“Well, we really should get going,” I announced abruptly.
“What?” Mom looked sharply at me, her face getting this stricken expression. “Aren’t you staying for dinner?”
“I misunderstood what Alice meant,” Jack explained, his voice getting overly soothing, but I decided that whatever would get us out of here without a fight was fine by me. “I already ate, and then I made plans for us. We really do have to be going.”
My mother tried to think of things to keep him trapped in the apartment with her, but I stuck to my guns. I escaped into the hall while they finished saying their good-byes, but I could still hear the unusually sweet tone to my mother’s voice as she cooed all sorts of things to him.
Once Jack finally made it out to the hall and shut the door behind him, I shivered visibly, trying to shake off what I had just witnessed.
“What?” Jack laughed, looking at me as I pushed the button for the elevator.
“Oh my god, that was so disgusting!”
“I thought that went very well, actually,” Jack smirked. “Your mom seemed to like me.”
“Ugh, she wanted to jump your bones,” I groaned. The elevator doors dinged open and we stepped in. Leaning back against the wall, I shook my head. “It was so disturbing.”
“It’s not my fault everybody wants me.” Jack laughed again and pushed the button for the lobby, and I knew he was only half-teasing.
“I don’t want you,” I crossed my arms over my chest.
“Yeah, I know.” Jack got quiet and thoughtful for the rest of the elevator ride, but I wasn’t sure if was because he was disappointed that I didn’t want him or he just didn’t understand it. He tried to change the subject as the elevator doors opened into the lobby. “So, your brother’s gay?”
“He is not gay.” I bristled and stepped out of the elevator.
It wouldn’t really bother me if Milo was gay, but he wasn’t. I mean, I would know if he was.
“Oh, so he hasn’t told you yet.” Jack shoved his hands in his pockets, following me as I hurried out into the cold night air.
Once we got outside, I realized that I didn’t know where he’d parked or even what car he’d driven, so I stopped and waited for him.
“There’s nothing to tell,” I insisted. He turned to the left, walking a little ways down the block, when I saw his Jetta.
“Oh, come on,” Jack scoffed. “You had to have noticed the way he looked at me.”
“Everyone looks at you that way.” I tried to think back and I couldn’t remember if the guys had been doing it too.
Everyone reacted to him in a very friendly fashion, but I was pretty sure that guys hadn’t given him that particular look, not the ones like my mom or Jane.
“No, everyone does not.” Jack played with the keyless entry, and the Jetta beeped loudly, announcing that it was unlocked.
“So how does that work?” I asked, opening the car door. “Your pheromones only react to people that would be sexually attracted to you anyway? How can they possibly know that?”
Jack stood outside until I could finish my question, then he just got in the car, and I knew that was his official answer to that.
“You probably shouldn’t say anything to you brother,” Jack said once I’d gotten in the car. He started it, revving the engine for a second, and then pulled away from the curb. “If he hasn’t told you yet, then he’s probably not ready for you to know.”
“He isn’t gay,” I repeated firmly. “He’s only fifteen.”
“Oh, right, cause when you were fifteen you didn’t know you were straight.” Jack rolled his eyes.
“How do you know I’m straight?” I countered. I mean, I am straight, but he didn’t know that. “That would explain why I’m not attracted to you.”
“You are attracted to me.” He kept his eyes straight ahead, and adjusted the stereo, so Joy Division played softly out of the speakers. “Otherwise you wouldn’t be in the car with me. It’s just not the same as it is with them.”
“Whatever.” I crossed my arms again. Then I softened a little as I thought about Milo, and all the weird little things he did that I had always just chocked up to him being younger than me and more responsible. “So… you really think Milo’s gay?”
“Yeah, he’s gay,” Jack replied definitively. “And before you ask, yeah, it’s something I know. I can’t explain it, but I just know. Like the way a lion always knows the weakest zebra in the pack.”
“Are you comparing being gay to being weak?”
So, I was just coming to terms with the probability of my brother’s homosexuality, but already I felt defensive about it. Milo was my little brother and probably the only person in the whole world that really cared about me.
“No, I’m comparing my uncanny ability to detect things to that of a lion,” Jack clarified.
I was still kind of sulking, reeling from the fact that both my mother and my newly discovered gay brother wanted to do bad, bad things to Jack, but he wouldn’t hear of it.
“Hey, you know what would cheer you up?”
“I can only imagine,” I said dryly.
“Playing Dance Dance Revolution at the arcade.” Without warning, he flipped the car into a u-turn across three lanes of traffic.
“That doesn’t sound that great.” It didn’t really, but Jack thought it was the greatest idea ever, and that managed to convince me somehow.
I was starting to realize that my feelings seemed to be mimicking his, and that should alarm me, but he wasn’t alarmed, so I was incapable of it.
I got home very late from hanging out with Jack, as per usual. After the arcade had closed, we had loitered at a Blockbuster, before deciding that neither of us wanted to rent anything, and then drove around for awhile before finally dropping me at home.
Mom was gone at work, and Milo had gone to bed, so there was nothing said about Jack’s visit.
When I finally roused the next day, I immediately went to talk to Milo about Jack. I hadn’t expected him to expound very much, but his very clipped, “He seems nice” did not do the night justice.
The fact that Milo was apparently hiding something so important from me made me feel uncomfortable. A part of me wanted to just bring it out in the open and demand that he tell me, but it was his thing and he had to come to terms with it on his own time.