I felt a little off balance the next day, at least at first. I wasn't used to someone waiting for me a few blocks from school and skating with me while chatting idly. It took almost no time to settle comfortably into a routine, though, and we continued to meet and talk throughout the week. The only real disagreement we had was concerning him going back home in the evening. I was concerned his brother would catch him and told him I should come over, instead.
"Then who walks you home, numb-nuts?"
"He doesn't know me," I said reasonably. "He definitely knows you."
We ended up splitting the difference, but I liked hanging out with him at his house. He made a game of coming up with outlandish ways for me to get a date with a guy from my 'list' and I turned the tables and did the same to him about his list. In fact it was as if the brief kiss had never happened; he didn't bring it up and I was too chicken. When Friday rolled around I was toying with the idea of asking him to stay over, except that with my restrictive parents I didn't have things like video games, the internet or Netflix to choose from-my dad was convinced that everything would be used against us to take the little we had. But I realized I didn't really need things like that with Parker around.
I was happily surprised when Parker asked me to stay at his house, and told him so. In his typical fashion he grinned and told me he wanted to ask before I asked him because there was nothing to do at my house but me. I hit him for that one and he laughed at me as he retreated into the masses of people changing classes in the hallways.
Parker was waiting for me as I descended the stairs from school and dropped his board down to ride along next to me.
"Do we have to wait for your dad to get home to ask about staying over?" he asked.
"I can call him at work," I said. "Should I bring a pillow or anything?"
"Nah. I'm going to turn my body pillow sideways so we can share it."
My steps faltered. "Huh? I'm sleeping with you?"
"Yeah. I mean, if you want to sleep on the couch, you can. But the point of an overnight is staying up and talking about stupid shit in the dark."
"Parker," I whined, trying to mask my nerves. "Do we have to talk about you so much?"
He grinned. "Fuck you, Shane. Sideways."
We chuckled and arrived at my house. I was a little surprised to find my mom home. Her schedule could be erratic, but I had to admit she didn't look all that good.
"Hi, Mom," I greeted her. "This is my friend, Parker."
"Hi, Mrs. Blankenship," Parker said politely.
"Boys," she said, her voice hazy and gravelly. "I had to call off work tonight, coming down with something so you better find something to do somewhere else." She punctuated this with a coughing fit.
I glanced at Parker and then back at my mom. "Actually, I was going to call Dad. Parker asked me to stay over tonight."
"Oh yeah?" she said and lifted her head toward us. "No girls over, right?"
"Not unless you count Shane, ma'am," Parker quipped. I smacked him and my mother chuckled.
"Okay. Call me tomorrow after you get up or call your dad. Okay?"
"Sure, Mom. Thanks," I said and moved to my room to pack an overnight bag.
We soon departed and went right to Parker's. His folks weren't home from work yet, so he and I went out behind his house and started to toss a football. That degenerated quickly into trying to hit each other with the ball and then that turned into tackling each other and hitting one another with the stupid ball. It was moronic and yet we couldn't stop laughing and chasing each other. We were both startled out of our game by his mother.
"Oh my God," she exclaimed and covered her mouth to hide her laughter. "What are you two doing? You're a mess!"
Before Parker could respond, I looked at her solemnly and said, "It's all Parker's fault, Mrs. Reid."
"Oh yeah? Probably," she said, laughing at us while Parker pushed me. "Dad's bringing pizza, Parks, so go get a shower. Shane, if you brought a change of clothes, you should probably get cleaned up, too. I can put your stuff in the wash with mister dirt bomb's over there."
"King dirt bomb, mom! I keep telling you!" Parker said in a put-upon voice as we walked toward the house.
We left our shoes by the back door and went to Parker's room. "You going to shower?" he asked, then paused to look at me dramatically. "You should. You look like someone rolled you in dog crap."
I tilted my head. "You just want me to get naked."
He feigned shock. "Am I that transparent? No," he said, and then dropping his voice, whispered, "seriously-you stink."
I hit him. Well, tapped him heavily.
He grinned. "Really. Fucking smelly bastard, take a shower once in a while."
That degenerated into pushing and shoving and even more name calling before his mother poked her head in and ordered Parker into the shower. He pointed at me with his underwear, which was in his hand, and told me this wasn't over. He left the room and stuck his head back in, pointing again and repeating his threat.
Fifteen minutes later he walked back in wearing just his underwear and tossed a fresh, folded towel to me. "Hurry up, smelly. I'm hungry."
I flipped him off and took my time getting ready to take my own shower, using the delay to rake his body with my eyes, hoping he didn't notice. He'd eventually have to cover up, but I'm not sure why-he looked pretty nice without clothes. When I came back to his room I had a tee shirt and pajama bottoms because I was too modest for less. I was also a little nervous to sleep with him, so I erred on the side of less potential skin contact.
"Finally. Did you jerk off or something? Thinking about me showering in there?" he teased as he pulled a tee on to compliment his boxers.
"Of course," I replied tartly. "Ever since I pictured Clint, everyone else on the list was easy."
"I'm not easy, pal," he said and pushed me out of his room. We pushed and shoved down the hallway until his dad told us to cut it out. This time I pointed at him and told him this wasn't over. He just laughed at me.
His parents were nice, asking some questions but not a great deal. They seemed pleased to have me there and I wondered about that a little since Parker had said he'd no other friends. Parker and I kept up a banter through dinner and his dad jumped in with a double entendre or two that left us in stitches. His mom made half hearted protests through her laughter, but it was a lost cause. It was altogether hilarious.
After dinner Parker and I played some video games in his room, and he shedded his tee early on. I was surprised that his being dressed down didn't affect me more. In fact, I nearly forgot about it entirely as we played both cooperative and competitive games and spent time idly chatting and laughing.
His father poked his head in around eight-thirty. "Parks? Mom and I are going to watch a movie in our bedroom. You guys can have the living room TV if you want."
"Yes! Thanks, Dad," he replied and we set about shutting down the games and putting things away. Okay, I put things away while Parker watched me with amusement as he slipped his tee back on.
"Want to clean my room for me?" he asked insolently and draped an arm around my shoulders. "You're going to make someone a good wife, someday."
"Oh, fuck you, Reid," I said and pushed him off me while he just laughed.
He asked if I'd like popcorn and then popped a bag in the microwave while I more or less watched. It was difficult, without the distraction of the game, not to notice him in just his underwear and tee shirt. He didn't seem to notice, though, but I felt bad about checking him out. Coming out to the living room he set the TV up for Netflix and as it loaded he pulled a large blanket from the closet and brought it to the couch. I sat down on the blanket but when he returned with the popcorn he shooed me off the couch and handed me the bowl while he turned the lights off. He lifted the blanket and got under, then took the bowl from me. I sat back down on the blanket and he pushed me.
"Get under the blanket, Shane," he said while shaking his head.
Feeling a little nervous, I slipped under the blanket and he placed the popcorn between us, yet still managed to push right up against me. It might have been awkward except that Parker was so relaxed that I began to wonder if, when he'd had friends before-surely he must have?-that this was simply how he was. He thought nothing of an arm around my shoulders, play fighting or anything else physical other guys did and, as such, maybe he really didn't feel uncomfortable that I found him attractive. We settled on a movie and then proceeded to make fun of it the whole way along and blame the other for crappy movie choices. It was actually a lot of fun, even though I can't remember what the movie was.
About eleven-thirty his mother came down the hallway in her robe and told us to pack it in. We cleaned up and headed back to Parker's room, after a pit stop to brush. Entering Parker's room, I felt a small case of nerves developing as I was reminded of my previous concerns. Parker shucked his shirt, tossing it on his dresser and then grabbed the long body pillow from his bed and turned it so it ran across the top of the single bed. As he did, I was powerless to stop my eyes from taking in his body and did my best to not feel guilty but thankful, instead.
"Okay," he said and crossed the room to hit the lights. He bumped into me on the way back and he called me a name. Then I heard his bed squeak as he climbed in.
"Do you sleep standing up?"
"Uh, no. Sorry," I said and tried to feel my way over to the bed. As I waved a hand in front of me in the pitch black I encountered his hand. After a quick fumble he had a firm grip on my hand and pulled me onto the mattress, giggling when I landed on him. We pushed and shoved for a minute, all started by him yanking me off my feet, when I felt my elbow bang into him.
"Ow!" he yelped and then started to laugh. "Not the face, Shane!"
I grumbled at him, somewhat relieved I hadn't actually hurt him. Soon, however, I felt how crowded it'd be with us both in his narrow bed and started to have second thoughts about sleeping on the couch.
"Turn over," he said, pushing my shoulder.
"Quit pushing," I snorted as I complied and turned onto my side. I jumped, then, as his arm slipped around my waist and his knee pressed between my legs, forcing my upper leg forward.
"Um. Parker? What the hell are you doing?"
"We're sleeping on my pillow," he said in a suspiciously reasonable tone.
"What does that have to do with you cuddling me?"
"Dummy," he said with a sigh. "My body pillow is what our heads are on. I need something to cuddle so I can sleep."
"And how am I supposed to sleep?" I growled.
"Oh, come on," he said with a sigh broken up by his snickers. "You know sleeping with me is on your bucket list."
"You...fucker," I said, laughing. "Is that how it's going to be? You're going to bust my stones every chance you get?"
He squeezed me and said, "I will not bone up over Shane. I will not bone up over Shane. I will not bone up-"
We both burst out in giggles and I turned over to face him.
"Now, see, this is awkward," he said, his voice floating in the dark and filled with mischief. "Instead of me poking you in the back, you're going to poke my stomach."
"I...what! I'm not hard, you dick!" I said and pushed him.
He whispered in a husky voice, "You will be."
That sent us both into a fit of giggles which we buried in the pillow. That led to some minor pushing and shoving and then shushing in case his parents heard. We soon settled down, some, and stayed up whispering to each other. It's a wonderful experience being in such a dark room with a person and having the feeling that only the two of you exist.
Once one of us yawned, and I forget who started it, we were both yawning. Parker pushed me to roll back to my other side and I complied, not nearly as concerned as I had been when he cuddled up to me. He said goodnight and his breathing slowed and, eventually, his forehead slipped down the pillow and rested against my neck.
Oddly, while I did bone up, I drifted off to a comfortable night's sleep.
I was woken by Parker climbing over me and leaving the room. Pale light filtered past the edges of the curtains, and I lay still, half-awake and too comfortable to move. The door opened and Parker was back, closing the door behind him and climbing back over me. He shifted around and then touched my shoulder, giving me a small shake.
"What?" I replied, my voice glommed with sleep.
"Can we switch sides?"
"Mph," I grunted. Since I was moving I decided to go relieve myself and got out of bed. The tiny bit of light was enough to make my way and I hit the bathroom and returned to his room. Parker had moved to where I'd been laying so I tiredly crawled over him to the space nearer the wall. I didn't resist as he shoved me onto my side and pushed close behind me, wrapping his arm around my side and letting his hand dangle on my stomach.
"Comfortable?" I asked as I yawned.
"Very," he said, his breath tickling the hairs on the back of my neck. "You're better than my pillow. You can have the job."
"What job?" I mumbled, but he didn't reply and I drifted back into sleep.
We were awakened some time later by his mom, who tapped on the door and then called into us, "It's ten-thirty, you two. Why don't you face the day?"
"Mom. Just another six hours," Parker moaned and, in so doing, tightened his grip on me.
"You'll miss out on breakfast," she said, her tone teasing.
"Mm, breakfast," he groaned and his mother laughed softly and left, leaving the door closed.
"You awake?" he asked.
"Yeah," I grunted.
"You're comfortable. Want to stay over tonight, too?"
I snorted and he laughed. He rolled out of bed and I followed him, and I continued to enjoy his lack of clothes. He put a tee shirt on and we followed our noses out to get some pancakes.
I called my mother after breakfast and she told me Dad had left again for the weekend. She was still feeling kind of crappy and asked to speak to one of Parker's parents. The upshot was I would hang there for most of the weekend, which was fine with me.
After we dressed, Parker and I headed out and generally messed around. We went down to the park and hung out on the playground, idling away a Saturday. We wandered downtown and looked in the few storefronts and then spent a good chunk of time in a comic book store. On the way back to his house we had an animated discussion about the relative strength of superheroes and, of course, who'd win in a fight.
After lunch we cut through a few yards on our way to exploring a small thicket of trees. Parker started busting my stones about my so-called list and wondering if I'd ever bother to meet anyone on it, or if he was stuck with me.
"Well, I guess we could move in together," I said to him in a thoughtful tone as we exited the woods and he dropped his board to the pavement.
"We'll do what we do best," he agreed. "You clean up after me and I'll cuddle and pick movies."
"You suck at picking movies."
"Ah, but you like my cuddling!" he laughed maniacally. He went around me on his skateboard and the stopped suddenly. "Hey, can you ride a skateboard?"
"No," I replied and shrugged. "Never really tried, though."
We went off the asphalt and to the sidewalk and he coached me a little. I put one foot on it experimentally and as I gathered my courage to push forward, I nearly shit myself.
I heard a tremendous bark and my head whipped to the lawn beside us to see a brindle pit bull charging toward me, barking and snapping like a hell hound. In fear, I planted my foot and the skateboard flew out from under me and a bolt of pain lanced through my ankle as I dropped to the ground. I turned my head toward the dog but my vision was blocked as Parker had moved and now stood between us.