Sparing the Itty-GrittyMature

"Is Dario back yet?" asked Diego, as he moved a computer's mouse around, clicking.

Landers leaned forward so that he could see out of the room, "No, that's just Kayla coming home from soccer practice."

"Hmm," said Diego. "Well, next up there's a test it wants you to take. This one's required. There's another one, for emotional chemistry, and I suggest you do it too. They improve the choices you're looking through, so that you don't have to bother with the ones that aren't on your wavelength, so to speak."

Landers nodded, as Diego got out of the desk chair and let him take control of the computer.

"This looks easy enough," said Landers. "Dunno about this fish theme though."

Diego rolled his eyes. "Don't let it get to you. Plenty Of Fish is well-established. You're not in line for a bunch of weirdos. Trust me."

"Well, you can only speak for the queers," said Landers, as he clicked his way through a few questions without too much need for thought. His answers came instinctively. "And I reckon more gays are drawn to the site, gadar being what it is and all. So, less weirdos overall. But for me, the women... they can encounter straight guys their age easily. So won't this just be everyone that's... desperate?"

Diego smiled. "If you're desperate, it'll suggest to you someone just as desperate. Do the tests and read some profiles before you judge. Ya might even get to go green and date your neighbour."

"Veronica Pike?"

 "She lives next door? Dude, I meant your other neighbour: Emily," said Diego.

"Woah. Man, now she's... she's...sm-..."

Diego raised an eyebrow, accentuating the assymetry provided by his lip piercing, identical to his brother's.

"Out of my league," finished Landers, though Diego could tell his friend had almost said 'smoking hot'.

"Don't be modest, Lan. I've seen the guns you're packing, and you're sweet. A lot of guys aren't. Give yourself credit where credit is due," advised Diego. "The moment you start picking up on Dario's self-deprecating bull, I will end it."

"I'm sorry, man," said Landers. "It's just that I've never, uhh... y'know. I've b-barely even kissed a girl before. It was truth or dare. And, yeah, the school's winter play... if that counts." Then, he paused, face contorting oddly. "Almost made me stutter on stage."

"Never been asked out?" asked Diego.

"I... er... I got an anonymous love letter, through the chocolate gift charity the Celibacy Club was running. Better chocolate than sex, right? Well, I never figured out who wrote it."

"Wasn't me," said Diego.

"Right," said Landers, in a tone which suggested he'd found that insensitive. 

It unnerved Diego, how both his friends and even his own brother were awkward in front of him, when it came to things like that. Things about girls. It was one thing to be respectfully quiet if he walked into the gym change room when they were talking perversely, but... when it came to feelings, he had to wonder, Why shut me out?

Landers, though he was busy answering the test, seemed to pick up on that. He could tell the discomforted look on his friend's face had nothing to do with contemplating whether chocolate really was better than... "Tell me, Diego. Spare the itty-gritty, but... what's this site done for you, exactly?"

"Well, the bigger story is what I had to deal with before that," said Diego. "Remember a month ago when I had that hickey on my neck?"

Landers thought back, to before his friend had come out of the closet. "Dario pretended to be you, and you pretended to be him, so that everyone would assume his girlfriend had done it. The two of you were still dressing the same then. And you weren't even willing to tell him who did it. Of course I remember that! Good times, eh?"

"I suppse it was rather... amusing," said Diego.

"Was it a boy?" asked Landers.

"I thought it was," said Diego.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Nevermind. It's... it's best I leave it at that. I was disappointed. And made a fool of myself. And... that was on top of a really bad crush on Billy Lorne," Diego confessed. "Friggin' 'phobic tease. I just... I got so down. I dragged Dario down with me, and he didn't even know why."

"Billy's a jerk. I'm sorry to hear that you found him... charming?" Landers said with a frown. "Not my first guess, but Cupid's aim surprises the most of us."

"Yeah, I'll say," said Diego. "I... well, I've kinda got something good going right now with this cute guy who lives over on Deerborn Court. That is, when he's not in his dorm."

"Dorm? You're dating a college guy?!" exclaimed Landers. "Wow. Way to go!"

Diego blushed. "He's only a year older. Don't make such a big deal."

"So you met him using this?" said Landers, as he tilted his head toward the computer screen and clicked the button to send in his answers, finishing the test.

Diego nodded. "Seems to be a pretty good catch so far. We have a fair bit in common. More so personality than interests and hobbies. But, hey, I like trying new things. And so does he. Not much of an athlete though."

"Cool," said Landers. "I hope it works out nicely. For both of us."

And for once in some long while, in a seldom moment, Diego felt truly accepted.

Obediently, Landers clicked on the next test as soon as he finished scanning the overwhelming number of options in front of him. The site was kind enough to recommend it to him, just as Diego had.

"So, what's his name? Did we go to school with him last year? I might know him!"

Diego pursed his lips. "I didn't know him. Wasn't on any sports teams."

"Try me," said Landers.

Diego shook his head, "Sorry, closet door and all. Not my call."

"That's all right," said Landers. "I'll figure it out. But first, I have a lot of questions to answer, and then a profile to write. You gonna do some gaming when Dario gets back?"

Diego nodded.

"Good. I'll join in, if I'm not too busy," said Landers. "My reflexes are getting a little rusty."

The End

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