Chapter 3: Halloween Party
Bastian stared at his uniform. The party started soon. He was going to the football player’s party, though after he got a personal invite from Aaron, there wasn’t much question about what he’d do. His friends at the frat had given him a hard time but they always did. He’d tried to persuade Kendrick to come with him but for some reason, Kendrick had looked almost upset when Bastian brought up going to Aaron’s party. He wasn’t sure why.
Kendrick had been acting different since they had watched that movie together. When Kendrick had leaned into him, he had wrapped his arm around Kendrick. It was pretty cold, and the blankets were on the other side of the room, so he understood why Kendrick might need the warmth. And though he didn’t like to admit it, it had felt good, too. He’d done similar things with his girlfriends but it always felt awkward. With Kendrick, it felt right. More proof that he was gay, he supposed. He wondered what it would be like with Aaron. For some reason, he just couldn’t imagine it.
He lifted his jersey and wished he had something more fun to wear. Kendrick was dressing up, he knew. Even though Kendrick wasn’t going out, he lived in an apartment complex with a bunch of kids and he liked to give out candy. He was dressing as a pirate, apparently. Maybe Bastian could find time to stop by. It all depended on how the party went. He did want to see Kendrick’s costume, and Kendrick had said he had a present for him, too. Kendrick had wanted him to spend the evening with him, of course, but Bastian couldn’t pass on a chance to hang out with Aaron. Not when he was individually invited.
The party was just getting started as he arrived and before he even grabbed a beer, he searched for Aaron. He saw a red cape in front of him: Aaron. Was he dressed as Superman? Then Aaron turned and his thoughts came to a complete stop. Aaron was shirtless. He was dressed in a red cape and short shorts – or maybe a skirt or loincloth – and his entire torso and legs were on display. He was absolutely ripped. Bastian couldn’t breathe, it was so perfect. What was he? A Roman soldier, maybe, he thought. Yeah, there were laurels on his cape. He hadn’t noticed them before. How could he?
With great difficulty, he looked up and met Aaron’s gaze. Aaron had already been drinking, he could tell, and there was a lustful, playful glint in his eyes. Bastian’s heart stuttered again. Was Aaron actually interested in him? Then a hand pushed him to one side as that blonde girl from the Halloween store slid past him. She was in a maid’s uniform that exposed far too much skin for Bastian’s comfort. Aaron’s gaze followed her. His girlfriend. Of course Aaron wouldn’t look at him that way. Aaron greeted the girl with a passionate kiss and Bastian’s stomach dropped. Someone who kissed a girl like that, with so much obvious enjoyment, couldn’t possibly be gay. He couldn’t possibly have feelings.
One of the other players noticed Bastian and handed him a drink. He gulped it and chatted with them, then grabbed another drink. He didn’t usually get drunk but that was all he wanted right now. Aaron was still with that girl and she was running her hands all over him, claiming him as hers with every light touch. He couldn’t stand it. Aaron hadn’t even greeted him yet. Nearly twenty minutes passed, in fact, before Aaron seemed to noticed him and came over to say hi.
“Thanks for coming, Bastian,” Aaron said with a grin, his arm slung around his girlfriend. “Where’s your friend? I was hoping to see what costume you ended up with.”
For a moment Bastian blanked, then remembered the circumstances he had last met Aaron.
“Oh, she bailed,” he said.
“Too bad,” Aaron said. “Well, see you.”
He and his girlfriend headed into another room and Bastian was stunned. That was it? Aaron didn’t even want to talk to him? Had he only invited him to see a friend’s costume? There had to be more to it than that, didn’t there? He headed towards the drinks and stopped. There was no point in staying here. If Aaron didn’t want to see him, there was no point in any of this. He almost felt as if he was going to burst into tears. Kendrick would understand, he thought suddenly.
Without another word, he took off for Kendrick’s apartment. If he could just get there, everything would be fine. He didn’t know how or why, but he knew Kendrick would somehow know what to say. He always did. He always made Bastian feel good about himself even when Bastian couldn’t see past his own doubts. He was the best friend Bastian had ever had, and he needed him right now.
As Bastian entered the complex, he realized he should have texted Kendrick to let him know he was coming. It was getting dark and as he carefully pulled through the lot to park, he saw that trick-or-treating was in full swing. There were small groups of kids in adorable costumes going from building to building. Apartments participating in the event had special pumpkins on their doors, provided by the apartment complex so that people who wanted to be left alone would be. But most of the complex was participating, he noticed. There were only a few doors without the signs and he felt bad for them, since they would probably be able to hear the trick-or-treating even if they didn’t participate. Bastian parked and took a moment to relax. He loved Halloween and seeing kids out like this was reassuring. It was a reminder of his favorite time of year. That helped ease some of the chaos in his heart.
He got out and considered. He was nominally in a costume, even though he wore it a lot. He would blend in. It would be fun to knock on Kendrick’s door and trick-or-treat. He hadn’t done that in so long, and Kendrick would probably find it funny. Maybe that was a better way to show up than simply running in sobbing that his heart was broken. Yes, he would start with a light-hearted approach and then, once safely inside, he could get to what was really bothering him. He kept thinking of that girl touching Aaron’s body in all the ways he wanted to touch him. Why was Aaron straight? Why couldn’t he like Bastian the way that Bastian liked him? It just wasn’t fair.
He watched a group of kids knock on Kendrick’s door. He stayed far enough away to avoid recognition, though Kendrick was only paying attention to the kids. He was in costume, with a pirate hat and everything. His glasses were the only part of him not in character. He couldn’t hear what they were saying after the initial chorus of “trick or treat,” but he could hear the kids giggling as they added to their bags of candy before returning to the group of parents who waited at the bottom of the steps while the kids went to the doors on the upper floor. There were only two stories. As soon as the kids were away, and when it looked like no groups were approaching yet, he went to the door and knocked. He heard someone on the other side, and as the door opened he grinned.
“Trick or treat,” he said.
Kendrick stared at him in shock, then burst out laughing.
“What are you doing here? I thought you were going to that party tonight.”
Bastian drew in a breath. “I’m done with that for the night. Can I come over?”
“Yes, and I’ll even give you a piece of candy,” Kendrick said playfully. “But just one.”
He held out his bucket of candy and Bastian obediently took a Snickers, his favorite. He unwrapped it and popped the little square of chocolatey goodness into his mouth as he followed Kendrick into the apartment. The pumpkin was near the door now, still prominently displayed. It had been on his desk last time, but he had probably moved it so people could see it from the doorway. Kendrick set his bucket of candy next to the pumpkin and glanced at Bastian.
“So what really happened?”
Bastian froze. Was it really obvious that something had happened? Or did Kendrick just know that he wouldn’t leave a party this quickly unless something had happened?
“Aaron was there,” Bastian said. “With his girlfriend.”
Kendrick was silent for a moment, then put his hand on Bastian’s shoulder.
“I’m sorry,” he said, and Bastian sniffled.
“I was an idiot,” he said, his eyes growing warm. “All this time I somehow thought it was possible, but I was just dreaming. Of course it couldn’t happen.”
Kendrick didn’t say anything, just pulled him to the couch and sat next to him. Tentatively, Kendrick pulled him into a hug. Bastian wrapped his arms around his friend and buried his face into his neck, feeling tears forming. Kendrick stroked his back and murmured a soothing sound, and Bastian shut his eyes and tried to come to terms with the truth. He had known that Aaron was straight. Why had he believed otherwise? Why had he misled himself about something so obvious?
After a long time, he felt steady enough to lean back. His eyes were probably red and his nose was stuffy. He didn’t cry a lot, and he didn’t like it. Kendrick stood and got a box of tissues. He took one and blew his nose, then went to the kitchen to throw it away. He noticed a box on Kendrick’s desk.
“What’s that?” he asked.
Kendrick blushed. “Oh, I got you something. Maybe this isn’t the best time.”
“What did you get me?” he asked, feeling secret delight. He had forgotten that Kendrick had gotten him something and now he was curious. The box was fairly big. Much bigger than he had expected. He had expected some sort of trinket that Kendrick had picked up, but this was something he had sent away for. What was it?
Kendrick smiled hesitantly and grabbed the box. The box had been opened, he noticed.
“I didn’t have time to wrap it or anything. Does the box count as wrapping paper?”
“Yeah,” Bastian said with a laugh. “You don’t have to wrap gifts for me. It’s Halloween, not my birthday.”
He took the box and pulled out a plastic bag with white and black cloth inside. There was something else, too, something fluffy, and something hard but flexible. Puzzled, he turned the bag over and saw the picture of what was inside. His eyes widened. It was a bunny costume. The flexible things he felt must be the ears, which looked like they were attached to a headband. The costume was for a guy, but it was just as cute as the girls’ costume had been. It was a slinky leotard that came halfway up the back and formed a halter top in the front, exposing most of his back, and since there weren’t any boots or shoes, his entire legs would be revealed. He himself would be pretty revealed, he realized as he looked at the picture of the guy. There wasn’t much to the front of the costume and it was pretty tight. He could never wear something like this. In public, at least.
“Try it on,” Kendrick said, seemingly delighted by his response. Bastian looked at him in shock.
“Yeah,” Kendrick said. “That’s why I got it for you. You wanted to wear something like this, didn’t you? It should be your size.”
Kendrick gestured to his bathroom and Bastian went in, clutching the plastic bag with the costume inside. He cautiously undressed, then pulled on the leotard. He felt very exposed, but it was rather thrilling. He wondered if girls felt this erotic thrill when they wore revealing clothes, or if they were used to it. He adjusted the fluffy tail and glanced in the mirror, pleased by the effect. Then he put on the headband with the long ears. Adorable. He stood back and looked at himself. He looked cute. A smile spread across his lips.
Aaron would be horrified by this, he thought, but while that would have been enough to get him to change before, now he found he didn’t care. So what if Aaron didn’t approve? Bastian liked it, and that was enough. He just hoped Kendrick liked it. He opened the door and peeked out. Kendrick was leaning against the wall, waiting for him, and grinned as he poked his head out.
“Those ears are great,” he said. “Do I get to see the rest?”
“Yeah,” Bastian said with a blush. It really was quite tight, and that thrill ran through him again as he stepped into the hallway. Kendrick’s eyes widened and it seemed like he was temporarily speechless. Bastian worried he didn’t approve, but then Kendrick’s grin returned.
“Wow, you look super cute,” he said. “I had no idea you could look that cute. Turn around.”
Bastian circled for him with a laugh, and then there was a knock at the door.
“Want to hand out candy with me?” he asked with a wink.
“I’m not really decent,” Bastian said, gesturing to the tight leotard that showed his thighs and outlined his groin pretty clearly. Kendrick just laughed and told him to wait. He heard the chorus of trick-or-treats and then Kendrick complimenting all of their costumes and playfully teasing them about taking too much candy. He was so good with kids. Bastian had thought that Kendrick didn’t like Halloween, since he didn’t decorate for it, but maybe he did like it and just didn’t go all out like Bastian’s family did. Kendrick was in costume, after all. Had he bought his costume at the same time as Bastian’s? Probably. It was a nice costume, just like Bastian’s was.
Then the door closed and Kendrick set the candy down and gestured for him to come into the main area, out of the hallway. Bastian did, a little shyly.
“That really does look good on you,” Kendrick said. “Can I take a picture?”
“Who are you going to show it to?” Bastian asked suspiciously, though he trusted Kendrick completely.
“No one,” Kendrick said. “Just you and me.”
Bastian smiled hesitantly. “Sure.”