“Are you sure you want to do this?”
Quinn wasn’t sure about many things. No matter how smart he was, he always felt it just wasn’t enough to give him the certainty he was looking for. In fact, he spent most of his days desperately searching for whatever knowledge it was that would make him sure of anything. Today was no different. He sat on Kai’s narrow twin bed and he could say with absolute certainty that he wasn’t sure he wanted to do this.
“Yeah, I’m totally sure,” he told him, smile tight. “We need to know, right?”
Kai shifted his weight, leaning away from Quinn, violet eyes much less sure than they’d been just a minute before. “What if this messes things up between us?”
“Dude, it won’t mess anything up. We have to know. You’re into Rhys and I’m into Tristin and they are the worst people ever, right?” Quinn prompted.
That got a smile from Kai. “Yeah, totally. They’re the worst.”
“So, if you like boys, maybe I like boys, too. If I like boys, then we could be boyfriends and you could stop being in love with Rhys because he’s a total”—he dropped his voice to a whisper—“asshole.” He flushed, holding his breath, hoping an adult didn’t come crashing through the door at his use of the curse word. Werewolves heard everything. When it didn’t happen, he sagged with relief. “And maybe I could stop being in love with a girl who hates me.”
Kai tilted his head, giving him an appraising look. “Do you think you like boys?”
Quinn squirmed, feeling like Kai was trying to stare into his soul. Quinn shrugged. “I don’t know. I love you but I don’t know if I could be in love with you. But if I do like boys, too, then I would rather fall in love with you and definitely will fall in love with you because I already love you.” That had made more sense in his head. Kai bit his bottom lip, trying not to laugh at Quinn’s nervous babbling.
Quinn flushed, cheeks red, as he decided being twelve was the worst thing ever. Puberty was turning him into a walking disaster. He was getting acne and hair in weird places and, sometimes, his voice went crazy weird without his permission. His limbs felt too long for his body and he seemed to trip over his own huge feet all the time. Plus, he had all these feelings about Tristin that made his body do the most embarrassing things any time he thought about her. He couldn’t wait to be older. Being a teenager had to be better than this. Anything had to be better than this.
“So, how do we do this?” Kai asked, swaying into his space just a bit.
Quinn’s heart skipped frantically. He was glad Kai wasn’t a werewolf because then he’d know how strangely nervous he suddenly felt. It was just Kai. They had taken baths together and slept in the same bed even when the other bed was available. They’d cried in front of each other and Kai once threw up in Quinn’s backpack when he’d had the stomach flu during a really gross presentation on the respiratory system in health science. They were ride or die. He could totally do this. He wanted to do this. He would much rather be in love with Kai than Tristin.
Kai frowned, and Quinn wondered what expression his face was making without his permission. “If you don’t want to do this—” Kai said, eyes darting to Quinn’s mouth before he looked away, starting to move back.
Quinn didn’t think, just grabbed Kai’s neck and yanked him forward, mashing their lips together. Kai’s pulse went wild beneath his fingertips and Quinn froze. He had no idea what to do now. He hadn’t thought past smacking his lips against Kai’s. Kai didn’t move either, not even a muscle. Quinn flexed his lips slightly. It didn’t feel bad, just strange, Kai’s lips cool and slightly chapped against his own.
They stared at each other from much too close, Kai’s eyes wide and breath puffing through his nose. Quinn wondered which of them looked more freaked out. He knew Kai was trying to make sure he didn’t feel pressured. Something about that made him act. He softened his mouth, eyes sliding closed, hoping Kai did the same. All the tension drained from Kai but neither of them really knew what to do. They’d never kissed anybody before. Quinn tried to shut his brain off but fought his nature inclination to catalogue Kai’s reactions.
“Stop thinking,” Kai whispered against his mouth.
How did somebody do that? Stop thinking? Did Kai not know him at all? How else was he supposed to know what he liked—what Kai liked—if he didn’t take inventory of how his body was responding to the kiss? How else would he know if he liked it all? Wasn’t that the whole point? He pulled back enough to look at Kai. He hated the freaked out look on his friend’s face, as if he thought they’d made a mistake.
This wasn’t a mistake. It could only make things better. He needed to fix this, to do something different. He thought of how they kissed in the movies. He could do that. He could imitate what he saw ...if he could just calm down. If his heart beat any faster, he’d pass out. He took a deep breath in through his mouth and out through his nose. He could do this. He could make this good.
This time when he leaned forward, he dragged his lips across Kai’s, hoping for some reaction. Kai gave a shuddering sigh. Quinn’s body responded, stomach fluttered. He tried it again, opening his mouth this time, liking the way Kai’s bottom lip fit between his own.
After that, Quinn did stop thinking. Kai’s hand slid upwards, blunt nails scratching against his scalp as he tugged slightly at Quinn’s too long hair. It felt good, really good. He kept his eyes closed, concentrating on the way it felt, on the way Kai smelled like that soap with the baby on the front and how warm his skin felt. He could hear his own ragged breath and would have been embarrassed if Kai wasn’t practically panting, too.
It was ...nice. It felt good to be close to somebody, to feel like somebody wanted to be close to him. Especially this close. He couldn’t remember the last time somebody touched him because they wanted to.
Without his brain’s permission, his tongue pressed against Kai’s bottom lip, testing the feeling. Kai made a sort of startled, happy sound that went straight through Quinn. Kai’s lips parted beneath his, relenting easily, letting Quinn control everything.
No wonder people liked kissing. It was pretty amazing. He swallowed hard, suddenly not sure what to do with his other hand. He lifted it, only to press it back down into Kai’s beat up Star Wars comforter. Did people just kiss? Like, what came after? Did he want what came after? The thought made his stomach sour a little. He didn’t know what he wanted or what he was supposed to do next.
So, they just kissed, each kiss lasting longer, pressing deeper, lips meeting and parting and meeting again. Kissing was like a drug. Each time their mouths met, it was harder to pull away until Quinn wasn’t sure he wanted to pull back or press closer. Kai leaned into him, and Quinn relented, letting Kai push him back against the mattress.
The door opened. “Kai, Isa said—” They jumped apart guiltily, sitting up as Tristin’s voice cut off. They steadfastly refused to look at each other.
She stared at the two of them, mouth gaping, sucking in air like a fish on land. He watched with a sick fascination as Tristin’s slack mouth twisted, eyes narrowing in a way that had his brain screaming run ...but it was too late. She lunged at him. Quinn had just enough time to register the weapon in her hand before a pain like fire ignited in his thigh, sparking a trail of searing pain along the left side of his body. He gasped. “Tristin—”
“No. Just no,” was her only response as she stormed out the door, slamming it with enough force to rattle the glass panes of the window. Quinn stared at the blood seeping from around the knife embedded in his flesh, grin splitting his face.
Kai’s eyes widened. “Quinn? Are you okay? Dude, are you going into shock or something?”
“No. I don’t think so,” Quinn told him after thinking about it for a minute. “So, are you still in love with Rhys?” he asked cautiously, as if there wasn’t a knife sticking out of his leg.
Kai grimaced at the wolf’s name. “I think so. Not that that wasn’t awesome,” Kai told him, flushing from his neck to his hairline. “You can’t possibly still be into my sister. Not now.”
Quinn snorted a laugh, staring down at the knife handle with the intricate Celtic knot detail. He’d bought Tristin that knife set for her birthday. It seemed strangely poetic that she’d had that knife in her hand. “Are you kidding me? She stabbed me in the leg.”
“I know,” Kai said, still sounding horrified. “I’m so sorry. She’s a psychopath.”
“Are you kidding? This is awesome,” Quinn said, gesturing emphatically to his leg. “She was totally jealous.”
“Your sister was so jealous of our kiss that she stabbed me in the leg.” Quinn laughed like a lunatic. “Do you get how amazing this is?”
Kai’s forehead wrinkled as he shook his head. “You two deserve each other.”
“Exactly,” Quinn told him.
“Should I ...” Kai made a gesture like he was pulling the knife from his leg.
“No. I think maybe you should get Wren or Isa. They might need to take me to a real hospital.”
The door opened and Tristin peeked inside, eyes wet and looking a little shook up. “Are you okay?” she asked, chewing on her bottom lip as she stared at Quinn’s leg.
Kai stared at his sister like he was assessing whether she was gearing up for another attack. “No, he’s not okay, you lunatic. You stabbed him in the leg. Go get Wren and Isa.”
“Quinn ...” she whispered. “I’m so sorry.”
Quinn’s heart flipped in his chest. “It’s alright ...Dagger.”
Her expression went from cloudy to pure thunderstorm as she clenched her jaw and narrowed her eyes at him. “What?”
“Dagger. That’s your new nickname.”
Tristin made a sound like a pterodactyl, arms flapping in outrage before she stormed from the room.
“Well, that went well,” Kai said.
“Do you think she went to get Wren and Isa?”
“No, dude. I’m pretty sure we’re on our own.”
Quinn flopped back on the mattress. Kai did the same. Quinn looked at his friend. “For what it’s worth, we would have been the coolest couple ever. We could’ve played video games all day and I’d totally let you hog the covers. Also, I’d let you have all the black jelly beans because I know they’re your favorite.”
“Yeah, and I’d never tell you you’re an idiot or ignore you. I’d always make you cookies on your birthday. Oh, and I would never stab you in the leg.”
Quinn laughed. “We would totally be that couple people hated.”
Kai grinned. “We kinda already are.”