3rd of December
The wind picks up and Alex shivers. It’s cold outside. Colder than he thought it would be, even if it was December. He’s waiting outside for Zach to pick him up and he’s just started contemplating going inside to grab a warmer jacket, when Zach pulls into the driveway.
He’s shivering and hobbles toward the car as fast he can. He opens the door and already starts to feel warmer as he climbs into the car. He let’s out a sigh as the warm air surrounds him, chasing away the cold.
“Dude, did you not bring a warmer jacket?” Zach asks, turning to look at him.
Alex just shakes his head, “I didn’t think it’d be this fucking cold.”
“Dude. It’s December.” Zach smiles like he’s trying not to laugh. Alex blames the cold for his flushes cheeks and reaches for the radio, mumbling at Zach to shut up.
Pulling into the school parking lot, Alex is already regretting not grabbing a better jacket. The school’s heating barely works on the best of days and it’s going to be just as cold inside as outside.
They park and Zach turns off the car, but before Alex can open the door he’s got a face full of sweater.
Specifically Zach’s sweater.
“Dude, did you just throw your sweater at me?” Alex asks with mock offense.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” He responds, laughing a little.
He gives Alex a look that tells him he’s being stupid. “You’re gonna freeze to death without something warmer. We both know the school’s heating system is shit.”
Alex knows he’s right. He knows he’ll be fucked without the sweater, he’s never done well with cold, but part of him still has to ask.
“What about you?”
Zach just shakes his head. “I’ll be fine. I’m used to the cold. Now put it on and let’s go.”
And that’s the end of it as he opens his door and gets out, grabbing their bags as he goes. Alex just stares at the sweater for a moment before slipping it on. It’s way too big on him, he’s basically swimming in it. What with Zach being 6’ 3” and pure muscle. But the sweater’s warm and it smells like Zach and Alex can’t find a reason to complain as he gets out and joins the taller boy.
He takes his bag from Zach and they walk into the school. He can feel people staring at them. It’s obvious the sweater isn’t his. It’s also obvious that it’s probably Zach’s. He’s one of the tallest people in the school and no one can really fit into his clothes. He does his best to ignore the looks, but it only works so well. At least they aren’t looking at him like he’s broken, just looking at him like he’s a freak. Which isn’t much better, and the student body is always looking for something new to gossip about.
He makes eye contact with Jess from across the hall. She’s smirking and looks pointedly at the sweater. He rolls his eyes, raising a hand to flip her off. She just wiggles her eyebrows as she turns her gaze from Alex to Zach and then back again. He just shakes his head.
She wanders off and they make it to class without Alex wanting to strangle someone.
Jess: Are you wearing Zach’s sweater??
Jess: Aww how cute!
Alex: He’s just letting be borrow it because it’s cold and I didn’t grab a better jacket
Jess: Oh of course
Jess: It totally has nothing to do with your crush on him or anything
Jess: What? Am I wrong?
Jess: That’s what I thought
At lunch Jess corners him.
“So. Zach’s sweater.” She’s smiling at him all smug and he huffs.
“What about it?”
“Oh nothing.” She says, reaching across the table to tug at one of the sleeves. “Seem’s warm.”
“It is.” Alex says slowly, knowing that he’s not going to like where she’s going with this.
There’s a pause where they just stare at each other, Alex hoping she’ll drop it. Obviously, she doesn’t.
“So he just gave you his sweater? That’s so romantic!” She’s smirking at him and he suppresses a groan.
“No, it’s not. I was cold, Jess. He was just being nice.”
“Mhm, nice. It’s not like he has a crush on you or anything.”
He can feel the anger rising as he snaps, “He doesn’t.”
Jess looks at him, doubtfully, when Zach decides to finally show up. He sits down and looks between the two of them.
“You two good?”
“Yup!” Jess says as Alex disagrees at the same time.
Zach looks confused, opening his mouth to speak before being silenced by a glare from Alex. He really does not need Zach knowing. They move on to a different topic, Jess talking animately about a show she’s been watching and Zach gives her his full attention. Which lets Alex tune everything out and think.
Jess has to be wrong. As long as he’s known Zach, the other boy has never once expressed or hinted at any attraction to guys. In fact, Alex is pretty sure Zach likes Chloe. He’s never said anything, but he gets this look on his face when he looks at her. It’s a look he’s seen before on other people. It’s a look that says I like you, you make me happy. Alex is sure he’s had that look on his face many times. And Zach’s never given him that look.
Zach only gave Alex his jacket because he and Alex are friends and he cares about him. He knew Alex would be cold and was just looking out for him. That’s all there is to it.
Alex has been in a relationship before. He knows when his feelings aren’t returned. He learned the hard way with Jess, who is still one of this closest friends. So maybe he does have a crush of Zach. He’s had one on the taller boy for awhile now. Probably since before the locker room incident. He was just too deep in his head and dealing with his relationship with Jess to really register it.
Who wouldn’t have feelings for Zach? He’s kind and smart and tried his best to do whats right. He’d been there for Alex since he tried to kill himself. Visiting the hospital, offering to help with PT. Never giving up on him, even when Alex had given up on himself. He’s willing to call with Alex late at night when he has a particularly bad nightmare, or when he just needs to get away from his thoughts. Zach is always there for him, because he’s Alex’s best friend. He would do the same for Zach in a heartbeat.
So Alex knows Zach doesn’t feel the same way. It’s strictly platonic. And that’s fine, really. Friendship is better than nothing at all with the other boy. So if Alex wraps himself in Zach’s sweater a little tighter, no one needs to know.
Zach drives him home like he usually does. Alex messes with the radio and Zach lets him. It’s one of the privileges of being the best friend. They settle into a comfortable silence. Alex plays with one of the sweater sleeves absentmindedly, hoping this moment will last forever. Zach never fails to make him feel at ease. Zach glances at him.
“You know Jess said you look good in my sweater.” He says it casually, like he hasn’t just caused Alex’s heart to leap into his throat.
“I guess? I mean it’s huge on me. I look like a toddler in this thing.” He tries to play it cool, laughing to himself.
“A cute toddler.” Zach says with a smile.
“You think I look like a toddler?” Alex gasps with fake offense.
“You called yourself one first!” Zach laughs.
“You’re not supposed to agree with me!” But Alex is laughing too.
Once the laugher stops and the comfortable silence settle again, Zach’s words fully sink in and turns to look at him.
“Wait. You think I’m cute?”
The silence suddenly feels tense. Zach won’t look at him, eyes glued to the road. Maybe he read it wrong. Maybe Zach was just teasing. But before he can spiral too far into anxiety, Zach speaks.
“Yeah. I do.” He says it softly, face reddening slightly, like he’s afraid Alex’ll hate him.
But he doesn’t and he’s not sure what to do with that information. He just kind of stares at him, surprised.
Without thinking, he just blurts “I think you’re cute, too!”
There’s a moment where Alex wants to smack himself, cheeks flushing, but then Zach smiles and mumbles something about that being a good thing.
They don’t speak again until they arrive at Alex’s house. Zach pulls into driveway and turns off the car.
He turns to Alex after a moment and smiles. “Mind if I hang out for a bit?”
Alex nods and leads him inside.
They’re sitting on Alex’s bed in silence. Normally the silence doesn’t bother him. Not when it’s Zach. But this, this silence makes him want to scream.
He doesn’t know that to do or say. He doesn’t want to get his hopes up. The last thing he needs is to ruin his friendship with Zach over a crush. Well maybe more than a crush, but he doesn’t need to know that.
“So just to be clear,” Alex breaks the silence, “did you mean that I’m cute in a friendly way, or in a ‘I think you’re cute and I want to kiss you’ kind of way?”
He says it all at once, almost slurring it all together. He waits anxiously for Zach to say something.
“The second one. Definitely.” He says, looking anywhere but Alex.
Alex let’s out a breath he didn’t know he was holding and mutters, “Thank god.”, before throwing himself at Zach.
The other boy catches him easily and then they’re kissing.
Kissing Zach is as easy as breathing. His lips are soft and pliant under his own. Zach holds him tightly, hands on Alex’s hips to keep in steady. He’s got his hands in Zach’s hair and he’s practically in the other boy’s lap. It’s only a little more than a press of lips, but it’s everything.
Alex pulls back for air, opening his eyes to see Zach who’s a little dazed with a flushed face. He can’t help but grin with the knowledge that he put that look there.
Zach kisses him again, a little softer this time. It’s shorter than the last, sweeter, too. When they pull back for the second time Zach’s got a dopey smile on his face.
“Why are you smiling at me like that?” Alex asks, a little embarrassed.
“You just make me really happy. Plus you look adorable right now.”
Face reddening even more, he yanks at Zach’s hair in retaliation. The little gasp that leaves Zach’s mouth makes Alex smile. He presses another quick kiss to Zach’s lips before pulling back completely.
“I think I’m in love with you.” Alex says, serious.
He’s worried he rushed into saying it. That he’s ruined something that’s barely started, but Zach just keep smiling at him.
“Good.” He says, leaning forward to kiss Alex again. “I think I’m in love with you, too.”
Apparently, Jess was right.
Later, when Zach’s gone home after making out and a serious conversation about their relationship, Alex realizes he’s still wearing Zach’s sweater. His boyfriend’s sweater. Smiling to himself he grabs his phone.
Alex: I’m still wearing your sweater
Alex: I’ll give it back tomorrow
Zach: Nah keep it
Zack: It looks better on you than it does on me anyway