Two Assholes Swimming in a Fishbowl, a Love Story

Boy meets boy and misunderstandings ensue.

From the back row of Pre-Cal, Kevin Emerson threw rolled up paper balls at his baby brother’s head while students filled the classroom.  The balls were sticking in Danny’s ridiculously long hair and he squirmed in his seat, directing a glare over his shoulder periodically.

Kevin only laughed.  He had warned his the kid that anyone skipping a grade in Math deserved any and all forms of torture.  Three months into the school year and it still hadn’t gotten old.

No one expects a new student this far into the year.  Kevin hardly looked up when the teacher tried to get their attention. It was three whole minutes before the bell so Kevin kept tossing, Danny kept squirming and students continued their leisurely pace to their desks.

Then their teacher uttered the words that never failed to silence a room.  “Class, we have a new student.”

Kevin tossed one last paper ball before folding his leather-clad arms, beaming.  A new student.

He wondered if they’d be in his grade or another over-achiever like Danny.  Would it be a busty blond? An athletic, prom king in the making?  Or maybe a librarian type in pigtails just waiting to be corrupted.  Kevin smirked; he could be the one to do it.

Shuffling skechers broke Kevin from an endless cycle of spank bank images.  A boy walked in, definitely younger, with pale skin and lips the color of actual freaking red.  The kid looked up at the class through thick lashes, staring as their teacher led him to the center of the class.  Kevin imagined all the things he could do with those lips.

“This is…?” The woman announced unsure.

“It’s Jasper.”  That voice.  Deep and graveled and not what you expected from a lean boy who looked so very young.  So shy and so innocent, Kevin wondered if anyone had even kissed that plump mouth.

A string of jealousy fired up his spine at the thought, foreign and he could hardly place it but, no, it was jealousy. It simmered while Kevin pictured hands grabbing at the boys shirt, pulling a shocked moan out of pouty lips. Or maybe Jasper was as virgin as he looked.

He chose to ignore the question nagging in the back corner of his mind, pushed it down so he could properly leer at this new kid, making him blush even more. But a question pushed itself to the forefront when Jasper wrapped his arms around himself with obvious discomfort: Would someone this innocent even give Kevin the time of day?

Jasper hated crowds.  Standing in front of them made his skin itch, feeling each eye focused on him.  He never stood in front of a group this large before either, the classes in Heavener much, much smaller. Lawrence was a big city compared to his tiny Oklahoma town and he felt his cheeks heat the longer this woman had him in front of them all. Especially Mr. Leather Jacket in the back.

“Where are you joining us from, Jap-er?”  She said his name like it was a complex scientific term and not two simple syllables and a girl in the front row snickered.  He flustered through the name of his old town and bee-lined to the nearest empty desk.  If his teacher refused to assign him a seat than he would take one himself, anything to end the torture of blushing and stammering in front of 30 teenagers.

Their teacher – he could not recall her name – looked startled but seemed to understand his situation. To end the awkward silence she clapped her hands and began the lesson.  It was only then that he realized his seat was directly in front of Mr. Leather Jacket.

Kevin couldn’t believe his luck, seated mere inches from the bare skin of the new kid’s neck.  It was still flushed from embarrassment and Kevin sat mesmerized.  He wanted to make his presence known, wanted to drag his fingertip across the neck just to make him jump.  So that’s exactly what he did.

The kid, Jasper, jumped in his seat and turned to look at Kevin. His eyes were wide now, so Kevin could easily see their blue glowing with anger. The flushed red had returned as well and Kevin thought he looked beautiful stuttering to find words. “Wha – What are you doing?”

“Couldn’t help myself.”  Kevin said honestly but through a smirk.  He watched Jasper as he leant back in his seat, stretching in a way he knew lifted his shirt.  Jasper’s eyes lingered just a little too long on his flat stomach and Kevin’s smirk turned indecent. So Jasper was interested, at least.

The kid stuttered one more time, an incoherent burst of frustration, and then Kevin faced a mop of black hair. The teacher started their lesson and he watched Jasper take a few calming breaths before reaching into his bag to grab a notebook. His hand steady as it started taking notes.

Kevin frowned with disappointment. He thought he had gotten under Jasper’s skin but there he was, studiously writing notes.

Not even fifteen minutes into class and there was a whispering from behind him. “Psst, Jasper.”  He ignored it. “Hey, have lunch with me?”

A snort erupted before he could think to stifle it.  Of course this kid would tease the new kid on his first day, how cliché.  He returned his attention to the lesson where an intelligent boy with long hair answered yet another question. Jasper wondered if this boy would share his notes from the months he missed.

A foot hit the back of his chair lightly, tapping. “Come on, you don’t have anyone else to sit with yet.”

“Mr. Emerson, would you like to complete the equation?”  The foot ceased its tapping and the chair scratched along the tile as Leather Jacket Emerson stood.

He dragged his fingertips along the side of Jasper’s desk as he walked by. His hands that spoke of mechanics and handiwork and why did the thought warm him so that his sweater stuck uncomfortably to the back of his neck?  He shook off the feel of phantom fingers dragging along his skin.

The boy was probably a senior, far closer to a man than the scrawny student he felt like most of the time and when he turned to face the class, his beauty stunned Jasper.  Freckles dusted his cheeks, green eyes bright and mischievous. He saw Jasper starring and the curve of his mouth curled in response. Jasper had to look down.

That’s when he noticed the folded up piece of paper on his desk. “Call me, Kevin” and a number scribbled under it. Jasper’s hand fisted around the paper.  What sort of joke was this?

It was a ballsy move, Kevin knew that. But he had expected more than furtive glances and hiding.  Especially weeks after. Jasper took to wearing his collared shirts high, a line of defense against Kevin’s touch and refused to acknowledge his greetings – both of the genuine and flirty variety.

He had pushed too hard, that much was obvious.

The hallways were nearly empty but he had to wait for Danny to finish practice. No kid could be that tall without being recruited by the basketball team, so Kevin waited to drive them both home.  Usually he spent the time tinkering on the Impala or flirting his way into the janitor’s closet but today he found himself walking right into the Chess Team.

Kevin paused at the far end of the Courtyard. The group huddled under a tree where three boards were setup.  Kevin liked Chess and would have joined the team, or at least played more, if it weren’t considered so nerdy. But the way Jasper’s finger trailed along the tip of his bishop, up and down, biting his lip hard with concentration was anything but nerdy.

The finger stopped torturing the bishop as Kevin approached and Kevin instantly felt out of place when six pair of eyes assessed him, all unfriendly.  Blue eyes flickered with annoyance and Kevin cringed. Why had his feet even brought him here?

“Can we help you?” A snippy girl asked. Kevin looked around helplessly for a second wondering if maybe Jasper would step in but the boy focused on his lap, ignoring him with yet another blush. Sure they were endearing but now it nagged at him. All Kevin did was ask the kid out and now all Jasper would do is ignore him. If he wanted to sit there pretending Kevin didn’t exist, then he could go ahead.

Instead Kevin turned a cocky smirk on the girl who looked back skeptically but with a blush of her own.  Oh this would be easy. “Well, I hope you can help me sweetie.  I noticed you playing and had to see if you were smart as well as beautiful.”

He knew he was laying it on thick but the girl still stuttered a response and led Kevin to a bench by their tables. He had a direct view of Jasper and he could tell that Jasper was trying his hardest not to look at him. Jaw clenched and his head lifted slightly towards Kevin, but dropped just as quickly. Kevin caught a glance of his eyes, though, and swallowed at how anger lit up the blue.

He did not understand Kevin Emerson. He was sitting on the bench, distractingly beautiful in the afternoon sun, supposedly flirting with Naomi.  Yet Jasper still felt his gaze. He moved his Knight clumsily and it only took three more moves before Sarah had him in checkmate.

Kevin shrugged sympathetically but his unrelenting smirk continued throughout Jasper’s defeat. He seemed amused. Looking at him over Naomi’s shoulder as he whispered something that made the girl giggle and scamper away. The other game had ended and the rest of the team gathered around Kevin as he explained his path to checkmate.

Kevin smirked when he caught Jasper starring. “Where’s she going?” He asked, the silence between them becoming too much.

Kevin rubbed his hands on his thighs, drawing attention to his muscular legs. Jasper wondered if he did it on purpose.  “Had her go get some sodas.  Go out with me.” He said it in a rush, so fast that Jasper thought he misunderstood.

“What? Why would she do that? What do you mean go out with you?”

“I told her that we’d go drink them under the bleachers.”  Kevin replied, tossing his hand like it hardly mattered.  “I really just needed an excuse to talk to you.”

“So you used her?” Jasper asked.

“What? No. Well, maybe, but it’s not important.”

Jasper fumed. “Of course it’s important. You lied to her, made her think you were interested when none of it was true. You – you are an asshole! You use people and smirk at them from corners of rooms, a personal commentary running through your head. You play with people for amusement and I just wish you would leave me alone!”

It was the most Jasper had said since moving to Kansas and it made Kevin stop midstride and Jasper felt his guarded green eyes run over him again. He opened his mouth, probably with some curt reply or maybe another flirtation, but then he clamped it shut.  A deep breath and Jasper watched Kevin transform from casual and warm to cold and distant. “Well if that’s how you feel, I’ll just be leaving.”

Danny stopped asking questions a week later. Kevin knew his brother was only concerned but he just wanted everything to get back to normal thank-you-very-much.

The fates hated him enough that Danny had been watching him in Pre-Cal and, apparently, he lit up like a Christmas tree every time Jasper walked by -or at least he had until the Chess Team meeting.

So Danny dropped it and life moved on.

The next time he had to stay late, it was because Danny was tutoring a Freshman in Geometry – the one math subject Kevin enjoyed.  He liked Becky too, despite her over enthusiasm for his brother.  Oblivious, Danny hardly noticed anyone other than Kim.  He continued to make goo-goo eyes with her as she sat behind the library circulation desk.

When Danny abruptly left one afternoon his tutoring desk one afternoon, Kevin made excuses for his brother and slid into the seat himself. “I’m not as smart as Danny, but I’m a master from years of hustling pool. And trust me, you’ll get more focus out of me than him right now.”

The freshman nodded with wide eyes and a flirty grin.  “You can certainly help me anytime.”

Kevin puffed out a laugh.  “Well let me help you with this problem set.”

“And then…”  She ventured brazenly.

“And then Danny and I can go home.”  Becky laughed and conceded, drawing her focus back to her homework.

About fifteen minutes into their session, he felt the heavy weight of eyes settle on his back.  He turned his head to face an aisle of only books but the sensation of eyes on him continued even when he turned back to answer one of Becky’s question.

Danny came back, victoriously holding up Kim’s number.  But his smile fell into a sheepish grin when he saw his brother sitting at the tutoring desk. Kevin watched him puppy-eye his way out of basically bailing on his afternoon session, impressed. He taught his brother well.

Becky reached high to pat Danny’s shoulder in understanding.  “You hook me up with a replacement tutor as hot as this and you can bail on me anytime.”

Kevin felt the “being watched” sensation a few more times but it wasn’t until he set up his mini-mechanic shop in the parking lot that he caught the source.  Danny needed to stay late again and it had been a while since he opened up shop.

Kids were constantly receiving cars for birthdays or good grades and few knew how to manage anything other than washing them.  Kevin felt it was his duty to the school, so he pulled his Emerson Auto sign from the trunk, sat on his hood, and waited for costumers.

So maybe Kevin was less of a self-absorbed asshole than he originally thought.  Maybe he dotted on his little brother and tutored students after school.  Maybe he had kept his word and left Jasper alone.

“Jas!” Sarah yelled across the Courtyard.  “Come with me.”

He had no idea what his friend needed but followed her out to the parking lot.  She waited for him at the edge of the asphalt, bouncing with excitement.  “It’s almost fixed!  Kevin Emerson is a genius.”

Across the parking lot, long legs bent over the engine and Jasper could only stare.  Kevin’s jeans were too tight already but bent over the car, they pulled in a way that made Jasper shift uncomfortably.

“Earth to Jas.”  Fingers snapped in front of his eyes and he turned to Sarah who was looking between him and Kevin, eyes conspiring.  “I thought you hated the eldest Emerson.”

He shrugged, unsure how to respond because yes, he did hate the Leather Jacket wearing Casanova.  But then again…  “I cannot say I even know him.”

“You knew him well enough to call him asshole in the middle of our Chess meet.  But he’s fixing my car for $5 because it was all I had…so you may be wrong about that?”

Yet another thing to add to the list of Kevin Emersons’ perfect qualities.

He remained bent over the car, gorgeous backside in the air, but it had stilled, no longer swaying to music.

The eyes again.  People checked him out regularly but it never felt like this and the owner of the weighted stare always ran away before Kevin could see.  He lifted from the yellow car slowly, not wanting to scare away the gaze.

When he turned, he followed the heavy stare to none other than Jasper.  Sarah stood next to him but it was certainly not coming from her because she was busy snapping her fingers in front of Jasper for what looked like the fifth time.

The boy kept looking at him, and now he was coming closer.  Kevin gripped the rag in his hand, dropped his eyes back to the car before timidly looking back across the parking lot.  Only now, Jasper was feet away and Kevin couldn’t pretend that the focused eye contact wasn’t making him blush so he dropped his gaze to the ground.

“Hey.”  The deep voice pulled at him again, speeding up his pulse.

Kevin lifted a guarded eye.  “Hey.”  He swallowed. “Need help with your car or something?”

“I don’t own a car.”


“I came to apologize.”  He said the words clearly, not rushing through them to mask his embarrassment and Kevin stared, captivated, as he continued.  “I called you an asshole when I hardly knew you.  It was unfair and borne mostly out of my confusion towards your earlier actions.”

“You mean asking you out?”

“Yes, that.”  Jasper’s cheeks finally matched Kevin’s own and something settled in his belly. “It is never nice to make someone think you are interested when you aren’t – ”

“Naomi was a shit move on my part, I know that.”

Jasper bit his lip. “And what about me?”

“What about you?”  Kevin took a step closer.

“Was I some mindless flirtation?”

Kevin reached out hesitantly and when Jasper made no move to pull away, Kevin rubbed his hand along Jasper’s shoulder. “No. You walked into Pre-Cal and freaking took my breath away –” Jasper’s face lit up into a beaming smile and Kevin warmed up inside.  It chilled though when he remembered standing in front of the entire Chess Team, drenched in humiliation.  “But then you were an asshole too so…”

“I’m not.”  Jasper assured quickly, grabbing Kevin’s hand from his shoulder and holding it between his own.  “Are you?”



“Have lunch with me?”  Kevin asked again, holding his breath.


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