Mutual Benefits – Chapter 6

It definitely wasn’t just wishful thinking, nor a coincidence – Taylor and I were seeing each other more and more. We went from seeing each other once a week and maybe doing something sexually at the end of the study session, to seeing each other once every two days or so, with at least half of our time spent with our tongues busy working on one another.

“Mmmh,” Taylor moaned as she engulfed my cock with her mouth for the second time that day. We hadn’t moved on from oral, and I was probably doing it to her twice for every one time she did it to me, but I was perfectly okay with that. I actually really enjoyed giving it to her, especially since she was very eager to receive and, plus, I knew that if I asked, she’d blow me as often as I ate her out – I was just too shy to ask.

She bobbed her head up and down, not bothering to wear anything but her bra. I had already eaten her out today, and the sight of her bottomless sucking me off with appreciation and eagerness in her eyes was absolutely breathtaking to behold. 

Before long, Taylor had me shifting in place, practically whimpering with anticipation, which as I figured out, she really enjoyed hearing. She practically purred as she took her mouth off of me and eagerly watched my cock, her one hand jacking me off, her other hand encouragingly playing with my balls. “Come on, Quinn. Cum for me.”

What a fucking dream world I was living in. I gave one more groan and shot my first load, feeling like it must have travelled about a foot into the air before coming down. Smaller ropes of cum quickly followed, and I found myself breathing heavily on the floor, staring straight up at the ceiling.

I could do nothing but stare and pant until I had the strength to look up again. I chuckled, seeing the paper towel Taylor had placed next to me, and began to clean myself off. Taylor was working her pants back up her legs, smiling at me. 

We didn’t speak for a bit, opting instead to finish cleaning and dressing back up before I spoke. “So, uh… do you think you’re all caught up now?”

Taylor smiled at me. “In more ways than one.”

It wasn’t even that clever, but I had to chuckle. She’d definitely gained a confidence with me I hadn’t seen from her before. It was either that or familiarity. “Cool, so then maybe do you want to reschedule for next week, or…”

Taylor widened her smile at me, as if we were sharing a joke. “Tomorrow. And… what do you say we try something more tomorrow?”

Despite ejaculating so recently, I felt my dick respond to that. “N-new? Like…”

Taylor shrugged in her usual playful way. “Who knows? Let’s make it tomorrow then, my place, after school.”

“Well, I’ll need to see. I’m pretty sure it’ll be fine, but-”

“Quinnnnn,” Taylor practically sang. “You’re talking too much again. It’ll be fine. And a lot of fun,” she finished with a wink.

“Okay, but can you at least tell me what you were thinking of? Like, if we’re moving in that direction, like, all the way, shouldn’t one of us pick up some… protection or something?”

Taylor only laughed and shook her head in that telltale ‘Oh, Quinn’ way, without answering me. 

***

I could barely concentrate during the first two periods the following day, especially knowing I’d be sharing last period with Taylor. I knew she wouldn’t try anything that would compromise herself there – at school, she basically treated me like a stranger at this point – but that didn’t stop me from feeling nervous as all hell.

Even at lunchtime, I found myself walking around nervously, and watching my back more than usual. Too much, in fact, given I accidentally walked right into someone without noticing it. 

“Sorry,” I replied immediately, before looking up and realizing I bumped into Joel Lowry, because of course. Joel was one of those guys in the school. I had no clue if he was more of a jock or a prep. No matter how hot it was that day, he always wore either a Letterman jacket or what may as well have been a Letterman jacket. He was on our practically non-existent football team, was this year’s leader of the Boxing Club, and was definitely going to be the valedictorian. Every stereotype about jocks being dumb? He proved them wrong at every turn. Word around the school was, the only reason he didn’t run for Student Council President was because he was friends with Abby, the year’s current President.

“Hey, the fuck’s your problem?” he asked in a sour tone. “I’m just standing here. You wanna use your eyes or what?”

His crowd turned to me. Most of the guys were people I’d never even made eye contact with, but sure enough, there was one familiar pair of eyes in the group.

“Yo! Quinn!” Bryce blurted, clearly happy to see me. “You saved my fuckin’ life, man. Those answers were fuckin’ primo.”

Primo? Enh, whatever. I smiled and nodded awkwardly in acknowledgement and Joel’s eyes went from me to Bryce, back to me, and his gaze softened. I already knew he wasn’t going to beat me up or anything – the nice thing about the more well-educated jocks was that they were way less likely to use violence – but it was clear the encounter made him second-guess himself.

“Ah, I’m guessing you’re our little Cliffnotes buddy?” Joel asked.

‘Little.’ I was pretty sure I was older than him, even if I was half a foot shorter. “If you want to call it that,” I replied.

“Huh. Well, you’re not bad. I totally wouldn’t have aced my test without you.” All the guys in the group murmured their agreement. Apart from Bryce, none of them were in the group Bryce was in when I first handed him the sheet. I knew word traveled fast in Hazelwood, but it only became clear now just how fast.

“I even hear you’re helping my girl Taylor with her data management stuff,” he continued, clearly forgetting about me bumping into him by now.

My brow slightly furrowed. “Your girl? Are you two dating?”

He chuckled. “I dunno about ‘ing,’ we’ve just gone on the one so far, but I dunno. I guess. Labels, dude. Who needs ‘em?”

I tried as hard as I could to not let my face betray me. This was new. This was probably very important to know. 

“Anyway, no hard feelings. Just, y’know, look straight forward next time,” Joel continued. “And, uh, nice job looking out for my bros. I know the school doesn’t understand the kind of stuff you’re doing, but we do. It’s pretty cool.”

“Thanks,” I replied, leaving promptly. I made my way to the cafeteria, knowing I needed to talk to Taylor ASAP.

Halfway to her table, I stopped in my tracks, seeing the group of five at their table, talking and laughing away. I had told Taylor I wouldn’t be seen with her in public. What the heck was I going to say to her when I approached? Asking her point-blank if she had a boyfriend and ‘why didn’t you tell me that sooner’ was going to raise more than a few eyebrows. And asking her if we could talk in private, even if I said it was about studying stuff, was probably just going to be as suspicious. 

I realized I was frozen in my tracks and staring at them when Milo lifted his head, cocked it a little, and gave me a confused wave. Snapping out of my trance, I waved back, did a 180, and walked away. No, clearly I was going to make things worse by asking her in public. I was now a part of high school drama, and I had to think before I acted. Everything had positive and negative consequences. It was cool to know that if Taylor was dating someone, he liked me, but that raised a very obvious question…

If Taylor was dating someone, when was she planning on telling me?!

***

As usual, after school, I hung out in the hallways for a bit and waited for Taylor’s signal. As soon as it was given, I walked to her car, waving to her when I got close.

She gave me a chipper smile and unlocked her car door. “Ready? Let’s go.”

“Actually…” I began sharply, though immediately my voice softened. “I was wondering if I could ask you about something before we left. It’s kind of important.”

“Um, does it have to be here?” she asked, looking around. “We’ll have a lot of time and privacy at my place. Y’know, in between lessons of course. We don’t want to get distracted.”

She said that in such a straightforward voice. I didn’t know if she was playing the part in public or attempting to share an in-joke with me. “Okay, I guess. But I’ll want to ask about it before we study.”

Taylor shrugged and got in the car, with me following. I could have asked her in the car, but given it was a convertible that Taylor loved to have open, I would have had to shout for her to hear me anyways. Running my tongue over my teeth in thought, I just allowed the ride to go on silently until we were at our destination.

I wanted to ask as soon as the car was off, but before I knew it, Taylor was out of the car, bringing her stuff down to the basement before I so much as had my seatbelt undone. I knew I was just noticing this stuff now because I was paranoid about Joel, but something didn’t seem right here.

Maybe it was a misunderstanding though. Maybe they went on one date before our studying even turned sexual and it was a weird long-term on-off thing. It’s not like I was the foremost expert on high school relationships and how they played out.

When I got to the basement, Taylor was down there waiting for me, sitting in her beanbag chair, texting or something. She smiled slightly at the sight of me, and waited for me to close the door. 

“So about the thing I wanted to ask…” I began.

Taylor smirked playfully. “Okay, no, it’s obviously not, like, all the way, but I thought of something fun we could do after the lesson. Or, like, before, if you wanted.” She finished her last remark with a wink.

I chuckled nervously. I think Taylor took that as incentive, but I held my hands in front of me. “Before we get to that… I have something important to talk about.”

Taylor gave me a weird look. “It’s not about that? What is it?”

“So today, I was walking around – I bumped into – I talked to Joel Lowry.”

Taylor’s face was unmoved, still giving me that look. Practically frozen.

“He – we were talking about you and – well, not really, we were just talking about helping people with schoolwork and – okay, this is off-topic. You were brought up, naturally, in conversation. And he referred to you as ‘his girl.’ So, I ask if you’re his gir-”

Taylor held up a hand to stop me. “I get where there is going. But you and me, we were never romantic. So I don’t get why you’re coming to me all jealous and like this.”

“Oh, no. No no, I don’t mean it like that!” I clarified myself.

“Well, that’s how you’re coming across,” Taylor replied. “So maybe we should just drop this topic entirely, okay? It’s just going to lead to more misunderstanding.”

It was my turn to give her a weird look. This was not at all how I thought this conversation was going to play out. “But… I didn’t even get to ask my question.”

“Quinn, why can’t we just drop this?” Taylor asked exasperatedly.

“Because I want to be able to communicate openly with you, and I’d really appreciate being able to ask my full question without you cutting me off and assuming I’m saying something else before you even heard me out.”

She stared at me for a few seconds, her lips tightening. “Fine, whatever,” she eventually bitterly huffed. “But try to word your, like, things a little better.”

“Okay,” I replied with a bit of confusion in my voice. “Anyway, yeah, he said you’re his girl, so I ask if you’re his girlfriend. Well, I don’t ask that, I ask if you’re dating. And he basically says yes.”

“Basically?” Taylor asked.

“Like, he said that you went on one date so far, I think, with another planned in the future. So I just wanted to ask… mainly because, y’know, this is new to me… Why are we doing stuff if you have a, you know, boyfriend?”

Taylor kept staring at me and eventually broke into a small smile. “Quinn, you really don’t know how high school works, do you?”

“Apparently not, but that’s why I’m asking,” I replied. 

“Okay, so, yes, me and Joel did go on a date…”

Joel and I.

“…but that doesn’t mean anything yet. We’re not, like, boyfriend and girlfriend or anything. That’s why the words boyfriend and girlfriend exist. They’re there for the exclusivity. But we’re not a couple, so I can do whatever…” She walked over to me and boldly put her hand on my pants. “…or whoever I want. If me and Joel go exclusive, then we should talk about it. But we’re doing this in the first place so you get practice with girls, and I get to have some fun with a guy who doesn’t think he’s some master of orgasms when he can’t even give me one. Got it?”

I was nervous about her being so close to my face. I felt like I couldn’t even speak. I could only nod at her.

“Good boy,” she nearly sang, giving me a little kiss on the cheek (which made me blush profusely) and sliding her hand up and down the front of my pants, before letting her hand drift off. “Now, where were we?” 

She certainly was a woman on a mission. I wasn’t sure she was going to open her textbook at all during this studying session, but all thoughts of data management flew out of my head as she took off her shirt and began to take her bra off. She smiled and never broke off her eye contact with me as the undid the hooks in the back, then slowly let her bra slide off of her chest. She slid her hands up her bare chest, grabbing her boobs and gently squeezing them, her smile growing. “Is there something you want, Quinn?”

It would have been fun to tease her back or even play coy, both of which I was physically incapable of doing. I nodded dumbly and walked forwards like a zombie, with both of us fully knowing just how ensnared by this girl I had become. 

We ended up on the floor, with her giggling and panting with pleasure as I lay on top of her, my head buried in her chest, one hand on each boob. It took me a second to notice that my crotch was perfectly aligned with hers, with both of her legs spread open on either side of me. As I sucked and playfully squeezed her perfect boobs, I couldn’t help but begin to grind my painfully hard cock, confined inside my pants, over her pants.

I could feel her body tense up and hear her breathing change over this new contact, with her pussy slowly but surely beginning to grind right back against me. I lifted my head from her boobs to look in her eyes and saw an expression I hadn’t seen before – an almost timid expression in the face of Taylor’s lust. It was clear that our crotches making contact meant as much to her as it did to me, and it was having a similar effect on her. I knew that I was being driven crazy with my lust and that, in that moment, I wanted nothing more than to put it in her, but it made me twitch and surge to know she was likely thinking the exact same thing.

I don’t know what made me do it, but instead of going back to her breasts, I kept my eyes on hers as I resumed humping her. I could practically feel her horny teenage pussy pulsing while we ground our crotches together, our lust and desperation getting more and more apparent in our eyes. 

We remained like that for a few minutes until either the spell was broken for Taylor or she had made her mind up about something. She shook her head and regained her usual playful smirk, shooing me off of her and removing her pants. I figured she was just going to ask me to eat her out again, but, Taylor being Taylor, she had a way of surprising me.

“Take off your pants.”

I gave her a slightly confused expression, but followed her orders. I removed my pants quickly, normally being shy or reserved but at this point being too horny to care. My cock sprung to life, painfully hard in front of me, twitching with anticipation. And I could see I wasn’t alone – Taylor’s pussy lips were visibly puffy and presented outward, more aroused than I had seen them before, glistening with her juices. And just like I was doing with her, she was starily hungrily right at my cock.

“I was thinking… Would you want to do it at the same time?” she asked, almost shyly. It was interesting to see that she liked having control, but the hornier she got, the more bashful and submissive she became. Once I got more experienced, I was hoping I could use that to my advantage someday.

I nodded, trying to be confident but clearly nervous. “Y-yeah. I really would.”

Taylor raised her eyebrows twice seductively, then winked at me, sitting down on the floor. “Come on. Don’t be nervous.”

It was really clear that my nervousness drove up her control factor. I desperately wanted to be all confidence and see if that could push the dynamic, but I was an unpopular nobody who was faced with a popular girl asking if he wanted to sixty-nine with her. I was helpless.

I sat down next to her and she gently lay down next to me, in one of those “paint me like one of your French girls” expressions. “Flip over,” she commanded, and so I gently lay down opposite her, still looking her in the face, despite her pussy now being inches from my face.

I felt dumb, but I still had to ask. “So, uh, what happens now?”

“Lay down. I’ll get on top of you. I, like, don’t weigh much, so I think you’ll be able to support me,” she laughed. I could do nothing but laugh in return, and I did as I was told. I laid down and Taylor maneuvered on top of me, trying to angle herself correctly.

My heartbeat started to quicken as I realized that Taylor didn’t exude her usual confidence she normally had with our sexual adventures at this moment. Realization hit me – she had never done this before. This was as new to her as it was to me. I was going to be her first sixty-nine. 

She wasn’t exactly good at hiding it, either. As she was maneuvering, she paused. “Wait,” she finally said. “Take off the rest of your clothes first.” I did as she told, and she followed suit. Before long, we were both fully naked. “There,” she laughed. “That probably makes this easier.”

She was so pretty. Even though I was getting accustomed to seeing her naked, it didn’t awe me any less. Everything, from her cute little chipmunk smile, right down to her perfect short legs, with one of her thighs even boasting a cute little birthmark, some kind of big freckle. Her perky tits on full display, her nipples telling me just how excited she was to get to sixty-nine with me. Her puffy labia, clearly ready and wanting this, although I could see that just from the excitement in her eyes.

Over the next few minutes, we figured ourselves out until finally we got to a position where she could lower herself onto my face and I could please her without dying of suffocation. It helped that she was decently small – even though I was kind of short, I still was taller than her, and I bet even with my lankiness, I weighed more than her too. 

The knowledge of her possibly giving me her first sixty-nine made me want her even more. From the moment her thighs made contact with my face and her pussy was within a good distance of my tongue, I went to work on her. 

The effect was instantaneous. Taylor was on her way to lean down and take my cock but my tongue’s first few movements made her stiffen her back and moan. “Fuck, Quinn,” she panted. “And I thought I was a fast learner.”

Cheesy. I didn’t stop, and closed my eyes in passion, continuing to lick and explore Taylor’s love tunnel. She gave a few chuckles in appreciation and lust, gently wiggling her hips on top of my face as she bent down and started lovingly licking up and down my shaft, preparing me for her mouth.

Even with her on top of me, I couldn’t stop myself from shuddering when her tongue made contact with me. I could hear her laughing at my reaction, knowing exactly why I’d temporarily stopped eating her out. As soon as I had stopped, I was back to work, worshipping her with my mouth, using everything she had taught me to be a good pupil. 

And she was responding in kind. My efforts spurred her on and soon she was bobbing her mouth up and down on my cock as I kissed, sucked, and licked my way up her slit, from the bottom right up to her clit. I could tell I was getting good at knowing when and how to pleasure her clit, if the moans she was making on my cock were any indication. Here she was, the object of every single one of my classmates’ desires, moaning like a slut while taking my whole dick in her mouth. I couldn’t stop obsessing over how amazing that was.

I was the first to cum. I wasn’t able to warn her with my mouth full of her sex, so I could only moan frantically and hope she got the message. And she had really turned me on, so oh what a message it was. 

“Holy shit,” I heard her mumble when the fourth or fifth rope shoot out of my cock, her hand replacing her mouth now that I was cumming. “I must have quite an effect on you, huh Quinn?”

She couldn’t hear or see it, but I had a smile on my face. That said, I wasn’t going to stop. Even with the waves of pleasure surging through me, I was determined to get this beautiful girl off. She was amazing, she was sexy as fuck, and she was riding my face, sucking my cock not ten seconds ago. I definitely wanted to finish her off.

And it was clear she was enjoying the moment. After my cock deflated, she straightened her back and took full advantage of the situation, grinding her pussy on my face and just riding me like I was hers. And suddenly, she was quite the talker.

“Unf, yeah, Quinn, take my fucking pussy, eat me, oh, ohhh…” she moaned, her voice husky and thick with lust. “Yeah, I bet you really like eating my pussy, don’t you? You like when I ride your face like this? Do you? You’re such a good boy…” she babbled on and on. 

Despite cumming so recently, her words were definitely having an effect on me, and soon my cok was bouncing wildly in the air as Taylor’s grinds on me got desperate, hungrier, and even more controlling, as if that was possible. 

“Oh, fuck yeah Quinn, this is so fucking good…” she panted in a high-pitched voice, her hand reaching behind her to grab the back of my head and grab scrunches of my hair. “Keep going, just like that, don’t stop, don’t you dare fucking stop, you’re gonna make me cum, oh yeah, oh fuck yeah, just like that baby…”

She ground her face against me just like that as she rode out her climax, her juices getting on my face, my tongue eagerly lapping it up and my cock twitching and throbbing. She remained like that, soaking in all of the pleasure and enjoying my tongue, for the next few seconds, before I felt her whole body relax, practically melting on top of me. 

The only trouble was, her relaxing shifted some more weight on top of me, and now I genuinely couldn’t breathe. At first I made an “mmph” or two, but luckily, after I started frantically slapping her thigh with my hand, she got the jist, with a half-laughed, “Sorry!”

Afterwards, she got off of me and we just… breathed together. I don’t know if we ended up doing that for one minute or ten, but it felt really right to just sit there and soak in the moment. Although, speaking of things we did and didn’t get up to, we never even ended up opening our textbooks that entire night.

***

Gamestop was a pretty easy job. A lot of it was just busywork. Not hard, just tedious. When it wasn’t being an awkward salesperson, it was finding game cases and tidying up and doing inventory. When that was done, the higher-ups made us reorganize the store for seemingly no reason. Suffice it to say, it was every minimum-wage job you could expect. 

I actually kind of liked the customers. I could never learn to talk to other human beings by talking to one person that wasn’t my brother, especially since more and more of our conversations were starting to revolve around sex and end with our genitalia in each other’s mouths. So, all in all, it was likely healthy that I was talking to people that I wasn’t ending up… entangled with.

It was easy to tell when someone came in for someone else, or was lost or something. I may not have known much about people, but I knew a gamer from a non-gamer. Sometimes people came in asking about the newest Call of Halo because their son or daughter wanted it, and sometimes confused middle-aged men came in asking about other stores in the strip mall, as if we at Gamestop knew anything about them. But sometimes, things got… stranger.

“…But the coolest looking Pokemon? In all of Gen One, it has to be Tangela,” my coworker James finished his point as we stood around talking, late one night during a shift. “Even if it’s kinda useless in battle. But hey, he’s a clump of vines. They had to start him out with Vine Whip. Shitty move, but, y’know.”

I blinked in thought. “Are you sure? I don’t think that’s right.”

James, a tired-looking guy in his late twenties, rolled his eyes. “What part? Are you really gonna Rain Man-style fact check me?”

“I think that when Red and Blue came out, Tangela couldn’t learn Vine Whip. It wasn’t until Yellow came out that it could learn the move. So it didn’t start out with Vine Whip.”

James stared at me, dumbfounded. “…Y’know, I thought I was a useless dump of Pokemon info, but you’re really giving me a run for my money. Do you just memorize this stuff when you’re, I dunno, bored or something?”

I shrugged. “I didn’t talk to people much growing up.”

“I can tell,” James quipped, looking my claims up on his phone. After a few minutes, he stared at me, completely weirded out. “You’re a hundred percent correct. How can you possibly know that off the top of your head?”

I shrugged, hearing the door open but wanting to finish the conversation. “Hey, you made the claim. I made a counterclaim. I turned out to be right.” I turned lazily to the front, no doubt where the customer had come in and stopped. “Can I help you find anythi-”

Morgan. Morgan was in here. Not only that, it was clear she was lost as all get-out. She was wearing a baggy hoodie, and gingerly removing the hood, covered in rain from the outside. Not only that, but she didn’t seem fazed by me. “Hey, Quinn,” she acknowledged me.

James looked from her to me. “Classmate or relative?” he asked.

“If anyone in my family looked like that, my mom would kill them,” I quipped. I joked to James before about my mom’s view on… shall I say, ‘race purity.’

“Ha!” A hearty chuckle escaped James’ lips, and he turned back to his inventory sheet.

I returned my attention to Morgan and walked out from behind the desk towards her. “So… what are you doing here?” I asked, hoping it didn’t come out as impolite as it sounded. “I mean, you don’t seem like much of a gamer.”

“Oh yeah, I am one,” Morgan replied, cool as a cucumber, looking off at some shelf. “…Not. I’m not one. I don’t know why I said that. I’m here to pick up something for my brother.”

“Oh, well, if he’s a gamer, you’re in the right place,” I replied. “Because, y’know, we sell games here.”

“That’s probably why they call it Gamestop,” Morgan replied quietly, still staring off at the shelf. Why was she not looking at me? Was she seriously still upset at me?

“…Well, if you want me out of your hair, I’ll just be behind the desk. But if you need my help finding a specific thing you’re looking for, I can help.”

“I, uh, don’t have anything specific in mind. It’s a birthday present,” Morgan replied. I could barely hear her at this point.

“Oh, um, okay. Well, you said you’re not a gamer, right?”

Morgan mumbled something.

“What was that?”

“I said yeah.”

“Okay, well, do you want me to see if I can recommend something?”

“Yeah, that would probably be best.”

“Did I do something to piss you off?”

Morgan looked at me for the first time since coming in after I blurted that out. Her face didn’t really emote much, but she gave me a puzzled look. “No, why do you ask that?”

“Oh. Um, I dunno,” I mumbled, losing confidence given her answer. “It just seemed like… you were quiet and looking away from me, so I was wondering…”

“I was looking at the games they have on display,” Morgan explained, pointing off to the shelf.

“Yeah, sorry,” I conceded, looking at the shelf.

“And I guess I’m just quiet today,” she continued.

“I guess so!” I agreed. Suddenly I was the one looking at the shelf and not her. After a bit, I realized we were both silent and no one was saying anything, or making a specific movement. 

I cleared my throat. “So what console does your brother have?”

“A PS4.”

“Ahh, good choice. I have one too,” I admitted. “Okay, so what kind of stuff is he into?”

“In general or when it comes to video games?” Morgan asked.

“In general,” I joked with a flat tone, then immediately followed up with, “I’m joking. Video games.”

“Well, he really seems to like sports games… and racing games,” Morgan replied slowly, still looking over the same shelf. 

“Okay, well, let’s see… I assume he has Fifa 16?” I began.

She nodded. 

“…And we can’t exactly go with Fifa 17, that comes out in September I think, and by then we’ll be around half a year late.”

“Well, not really. His birthday is in July,” Morgan replied, then scrunched her eyes shut immediately.

I thought for a second. “…It’s May.”

“Yes Quinn, it is,” Morgan replied in an almost pained voice.

I stared at her for a bit and my eyes returned to the shelf, where hers were. “Ooookay…” I slowly exhaled. “How about… Uncharted 4? It might be a bit ‘old news’ in July, but maybe you can give him his gift early. Since you’re here early and everything. It’s a new release.”

“What’s it about?” she asked.

“Oh, it’s about, um… an adventurer. Like, he goes to – he’s a treasure hunter. The game plays like Tomb Raider, but with more action-adventure elements and somewhat less puzzles.”

“So it’s like Indiana Jones?” Morgan asked.

Defer. “Hey James, is Uncharted like Indiana Jones?” I turned to ask him.

He was already looking at us. “Kinda. Same macho hero thing going on. It is the fourth in the series, though. If he doesn’t have the other thr-”

“I’ll take it,” Morgan interrupted him.

I shrugged at James. “Sounds confident,” I remarked to him, or just out loud to myself. I took the case off the shelf and went behind the desk, looking for the disk. I rung it up, and Morgan paid for it, saying very little all the while. The rain poured on outside the store, the sky dark, the atmosphere in the store an almost audible grey.

“Okay, you’re all set. Good to, uh, see you, Morgan,” I awkwardly told her.

“Yeah,” she agreed quietly. She turned to leave and then turned back, then exhaled. “It was good to see you too, Quinn. Can I ask a really weird favor?”

“Um…” I fumbled. “Yeah, s-sure, go ahead.”

Her eyes flickered to the ground, then back at me. For the second time since she arrived, her brown intentful eyes were staring at me. “Can you… not tell Taylor that you saw me here, please?” She clamped her teeth together in response to what she just said. “I mean, like, if anyone else asks, that would be… fine… just not Taylor. Don’t ask why. Is that okay?”

The dominant part of my mind was absolutely baffled. This was her favor? Why? What could she have possibly gained from asking this? Why did it matter?! Why would Taylor, of all people, give a shit that her friend was at Gamestop buying a game for her brother’s birthday, two months early? Why did Morgan assume I was telling Taylor about the intricacies of my job? What in the hell was going on with that group??

On the other hand, it dawned on me right in that moment that I also had completely forgotten something. Whatever Morgan’s goals were, swearing to secrecy was in my best interest too. I had agreed to not talk to Morgan at all, and quite frankly, I fully forgot about it until now. Hell, according to Taylor, Morgan was the one spreading rumors about us, so maybe Morgan was worried about Taylor… getting even using this? Was “hey, my tutor/fuck buddy saw Morgan buying a video game” even drama? Was this drama? Was this what drama was?

“Uh, yeah, you got it,” I replied lamely, not understanding anything anymore.

“Thanks,” Morgan replied, giving me some version of a small smile, before turning exactly one-eighty degrees and powerwalking out. 

As soon as she was outside, James turned to me and shook his head, laughing. “Jeez.” He raised his eyebrows at me, as if we were sharing a joke. “Enh?”

“…What?” I asked. “Did I say something wrong?”

“Oh my god, you don’t know?” James laughed and turned away, shaking his head. “Rain Man. Fuckin’ Rain Man.”

“Stop calling me that!” I protested. I didn’t even know what that meant. Was the fact it was raining significant? Why the hell did everyone seem to know everything that was going on but me?!

***

“Does ‘Rain Man’ mean anything to you?” I asked Kevin, approaching the school with him.

“Nah, never seen it,” he replied casually. “Hey, you doing well?” he tossed over his shoulder to someone walking past him.

“Oh, so it’s a movie?” I asked him.

“Yeah. Two autistic guys go to the casino or something. I dunno. Again, never seen it,” Kevin replied.

Oh. So, was James being mean? I was used to the ‘haha you have autism’ jokes from classmates that didn’t like that I knew classroom answers but not social skills, but I always wrote it off as something immature shits that didn’t know anyone with autism said because they wanted an excuse to say the r-word without getting in trouble. Using ‘autistic’ as an insult was something I was expecting to be free from when I finally entered university. Not only did I deserve better, but autistic people deserved better too. I didn’t expect James to be like that. But then again, I didn’t know what his intent was. Maybe he didn’t mean all that. After all, I didn’t even know it was a movie until now.

“Y’know,” Kevin began dryly, “this is why I’m worried about you. I give you the elevator pitch for a movie and now the look on your face tells me you’re thinking of ending your life.” He playfully shoved me. “Cat got your tongue?”

“I just got a lot on my mind,” I admitted. “Want to do lunch today?”

“Ah, dude, I’d love to, buuuut, I got plans,” Kevin gingerly replied. “Tomorrow, though! Enh? Tomorrow.” He pointed at me in his confident preppy way and walked away backwards, pointing at me the whole time. I rolled my eyes and made my way to my locker. I was just about done with getting my stuff when I heard a shy “hey,” from behind me.

Without moving my body, I turned my head around to see Milo. It was odd seeing him without the group, but I guess at this point I’d seen practically everyone from that group solo, or at least in pairs, so why not.

“Are you saying hey to me?” I asked him. He nodded. “Well, uh, hello, Milo,” I replied.

“I was wondering if we could talk about something,” he said, shuffling his feet.

“Class starts in ten minutes, but I guess I’m available for lunch,” I replied. Thanks, Kevin. 

“It won’t take that long. But I just wanted to ask you in private, if that’s okay,” he continued.

Where even was ‘private’ in a public school? “What’s it about, do I get to ask that?” I asked as I turned around. 

Credit to Milo, I think he could sense my discomfort, and also sense how fed up I was about my particular situation. “Okay, so, it’s about Taylor, and-” I started to protest but he held up a finger. “-it’s super quick, possibly just one question, and depending on… stuff… it may contain stuff that I really think you should know.”

In American History class, I recalled my teacher, Mr. Anton, talking about World War One. He taught us that World War One happened not because there was a clear-cut good guy and bad guy, but because of the domino effect of treaties and the Powder Keg of Europe and rising tensions between countries. World War One itself was like an entity, a dark fog hanging over Europe, sucking in countries and forcing them to fight and do horrible things for causes the countries themselves didn’t believe in. The war itself was the terror, not the people involved, and if anyone got too close, they were not just a victim of the war, they were also now a part of it, keeping the war going.

…Anyway, that’s how I felt about high school drama in that moment. I clearly just got too close to Taylor, the Austria-Hungary of our school, and now Serbia was dragging me into this mess too.

“Okay. Sure. Stuff. Why not?” I closed my locker and sighed loudly. “Lead me to wherever is private.”

“Thanks, Quinn. I promise, it’ll only take a bit.” He walked down the hallways, peering down each of them to survey the number of students in each, and I followed, my eyes half-closed, feeling more and more cynical about high school with each passing second.

After about a minute, Milo audibly went, “Aah!” and led us down a hallway with an elevator at the end, reserved for the one or two students at the school who were wheelchair-bound. If the elevator were open to anyone, no doubt students would use it all the time, but it needed a key, so the elevator was rarely used and as a result, the little hallway connecting the elevator to the main hallway was also rarely used. 

I walked in and folded my arms. “Okay, so, what would you like to talk to me about?” I asked.

Milo exhaled in nervousness, walking to the end of our little hallway to peer out before walking back in. “Okay, so, I’m not asking this because of any, like, anything related to you. I just know some stuff and wanted to see if you were caught up in it. But, in exchange, I want a promise.”

I was doing a lot of promising lately. “What is it?”

“If none of this applies to you, I really need you to forget I ever asked. Seriously. The question is kind of… provocative, and I know we like to be curious and nosy. But I really can’t tell you anything you don’t already know. And, I can tell, you seem to really roll your eyes at teen drama-” Again my mouth opened in protest, and again he held up a finger, “-and I get that. Honestly, I do. I agree a lot of the time, it sucks. So, if this doesn’t apply to you, not asking me anything afterwards will really minimize any drama or fallout or anything like that. Okay?”

I nodded. “I understand what you’re saying. I just don’t know how I’m supposed to react or how I will react or whatever until you ask me.”

Milo sighed. “Yeah, fair enough. That’s totally fair enough.” He looked around one last time and lowered his voice. “Okay, here we go. Are you currently having sex with Taylor?”

I made a committed effort to keep my face frozen in place, not giving away anything in either direction. I thought about my answer in my mind, and rehearsed it internally a few times. “Did I give the impress-”

“That’s not what I’m asking.” Milo clarified, interrupting me. “Again, try to believe me, as best as you can. This isn’t about you, or anything you did.”

“How can you ask me that and tell me with a straight face it has nothing to do with me or anything I did?!” I asked incredulously. In answer, Milo cocked his head slightly, but his expression remained unchanged. He was good at this.

I ran my tongue over my teeth in thought. Something was definitely up. This was time for my overthinking brain to activate and play some 4D chess. Was Milo asking on behalf of Taylor, to test my trust? Was he an agent of Morgan, trying to see if the rumors were true? Or, according to Morgan, becoming true? Was he his own little independent agent? If so, what was his end goal? Was he snooping? Did he know something important to me? Did he know something important to Taylor? Was he protecting her from me, or me from her? Or us from a third party?

Bwaah, too many possibilities. “Hùnzhàng,” I muttered aloud, to no one in particular. I knew he was expecting an answer, but I also knew that Taylor was expecting me to be loyal to her, and loyalty meant secrecy. “I don’t know what you think is going on, but we’re literally just studying,” I told Milo in a low voice, trying to sound like a mixture between angry and weirded out. “If you’ve heard some rumors, let me save you some time: they’re not true. Taylor is Taylor, and I’m me. Of course we’re not having sex.” 

Milo stared at me for a bit. “Okay,” he finally told me, coldly, his expression not changing. “Thanks for the info. Have a good day, Quinn.” With an ominous calmness, he walked right out of the hallway, and that was the end of that.

I honestly thought I was going to feel regret or guilt for lying, but honestly, I only felt proud. I stuck up for myself, and I knew Taylor would be happy with what I did. Part of me was wondering if maybe I should report to Taylor that I was being asked this by Milo.

I started walking back to my locker, thinking to myself. No, I really should just keep my mouth shut. Adopt the Morgan approach. I saw no one, and no one asked me anything.

But Milo did ask me something. He asked me if I was having sex with Taylor, hitting the bullseye. And… it ‘had nothing to do with me.’ How was that possible? Sex takes place between two people. Without it, it’s just… masturbation. Granted, Taylor and I weren’t having full-on sex, but…

…but we were having some form of it. And Milo was asking me, without me having to do with it. So… it wasn’t getting out that I was the one having sex with her? What could that mean? There was a rumor going around that Taylor was having sex with someone, and people wanted to find out who?

No, that was dumb. If someone was spying on her, they’d see both of us, not just her. And if she was leaking it herself, she wouldn’t need me to shut up about it.

But then… what? If it genuinely had nothing to do with me… then why would Milo even ask me? He seemed like the least drama-hungry of the group. Or power-hungry. He had nothing to gain. And he was… trying to get me to admit to sleeping with Taylor? Or, wait, if it had nothing to do with me, he was trying to find out who was having sex with her. 

But why? What does it mean when the only missing puzzle piece was who someone was sleeping with?

I don’t know how it started. Maybe it started with the bad feeling in my stomach. Maybe my legs made up their mind before my mind did. All I knew was, in a matter of a minute or so, I was walking – nay, running – after Milo.

I barely caught him before he disappeared inside what must have been his first period classroom. At the risk of making a scene, I called out – “Milo!” – to him.

He turned around, his expression still unchanged. He just stared at me as I jogged the last few steps up to him. Neither of us said anything for the longest time. Eventually, I just started nodding at him.

“Yes?” he asked.

“Yes. The answer to your question is yes. Is there something I need to know here?” I asked, out of breath.

“I thought it might be,” he muttered. “Yeah, there is.”

________________________________________

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