The explanation for this section is here. There's some clunkiness ahead that need to be addressed…unless you can't tell where it is.
As much as I wanted to pretend like things are all cool, the next day school was just weird. I felt like everyone just knew, somehow, that Will had kissed me yesterday. He could have texted me sorry, but he didn't, and so even though I knew I shouldn't think this way a small part of me doubted that he was sorry at all. Maybe he was gay and just felt like he couldn't tell anyone. Or maybe it had been so long since hed gotten some that everything just kind of spilled out when I stepped forward to close the door after him. There was a spiky cloud over my head. What if Cassie told in spite of her promise? It would get around so fast. I'd never been bullied, but I could imagine that it would suck. Or maybe the gay kids here didn't have to deal with that since no one really cared. Maybe I should corner one of them and ask, just in case.
Will didn't look at me the whole day. He laughed when I made a joke and he talked to Josh plenty, but not even once did his black cartoon eyes lift to meet mine. It made me feel super guilty for some reason, like me freaking out at home had somehow passed through the ether to reach Will, and he knew and felt even worse than I did and was punishing himself for kissing me. It's not like we had been in a fight. I knew how to come back from those, but how could we possibly get past the goodbye peck at my door yesterday? So, I fell back on old habits and invited Will over after school.
"Hey, we're cool, right?" I said, because he was clearly beating himself up about it. "It was an accident."
The relief on Will's face was so obvious that for a second there I wondered if he pissed himself. That would be a funny response. Embarrassing for him, but hilarious.
"Sorry," he said.
I shouldered my backpack. "Nah, man, it's whatever." And then, not because I wanted him to come, but because I wanted to make sure he knew I meant what I said, I added, "You want to come over after practice and watch a movie?"
Will screwed up his mouth in thought. "What movie?"
"I'm thinking Avengers." It's the first movie I could think of that was practically asexual. Not that playing Smash Bros. could have gotten anyone off, or the front door of my house. Had it been the wrestling? Wait, wait. The kiss goodbye was a surprise to Will, too. He just apologized. He hadn't even responded yet. Will screwed up his mouth in thought and I looked around the commons. The Bench People had those giant Dungeons and Dragons books out and were arguing about something. Mr. Hale and Ms. Grimes spoke to each other outside their neighboring offices, nodding and gesturing vaguely at the classrooms. Josh was coming this way; he’d probably walk down to the locker rooms with Jessica. The space was quiet with most everybody on their way to sports or going home. I was going to be late to track.
"Okay," Will finally said.
I let out a breath. “Cool.”
Just like that, we were back to normal. He came over, I left all the lights on, and we watched superheroes plus Hawkeye save the world. Will and I stayed on opposite ends of the couch. I didn’t walk him to the door. And I shut the door on Callie when she tried to come ask me about what she called our “playdate” once Will had left.
Every once in a while, not more than once or twice a day, I’d think about it. Will’s lips had been dry and a little chapped. If I just ranked it as pure mouth-on-mouth contact, it wasn’t even my top twenty. This was yet another reason why it wasn’t worth repeating. I’d just eaten half a bag of chips, so my breath would have been terrible. Also, Will’s family was just a lot more physical than mine; maybe he was the type who kissed his grandma on the mouth.
I started inviting Josh over again, since he and Jessica broke up. Maybe Will was as happy to have a buffer as I was, not that we needed it. Then, because Josh was around more, Callie would come hang out with us, and we’d end up standing around the kitchen for an hour, eating junk and talking about school. It was fine, and it was safe. Will didn’t pay me any more attention than usual, and I returned the favor. It worked for exactly ten days.
“Where’s Josh?” Will asked when he entered the kitchen.
Callie answered for me. “You know Heather, with the Bench People? She lost her driving privileges because Ms. Grimes saw her going through the parking lot with Teagan Gonders on the hood of her car.”
Will looked at me.
I explained, “Their parents went to college together, and now they live like, three doors from each other.”
“Like a commune,” Callie commented.
Nodding, Will said, “So he’s out for…”
“Forever,” my sister confirmed. She almost sounded happy about it, which was weird considering how much she liked Josh. “So I’m declaring today the day when I kick your asses at Smash Bros.”
I didn’t even bat an eyelash. “Only if I give myself a massive handicap.”
“We could always pick a random character,” Will suggested, and that was too good a challenge to pass up.
Callie did kick my ass, though Will put up more of a fight. I kept getting nonsense characters. After a while it seemed like the system was trying to make me lose.
“How come you get fucking Marth while I’m over here with the psychic weirdo?” I complained.
Will’s shoulder shrug was perfectly timed with the ding of Callie’s phone. She pulled it from her back pocket and paused the game.
“Hey!” I said.
She looked at me. “Luciana wants to go find prom dresses.”
“Good for Lu.”
Callie stood and tossed me her controller. “Bye y’all” she drawled comically.
Will said goodbye like a gentleman, but I was busy unpausing the game so I could get a head start on murdering pointy-haired Marth. Callie had only been gone for fifteen minutes before Will and I were both on our feet, eyes fixed on the screen. Now I was in control of Meta Knight and Will was stuck with one of the most useless characters in the entire system. Despite holding me off with a few repetitive moves, Will was about to get his ass handed to him. Just as I was getting ready to deliver my most satisfying K.O., what should come bouncing across the arena but a Super Smash Ball?
I shouldn’t have shouted, “Finally!” Will immediately got it.
“And…suck it,” he said all smugly.
Meta Knight flew towards the front of the screen and bounced off. I was dead. After all that hard work, after finally getting my favorite character, after losing more than ten times in a row and being so close…The controller left my hand before I realized I'd thrown it.
"No!" I raged at the heavens. "That fucking Super Smash Ball!"
Will was laughing so hard he had to sit down.
"Fuck you, Smash Ball!" I fell to my knees in front of the screen with both middle fingers thrust at the traitorous game. "Fuck you to the gates of hell!"
Will wasn't even making a sound anymore, just kicking his legs and clutching his stomach as he tried to breath around his laughter.
"And fuck your King Dedede!" I added as I grabbed a pillow off the couch. I smacked Will in the head with it. "Fuck his weird body," I hit him again as he tried to fend me off, "fuck that dumbshit down-B move," I whapped his shins when Will brought his knees up, "fuck this game!"
He was crying, he was laughing so hard—honest-to-god tears streaming from his black eyes.
"Put your knees down so I can hit you," I ordered, holding up the pillow.
Will shook his head.
"Just let me get a good hit in, just one." I helped out by shoving his knees to the ground. Will tried to push me away, but he was just…guffawing, so I was able to hold his knees down with one arm and swing at him with the other. I guess I accidentally dug my elbow into his leg, because Will jerked and pushed me off.
"Ow, ow, ow," he said quickly, so I stood and watched his body try to wind down. It was hard to even pretend to be mad when someone couldn't stop fucking giggling, even if it was at my expense. For some reason this made me think of when Will kissed me, and how much easier it would have been if we had both just laughed about it instead of freaking out, and when did I climb onto his lap?
Will hadn't quite caught up to me yet. Maybe he thought I was going to try and smother him with a couch pillow. He wiped his eyes with one hand, still laughing a little bit, and looked up at me.
I kissed him.