"Hey, can I talk to you for a minute? Privately?" Jeremy nodded, though he wasn't sure what to think. Eric's hands were stuffed in his pockets and he was rocking back and forth on his feet, his voice quivering. His mind went two places: one, something was seriously wrong, or two...
Was it even worth thinking about? Was it worth getting his hopes up? Besides, Jeremy wasn't even completely sure if he did feel that way about Eric. Okay, yes, he did, but he didn't know what that meant for him or for them. There was so much he was unsure about, like being lost in a misty forest surrounded by unidentifiable sounds and trying to find a rainbow.
Eric led the two of them out into the hallway, looking both ways before leaning up against the wall. His hands were still in his pocket and he wasn't looking Jeremy in the eyes.
"Is everything okay?"
"Yeah, yeah, everything's... everything's great, I just..." Eric took a breath, and Jeremy could feel his gut starting to twist. "Look, maybe I'm misreading things, and if I am, please tell me, I don't want to make things weird, it's just..." His heart was pounding, and he's sure the brown haired boy could hear it. His breath was caught in his throat, waiting for Eric to continue. The air was tense, like being on the top of a rollercoaster, waiting for the drop. "...I don't even know if you, you know... swing that way, I just, I feel like I need to tell you or I'm gonna explode.
"I like you, Jeremy," he finally said. "Like, a lot. But if you don't feel the same way, that's okay, I don't want to make things weird or-"
"You, you do?"
"Yeah," Jeremy said, finally letting out a breath. "I don't exactly know what I am, but I... I know I've never felt like this about anyone else." Eric smiled, looking down as his cheeks turned pink. That was enough to confirm it, as if he needed it. That smile could bring him back from the dead.
"So... what now?"
"I don't know. I don't know what I'm ready for."
"That's okay," Eric said, grasping the other boy's arm. "I've been out for years. You can take your time. We'll go at your pace and figure it out as we go. Together."
"Yeah, yeah, I'd like that," Jeremy said, leaning into the touch. "Can I kiss you?"
"If you think you're ready for that, yes. Absolutely." Jeremy couldn't help but laugh and he leaned in, pressing his lips to Eric's. It didn't last too long, but it was enough to rattle his entire system. Goosebumps invaded his skin and his heart jumpstarted itself. Shivers crawled down his spine and nerves melted and electrified at the same time. They pulled away and he couldn't help but smile, especially as Eric bit his lip. "How was that?"
"Better than I imagined."
"I'm flattered," Eric said, and the two laughed together, leaning in for another kiss. This one a little longer, a little less uncertain, a little more bold. Eric wrapped both arms around Jeremy's neck as he was pinned closer between the wall and the other boy. They were both out of breath when they pulled away.
The two didn't stay in the hallway much longer, knowing someone would come looking for them soon. For the rest of the evening, any time he saw the flannel-wearing boy out of the corner of his eye, he had to fight to keep from kissing him again. There was still a lot he didn't know, but there was one thing he did:
He didn't want to live without those kisses ever again.