to kick him out. He did a little mental gymnastics, tried working in a bit of basic mathematics to help him turn over those ideas a bit.

They wanted him there.

Suddenly the Apple Pie Life he'd grown accustomed to seeing twisted into something a little less Nuclear and a little more Hannibal Lector. What the fuck? For the longest time he'd seen them as the last remaining dregs of the Better-Homes-and-Gardens lifestyle but this just took the cake and stuffed it full of heroin, this—

Jimmy's thoughts were cut short when Edgar leaned down to brush a kiss along Jimmy's jugular before pushing himself up. For a brief moment Jimmy felt a twinge of uncertainty as Edgar's full weight shifted over his as he climbed off the bed, rummaging through his drawers for a new shirt.

Could he take Edgar in a fight? Probably, or at least if he weren't wounded he could. Would Edgar have to fight him? No, because he was smart and probably had a tazer nearby to subdue Jimmy if necessary.

"Mom and Dad called the police last night, in case you don't remember." He looked over his friend, with a carefully neutral expression. "They want you to talk about what happened so they can write up a report or something to press charges," The only response he received was a slight nod, Jimmy's body still curled into itself, eyes now trained on the wrinkles of Edgar's sheets. "I'll go check to see if they picked up your prescription last night like they said they would. It should help with the pain."

After Edgar left Jimmy pulled the wayward comforter over his head and tried to hide for just a little while longer. He really didn't know what to do with this new information. The easiest assumption was that his presence was tolerated because the Vargas's didn't want to scare their perfect, and socially stupid son off of making friends. Because a perfect grade point average, decent mannerisms, and unimposing looks aside Edgar was as much a social butterfly as their classmate Casey was a fucking nun. But that had been 7 months ago and neither Edgar nor his parents, now that Jimmy thought about it, seemed to care a lick that Jimmy stayed at their house more than at home.

"Jimmy! Could you come down, please?" Mrs. Vargas called out from downstairs. Maybe he could avoid the whole situation if he climbed out the window. Knowing his luck he'd probably break his leg and several fingers falling from the side of the house. Jimmy peeked out from inside his hiding place and listened to Mr. Vargas's familiar footsteps as they climbed the stairs. Jimmy sat up just in time for the door to open and for Edgar's father to pop his head in.

"Hey," The very tall man ambled cautiously into the room, unsure of how to coax the wounded and obviously confused teen downstairs, "you think you can come down? There's someone here to ask you some questions." The older man decided to keep his distance but opened the bedroom door wider as an invitation.

They wanted him, they fucking wanted him and he couldn't figure out why without assuming the worst of them. Just couldn't understand. It'd been so easy to just enjoy the acceptance when there, to joke and make fun of how vanilla the Vargas's were, to allow them to immerse him in their little bubble of fucking paradise and forget he had shit to deal with, to get lost in it.

For a night or two a week he'd had a chance to just ignore everything else. Then two nights became three and three became four and eventually five. Weeks became months, and those months were huge expanses of time where he didn't have to watch his back every time he hit a corner. He could just catch a ride with Edgar and bask in the luxury of upper-middle class suburbia with a boy who liked to cling, a mom who didn't binge on confections like coke, and a dad who's words were few and far in between but when spoken were barbless and just what he needed to hear when he needed to hear it. But now—

"It's okay. We'll all be down there with you."

They would be. Fuck if he knew why though.

"You're a goddamn idiot, Edgar."

"Am I an idiot for telling you or having feelings in the first place? I'm having a hard time believing this could be such a surprise to you. We've always been close, I've never seen you let anyone near you the way you let me."

"Where the hell is my bag?"

"I thought you knew, I thought you were waiting for me to say something."

"I can't find were I put that damn—!"

"I thought you were waiting for me to be okay with it."

"Look, if you're not gonna help me—"

"Your bag should be by my dresser."

"Oh, well I'm heading out. People to do, shit to see, you know how it is."

"Had I known you'd react this way I wouldn't have said anything."

"Bet you would've. Like I said, you're fucking stupid. Always have been."

End

[]

Dedicated to the lifeblood of this OTP, Dezzy. For the amazing art you sent me.

DesdemonaKakalose, look her up y'all.