The Happiest Place On Earth
by zahra

The thing about practicing what he was going to say, Seth would realize later on, was that it never worked. He could play if/then a thousand times and improvise his hand movements in the bathroom until his mom thought he had fallen in the toilet, but nothing was ever going to properly prepare him for trying to get Ryan to go with him to Los Angeles on a Saturday night. It wasn't as though they didn't do stuff together all the time, like the IMAX and that party in Long Beach, which really wasn't Seth's finest hour, but this was different. Seth was asking Ryan to go away with him, at night, because Seth had 'plans.'

It wasn't a date thing, not really. Not really really, but maybe just kind of because Rooney and Maroon 5 were double billing at the El Rey, and Seth had been trying to find a worthy band to take Ryan to see for ages. Seth considered it his sacred duty, because Ryan's taste in MTV hootchies left a lot to be desired. Especially if Seth, a decidedly non-hootchie guy, was trying to take him out on a date.

Which he wasn't. Right.

The original non-date plan had had them going to see Jurassic 5 at the Palladium, because Seth had wanted to "expand" Ryan's horizons, but then that thing with his mom's Range Rover had happened, and Seth had been grounded until he could legally vote. So they'd also missed Wilco at the Roxy, The White Stripes at the Wiltern, and Junior Senior at the Viper Room.

Trying to figure out what Ryan wouldn't walk out on had preoccupied a lot of Seth's quality grounding time, because Ryan really wasn't the spend-all-day-pouring-over-the-new-releases-at-Amoeba kind of guy. So, Seth had had to take the initiative and make the plans on his own.

He'd booked the tickets, which strangely enough were a lot more expensive than he'd thought they'd be. He'd had to work two extra sailing jobs to cover the tickets and the Ticketbastards surcharge, and then he'd had to work another three jobs to cover what his mother now referred to as the 'Loaner Fee.' A guy got a car trashed just once and suddenly he wasn't trustworthy any more; it really hurt Seth where he lived -- in his wallet.

Nevertheless, Seth had been smart about this from the start. He'd gone ahead and gotten permission from his dad first, and then they'd gang-pressed his mom. Once he'd gotten her on board, it was all smooth sailing. Except for the asking Ryan bit. Which Seth was going to do as soon as Ryan called him out for disturbing his Playstation time and reading 'Superman: Birthright' upside-down.

It was going to happen any minute now. Seth just had to keep clearing his throat, ruffling the pages of the book, and shooting meaningful glances at the back of Ryan's head, which was firmly focused on playing Madden NFL 2004.

Seth was still in-role when Ryan completely disrupted his flow. He didn't even hear Ryan put the game on pause, and then there he was, like a ninja.

"Seth, do you want me to get you some water or something?"

Seth dropped the graphic novel in his lap when Ryan's voice piped up right next to his ear. Ryan's breath was really warm against Seth's face, and why couldn't Seth be slick like that?

He jerked to attention with next to zero smoothness. "Dude, can you make some noise or something when you're about to creep up on somebody? You're not even dressed in super stealth clothes or anything."

Ryan arched an eyebrow in what Seth refused to think of as a coy and seductive manner, because Ryan was not coy and seductive and just thinking something like that made them both sound really gay. As opposed to kind of gay, which Seth might have been except for that whole Summer thing.


Ryan was saying something though, and Seth had to work hard to focus on the words and not just on Ryan's mouth moving. Ryan had a nice mouth, and when he smiled it was like he had dimples, and Seth really wanted to touch him. This was so bad.

"No. Yeah," Seth paused when Ryan looked at him questioningly. "No?" he ventured, again.

Ryan shrugged. "Okay," he said, preparing to move away when Seth grabbed him by the sleeve. He was wearing typical Ryan-fare: a white undershirt and jeans that might have fit his ass really well, if Seth had actually looked long enough to notice that sort of thing.

"Or yeah," Seth corrected. "Yeah. Definitely yeah."

Ryan looked from Seth to his shirt and then back again, quizzically. Ryan had really nice arms Seth decided.

"What was the question again?" Seth ventured.

"Are you all right, Seth? You've been acting weird all day." Ryan looked pointedly at where Seth was grabbing at his shirt again, and Seth immediately let go of the fabric.

"No, I'm good," Seth gabbed. "Real good. Definitely good."

Ryan's laugh was dry and low. It made Seth think of Deep Throat in the X-Files, only not in a sexual way, because that dude on the X-Files was so ancient Egyptian mummy. "Whatever you say, Seth."

Ryan got to his feet, ostensibly, to go back to his game and Seth jumped up at the same time. If he waited any longer he was going to grow roots or get white hairs or something, and he just avoided jumping directly on Ryan's bare feet.

"So, there's this group playing on Saturday, actually it's two groups: Rooney and Maroon 5, but they're playing and they're good stuff, blues, not all pop rock or weird fake punk. Anyway it's at the El Rey. In L.A., and my mom said it was cool. I've got tickets if you want to go, but you've probably got plans or something with Marissa or your friends or whatever, so, um, just forget I said anything about it."

Seth's oxygen finally ran out, and when he stopped long enough to catch a breath he realized that Ryan hadn't actually said anything with regards to his proposition. So rather than keep babbling and embarrassing himself even further, if that was at all possible, he bent down, grabbed his comic book, and tried to step around Ryan only to run directly into him.

Ryan was a lot more solid than Seth, and Seth ricocheted off of Ryan like he was one of those moon bounces at the carnival. The only thing that saved him from falling over his previously vacated chair was Ryan grabbing his upper right bicep and holding on tight.

On Seth's embarrassing meter it rated about an 8. "So. Yeah," he said, regaining his balance and waiting for Ryan to let him go.

"Your mom said it was okay?" Ryan asked, loosening his hold on Seth only fractionally. His hand was really warm on Seth's arm, and his thumb was rubbing the bare skin under the sleeve of Seth's Atari Addict shirt.

Seth liked this shirt. He swallowed.

"Yeah. We have to, uh, come back directly afterwards though, or else I'll turn into a pumpkin and be grounded until I'm eligible for Social Security."

Ryan laughed. "So this club is in L.A.? What's it called again?"

"The El Rey."

Ryan nodded. His thumb kept rubbing Seth's arm absently, and Seth wasn't sure if Ryan knew what he was doing, but he wasn't about to tell him to stop.

"Don't most clubs in L.A. have a '21 and Over' policy?" Ryan asked finally.

Seth froze. Thwarted at every turn. He felt like Sauron trying to get his ring back. "Dude. Shit."

Ryan laughed again. "Don't worry about it," he said letting go of Seth finally, much to Seth's dismay. "I know a guy who can help us out. We'll just have to leave a few hours earlier."

Seth looked suitably dubious. "We're going to Chino?"

"Do you really think I'd take you to Chino?"

"I could so go to Chino," Seth countered. "Bring it on."

"In your dreams," Ryan grinned. "He lives in Anaheim."

Seth paused. "We're going to Disneyland?"

"Something like that."


Over the next several days life carried on much in the same way it had before Seth had asked Ryan to go to L.A. with him. At least it did for Ryan, as far as Seth could tell. He continued to work at the Crab Shack during the day and hang out with Seth at night. He watched the world from underneath his eyelashes and made Seth want to buy stock in Fruit of the Loom, just like before.

Seth, on the other hand, turned into some sort of psycho sailing machine/internet geek who checked the web eighteen times a day to make sure the concert wasn't cancelled, the guitarists for either group hadn't broken their fingers in freak car accidents, or that the El Rey hadn't lowered their Age of Attendance to 16.

None of the above came to pass, however, and in the meanwhile, Seth took the Range Rover to get washed and booked several extra sailing lessons, not because he had the time, but because Ryan might get hungry or whatever and want to eat while they were in L.A. Not that Ryan couldn't pay to eat if he wanted to eat, it wasn't like In-and-Out was the Four Seasons, but Seth just wanted to be prepared -- for what he had no idea.

Something just told Seth that being prepared on Saturday was a really good idea.


He awoke Saturday morning at the ass crack of dawn with Mexican jumping beans doing the Macarena in his stomach, and rather than try to deal with them he opted to move his sailing lessons up a few hours. Anything where Seth was near Ryan before it was time to leave was going to be catastrophic, and doing something completely non-Ryan related was key. Besides, if Seth sat around the house watching cartoons he would wind up consuming several boxes of cereal and either get sick, break something during his sugar high, or blab to Ryan about their date which wasn't really a date at all, and then Ryan would ditch him and there'd be no date, period. So, Seth opted to go to the Marina and mess something up there instead, which strangely enough didn't happen considering his spastic state of mind.

Overall, it was a day just like any other, little Sarah Moore and her brother, Jeremy, were barely awake when Seth took them out for their lesson, but they rallied well, especially when Seth promised them ice cream afterwards, even though it was eight in the morning. Jamie Brooks was the same evil shit as always, but because his mom was friends with Seth's mom, Seth tamped down the urge to dump Jamie overboard. Marie Ravello was predictably late, but Mrs. Ravello brought Seth homemade cookies, and by the time Marie's lesson was over it was past noon, and Seth had to get home and change.

Originally, Seth had told his mom they were leaving at five, but Ryan had insisted that if they were going to Anaheim they'd have to leave between one and two. Seth still had to clean himself up, so he was slightly disconcerted to find Ryan ready and hanging out by the pool.

Ryan wasn't wearing his uniform de rigueur but a black tee shirt and jeans that looked suspiciously new. His lips twitched as Seth came streaking around the corner, sweaty and smelly and looking anything but date-worthy. Seth stopped so quickly he almost pitched over onto his face, which really would've cemented his dork status.

"Dude," he said, gesturing towards Ryan's attire while desperately looking for the right words. "Looking... sharp." Yes, sharp was good. Seth really didn't want to say 'hot' or 'edible' or 'fuckable.' He didn't think guys said things like that to other guys when they were pretending they weren't interested.

Sweat beaded along Seth's upper lip, while Ryan leaned back on the chaise he was sitting in. "Are you wearing that?" he asked motioning to Seth's faded CBGB shirt and baggy khakis.

"What? No," Seth was appalled. "No, definitely with the no."

"All right," Ryan said, clambering to his feet and walking across the grass towards Seth. Seth took a step back and stumbled over one of the garden sprinklers. He held up a hand to ward Ryan off when he moved in to help.

Sweaty and accident-prone was really not the image Seth was trying to project, and Ryan finally stopped less than two feet away from him.

"We should probably get a move on if we're going to go to Anaheim first." Ryan's voice dropped off at the end of his sentence, and Seth blinked. He'd never noticed how good Ryan smelled before, was he wearing aftershave? Seth, on the other hand, probably smelled like socks that had been forgotten under his bed for too long.

"Right. Shower. I'm on it," he declared, ducking around Ryan and dashing into the house before his body caught up with where his brain had started going. "I wouldn't want to be trapped with me right now," he called. "I bet Luke's jockstrap smells better."


The drive to Anaheim was blissfully short, a shot up the 55 to the 5 and they were turning off Lincoln Avenue and driving down a small residential street before KROQ even had a chance to annoy Seth. There were small houses on either side of a street marked by fenced-in lawns, and Seth took notice only of how normal everything looked. He wondered where the hell Ryan was taking him.

"No Mickey today," he quipped, while Ryan glanced at house numbers.

"Pull over here," Ryan said, gesturing to a non-descript house with several lawn chairs in the yard.

Seth parked and turned off the engine. He made sure to lock the Club his mother had forced him to take with them, before exiting the car. Her lack of trust in his car maintenance skills didn't bode well for his getting a car of his own any time soon, which was going to seriously dent any possibility of hooking up in the backseat of said ghost car with all those dates he didn't have. Except for the date he was on right now, which really wasn't one. Right.

Seth followed Ryan, or more accurately Ryan's ass, through the gate and up the walkway to the front door. He rocked back and forth in the Pumas he'd bought on Friday, and scratched at the logo on his shirt that said 'Draft Beer, Not People,' while Ryan knocked on the front door.

He looked good. He felt good. They were going to get these IDs, and then Seth was going to take Ryan to L.A. and show him the night of his life.

There was a strange clicking sound coming from somewhere, and Seth blinked when he realized that Ryan was staring at him.

"The thing about Rex you have to remember --" Ryan began, but his voice dropped off when the biggest guy Seth had ever seen opened the door with a scowl on his face.

"Rex" stood at least 6'3 and 250 lbs, and his black hair was pulled back in a ponytail underneath a brown Von Dutch hat. He wore blue shorts with red fish on them and a black shirt that said 'Oh-So-High-Oh.' There were tattoos on his neck and both of his arms. He was the scariest, fashion-challenged person Seth had ever seen. He reminded Seth of the Samoan rugby players he'd seen when he'd been waiting for the X—Games to air at three in the morning on ESPN2.

"It's Little Atwood," the man crowed, his face splitting into a huge grin as he dragged Ryan into a bear hug. "Man, I ain't seen you in about a minute, not since that last time with that thing and your brother and Ramon's pit bull."

Ryan's response was muffled, but he seemed pleased as well, and he only slightly ducked away when Rex let him go long enough to ruffle his hair into a staticy mess.

Seth's knees locked, and his mouth fell open of its own accord. He looked from Ryan to Rex more than a little shocked, but no one noticed. Little Atwood? Did that mean this guy knew Big Atwood? Was that Ryan's brother or father? Oh shit, did that mean this guy was a criminal? Seth mentally kicked himself. They were after fake IDs and this wasn't Kinko's, of course this guy was a criminal.

Seth was now officially associating with the criminal element. Donnie was just small fish. This was so cool. Or not. Definitely not.

"Who's your friend?"

Ryan turned back to Seth as though almost surprised to see him there. "This is Seth. Seth, T-Rex. T-Rex, Seth."

Seth aborted his move to shake T-Rex's hand when the other man just nodded his head.

"Shirley told me you was gonna stop by, but I ain't believe it," the man said, rubbing his stomach like a large Buddha, before stepping aside and ushering them into the house beyond. "I told her she needed to put down that pipe and get some air. You know how she is, can't tell that woman nothing."

Seth followed Ryan into a large sitting room, which was darkened by drawn curtains. There was a slightly acrid smell in the air. Despite the lack of sunlight when the door was closed, Seth had no problem making out the hardwood floors, black leather sofa with matching recliner, glass coffee table and huge plasma screen mounted on the wall. It was a nice living room; Seth was seriously impressed. Rex was definitely either a criminal or in the industry, not that the two were mutually exclusive.

Seth continued to look around the room as they walked in, making no pretense of tact, only to stumble when Ryan stopped. He held up his hands apologetically when Ryan turned back to glare at him. 'Sorry' he mouthed, while T-Rex rattled on to Ryan about some people Seth didn't know.

"So, what brings you to see me anyway? You were always the good one, I ain't think you'd ever come down here," T-Rex said finally.

Seth listened to the conversation detachedly while his eyes darted between the television, which he noticed was on but muted, and the remote on the coffee table. Eventually Seth's eyes were drawn back up to Ryan who was attempting to rearrange his hair into something less Einstein-like.

Seth smirked to himself as Rex moved away from the door.

"I need a couple of fake IDs," Ryan said.

Rex's laugh was like a motorboat rumbling. "Since when do Chino boys need IDs?"

Ryan was silent only for a second, but Seth cut in anyway. "We're going to L.A.," he said proudly.

T-Rex looked at Seth. "And this ain't no Chino boy. I know from Chino boys and you," he said, gesturing from Seth's Pumas to his shirt and freshly washed and mussed curls, "ain't from Chino."

"Seth's from Newport," Ryan interjected.

"Get out!" Rex exploded, before he slapped his hand over his mouth as though the words as escaped on their own. Seth immediately began backing away towards the door.

"You mean Newport Beach?" Rex said, his voice adopting a normal tone again as he looked from Seth to Ryan, his confusion evident. "Stop bullshittin' me, Lil' A. What the hell were you doing down there that you picked up this one?"

Ryan glanced at Seth almost hesitantly.

"I'm living down there, now," he said at Seth's nod of encouragement. "I live with Seth's family."

Rex was silent as he mulled over this bit of news. He looked over at Seth whose back was now firmly plastered against the front door, and then back at Ryan, and then back at Seth.

Before Seth knew what was happening, T-Rex was thundering across the room and hugging away all of Seth's lung capacity.

Rex smelled like baby powder and chocolate chip cookies.

"That's hot, man," Rex said to Ryan over Seth's head, possibly cracking several of Seth's ribs before letting him go. "I always knew you were better than that place. Didn't want you ending up in juvie, and now you're all up with Leave it to Beaver."

Seth rubbed at his chest when Rex finally let him go. His breath came in short spurts for several seconds as he watched Rex wade back across the room and ruffle Ryan's hair again, before crossing into the dining room and disappearing out of sight.

"You know we gotta celebrate, right?" Rex called from another room.

"Rex," Ryan began, wandering over to the doorway between the living room and the dining room. "We have to go to L.A. tonight, maybe some other time."

"Hey, I'll give you the IDs for free," Rex called out. "But you can't come to my house and not smoke up with me, that's just bad manners"

Ryan said something, which Seth didn't catch. He wandered over to the sofa and sat down. He rubbed at his chest before his eyes were drawn to Samurai Jack on the television, and he reached out for the remote as though he were at home.

He grabbed the first solid object his fingers touched and looked down to find the mute button. It took Seth several seconds to realize he wasn't holding a remote at all. He was holding a lighter, and on the table between he and the remote was a small pipe.

Seth cocked his head to the side. "Cool," he said with a nod of his head.

There was the clearing of a throat that wasn't Seth's, and he looked over at the doorway to see T-Rex holding a large multi-colored bong, looking supremely pleased, and standing next to Ryan who was looking less than happy.

So much for all of Seth's carefully laid plans.


Seth had his very first experience with serious illegal drugs at 3:26 on Saturday afternoon in August. The weather was 72 degrees and sunny with zero chance of rain. There was a slight breeze coming up from San Diego, and Seth had left his favorite Adidas jacket in the car. 'Grim and Evil' was on the Cartoon Network, and Seth was sandwiched on the sofa between a very pleased looking sumo wrestler, Rex, and the guy he was on a non-date with, Ryan.

As far as Seth could tell there were certainly worse places to be. Everyone smelled clean, and Seth was going to do proper drugs for the first time ever. Those weak spliffs that time behind the Marina main office didn't really count. All Seth had earned for his trouble was a headache, and who needed to find their dad's bong when their friends had friends like Rex?

Seth's heart was only beating slightly erratically, and Ryan's leg was pressed against his in a fashion that Seth would have found very encouraging if he had been paying attention. As things stood, however, Seth's attention was firmly on the bong in Rex's left hand and the lighter in his right. The pipe was two feet high, extremely psychedelic looking and had a round flat base for handy storage. Seth had never seen one up close before.

Of course he'd seen 'Dazed and Confused' and 'The Big Lebowski' and all those other stoner movies, but watching something on TV was very different from it taking place right next him. It was the difference between Ryan jerking him off and jerking himself off. Or not.

Strangely enough, Seth was only vaguely aware of Ryan's body pressed against his, and Ryan's arm resting along the back of the sofa behind Seth's head. Seth's eyes were trained on Rex's fingers wrapped around the neck of the bong, and Seth did not think of bad porn when Rex's mouth closed over the opening at the head of the bong.

Seth's eyes darted back and forth between the sparking lighter near the small bowl and Rex's massive inhalation of air. Then there were bubbles and smoke, and it was the fucking coolest thing Seth had ever seen.

He was hooked.

When Ryan whispered something in his ear, Seth just nodded absently. He was going to smoke a bowl, just like his dad. The 'whoa' factor was impairing all his other faculties severely.

Seth took the bong when Rex handed it off to him, and stared at it like it was Obi-Wan's light saber. He blinked when Ryan's hand immediately went to the opening. "Dude, don't cockblock," Seth said, turning to Ryan angrily.

Ryan's response was drowned out by Rex's laughing, which turned into a fit of coughing as he exhaled his hit.

"Hey," cough. "Don't," cough. "Bogart," cough. "Be back," Rex clambered to his feet and staggered off to the kitchen, coughing and thundering the entire way. Seth turned back to Ryan, his annoyance evident. He looked pointedly from Ryan's hand back to Ryan.

"You heard Rex, don't be inhospitable."

Ryan stared at Seth like he was a pod person. "You were letting the smoke escape," he challenged. "But that's not the point. Seth, you don't have to do this."

It was Seth's turn to stare at Ryan like he'd stepped out of 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers'. He attempted to pull the bong away. "I want to. Don't salt my game, man."

Ryan's hand remained firmly lodged. "Have you ever even smoked up before?"

"I smoked Jake Hill's homegrown the summer before ninth grade, which okay, smelled like burnt oregano, but have you?" Seth shot back.

They exchanged looks. "Okay, dumb question," Seth admitted.

"Seth, you really don't have to do this."

"I want to."

"All right, but do you even know how to use that?" Ryan nodded to the bong, which was now firmly ensconced on Seth's lap.

"No, but you can show me." Seth's stubborn streak refused to let this chance go by.

Ryan sighed. "All right, let me just get rid of this." And before Seth knew what was happening Ryan was crowding into his lap to replace his hand with his mouth. Every nerve in Seth's body went on red alert as Ryan's mouth closed over the opening of the bong and sucked out what remained of Rex's hit.

Seth blinked rapidly as Ryan pulled back, his eyes lidded and his chest puffed out with the extra air. He waited for Ryan to exhale. And waited some more. Just when Seth began to wonder if Rex had had an accident or if Ryan was going for the Guinness Record, Ryan expelled a large gust of white smoke. Seth whistled.

"Wow. I didn't know you could suck so much," he said before he thought better of it.

Ryan just chuckled. "I've had practice."

Seth was mortified. "I'll just shut up now."

"Okay," Ryan said, his voice husky. "Here's how it works: you're right-handed, so put the lighter in your right hand and hold the pipe with your left. There's a hole at the base behind the bowl, cover it with your thumb and use your other fingers to hold the bong steady against your chest."

Seth followed Ryan's instructions even as Ryan reached around Seth to correct Seth's movements. Despite his preoccupation with what he was about to do, Seth finally began to pick up on Ryan's touchy-feely vibe. It was less of a vibe and more of a tsunami.

Seth shook his head absently. He'd heard about contact highs: he was obviously under the influence already.

"Place your mouth over the opening and suck at the same time that you light the bowl," Ryan said finally, sitting back and gazing at Seth expectantly.

Seth lowered his head to the hole, looking up at Ryan through his eyelashes. Ryan's lips were parted expectantly as he watched, and Seth wondered what it would be like to kiss him. Shaking his head minutely, Seth sparked up the lighter and inhaled hard. The neck of the bong filled with cloudy smoke, and Seth kept sucking.

"Take your thumb off! Take your thumb off the hole!" Ryan insisted. Seth let go and the smoke filled his lungs. It was like being stuck in an elevator with too many old women wearing strong perfume. Seth began to cough violently as Ryan's hand clamped down on the opening to keep the rest of his hit from escaping. Seth let go of the bong, choosing instead to roll over, curl up and die.

He coughed until his lungs threatened to crawl out his chest, and rolled back over only to watch as Ryan finished off the last of his hit and then prepared to take one of his own.

Obviously Ryan had a lot of experience at a lot of things, and Seth slumped down into the leather of the sofa and watched between slitted eyes as Ryan wrapped his mouth around the neck of the bong and inhaled sharply. Seth counted ten elephants before Ryan exhaled between pursed lips, and again Seth thought about kissing him. For all his resolve about this being a non-date, Seth was having decidedly date-like desires.

Seth opened his mouth to say something only to cough, again, and when Ryan laughed, Seth slapped Ryan's leg and grabbed the bong away. He was going to get this right if it killed him, which really wasn't so farfetched.

Seth's second hit went better than his first, which wasn't saying much. He managed to finish his entire hit himself, but he was too busy coughing up both his lungs to celebrate his success.

Eventually the cough and the spasms stopped, and Seth rolled over on his back to see Ryan gazing at him.

When Ryan winked at him, Seth gaped openly.

Was Ryan stoned already? Why wasn't Seth? Was he stoned? He had to be stoned. Seth froze, and his brain sped up as Ryan stretched out over him, was he going to kiss him? Ryan was going to kiss him. Was Ryan going to kiss him? Seth squeezed his eyes shut and nothing happened until the sound of MTV broke through Seth's protective barrier.

Seth's eyes popped open, and he stared stupidly at Ryan nestled firmly against the back of the sofa and holding the remote control between his splayed legs.

They could've watched MTV at home. Was this home? No, there was no leather at home. Seth shook his head and shifted around until he was smushed against Ryan's side on the sofa. His eyes rolled in his head before he was able to focus. The television was very loud and very bright. His chest was sore, Ryan was warm, and otherwise Seth felt good. He didn't know what being stoned was supposed to feel like, but he felt very relaxed. This was definitely better than being drunk.

Seth had watched plenty of stoner movies in his time, and he knew exactly how the whole smoking up thing was supposed to go down: they would smoke up, have a few laughs, eat some food and be in L.A. in time for Rooney's opening set at nine. Right.

Seth's head lolled onto Ryan's shoulder as Ryan draped his arm along the back of the sofa. "What happened to Rex?" Ryan asked.

Seth turned his head very slowly. Ryan was right there. He had really blue eyes and nice eyebrows. "Rex?"

"Rex," Ryan repeated, and Seth's mind whirled. Did he know a Rex? Was it a code? Ryan could be tricky like that sometimes, he was always keeping things to himself, and maybe Rex was an anagram. Really Exotic Xs. No. Red Easter Exhibits. No, exhibits began with an 'e'.

Seth's brain was still trying to figure out what was going on when Ryan moved suddenly, and Seth fell onto his side. He stared at Ryan looming over him. Ryan's shirt was tight in all the right places and his jeans...

Seth made a strange whimpering noise.

"We have to go find, Rex," Ryan said. Seth heard something completely different. He'd never thought Ryan was so easy. He'd turned down Marissa, but then there'd been that thing with Gabrielle; Seth was so confused.

He'd never thought Ryan would just say 'we have to go have sex.'

Seth jumped to his feet as quickly as he could despite the spots that had suddenly formed before his eyes. "Cool. Let's go."

Seth followed hot on Ryan's heels, except unlike Ryan Seth managed to bang into the coffee table, the doorway and the dining room table. He was slightly confused when they went into the kitchen, but the brownies on the counter were too much to resist, and Seth snagged one. As they left the kitchen, Seth caught strains of a song he liked playing on MTV and he sung along between bites of brownie.

They stepped into another room, and again Seth bumped into Ryan when he stopped suddenly. Was now the time for sex? When Ryan turned around and glared, Seth got the distinct impression that he'd missed something along the way, and wordlessly he offered up a piece of brownie. Ryan just shook his head.

"No, thanks," he said.

"Dude, you're eating the brownies, too?" a voice projected from somewhere behind Ryan. Rex. Right. Like a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Things were getting seriously weird to like the nth degree in Seth's head.

"You're gonna be fucked up," Rex laughed.

Seth craned his head around Ryan and came eye to eye with Rex sitting at a small glass table completely snowed under by passports, laminating machines, stamps, magnifying lenses and a Polaroid camera. The fluorescent lighting hurt Seth's eyes, and he blinked several times. In this room T-Rex looked very green, like a big dinosaur, which explained a lot.

"Just making your IDs," Rex said by way of explanation. "Got your photos off my security system at the door."

Ryan was quicker than Seth. "What security?"

"You didn't hear that clicking? Ah, that's tight, dog, means we hooked that shit up."

"What's up?" Seth said before popping the last bit of brownie in his mouth. He felt very proud of himself for saying something, it seemed as though conversation wasn't coming as naturally as it normally did.

"Wait, are those Kryptonite brownies?" Ryan asked as Seth swallowed the last of his brownie.

"Fresh batch," Rex said taking a swig from a large glass of water, and ignoring Ryan's muttered curses "Want a beer?"

"Yes," Seth said. "And again, yes."

"No, Seth," Ryan said.

"Whatever, dad."

Ryan looked pointedly at Rex, while behind him Seth made cutting motions across neck. After a while Seth had no idea what he was doing that for, and his brain went in other directions.

He wanted more brownies. Kryptonite brownies. Kryptonite like in Superman because the marijuana was green and Kryptonite was green. Heh. That was funny. Seth began to laugh and he found he couldn't stop.

Seth kept laughing until he had to sit down on the floor. His stomach began to hurt and he still couldn't stop; he felt so fucking good. He kept laughing as Rex came from around his desk, and he and Ryan grabbed Seth under his arms and hauled him to his feet.

"I feel so fucking good," Seth crowed as they dragged him back into the kitchen. Seth was deposited at the kitchen table, while Rex wrapped up the brownies and put them away.

"I want more brownies," Seth said as Ryan took up the seat across from him at the table, only to forget his statement ten seconds later when his ears picked up more strains of MTV.

"Why don't you order a pizza or something --" Rex began before his sentence died off. "Wait, are they playing my jam on MTV?"

Seth had never seen anybody that big move that fast. One minute T-Rex was in the kitchen and the next he was whooping and hollering in the living room about Missy Elliott's diet plan. It was not Seth's imagination that the floor shook. And then the rapping began.

"I'm a bad mamajama goddammit motherfucker you ain't gotta like me," Rex sang, and Seth looked from Ryan to where Rex was apparently break dancing. Seth could so do that.

Seth sprinted into the living room just as Rex went into some sort of convulsive seizure that might have been a dance move. Seth locked his arms together and threw out a wave and reverse wave, and Rex nodded his head. "You got some moves to go with that, Newport?"

"I've got moves you haven't even seen," Seth said, letting his legs relax as he dropped to his knees and then back up.

Rex clapped. "Go on with your bad self!"

"Ryan," Seth hollered bouncing around on one leg. "You've gotta dance."

"I don't dance," Ryan announced from where he was slumped against the doorway watching the proceedings.

"Everybody dances to Missy in my house," Rex announced.

"I'm not that stoned," Ryan said.

Seth just laughed.

When Ryan continued to stand immobile, Seth slunk over and tried to coax him into dancing, but Ryan was implacable.

"What does it take with you?" Seth finally asked just as a loud rap song about pimps cut off.

The room was silent except for Rex's uproarious laughter. "That's in the too much information category, Newport."

"I've heard that 'please' is good," Ryan said.

"Fine, will you please dance with me?" Seth said.

Ryan shrugged. "Don't say I didn't warn you."


Dancing made Seth hungry. Talking made Seth hungry. So did boarding, sailing and breathing. Seth actually couldn't think of anything that didn't make him hungry, but he had never been hungry like he was hungry right now, and if he didn't eat soon he was probably going to go cannibal. Actually no, because yuck, but he was really hungry and he wanted to eat and watching the Food Network was not helping matters. Neither was being sprawled out next to Ryan on the sofa, but Seth highly doubted that Ryan was on the menu at Chez Rex.

"We have to eat soon," Seth moaned. "I'm going to die if we don't eat soon."

"You're not going to die," Ryan corrected.

"I am. I'm going to die of starvation, and my body will grow old and rotten, and I'll be even skinner than I am now. At least grandpa will stop giving me shit about football, but make sure mom doesn't bury me in a bow-tie."

Ryan snorted. "A little dramatic don't you think?"

"No," Seth insisted. "I was going to take you out to eat after the concert, but I changed my mind. We have to eat now before I eat my own arm."

Ryan shifted so that he was towering over Seth's slumped form. "You were going to take me out to eat?"

"Why do you think I was killing myself with those sailing lessons this week?" Seth blathered on, his mouth working completely independently of his brain, which was currently in Tahiti baking on a white sand beach.

"Seth, I work so that you don't have to pay for everything," Ryan reminded him.

"Yeah, but I invited you out, hence the whole me paying for things. I don't know how things work in Chino, but that's how it works where I come from."


Seth cut Ryan off. "I mean who ever heard of paying on a date that you were invited on?"

Ryan cocked his head to side and considered Seth carefully. His eyes crinkled around the edges as he smiled. Seth had no idea what he'd said to make that happen, but Ryan needed to smile more. Ryan went to speak again and was cut off again by the opening of the front door.

Rex lumbered into the house, holding two large pizza boxes in front of him, and then kicked the door shut with his foot.

"I wondered where you'd gone," Ryan said as Seth jumped to his feet and made a beeline for Rex.

"Don't even think about it, Newport," Rex said to Seth, holding the pizza boxes so far out of Seth's reach that he got a crick in his neck. Turning to Ryan, he said," Had to go out and meet the pizza man, I couldn't bring him in here, could I? The place smells like Snoop just got done demo-ing a song.

"You've worked with Snoop Dogg?" Seth asked, momentarily diverted.

"Boy, since I come up from Orlando, I've worked with everybody. Disney's like that," Rex said. "How do you think I know this knucklehead's family?"

Seth thought for several seconds. "I have to eat," he said, getting back on track.

"It's 4:20," Rex said. "We observe tradition, then you can eat."

Seth had heard of 4:20. 4:20 was big. All around the world people were sparking up in unison, like a big stoner fest.

It didn't matter; he had to eat.

"I think he's had enough," Ryan called as Seth dogged Rex's enormous footsteps into the kitchen.

Rex eyed Seth's glazed expression thoughtfully. "You're probably right, man. Your boy is way past half-baked. Looks like those brownies are the shit."

"I have to eat," Seth insisted as Rex managed to keep the pizzas away from Seth, open the refrigerator, and take out a six-pack of Sierra Nevada without missing a beat. "I'm going to shrivel up and die like all the life was sucked out of me by Glory."

Rex motioned for Seth to go first. Seth made his way back through the dining room and dropped down next to Ryan dejectedly.

"I should've known you were into Buffy," Rex said, sitting the beer down first.

"You're not going to give me shit are you?"

"Why would I player hate on my girl?" Rex demanded as he sat down, and then set the pizza boxes on his lap.

Realizing there was no way he was going to get past Rex to the pizza, Seth stood back up. "I have to use the bathroom."

"Down the hall and to the right," Rex said, gesturing with one hand as he reached for the bong with the other. "Don't fall asleep. And don't lock yourself in."

Seth followed Rex's directions.

"And don't break the toilet seat," Rex called.

Seth muttered to himself as he shuffled down the hall. The first room he came to was a bedroom, as was the second. The third room was an art studio of some kind judging by the paintings and the pottery wheel. How many rooms could be in a house this small, Seth had no idea. He opened a door on his left and wound up in the linen closet. It smelled pretty good. Seth wasn't sure what fabric softener Rosa used, but he didn't think it was this was the one Rex used. After some time Seth came out of the closet. He had no idea what the hell he'd been doing in there, and he followed the sound of the TV back to the living room.

The entire room reeked of freshly burned greenery, and Rex was standing by the television lighting several sticks of incense. "You all right, Newport?" he asked as Seth stood in the doorway trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

"Yeah." Seth nodded his head once. "Yeah," he repeated, enjoying the way the word felt in his mouth.

Seth felt Rex's eyes on him as Seth walked back across the room and dropped down next to Ryan. Ryan with his blue eyes and nice ass and really well toned biceps.

"Do you work out?" Seth asked randomly, and Rex burst out laughing.

"You are so cut off, man," Rex said, gesturing to Seth as he handed Ryan a beer. Ryan grinned at Seth as he passed the beer along.

"It was his first time using a pipe, and I think the brownies pretty much did him in." Seth took the beer and gazed openly at Ryan. He looked extremely relaxed even if his eyes were a bit glassy.

Rex flipped open the lid on a huge mushroom and pepperoni pizza which Seth suddenly didn't want anymore. "You didn't tell me he was virgin," Rex said around a large slice of pizza, causing Seth to choke on his beer.

"Hey! No mocking the virgin," he managed to wheeze out while glaring at Rex.

Ryan pounded on his back until Seth stopping coughing. Soon enough the pounding turned into soothing little circles, and Seth held very still while still glaring at Rex who was focusing on 'Boy Meets Grill' and completely oblivious.

"You should probably get some air," Ryan suggested, eventually stopping his ministrations.

Seth nodded and looked at Ryan expectantly.

They stood up at the same time, beers in hand.

"We're gonna get some air," Ryan said.

Rex just grunted.


Seth stood on the walkway in front of Rex's house staring blankly into the sky. He knew that being outside in Anaheim wasn't that different from being outside in Newport, but it sure felt like it. The air was less humid, and there was no hint of salt. Plus, Seth couldn't see Disneyland from his bedroom, and from Rex's front lawn Seth was sure he could see some ride or another. He hadn't been to Disneyland in years though, and Seth wondered if Ryan had ever been at all. Seth turned around and caught Ryan watching him from his perch in one of Rex's lawn chairs.

That explained what those were there for.

"Do you want to go to Disneyland?" Seth asked.

Ryan brought his hand up to shade his eyes from the setting sun. "Maybe next Saturday."

Seth nodded judiciously before turning back around and considering the area he now thought of as Disneyland. For as long as he could remember he'd thought Disneyland was the only thing in Anaheim, except for No Doubt, but now that he'd met Rex it made Anaheim seem more real. Like it was someplace besides 'The Happiest Place on Earth.'

Or maybe that was Disney World.


Seth wandered over to the fence, and attempted to rest his arms on the support bar that was strung across the fence. He took a sip of his beer after offering a toast to the still-there-and-graffiti-free Rover. He felt strangely free and happy; he turned around to smile at Ryan and was jarred to find his chair empty.

"Having a good time?" came a voice from behind him

Seth whirled around a bit too quickly and had to blink several times to reorient himself. "Don't tease the stoner," he griped as Ryan sidled up next to him against the fence.

Ryan grinned, which was perhaps the second time Seth had ever seen him so relaxed. "So, how do you feel, stoner?"

"Pretty damn good. What about you?"

"Not too bad."

"And it's still early." Seth added.



"So," Ryan began.


"Is this how you wanted the date to go?"

Seth blinked and dropped his beer in the grass. "Uh."

Ryan was undeterred. "This is a date, isn't it, Seth?"

"Yeah. No. No," Seth paused. "Do you want it to be?"

Ryan took a long swig from his bottle. "Only if you want it to be."

They were quiet for several seconds. Seth stared down at his beer, which had emptied out on the grass, and listened to the sounds of Ryan swallowing his beer.

"So, do you still want to go to L.A. on this date?" Seth asked finally.

He looked up, and Ryan smiled. Seth felt his chest get tight.

"It's still early yet," Ryan said finally. "We can decide in an hour or two."

Seth nodded, and took a sip when Ryan offered him his beer.

They were quiet for several seconds more, listening to the sounds of suburban living in Anaheim. It seemed strangely quiet in comparison to their home by the beach. Their home. Their home? Wasn't it way early for Seth to be going all domestic? They hadn't even had a date yet.

Ryan leaned forward at one point, and Seth's eyes opened wide.

"Y'all been out here for like an hour," Rex called from the steps. "I'm done with these damn IDs, so why don't you come in and stop scaring the neighbors?"

"I'm thinking that's not a bad idea," Seth answered.

"And don't leave your beers out there, man. This ain't Newport Beach."


Seth was in the pool with Ryan. They were lying on those inflatable rafts that Seth had given his dad so much shit about because they were so infantile, even though Seth used them like all the time. Seth was trying to read 'Maxim', but Ryan kept flicking water at him and then acting like he wasn't doing anything,. Finally Seth gave up and tossed the magazine at Ryan who let it fall into the pool. He said Seth wasn't fooling anybody, and Seth couldn't even pretend that he didn't know what Ryan was talking about. Then Ryan wasn't on his float, he was on Seth's, and they were kissing, and dude, Ryan was a good kisser.

Seth was so dreaming.

He woke up when something knocked against his leg, and he rubbed at his eyes with his fist. Seth didn't even remember falling asleep, but apparently he had at some point, and Ryan was now asleep in his lap. Correction: Ryan's head was asleep in his lap, and that was just way too close to some other things that were much more awake than Seth.

"It's seven o'clock," Rex said, tapping Seth's leg with the remote control. "I'm about to watch some 'Iron Chef,' you wanna watch?"

"It's seven?" Seth repeated. Shit, they were supposed to be at the El Rey. Traffic into the city right now would be a bitch; they would never make it. Seth had really wanted Ryan to see Rooney, too. He'd really wanted them to have this date, non-date. Whatever.

"Ryan?" Seth reached down and tapped Ryan's shoulder. "Ryan, do you still want to go to L.A.?"

Ryan made several noises before pushing himself up and off Seth's lap. His hair was everywhere, and his eyes were slightly glazed. Seth was stupidly besotted.

"Are the IDs ready?" Ryan asked around a huge yawn.

Rex laughed. "I told you they were ready before y'all decided to turn my place into a shelter, but I'm thinking you need to forget about L.A. and just stay here and sleep it off instead."

"We're fine," Ryan said, sitting up next to Seth but letting his head roll onto Seth's shoulder. His eyes fluttered closed again, but he grunted when Seth poked him carefully.

Rex just shook his head. "Whatever, Lil' A. The only place you're going is back to sleep."

"But the concert," Seth protested even as he slumped further into the sofa. "Our date --" he said before slapping his hand over his mouth.

Rex snorted, and Ryan shifted slightly so that his head rested in the curve of Seth's neck. It was actually nice, and Ryan was still really warm.

Rooney would tour again. So would Maroon 5.

"Y'all already had your date," Rex said. "You went somewhere, had some food, some drink, danced, watched TV, what hell more you want, Newport? Damn."

Seth opened and closed his mouth while Ryan laughed quietly into his neck. "Yeah, but..."

"But what?" Rex challenged as he sat back in his recliner and turned on Iron Chef. "Look at y'all acting all cozy up on my sofa, are you gonna try and tell me you really need another date?"

Seth looked down as Ryan tilted his head up. Now would be a really good time for Ryan to kiss him, or for him to kiss Ryan.

"I'ma just look away while y'all do what you gotta do," Rex's voice interjected.

Seth parted his lips to laugh, but wound up being firmly kissed instead. Ryan's hand materialized from somewhere to grip Seth's shirt, and Seth leaned forward as much as he could. Ryan's mouth was warm, and he tasted of Sierra Nevada and mushrooms. His tongue swept through Seth's mouth, setting off all sort of frissons of lust in its wake. Sadly, Seth had to stop to breathe, and he fought very hard not to moan when Ryan pulled away slowly, after nipping at Seth's bottom lip.

"Chen is my dog; I'm not feeling Sakai," Rex announced, effectively killing their moment, and both Ryan and Seth laughed. They shifted on the sofa so that they both were comfortable and watched a few seconds of Iron Chef.

"Rex," Ryan said, "thanks for letting us hang at your place today. I know you probably had stuff you wanted to do."

"Ain't no thang, Lil' A, always glad to do something for somebody who's trying to make good."

Seth smiled as he closed his eyes. "Rex, could you wake us up in time to drive back by one because I'm really not trying to get grounded after the only good date I've ever had."

"Sure thing, Newport. Just remember, you fuck this up, and I'll find you."

Seth's eyes popped open to find Rex grinning at him.

"Just kidding, man. Hell, y'all can come back next week if you want."

Seth nudged Ryan.

Ryan yawned, again. "We'll see."


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