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This is a pseudo-chapter of the webcomic Best Friends Forever.

Chapter 24




NEW JERSEY, 3 DAYS LATER

(CHRISTMAS EVE)














LOUIS

"I'm sorry I pushed you or whatever."

TEDDY

"It's alright. I understand."

LOUIS

"And look, about Vincent and I--"

TEDDY

"I'm pretty used to Vincent's little flings
by now, Louis."

TEDDY

"You aren't the first of my friends to become one of Vincent's conquests, and you probably
won't be the last."


KAMRI

"No, I don’t want to talk."

KAMRI

"Now that I know Vincent's okay, I'm taking the first flight to San Juan to be with my
family for the holidays.

BTW - I told everybody I was Vincent's beard this whole time, which is also what you fuckers will say if anybody asks."




TEDDY

"Vincent..?"

VINCENT

"They said...they said I can't play football anymore... I can’t go to college..."

TEDDY

"Oh, Vincent..."
















JOHN

"FUCK! God damn it!! Why were you
being so quiet?!"

LOUIS

"I'm taking a bath John, am I supposed to be splashing around in here?"

JOHN

"Ugh-- Sorry, sorry. Gimme a second. Fucking shared bathroom..."

John zips up and goes to wash his hands.



LOUIS

"No, please, take your time."

JOHN

"It's not my fault - you're never fucking here for the holidays, having you around right now is weird."


LOUIS

"You wanna know what's really weird? How much you aren't yelling at me about everything that's happened..."

JOHN

"You do whatever you want no matter how much I yell, so what's the point?"

Louis is taken aback by this weirdly level-headed observation for a second.

LOUIS

"Wow, I guess Kamri isn’t the only one who's done with my bullshit."

JOHN

"You still haven't heard from her?"

LOUIS

"No. But her beach instagrams sure look nice."

Louis puts his phone down, and leans over the side of the tub nearest to John.

LOUIS

"Anyway, I'm sorry for crashing the Kingsley family Christmas."

LOUIS

"I just realized the best way I could punish my dad for not showing up to our ski trip would be to ditch him back."

JOHN

"Oh, so it has nothing to do with a certain buff baby recuperating down the road?"

Louis narrows his eyes.


LOUIS

"No."

JOHN

"I'm still fucking surprised you let Teddy take Fawkes home with him. As soon as you said you changed your mind about coming back to Jersey, I thought we were gonna have a big whiny houseguest for Christmas."

LOUIS

"John, I told you, Vincent and I aren't like dating. He's not my boyfriend."

JOHN

"Do you want him to be?"

LOUIS

"No!"

JOHN

"Okay, okay, jesus. Settle down. My bad for thinking you'd date anyone who wasn't pushing 30 and a drug addict."

LOUIS

"Woooow, thanks so much for your blessing, John."

JOHN

"Have you even talked to him since the accident?"

LOUIS

"Why should I?"

JOHN

"Whatever, don't. I just thought you'd want to find out what happened with Vincent and Teddy now that he knows. Andre sure does - he won't stop texting me about it."

With that, John exits their bathroom, leaving Louis looking at his phone.




VINCENT

"Hey Louis..."

LOUIS

"Wow, what the fuck? You sound awful."

VINCENT

"I feel awful."

LOUIS

"Your leg, or...?"

VINCENT

"Everything. My whole body."

LOUIS

"Christ, Vincent, you gonna survive?"

VINCENT

"Yeah, Teddy's family has been taking good care of me... I think... I've mostly been sleeping..."

LOUIS

"So you and Teddy haven't like... talked about anything?"

VINCENT

"I haven't even have the energy to think about that..."

LOUIS

"Yeah, of course, sorry."

VINCENT

"No, it's fine. I know I kind of shut down at the hospital, but... I'm glad you told me he found out. I can like, mentally prepare now, or something..."

LOUIS

"Yeah..."

It's quiet for a second.


VINCENT

"Hey, uh... I miss you..."

LOUIS

"Vincent, don't."

VINCENT

"...Sorry."

LOUIS

"Look, it's good to rest but try not to stay in bed forever. Watch a movie with Teddy or something, okay? Take a bath, that's what I'm doing."

VINCENT

"Yeah, I probably should..."

LOUIS

"Call me when your dick is feeling up to get sucked, alright?"

VINCENT

"Ha, okay... thanks, Louis."

As soon as they hang up, Vincent hears the door to his room open.

TEDDY

"Vincent?"

VINCENT

"Teddy..."

TEDDY

"Sorry, I heard your voice so I just thought I'd check up on you..."

VINCENT

"Oh, yeah, uh, Louis called me..."

TEDDY

"Oh."

Vincent can see something cross Teddy's face, but it's too quick to really catch.

They are both mutually, painfully aware that there's something they aren't talking about.

Teddy sits on the bed quietly.

TEDDY

"You know, if you want Louis to...come over, or anything, you can..."

VINCENT

"Oh, no, I really just want to um... rest, for now... I'm so exhausted."

Too late after his instinctive evasion, Vincent wonders if he should've taken that opportunity to talk about... Louis... but Teddy is already following through.

TEDDY

"Do you need me to go and let you sleep?"

VINCENT

"No, stay - I've been here for what... 2 days...?"

TEDDY

"3..."

VINCENT

"Holy shit, 3 days and I feel like I haven't
even seen you."

TEDDY

"...It's Christmas Eve."

VINCENT

"Did you get me a tree? You didn't have to do that..."

TEDDY

"Do you like it?"

Vincent smiles in a way that means he does. Teddy briefly smiles back before his face falls to looking apologetic. He puts his hand on Vincent's cast.

TEDDY

"I'm sorry again... for everything..."

VINCENT

"Teddy, stop apologizing...
it was my stupid decision..."

They both wonder whether the other is talking about the ski accident or something else. Teddy moves his hand away from Vincent's leg. He smiles again, trying to rally.

TEDDY

"Is there anything you want right now?
Are you hungry?"

VINCENT

"No, not really... I do feel kind of gross though..."

TEDDY

"Gross?"

VINCENT

"Like uh... I stink. I think I want to take a shower."

Teddy laughs, and goes to stand near Vincent's wheelchair.

TEDDY

"Here, I'll show you how to work the water controls."

Teddy helps Vincent into a wheelchair, and rolls him into the bathroom. The bathroom is outfitted with railings, a shower seat, and other accommodations that Teddy explains were originally for a cousin of his who sometimes visits.

Vincent and Teddy maneuver near to the shower seat, and Vincent boggles at the task ahead. Using the high-tech showers in Teddy's house was enough of a challenge before he broke his leg. Teddy notices Vincent hesitating.

TEDDY

"Do you want me to stay and help you?"

VINCENT

"Really?"

TEDDY

"Oh, I mean, if you're not comfortable I can
fetch the nurse..."

VINCENT

"What?"

TEDDY

"Oh, we hired a live-in nurse for you.
Let me go get him-"

VINCENT

"No, uh-- I’d rather you do it, if you're...
okay with it..."

TEDDY

"...Of course I am. You can start getting undressed, let me get the cast protector."

By the time Teddy's grabbed the plastic sleeve that protects Vincent's leg from water, Vincent has already shed his shirt and struggling to get his shorts off.

Neither sure what to do, Teddy stands watching for a few moments before they clumsily speak over each other; Teddy cautiously offering to help, and Vincent asking if he would.

They both laugh nervously, and Teddy draws closer.

Unsure where is appropriate to look as he slides his best friend's shorts down, Teddy's eyes meet Vincent’s, and they laugh again.

VINCENT

"Nothing you haven't seen before, right?"

Vincent tries to smile jokingly, casually - hoping this doesn't seem like a come-on or something. He genuinely could not figure out how to get his pants off on his own.

When Teddy pulls away as fast possible after finally slipping the shorts over and off of the sheathed leg, Vincent feels a familiar twinge of a pain in his chest - and he's holding his breath again when Teddy's small hands linger on his thigh as he positions the cast protector a moment later.




Resisting the urge to bolt from the bathroom, Teddy stays as promised in case Vincent needs more help. He sits on a seat behind the shower wall, where Vincent can't see him.

Vincent wonders if he's being courteous, hiding... or some mix of the two. He tries to
make small talk.

VINCENT

"Was everyone pretty pissed that the trip got cut short because of me?"

TEDDY

"No, I think most of them were glad to be getting back home for Christmas with their families. I think between your leg and my cold we may not be invited back next year, though..."

The sounds of the water hitting the floor and walls over Teddy's already delicate voice make him sound far away. Vincent listens to rhythmic pattering for a while, making no effort to actually clean himself.

Teddy is so quiet that Vincent wonders if he's still in the room.


He peeks around the corner - he is.

When Vincent woke up at the hospital, he worried if Teddy wouldn't come.

He did.

The morning after he almost kissed him by the pool, he wondered if Teddy would still be there with him.

He was.

A thousand times between then and now, Vincent dreaded the moment that Teddy would figure him out and leave. And there he was, definitely knowing everything - perhaps even having known for a while - and still sitting a few feet away.

VINCENT

"Hey... did you have any questions about..."

Vincent trails off. The water seems deafening. Did Teddy even hear him?

TEDDY

"Oh?"

He heard.

VINCENT

"About... well, Louis told me that you
heard about the whole..."

His sentence dissipates again, and Teddy is quiet for a long time. Although it made Vincent bold, not being able to see Teddy's face right now is frightening in it's own way.

He still hasn't said anything specific. He can just pretend he never --



He can't read Teddy’s tone.

VINCENT

"Oh, well, uh... anything you want to know..."

It's quiet again, except for the sound of the shower.

TEDDY

"You shouldn't have to think about that right now, Vincent. You don't need the stress..."

VINCENT

"I mean, I'm gonna think about it either way, so... we should talk about it."

Vincent's hands finally find the shampoo bottle, nervously aching for something to do. He thinks about all the water he's wasted just sitting here, adding it to the enormous mental pile of expenses he's managed to wrack up since the accident. The familiar guilt of costing Teddy's family thousands of dollars halfway manages to distract his brain from the utter agony of waiting for Teddy to gather his thoughts and ask--

TEDDY

"So you and Louis really..."

VINCENT

"Yeah, we uh. We've been..."

TEDDY

"Hooking up?"

Vincent spits out the word as quickly as he can, but it still manages to sting his tongue.

TEDDY

"You... like... guys?"

For a split second Vincent wonders if Teddy is speaking slowly specifically to torture him -- but he knows the sound of Teddy thinking too fast for his mouth.

VINCENT

"Yeah."

TEDDY

"...And girls?"

Vincent is a little surprised by this question.





VINCENT

"Uh... not quite. I'm really kind of... I'm gay, Teddy."

Without giving Vincent even a moment to reflect on the fact that he had finally said the words he had practiced in front of mirrors (and on occasion, trees) every day for the past half-year, Teddy rapidly fires off --

TEDDY

"What about Kamri? And all those other girls who you said you--"

VINCENT

"I felt like if I said no to her -- to any of them, everyone would immediately figure me out. Well I mean, in the beginning I didn’t even know I was-- that I wasn’t into it, I thought sex just kind of sucked. But eventually I started to... look at... um, guys..."

He conveniently leaves out the fact that Teddy was the only one he was looking at up
until just recently.

TEDDY

"When?"

VINCENT

"Uh... maybe like... a year ago? I don't remember when exactly I realized, it was sort of... gradual, I guess..."

Teddy falls silent. Vincent nervously lathers up a loofa.

TEDDY

"Why didn't you tell me?"

Teddy's small voice barely cuts through the water.

VINCENT

"You didn't know?"

TEDDY

"Vincent, you're... you're the homecoming king, the quarterback... the cheerleaders all talk about their wild nights with you, and they have for years - I'm supposed to guess that you're gay? Did you think that I would judge you, or be disgusted, or...? After everything we've been through?"

VINCENT

"No, no, Teddy - it wasn't that, I just... I was scared..."

TEDDY

"So you told Louis...?"

Vincent knows he owes Teddy an explanation. He's already made it this far through this excruciating conversation so he might as well rip the band-aid all the way off. The words fly out of his mouth too loudly and too quickly before he can even think about stopping himself.


VINCENT

"I was scared that you'd realize I had
a crush on you."

TEDDY

"...What?"

Suddenly, Teddy is right there - looking at him with a face Vincent has never seen before.

A few stray drops from the shower wet Teddy’s crisp shirt, so Vincent turns the water off. His stomach is tight - Teddy is already up, ready to walk out him now, so he keeps talking and hoping that somehow he can explain --


VINCENT

"It was just a silly little crush, and I'm over it now, but I just... I kind of... liked you, for a while... just a little while..."

TEDDY

"I don't..."

VINCENT

"Teddy, I know, I know you d-- you don't even have to acknowledge it, okay -- like I said, it's totally in the past, I just wanted to explain why it's been so hard for me to--"

TEDDY

"No, Vincent, I don't understand."

VINCENT

"W-- Huh?"

Vincent finally looks over and makes the eye contact he'd been too shy to before.


For the first time, Vincent realizes.


Teddy hasn't been pushing him away in fear or disgust or even discomfort - he's just been trying to mirror Vincent’s own baffling no-homo behavior. When Vincent would laugh, Teddy would continue the joke - never understanding that the laughter was nervous and ashamed. All this time he had been trying to follow where Vincent was leading, while Vincent was just anxiously spinning his wheels.

VINCENT

"When I tried to kiss you over the summer, did you..."

TEDDY

"I... I thought you were making fun of me...I thought everyone assuming that I was gay, calling me your sugar daddy, your little cheerleader, all that... had finally gotten to you..."

VINCENT

"I would never make fun of you... not like that..."


And now Teddy realizes.

He wasn't transforming in front of Vincent's eyes into someone... something to be used as a pawn move up through the cliques at school. He wasn't becoming such a burden to his friend that it would be preferable to rip him apart by the seams of his vulnerabilities and then discard him.

Vincent saw him the same as he always did, if not... a little more favorably, romantically, even - if that's really possible-- just as Teddy's mind is racing through the implications of what Vincent just confessed, he finds his hand being squeezed softly by Vincent's rough, calloused fingers.

VINCENT

"Being your best friend is like... really, really important to me. Which is why I don't have a crush on you anymore."

"Honestly... I think I might like Louis now, I've been sort of wanting to ask him out."

Teddy smiles.

TEDDY

"Really?"

His friend seems so relieved by what he's saying that Vincent can't help but reassure him.

VINCENT

"Teddy, seriously. We could kiss right now and I wouldn’t feel a th--"






VINCENT

"...Teddy?"

TEDDY

"Sorry, I...

...I just wanted to see what it felt like."

VINCENT

"...What did it feel like?"


TEDDY

"...Like..."
"...like kissing my best friend."




"I think you made the right decision."













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