|On the Bus
"Damn." Lance sighed. "I can't. Chris, I can't do this," he called over his shoulder.
Chris didn't move from his spot in front of the tv, tipping back and forth with the movement of his motorcycle on the screen. The sound was on mute, which, for some reason Chris could not explain, made the game harder. "I'm not doing it for you," he said.
"No, Chris, seriously. I can't do this."
Chris glanced over his shoulder, but did not really look over. He hated being on homework patrol. "Sorry, man, you're on your own."
Lance's sigh had the put upon quality of Chris' grandmother when he told her he couldn't come to her birthday party. "You're allowed to help, you know. You can. It's allowed."
"Don't wanna," Chris said, making his motorcycle guy jump a pine tree. Let the whining begin, he thought. Lance would sigh and pout and piss and moan until Chris lost the game, and caved and went over there. It was just a matter of time. He jumped another pine tree.
"Chris. C'mon. Please."
"You have to learn how to do this yourself, Lance," he said without turning around.
"Why?" Lance slammed his hand down on the table. "Why?"
"It's math," Chris said. "It's important."
"Okay, lemme ask you," Lance said, "I mean, really, Chris. You're older, you have life experience. Have you ever, ever, had to solve for Y in your whole adult life?"
"Fuck." Chris watched as his motorcycle guy crashed and burst into digital flames on the screen. "Happy now?" he asked.
"Fine." He stood up and came over to the table, leaning over the book. "What?"
"This." Lance pointed to the page. "I don't, I mean, there are two equations, and X and Y and there aren't any numbers given for either one, so what the heck am I supposed to do with that? Just put numbers in until I get the right answer?"
"Don't you have a fucking algebra teacher?" Chris asked.
Lance shrugged again. "I guess."
"Damn, man. You're never going to graduate."
"Okay, okay." Chris put his hand on Lance's shoulder. "Calm down there, pup. Lemme see." He pulled the book toward him, skimming over the numbers briefly, refamiliarizing himself with the way things worked. "X is 7, Y is 4," he said.
Lance looked up at him, his mouth open. "How do you know that?"
Chris shrugged. "It's just. You know I'm good at math."
"You're Rain Man," Lance said.
"Shut up." Chris rolled his eyes. He'd always been good at math for some inexplicable reason, but he had to admit that the fascinated way Lance was staring at him made him feel, well, proud of it in a way he hadn't been since he was in high school.
"How'd you do it?" Lance asked.
"See, you have to look at the equations together in order to come up with it," he said, pointing.. The numbers danced under the tip of his pencil, moving through the process; division, subtraction, shifting numbers back and forth. "And then you get X, and from there its just plugging in the number."
"Uh huh," Lance said. Chris glanced over and saw that Lance was not looking at the piece of paper, but at him, at his face.
"You have no idea what I just did, do you?" Chris asked.
Lance shook his head. "Nope."
"Is this how you treat your regular algebra guy? 'Cause that would explain a lot about your lack of math skills."
"No." Lance looked down, his face suddenly red. "No, I. He's not as. No."
Chris shook his head. The kid was a mess. "Well, do you want me to show you again, or you just want to try to fake it through the rest of these."
"I can do it," he said.
"Okay." Chris clapped him on the shoulder, and headed back to the video game. He was doing pretty well, having inched into the lead via an unorthodox but apparently unprohibited jump over the pit of fire, when Lance came and sat by him on the floor, a piece of paper in his hand. "What's up? Stuck again?" Chris asked, not taking his eyes off the screen.
"Nah. I'm done. Would you check it for me?"
"Sure, gimme a sec."
Lance settled back against the couch beside him. Chris squinted and blinked at the screen, acutely aware that he must look like an idiot, what with his arms waving all over the place, trying to get the motorcycle to go places that the controller wouldn't make it go. On his next time around the track, he didn't clear the unorthodox jump and ended up dead in the fire pit. "Damn," he said.
"Let's see what you got." He took Lance's paper from him and skimmed it. Lance might suck at math, but his handwriting was precise, beautiful, far from Chris'. It was as if he was trying to make up for his lack of ability with good penmanship. "Hmm. Okay, you see what you did here?" He leaned back against the couch and pointed to one of the equations. "This is basically right except you have to--what are you doing?"
"What?" Lance's eyes were huge and pale in his face.
"That." He looked at Lance's hand curved around his shoulder. "What is that?"
"Um, nothing." Lance's hand was removed.
"Oooookay. Do you want my help on this or what?"
"Yes. I want your help." Lance nodded so fast Chris was afraid his head would bob off.
"Fine. Look at this, right here." He pointed again. Lance looked. A minute later, while he was trying to explain that you can subtract from one side if you subtract from the other, he felt Lance's hand on his shoulder again. It wasn't moving or anything, and Lance seemed to be paying attention to the paper, so Chris ignored it. Then, while Chris was scratching out a makeshift graph on the paper to show why -4 was a completely impossible answer, but that was really just an arithmetic mistake and nothing for Lance to worry about, he felt it move.
Lance's fingers trailed over his shoulder to the edge of his t-shirt, and slipped beneath it. Chris set the pencil down, slowly. Then he lifted his head. "You are so not listening to me, are you?"
Lance shook his head. His fingers didn't stop moving gently over Chris' collarbone.
"You don't give a shit about algebra, do you, Lance?" he asked, his voice almost a whisper.
"Not really," Lance said, smiling a little.
"You are using math to seduce me, aren't you?"
"Is it working?" Lance asked. He was so close now, that Chris couldn't see Lance clearly, only the pale blur of his skin and his green green eyes.
"Maybe," Chris whispered. And maybe the shivers running up and down his spine were from the cold or something, but it wasn't fucking likely. He pushed his face forward, against Lance's cheek, and their mouths met, suddenly. It was just like any other first kiss Chris had ever had, awkward and soft, but it was also hot, the press of Lance's mouth against his, the gentle lap of Lance's tongue against his lips, the slight wet suction. It was way too hot, especially when Lance leaned forward and pushed him back against the couch, holding him there with one hand on his chest. The kiss deepened, became a series of kisses, became Lance kissing his throat, high up under his ear.
"Oh." Chris said. "Oh, damn." He grabbed Lance by the shoulders and pushed him back. "Hold on, there, buckaroo." Lance watched him, face flushed, mouth wet. "Damn," Chris said again.
"What?" Lance asked.
"This isn't your homework," Chris said.
"What?" Lance flinched.
"You jerk!" Chris said. "This isn't your homework."
"Of course it is," Lance said, but his flush had deepened.
"Uh huh." Chris reached out and grabbed the algebra book of the floor, flipping it open to the first page. "Your book, with Justin's name in it."
Lance hung his head. "Okay. It's not my book."
"Yeah, gee, that's a surprise. Tell the truth."
"The truth?" Lance narrowed his eyes.
"The truth, Lance." Chris crossed his arms over his chest. "The whole truth, and nothing but the truth."
Lance sighed. "Fine. Fine. I . . . by the time I joined the band I had finished trig." He looked miserable, embarrassed. His face was ever-evolving shades of red.
"Really? Trig?" Chris asked, impressed in spite of himself.
"Yeah. I took classes at the junior college. I was in the math club."
Chris snorted. "You were in the math club?"
"Yeah." Lance had his own arms folded in front of his chest, now, and he was visibly pouting. "The math club. Happy, now?"
Chris grinned. "Kiss me, math dork."
Lance stared. "What?"
"Well, that's what you did it for, right? To put the moves on me? So, math geek, bring it on. Show me what you got." He held his arms out. Lance eyed him suspiciously for a second, before leaning in and wrapping his arms around Chris' neck.
"Really?" he murmured, into Chris' neck.
"One condition," Chris said. Lance was already kissing him, tiny feather kisses all up and down his throat. Chris tipped his head back, exposing it all to him.
"If I leave Denver, headed west, traveling at 75 miles an hour--"
Lance climbed on top of him.