word count: 2118
summary: Set after the pizza scene. Carter drives Adrian home from school.
Author’s note: This short story happens after the pizza scene, I imagine that Carter is walking and driving home with Adrian a lot. Something like this day would be an average day in their lives.
I feel like Carter isn’t self-aware enough to apologize for his previous actions spontaneously. He’s not the type to be conscious of whether or not he needs to do that, he would just change his behavior without thinking about it. But in this circumstance, even he would have a better understanding of his actions.
I hope you enjoy!
Carter wasn’t used to paying a whole lot of attention to his phone. He forgot it at home half the time, and when he did bring it with him it was often dying or dead on battery.
Things had changed a bit after he got Adrian’s number. Carter wasn’t really one for obsessive texting, but he was beginning to catch himself looking towards his phone every so often. Turning it on under his desk, pulling it a bit out of his bag when he was definitely not supposed to be looking at it. Just little things here and there. It kind of made him feel silly, but every so often there would be a message that he had to read right then and there, despite the English teacher breathing down his neck occasionally.
So one May day when his phone vibrated in class, Carter went straight for it. Four emails, unread in his message box. It set off something a bit giddy in his stomach. He peeked up, made sure that he wasn’t in the headlights of any authority figures, then ducked back down to read the replies.
The first thing he noticed was that it wasn’t Adrian who sent the message, and the excitement that had been swelling up inside Carter wilted right away. With a heavy heart, he thumbed into his inbox and clicked on one of the messages sent from an unknown email address.
Carter stared hard at his phone. Went back to the inbox, checked another message.
It took a bewildering minute to remember what this was about.
One month ago, after a stint of uncontrollable teenage boy horniness that he literally thought he was going to die from, Carter had responded to an ad on Craigslist’s “m4m” section. Nothing had come of it, and he had forgotten all about it. It had been weeks, and he hadn’t even gotten a response back then. He was baffled. But apparently, this man that he had contacted hadn’t.
“I’m not going to have to confiscate that, am I Brooks?”
“Nope. No Sir. Uh. Nope.” Carter jammed his thumb on the phone, blackening the screen. Nooope. He would have to deal with this shit later.
In all honesty, Carter didn’t think that he would have been that excited to see these messages back then either. He had just casually responded to some dude’s rather innocent listing, not really looking for some of the more out-there requests. It seemed like so long ago that he had been so desperate. Not much had changed since then, but reading the emails gave him a sort of unpleasant, nauseating feeling like drinking vodka for breakfast, or waking up to see that the weird hardcore porn you were checking out the previous night was still open on your laptop screen.
Carter had his phone on silent for the rest of the day, shoved at the bottom of his bag. Removed from mind and sight. It wasn’t until school was over and he was slouched against the vending machines on the second floor, knee deep in his 3DS (harvesting perfect peaches in his Animal Crossing reset town) when he noticed a shadow looming over him.
“You know who I’ve been texting?”
Carter raised his head. It was Jason, of course. It could be no one else. He was waving his phone around, doing that thing with his eyebrows.
“Why,” asked Carter.
Carter rolled his eyes. “My mom.”
“No, your- wait. No, yeah. You got it.” He whipped his phone out, waving it in Carter’s face. “That’s right, your mom.”
“You didn’t send her a dick pic, did you?”
“I tried, but it wouldn’t fit in the frame.”
Carter took the phone from Jason, glancing through the messages (no dick pics). The conversation was innocent.
Carter cursed. “Aw crap. My phone. I had it on silent. Yes mom, you left your sunglasses in my truck.”
Jason peered over his shoulder, Carter furiously tapping at the screen. “Why’s your phone on silent?”
“Well I didn’t want to get it confiscated…”
“Like you care,” said Jason, smirking. “Your new boytoy blowing up your phone?
It’s not like that.” Carter sighed, ignoring the twelve unread notifications turning off his phone. “I’ve just got a lot of spam.”
Jason seemed to accept that at least.
It was another hour until Adrian finally got out of the theatre, looking bright eyed and flushed, all easy smiles and loose limbs. Carter scrambled to his feet, waving.
“Oh!” I didn’t think you were here,” Adrian said, bounding over. “Sorry, we had a—” Adrian waved his hand exaggeratedly, trying to think of the word— “Team meeting thingy”
Carter shrugged, smiling. “Nah, its fine. It’s still raining, you know. Want a ride?”
They did this sort of thing occasionally. Carter would bring his truck to school when he slept in, and he would offer Adrian a ride back home. It was nice enough, but one of those things that was still kind of awkward for some weird, unspoken reason. Carter wasn’t really sure why it felt weird, it just did. Like if Jason or Mike had been here right now, they would be chatting about something mundane and stupid. But this was Adrian, and it was awkward.
They headed out of the school to the truck in mostly silence, Adrian interrupting with a comment about the weather (“Rain again, huh.”) before clambering into the truck.
Carter gunned the engine, staring straight forward through the dusty windshield splattered with rain.
Adrian sat there in the seat beside him, a million miles away. He had stretched his legs out, crossing his ankles where his pants had been turned up at the cuffs. He was wearing red shoes again. He liked those ones, rubbing one of his heels against the floor mat.
Carter wondered when the last time he vacuumed the cab was. He had a slight feeling that if he were to smack the seat, a dust cloud might rise out of it.
Rain streaked against the windshield, and the wipers squeaked away in rhythm. Thump, skree. Thump, skree. The rush of tires on the wet pavement accompanied the beat. Carter focused hard on the road, trying to keep his eyes on the traffic, moving the truck gently to account for the wet road. Adrian yawned, his teeth flashing in Carter’s peripherals. Carter waited on the left hand turn, the red light shining off the raindrops on the windshield. Thump, skree. Thump, skree.
It took a second for Carter to realize that it was time for his blood to run cold.
Adrian pulled himself up from his lounging pose, stretching his arms out. “Want me to get that for you?”
“HM?” Carter said loudly and probably too quickly.
“Your phone is vibrating”
Carter felt sweat form on the back of his neck. “Oh?” he said, his voice suddenly much higher than what would be considered normal. “Is it?”
Adrian shrugged. “Well, it’s not mine. Want me to get it for you?”
“Nah, it’s probably just my mom.”
Fuck yes Carter you are the best liar ever.
They continued to drive, the silence punctuated by vibration in increasing frequency. Vrrr. Vrrr. Carter didn’t turn his head to see Adrian’s expression. He kept his eyes locked on the road, staring through the rain-streaked glass. He would turn up the radio to drown out the noisy vibration, but the radio was wonky. It was always too quiet until they reached the top of a hill, where it would proceed to blast at pants-shitting volume. Thank you, shitty antenna. It would probably be better to just keep driving, ignore the radio, ignore the phone—
“You look like you are actually having a heart attack, you know,” said Adrian.
“Oh?” said Carter entirely smoothly.
Carter noticed that Adrian hadn’t moved his face from his peripherals. He didn’t say anything. He was just staring.
Carter sighed. “It’s fine, someone is just bothering me.”
Adrian turned back to the windshield, staring out. “Oh,” he said. “I see.”
That silence didn’t last long. Adrian turned right back around. “Like, someone is harassing you?” he asked.
“Uh,” said Carter.
“Not taking no for an answer?”
Carter waited until the stop sign to turn his head and give Adrian a good look in the eye, and instantly regretted his decision. Adrian’s eyes were shining with violent brightness, and he was wearing the most smugly entertained expression that Carter had ever seen on him. Ever.
It was in that moment that Carter understood Adrian was taking the piss out of him.
“Som—something like that?” Carter said shakily, turning back to the road.
“Maybe you’re feeling a bit like he’s not listening to you and maybe he’s being too invasive?” Adrian lilted. “Is that right?”
“M—Maybe.” Carter stuttered.
“I see,” said Adrian, nodding slowly, tilting his head up, tapping his finger to his chin. “That sounds vaguely familiar.”
“Adrian, I’m sorry.” Carter said without any reservation.
“Good,” Adrian said swiftly. He held out his hand. “Give.”
Carter fished his phone out of his hoodie pocket before passing it over to Adrian. He sat there in silence, drumming his fingers anxiously on the steering wheel as he saw from the corner of his eye the flash of the screen turning on, the very pointed expression from Adrian as the phones contents lit up his face.
“I’m not going to ask.” Adrian said.
“Thanks,” Carter grunted.
There was a sort of silence that fell between them that was punctured by a bit of a snort from Adrian. Carter whipped his head around and saw that he was scrolling through the messages.
Carter cleared his throat sharply. “IT’S ENTIRELY UNSOLICITED.”
Adrian choked a bit, and kept scrolling quicker. His face was bright red. “Oh god, I really don’t want to know.”
“I don’t want to know either, honestly.”
“I mean you’re one thing, but these guys are on another level.”
“Yep.” Carter said, feeling like he was having an out of body experience. Why was this happening.
But Adrian was flicking around his screen now, tapping rhythmically, his tone changing to something more upbeat. “Here, look,” he said. “I’m just telling him to fuck off. And now I’m blocking him. Look, that’s not hard is it?” he said.
“Uh, yeah,” said Carter shakily. “Guess not. Uh. Thanks.”
Adrian just snorted and leaned over, stuffing Carter’s phone back in his pocket. “No problem, man.”
Carter could smell something from his hair. He didn’t know what it was, but his hair smelled kind of nice. Then Adrian was back on his own side of the cab, looking out the rain streaked window, and that moment was over.
They were close to his home, the truck rolling slowly down through the residential streets, past the houses and trees and dripping power lines and glistening cars. They were silent for a bit, the rhythm of the truck returning to fill the dead air. In the distance, Carter could hear the radio whining.
“You’re funny, you know that?” Adrian muttered under his breath.
“Huh?” Carter asked, turning to look at him. Adrian eyed him back, then shook his head.
“You just are.” Adrian said.
He got out at his house, pulling his coat up over his head, slinging his book bag over a shoulder.
“Thanks for the ride,” Adrian said, grinning. “See you at school.”
“Yeah,” said Carter. “See you around.”
He watched him walk across the lawn, his shoes sinking into the grass, rain flattening his hair. It was always so fluffy, even when it was wet. Carter had to wonder how he got it like that.
Carter drove home through the rain, back down to the main road, taking the familiar side streets to his house. In his pocket, his phone vibrated once, but he ignored it until he had parked in the driveway and had jumped out of the cab. Making his way to the house, Carter checked the message left for him.
Text, not email. Not from an unknown number, either.
A sort of happy warmth crept into his stomach. Carter smiled, and took the stairs two steps at a time, hurrying into his house, sliding past his sister in the living room and his mom in the kitchen. He got to his room, closed the door behind him and opened up the message.