Inside Information by Estee

 

Jake and Hamilton traveled down the narrow stairwell that led them away from the rooftop.  Jake was excited about the suped up internet connection.  The school network was unacceptably slow.  Computers and hacking had been her mental escape for quite awhile, often providing her with the tools to make a physical escape when necessary.

 

As she and Hamilton exited the stairs and entered a Rawley Academy dormitory hallway, she wondered if this latest scheme was actually an escape or a self-inflicted trap.  She glanced at Hamilton.  Her plan had never been to make friends.  She suspected, though, that the way she was beginning to feel about Hamilton wasn’t the kind of thing you could plan, but it was the kind of thing that made you stick around when you felt the inclination to run. 

 

“That was brilliant,” he said then offered her his hand.  Confused at first, she quickly escaped her inner thoughts and forced herself back out into reality.  She gave Hamilton the high five he’d been requesting, but a little more gently than she should have.

 

“You have soft hands,” he observed absently. 

 

It didn’t take him long to realize what he’d said and, when he did, a look of embarrassment spread across his face.  She saw it.  He felt it.

 

He wondered how he could have said that.  As if it weren’t bad enough that he’d told Jake how great he smelled.  That wasn’t the kind of stuff guys were supposed to say to each other.  Maybe next he could comment on how mesmerizing Jake’s green eyes were.  He cut his thoughts short when he realized he actually knew the color of Jake’s eyes.  He searched for words that could explain what he’d said. 

 

He looked so pitiful and confused.  Jake wanted to drag him back into the stairwell and tell him the whole story.  On the one hand, if she was going to tell him, she needed to do it soon.  She knew she had to be sending him signals.  She had let looks linger longer than they should have, much like she’d just let her hand remain against his when she should have pulled it away sooner.  Just like a few minutes ago on the roof when she’d almost kissed him.  She never would have actually done it, but he had to have noticed the way she was looking at him.  It was all clearly confusing the hell out of him and that wasn’t fair.  On the other hand, despite his declaration that he was “like a Swiss vault,” she didn’t really know him.  Maybe he was a narc.  Her instincts told her that ratting her out was probably nowhere on his agenda.  He was looking for a friend.  But, Jacqueline Pratt was never one to trust her instincts.  She needed to be sure. 

 

After a few awkward seconds passed, Jake figured out a way to rescue him from this situation.  She rolled her eyes and started walking off down the hall.

 

“Bite me, Fleming.  You’ve got small hands and sweaty palms.”

 

Hamilton felt a wave of relief wash over him as he turned to catch up with Jake.  He tried to convince himself that he really had only been making fun of Jake instead of whatever was really going on between them

 

They walked together silently as they both searched for something—anything—to say.  Jake considered tossing out some more insults to dilute the attraction that she felt between them, but instead got lost wondering if the attraction was mutual.  Hamilton finally opted for flattery.

 

“Seriously, dude, you’re a genius,” Hamilton told Jake out of nowhere.

 

“Maybe we should test the connection before you inflate my ego anymore,” she returned.

 

He grinned, “I think the connection at my house is even slower than the one on campus so if it does work, don’t be surprised if I’m in your room all the time.”

 

“Now I see why the rooms come with locks.  Helps keep out unwanted dean’s sons,” she said secretly hoping that hacking the satellite feed had worked.

 

“Funny,” Hamilton retorted.

 

“Unlike you,” she joked as they reached her room.

 

Hamilton only offered a sarcastic smile as Jake unlocked the door.  Normally, Hamilton didn’t deal with insults and insolent banter very well.  Jake, though, never seemed serious enough to offend him.  It seemed like a game.  It was like—flirting.  Hamilton froze outside Jake’s door. 

 

“I should go,” he insisted.

 

“Okay,” Jake said trying to sound casual.  She knew the tone and behavior very well.  He was scared and he was about to run away. 

 

“I mean…I don’t have to.”  He didn’t know what he was saying.  He was terrified.  He wanted to stay and hang out with Jake.  He didn’t want to think Jake was flirting with him, but he also liked that Jake might be flirting with him.  He didn’t want to deal with any of this, but on the other hand, he was really curious.

 

“Whatever,” Jake said as she walked further into the room and joined the laptop sitting on her bed.  She ignored his presence, sat down, and started typing. 

 

She was definitely glad that she hadn’t kissed him on the roof.  She wasn’t ready to tell him everything yet, and she wasn’t ready to take the lie to another level.  Besides, she thought, maybe Hamilton really was gay and just figuring it out, although she liked to think that it was her subtle femininity that was really getting to him.  Maybe it wasn’t even about attraction at all.  Maybe spending years in near isolation had just made him really bad at making friends.  She couldn’t help glance up from the computer. 

 

He was still standing there at the door, trying to figure out if he should stay or go.  He felt his curiosity getting the best of him.   

 

“Could you shut the door?” Jake asked nonchalantly, trying to make his getaway a little easier on him.

 

Hamilton stared at Jake.  He had to make a choice.  He stepped into the room and shut the door behind him.  Jake looked back at the computer and tried not to smile.  Hamilton timidly walked over and took a seat on the edge of Jake’s bed.

 

“By the way, it’s working,” she informed him.

 

“Cool,” he said, though his enthusiasm for the computer caper had been overtaken by confusion and curiosity that had nothing to do with an internet connection.

 

“Any requests?”

 

Hamilton thought about this.

 

“Have you ever hacked a porn site?” he asked.

 

Jake laughed, “No.”

 

“Think you could?”

 

She was fairly certain that she could, but also that she had no desire to watch Hamilton check out naked women, if that’s even what he wanted to see.

 

“What are you into?” she asked carefully. 

 

“Naked chicks,” he answered plainly, surprising even himself with the sincerity of the comment.

 

She felt herself blush.  Hamilton noticed, but wasn’t about to let Jake off the hook.

 

“So, can you do it?” he pressed.

 

“Yeah…of course,” she strained.

 

If he needed to prove his hetero-masculinity, she wasn’t going to stop him.  She briefly entertained some other ways in which this could occur, but she wasn’t quite ready to reveal enough about herself to make that a possibility. 

 

He hadn’t actually ever seen any porn beyond the two copies of Playboy and a video that he once found left behind in a dorm room.   It was all now hidden safely in the bottom of his desk drawer at home.  He wasn’t particularly interested in seeing internet porn, but he thought maybe it could be a test.  He was hoping to find himself more attracted to these women than to—Jake. 

 

He was attracted to Jake.  It was a simple matter of fact.  He tried to push the thought away, but it wouldn’t happen.  This hacking venture would prove absolutely nothing because he already knew he was attracted to women, or he always had been anyway.  At this moment, though, he wasn’t attracted to anyone except Jake.

 

“Oh my God,” Hamilton said trying to sound genuine, “I can’t believe you were actually going to do it.  Dude, come on, internet porn’s gross.”

 

“Hey, I was just calling your bluff and taking your challenge,” Jake said with the same false tone.

 

Hamilton laughed, “Just do something worthwhile with this connection.  Get us to a cool game site, man.”

 

She opened the site for her favorite simulation game and handed the laptop over to Hamilton.  They played the game for a little over an hour and Hamilton was actually beginning to forget why he’d been so afraid to come into the room. 

 

He had eventually passed the controls back over to Jake who proved to be much better and got them a lot farther, a lot faster.  Hamilton was impressed and Jake relished in this fact.  It wasn’t often she got to be better than a boy without making him bitter. 

 

When the game over screen finally appeared, Hamilton was lying lazily on his stomach, propping his head up so he could see the screen over Jake’s leg.  Not wanting to discuss the defeat, Jake quickly flipped the laptop closed.

 

“And the invincible Jake finally dies,” Hamilton teased.

 

“Yeah, yeah.  We both saw how far you got.”

 

“No argument here.  You are the man.”

 

Jake looked down at him, a little uncomfortable with the label, but trying to look like she enjoyed it.

 

“Duh.  Everyone knows that I’m…the man.”

 

Hamilton rolled his eyes and sat up on the bed next to her.  Suddenly, he felt incredibly awkward again.  They were too close and he knew it, but he didn’t hate it enough to do anything about it.  After a long moment, he made himself hop up from the bed.  He walked around, pretending to check out Jake’s room, but concentrating on nothing he saw.  He wasn’t ready to accept the realization that was creeping over him.

 

“So, hey, do you…have a girlfriend or anything back in New York?”

 

“Nope.  I’m totally…solo,” she said opening her laptop to avoid making eye contact.

 

“Yeah, me too,” he said taking the chance to look at Jake then quickly adding, “For now, I mean.  I plan on hooking up with someone before the end of the summer.”

 

“Yeah, I’m thinking about it, too,” Jake interjected coolly.

 

“The dean’s son is such a perfect angle to work, too.  Girls love guys in an authority position, you know?”

 

“Oh yeah, I’m sure hall monitors get a lot of ‘play’” Jake laughed.

 

“Ha ha.  I just mean that when girls think you’re going to be really serious and into the rules and stuff, but then you turn out to be a total badass…they dig it.”

 

Jake had to laugh.  Hamilton was no ‘badass.’ 

 

“So I assume you must have hooked up with a lot of babes to have all this inside information,” Jake said as she looked up at him for the first time in the conversation.

 

Hamilton tried hard to make his smile look as smug as possible. 

 

“Yeah, basically,” he lied.  The truth was he’d never had a real girlfriend and he hadn’t kissed anyone since he stopped going to summer camp in 7th grade. 

 

He sat back down on the bed as he told Jake, “Girls love me.”

 

She looked at him.  He was so clueless and full of crap, but she liked that about him.  It gave him a certain innocence that she found appealing.  She also liked that she could see through him so easily.  All the talk about hooking up with girls had meant nothing.  He was just attempting to prolong the inevitable.  She really needed to do something about that.  She bit her bottom lip and turned back to her laptop.  She slowly closed it and looked back up at Hamilton.

 

“Hamilton, if girls do love you, it’s not because you’re a rebel disguised as a hall monitor…or whatever,” she said with a chuckle.

 

He narrowed his eyes, not understanding. 

 

“It’s because you’re a nice guy even though you try so hard to project the bad boy image.  And, it’s because you know nothing about girls, but you think you do,” she explained to him.

 

Normally he would have interjected that he had to know more than Jake, but he remained silent.  He wanted to hear what else Jake had to say.

 

She looked down at her hands and she continued, “And, you’re an individual.  You know it and you shouldn’t be so afraid to say it.  You keep trying to put yourself into the “normal guy” mold, but…you’re different, Hamilton.  You’re different in all the right ways.”

 

Her speech had prevented her from noticing how Hamilton decreased the space between them.  By the time she finished speaking, she barely noticed Hamilton put his lips on hers for a brief kiss.  He pulled back as quickly as he’d let it happen, leaping off the bed and moving toward the door.

 

“Oh my God.  I’m so sorry,” he insisted.

 

“It’s okay.  Just chill out.  We need to talk,” she said trying to calm him down while also trying to ignore the rapid pace at which her own heart was beating.  The kiss sealed the deal.  She wasn’t leaving and Hamilton needed to know everything.  Then.

 

 “God, please don’t tell anyone.  I’m not…I mean, Jake…I’ve never done that before.”

 

“I thought you said you’ve kissed lots of girls,” Jake said fully intending the irony.

 

He stared at her, not at all on the same level.

 

“Yeah, I have…well, actually…” he began to confess as he sat down on the bed, “no, I haven’t.  I haven’t kissed anyone lately, but…I’m not…I mean…I’ve never been…I like girls.  I thought.  I always have.  That’s what I meant.  That I’ve never kissed…I’ve never kissed a guy.”

 

“Well…” she began, “you still haven’t so calm down.  You don’t have to come out to your parents just yet.”

 

“Thanks,” he said.  He was relieved that Jake would keep the secret.  He couldn’t believe this was happening.

 

He wasn’t getting it.  She needed him to know, but she wasn’t ready to just say it. 

 

“Hamilton…” she said as she got up from the bed and stood in front of him, “promise that no matter what happens in the next five minutes, you won’t leave.”

 

He nodded, though he wasn’t sure it was a promise that he could keep.  He’d been considering an escape since before he entered the room over an hour ago.  Yet his attraction to Jake was strong enough to hold him there for at least five minutes.

 

Hamilton watched nervously as Jake pulled off the blue t-shirt she was wearing.  He felt conflicted.  He didn’t want Jake to stop, but he wasn’t quite ready for this.

 

“Remember how I told you I was trying to get my mom to notice me?” she asked casually.

 

He didn’t see how this tied in, but nodded again.

 

“When I assured you that you’ve never kissed a guy I wasn’t trying to say that I won’t tell anyone you’re gay.”

 

He flinched.  Gay.  He wasn’t gay.  Was he?  He had to be; he was attracted to Jake.  But he felt certain that he’d spent the past 15 years of his life legitimately attracted to girls.  He wanted to cry.  He wanted to run away.  He couldn’t move.

 

“I didn’t need to say that because…you’re not gay, Hamilton.  Or, at least, kissing me doesn’t mean that you are.”

 

“What the hell are you talking about?” he asked with frustration.

 

She pulled off her long-sleeved shirt, revealing the corset to him.  She didn’t look at him as she separated the Velcro, revealing her bra and, of course, her breasts.  She took a deep breath and let her eyes meet his.  He was too shocked to get up and get out, though his instincts were pulling him in that direction.

 

“No way,” he whispered.

 

“I’m a girl.”

 

“Obviously.”

 

She was looking at him, but he was now staring at her chest.  He glanced down at her pants.  She laughed.

 

“Don’t worry.  It’s a complete packed.  One hundred percent female.”

 

He finally looked up at her.  She offered him an uncomfortable smile.

 

“I didn’t mean to lie to you.  We just—“

 

“…haven’t known each other that long.  It’s okay,” he said as he stood up, continuing to look her in the eye, “It’s totally okay.”

 

“Seriously?”

 

“It’s a little weird, but…I’m not complaining,” he said just before he leaned in to kiss her.  This time neither his approach nor departure was quick.  They kissed longingly and lovingly as Hamilton was let all the way in on Jake’s secret.

 

The End