"That was a good answer Rod! You just might win this time!"
Rod bit his lip to try and hid it, but grinned all the same. He loved playing What If with Nicky. It was like 20 Questions but a lot more fun. They would ask each other deep and thought-provoking qustions, and whoever gave the better answer to the proposed question won a certain amount of points. It was always Nicky who ended up with the most. Rod didn't know how a dopey cutie like Nicky came up with such deep and philosophical answers to the simplest of questions. Though Rod seemed to be doing well this round; the most he'd recieved for one question was a generous seven points.
"Well, I don't know about that Nicky, your last answer was very good and you're still winning. You'll probably win."
"You mean like always?" Nicky teased as a playful grin split his face.
"Oh you stop that! Alright, I suppose it's my turn. Now let me think..." He trailed off, gently scratching his chin and feigning a process of thought.
Rod knew he didn't need to think. He'd been holding out this one question until the very end of the game, to keep from making things too awkward to continue playing. Now it was all a matter of actually asking.
"What if..." Rod swallowed, feeling the blood rush to his turquoise cheeks. "What if your best friend was gay?"
There was a silence that followed that Rod could barely handle. What if Nicky was too disgusted to even answer? Maybe he should just run away and hide while he still had the chance!
Oh thank God the silence was finally broken.
"What if my best friend was gay..." Nicky repeated slowly to himself, rolling over all the possibilities in his mind. "Well I never really understood why being gay is such a bad thing, ya know? It's just another kind of love. You're my best friend of course, and I'd be here for you no matter what. So, I wouldn't care if you were gay. As long as you're happy, that's all I care about."
Rod had been so dazed by Nicky's answer it had been a good minute before he even remembered to blink.
Rod let out a breathy laugh and smiled.
"You win Nicky, I...I have no idea what to say. That means so much to me..." The two locked eyes for what felt like eternity, and Nicky gave Rod that same dopey lopsided smile that he always did.
"Well, that...that certainly was fun." Rod remarked softly, picking up the notepad and the pen. He began to get up to put them away when Nicky grabbed him by his slender wrist, effectively stopping him.
The gears started turning in Nicky's mind, and all it took was one quick glance into his eyes for Rod to see the exact moment when the information clicked.
'That means so much to me.'
"Is...there something you were trying to tell me just now, Rod buddy?"
Rod could see the genuine curiosity and concern sparkling in Nicky's hazel eyes. Rod looked at him. He looked down. The base of his neck burned with shame.
Nicky took the silence as a yes.
"Rod, if that was your way of telling me that you're gay, I just want you to know my answer still stands. You're my best buddy no matter what, and I'll always be here for you. It's fine if you're gay." Without giving it much thought, Nicky curled his strong green fingers around Rod's dainty ones. It was a gesture that Rod found comforting and grounded him enough to keep himself from sobbing like he wanted to.
"I...I'm so sorry Nicky." Rod finally spoke, his nasal voice tight and full of rasp. "This was such a bad way to finally tell you..." His bottom lip wibbled. "I...I'd been keeping it a secret for such a long time, and I...oh lord-" Rod's grip tightened around Nicky's fingers and he brought his free hand up to shield his face. He began to tremble. Nicky watched a large tear roll off Rod's jaw and land with a soft plop on the leg of his trousers and the tan fabric quickly swallowed up the dark spot. Nicky's heart gave one hard thud against his ribcage and he in turn brought his own free hand up to coralle Rod into his embrace. When he spoke again, his voice was the gentlest that Rod had ever heard.
"Hey buddy, it's alright. Whatever works, ya know? C'mere."
Nicky cradled Rod's head in his shoulder, gently stroking a hot, tear stained cheek with the pads of his fingers.
"Nicky..." Rod uttered breathlessly, burying his face into the fabric of Nicky's hoodie.
Nicky felt his heart sink when he heard that tell-tale rush of air coming from the man in his arms. The one that happened right before a person started crying very hard.
"Aw Rod... You don't have to cry. It's okay." Nicky nuzzled his stubbly chin into Rod's short orange hair and held him close, whispering soft comforts and reassurances.
All Rod could do was weep in response to Nicky's words. He couldn't have been happier if he tried. He had expected the worst but of course, got only the best from his sweet Nicky.