“It’s just gross.”
“No, its not.”
“Yeah, it is.” She nodded.
“Why do you think that?” he asked.
“Because I do.”
“If it’s so gross then why do millions of people do it?”
“Well, we could go on the theory that most people are dumb…just to start.” She replied.
“I don’t get you.” he crossed his arms.
“Look, do you know how disgusting it really is? I mean think about it, do you realize how many pathogens are transported through saliva? Everything from mono to meningitis and you think it’s a good idea to swap this stuff. Heck, back in the olden days doctors thought HIV might even be transported through saliva. Tell me that’s not the scariest thing you ever heard.”
“Its not, is it?” he looked at her with wide blue eyes.
“Extensive research has been done on the subject and signs point to no. I'm saying though, now do you see how gross it is. It’s just a disease carrying thing; no safer than a rabid dog.”
“You're not making a lot of sense.”
“Well what do you think is so good about it?” she asked.
She was giving him that look, the ‘prove your theory and I’ll respect you’ look. What she didn’t know is that damn look is kind of what got this conversation started in the first place. She was so beautiful and she didn’t even know. Maybe she did know and it was why she hid it with baggy shorts and oversized tee shirts.
It didn’t matter if she wore a burlap sack, the beauty and energy radiated from her like a mirror focused on the sun. Will LaMontagne was blinded in her presence. Her tough stance on damn near everything and her easy ability to let the fists fly in aggression or attraction…he was head over heels in love. Jennifer Jareau wouldn’t be an easy win but she would be a worthy battle.
“What's not good about it?” Will countered. “It makes people feel good. It makes me feel good.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well when I do it, I get butterflies in my stomach. I get lightheaded, feel giddy, and sometimes…nevermind.” He shook his head.
“Sometimes what?” JJ pressed. “Sometimes what? The other stuff was kinda lame, maybe the nevermind isn’t.”
“The other stuff isn’t lame, JJ. And the nevermind is kinda embarrassing.”
“Now I really wanna know.” She grinned. “Don’t make me tickle it out of you, LaMontagne.” She held up her index finger and crooked it. “I know the exact spot to make you pee your pants.”
“Gross.” He turned up his nose while also suppressing a giggle.
“You're the gross one.” She punched his arm. “You're the one who peed, even if it was just a little. You're gonna have to find a way to live that down. Tell me the nevermind and I won't mention again.”
“Of course I promise.” JJ had her fingers crossed behind her back.
“Show me your fingers.”
“You don’t trust me?” she gasped. “I'm appalled.”
“Show me the fingers or I'm not talking.”
JJ sighed, showing her fingers. All ten were uncrossed and now she’d have to keep them that way. It meant she’d also have to keep her promise. This nevermind better be awesome. You don’t give up badgering boys with good stuff like peeing their pants without some major trade-off. Will didn’t usually disappoint but sometimes he could trick her. It wasn’t often but sometimes…
“Now talk.” she said.
“Well sometimes it excites me, and I get excited.”
Will whispered it, almost as if he was afraid someone would hear it. That was improbable since they were at his house by themselves. His father was on duty as a police detective. His aunt was at her job as an office manager in Foggy Bottom.
“What are you…?” JJ stopped, thought about what he said and what she was going to say. A knowing smile crossed her lips. “No shit, really?”
“Sometimes.” He admitted. “My dad says it’s normal.”
“I have to admit that was worth giving up making fun of you peeing your pants.”
“Well do you ever get excited?” Will asked.
“From that? Eww, no.”
“You never have? Not once; not at all.”
“Well maybe once.” JJ admitted.
“See? So don’t you want to keep doing it…keep feeling like that?”
“Who wants to deal with all that junk? What is the big deal with this?”
“People like it, JJ. I like it. I mean, it’s not the only thing I like but I do like it. I like it with you.”
She didn’t say anything for a while. JJ just sat on the couch in Will’s den and thought about their conversation. Grabbing her Coke can from the coffee table, she sipped the cola through a straw and thought some more.
“Can I pose a hypothetical question?” she finally said.
“Is that the one people don’t answer?”
“No, that’s rhetorical. This is the one where I give a scenario that’s not about me at all while really being about me.”
“Oh, OK; sure.”
“So let’s say there’s this pretty cool girl and she kinda likes this boy. He says he's into something that she's not really into. I mean, she might be one day but she doesn’t think she is right now. So even though they have this difference between them, do you think the boy might stop liking the girl? Not that she cares or anything but when you invest your time…I mean when she invests her time in something…you don’t want to get screwed around.”
“The boy won't stop liking the girl.” Will replied.
“How do you know?” she looked at him.
“I just know that’s all. They have their differences; all couples…”
“Whoa,” she held up her hand. “We’re not a couple.”
“We are a couple.” Will said.
“When did we get to be a couple?”
“Do you like any other boys?” he asked.
“No…most boys are dumb.”
“Do you like being with me?”
“Yeah, sure, I guess.”
“Did you admit to getting excited when…?”
“That’s so unfair, using my own words against me. If that’s what couples do you're gonna have to count me out.”
“Couples don’t do that, JJ. I'm just trying to make a point.”
“What point?” she asked.
“That we’re a couple.”
“You're talking in circles, LaMontagne, you're trying to…”
Will couldn’t take it anymore; he had to kiss her. She was driving him crazy; she did it all the time. Maybe she knew what it did to him…JJ was a smart girl. But there was a part of him that didn’t think she did.
There were these parts of her that weren't like other girls. The girls at school could be confusing. They were flirty, mean, manipulative, and other adjectives that Will sometimes thought about but didn’t quite understand. This wasn’t all of them of course but middle school could be a daily battlefield. Adding to the chaos, Will wasn’t from around there.
This was only his second year up north and sometimes his ignorance showed. He didn’t have to worry about that with JJ. She picked on him, sure, but she picked on everyone. She was kind, smart, beautiful, and tough. He could talk to her about the deep down things like his mama dying and the regular things like movies. He wanted to believe that he was wholly in love with her, if a twelve year old boy was capable of such emotion.
“Sometimes I hate you.” she said, putting her forehead on his shoulder after the kiss.
“I know.” He stroked her blonde hair. “But I'm cute, right?”
“Oh my God,” she laughed, punching his arm as she moved over on the couch. “You booger!”
“Yeah, yeah.” he laughed too. “Wanna watch a movie? My dad borrowed The Usual Suspects from someone he works with and I saw where he hid it?”
“Hells yeah! Are you sure you won't get in trouble?”
“I should be OK. You make some popcorn and I’ll go get the movie.”
“Totally.” JJ nodded. They both jumped up from the couch at the same time and headed in different directions.
That boy was something kinda special. OK, so maybe kissing wasn’t the best thing on earth but it definitely had its moments. And when they weren't doing that, which they wouldn’t be much if JJ had anything to say about it; they were having real fun together. It had been a long time since JJ had real fun.
She loved her new family, her new siblings, but there were still so many holes in her. With Will they seemed to close. It wasn’t completely, it probably never would be, but it was still something. It was something that she wasn’t planning on giving up anytime soon.