by alejandra

Ephram came back from New York different, and Bright couldn't exactly figure out how he was different - only that he was. It was just a little bit different, a little bit weird, and since Ephram was weird to begin with, Bright was kinda surprised he'd even noticed.

All right, maybe Bright hadn't noticed at all. Maybe Bright had figured Ephram was just being sulky and boring because Colorado wasn't New York. Maybe Bright had been kinda wrapped up in his own life, finally, and couldn't really pay too much attention to a bratty kid.

It was Amy who had noticed, Amy who had pointed it out to Ephram. She said, "Ephram is acting weird," and Bright rolled his eyes and dribbled the ball out to the foul line - the middle of the street - and made a perfect shot. He spared one second exactly for a thought of basketball scholarships and all the scoring he could have done, on the court and off, too, and then turned to Amy.

"Ephram is always weird."

Amy tossed him a bottle of water, and he caught it, and then the ball on the rebound. He opened the bottle and poured half over his head - it wasn't fair that the summer was over and it was still too hot by half - and he opened his eyes to her watching him.


"He's weird, Bright," she said, and he raised his eyebrows at her and bared his teeth.

"He's always weird," repeated Bright, and rolled his eyes, and went inside. He sniffed the air and smelled cookies and sure enough his mom had baked the peanut butter ones he liked, with sugar on top.


But, yeah, okay, Amy was right, Ephram came back from New York weird. Bright was worried about her, so he snuck into her room while she was off doing something stupid with his dad, and read her diary, and sure enough it was all in there. Of course, he had to read past the annoying crap about Colin - god, get over it, Ames - and he had to resist the urge to grab a pen and write mean notes to her in the margins, but he perservered (nice to know he learned something studying for the SAT, yeah, he perser-fucking-vered through her whiny-ass shit) and hit gold.

E., she wrote, has condom wrappers in his bathroom garbage can + phone #'s written on the wipeoffboard on his door. + ITS NOT IN HIS HANDWRITING!!!!

"Go, E!" said Bright, and turned the page.


"Hm." Bright paused at that, and read the line again. George. Maybe that was like the Nancy Drew girl? Probably not.

The rest of it was all more whining about Colin and Tommy - wah, my first love died, wah, my second was a drug addict, wah, my third is gay. Boring. Textbook Amy. Everything always had to be about her or the world would grind to a halt.

Bright tucked her diary back into her empty suitcase; she had totally left it there for him to find, since she'd stopped hiding it there when she was thirteen, and for the past three years had been dropping it into the tiny space between the wall and her bed.

He went downstairs for some more cookies. He hadn't noticed Ephram acting particularly gay - and he knew what gay acted like, since he'd been best friends with Colin. He'd never told Amy though; after all, did she need more reasons to whine about Colin? No. Absolutely not. Did he need more cookies? Yes, absolutely.


Ephram was acting weird, yes, but weird the way he normally acted, which meant he'd always been gay and Bright had just never noticed. He never noticed with Colin either, not until it was too late and Colin was breaking up with Amy. Except Colin died before he could do that, and that was mostly Bright's fault, but it wasn't because Colin was gay, it was because they were both drunk and -

Well, no need to rehash it. Go over that shit too many times, and Bright just knew he'd end up sounding like Amy and crying over a broken nail because Colin had liked them long.

Bright figured that having so many gay friends meant he wasn't homophobic.

Hey, two gay people was a lot for Everwood. By Bright's count, Ephram and Colin meant that there was a total of two gays in Everwood. In Colorado!

"So," said Bright, "do you miss New York?"

"Obviously," said Ephram. He took one of the cookies from Bright's plate. Bright's mom had made a fresh batch of the peanut butter ones the night before, and had let Bright press the fork into the tops. It made him feel like a productive member of society. Stupid, but at least he could do something right, right? Bright Abbott, fork-presser extraordinare, and also he could punch numbers into the cash register at the A&P around the corner, keep small children entertained, and get to class on time if he really tried hard.

Yeah, he had a real future.

"Hey, dude, I'm just tryin' to bond here," replied Bright. He leaned back in his chair. "You're acting weird."

"I'm always weird," said Ephram around a mouthful of cookie. "Is there chocolate in these?"

"Yeah, my mom always puts a little bit of chocolate in the middle." Bright shoved a whole one in his mouth. "You're weirder than usual."

"Nice," said Ephram, and swiped a hand at the crumbs on his shirt. "Whatever."

"Man, I am tryin to be a friend. Is it George? You can tell me, dude, I'm cool with the gay thing. I don't get the butt sex, but as long as it's not my ass, it doesn't matter, right?"

Ephram choked, grabbed Bright's glass of milk, and drank half of it in one gulp.

"E., what?" Bright leaned forward. "Do you not get butt sex either?"

Ephram coughed. "Okay," he said, and his voice was strained, but he was smiling, like the old E. "You never talk about butt sex again and I'll try to be more normal."

"Okay," said Bright. "But you gotta tell me -"

"No," said Ephram.

"Yeah, like, do you feel like you're gonna shit all the time or what?" Bright took another cookie.

"I do not want to talk about this." Ephram pushed the glass back across to Bright and broke off a piece of another cookie, and sat back in his chair, and Bright grinned at him. He smiled back, and rolled his eyes. "You're so weird, Bright."

"Look who's talking, Brown."

Ephram rolled his eyes again.


Bright was definitely okay with the gay thing. E. was always a weird kid and never really talked about anything except his comic books, and Bright was okay with that too. Butt sex was weird, and he didn't like picturing Ephram kissing other dudes - not that he pictured Ephram kissing chicks either, no, that wasn't it - and. Whatever, it was just weird. Everyone thought so.

"Ephram is still acting weird," said Amy. "He doesn't talk to me at school."

"Maybe he's embarrassed to know you," replied Bright. He carefully pressed the fork into the top of a cookie, and then sprinkled sugar on it.

"Bright," said his mother sharply. She dropped another ball of dough onto the cookie sheet, and Bright pressed the fork down again.

"Sorry," he mumbled.

Amy sighed.

"Ephram's such a nice boy," said Bright's mother, and Bright and Amy both snickered at the same time.


Bright let Ephram bring over some of his lame cartoons to watch, and didn't complain at all. He felt kind of bad that Ephram was missing George or whoever. Who would have thought that E. would have a bunch of dudes trying to hit that? What was so special about his skinny, pale, cranky ass? How come Ephram could get laid and Bright couldn't?

"Do you think I can't get laid because I'm not gay?" asked Bright.

"No," said Ephram.

"Why can't I get any?" Bright put his feet on the table, because neither of his parents were home, and he could.

"Because you talk through movies," replied Ephram. He pushed the popcorn bowl over to Bright. "Here, eat something."

"I don't want anything. I want -"

"Shut up," said Ephram, and Bright punched him on the arm.

"E., man, I have always been there for you and now it's time for you to show some resprocity."

"Some what?"

"You know, dude, time for you to be here for me, too."

"Reciprocity." Ephram paused the cartoon. "Okay, hit me."

Bright choked on a piece of popcorn.

"Come on," said Ephram. "What did you want?"

"I just - I - la - I - ah -" Bright swallowed, but there was a kernel stuck in his throat. "I just -"

"Right," said Ephram. "If you think anal sex is gross and don't like giving blow jobs, I don't think you're gay."

"I've never given a blow job," replied Bright, and then stopped. "I didn't mean -"

"Yeah, I know," said Ephram, and he was smiling again, and he just never fucking did that, and Bright felt kind of gay thinking about Ephram's smile, but it was like, like, like E. was his bestest friend who was alive, or something, so there was not really anything wrong with it. Bright noticed Colin's smile all the time.

"So, whatever," said Bright. "Dude, I really think -"

"I think you should stop pretending like you want some skinny blonde cheerleader girlfriend," said Ephram. "And find someone you like. Like, talk to them, you know?"

"Talk to girls? Come on, E., you're watching too much television. Who can talk to girls?"

"It's the same as talking to me," replied Ephram, and took more popcorn. Bright pushed it away.

"It's not."

"It is. Just don't call them weird."

"You are weird."

Ephram rolled his eyes and clicked the cartoon back on. "uh-huh."


Bright was definitely okay with the gay thing, but he didn't think he'd try it himself. After all, butt sex was kind of weird. Maybe that's why Ephram was acting so weird. Sticking shit up your butt wasn't exactly the way to be normal. But it was cool - anything was better than Madison. He felt almost disloyal thinking that anything was better than Amy too, but it was - except for Madison.

Maybe blow jobs were better than butt sex. Girls certainly seemed to like them, so. Maybe one day Bright would try it. But he would have to be far away from Everwood first, and with someone who didn't know him, and maybe also with someone who wasn't a guy.

That could be hot. Watching a girl blow some other guy? That could be hot. Bright could be into that. It wasn't exactly normal, but it wasn't weird either. It was kind of comfortably in the middle. The median, even - Bright had kicked vocabulary ass on the SATs.


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