After everything with Tom, I threw myself into the band more. The four of us started practicing more, and we even played a couple shows around town. Hadley was always pestering me to let him join the band, even though he couldn’t play any instruments and was too shy to sign, so in the end I begged John to teach the kid a couple things on guitar, just to try and make him feel involved. Me and John had also tried our hand at lyric writing. The first couple songs we wrote were awful and we tore them up into pieces so the world never had to see how terrible they were, but once we got into it, we started writing some pretty decent stuff. Eventually, after a lot of hard work and bickering, the four of us had all pieced together our first song. And once we were writing and performing our own stuff, it helped us to get a few more shows, with Hadley acting as our manager. And I mean acting in the literal sense. See, a couple places we played at wouldn’t take bands without a manager, and since we were poor high school students, we obviously couldn’t afford a manager. We’d all tried begging our parents but the response had been pretty much the same; Brent’s folks thought it was a waste of time, Adam’s parents didn’t really care, my folks didn’t have the money or experience and John’s folks just thought Summer Downturn was just a hobby for John. I guess it was just a hobby, really, but none of us would’ve minded if we’d gotten a career out of it. So in stepped Hadley, pretending he was over eighteen. I have no idea how we got away with it, his acting really was terrible. Still is, as far as I know.
With the minor success Summer Downturn was having, we persuaded our folks to buy us some beers and let us go camping with a few other friends. John left the alcohol out of it when he told his parents, of course, and the other parents that had been asked to supply alcohol had promised to keep quiet about it. So once we had our beer and a cooler full of ice, we packed everything up into Aaron the Junior’s truck and drove off to find somewhere good for camping. Someone had suggested originally that we sneak into someone famous’ house and camp out there, but none of us fancied going to jail. We found some woods in the end, setting up camp in this little clearing and blasting the likes of Blink-182 and Sum 41 from Brent’s portable stereo. It didn’t take long for us to run out of beer, and we’d only just been supplied with enough to get us drink if we’d shared evenly. Which for the record, we hadn’t. So for those like myself who had been on the losing end, we were left with nothing but a warm, fuzzy feeling.
By the time the evening rolled around, we’d all pretty much sobered up, and were sat around a campfire making s’mores and cooking hot dogs. We all tried spooking each other with ghost stories, and eventually everyone flopped into their tents, tired and still a little tipsy. Well, everyone save for me and John. We were lying on our backs near the dying embers of our campfire, staring up at the stars. I watched John out of the corner of my eye as he gazed up at the sky, the stars reflecting in his eyes. My gaze wandered down from his eyes, washing over his gorgeous lips and down to his neck. He caught me looking when I reached his collar bones, but instead of telling me to stop, he rolled over to his side, pressing his lips to mine softly. I let out this shocked little gasp, almost wondering if I’d fallen asleep and hadn’t realised. No, I couldn’t have. I’d had plenty of sex dreams about John, but I’d never dreamt about kissing him before. I guess a kiss felt too meaningful to me to just dream about them casually like that. I looked up at John, still shocked, and he smiled down at me shyly.
“Uh, John...?” I said, not sure what to make of it. After all, he was probably just drunk, right?
“Smithy, shut up and kiss me” he said, pressing his lips to mine again a little forcefully.
Well you can bet your ass I did as I was told, kissing back with a passion I’d never shown Tom. John rolled back onto his back and pulled me on top of him, his hands ghosting down to my waist. I looked down at him and he smiled up at me, leaning up to press his lips to mine again. Part of me was still in shock. I mean, this was John. John my straight, gorgeous, Catholic best friend. John, who I’d had the hots for, for the better part of three years. Did this mean he felt the same? Or was he just drunk? As much as I would’ve loved to jump his bones while he was willing if he was just drunk, I’d feel like a real asshole.
“Smithy?” John asked, sounding a little worried.
“I’m fine. You sure you’re okay?”
I nodded. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
John shrugged. “You’re kinda quiet, is all”
“Sorry” I smiled, kissing him softly.
“Are you into guys or was it just Tom?” he asked, looking up at the stars.
“I don’t really know. I mean, there is someone else I like, but-”
“Who else do you like?”
“No one you know” Oh, what a lie.
“Oh” John said, not taking his eyes off the sky.
“I just wondered”
“I don’t believe that”
John let out a sigh. “Smithy, just leave it”
“No” I grinned.
John was silent for a while before finally telling me what was up. “I guess I kind of like you or something” he mumbled.
“Are you kidding me?” Well that hadn’t meant to come out.
John sighed again. “Go ahead, make fun of me”
“John, you idiot, I’m not making fun of you”
John shot me a confused look and I all but threw myself at him, my hands in his hair and my tongue in his mouth. He stayed frozen for a few seconds before he started kissing back. Now, what with me already having been introduced to the wonders of sex, I was more than eager to get in his pants and show him what all the fuss was about, but John being a sweet and innocent virgin still, was only happy to make out. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to get just that, but my inner slut was starting to develop. I pulled away eventually, kind of bored of just making out. John looked up at me innocently and I smiled at him, standing up and offering him my hand. I helped him up, keeping our fingers linked together as I led him a little further into the woods. Not far from where we’d set up camp was a small lake. John watched cautiously as I stripped off, running into the freezing water.
“You’re crazy, Smithy” John laughed as I splashed about in the water.
“Yep” I grinned. “Get in here!”
John laughed, shaking his head but getting undressed anyway. He headed cautiously into the water, goose bumps dancing across his bare arms as he slowly made his way into the deeper water that I was in.
“Isn’t skinny dipping something you only do at night if it’s in a heated pool?” he said, shivering.
“Probably, but how else was I going to get you naked?” I grinned, kissing him when he tutted at me.
“You could always have tried asking”
“Would it have gotten you naked?”
“That’s not the point”
I laughed, splashing him and swimming off. Every time John swam after me I’d smirk at him and swim off again. If I’m honest, I didn’t really want to stop swimming because it was keeping me warm. We stayed out there for a while, stealing kisses every now and then, until the cold got the better of us. We grabbed our clothes and ran back to our tent, grabbing whatever we could to dry ourselves off before getting back into our clothes, which were easily as cold as us. We both got into our sleeping bags but ditched the idea when we realised it wouldn’t help us warm up. John bundled himself into my sleeping bag, wrapping his arms around my waist and buying his nose in the crook of my neck.
“Fuck off” I muttered, shivering.
Evil bastard just laughed, burying his nose in my neck even more. He loosened his grip once the both of us had warmed up, his eyes shut. I kissed his cheek, earning myself a sleepy smile.