“Hey!” Dirk said, as he walked inside the basement den of the Caliente’s house. Alex looked up from the TV and smiled,
“Hi! Are you okay?”
“Fine, I guess. So, what are you watching?” Dirk asked, sitting down next to Alex.
Alex could feel his own heart race, as Dirk sat next to him. He had known about the big Goth/Caliente/Lothario/Dreamer Dinner since last week, and was told by Mortimer that whilst the adults were having a civilised meal (or at least what Mortimer hoped would be civilised), he and Dirk could hang out in the den, if they so wished. Afterwards, all Alex could think about was being alone with Dirk. He’d never really spoken to him before, most of the time because he was too nervous. When Alex became a teenager, he couldn’t hang out with his friends because Dirk would hang out with them too. And whenever Dirk was around him, Alex felt… different. Alex tried to escape these new feelings by hanging out with other people, but it dawned on Alex why he felt the way he did whenever Dirk was around him… he was attracted to him!
Despite thinking he’d fought off these feelings when he kissed his now-girlfriend Meadow at the Halloween party, Alex found himself back at square one when he was forced to share a backseat with Dirk on the way home from that party. And in the confined space of a car, Alex had no choice but to get to know Dirk… which he had to admit, only served to make his feelings grow stronger.
Dirk’s laughing distracted Alex from his thoughts. He joined in laughing but it was too late and Dirk simply looked over confused.
“I just got it!” Alex lied.
“Yeah, I’ve seen it before, but it’s still a funny joke… I’m bored, you got any video games?” Alex reached over to grab the only two games he owned.
“Sorry, it’s Don who plays it the most, and Nina made him get rid of most of his games. He let me have these two though.” Alex gave Dirk the cases.
“I’ve played these already.” Dirk said, handing back the games to Alex, who was feeling like a complete geek. There was an uncomfortable silence, making Alex feel like even more of a geek. Reassuring himself that there was nothing to worry about, Alex broke the silence.
“Is it true you were cheating on Lilith?” He blurted out. Dirk looked over at Alex and said nothing. “I mean, I’m sorry that you two broke up. Lilith’s nice.” Dirk was still silent and Alex wished the ground would open up and swallow him. But a smile found its way onto Dirk’s face.
“Yeah, she is. But she deserves someone better than me.” He admitted.
“Why do you think that?”
“Well.. I was cheating on her.” Dirk said. Alex was unsure of what to say until Dirk said it for him. “I know what you’re thinking, but Lilith and I… we were just too young to be in a steady relationship. I mean, I want to try everything you know, not just stick with the first thing I like.”
“You want to try… everything?” Alex asked, feeling his heart race again.
“Yeah, I mean, I know I shouldn’t do it all at once. But once I began seeing other girls, I couldn’t stop!” Dirk laughed in what seemed like a disrespectful way, making Alex feel uneasy.
“How many girls have you seen?”
“Four, including Lilith. I know it’s not that many but there’s two girls I really like, and I just don’t want too see a repeat of what happened at the Halloween Ball.”
“Anyway, what about you? Weren’t you getting a bit friendly with someone at the dance?” Dirk joked and made a kissy-face at Alex, causing him to blush and giggle.
“Ha, yeah! I… don’t know how serious that is.” Alex admitted, feeling shy once again.
“That’s the beauty about being a teenager, it doesn’t have to get serious!”
“But I’m afraid someone might get hurt.” Alex sighed.
“I wish I were more like you.” Dirk said.
Alex smiled, “How so?”
“Being considerate of other people’s feelings. It shows you’re a good person.”
“Really? I kind of wish I were more like you.” Alex said. Did I really just say that out loud? Alex thought, feeling himself go red in the cheeks.
“Well, I have been told I’ve got an addictive personality.” Dirk laughed.
“I think it might be true!” Alex grinned.
She wasn’t happy about it! Dina had already felt like hiding away in her bedroom when she caught Dirk Dreamer ogling her in the hottub. But she knew she had to show Mortimer that she could at least stand to be around Cassandra Goth for a few hours. So tonight, she was on her best behaviour.
“I’m here! I hope you haven’t started…” Dina began, until she saw everyone had already started eating. “Oh, never mind.” She replied, sitting down next to Mortimer and noticing he’d almost finished his meal already. As she started to eat, Dina noticed the lack of conversation going on and thought if she could be the first one to speak, Mortimer might appreciate it. “So… what’s everyone thankful for?” Dina said, thinking she just saw Mortimer roll his eyes.
“I know it’s corny, but I’m thankful for family and friends.” Nina said. “This time last year I only had a sister and now I’ve got a brother-in-law, a fiancé, and soon a nephew or niece…” Nina said, grinning from ear to ear at the thought of Dina’s baby.
Dina shot her sister a cold and unforgiving glance, causing Nina to realise her mistake. She quickly tried to cover it up. “I meant: MY nephew Alex, and my niece… Cassandra!” Nina said with a sigh of relief.
“We’re barely related at all.” Cassandra murmured.
“Cassandra.” Mortimer said in a nagging tone.
“I mean, sure! I’m thankful for that too.” She added with force. “What about you, daddy? I’m sure you’ve got a lot to be thankful for this year.” Cassandra added, in what Dina was sure was a sarcastic reference to her and Mortimer’s marriage.
“I am thankful for something: laws.” He said proudly.
“Laws?!” Dina said in a surprised tone.
“Yes! Rules and regulations, the fine law system which we abide by in our world today. I will go to bed tonight feeling safer knowing that there are laws protecting me and my… others.” Mortimer added, in a somewhat smug tone.
“Good call, Morty!” Don added in a cheerful tone. “I’m afraid my thanks are a little bit more selfish! I’m thankful that me and Nina have had a one-hundred percent, totally honest relationship whilst living here together. Aren’t you, Nina?” Don asked, thinking that in fact Nina had not been honest at all.
“Yeah! I think it’s great.” Nina replied, unaware of what Don was getting at.
“It is great. Especially considering the amount of lies that took place in order for us to be together.” He began, Don’s temper getting the better of him.
“Don, I really think it would be better if you didn’t bring that up right now. Besides, we still haven’t heard what Dina’s thankful for.” Nina glared at Don, wondering what possessed him to almost ruin what was turning out to be one of the most civilised meetings between them all.
“You know what I’m thankful for?” A familiar voice said, walking into the Caliente’s house.
“This! The fact that all six of us can sit here today to share a meal with each other – Dirk and Alex too. I’m thankful for this day, the day where everyone in this family can finally get along with each other.” Darren said, as he finally arrived to the meal.
“Ah, that was beautiful Darren.” Cassandra kissed her fiancé, as he sat down at the table. Unfortunately, Darren was unaware that everyone was not, as he so confidently assumed, getting along with each other.
“You can’t say that about my sister!” Alex laughed, hitting Dirk with a pillow.
“I just meant, and you can see where I’m coming from with this…” Dirk defended his allegations against Cassandra Goth, “I think she manipulated my dad into proposing to her, just like she did with Don.” Dirk picked up a pillow to throw at Alex.
“Whoa, okay! Maybe her engagement to Don was one sided, but I’ve talked to her and she really loves your dad. And after my dad moved out, she and him kind of stopped talking to each other. Your dad helped them make up.” Regardless of his attempts to stall, Alex found the pillow sailing towards him.
“You make a good point. But I still feel uneasy about something.” Alex began to suggest what it was Dirk felt uneasy about but stopped himself, not wanting to say something that might upset Dirk. “It’s okay, I know what you’re going to say: I just feel this way because Cassandra’s the first woman my dad’s gotten close with since my mum…” Dirk stopped. Alex kicked himself for letting the conversation get this far.
“I’m sorry, we can change the subject if you want.”
“No, it’s okay. I don’t know what it is, but I feel really good talking to you about this. Lilith was the one who was good at advising me on all this crap about relationships. I guess now you can take over her job.” Dirk laughed. Alex smiled, feeling his heart begin to beat fast again.
“You want me to take over Lilith’s job?” Alex said, wondering if Dirk realised what he was saying.
“Yeah, you seem to know what you’re talking about.”
“Oh!” Alex was blushing. “I guess it’s just because I know what it’s like, you know?”
“Yeah. I’m sorry about your mum.” Dirk said.
“Thanks!” Alex stared at Dirk, and for the first time he saw the generous and caring Dirk that Lilith had fallen for… the one that he was falling for. Alex couldn’t say or do anything. He just stood there, falling for Dirk – literally.
“Yo, Earth to Alex? Come in, Alex!” Dirk whacked Alex over the head with his pillow a little too hard, knocking Alex off his feet. “Crap! Sorry man, you okay?” Dirk asked.
Even from down on the floor, Alex could see Dirk’s generosity towards mankind shining through that tough and… hot exterior. “Let me help you up.” Dirk said, bending over and reaching out for both of Alex’s hands. If Alex had been stronger, he would have yanked Dirk down on top of him. But he was nowhere near as strong as Dirk. Now on his feet, Alex found himself lightheaded and began to lose his balance.
“Whoa!” Dirk said, seeing Alex begin to fall again. This time, Dirk grabbed onto Alex’s waist and pulled him upright. Alex knew it was only to stop him from falling over, but his brain wasn’t in control at this moment in time… his heart was.
“I didn’t hit you that hard, did I?” Dirk asked, keeping Alex steady with his hands. The last bit of common sense Alex had was now gone, as he reached out to hold onto Dirk’s waist – in spite of the fact he was no longer falling over.
“You have no idea!” Alex felt himself leaning in towards Dirk, and he was sure Dirk was doing the same.
This was it, there was no turning back… Alex was going to kiss Dirk Dreamer…
“Whoa! What the hell?” Dirk said in shock, as he pulled back from Alex and let go. With his brain in full control now, Alex tried to rationalise his sudden actions.
“Wha.. what? What’s the matter?” Alex casually asked.
“Were you just about to kiss me?” Dirk asked in a demanding tone.
“…What? Are you insane, I lost my balance because you hit me so hard.”
“Oh? And I suppose you always have your lips puckered and your eyes closed when you lose your balance.” Dirk sarcastically shot back. “I’ve been with enough girls to know when someone’s leaning in for a kiss, and you were leaning in to kiss me!” Dirk said, still in shock.
“No! I don’t know what you think you felt…” Dirk interrupted Alex. He was now over his shock and furiously angry at what Alex was implying.
“Hey! I didn’t feel anything, fag.” Alex recoiled from the viciousness of Dirk’s words.
“I’m not…” Alex paused, and that was enough for Dirk to see the truth. He turned towards the stairs and hurriedly walked away. Alex knew the time for denial was gone, and it was time to do damage control – or risk being prematurely outed by Dirk. And Alex was certainly not ready to admit he was gay.
Running up the stairs, his feet stomping, Dirk found himself the attention of everyone at the dining table. Ignoring their confused stares, he marched towards the door with Alex quickly pursuing him. He reached out to stop Dirk from leaving, but Dirk dodged his hand.
“Don’t touch me!” Dirk yelled. This time, the staring eyes of the adults were enough to catch his attention, and Dirk realised the best thing to do was not make a scene.
“Just… calm down. It wasn’t a big deal.” Alex admitted, knowing that Dirk probably wasn’t going to buy any excuses he made up.
“Go on, aren’t you gonna lie to me?” Dirk sneered.
“I’m sorry, okay?” Alex offered.
“No, it’s not okay! You think you can just do that and act like it’s no big deal? Well, you’re wrong. What you did… it’s not natural.” Dirk felt himself shudder at the thought of it.
“I didn’t do anything.”
“You wanted to, and that’s just as bad.”
“Can’t we just forget it? I know I will.” Alex said, turning his head round to look at the adults, who had so far just looked on in silence.
“I am not ever going to forget this.” Mortimer and Darren got up from their seats, getting ready to interrupt their sons’ argument. Dirk wasn’t about to let them persuade him to stay. Opening the front door, he didn’t even give Alex time to move out of the way, as Dirk shoved passed him and left.
As he got outside, Dirk stopped and breathed deeply, closing his eyes, trying to calm himself down. But all he could see when he closed his eyes was Alex’s face coming towards him. Feeling defeated, he sat down on the porch steps, not wanting to leave without his father. He wondered what he was going to tell his dad. One thing’s for sure, he thought, there’s no way I’m telling him I was almost kissed by Alex Goth. Because, he admitted to himself, it wasn’t so much the attempted kiss that angered Dirk… it was the fact that somehow Alex got the impression that Dirk was into him. Trying to think rationally about the night, Dirk could see now all the signs Alex was giving him. The final straw was when Dirk grabbed onto Alex. Why on Earth did I grab hold of Alex’s waist, he asked himself. Dirk was beginning to panic, and suddenly thought, what if I had been unintentionally flirting with Alex? He stopped getting ahead of himself, realising what he had just suggested. Could he, Dirk Dreamer, be confused about his sexuality?
With Dirk outside and Alex upstairs, it looked like Mortimer’s dream get-together was over all too soon. “I’m really sorry, Mortimer. I’m going to have to go find out what it is that upset Dirk so much.” Darren said.
“I’m sure Alex didn’t mean to say or do anything to upset Dirk. I can get him to apologise, if you want?” Mortimer offered.
“No, I should have Dirk apologise for interrupting your dinner party. Thanks for tonight, you just make sure Alex is okay, and phone Cassandra later… that is, assuming Cassandra’s going to be welcomed back tonight.” Darren sighed, knowing how Dirk could sometimes make Cassandra feel unwelcome at his home.
After saying goodbye to his daughter, Mortimer travelled upstairs and found Alex hiding in the study. “What did you say, to have that poor boy storming out of here?” Mortimer asked in a concerned tone. Alex hoped the adults might think this just had something to do with Dirk also having a grudge against Cassandra.
“I don’t know what I said.” Alex answered, trying to dodge the truth.
“Promise me you didn’t do anything on purpose.”
“God no, I would never… I didn’t want to… I just thought…” Alex tried to find the words, knowing that if his dad was someone like Don, he could just pour out his heart – like he so desperately wanted to. But his dad wasn’t Don, his dad was a traditional elder. A man’s man, Alex thought, who undoubtedly frowned upon same-sex relationships.
“I know you wouldn’t intentionally do anything to upset Dirk. I just hope all this blows over.” Mortimer sighed and placed an affectionate hand on Alex’s shoulder. But Alex knew this was something that would drive a wedge between the Goths and Dreamers – permanently.