Simple Physics

Chapter 18 - Disclosures

Tucker planned on filling Sam in. Soon.

It was just that the right opportunity never seemed to present itself. And then, one day, it did.

"-which is ridiculous," she was saying heatedly, taking a vicious stab at a rather dismal looking blob of what was probably supposed to be broccoli as she spoke, as if the green, soggy-looking piece of ex-plant life were secretly the true villain in her rant, "because even if he's an A-lister he's still human, and some of those jokes are just cruel, by any standard. Even if he was gay-"

"He is," Tucker cut in, reaching for his carton of chocolate milk, and Sam stalled.

She blinked at him. "What?"

"Dash is gay," Tucker said matter-of-factly, and took a loud slurp, only to discover disappointingly that there was almost none left. He pouted. "Damn. They really need to give us mo-"

"Just because a guy has a teddy bear collection doesn't make him gay, Tucker," Sam cut him off, sounding irritated. "And part of my point is that stereotypes like that are just-"

"No," Tucker cut in. "I mean he's really, really gay…" He paused for a moment. Then, "Are you gonna finish-" he started to ask, but Sam glared.

"Tucker, you can't possibly-"

"I'm dating him, Sammy," Tucker said without inflection. "So, yeah, I think I know. Are you gonna finish your fries?" he asked. "Because-"

"You're not serious…"

Tucker spared her a cursory glance, noting the blank, unimpressed stare and incredulously quirked eyebrow in a single pass. At length, he sighed. "Uhh…yeah? I'm hungry?" he emphasized. "And it didn't look like you were eating them anyway, so I thought if they were just gonna go to waste otherwise you might as well-"

"Dash?" she half-squeaked, and Tucker figured it was his turn to quirk an eyebrow. She shook her head. "No, seriously, Tucker, if this is a joke…" She trailed off. "You're gay?"

Option one: "Yes" – not entirely true, but passably so, and had the bonus of probably ending the conversation reasonably quickly and cleanly. Option two: "No" – truer, but also slightly more confusing, and more likely to lead to a longer, more awkward explanation of his specific sexual interests and possibly unpleasant talk of failed past relationships. Option three: stall.

Tucker poked at a lettuce leaf on his tray, pushing idly it over to make a leafy green hat atop the mashed corn in the far corner pocket, neither of which he planning on eating.

"Tucker," Sam insisted more sternly, and he looked up, "you're not gay…" she said decisively, and to her right Danny made a sort of hybrid between a choking and snorting sound, earning him two, simultaneous glares – albeit for different reasons. In any case, he immediately raised his hands in silent surrender. Sam sighed, turning her attention back to Tucker. "Tucker…just because you can't get a girlfriend-"

"Oh, ouch, Sammy," Tucker whined, pulling a wounded wince and lifting a hand to his heart with histrionic flare. "You know that one hurts," He tapped his chest, "…right here…" and at least Sam had the decency to blush.

"I-I didn't mean…" Her cheeks continued to darken, and a moment later she glanced down, fingers twitching up to fold a strand of dark hair nervously behind her ear as she mumbled, "That came out wrong, I'm sorry…" significantly softer than anything she'd said thus far.

Tucker gave a non-descript, "Mm-hmm…" but then decided to have mercy and rolled his eyes with a, "Well, you know…I mean I might be more inclined to accept that apology and all its sincerity if you made a peace offering of sorts…like, say, those fri-"

"Oh, for-"

"Yesss!" Tucker whooped as Sam shoved over the remainder of her fries, her lips thinning tightly, but simultaneously curving stubbornly upwards as if, despite what appeared to be her best effort to keep them straight, they refused to cooperate. Then, Tucker tossed her a jester's grin, and the tight set of her jaw relaxed, her eyes softening for a single fleeting moment before she promptly rolled them and looked away; her smile lingered.

"You're so…" she started huffily.

"-witty?" Tucker provided, still grinning. "Charming?" He leaned back some. "Irresisti-"

"-hopeless," Sam finished, levelling him with a stare, but the spark in her eyes and teasing in her smirk belayed any seriousness in her tone, and Tucker waved her off. "But, so…" She appeared to be ready to get back on topic, "…you are serious, but…why didn't you tell us sooner? You couldn't have thought we wouldn't accept you, or that we'd…"

Around the time she said "us," Tucker's eyes flicked unthinkingly to Danny, and as Sam noticed, her words trailed, her eyes following his stare. Suddenly the center of attention, Danny blushed, sitting up some.

"Oh, yeah, right," he came in awkwardly, looking like he wanted to cough into his fist to clear his throat or possibly sink under the table and disappear altogether. "Sure, uhh…why didn't you tell…us…sooner, Tucker?" he asked, and Tucker worked really, really hard not to choke on his fry. Danny scowled. Sam, for several moments, looked puzzled. Quickly, though, being the smart girl that she was, comprehension dawned, and Tucker shook his head.

"You," Sam turned to Danny, "you've…you've known!"

"Dude…" Tucker put in, "remind me never…to have you lie for me." He narrowly escaped a kick from under the table. "I mean that was…like…totally epic. You almost had me going there. Really. Aweso—owww…" That kick hit; he stopped talking and – inspired by a spontaneous burst of well-bred maturity – stuck his tongue out.

Sam, long accustomed to their games, ignored these antics and continued on brazenly, "How long have you known? Why didn't either of you tell me? And why-"

"Hey, umm…Sam?" Tucker cut in tentatively, and she granted him an audience. "Not that I don't appreciate that you care an' all, but…I mean you know…that's a lot of questions and…it's really not that big of a deal. I've only been dating Dash for, like," He swept his hands around vaguely, "a couple weeks now, tops…and I was going to tell you. Well, I mean, I did tell you…I was just waiting for a convenient time is all, and as for me not saying anything about being bi earlier—'cause I am bi, okay, not gay; girls are still cool—well…" He shrugged, "…I never really planned on acting on the 'interested in guys' side at all…ever. It just sort of…happened…but before then I didn't figure it was even important enough to mention, I mean…you know, like, why bother? So…you, umm…you think we can move on to another topic now?"

Sam waited a moment, looking at once curious and contemplative. Then, she smiled sheepishly and looked down. "Well, okay…maybe I was making a bigger deal of it than I should have…you're right, it shouldn't have to be something to get all upset or even worked up about…I guess I was just surprised, is all, and I…" She blushed. "Well, I just…didn't want to think that you thought you couldn't…talk to me…ummm… Well, anyway," She cleared her throat, "yes. We can move on to another subject…but," she stressed at the last second, drawing a pout from Tucker, "there is one last thing I want you to promise…"

Tucker raised an eyebrow. "'Kay, shoot," he said. For some reason, he didn't quite trust her smirk.

"Not that I don't believe you, and all, but…" Yeah, no, he definitely did not trust that smirk, "there is still a chance that the two of you are just pulling my leg and having a great laugh behind my back, sooo…"

"Sam-" he started in warningly.

"I want proof," she said succinctly.

Tucker blinked. After a moment, he frowned hesitantly. "Alright, umm…and what sort did you have in mind?"

Later that day…

"…so," Tucker concluded, feeling more awkward than the guy caught holding bras to his chest in the lingerie aisle at Wal-Mart (not that he'd ever done that or anything), "…if you could just, you know, tell her that we are, in fact-"

"She wants proof you're my boyfriend?" Dash asked, looking unforgivably amused, hands in his pockets, and when Tucker nodded, he tossed a brief, assessing glance in Sam's direction. Then, apparently satisfied, he shrugged and stepped forward.

Before Tucker could fit a word in edgewise to explain, though, fingers caught his chin, tilting it up and unwittingly stilling his breath in a single motion, and with the decent of Dash's mouth onto his own scarce seconds later, Tucker's unspoken words gracelessly tripped over themselves somewhere in the back of his throat.

Perhaps, he considered hazily in retrospect, it would be wiser, in the future, to simply discard explanations altogether past the point where Dash made up his mind on which course of action he planned to take.

At least Sam believed them after that.


Tucker planned on filling his parents in, too. Eventually.

It was just, with them, it wasn't a matter of waiting for the "right" opportunity so much as it was a matter building the opportunity himself, planning it, and – to a greater extent than he expected – gathering the nerve to take advantage of it.

"So, Mom…" Tucker started with purpose, stepping over the threshold into the kitchen and trying to approach as casually as possible; he almost ran into a chair. 'Great job, Tuck. Chair: one. Tucker: zero.' He cleared his throat. "You know, I was thinking…maybe we could have dinner together one night…you know, like a family dinner? Like we used to have…when I was younger?"

His mom stared.

He resisted the urge to look away, trying not to shift his weight or drag a hand behind his neck or appear otherwise as incredibly uncomfortable as he felt, because, really, it wasn't that strange of a question…

…was it?

"Baby, you feelin' okay?" his mom questioned a second later, setting down the dish she'd been tending to and drying her hands on the nearest towel as she eyed him, speculative.

"I…yeah, Mom, I'm fine…" Tucker stressed, trying hard to look it. "I was just…well, there's something I, umm…I just wanna talk to you and Dad, is all…" he said, "…okay? It's not-"

"Is it Sam and Danny?"

"No, it-"

"Did something happen at school?" she asked. Her expression darkened. "Is someone threatenin' y-"

"No, Mom, no one's-"

"Did you get a bad grade on-"

"It's not school, Mom," Tucker cut her off, making a concentrated effort not to stress, "and it's not Sam or Danny, and I'm safe. It's…" He hesitated, "…kina more a personal issue…with…somebody…"

For a drawn pause, his mother waited. Then, her brows slowly furrowed, drawing together pensively, and Tucker watched, as if the expressions themselves were as legible and informative as words themselves.

Then, finally, as if she absolutely couldn't stand it anymore, "You didn't go on off an' get some girl pregnant, did you, 'cause-"

"No!" Tucker burst out, exasperated, and then, immediately after, he blushed, abashed. He hadn't meant to shout. "No, Mom, I didn't…I haven't…" He shut his eyes. "Just: no. There is absolutely no possible way…that anyone is running around with my future kids. In fact," he considered aloud, "it's almost the opposite really, in a sort of…"

His mother looked very, very confused.

He coughed awkwardly. "Well, uh, no, actually…scratch that. I didn't mean that in a, umm…well I mean, obviously it would be impossible for me to actually…literally be…err…"

This wasn't going anywhere. And it was getting ridiculous.

"Baby? Do you need me to get you some medicine, or—?"

"Mom, you know that boy I introduced you to at the lake around Christmas time?" Tucker cut in, making a split-second, executive decision to simply cut straight to the point. The sooner he spit this out, the sooner it was over. "That boy I told you I was tutoring first semester?"

His mother eyed him slowly, carefully, making a clean assessment. Then, "Tucker…if you're 'bout to tell me you need'a be looked at for AIDS or some such nonsense-"

Tucker's head hit the refrigerator door. It hurt more than it made noise.


"You know what, Mom…" he started weakly without lifting his head, "…I think I'm just gonna grab a pop-tart…and go back to my room…and stagnate in sugar carbs, caffeine, and seizure-inductive gamestation lights until my brain dies, okay?"


"No, alright?" he blurted suddenly. "No, no, no, NO…the biggest of all the no's…" Which wasn't exactly true, technically speaking, since, honestly, of all her previous guesses, this one was probably actually the closest to on-topic; but he wasn't about to say that, "…I don't know what you think I've been doing, but I'm not getting death threats at school, I certainly haven't been getting anyone pregnant, and I absolutely, positively, do NOT have AIDS! Shit, I-"

"Language-" she slipped in; he barrelled over her.

"-haven't even had sex with him yet! And even if he got around before, I'm pretty sure he's not diseased, but even…if…" Rather abruptly, Tucker skid to a halt. His mother was blushing. Hard. He swallowed. 'Ooops…' "Umm…" 'Hah, ha ha, very smooth, Tuck. Really: Way. To. Go.' And somewhere, in the back of his mind, a little tiny sliver of his subconscious requested very quietly that he simply be put out of his misery now. It didn't matter how. The fridge could fall on him for all he cared. Or a meteor could strike the house – as long as it just hit him, and not his mother, who he had just explicitly come out to in probably the most outlandish and awkward and weird and wrong way possible.

'Well…' another small corner of thought provided, '…at least she didn't walk into your room when you had your face in Dash's-'

Okay, so maybe there were worse ways. Whatever. Still. This was bad.


"I just wanted to tell you I was dating him, okay?" Tucker half whined, half pleaded, and he felt ridiculous, standing there with his eyes closed and his arms tightly folded over his chest as if the moment of epic embarrassment had reduced him back to the if-I-can't-see-you-you-can't-see-me stage of toddler-hood understanding where there was some real, sagely truth in the notion that if he folded in on himself forcefully enough and really concentrated, he might be able to successfully make himself small enough to literally disappear altogether.

"That was all…" His voice had dropped to something just above a whisper, still whinier than he would have liked and scratchy and small, but the words were falling out of him faster than he could control anyway, and it wasn't like he could really embarrass himself much more, so he didn't bother trying.

"I figured you'd have wanted to know, you know…like if I were dating a girl, you'd have wanted to, so I thought it would be good to get it out there, or something…and before you ask, I'm not gay – I do like girls – I just…I like him, too, and it's not a teenage phase or a wild experiment or a frustrated rebellion against the rigid standards of a blinded, mass-culture society or even only because I haven't found a girlfriend yet, but because I want to, and it's been going on for months, and…I…" He swallowed. "I thought you should know…is all…" He opened his eyes, but surveyed the floor, either unwilling or unable to meet his mother's stare. "I was gonna tell you…and Dad…eventually…I just…" A deep breath. "I'm sorry it came out like this."

After an aching, dragging silence, he finally forced himself to look up. It was humbling, in a way, a mother's seemingly inborn capacity to make her children feel – well – like children, so suddenly, so potently, and so effortlessly. Meeting her gaze, Tucker was reminded in a sweeping rush of the reverting-back-to-toddlerhood sensation, but this time intensified perhaps tenfold, and suddenly, the concept of curling into a ball and losing himself in his mother's arms and letting all the gritty, painful details of reality wash away under soothing murmurs and placating reassurances was not only there, but intensely appealing.

He forced his head down and shut his eyes again, clenching his fists until the nails digging into his palms hurt, and he knew he should say something, or just turn away, or maybe just grab that damn pop tart and then-

"You wanna help me make dinner?"

Tucker's head snapped up. For a moment, he stared, thrown. No, he didn't want to help make dinner. He wanted to run away, to get out, to flee, to…

He thought of retreating back to the cave of his room, of wallowing in his mental turmoil or burying himself in some mind-numbing videogame until all other realities drowned out under the piercing, scraping raucous of artificial screams and gunfire. He watched his mom go back to grabbing dishes, running each one methodically one after another under the running water in the sink and scrubbing them off individually even though she would just put them all in the dishwasher afterwards anyway. He hesitated.


How hard could it be?

"Umm…" She didn't look up from the sink, "…sure?" Her small smile, warm and familiar, was worth – Tucker was certain – any horror that could possibly have followed.


Tucker never planned on filling in the Casper High student body in its entirety. Ever.

That one – thanks to a slight err in judgement and a couple of other things that were neither entirely his nor Dash's fault but rather some messy combination of the two – just sort of happened on its own.

"But Mom-"

"I'm sorry, baby, but I did give you fair warnin' yesterday," his mother barrelled over what was probably Tucker's fifth or sixth objection that morning. "Your father took the Chrysler an' Susan's baby caught the flu, so she won't be carpoolin' anyone around today."

When she finished rifling through her purse, apparently satisfied, she finally shrugged on the huge, thick yellow rain jacket that had hung over her forearm until then and then turned to snatch her polka-spotted umbrella from beside the door. Tucker's pout went wasted, unseen.

"This meeting's in Dimsdale, an' I'm already late, so…just ask one of your friends," she added as a distracted, last-ditch effort to quell his whines, checking her watch again as if to emphasize her rush, but Tucker knew it was just habitual. "I'm sure Danny or Sam wouldn't mind cartin' you over to school just this once."


His mother opened the door just in time to fill the room with a sharp, white flash that made the kitchen bulbs pale in comparison, and Tucker squinted, half-blinded, as a thundering crack followed almost immediately after.

"Mom, Danny's already…" Gushing rain drowned out most of his sentence, and "…at…school…" came out as more of a resigned sigh than anything else, his mother's final, almost-shouted goodbye already fading into the sound of the storm. He gave a half-hearted wave, and the door shut with grim finality.

Alone, he grumbled silently to no one in particular and dropped his weight against the nearest wall, glaring at the fading wallpaper across from him as if to challenge it with a silent "What now?" but, of course, he received no more divine inspiration than he expected. Just rain. Lots and lots of-

"Dammit," he swore aloud. There was no way he let this become a repeat of the last time he had to walk to school in a thunder-

'Oh, wait…'

Tucker blinked as memories of that particular experience came flooding back – with startlingly vivid clarity, at that – and at least an idea accompanied the blush that swept up with matching alacrity.

To call, or not to call? To call, or…

Lightning split the sky outside the kitchen window, and when its answering thunderclap rattled the loose appliances, momentarily dimming all lights in the house to an eerie, muted yellow before they glowed back to life, Tucker made his decision. He flipped open his phone, took a breath, and dialled.


Halfway into the third ring, an answering click came through from the other end, and a drowsy voice mumbled the rough equivalent of, "Who s'it 'n wha'd'ou wan'?"

Tucker took a moment to process this. Then, he frowned. "Dash…were you asleep?"

There was some shuffling, followed by a grunt, followed by more shuffling, and then, "Tucker?" Dash came through again, only slightly more cognizant than last time,"Is'at…what're…" That there, that sounded like a yawn, "…It's…" and another, "…early…"

"It's seven twenty-six, Dash," Tucker said flatly, working diligently to keep the grin out of his voice. "School starts in thirty-four minutes…" His eyes flicked to the kitchen clock, "…make that thirty-three. Don't tell me I need to program your computer to wail off a fire alarm at six o'clock every morning?"


Eventually, an amusingly uncertain, "You couldn't…" drifted its way over. Moments after Tucker raised his eyebrows, though – as if Dash sensed the reaction, even in his groggy state – an almost whined, "…baby, please don't do that…" followed, and Tucker grinned wickedly. "Tucker?" Oh yeah, that was definitely a whine.

"Alright, alright," he conceded, still smiling. "I'll have to think about it," he teased, "but, really, were you even planning on going to school today?"

The pause stretched between them.

Rain splattered against the windowpanes. A more distant slice of thunder rolled off in the background.

Finally, "Umm…" and Dash sounded like he was stifling yet another yawn as he said it, "do I gotta lie fer you not to do shit with my comp…?" worked its way down the line, and Tucker resisted the urge to roll his eyes skyward. Then, "You didn't really call me just to wake me up, did you?" Dash huffed, and Tucker blushed guiltily.

'Oh, right.'

"Oh, umm…no, actually, I…well," He toed the carpet, "I mean, if you were gonna sleep, then I can just let-"

"I'm awake now anyways," Dash pointed out, his voice decidedly softer and less irritated this time, and Tucker's shoulders relaxed some. He hadn't realized they'd tensed.

"Well…then, I guess I was actually kina wondering…if maybe you could…you know, umm…" He ventured the last part by far the most tentatively, "…give me a ride?" and the pause that followed was shorter than the last few.

"Really?" It wasn't harsh or irritated, just surprised. "Don't you, like…have a car?"

This time, Tucker did roll his eyes. "Yeah, I just…my mom's using it today," he explained, "and she didn't have time this morning to drop me off, and my dad's already at work, and Danny's already at school, and Sam rides with Danny, so…"

"So you're alone in your house?"

Tucker blinked. Well, yes, he supposed, that was one possible, valid conclusion a person could arrive at from the information given – if rather beside the point. A rather wary, "Yes…" was all he voiced aloud.

"…and you want me to come over…and drive you to school…?"

Tucker frowned, trying to figure out how this could possibly be a difficult concept to grasp. Maybe Dash was really tired? "Yes, Dash…" he reiterated patiently, "I want you to drive me to school. I mean, you don't have to, but I just figured-"

"Lemme get dressed," Dash conceded, sounding more or less completely neutral, and Tucker thought he picked up the sound of a bedspring in the background, "but if you do change your mind and decide to ditch the book learnin' for…" There was a pause and a shuffle of fabric; probably the donning of a shirt,"…slow sex with your door wide open, lots of making-out and video games all day…"

When Dash left that sentence hanging, Tucker swallowed, hard, wrestling valiantly for control of his suddenly slack jaw, clumsy tongue, and tight throat. He failed. Thus, a coarser-than-he-intended, "Dash-" was about all he managed to force out before said impossible distraction cut in over him.

"I'll be there in a few, 'kay? You can decide then. Sound fair?"

'No,' Tucker hissed mentally, squeezing his eyes shut, 'totally, absolutely, positively, not in the least, tiniest little bit fai-'

Dash hung up.

Tucker keened and sank an inch against the wall, dropping his head back and staring blearily up to the ceiling. "Really?" he whined up at it. "I mean really? Not only does he get an absolutely adorable I-just-woke-up voice, but he gets to have a fucking sexy as hell phone voice, too? And then, he has to use it to-"

There was simply no justice in this world. That was the only logical answer.

Tucker sighed, pinching two fingers over the bridge of his nose and scrunching it. What did he owe school, anyway, he wondered begrudgingly; what had school ever done for him?

Nothing. That was what. Nothing but pile on homework, and waste his time, and…

Did that excuse skipping out for what Dash suggested?

His cheeks warmed, and he shifted his weight against the wall, nibbling his lip and trying to think through the day and assess what he might miss. English: nothing. Home Ec.: nothing. Chemistry: a small quiz, but nothing drastic. Pre-cal…

He had a make-up test in pre-calculus – the one he'd put off twice already.

And besides that, he chastised himself on a more rational level, he really couldn't afford to be skipping class any more than absolutely necessary due to ghost attacks anyway. It wasn't like he had a great record as it was, and Lancer had been "testy" as of late. After almost four years, who could blame him? Still…

A soft mewl erupted from somewhere in the vicinity of his ankles, and after tossing the source a passing glance and receiving another – this time slightly more insistent – meow in response, Tucker stooped obligingly. "Life's just not fair, Vader," he confided in the animal – Sam's rescue project of two years prior – running a distracted hand over its back and shaking his head. "Sometimes you can be a good guy, do everything you're supposed to, and yet in the end…" Vader arched into his touch, giving a loud, satisfied purr, and Tucker rolled his eyes. "Thanks for the support, buddy," he muttered, only halfway sarcastic. "I can see you really feel my pain…"

A minute or so of petting and scratching behind the ears later, he stood back up and headed for the door, and sighing and grumbling to no one – except perhaps the cat – he snatched the last umbrella by the door, and exited.

He didn't have to wait long.

In less than five minutes, the soft purr of a well-attended engine announced his ride's arrival, and as he watched the sleek, cherry red Porsche Boxster pull smoothly into his driveway…

Well, never let it be said that Dash didn't drive a gorgeous car, too.

Then Dash parked, and when the driver's side door opened, it took Tucker half a second to react accordingly and dart over, moving in to provide umbrella coverage. Dash met this action with eyebrows raised, an amused smile playing on his lips.

"Worried I'm gonna melt?" he teased, and Tucker huffed.

"No…but it's common decency not to make someone stand uselessly out in the rain, and I thought if you were so set on getting out of your car in the first place I ought to at lea-" The rest of his sentence never made it, broken promptly off in lei of a single inhale as Dash's lips settled gently down into place over his.

"G'morning to you, too," Dash greeted, eventually, and Tucker mused silently at the physical oddity of being chilled throughout most of his body, and yet still maintaining pockets of heat – namely around the face and neck area.

"Mornin'," he mumbled back, and there was a movie out there, somewhere, he was sure of it, that had a scene just like this – well, minus the two guys part, anyway – with a dashing ('Hah, dashing…' Tucker thought before he could stop it, and then mentally kicked himself) lead hero standing out in the rain and mist on a foggy morning, trapped with his romantic interest under a tiny umbrella, waiting for…

In a distracted search for something to comment on, Tucker's eyes flicked to glance through Dash's window. "Sooo…I see you brought your backpack…"

Dash shrugged. "Figured you wouldn't be hot on ditchin', and since I'd be there already anyway…" He trailed off. "'Sides, you'll need someone to drive you home too, sounds like," he observed rationally, and when Tucker quirked an eyebrow, he smirked. "'Less of course you wanna surprise me…and then I'm still all for-"

"I…think I should probably-"

"Go on," Dash nudged his head towards the car, not a hint of irritation in his tone, "get in," and Tucker blushed.

"You know," he hastened to add, feeling the need to qualify, "it's not because…it's not that I don't…I mean, I don't want you to think I-"

"Foley," Dash cut in, and somehow or other the use of his last name in this instance came off sounding like some slightly more playful, boyfriend's equivalent of the "Tuckard Leonard Foley!" his mother would use when getting ready to follow up a statement with "What on Earth were you thinking?" or something similar. "Don't sweat it," Dash insisted easily, "I know I'll get mine eventually…" and it took some substantial amount of effort on Tucker's part not to gawk.

"I…y…bu-uhh…" All in all, he pretty much failed anyway. "And what's that supposed to—?"

Dash slid an arm around his waist, physically guiding him to the passenger side door. "C'mon, you're the smart one…" he said, opening the door for him and smirking at his thoroughly befuddled look, "…I'm sure you can figure it out."

By the time they got to school, Tucker had narrowed possible interpretations down to: a.) "Don't worry, I'll get you back for this later," b.) "It's okay, I can wait it out, and I don't mind," and d.) "You're mine, and your silly excuses don't scare me—I'll get what I want in the end." He concluded it was probably some combination of the three.

In any case, such were the circumstances that lead to the prime opportunity for an over-eager school newspaper club member to snap any number of fuzzy, extremely gossip-worthy pictures later that morning, and the following Monday, several copies of a student-printed, non-teacher-approved issue of the Casper High Weekly sported the headlines, "Rainy Rainbow Romance: Is Casper's king secretly queer?" The illegitimate paper circulated an impressive range of social circles before being appropriately confiscated.

"Well," Sam commented uncertainly, putting a blurred image of Dash and Tucker in the school parking lot, presumably lip locked under the cover of Tucker's umbrella, under intense scrutiny, "the picture is really bad quality," she asserted hopefully, "…maybe no one will believe it…or at least not recognize it's y-"

A shrill whistle cut her off, and the trio turned in unison, greeted by small gaggle of lewdly grinning senior boys, another copy of the allegedly 'confiscated' article in one of their hands.

"Hey, honey," their apparent leader cooed, obviously directing the comment towards Tucker, "I hear you're into a, uhh…new kinda meat as'uh late…" he purred, the observation drawing simultaneous groans and snickers from his companions. "So, y'know, figured I'd let you know…if you ever get tired of suckin' on all that light meat…" Here, he cupped at his own 'package' in a bawdy, self-explanatory gesture, and winked, "…more'n yer white boy wishes he had, baby!" and then, as quick as they'd come, the entire group was fleeing down the hall, a mass of groans and raucous laughter, spouts of, "Man, that's straight up sick," and "Gay shit ain't right…" floating back until their voices faded out altogether.

After they'd gone, neither Danny nor Sam looked particularly comfortable. Both, though, looked furious.

"That's-" Sam started.

"I can phase him into a landfill," Danny offered.


"No, it's okay," Tucker cut in evenly, turning back to his locker, "I know who he is." He started putting in his combination. "I'll just transfer a couple gigs of streaming '$pAce g0aT Fu©k$ a|i3n squ!d' bestiality porn to his iPhone later…" 



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