Even the most carefully thought out plans crumble where you heart gets involved.
Reminding himself for the hundredth time this was not a date, just dinner, he still couldn't control his excitement. Washed, dressed, and ready, Jason stood outside waiting for Peter. Not sure where they were going, he opted for jeans and a light blue Polo dress shirt. He almost put on his soccer warm up jacket until he realized it would scream ‘soccer play on a motorcycle.’ Instead he grabbed his blue pea-coat and gloves.
Maybe he should have met him instead of agreeing to a ride. Dinner had its own risks, but getting caught riding around on a motorcycle could end his soccer career. Hell, going to dinner in town with Peter might end his career if people found out he was gay. So why did he still want to go?
The sound of a motorcycle engine ended his internal debate. If he wanted to cancel, he should have said something before telling Peter to come pick him up. He was committed to it now.
Peter came to a stop in front of Jason’s car. If he changed clothes, Jason couldn’t tell. Sporting the same sexy bomber jacket, Peter’s shirt was hidden from view. His jeans and boots looked the same, but Jason couldn’t sure.
Reaching back, Peter flipped Jason a helmet.
“State law.” Peter told him.
Noting the smile on his face, Jason wondered if Peter thought this was a date.
“Where are we going?” He slipped the black helmet over his ears.
“It’s a surprise.”
“That sounds ominous.” Jason climbed on behind Peter, wondering yet again what he was doing.
An awkward moment followed when he wasn’t sure what he should hold onto. Should he grab Peter around the waist? Maybe the back of the seat? He looked around, but didn’t see anything along the side that would work. Perhaps sensing Jason’s uncertainty Peter told him to hold onto his shoulder to be sure he didn’t fall. Doing as he was told, Jason could feel Peter’s muscles tense as he controlled the bike. Knowing he would get aroused being this close to Peter, Jason tried to focus on watching the town go by as they drove.
As promised the ride was short. Peter stopped in front of a vegetarian restaurant in a part of town Jason rarely went to. If you didn’t know where to look, it would be easy to miss the sign and the restaurant. As he got off the bike, Jason tried to subtly adjust himself, trying to hide his crotch. Despite his best effort, he was hard and showing. Hopefully his baggie jeans would hide most of his arousal.
Peter never turned around, leaving Jason to wonder if Peter had the same problem. If he did, the jeans Peter wore would hide it far better than Jason’s.
“Hope you don’t mind vegetarian food.” Peter smiled as he opened the door.
Jason refrained from saying, ‘it’s too late now.’ “No, it’s fine. I just didn’t think you were a vegetarian.” He was sure he saw Peter at least try the chicken when they ate together at the student union
“I’m not,” Peter replied. “That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the food here. Despite the lack of meat, it’s some of the best food around.”
“Sounds . . . interesting.” Jason ended with a nervous laugh. Truth was, he never ate at a vegetarian restaurant before.
“Give it a chance before you judge.” Peter told him.
“I will.” Jason kept his coat shut to cover his crotch. “It can’t be any worse than the food from the cafeteria.”
Inside, the restaurant was dimly lit. High back booths lined both walls with a row of two person tables in the middle. None of the tables were occupied and Jason couldn’t see into the booths to gauge how busy the place was.
“Peter.” A young woman with bright red hair, too red to be natural Jason thought, called out from the back. “It has been a while since you were here.”
“Hi Annette.” Peter greeted the hostess with a hug. “Yeah, I’m trying to watch my pennies now that I’m back in class.”
“We’re glad to see you whenever you can make it dear.” She noticed Jason and smiled. “Table for two?
Her tone suggested she assumed this was a date.
“Booth if any are available.” Peter answered. “Annette this is my friend Jason. I’m saving him and his stomach from what they call food at the student center cafeteria.”
Annette’s expression changed after Peter’s explanation. “It’s good you listened to your friend.” She told Jason. “Our food not only tastes better, it’s so much healthier too.”
“Not that it would be hard to be both,” Jason laughed. “But Peter says you have some of the best food in town, period.”
Smiling sweetly at him she said, “Peter thinks if he says nice things about us we will treat him better.”
“No one has spit in my food yet.” Peter deadpanned.
“That you know of.” Jason added.
“Hey.” Annette waved her hand in front of both of them. “No one spits in the food around here, so no more of that.”
“Yes ma’am.” Peter’s mock contrition drew a swat from the hostess.
“How is your mother?” She asked as she led them to a booth near the back.
“She’s good,” Peter replied. “I haven’t seen her in a couple weeks, but I talked to her yesterday. She’s still getting used to her new class of eight year olds.”
“Still teaching second grade?” She asked.
“Forever,” Peter laughed. “Says that is the last year kids are still sweet and lovable.”
Jason slid onto the bench with his back to the door. Peter did the same opposite him.
“How is Erin?” Annette put two menus down in front of the pair.
“She’s good too.” Peter confirmed. “Still working hard. She and mom fuss all the time, but neither could dream of Erin moving out.”
Laughing Annette nodded. “When you see your mom and sister, tell them I said hello and they should come see us soon.”
“I will,” he replied.
The hostess eyed them both quickly before leaving. Jason thought he saw her smirk as she left, but couldn't be sure.
“Annette and my sister were best friends in high school.” Peter explained. “Annette and her older brother started this place about two years ago. Since then she has been working so hard to make this work she doesn’t come around as much.”
“That’s cool.” Jason said. Before he could comment further, a waiter brought them some water and a bottle of wine.
“Compliments of Annette and Jay.” He told them, setting two glasses down on the table.
“None for me.” Jason said. “I’m not 21.”
The waiter gave him an odd look, but stopped as he was about to open the bottle.
“It’s cool.” Peter said. “No one’s going to check in here.”
Jason shook his head. “Sorry, get caught drinking and I’m off the team. Coach has a zero tolerance policy for underage drinking.”
“Oh yeah, forgot about that.” Peter said ruefully. “Tell Annette thanks, but not tonight.”
“You can drink, it won’t bother me.” Jason didn’t want Peter to refrain just because he had to.
“I’m not 21 either.” He reminded Jason. “Plus I’m driving us both. Need to be extra careful not to crash with Graydon’s star soccer player riding with me.”
Jason laughed at the mention of his so called star player status. The waiter was still standing at their table. It took him a moment to realize he was waiting to take their drink order.
“Can I get a coke?” Jason asked.
“We don’t carry sodas.” The waiter’s tone was almost condescending.
“Gotcha,” Jason felt somewhat embarrassed now. “I’ll stick with water then.”
“I’m good too.” He heard Peter say. “Can you give us a couple minutes to order?”
“Sure,” the man replied, walking back to the bar area.
“Sorry about that Jason.” Peter apologized. “Annette has been letting me drink since they opened. I forgot about it being soccer season.”
“Sadly it’s all year long not just during season.” Jason explained. “Coach Slewman is a stickler about it. Reminds us all the time.”
“Really?” Peter asked. “Who put a stick up his ass?”
Jason laughed at the image. “I heard the school President took some heat for a frat party that got busted for underaged drinking. Said he would make an example of people. Coach told us he isn’t losing his job because we want to drink and break the law.”
“Damn, sounds like being on that team has way too many rules.” Peter joked.
Jason nodded, thinking if you only knew just how many. “Would you give up Martial Arts for a beer?”
“Hmm, when you put it that way, it makes a lot more sense.” Peter laughed.
“So, what should I order?” He asked, trying to change topics. “You said the food was good, what do you recommend?”
Dinner was better than Jason expected. As Peter promised, tofu absorbed the flavors of whatever it was cooked with. The curry tofu and vegetables he ordered was far better than anything he had at the student cafeteria. Whether it was because Peter knew the owner or it was their usual fare, Jason was stuffed when he was finished.
When the bill arrived, Jason quickly grabbed it once it was set on the table. Scanning the tab, he thought the bill was way too low. He suspected Annette reduced their tab on account of Peter’s earlier professed tight budget.
“Let me get this as my way of saying thank you for saving me from another disgusting meal at the student center.” Jason said drawing a scowl from Peter.
“I don’t like others paying for me.” Peter replied. “Why don’t we split it?”
“Seriously, let me get this.” Jason waved the case holding the check. “It was really cool of you to give up your Saturday night to ferry my lame ass over here so I didn’t eat alone at the student cafeteria.”
Peter’s eyes nearly drilled a hole in Jason’s forehead. “Jason, this was not a bother. I eat alone way too much.”
“Tell me you would’ve gone out if I hadn’t asked if you wanted to get dinner tonight.” Jason countered.
“Ha.” Peter snorted. “You got me there. But I don’t even let people pay when I am on a date.”
Jason knew Peter was fishing for some reaction. “So if this isn’t a date you’ll let me pay?”
Laughing nervously, he waited to hear Peter’s response.
Peter didn’t react immediately, almost as if he wasn’t sure what to make of Jason’s comment. Tilting his head slightly, his eyes narrowed. “I didn’t know there was a question about whether this was a date or not.”
“I . . . Um . . .” Jason knew his fumbling was giving him away. “No, I just meant, you said if it were a date you would insist we split it. But if it’s not a date, can I pay?”
Peter nodded slowly, but didn’t answer. Jason wondered what he was going to say but didn’t.
“It goes against my nature to let you pay for this, but you can only if you agree next time I pay.” Peter agreed finally.
“Cool.” Jason smiled.
“I’m going to use the men’s room while you take care of this.” Sporting a goofy smile, Peter got up to leave.
Waiting until Peter was out of sight, Jason motioned to Annette when she looked his way.
“Something wrong sweetie?” She asked.
“This seems too low.” Jason told her. “Are you sure you included everything?”
Flashing him a smile she said, “Don’t worry about it, the bill is correct.”
“That’s fine, but I don’t want to short change the waiter on his tip.”
His comment drew a serious look from his hostess. “If you’re concerned about that, leave $7.00 and you will be remembered as a good tipper next time you come in.”
Giving him a conspiratorial wink, she touched his shoulder lightly before going back to the front. Quick math told him she adjusted their bill downward. Not looking to spend more than they wanted to charge, Jason shrugged and put his credit card in the holder. On his way to the kitchen, their waiter snagged the leather case and was gone.
“Done?” Peter asked as he sat down.
He shook his head, “Not yet. They just took my card. I had to check with Annette on the bill.”
“Why?” Peter looked concerned.
“She reduced it a fair amount.” Jason told him. “Not that I wanted to pay more than I had to, but I wanted to make sure I left a tip on the full amount. Our waiter was pretty good and I didn’t want to stiff him.”
“Good thinking.” Peter agreed. The waiter suddenly appeared, putting the check down with Jason’s card.
“Thanks guys,” he said. “Have a great rest of your night.”
Jason scribbled in the suggested tip, added it to the bill and signed the receipt. Sticking his copy in his pocket, he looked up to see if they were leaving. Peter didn’t appear in a hurry to leave, so Jason sat back.
“Thanks for dinner.” Peter said.
“No, thank you.” Jason replied. “That was the best food I’ve had in a while. I’ll have to remember to bring people here.”
“Good.” Peter smiled. “Annette and her brother are good people. They can use all the support they can get. I only wish I could afford to come more often.”
“I think everyone here thinks we’re on a date.” Jason hoped their prior conversation about date or not would provide cover for his comment.
“Yeah,” Peter said sheepishly. “About that.”
Jason’s heart began to race. “What?”
“Well,” Peter didn’t make eye contact with Jason. “The reason for that is, well it’s not really a secret, but I’m gay.”
“Okay.” Jason tried to sound nonchalant. “And?”
“And nothing.” Peter shrugged. “You said they think this is a date, I was just explaining why they would think that.”
“Gotcha.” His attempt to pass it off casually didn’t sound too convincing.
“I probably should have told you before we met for dinner. Hope you’re not mad.” Peter finally looked up.
Jason could see the apprehension in Peter’s face. As he seemed to do just about every time they locked eyes, Jason stared for what he thought was too long.
“Um no.” He said goofily. “Why would that bother me?”
“As I said, it’s not a big secret around campus.” Peter told him. “I got outed in high school and the gay tag followed me here.”
“So?” Jason knew Peter was trying to convey something, but didn’t quite get it.
Peter appeared to search for the right words. Finally he said, “hanging around with me might be bad for your reputation.”
Jason felt a moment of angst. Darryl implied as much when Jason came back from having dinner with Peter. Too late now he thought. “Really? Did they pass a law that says anyone who is friends with a gay person has to be gay?”
Jason’s attempt at humor drew a nervous laugh from his companion. “Not sure if it’s a new law. I think it has been on the books for quite a while.”
Laughing nervously himself, Jason hoped his expression didn’t give him away. “Stupid law.” He added.
Peter snorted and shook his head. Neither spoke right away.
Did Peter already know? Sure he must have suspected, what with the missed connection and then Jason asking him to dinner. So what if he did? Maybe it would be better if he were honest and told Peter the truth. He seemed decent. After all he was concerned about Jason’s reputation enough to out himself.
“No, we gays are allowed straight friends,” Peter said breaking the silence. “It’s in the amendment to the law.”
“That’s good,” Jason’s heart raced. “But I knew your deal before coming here.”
Feeling like his chest would explode he waited for Peter’s reaction. At first, all Peter did was look up, an odd expression on his face. Finally he spoke, “No surprise. As I said before, it’s not a secret on campus.”
“Maybe, but I didn’t hear it around campus.” Jason admitted. “My friend Wendy told Darryl about the missed connection ad you placed and he told me.”
Oh god, he thought. How could he tell Peter that? What was wrong with him?
Peter turned bright red, totally ignoring Jason.
“Oh.” Was all Peter could say.
“It’s no big deal.” Jason tried to reassure him.
“I can’t believe your friend told Darryl.” Peter was still clearly embarrassed.
Shit! Jason never should have brought that up. Now Peter was really uncomfortable. Worse how could he explain this away.
“Well,” he struggled with his response. “Wendy thought you were after me. She is after me so, um well, I have no idea what her motivation was for telling Darryl other than hoping he would tell.”
He laughed at the absurdity of Wendy worrying about Peter chasing him. She had no chance with him either way. Peter’s ad didn’t change that in the least. Why should she care if a guy was after him.
“Why did Darryl tell you?” Peter was only slightly less red.
“You won’t like the answer.” Jason grimaced slightly.
“Tell me anyway?” Peter asked.
“He wanted me to be careful. He said I was naive and that you were clearly interested in more than just being friends.” Jason waited to see how Peter received that news.
“I see.” Nodding, Peter looked more annoyed than embarrassed.
Cursing himself for ruining their night, Jason wondered what to do next. Should he just play it off, let Peter know it didn’t matter? How would that look later if and when Jason told Peter he was gay? It certainly wouldn’t help his cause if he let Peter squirm now.
“Sorry if that got back to you.” Peter sounded genuinely sorry. “I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”
“Who’s embarrassed?” Jason asked. “I asked you to dinner tonight, didn’t I?”
Jason let that sink in. He wasn’t sure how direct he should or could be. Telling Peter he was interested would be hard for him to say. Then there was the still unresolved question of should he tell him.
Peter nodded slowly then smiled. “Yeah and I let you pay.”
“Which means it’s not a date.” Jason laughed.
“Was it supposed to be a date?” Peter shot back quickly putting Jason on the spot.
Time for him to decide what he wanted. He could say, ‘no’ without lying; he hadn’t intended tonight to be a date. He was, however, trying to spend time with Peter to get to know him. That sounded an awful lot like a date. Besides, Peter gift wrapped this for him. All he had to do was say yes and it was over.
“Not really, but kinda.” Jason managed.
Peter’s face was unreadable. Despite not saying yes, Jason made it clear he was open to going on a date with Peter.
“That was rather vague.” Peter laughed.
“Yeah I know.” Jason shrugged. “I guess I should’ve said I wished this was a date but I didn’t have the nerve to ask you out.”
The words came out in a nervous rush. A sense of relief at finally telling someone momentarily pushed aside his fear. How many times did he want to tell someone, anyone, just to have someone to talk to about it and how he felt.
The liberating feeling was quickly replaced by the sense of dread he always felt whenever he thought about someone finding out. What had he done? He kept it a secret for a reason; if people knew he would lose everything.
Peter gave him a big dopey grin that only made him feel worse. All through dinner Peter must have felt guilty for not saying anything and it was really Jason who was being deceptive.
“Wow.” Peter said finally. “Not sure I saw that coming.”
“Yeah you did.” Jason laughed. It was too late to turn back now. “You must have suspected, you posted the ad after all.”
“True, but I wasn’t sure of anything.” He confessed. “The ad was a lark. I thought you were hot and had nothing to lose. If you saw it and answered, great. If not, you wouldn’t know I was hitting on you.”
“Or then there is option three; I saw the ad, didn’t reply, but knew you were hitting on me.” Jason pointed out. “Then played dumb because I don’t want you to know.”
“So then why tell me now?” Peter asked. “What changed?”
Jason laughed again. Drawing a deep breath to calm the nausea he suddenly experienced he said, “Oh there are so many reasons. Got an hour or two?”
“As a matter of fact, I do.” Peter smiled and sat back.
“Here?” Jason asked.
Peter shrugged, “We can stay here. They’re not busy and Annette won’t be pushing us out the door.”
Jason nodded. “God, I think I am going to puke.”
“Relax,” Peter’s voice sounded reassuring. “I promise not to out you the way I was.”
“What happened?” Jason tried to change subjects so he could get his angst under control.
The jovial expression on Peter’s face vanished. “Long story, but the short version is, I met someone I liked. He agreed to meet me at a martial arts tournament at State College. We were kissing after a match. Unbeknownst to me, someone I knew saw us. It was all over school before I got back.”
“Good thing you can kick the crap out of everyone.” Jason tried to joke about it.
“You can’t fight everyone.” Peter said ruefully. “And you certainly can’t kick the crap out of a rumor that was true.”
“Sorry.” He apologized.
“Nothing to be sorry about.”
“What happened to the guy you were kissing?” Jason asked.
Peter’s face turned angry. “Asshole dumped me when he heard I got outed. He wasn’t out yet either. Since no one knew who the other guy was, he didn’t want to be seen with me.”
“Did you tell anyone who he was?”
“No.” Peter shook his head slowly. “That wouldn’t have helped. In fact, I figured it would make it worse. To tell who the other guy was, I had to admit the rumor was true. Initially I hoped it would die down, but it never did.”
“Sorry.” He said again.
“It’s water under the bridge now.” Peter said. “I deal with it. Once I started college it wasn’t so bad. Most people don’t give a shit. Even had a few people ask me out once they heard.”
“Sounds like you have it under control.”
Peter shrugged. “We were going to talk about you and why you told me.”
“Ah that.” Jason stalled, searching for how to begin. “So many reasons. First, you sounded guilty for not telling me you’re gay before we came here that I felt guilty too. I knew you were gay, but was pretending not to know and pretending to be straight.”
“Actually, you never came out and said you were straight.” They both laughed.
“True,” Jason smiled. “But I was trying not to let on I knew your secret or that I was hiding the same thing. I realized what a hypocrite I would be if I didn't come clean, or out as the case might be.”
Again nervous laughter filled their small booth.
Jason realized he was staring and looked down at the table. Running his fingers over some mark in the table he continued. “I also have no one to talk to about it. Not Darryl, not my uber catholic mom, not my dad who lives vicariously through his soccer jock son. My brother is still in high school and I don’t want to dump that on him. I’m scared shitless that someone will find out and then I’ll be off the soccer team, but it is so frustrating at the same time.”
“Are you sure you’re gay?” Peter kept his voice down when saying the last word.
“Yeah,” he nodded. “I’m not one of those, ‘I’m straight, but curious’ guys. I know what I am, I’m just afraid to confront it.”
“Been there.” Peter said sympathetically. “Any other reasons or was that it?”
“Take away how cute I think you are.” Jason noticed Peter was embarrassed by the compliment. “You don’t look or act gay, you seem normal. I know that sounds terrible, but you’re the type of guy I like to think I am; a regular guy who happens to be gay. I don’t want to change who I am just because I’m attracted to men. That’s how I would describe you. I guess that made me feel you were safe to tell.”
“Gotcha.” Peter still seemed awkward hearing Jason talk about him.
Jason left out that Peter was exactly the type of guy he could see himself dating. Why say that now? He had no idea if Peter felt the same and even if he did, Jason was not sure he was ready to date anyone. No, make that he was sure he wasn’t ready to date anyone yet.
“I . . . well . . .” Jason stuttered, looking for the right way to say he felt some connection already without sounding like he was desperate for a date. “Oh fuck, let me just say it. I thought I felt some kind of connection when we met at the field house. You just seem like a nice guy. I guess I feel I can trust you. And, well maybe, I don’t know, we can be friends?”
Jason knew he sounded like a total dork. Hopefully, Peter understood this was a huge struggle for him.
Peter flashed him a grin that made his heart beat faster. “That’s nice of you to say Jason. I felt the same spark, hence the missed connection try. You can trust me. Having had it done to me, I wouldn’t out you.”
“I appreciate that.” Jason felt a bit better hearing him say that. He hadn’t really thought this through before saying anything. In fact, this was nothing like his ‘plan.’ “This is going to sound so lame, but when I read your ad, I got the address to reply. I sat there for probably 30 minutes, writing a response, erasing it, writing a new one. I kept going back and forth, should I send it, no of course not. Finally I came up with a ‘plan.’” Jason make quote marks in the air.
“A ‘plan?’” Peter imitated Jason’s air quotes.
“Yeah, a plan.” He said bashfully. “I did say I was lame.”
Peter started to laugh. “What was your plan?”
“Ugh.” Jason cringed in embarrassment. “I shouldn't have mentioned that. Okay so my great ‘plan’ was to not reply because that was too risky, but to find a way to meet you again and try to hang out.”
“Sounds like what we’ve done so far.” Peter observed.
“Yeah, but my PLAN never included telling you I was gay.” Jason said. “All I was going to do was get to know you without coming out to you.”
“You never really said you’re gay.” Peter pointed out with a laugh.
“I think I made it clear without saying it directly, wouldn’t you?” Jason raised an eyebrow.
“Okay, no argument there.” Peter noted. “Regrets?”
“Surprisingly no,” Jason said truthfully. “But ask me in the morning to be sure.”
“In the morning?” Peter asked with a grin. “Were you planning to spend the night?”
Jason could feel his face turn bright red. His pale complexion only made it worse when he blushed. “No, I mean, that wasn’t what I meant. I just meant, I mean it is just an expression.”
Peter laughed. “Sorry Jason, I know what you meant, but I couldn't resist teasing you.”
He wanted to say, ‘not that I wouldn’t spend the night with you.’ but that would be tantamount to asking Peter if he wanted to take him home so they could spend the night together. He kept his head down and started fiddling with the table again.
“Penny for your thought.” Peter finally said.
“Ha,” Jason finally looked up. “I have so many thoughts zipping around my head, it would cost you at least a dollar to hear them all.”
Peter smiled at his joke. Putting his hand in his pocket, Peter reached across the table and put down a dime. “I got a dime. Wanna give me the ten best ones that come to mind?”
Shaking his head laughing, Jason said, “Keep it. Right now my thoughts would only get me in trouble.”
“Trouble?” Peter asked confused. He left the dime sitting in front of Jason. “How so?”
“Try me.” Peter said. “I’m a good listener.”
Jason rolled his eye and banged his head against the back of the booth.
“This is all going way faster than I expected or wanted.” Jason admitted.
“Hey,” Peter held up both hands. “You don’t have to talk about anything you don’t want to. I wasn’t trying to pry.”
“I know you weren’t.” Jason said. “It’s just I have spent so much time and effort trying to keep this a secret that I am confused about what I should or shouldn't say.”
“Like I said, we don’t have to talk about this if you don’t want.” Peter reassured him.
“That is the problem,” Jason admitted. “I want to and don’t want to at the same time.”
“Well I stepped in it already, why hold back now.” He didn’t feel as confident as he sounded that this was the right idea. “A part of me wants to ask you out, go on a real date, make out with you, see what happens and yeah spend the night. But I know that isn’t fair because at the end, I’m still going to be in the closet. Until now, until you, all I ever did was hook up here and there. I never tried or wanted to get to know someone. So as much as I wish I could spend the night with you, I don’t think I’m ready to do more than that. And since I’m going to be seeing you around, it would be really crappy of me to do that, then try to pretend it didn’t happen. Scary thing is, you’re such a nice guy. I get the feeling if I indulge too much I won’t be able to keep it a secret.”
“Indulge too much?”
“If I let myself get too caught up with you.” Jason explained. When he realized what he said he quickly added, “I guess that was awfully presumptuous of me to expect you even want that. Maybe I should just go.”
“Whoa whoa whoa.” Peter put his hand out to stop Jason from leaving. “Hang on Jason. I didn’t say anything about you needing to go. Just relax.”
Jason really felt the urge to go, he had said way too much already. “No, I should go, I’m only making it worse.”
“Please don’t.” Peter’s eyes practically pled with him not to go. “I don’t want you to be uncomfortable, but I also don’t want you to go.”
“I just think I’m making things worse.” He repeated.
“How are things worse?” Peter asked. “I didn’t even comment on what you said.”
“I know you didn’t, that isn’t what I meant.” Jason found that even though he wanted to go, he wanted to stay more. “It’s just that I talk too much.”
“That’s okay, I like to listen.” Peter said in a feeble attempt at humor. “So far you haven’t offended me. Why do you think you need to go?”
“Like I said, part of me really wants to be out enough to say, ‘do you want to go on a date,’ but I if I think about this rationally I know it is a huge mistake.” Jason wasn’t expressing himself as well as he wanted to. The problem was, he already presumed Peter liked him as much as he liked Peter.
“Jason, stand down for a minute.” Peter said. “We’re just talking. That’s all. Nothing is happening.”
“Maybe nothing has happened, but I know what I want to happen.”
A smirk appeared then vanished quickly on Peter’s face. “Sorry, that was bad.”
“No it wasn’t.” Jason laughed. “It confirms that you’re thinking the same thing I am.”
“Probably true.” Peter admitted. “But that doesn’t mean I would try to take advantage of you like that.”
Jason shook his head. “Peter, I’m not worried about you taking advantage of me. I’m worried about what I might do.”
“Is it so bad to do what you want?” Peter asked in a quiet voice.
YES! NO! Jason couldn't decide what to say.
“Probably, but I can’t tell you how bad I want to do it anyway.” Jason finally admitted.
“I already promised you I won’t kiss and tell.”
Jason realized things were getting dangerously close to snowballing into what he knew would be a mistake. What scared him more was he wanted it to go there more than he wanted to go home.
“I know you did Peter. I have this feeling that if I kiss you once I won’t be able to step back.” He tried one more time to nip this. The logical part of his brain was screaming at him that this was a mistake while the passionate side was urging him to give in for once.
“We can be careful.” Peter said. “I know I can.”
He wasn’t helping. Jason could tell Peter wanted more every bit as much as he did.
“Do you really think we could hide it?” He said skeptically. “For all the reasons I came out to you, I have this feeling I will end up falling hard for you if I take even one step down that path.”
Peter nodded softly, not speaking. To Jason’s eye, Peter was as torn as Jason about what to do next. The two options were still at war inside Jason when Peter spoke.
“Sorry Jason, I’m being selfish.” Peter said breaking the silence. “You’re the type of person I would love to date; smart, cute, athletic, normal, my age, etc. I never meet anyone like you so it’s hard for me to say I don’t want more. But I still think we can be careful and not have people find out.”
“Wishful thinking or do you really believe that?” Jason asked. “I would like to think we can keep it a secret, but in the end I have this fear it will end badly.”
Peter made a face that told Jason he didn’t have a reassuring answer. Despite the lack of assurances, Jason still couldn't find the will to get up and go home.
“I don’t know the answer.” Peter conceded. “If I knew for sure I would be able to give you a definitive answer. What I can say is, the risk is not mine. It’s yours, so it’s easy for me to say, ‘go for it, I am worth it.’ But this is your life and as much as I can and will do my best to make sure nothing comes out, only you will have to live with the consequences if it does.”
“That was honest.” Jason smiled. “I appreciate that. It doesn’t help me decide, but it’s nice to know you aren’t trying to convince me to do something I might regret.”
“Well, let me say I want to persuade you to do something, I just won’t do it.” He laughed.
Jason sat quietly contemplating the evening. Occasionally their waiter had walked past but he didn’t stop to check on them. As Peter predicted, Annette didn’t try to move them along. So far tonight he broken every rule he set for himself concerning his sexuality. Yet as scared as it made him, he didn’t regret what he had done.
“So where does that leave us?” He asked quietly.
“What do you mean?” Peter sounded confused.
“What do we do next?” Jason answered.
“Depends on you I suppose.” Peter shrugged.
“Not really,” Jason countered. “We both have a say in this.”
“True,” Peter agreed. “Except if you say you’re not ready for anything, my opinion doesn’t matter too much.”
“The same could be said for you.” Jason replied. “If you don’t want anything more, it wouldn’t matter what I say.”
“You already know I won’t say that Jason. That puts the ball squarely in your court.”
Another moment of truth Jason realized. Using his lack of regrets so far as a guide he said, “If I said I was willing to see what happens, what happens next?”
Jason’s heart started racing again. The only time he remembered feeling like this was the first time he had sex with a guy. This had the same feel, only different, more exciting.
Peter flashed him the same adorable grin that made Jason want to kiss him. “The options are endless. Could I suggest we go someplace a bit more private? If you’re okay with that.”
“I’m already all in,” he said hoping Peter got the poker metaphor.
Nodding as he smiled Peter said, “Okay.”
Jason’s legs felt incredibly weak as he slid out of the booth following Peter toward the front door. He couldn't tell if what he felt was excitement or fear but he didn’t care. He made his choice. The consequences might be more than he wanted to deal with but that was for another day.
Thanks again to Anyta for her help and to those of you who kept on me to post again.