[Today is the start of NaNoWriMo. Unfortunately, this is not part of the start of NaNoWriMo. I wish I could do NaNoWriMo, but life sucks.]
Day 57—Lenny’s Room
“Why are we going to meet your aunt and uncle?” Nikolas asked, sitting in the passenger’s seat of Leonard’s car. Leonard was driving to Seattle because he wanted Nikolas to meet his aunt and uncle.
“Well, quite honestly, I’ve met your parents, but you haven’t met mine,” Leonard said simply. “But my parents live in Spokane, where it is dry, yellow and unpleasantly dusty. And, it’s about eight hours of solid driving away from here. So, you’re going to meet my aunt and uncle instead.”
He turned right down an alleyway. “Besides,” he added as a grin, “You might as well see what my old room looks like.”
Nikolas frowned. “That doesn’t make any sense, Lenny.”
“Okay, look. My parents used to live in Seattle. Like, I was born here, raised here, went to school for a while here. Then, they decided that Seattle’s super-wet weather was really putting a damper on their lives and they wanted to move to somewhere that was drier and sunnier. So they chose Spokane. No idea why, they just did. But, they didn’t want to sell this house—my mom’s a sentimental freak, you see. And, conveniently enough, my mom’s little sister had just married—we’d just gone to the wedding—and the happy couple was looking for a place to live. So, my mom offered to give them our Seattle house, if they wanted it—but why wouldn’t they want it? It’s got four bedrooms and two and a half baths…” Leonard trailed off and looked at Nikolas. “Do you get it now?”
“Uh, okay, so…your parents gave your old house to your aunt and uncle as an extra wedding gift and then moved to Spokane?”
“But then wouldn’t you have gone with them?”
“Oh, so here’s the weird part—my parents believe in a complete education. They don’t like the idea of uprooting a kid just so they can move. It disrupts their learning process, they believe. So, they told me that I would be finishing off middle school in Seattle and, if I wanted to, I could move in with them over the summer and start high school in Spokane.” Leonard pulled up next to a well-kept house.
“But you didn’t?” Nikolas surmised.
“Nope,” Leonard said blithely. “I finished middle school and went onto high school here. Then ARMOUR kicked off and I haven’t been back until now.” He cut the engine and unbuckled himself, climbing out of the car. Nikolas stayed in the car, processing what Leonard had told him. Leonard knocked on the window, grinning at him. “Are you coming out or what?” he asked, voice muffled by the glass.
Nikolas jumped. “Oh, right. Sorry.” He unbuckled himself and climbed out of the car, Leonard having pulled the door open for him. “You have the weirdest family ever.”
“Says the boy whose entire family is possibly skilled enough to murder the entire Russian mafia.”
Nikolas bopped him on the head as they walked up the path to the front door. “Shut up, my family is not that violent!”
“Says you,” Leonard retorted. He rang the doorbell and waited. Nikolas leaned against the wall, humming tunelessly. In a few seconds, the door opened, revealing a short-haired brunette woman in her late thirties wearing an apron over a sweater dress and skinny jeans.
“Oh! Lenny!” she exclaimed. “If we’d known you’d come over, then I would have made cookies!”
Lenny shrugged. “That’s all right, Aunt Merryl. It was a surprise visit, anyway. I wanted to introduce you to someone.” He hooked an arm around Nikolas’ waist, startling him, and pulled him close.
“My, aren’t you getting awfully touchy feely so early on in this budding relationship?” Nikolas asked, trying to pry himself from Leonard’s embrace.
His Aunt Merryl laughed and pushed her glasses farther up her nose. “I see, I see, come in, come in,” she said, pulling the two of them into the house.
“Let go of me, please,” Nikolas requested, tugging at Leonard’s shirt. “I can walk by myself.”
Leonard let go of his waist, only to take him by the hand.
Nikolas huffed. “Fine,” he acquiesced, tangling his fingers into Leonard’s.
They followed Leonard’s aunt into the kitchen, where a man wearing an old Harvard sweater was sitting, drinking something out of a mug. “Hey Uncle John,” Leonard greeted.
“Hey there, Lenny,” his uncle replied. “Who’s that you’ve got there?”
Nikolas had started shrinking back behind Leonard. Leonard let go of his hand and pulled him close by the waist. “Hey!”
“This is Nikki,” Leonard introduced. Nikolas waved awkwardly.
“Nice to meet you,” he said.
“Hey,” Leonard’s uncle said. “You know that Leonard almost never brings his significant others home with him? He must be really serious about you.” He looked at Nikolas over his glasses. “Yeah. He must be really serious about you. You’re an artist, aren’t you?”
Nikolas stopped trying to get Leonard to let go for a moment. “Wh—how’d you know?” he asked suspiciously.
Leonard’s uncle shrugged in a way that was highly reminiscent of Leonard’s shrugs. “Lucky guess.”
Aunt Merryl laughs. “He’s just being modest. You practically scream ‘art student’.”
Always curious for more information, Nikolas asked, “How so?” Then he resumed trying to pry Leonard’s fingers off on his side.
“Well, for one thing, it’s the black. Black jeans—you have killer legs by the way—the sweater, beat-up paint-y Converse and the way you seem to have multiple piercings. Do you have one in your bellybutton?”
“Killer legs?” Nikolas repeated wryly. “Thank you?”
“I tell you that all the time, and you never believe me because…” Leonard trailed off, playfully insulted.
“You’re an ass, that’s why,” Nikolas snipped. “How’d you know about that piercing?” He directed that question at Leonard’s aunt.
Uncle John answered for her, “Leonard’s hand can’t seem to keep away from it.”
“Well, don’t you have a pair of awfully perceptive guardians?” Nikolas teased, poking him in the face.
“You learn to learn body language if you’re interrogating people all day,” Aunt Merryl said offhandedly.
“I’m a psychologist,” Uncle said as if it explained everything. “D’you want anything to eat?”
“Erm, no thanks,” Nikolas said, holding up a hand.
“Yeah, um, no offense, but I’m really here just because I wanted to show Nikki my old room,” Leonard said, scratching the back of his head.
His Uncle John snorted. “Isn’t that what you do with every person you bring here? Have any of them actually met your real parents?”
Leonard chuffed. “Right, I’m not exactly willing to drive eight hours in the direction of the sun to go visit them. Maybe when I finally get some motivation.” He herded Nikolas out of the kitchen, Nikolas still fighting to extricate himself from Leonard’s restraining arm.
As the young couple moved upstairs, the older pair could hear the decidedly irate voice of the black-haired boy snapping, “Will you please let go of me?”, a slightly muffled thump and a rather pained voice saying, “Ow! I love you, too, Nikki.”
They couldn’t help but laugh.
“Ah, young love,” Uncle John sighed mock-wisfully.
“This is my old room,” Leonard said. He had been reduced to holding Nikolas by the hand—the only thing that Nikolas would tolerate at that very moment—when he hadn’t let go of Nikolas when he’d asked nicely. He turned the doorknob of the powder blue door and pushes in, revealing the contents of the little room.
Nikolas’ eyes grew wide in wonderment. Letting go of Leonard’s hand, he walked in, saying “It’s like the perfect shrine to hormonal teenage boys everywhere.”
The walls were painted a dark forest green. Tacked up everywhere were posters of hot, voluptuous women and bands like Green Day—“Young the Giant?” he asked with a raised eyebrow, plopping down on Leonard’s rickety childhood bed.
“Hey, they’re good,” Leonard said defensively, taking a seat next to Nikolas on the bed. “I went to see them and they were giving out free posters, so I figured that I should take one.” Nikolas shrugged and leaned against Leonard.
“You have good tastes,” he said, rubbing his cheek against Leonard’s shoulder. Leonard’s hand wasted no time slithering in under his shirt. “Whoa, there, boy!” he cautioned when he felt Leonard’s fingers brush across his abdomen.
“Come on,” Leonard coaxed. “You want to make out?” He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.
Nikolas pushed him away. “No,” he said firmly.
Not to be deterred, Leonard lunged and dragged Nikolas by the sweater so that he was lying down on top of him. “Come on,” he coaxed again, rolling them over so that he was on top. “You know you want to.” He slid a hand under the nape of Nikolas’ neck, entangling his fingers in the silky hairs and pulled his head up to meet his halfway.
Nikolas bit him.
“Ow!” Leonard jerked away, hand flying up to his mouth.
“I said no.”