"So we made it to senior year, how about that?" Travis laughed.

Ben smiled. It was a good day, despite being the last day of summer. They were gathered in his room to celebrate (this term being used very loosely) the beginning of their last year of high school together. He sat on his bed next to his best friend of twelve years. On the floor were his next best friends, Charlotte and Quinn, whom he had known since the 6th grade.

Charlotte was an enigma. He considered her stunningly attractive, but was also Stunningly Not Attracted to her. She felt exactly the same way about him. They had been Stunningly Not Attracted to each other since the day they had met, and instead had built a kinship over how terrible orchestra kids were, and how you NEVER want to drink orange juice after you have brushed your teeth because Terrible Orchestra Kids told you it tasted delicious. They had hit it off, and their relationship had matured from complaining about orchestra kids and toothpaste to telling each other everything, because there are some things that you just don't mention to your very male, very straight, very attractive best friend.

Quinn however, was different. He joked and laughed and made small talk with her when she was around, but he had a vague feeling she didn't enjoy being around him as much as he did her. It could be his paranoia. But then again, he was used to that particular feeling.

Travis sat next to Ben, his legs crossed, with a very nonchalant, Travis-like air about him. His black hair was slicked back like it usually was, even though he was the least formal person Ben knew, because he hated the way it looked when it was natural. Ben had seen it like that a thousand times during the millions of hours he had spent with the boy, and thought it was wonderfully adorable and wished he would leave it like that more often. He was wearing a gray hoodie that had the words "SPECIAL FORCES" in block letters across the front. His dad had been in Special Forces and he often liked to brag about the fact any time he wore the hoodie and met someone new.

Travis was perfect, simply speaking. Even if he was sometimes fucking insane and wanted to skip class with Ben to do the dumbest things like go to the mall and try on stupid sweaters that made him look even more handsome than he already was or go to the goddamn circus (which Ben would never ever forget even if he lived to be 104 and have Alzheimer's), or brag to Ben about how he had snuck out of his house in the middle of the night to do indescribable things with his girlfriend, or had unpredictable, aggravating mood swings and periods where he was an absolute jerk to Ben. There was no point in denying it anymore. He had wasted two, almost three years of his life already doing that. No, Ben could finally admit to himself, albeit nobody else (except maybe Charlotte) that his adoration for Travis was far beyond that of a best friend's.

"Not only that, but you somehow managed to pass all your classes," Charlotte replied. Ben snapped back into reality.

"You probably cheated off Quinn, so shut up."

"Hey, I never asked for a best friend with a name right next to mine on the roll every year since 3rd grade. Who also happens to be very studious."

"You learned that word from her, didn't you sweetheart?"
"Actually no, buttass."

Ben listened to his two best friends bicker. Every time the four of them got together it seemed that their main goal was to spite each other. "It's like you get off on it," He had once told them. And it was certainly plausible that they did, seeing as they had been like this since that one time in seventh grade they dated for a week. But it was common knowledge in the group that they were forevermore in each other's friend-zones, and both were perfectly happy with that fact.

All of a sudden Ben heard a giggle coming from the door to his room. He turned around and Elizabeth was there, peeking her head in with a mischevious smile on her face.

"Ben! D'you wanna come play dress-up with me?" She asked.
Just as he was about to shoot her down and tell her no, he was busy doing absolutely nothing with his three closest friends and would like to not give them a reason to tease him until the world's end for being super duper in the closet, which was sadly true, Travis swooped in as only he could and said, "I'll play dress up with you, Lizzy."

"You fearless bastard." Ben chuckled. "You know this is destined to be a post on Facebook, don't you?" To which Travis replied, "Heck yeah, because I am comfortable with myself enough to dress like a pretty princess, and also don't use naughty words around small children."

Ben was sure Lizzy didn't understand most of what they were saying but she did protest, complete with a pouty face "Hey! I'm seven! I'm not small!"

So of course Travis, like the total weirdo he was, got up, walked out of the room with Ben's seven year old sister, and came back five minutes later, true to his word, with a sparkly tiara on his head, a pink purse strung over his shoulder, a light-up wand in his hand, and a goofy smile on his face.

"Bow down before me, sniveling peasants." Travis said in a completely serious tone. "You are now in the presence of royalty." Lizzy was giggling uncontrollably behind him and ran off back in the direction of the toy room, possibly to dress herself in similar princess garb.

Charlotte snorted. "Okay, Mr. Pretty Princess. Whatever you say." She kneeled and bent over, flipping him off as she bowed up and down. Quinn looked on from her own comfort zone, amused.

"That's not a very nice thing for a peasant to do." Travis waved his wand at her. "There. You are now an ant. That'll teach you, peasant."

"Enough with the "peasant", buttass."


Ben laughed. "Guys, enough screaming. My dad is gonna get pissed."

Travis sat back down on the edge of the bed. "Your fucking dad can kiss my ass. He should be used to twelve years of my bullshit by now."

Ben honestly had to agree, but was a little put off by how Travis had talked about his dad. He had no idea what had triggered his outburst; but then again, there comes a time when you stop trying to figure out Travis. You just gradually grow accustomed to the odd ways in which his mind works.

Charlotte laughed. "So anyway. College. Do you know where you guys wanna go yet? Cause you should."

"I love it when you talk academic to me, sweetheart." Travis said without looking up. He was fiddling with his phone. Ben studied his face. His playful words did not match up with his expression, which looked concerned.

Quinn was the first to answer. "Probably UGA." She looked thoughtful. "I hear they have a great American History program, and that's what I want to major in."

"Me too. About going to UGA, I mean. I know it kinda sounds bad, but I don't really care which college I go to. I just wanna go to goddamn college, you know? Get out of this dumpy town and be somewhere I don't know everybody." Charlotte said.

"Same here." Ben sighed. He knew a lot of Stone Mountain kids would probably be going there, but it'd be a lot better than the current interaction he had with most of them, which usually resulted in him being called a faggot and laughed at, with no response on his end. That was the main difference between him and Travis: when confronted, he backed down, he let himself be made a fool of. It was easier than fighting back. But Travis loved confrontations. He got a kick out of embarrassing the person who tried to bring him down— a witty remark and a dry smile, and he was on his way. Travis was so much better at playing people and knowing how to work them, and that was both a blessing and a curse.

"What about you, Trav? Do you know where you're going?" Quinn asked.

Travis snapped his head up, a deer in the headlights look crossing his face for a second. "Yeah, uh, no. Don't have time for that." He looked away, towards the door. "I uh, actually gotta go."

There was a prolonged moment of silence. Charlotte finally broke it by quipping, "I hope not like that. Stealing from little girls is so not a royal thing to do."

"Ha ha. I'm not. Sorry I have to leave." Travis said, not sounding very sorry. He took off his princess accessories and stood up. "I'll talk to you guys later." And with that, he was gone.

"Wonder what's got his panties in a wad," Charlotte muttered. "Whatever. If he's gonna act like that, he better leave."

Ben, without thinking, stood up and walked right out the door after him, despite Charlotte's loud protests of "Hey! Where the hell are you going?!"

"Travis." He approached his best friend, with no reply. He grabbed his shoulder and swung Travis around. "Talk to me. Why are you leaving so abruptly?

Travis did not look amused. "Because you use stupid words like 'abruptly', that's why."

"No, I'm serious, Trav. What is wrong? Tell me. Or else."

Travis threw back his head and laughed, long and loud, and actually dared to say "I'm fucking fine, okay? Nothing's wrong. Stop worrying."

Ben changed his tone. "Travis," he said softly. "I'm just... a little worried about you, okay?"

Travis stopped in his tracks and did a 180 that was ridiculously typical of him. He looked down. "I'm sorry." He apologized. He gave Ben a little smile, a genuine one, the kind of shy, adorable grin that drove Ben crazy. He fucking hated himself for admiring the way his best friend bit his lip when he smiled, especially at times when he was acting like this, and he decided he needed a new hobby that replaced noticing all the little things Travis did subconciously. "I don't want you worrying about me." He grabbed Ben's hand to remove it from his shoulder. Ben felt his heart skip a beat from the contact and hated himself even more.

"O-okay." He still felt uneasy about his friend's mood. The thing that scared him the most was that he had no idea where Travis was about to go or what he was about to do. Note to self, Ben thought, Next time you fall in love, pick someone who's not so goddamn unpredictable. Except he didn't even know if there would even be a next time. He had never possessed the ability to get over people quickly; while of course the very person he had been pining over for three years always had.

"I'm gonna go now, okay sweetheart?" Ben hated his stupid habit of calling people he was close to 'sweetheart'. It made him feel like they were in a relationship and he really couldn't handle that kind of teasing. "Try not to die while I'm gone." Travis joked and turned around to leave.

"Same for you," Ben called after him, except he wasn't joking.

Ben nearly had a heartattack when Travis finally texted him six hours after the others had left, in the middle of the night.

The text read,
"Come 2 the forrest,,,, behind stoneville,,,, fucking hurry".

Hey guys! I know this chapter seems a bit boring, but it's just setting up the story. It will get better :) I have the next three chapters written already, but if anyone is actually reading this, constructive criticism would be nice :) this is really the first fanfiction I've ever written, so I'd like to know how to improve.

I'm going to upload the next chapter tomorrow. Thanks so much for already reading this and paying attention to my rambling. • u • -Amy