Perfection Is Overrated
by Bradley Scott
Darren woke up in a haze, feeling himself pressed up tightly against a warm body in a small space. He opened his eyes groggily, and saw that he was pressed between Kyle and the back of the couch.
Somehow he managed to extract himself. He kneed and elbowed Kyle a few times, but it seemed like it would take a lot more than that to wake him up. Kyle just grunted and groaned and shuffled himself into a comfortable position when Darren got off of the couch.
Darren looked down at him and smiled. Most of the time, Kyle was so… poised. Like he was in control of every facial expression and physical movement that he made. It made him very charming, but Darren also wondered sometimes if he ever relaxed. He looked like a completely different person, lying on the couch, snoring slightly, his mouth hanging a bit open, his perfect clothes all rumpled from sleeping in them. It was sweet, seeing another side of Kyle, that wasn’t really better or worse. It was just… different.
Darren tip-toed to the kitchen to make himself a cup of tea. He cringed internally every time he made a loud clink – getting the cup down, putting in the tea bag and sugar, getting a spoon. He even stirred quickly in an effort to make less noise, or at least get it over with more quickly. He walked through to the long couch to see if he had woken up Kyle, but Kyle was just lying there in the same position, sleepy as ever.
Darren glanced over at the bedroom, and thought about getting Kyle a blanket. But as he looked at the door, it felt as if the pit of his stomach fell away, so he decided to give the idea up.
He sat there, drinking his tea, and he looked at the time. It was nearly nine am. He usually slept a bit later than that, but he was pretty uncomfortable on that couch, and he always seemed to wake up a bit earlier when he was with someone. Even though he usually didn’t mind just lying there in the dark and cuddling. But the couch wasn’t really the place for that. not with his face pressed against rought fabric of it…
He heard a scratching noise from somewhere, and wondered if rats had snuck in since he’d been away. He listened more carefully, and tried to find the source of the noise. He scrunched his eyes up when he heard a jangling, and then a high voice.
And then the door opened, Darren jumped and almost screamed and a ray of sunlight filtered in.
“Well I’ll be damned. This is the last place I thought I’d find you.” Claire stood with her left hand on her hip, a small packet dangling from her hand, and brushed the strands of long blonde hair that had fallen from her pony-tail out of her face with the other. She was wearing cargo-pants and a big, checkered shirt. What a lumberjack, Darren thought.
“Clair!” Darren hopped up and rushed to hug her. “You’re looking very lesbian today.”
“Thanks.” She rolled her eyes. “And you’re looking very pretty too, ma’am. Now out of the way. We brought groceries.” In her usual Claire way, she just barged in past him like she owned the place, plopping the packet down on the counter. Darren hadn’t seen her for about… two weeks. He suddenly felt a pang of feeling. Through all this, he hadn’t realised how much he’d missed her.
Darren walked up to the counter and peered into the bag.
“Um… thanks.” Darren said sarcastically. “I badly needed Lip-ice and tampons.”
“Those are for me, you idiot.” Clair laughed and shook her head. “Although I’d be curious to know what you intend to with tampons and lip ice, although it isn’t really hard to guess. The others are bringing up your stuff.”
“Who else is here?” Darren asked, wondering who else was here.
“Me, Melanie and Stephen.” She walked to the fridge and opened it, checking if he had gotten any groceries. Darren knew she would only find the fresh milk. He’d cleared his fridge out a while back, when he first left the place.
“Poor Stephen,” Darren chuckled, trying to think of something else.
Stephen sometimes went with the girls to the lesbian bars, and partied with them. They didn’t mind taking guys along, as long as they didn’t try and hit on any of their lesbian friends – which was really never an issue with Stephen, since he barely had the guts to hit on girls in straight clubs anyway. He only really pursued clubbing to have fun with friends, and not really to find someone to hook up with.
Claire never drank, and Melanie had a super-human ability to resist hang-overs and wake up really early in the morning, regardless of how late she’d gone to bed. Stephen, as the guest in their tiny living room, was always forced to wake up and go about the morning with them like they normally would. To his credit, he never complained. He always claimed that it was worth it, to get drunk and have a nearby place to crash, rather than driving the hour and a half it always took him to get home. He lived in a neighbouring town, so he was always crashing at friends places. He’d even slept on Darren’s couch a couple of times. When Darren was still here.
Claire just shrugged playfully.
“I don’t see you carrying any groceries.” Darren winked at her. Clair was just like that. She never did anything unless she was alone. Otherwise, she always managed to make people do things for her, without even noticing until afterwards. Darren couldn’t count how many time’s he’d be at her house and find himself washing a weeks worth of her dishes, even though he had only just come over for a cup of tea. It was part of her charm, but it got annoying.
“I don’t need to carry stuff. Stephen and Melanie have got it covered – don’t worry.” She shot him a sly grin. He was the only one who ever really noticed when she was shirking off work, and even then, it didnt’s stop it from working on him too from time to time.
She walked slowly into the lounge, looking around like she’d missed the place. Darren forgot it had been a long time since she had been here, too. He was just in the habit of thinking that, whenever he went away, she would always come by to visit… Luke.
“Hah, who’s this?” She looked down at Kyle, curled up on the couch in his crumpled clothes. “You taking in strays now?”
“No,” Darren suddenly lowered his voice, realising they had been talking very loudly. “This is Kyle… He’s… it’s kind of complicated right now. Can I tell you about it later?”
He looked down nervously at Kyle. He didn’t feel quite right filling Clair in on the whole relationship while Kyle was right there.
“Okay.” Clair said, grinning her sly grin. “He’s hot.”
“Psh.” Darren grabbed her arm gently and took her back to the kitchen. “How would you know?”
“I’m a lesbian – I’m not man-blind. I know the difference between Brad Pitt and….um…” She gestured vaguely into the air.
“Yes? I’m waiting.” Darren chuckled.
“Oh, whatever… you know what I mean. He’s cute.” She looked back at the door, where Melanie had suddenly appeared, labouring under a gigantic paper bag. Darren rushed up, grabbing it and giving her a one armed hug.
“Hey.” She sighed out placidly.
Melanie was definitely the most relaxed person he’d ever met. He didn’t think he’d ever seen her get angry, or stressed, or worried by anything. She was very short, and pixie like, and had shoulder length black hair, which she put gel in and blow-waved until it stood out at weird angles. She always wore pretty, girlish clothing, but always dark colours, and she leaned towards the goth look. It always shocked him that her and Claire had ever gotten together in the first place – they just looked like they were from two different planets.
Darren put down his bag, and turned back to the door to see Stephen, carrying two grocery bags, which he quickly plopped down on the table, and gave Darren a big hug. Darren was like a gigantic teddy bear. Darren found him cute, but luckily he’d never had any sort of inappropriate crush on him, like he’d done with straight friends in the past. Darren turned his head away, because Stephens mop of shaggy hair was getting in his eyes, and hugged him back.
“It’s not gay if I hug you, right?” Stephen said, still holding on to Darren.
“It get’s slightly gayer every second that you don’t let go.” Darren smirked, and Stephen quickly let go, going a bit red.
“Sorry. It’s just… I missed you.” He added a light punch on the arm, just to ‘macho’ the sentiment up.
“We missed you,” Claire corrected.
“Yeah, it’s been so long since we’ve actually seen you. Even a text would have been nice.” Melanie managed to say this in a way that wasn’t really accusatory at all. She made it sound wistful – like she was saying it would have been nice if the weather had been sunnier. It made him feel even guiltier.
“Sorry guys. It’s just… Well, you know.” Darren glanced back towards the bathroom.
“Yeah, we do…” Stephen’s sunny face went sombre. “How are you, by the way?”
“I’m… fine. I think.” Darren smiled, half-heartedly. He tried to change the subject. “How did you know I was here?”
“Well, Mark was walking home last night…” Stephen began. “And then he saw your lights were on. So we thought, maybe, we’d try and come see if you were here.”
“And bring stuff, since you probably didn’t have any.” Melanie proudly gestured to the grocery bags.
Darren beamed. It made him happy to think how much his friends cared about him. Even Mark, who Darren really wasn’t that close with, was checking if he was there. He felt guilty for being so distant.
“Thanks guys. I’m sorry I-” He heard a noise behind him, and he could see that Stephen and Claire were no longer paying attention, even though Melanie was staring off into space the way she usually did. He turned around, and saw Kyle sitting up on the couch, groggily looking around, shocked to suddenly find four people staring at him.
“Um… Hi…” He looked thoroughly confused.
“Hi, Kyle.” Claire piped up cockily.
Darren walked over to the couch, and stood in front of Kyle, blocking his friends view, and crouched down to talk to him.
“Do you want to go take a shower. My friends brought groceries, and I’ll introduce you later.”
“Mmmm, Kay.” Kyle said in a dry, cracked voice, and smiled sleepily. He grabbed Darren and gave him a quick peck on the lips, and got out of bed, muttering something like “see you guys later” before stumbling off to the bathroom that Darren didn’t want to go into.
Darren looked over at Claire, who give a soft wolf-whistle as the door to the bathroom closed. He rolled his eyes at her.
“Whoa… what’s going on? Who was that guy? Darren?” Stephen’s head kept jerking back and forth between Darren and the bedroom door.
“That’s Kyle,” Claire winked at Darren. “He’s Darren’s new Maaaaaaan muffin.”
Melanie chuckled, but Stephen only looked confused.
“Claire.” Darren gave her a reproachful look, at which she vaguely attempted to look remorseful, but it came out as playful and sarcastic.
“Kyle’s… someone I’ve been seeing.”
“He’s going to be Darren’s new ‘It’s complicated’ on facebook.”
“I’d hit you, Claire, but my mom told me not to hit girls.”
“Ha-ha.” Darren glared pointedly. Sometimes Claire went to far.
“Oh,” She walked up to Darren and put her arms around him. “Come on, you know I don’t mean it… Let’s make breakfast for Darren. How does bacon and eggs sound?”
“It sounds great.” Darren smiled and they all began to unpack the grocery bags. Well… everyone except Claire.
Like all the other times when Claire said “Let’s”, most of the cooking went on without her.
Stephen and Melanie cooked the bacon and eggs, while Darren sat on a barstool by the toaster, taking out the toast and popping in fresh slices of bread whenever it was done. Kyle showed up from the shower and helped set the table, with a little help from Darren.
Darren found a moment to introduce Kyle, feeling rude that he hadn’t done it before.
“Everybody – this is Kyle.” Like they didn’t already know. He just did it so that maybe Kyle wouldn’t feel so awkward. “Kyle, this is Stephen.” The two shook hands, and gave eachother friendly smiles. “This is Melanie.” He shook her hand. Darren smiled inwardly, knowing that Claire had an issue with guys who didn’t shake a woman’s hand when meeting her – because some guys didn’t. “And this is Claire.” She took his hand and gave it a firm shake. She glanced over at Darren, and gave him a look that said ‘I’m impressed’ – she tended to judge people by their handshakes, and the firmer the better. Shaking her hand was like putting yours in a steel vice. It was nice to see that Kyle could hold his own, even in this small, insignificant social gesture. But again, Kyle was good at that.
Darren was mostly quiet through breakfast. He felt pretty comfortable and happy, and he didn’t really feel any need to talk. That’s what he liked about his friends – they were all pretty chatty, so he could just relax and not really care about carrying the conversation. He was also busy watching Kyle work his magic. He had Stephen laughing at everything, which was not really any great accomplishment – Stephen laughed at everything. But at least it meant he didn’t not like Kyle. And Melanie was laughing quite a bit, which was a bit more rare, especially with people she had just met. Even Clair cracked a smile once or twice. It was… great.
They stayed for hours, talking, chatting, goofing around, having coffee. Darren even smiled at himself when he felt like the one being left out, and not Kyle, because they all drank those funny instant cappachino’s and he just had tea. Eventually though, Stephen managed to drag the girls out, because it was getting late in the afternoon, and they had to drive him to their home so he could pick up his car and head back home to check in with his family.
Darren walked them out, while Kyle stayed in the lounge watching TV.
“He’s nice,” Stephen said quietly, as they headed out.
“Can we keep him?” Claire said in her best toddler’s voice and winked.
“Bye, guys. See you soon. I’ll keep in contact. I promise.” He started closing the door.
“You better.” They all said in chorus, and then laughed. Darren shook his head and closed the door on them.
He walked over to the couch and flopped down, putting his head in Kyle’s lap.
Kyle put the controller down on the side table, and bent down to kiss Darren softly.
“They like you.” Darren said simply, smiling broadly.
“You say that like you didn’t think they would.” Kyle grinned cheekily.
“Well, you know… they all knew Luke, and liked him. They were friends with him first, even though it wasn’t really for a long time. I thought they might…” Darren trailed off.
Kyle quickly pulled Darren into an upright position.
“Anyway, what do you want to do now?”
“I don’t know…” Darren playfully put his hand on Kyle’s chest, tracing the line of his pec through the fabric. “What do you want to do?”
“Sex,” Kyle answered instantly, smiling broadly, as if to say ‘I’m glad you asked’. He grabbed Darren’s hand and then led him over to the bedroom door. “And then pizza. But sex first – definitely.”
Kyle took Darren’s hand and kissed him. Darren closed his eyes and kissed Kyle back, moaning a little bit. It had a been a while. It had been a week since they had last seen each other, and they hadn’t had sex the night before. Darren felt ready to explode. Kyle grabbed his hand and pulled him across the room.
Darren opened his eyes and felt his chest turn to ice, and he let go of Kyle’s hand and stood where he was.
They were right outside the door to his bedroom, and area that he had given a radius of about two metres since he had come back.
“Kyle… I…” He felt his voice faltering. “I… can’t.”
Kyle’s eyes hardened.
“Yes, you can.” He grabbed Darren’s hand again, almost roughly. He pressed himself up against Darren and kissed him again, with an odd mix of strength and tenderness. “Yours, not his. Remember?”
“I… Okay.” Darren nodded and closed his eyes again. He took a deep breath and started looking forward, letting Kyle pull him into the room.
It was just like he remembered. The cupboards were all open, and empty. There was a suitcase – the one he had decided not to take. Luke’s clothes. All packed when Darren got home. Like Luke was going somewhere.
“Can you take that out?” He took a deep breath. “I can be in here, I think. Just not with… that.”
“Okay,” Kyle nodded, quickly grabbed the case and threw it outside.
“Maybe we shouldn’t.”
“No.” Darren said, and his ferocity surprised even him. “It’s… mine, right?”
“Yes.” Kyle smiled gently, and led Darren to the bed. They began to make out, and flopped down onto their backs. Kyle began unbuttoning Darren’s shirt, and Darren stopped caring so much about where he was.
“Mine.” He whispered softly as Kyle began to run his lips down Darren’s torso.
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