THINGS JAIME IS NOT AWARE OF: AN INTERLUDE
A) Three forty-five am the night/morning of the dance:
Bart doesn't let him slink off alone to lick his wounds after the hug gets emotional. He and Cassie and Kon all sit down with Tim on the kitchen floor and tell and retell their favorite stories for hours, only interrupted every so often by someone looking for water or munchies. Bart lets the music play out, and the party begins to die down, people dragging themselves off to sleep or crash. Cassie leans on Kon's shoulder and Tim lets Bart stroke his hair as they all try to keep this moment, this night, stretched out.
When Kon starts snoring, it becomes clear that they can't delay the inevitable any longer. Cassie stands and stretches, her spread arms a momentary, empty embrace. “Should I leave him here to commune with the linoleum or drag him to his room?”
Tim, half exhausted himself, has been drooping more and more into Bart's lap over the past half hour. “I don't think it'll matter to him at this point either way.”
Cassie laughs, softly, and scoops Kon up. “Night, guys. I...” She smiles to herself. “I love you crazy guys.” In the lounge, Bart and Tim can see her step gingerly over a few sleeping heroes. Then she's gone.
Bart's stroking Tim's hair, hovering over him in near-motherly concern. “You should sleep, too!”
“M'not tired,” Tim mutters. He hides his face against Bart's stomach.
Bart gives his hair one last ruffle and, before Tim can open his eyes again, they're in Bart's room. Tim is deposited gently onto the one clear part of the bed as Bart cleans it. Art supplies go fluttering to the floor. Bart sprawls out on the bed and waggles his eyebrows outrageously. “So! I think we're alone now.”
“I'm not sixteen anymore,” Tim says, not unkindly. “And you're not-” He places a palm down onto the corner of the mattress to steady himself. “Things aren't the same.”
Bart’s arms are up above his head, over his face, crossed like a corpse’s across his chest. “I *know* that. You know I hate it when people say that to me.”
“I know that you hate it. I'm very sorry.”
“Apology accepted.” Of course it is; it always is. Bart is an endlessly overflowing well of forgiveness. “So no makeouts tonight? We could party like it's-”
“There could be, you know.” Tim shifts closer, a capitulation. His head goes down, giving Bart the all-eyelashes debutante look. “A little kissing.”
Bart leaves and reenters the room twice before he can calm down enough to pull Tim down beside him on the bed. “Oh, how magnanimous of you!”
A single kiss is sustained longer than Tim expects. Bart still flutters around Tim’s body when he’s trying to keep himself still, their lips dragging together. It doesn't deepen, though; it doesn't break the surface. Bart may have been given a second chance, but there are some moments they can't come back to.
It isn’t out of sadness or regret, but they’re not sixteen anymore, and every year the future gets a little bit smaller.
They just trade kisses and hum into each other's mouths, soft and easy, and then they settle and Bart falls asleep and Tim rests his head on Bart's chest, thinking.
B) Twenty-seven hours after the dance:
Orgasm number two finally recedes, syrupy sweeter than the first, and Cassie looks like the cat who ate the canary when she rolls her head onto Mia's thigh. “Still cranky?”
“Reply hazy.” Mia loves how she sounds like a noir dame after sex, all mouthy and resonant. “Ask me again when my brain's working.” Mia hums when Cassie lifts up to lie carefully on top of her. She breathes in the smell of sweat and herself and whatever Amazonian shampoo Cassie uses. “Man," she finds herself rhapsodizing. "Your weight on me.”
“Careful what you're saying about my weight there, Speedy.” Cassie smiles, her mouth lazy and still swollen, and she starts to wriggle away.
Mia can feel a hipbone digging a little into her thigh. She grabs hold and pulls Cassie closer. “You know what I mean.” She cranes her head up for a kiss, then leans back to take a look at what she's got. “It's delicious.” And yeah, Mia knows that she's groggy and orgasm-crazy, but the very sight of Cassie's hips and thighs, the heavy sway of her breasts above Mia's own, it's all enough to bowl her right the fuck over again.
“Mmm,” Cassie says, then, “Hold on, I'll be right back.” She shimmies out of Mia's grip and shrugs into a fuzzy bathrobe which swamps even her.
“You should really get a private bath here,” Mia says. “As a leadership perk.” There's another quip waiting at the back of her mouth, something about stupid boys, but she gets lost in the golden angle of Cassie's lean, lean legs. “That's a good look for you.”
“You think?” Cassie tilts her shoulders; she looks movie siren sultry when the robe tilts down her chest, but then she pulls a face. “Okay, really, I have to pee my brains out right now.”
“So sexy!” Mia calls after her. She wags a finger at the door, then runs her hands over her own body, thinking golden, smiling the way she imagines Cassie smiling when she returns.
C) Five days after Tim disappears:
SUBJECT: SO I WENT TO VISIT VAL
finally, last thursday, and it was just as hard as i thought that it would be but i couldn't stay away and pretend any longer. i can't pretend with val because she was there, she was there and everyone else has plausible deniability, you know? everyone else can pretend that nothing happened except for val and, well, you. you've never pretended with me, and i appreciate that. and it was extremely difficult keeping away from her all this time because we were in love, we were really in love, even though it's painful to use the past tense. at the same time, it would feel wrong to use the present tense, because it's past. that part of me is gone, isn't it?
and you, you've met her, and they haven't, and I don't know if they'd really understand, but you? you two really got along the one time you met, and it was really important to me that you like her and you're usually quite astute at recognizing the connections and complexities of relationships (even if this talent doesn't necessarily extend to yourself).
and this probably doesn't come as a surprise to you but it might to other people because everyone just assumes or hopes. Nobody even asks, and you don't, either but I know it's because a) you have intimacy issues and therefore have trouble talking about these things and b) you were leaving me alone until i could talk about it, which i both understand and appreciate.
she cried a lot. we cried a lot. and we agreed that we can't see each other anymore because I'm not the same person and she's not the same person and also i think it's illegal, but we've both been through too much and any attempt to revive the relationship would just hurt the both of us more. you know what it's like when some things can't be salvaged.
i'm going to give you alone time because whether we like it or not that's how you operate, but i hope that you're being kind to yourself because you deserve it. please don't stay away long or we'll all come and get you. because we're friends.
-ps- sorry about the lack of capitalization, as i know that it annoys you.
For approximately fifteen hours that Tuesday, with no prior warning, Capebook users are allowed to post as many videos as they want. Between the two of them, Bart and Kon almost break YouTube.