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Chapter 4: The strange case of Danny Phantom and Marty McFly

Jamie woke up first, immediately feeling the warmth of Chris’ heat all over his body. He eased into the muscled frame that proved to be soft enough for him to feel comfort as he listened along to the quiet little breaths the boy let out- the same ones that lured him to sleep the night before. All was well, despite the realization that he’d eventually have to face the truth.

Chris’ light breaths were soon drowned out by Jamie’s phone, ringing away from within the jeans he discarded last night. He carefully untangled himself from the boy’s arms and rushed over, hoping not to wake him.

“Shit, Garrett.” he thought as the screen lit up and he walked into the living room to drown out the noise. He’d forgotten he agreed to help Garrett and Lisa pack up and move out of their apartment- a favor made necessary since Marissa and Kevin were both out of town. He was already twenty minutes late to when he said he’d meet them.

“Yo, you on your way?” Garrett asked as Jamie paced through the room, hoping Chris’ roommate really had been away this weekend.

“Uh yeah, just got a bit of a late start” he replied, wearing a pair of shorts that Chris had lent him while standing in the boy’s living room that still had a nearly finished box of pizza and a couple beer bottles laying around.

Garrett paused for a second, followed by the sound of a signal light being used, “Ok that’s fine. I just picked up the rental truck, so just come over as soon as you can. I got a fat breakfast burrito with your name on it.”

Jamie faked a laugh, “Ha sweet. But yeah, I’ll see you soon.”

“Cool” Garrett said, before hanging up.

He slipped back into the room and started to gather his things. Jamie neatly folded the loose pair of shorts and set it on Chris’ desk chair before slipping into his own clothes. He’d just put on his shirt when he walked over to Chris’ sleeping frame and gave him a few nudges on his arm. The younger boy opened his eyes and proceeded to wipe the tiredness away. Jamie swore he’d never seen someone more adorable than Chris Woo waking up first thing in the morning. His motions while asleep had ruined the neat quiff he’d worn the night before, but Jamie liked the messy look, knowing his own locks were all over the place.

“Hey, wake up Chris, I gotta head out.” He said as the boy blinked repeatedly.

Chris stretched, exposing that milky skin Jamie got to taste the night before. He too had only worn a pair of loose shorts to bed, which were concealed under the miles of bundled sheets he’d curled himself in. It looked a little too framed- the way the blankets rode so low down the boy’s hips, paired with his legs sticking out and how the sunlight cast upon him. It was like a photographer was waiting in the next room to start their photoshoot.

“What time is it?” Chris asked, in a gravelly voice.

“Just after 9,” Jamie slipped his phone back into his pocket, “I didn’t wanna leave without saying anything.”

Chris didn’t hide the smile that swept across his face. “Most guys would have just split.”

Jamie just shrugged his shoulders. He took another look at the smiling hunk he’d be leaving. He asked, “Talk to you later?” to which Chris nodded, excitedly. He turned and grabbed onto the doorknob, turning it slightly.

“Wait” Chris called out. The older boy turned around and walked, following the boy’s finger that motioned back to him. He got to the edge of the bed and felt Chris’ hand pull him into a kiss. He felt the boy’s fingers on his jaw, examining his timid face.

“Thanks for making my night less shitty.”

Jamie smiled and raised his eyebrow, “PEMDAS?” he asked.

Chris laughed, shaking his head, “PEMDAS is for order of operations, not cancelling things out.”

“It still worked.” Jamie said, before turning on his heels and leaving.

***

Jamie stepped off the bus and headed over to Garret and Lisa’s old place which was tucked away on the edges of the Outer Richmond. Garrett nabbed the prime parking spot up front, managing to fit the rented oversized truck between two Toyota Priuses as they slowly loaded up every empty space in the back. He and Garrett worked their way through the living room, filling the truck bed with the duo’s sofa, two nightstands, a coffee table and Garrett’s bed. They looked around to see the sparsely decorated place, now stripped of Garrett’s photography he had printed and little decorations Lisa and Kelly had put up to make the place feel more homey. They packed up the essentials with Garrett explaining that Lisa and her family would be over tomorrow to haul all the smaller stuff to their new place.

Jamie got a bit emotional as he got into the passenger seat with Garrett at the wheel, knowing that this apartment- like many aspects of his life here were gone.

A little while later, he was carrying stacks of boxes up the new second floor walk-up in Oakland. He nearly tipped everything over as he walked in to see casino şirketleri what was clearly twice the size of their old place- complete with a parking spot and a little balcony with a view out to Lake Merritt.

Garrett leaned on his shoulder, reminding him, “It’s cheaper too.” before taking some of the load off.

“This place is massive dude! You definitely can’t find space like this across the bridge.”

“Nope” Garrett said as he took an Xacto to the tops of some boxes. “Lisa and I are already planning this Halloween house-warming party to break the place in.” He started emptying the boxes and slowly filling up the empty cupboards. “We definitely gotta get everyone to come out too. Heather’s making jello shots. I got Kev to bring his girl over from Sac. Lisa is inviting this dude she’s been talking to from school. Hell, I’m even pushing Marissa to bring that guy she’s apparently not dating.”

Jamie couldn’t believe how things had changed. He somehow still pictured everyone at Bitter End, drinking away over thoughts of how they’d all end up single by thirty. Garrett had just come out of this fling he had with one of their other friends, long before he and Heather became a thing, and slowly each of them got paired up like animals in queue to Noah’s Ark. Even he was in this weird arrangement with Chris that was in desperate need of a definition. Regardless of what it was, he wasn’t exactly single anymore.

“What about you, J? You’re more than welcome to bring someone.”

“I don’t know dude.” Jamie said as he carefully removed the bubble wrap in between a stack of ceramic plates. “I don’t know if we’re at that point yet- let alone what we even are.”

Garrett shut the pantry door and turned around, “So there is someone?” He asked, getting a hitch in his voice.

Jamie nodded, “Early stages, if anything.” Garrett joined him on the newly set down couch and kicked his feet up on the coffee table, still covered in layers of plastic. “We started hooking up a couple weeks ago and I don’t know, it feels like we’ve progressed from that.”

“Why do you make it sound so negative, man? That’s good, isn’t it?”

“On paper, yeah.” Jamie said, forgetting the plates. “I just don’t know if I can get into something so serious right now.” He stopped himself before fully explaining away. He couldn’t tell Garrett yet- in the same way he couldn’t tell Chris. If, a year or even six months ago, this opportunity with Chris would have presented himself, then he’d be fully on board without question. But he had an exit strategy already laid out, and only one parachute.

“Look J. It’s never going to be the right time.Shit’s messy and we don’t always get enough time to bounce back.” He looked over at his friend with his classic, matter of fact look. “You know, Heather and I were hooking up way longer than you, and there just came a point where I realized I didn’t wanna just be fuck buddies.”

“What changed your mind?”

Garrett shrugged as he reached over to the bag of candy he brought along with the rest of the stuff. “I liked how happy she made me.” He said, grabbing a few and setting it on the table. “And I figured that if we were together, I could feel like that all the time.”

“I hear you, Gar. I really do.” Jamie said as he looked over at his friend, “And I do like him a lot, but is that enough?” He looked around, hoping to distract his eyes from the other. The question he was asking himself, was if liking Chris was enough to make him stay- a conversation he wasn’t ready to have.

“It can be.” Garrett said as he ripped open a pack of Reese’s and carefully peeled the paper wrapper. “Love and sex are like chocolate and peanut butter.” He took a bite, savoring the sweet taste on his tongue. “They’re good on their own, but best when they’re together.”

Garrett offered up the second piece which he took. “Maybe you’re right” Jamie said, before taking a bite and finding out for himself.

Jamie left Garrett’s a little after four when the apartment had been as filled up as possible based on what the boys brought along. Garrett seemed to take to his new place rather quickly, opening the right cabinets and pulling out exactly what he needed to cook while Jamie grabbed his things and headed off. He heard a loud “Thanks again dude!” followed by the sound of a pot being filled with water as he closed the door and headed on the BART back to the City.

He wondered if his problems with staying here could be solved if he pulled a Garrett and just moved east. Surely, he could find somewhere just as nice and less expensive, but was all of this really just about an apartment? Jamie pictured himself boarding that same train every morning, reminded that he couldn’t make it.

He wouldn’t be able to stand that.

***

Later that Monday, Jamie hopped onto the bus headed for work with a minute to spare. He straightened up the striped shirt he picked out the night before, hoping it would impress at least one person that day. He normally just threw casino firmaları on whatever was clean, but he knew that Chris would be on, as was their routine. As the bus started moving, he worked his way down, passing through the crowd of commuters that barely gave him the time of day. That was until he caught sight of those warm brown eyes- the ones that bore into his soul and looked at him with excitement.

Chris was huddled into one of the last rows, clutching onto two cups as his messenger bag slung on the chair beside him. Jamie, not even bothering to ask, carefully adjusted the bag so he could sit and was greeted by the scents of mocha in the air, along with Chris’ coconut shampoo.

“Don’t tell me you’ve been demoted to Office Coffee Slave.” The older boy asked as he felt Chris’ body lean into him slightly.

“They wouldn’t dare.” He replied, clutching onto the cup as the bus hit a few potholes. “This one’s actually for you.” he said, handing over the extra coffee which Jamie willingly took.

He took a sip from the plastic lid , tasting the mix of coffee and cream and caramel. He’d been weak for those sweet drinks, never bothering with the standard brew that the rest of his co-workers drank all day long. “That’s nice of you” he said, licking away the caramel from his lips, “Thanks”

The younger boy just smiled, leaning into Jamie who looked especially good today with the little red stripes matching well with his tan skin. He’d debated this morning as he waited for the order to be ready, thinking it would be too cheesy to bring the other boy coffee. That was the sort of thing that boyfriends do, he figured. But they weren’t actually dating- truth is he didn’t know what they were. But it made Jamie smile, and that alone seemed to be worth it.

“So. what are you doing this weekend?” Jamie asked, now nearly half done with the drink.

Chris raised his eyebrow, “By this weekend, do you mean Halloween?”

“Well yeah.” Jamie said with a chuckle. “I wasn’t sure if you and your friends were the type to go out to like the Castro or SOMA.”

Chris shook his head, “Nah, we’ve definitely outgrown those days.”

Jamie nodded, “Us too.” He chuckled, thinking back on those years in college when they’d walk around to see every costume imaginable as they walked down Market Street, making their way from venue to venue. “My friends and I usually keep it pretty chill. Last year we all got together at my friend Marissa’s place and watched The Shining.”

“Dude that’s a classic!”

Jamie shook his head, “I had my eyes covered like half the movie- I just don’t do horrors.”

Chris laughed, teasing, “Damn Jamie, I didn’t realize you were such a wimp. That’s probably the least scary of all horror movies.”

Jamie rolled his eyes, “It’s way too early for any of your teasing, Chris.” They shared a laugh as he drank up what was left of his coffee.

“Anyway, so my friend Garrett just moved into a new place in Oakland and is throwing a Halloween party on Saturday. Would you be down to go?”

Chris stopped for a second, taken aback by the offer. It seemed like a tall order to go out of his way and meet Jamie’s friends this quick without even knowing what they were. He always had this suspicion, needing to only go as far as Jamie would let them. This was progress, he thought, having already decided in his head.

“So, you want to bring me along to your friend’s party as a date?” He teased.

“Don’t make it weird.” the tan boy replied as he tried to hide his blush.

“Not making it weird” Chris said with a nudge, “It sounds fun. I’d love to go.”

Jamie smiled, warming Chris up more than the coffee ever could. “It’s a costume party by the way. Garrett said the theme is” he raised up his fingers like air quotes, “Don’t Be Basic”

“What the hell does that mean?” The younger asked while laughing.

Jamie shrugged his shoulders, “I asked Garrett the same thing and he said to interpret it how you want. Just don’t be lame and show up dressed like an Avenger or a cop or you’ll be tossed out.”

***

The rest of that week flew by for Jamie, whose sour mood was instantly killed whenever he had contact with Chris. It started off the same- with him coming into work and getting that same sense of dread, only to be reset by Chris’ boyish smile and enthusiasm, that seemed to last him until the next time they’d see each other. He knew it wasn’t healthy- relying on someone else to be your sense of happiness. But the cute boy proved to be the respite he needed apart from the mundane he was consumed in. Still, he was taking it slow, looking at their encounters as one-off pages instead of the little inserts that, when bound together, make up the intro to a story of the two of them. He didn’t have the headspace to start thinking like that.

It didn’t help that Chris wasn’t shy in showing his affection. He could pretty much count on a midday text from him, clearly looking for a welcomed distraction to their boring office jobs. güvenilir casino Chris had this quick wit about him that Jamie found addicting- taking in each of those repeated texts like kernels of popcorn until he’d realize hours had passed and he’d finished an entire bag.

Soon, it was Saturday night and Jamie had spent the entire day running around the city trying to put together a costume. He’d texted Chris several times throughout the week to get some ideas of what he could dress up as, to which the boy repeated, “You’ll have to wait and see.” Even Marissa proved to be no help, telling him to be creative, but not lame. He even screenshot a text from her on Friday that said, “I swear to god J, you’d better not do something stupid like write ‘life’ on your shirt and hand out lemons. I’ll kick you out myself.”

Jamie showed up to Chris’ place, relieved that the sun had set and he wasn’t forced to walk around in costume. He rang the bell, fixing the near skin-tight shirt he had on. Around six, he came up with the idea to dress up like Danny Phantom after reaching into the recesses of his childhood mind. He was obsessed with that show and often joked that somehow a cartoon had made him gay. So after a run to a few thrift shops on Haight, he pulled together an outfit that consisted of a tight black long sleeve, some skinny black pants, a pair of white boots and matching gloves and a few other embellishments. He even stopped at a small party store and picked up a bottle of white hair dye that he made the cashier assure him several times would wash out before Monday.

“No fucking way” Chris said as he came running down the stairs. “Danny Phantom? Jesus J, you look so good.”

Jamie smiled wide, as the boy came down the steps, giving him a sly kiss on the cheek. It lasted a half a second, but Jamie still felt the warm lips on his face, hoping it wouldn’t be the only time he’d feel them tonight.

“Thanks Chris.” he said as he eyed the boy over, taking note of his red puffer jacket, light blue buttoned shirt, classic pair of jeans and vintage-style watch. He was just about to ask who he was supposed to be when Chris pulled out a skateboard he had tucked behind him. He threw it down and kicked off, riding circles around the boy.

“Great Scott!” Jamie shouted out, seeing that Chris was dressed up as Marty McFly from Back to the Future. He pulled on the end of his puffer jacket, bringing him to a stop. “I love those movies!”

Chris smiled back, “Me too. Rach and I binge-watched the series last time I was home. And then I saw this jacket at Uniqlo the other day and knew it was fate.”

Jamie looked into Chris’ eyes some more, happy that the boy managed to put effort into his friend’s silly little costume party. It showed he cared, and for that, he was grateful.

The boys called for an Uber and were surprisingly picked up in a few minutes. Chris set the skateboard down on the matted floor and was slowly rocking back and forth in place. They went through downtown, seeing the crowds of people and started to count out every girl dressed as Harley Quinn or dude dressed as Heath Ledger’s Joker, all while the driver blasted some EDM remix of Thriller. Once they got on the bridge, Jamie noticed that Chris had gone silent and kept staring out the window at the water.

“Hey, are you ok?” He asked, touching the boy on his side.

Chris turned, surprised, “Oh yeah, I’m good man.” He said with a smile that wasn’t convincing enough.

Jamie didn’t accept that answer. He explained, “Look I know I kinda played this off- you know, going and meeting my friends.” He looked into Chris’ deep browns, “You don’t have to be worried, if that’s what this is about.”

Chris gave an honest smile- one that echoed the relief that left the boy’s body. “I just wanna make a good impression, you know?” He shrugged his shoulders, “This is kinda new territory for us.”

Jamie knew that now. He honestly didn’t think too much about what this meant when he proposed it the other day. But seeing Chris worked up made him realize that this was a big step. Yeah he’d met the boy’s sister, but there’s a difference between being cornered into a lunch and voluntarily bringing him along to a party.

“Just don’t think too much about it.” He explained, “We’re gonna go and have some drinks, dance a little and I’m gonna introduce you to some people who mean a lot to me.” He hooked the boy’s neck around his arm, pulling him closer into a half hug. “And hopefully my small circle will get a little bit bigger.”

Jamie sealed the deal by placing his hands on Chris’ face and pulling the boy into a kiss. It was soft and slow, illuminated by the bright lights that spanned the entire bridge that were rivaled by Chris’ white toothed smile.

Jamie knew he’d been falling hard.

***

The driver dropped them off right at Garrett’s building and Chris took a few minutes to exhale, shaking off his nerves as Jamie led them to the front door of the little town house. They knocked on the door, wondering if they could even be heard over the music that blared from the other side. They certainly couldn’t have this in SF, Jamie thought, as he remembered all the house parties he’d been to that were shut down because of noise complaints.

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