Braden Morgan was charming and sweet. He had an air about him that drew people in, even those who were unwanted. Because of this, he was constantly surrounded by his jock buddies and busty groupies. Jeremy could never find a moment to speak; to remind him of when they were younger and when he once admitted that they were
Braden's body had firmed and his stature had grown those last few years. He kept his head clean with an attractive buzz-cut and enough dirty blonde stubble to remind others of his maturity. He didn't play any sports, so most attentive teachers and coaches ignored his facial hair. Instead he made his mark in art class and drama, neither of which Jeremy had any talent for. He was slowly running out of excuses to see him.
At the beginning of Freshman year everyone knew that Jeremy was gay. It wasn't enough that he had admitted it, but he fit the high school stereotype presented for his age. The vice principle was constantly getting onto him for his shaggy hair. Jeremy took care of his appearance and always straightened his brown curls; even if it made his hair longer than the approved dress code length.
Not to mention that he had never firmed physically as Braden did. Jeremy was well under his normal weight, even for someone who stood at 5'4". He had never been much for socializing either; everyone called him emo, and all the guys called Braden hilarious. But to most of the high school girls and Jeremy, Braden was clever and certainly charismatic.
For now, English class had yet to begin, and Braden's group of hoverers began questioning his costume choice for this year. It was Halloween and that night Stark Haven High would be hosting its annual Spook Dance. Costumes were mandatory; it was a right of passage almost as important as prom night. Jeremy finally saw his opportunity and manned up just enough to be noticed.
"B-braden-" He stuttered, getting the unwanted attention of half the people in the room. Thankfully, he also earned it from the one person he cared to notice. "Do you remember what we dressed up as when we were ten?"
As Braden began to reply, one of his friends, a sort of second-hand man from the basketball team, decided to defend the great actor's honor. "What'd you dress up as, queer? Braden's boyfriend?"
As most of the class began to laugh and those who didn't had to politely stifle the urge, Jeremy still smiled because the only person not laughing was Braden.
Later that Halloween night
Jeremy wondered if he actually remembered. It was possible that Braden had completely forgotten. It had been seven years ago. Jeremy sat at a circular table covered in bat-shaped confetti and a glow-in-the-dark table cloth in the dimly lit darkness of the cafeteria. Colored strobe lights interchanged positions and all around him straight couples were openly dancing.
He still hadn't seen Braden and was considering the idea that maybe he was avoiding Jeremy entirely. After all, he had openly accused Braden of hanging out with him; a queer. Maybe he had changed more than just physically. Maybe he had become just like everyone else.
As a techno song began to play, the beat quickened and so did the raising of hands and grinding of hips. Jeremy cupped his hands in his lap and pressed his black dress shoes together uncomfortably. He knew his cheeks were reddening and no amount of white makeup could cover that.
Whether or not Braden remembered, Jeremy had held true all the same. He had revived his old costume and even made a few improvements. Black dress shoes, pinstriped pants, a white dress shirt and a black vest underneath. Topped with unskillfully applied makeup meant to give him the appearance of a skeleton. It certainly wasn't exactly what they had worn when they were ten, but hopefully, Braden would get the idea if he ever showed up.
Suddenly a group of boys began cheering and shouting their stereotypical hoorahs of approval. Through the shaking hands and brofists Jeremy managed to catch a glimpse of what he had waited all night to see. No matter how unkempt or mundane the costume, it was everything Jeremy had hoped it'd be.
Probably purchased from Wal-Mart or some other mainstream store, Braden was sporting a full suit skeleton costume. It covered his hands and feet like an oversized full-piece, footed pajama suit. He had a hood that would have added the skeleton effect, but staying true to their personal history - he had painted his face just like Jeremy's.
Jeremy wanted to stand up. He wanted to speak to him and confirm his suspicions that Braden still cared for him. As he rose to his feet haphazardly his hopes were dashed. The award-winning actress, Andrea Russel ran into Braden's arms and kissed him long and hard. Jeremy watched as Braden gently wrenched her away, smiling. Motioning as if to say, "You'll mess up my makeup."
Still, the moment had happened, and Jeremy had lost hope. He ran to a hallway leading into the school, decoratively blocked off with caution tape and black packaging paper. He wrenched the door open before anyone could notice and fled into the darkness that enveloped him.
No lights were on in the hallways, and all the doors leading into classrooms looked eerie and menacing. He ignored their threatening appearance and threw his back against a nearby wall. Tears welled in his eyes and the thought ran through his mind that his makeup was going to smear.
As the door he had ran through began to progressively creak close and Jeremy was about to be engulfed in complete darkness, it slowly began to reopen.
At first he cursed the hydraulics that kept the door from slamming, but he shuddered when he saw two black feet step into the hallway. They slid softly along the floor until they stood just in front of Jeremy's crouched form.
As the light began to gradually disappear and the hydraulics allowed the door to eventually close, Jeremy looked into the grinning face of his beloved.
"See " Braden chimed, "I remembered." Jeremy quickly brushed his nose with the back of his hand, and nodded nervously. He smiled halfheartedly and muttered, "Thanks, Braden."
Jeremy shuddered when Braden's smile suddenly disappeared. His eyebrows furrowed, his forehead creased, and his lips formed a stern, tight line. He grabbed Jeremy roughly by the shoulders and lifted him off the ground. He pressed him gently into the wall and stared down at him firmly, but passionately.
Although Braden towered over Jeremy by at least a foot, he still managed to see a hint of desire in dark, gray eyes. "Do you remember " Braden began, his voice heavy and warm, "what else we used to do when we were ten?"
Jeremy's feet gave way; his muscles relaxed and his heart began to function at a hundred beats per second. His eyelids fluttered and the soft green shade of his irises started to shine. Instead of waiting for an answer, Braden pressed his lips to his.
His kiss was hard and wanted. He drove his thumbs into Jeremy's shoulders and rotated his tongue in his mouth. Jeremy breathed sharply through his nose, and gasped at the ferocity of the other man's passion. He fell into his grip, and allowed his warmth to be drained from him... blissfully.
Braden's hands finally managed to loosen their grip and slowly move upward to caress Jeremy's cheek before completely letting go. Braden backed away, smiling.
"I smeared your makeup."
Jeremy began to giggle uncontrollably. As Braden chuckled, he hugged Jeremy to his chest. Although it wasn't their first kiss, it was the only one they ever truly understood.
Jeremy dug his fingernails into Braden's back, afraid to let go and lose the moment. He smiled, and secretly thought,
"Scariest Halloween ever."