After stopping by the frozen yogurt shop, the three of them ate their desserts while wandering around the town. The nice weather was a refreshing change from the chilliness of Pennsylvania, and Cyrus was loving not having to worry about a coat everywhere he went.
“So what do you want to do now?” Cyrus asked, for he was fine with anything.
Hayden and Will shared a conspiratorial glance. “Laser tag?” Hayden asked.
“Laser tag,” Will agreed with a grin.
Cyrus shrugged, “Okay. How’d you guys get here?”
“My parents dropped us off,” Will answered.
“You know where the laser tag place is?” Cyrus asked. “I’ll call my driver to take us.”
“You have a driver?” Will asked, his eyes widening.
Cyrus shifted a bit, flushing. “Yeah. I never got the chance to get my license.”
“Is he cool, your driver? Does he have an English accent?” Will asked, his eyes brightening in excitement. “Is he, like, the Alfred to your Batman?”
“Wait, who are you calling Batman?” Hayden butted in. “Let’s be honest, I would be Batman. Cyrus would be Robin.”
Cyrus glared at him. “That is so not true.”
Hayden gave him a mock patronizing smile. “Uh, huh.”
“Uh, he's my driver, not yours.”
“So, what does that make me, then?” Will chimed in.
“Commissioner Gordon, who always comes to me for help,” Hayden joked.
“Hey!” Will objected, shoving Hayden in the arm.
Hayden laughed. “Okay, fine. If you really want to be that random extra who gets blown up-“
“Let’s be honest, here,” Cyrus interrupted, “Will would obviously be Lucius Fox who makes all Batman’s cool stuff.”
Will thought about that for a second, then jerked his thumb towards Cyrus. “I like him. Better than you, anyway,” he told Hayden, throwing a glare his direction.
Hayden stopped walking, pretending to be offended as they continued. “Hey!”
Cyrus was grinning as he dug the cell phone he had purchased that morning out of his pocket. In his rush, he’d forgotten to pick his up before leaving school, and it seemed like a good thing to have in the meantime. As he made the call to Mr. Hill, Hayden and Will continued to bicker good-naturedly, arguing over whether or not Lucius Fox was actually cooler than Batman, for where, Will argued, would Batman be without his Batmobile? Or his suit? Or his fun toys? Cyrus watched them, thinking about how sad it was that they got to spend so little time together each year. He wished it could be different.
Will claimed the front seat as soon as the car pulled up. Cyrus headed for the back when Hayden grabbed his arm, holding him up for a moment. “You know, I always kind of thought Robin and Batman had a thing.”
“Is that so,” Cyrus said, a smile tugging a his lips.
“Yeah,” Hayden commented, looking thoughtful. “It was probably the tights.” He raised a brow at Cyrus before slipping into the car.
Cyrus blushed bright red, then followed. Will was already chattering away to Mr. Hill, asking him questions about his life and possible secret identity as a butler. Mr. Hill seemed charmed by Will, and played along while asking polite questions of his own. Cyrus and Hayden listened to them from the backseat, amused.
Hayden leaned over and whispered, “He likes talking to strangers too much for his own good.”
Cyrus shrugged. “At least he makes friends easily.”
Hayden just glanced at his brother and smiled.
Laser tag was fun. It was dark, there were plenty of places to hide, and it wasn’t Cyrus and Hayden’s fault that a little hidden section of the arena looked perfect for making out. After all, they weren’t about to let that Batman and Robin comment go unexplored. It also sure wasn’t their fault that their team lost without them. Will and the strangers on their team might have minded, but Cyrus and Hayden didn’t seem to care one bit. Cheeks flushed, they emerged from the darkened arena holding hands. Will took one look at them and rolled his eyes. “Really, guys?”
“Sorry,” Cyrus apologized.
“We thought you had us covered,” Hayden said. “What’d you go and lose for? We were counting on you,” he joked.
Will gave him an exasperated look. “Jerk.”
By the time they managed to sneak Will into an R rated scary movie and then grab some dinner, it was already dark. As they waited for Mr. Hill, Hayden said, “It’s getting kind of late. I guess Will and I should head home.”
Cyrus didn’t argue. He knew that they had rules, and he wasn’t about to get in the way of that. “Alright.”
Hayden studied him, looking a little worried that he might react differently. Cyrus shot him an encouraging smile as the car pulled up and Will climbed in first again. The ride to Will’s house was quiet, but Cyrus paid close attention, just in case he ever needed to know how to get there. When they arrived, Will got out, waving to Cyrus, “Bye, Cyrus. Thanks for everything; I’m sure I’ll be seeing you around.”
“Of course,” Cyrus replied. “See you, Will.”
Will stepped away, giving them a polite amount of space. Cyrus and Hayden stood at the side of the car for a moment before Hayden finally spoke. “Sorry that I have to go.”
“It’s alright,” Cyrus said, and he meant it. “I understand. You don’t get to see your brother often; you should spend as much time as you can with him.”
“Hopefully that’ll change after we graduate,” Hayden commented offhand.
Cyrus’s stomach sank. That was only in a few months. What would happen then? “Yeah,” he said. After a beat, Cyrus added, forcing his tone to be bright, “Well, goodnight. Pick you up tomorrow?”
“Definitely,” Hayden said. “Nine o’clock too early?”
“Nothing is too early.”
“Great,” Hayden said, leaning forward for a kiss that Cyrus returned. “See you tomorrow, okay?”
“Okay,” Cyrus said. “Bye,” he whispered as Hayden walked away.
It was nearing noon on Monday when Hayden suggested they grab sandwiches from a little deli and eat them in the park as an impromptu sort of picnic. The sun was out and shining, and it was a beautiful day. Cyrus didn’t even think to disagree.
Paper bag of food in their hands, they found a low stone wall that overlooked the lush green field of the park. Some kids were out playing with dogs, tossing balls for them to fetch, and it was cute to watch. Cyrus settled on the wall and pulled out the two sandwiches, handing one to Hayden.
“What a gorgeous day,” Cyrus commented.
Hayden looked over at him, a playful look in his eyes. “Yeah,” he said, grinning as if he was seeing something that Cyrus wasn’t. Cyrus supposed that went both ways, because Hayden was looking pretty damn perfect with the sunlight dancing over his high cheekbones and making his winter-paled skin look tan again. It was a struggle to look away. “I’m really glad you’re here, Cy.”
“So am I,” Cyrus replied. “This turned from the worst spring break to the best just like that,” he said, snapping his fingers.
“We should’ve done this sooner,” Hayden commented, and Cyrus knew he was talking about them being together.
“Yeah, well, I thought you were straight.”
“I thought you were too,” Hayden pointed out.
“So did I,” Cyrus laughed. “Pretty glad I’m not, though.”
For a little while, they just ate and watched the children play. Squinting up at the sun, Cyrus was beginning to think that spring was his favorite season of them all. There was something fresh about it that seemed so appropriate for him right now. Everything was bright and shiny and new, and it felt like everything he was experiencing was now cast in a different light. He wanted to re-envision his entire world through the lens of what he was feeling at that very second.
“What are you thinking about?” Hayden asked after a while. “You have that look.”
Cyrus shrugged. “Just how I haven’t been this happy in such a long time.” He looked down, hiding a smile. “I can’t believe I tried not to be friends with you.”
Hayden laughed. “Yeah, that worked out real well, didn’t it?”
“I underestimated how annoyingly stubborn you could be,” Cyrus said.
“Of all my fine qualities, never underestimate my stubbornness or ability to annoy,” Hayden advised through the food in his mouth. “That feels like so long ago. I mean, it feels like I’ve known you forever.”
“I honestly don’t know what I did with my time before I met you. What did I do on Friday nights if I didn’t watch movies?”
“Probably something boring,” Hayden said, snorting. “Like studying.”
“Probably something productive like studying,” Cyrus corrected. He muttered, “Lot of good it did me for Princeton.”
Hayden shifted to better face him. “Oh, I forgot to ask how the interview went! I’m sorry. Was it good? What did they ask?”
“It was alright, I think. I was too nervous to remember most of it,” Cyrus admitted. “They did ask me what my favorite movie was, though.”
“Really?” Hayden perked up. “What’d you say?”
“Pearl Harbor,” Cyrus replied. “And I was able to come up with an explanation about how it humanized the war and some other good sounding stuff like that. So I guess you’re good for something,” he admitted, for Hayden had, of course, been the one to make him watch it.
“If you get in, it’s now officially due in part to me,” Hayden said.
Hayden didn’t know that Cyrus was now praying that he didn’t get in. If he wasn’t accepted, then there was nothing to stop him from going to college in North Carolina, and his mother couldn’t do anything to change that. Cyrus brushed it off. “Yeah, I’m just glad I didn’t run into Clay until afterwards. That would’ve messed me up pretty bad. Then, it would’ve been your fault for me not getting into Princeton.”
“Ha, yeah.” Hayden’s brows pulled together in a cute concerned face. “He wasn’t an ass about it, was he?”
“Of course he was,” Cyrus replied. “He blamed you for making him gay and other crap like that, then got mad when I defended you.”
“You defended me?”
Cyrus looked at him like he was crazy. “Uh, yeah. Why wouldn’t I?”
Hayden looked surprised. “You really weren’t mad at me at all?”
“No,” Cyrus assured him. “Who you like and who you tell about it is none of my business. I just don’t think it’s fair that Clay should get to condemn you for it.”
Cyrus thought that sort of went without saying, but Hayden just stared at him for a minute before his lips crept into a slow smile. “You’re awesome, you know that?”
Grinning, he replied, “You’re pretty damn awesome yourself.”
Leaning forward, Hayden said, “Then we make a pretty good pair, don’t we?”
Whatever Cyrus might have replied to that was soon smothered by a kiss. They pulled apart when they heard a young woman sigh, “Aww,” from the nearby path on which she was walking her dog. Cyrus looked down, blushing, and Hayden was composed enough to wave. As the woman waved back with a smile, an old couple walked past, scowling at them.
“Unnatural,” the woman muttered. She pulled her husband down the path so that Cyrus and Hayden were out of their line of sight.
Cyrus’s cheeks colored further. He may have been knew to that sort of discrimination, but Cyrus couldn't understand how anyone would consider that an okay thing to say. He scowled at the couple's retreating forms.
“Hey,” Hayden said, draping an arm around Cyrus's waist. “There are people like that, but you’ve just got to ignore them. They’ve got it so ingrained in them that they’ll never change.”
“Doesn't it bother you, though?”
Hayden squeezed Cyrus’s arm. “I’m of the opinion that it’s worth it.”
Cyrus smiled at that, and remembered what he’d been meaning to ask Hayden. “You’re coming back to Sharpe's now, aren't you?”
“Are you kidding?” Hayden responded with a lopsided grin. “After this development? Hell yeah, I’m coming back.”
Cyrus was pretty sure he didn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day