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Down Mexico Way :icontheeyeshield:TheEyeShield 0 0
Down Mexico Way - Oscar and Kevin by TheEyeShield Down Mexico Way - Oscar and Kevin :icontheeyeshield:TheEyeShield 0 0 Down Mexico Way - Ella and Kevin by TheEyeShield Down Mexico Way - Ella and Kevin :icontheeyeshield:TheEyeShield 0 0 Portrait: Rose Rivera by TheEyeShield Portrait: Rose Rivera :icontheeyeshield:TheEyeShield 3 0
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An Overdue Visit :icontheeyeshield:TheEyeShield 0 0
The Riveras Abed - Lucy, Jandro, Oscar and Kevin by TheEyeShield
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The Riveras Abed - Lucy, Jandro, Oscar and Kevin :icontheeyeshield:TheEyeShield 1 0
An Overdue Visit - Kevin and Lucy by TheEyeShield An Overdue Visit - Kevin and Lucy :icontheeyeshield:TheEyeShield 0 0 An Overdue Visit - Kevin and Oscar by TheEyeShield An Overdue Visit - Kevin and Oscar :icontheeyeshield:TheEyeShield 0 0
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Q-and-A - Oscar and Kevin by TheEyeShield
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Q-and-A - Kevin and Oscar by TheEyeShield Q-and-A - Kevin and Oscar :icontheeyeshield:TheEyeShield 0 0
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Christmas Special - The Final Secret :icontheeyeshield:TheEyeShield 0 0
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Unfinished Business :icontheeyeshield:TheEyeShield 0 0
Unfinished Business - Kevin and Oscar by TheEyeShield
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Unfinished Business - Kevin and Oscar :icontheeyeshield:TheEyeShield 0 0
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Kevin and Oscar: Snapshots
Down Mexico Way


Carl, Beth, James, Michael, Ella, Eduardo, Kylie and Conchita were ranged around the communal areas of the Rivera house. A large banner proclaiming Buen Viaje! was dominating the living room, while the array of birthday cards on the mantelpiece bore testament to the fact that the previous day had been Kevin's nineteenth birthday.

Kevin dashed out of his bedroom and ran down the stairs, dressed in shorts, T-shirt and sneakers. He dumped his overflowing backpack by the front door, swept through the living room and dining room with an expectant expression on his face, and then went into the kitchen. He leaned against the breakfast bar and exhaled heavily, causing Beth to look over from the sink.

'He isn't here yet, Mom,' Kevin said, slightly peevishly. 'Why isn't he here yet?'

'I don't know, sweetheart, but there's still plenty of time,' Beth said reassuringly. 'Jamie, no! That's not for eating, darling.'

'I'm gonna try calling again,' said Kevin.

'Okay, honey,' said Beth, as she succeeded in wrestling a wooden spoon away from James, 'but they're probably on their way right now.'

Kevin went into the hallway, dialled the phone and held it to his ear, jiggling up and down with impatience as it rang continuously. After a reasonable amount of time, Kevin sighed and abandoned the phone. He turned to see that Michael was standing in the living room doorway, watching him.

'Don't worry, Kev,' said Michael. 'He'll be here.'

'You really think so?' Kevin asked anxiously.

'Of course,' said Michael. 'He's never let you down before, has he?'

'No,' said Kevin. 'But what if he's suddenly realised he doesn't want to come?'

'Don't talk garbage, Kev,' said Michael. 'The two of you have been planning this trip for years – there's no way he's gonna bail now! You know how much he loves you – he'll be here.'

'Yeah... yeah, I guess you're right,' said Kevin. 'Thanks, Mike.'

'You're gonna have a fantastic time in Mexico,' said Michael. 'And you definitely deserve it! You've always been the best friend anyone could ever have. I don't know why you decided to be so cool to me, 'cause I definitely wasn't cool to you first, and I just want to say that I... I really care about you, Kev.'

'I really care about you, Mike,' said Kevin, beaming at him.

'And I want you to know that I'll miss you while you're in Mexico.'

'I'll miss you too, dude. I'll send you a few postcards, so we won't have to miss each other too much.'

Michael smiled and nodded, then he looked down at the floor. Kevin made an attempt to enter the living room, but before he could sidle past Michael, he found himself enveloped in a crushing hug.

'You make sure you take care of yourself, Kev, okay?' Michael breathed into his ear. 'You might get mugged by some nutjob!'

'I promise you, Mike,' said Kevin, returning the unexpected hug, 'I'll be very careful.'

'Good,' said Michael, 'because I want to see you back here in one piece, okay?'

'Okay,' said Kevin.

Michael clapped Kevin on the back several times before withdrawing his arms and shambling off in a very embarrassed manner. Kevin turned to see that Ella had been watching from the foot of the stairs.

'Now that was hot, Kev,' she grinned at him. 'Well-muscled male bonding – just what I like best!'

'It wasn't hot,' said Kevin, 'it was surprisingly tender. He's never hugged me before, you know.'

'Of course not,' said Ella. 'I never thought I'd see the day when Mike would hug another boy... but then I'm not surprised he made an exception for you. You were the first person – well, the first boy – ever to offer him real friendship, and I know he loves you for that.'

'He must've had some friends at elementary school,' said Kevin.

'No, he didn't,' said Ella. 'Well, I guess there was that little gang of his, but they were just afraid of him... and he was pretty awful to everyone. I remember one time when every boy in the fifth grade except Michael was invited to Ethan Coke's birthday party at Laser Tag, and Michael stood in the middle of the classroom having a huge tantrum for a half-hour. When the principal came to deal with the situation, Michael punched him in the mouth.'

'Oh my God, he didn't!'

'He did! He almost got kicked out of school for that, but they gave him another chance in the end. My girl-friends gave me hell when we came back for the first day of sixth grade and Mike and I announced we were a couple... not that any of those girls were really my friends, of course... but anyway, I'm glad I made friends with Mike and I'm glad we started dating – well, saying we were dating but not actually going anywhere or doing anything for a year or so – and I'm glad we were put in the seventh grade with you, Kev.'

'So am I,' said Kevin. 'I think of you both as very close friends, Ella... and I really mean that this time!'

Ella laughed, looped her arms around Kevin's neck and kissed him on the cheek.

'You're a true diamond, Kev,' she told him. 'I know you're gonna have an excellent time in Mexico and I wish you all the happiness in the world, and you're wonderful and you're gorgeous!'

'Oh yeah?' Kevin laughed. 'I'm not just cute in my own way?'

'No,' Ella grinned, 'you're much more than that!'

Kevin smiled and hugged her, then the doorbell rang. Kevin dropped Ella like a hot brick and ran to answer it.

*

Kevin pulled Oscar over the threshold and enfolded him in a tight embrace. Peter, Dana and Jessica sidled around the pair of them and entered the house, maintaining a tactful silence as they headed for the living room.

'Don't do that to me!' Kevin exhaled in Oscar's face. 'I thought you were standing me up!'

'Never,' said Oscar, reaching out to stroke Kevin's cheek. 'I couldn't find my passport. We were all searching for ages, then I finally remembered I'd folded it up in a pair of underpants and packed it last week.'

Kevin laughed in sheer relief, then he kissed Oscar with unbridled passion. As his right hand wandered up to cup the back of Oscar's head, Kevin was struck by a sudden realisation.

'Your hair!' Kevin exclaimed. 'What the hell happened to your hair, man?'

Oscar grinned, and reached up to touch his closely cropped hair.

'It was a practical decision, and it's not because I'm worried about catching fleas or anything like that,' he said. 'We're gonna be away for six months, and it grows so fast – it'll be down to my shoulders again by the time we get back.'

'Yeah, I guess so,' said Kevin. 'Jeez, now I wish I'd had a trim myself – mine will be out of control in six months! Still, I guess I can get a quick cut in Mexico somewhere.'

'You didn't really think I wasn't gonna show up, did you? We've been planning this trip for years!'

'I don't know what I thought. But now... oh, now everything's perfect!'

They kissed again, and continued doing so until Jessica stuck her head out of the living room.

'Everyone's waiting for you to come in,' she announced. 'You're not gonna get too carried away out there, are you?'

Kevin and Oscar turned round, looking rather sheepish. Jessica gave them a grin and then ducked back into the living room; they followed quickly behind her.

*

Everyone had gathered in the living room and was talking together in small clusters. Kevin and Oscar found an area of free floor next to Eduardo and Peter, who were having a conversation.

'Yeah, I really feel comfortable in my role – you know, like I'm where I'm supposed to be in my life,' Eduardo was saying. 'People really accept me as the boss now; like, they know I know what I'm doing. They don't look at me and think “Oh, he's the Venkman character” anymore.'

'Do they look at you and think “Oh, he's the Spengler character” instead?' said Peter.

Eduardo laughed and said, 'I don't think I've gotten that far yet.'

Peter smiled, then he reached out to ruffle what remained of Oscar's hair. Oscar squirmed slightly, but allowed the incident to pass without comment.

'Everything okay, champ?' Peter asked.

'Yes, Dad,' said Oscar, beaming all over his face, 'everything's really great!'

'Oh, oh, Kevin and Oscar are here!' Beth suddenly exclaimed, drowning out the rest of the conversation in the room. 'That means we can all come together to wish them bon voyage... buen viaje, I mean. Carl, did you want to say something?'

Carl drew himself up to his full height and cleared his throat. Kevin winced and looked down at his feet.

'Oh my God,' he muttered, 'he's going to make a speech!'

'Is that so bad?' said Oscar.

'It'll be embarrassing,' said Kevin.

'I want to thank you all for coming to my house today,' said Carl, 'to wish Kevin and Oscar well on their adventure in Mexico. Now, I'm not normally one for making speeches, but I just want to make it clear to all of you that my son has my full support in whatever he chooses to do with his life, and he needn't ever fear that I'm going to try to stand in his way, or dissuade him from following his heart. Kevin, your life is very different from mine – I understand that, and I accept it. You're a caring, loving, generous person, and in many ways a better man than I've ever been. I love you, son; I hope you know that.'

Everyone applauded Carl politely, then all eyes turned to Kevin for his response.

'Yes, Dad,' said Kevin. 'Thank you; I do. And I appreciate everything you just said, but I wish you would've told me in private.'

Everyone exchanged slightly awkward glances.

'And so, son, as you prepare to embark on your great journey...' Carl continued.

'Jesus, he hasn't finished yet!' Kevin hissed to Oscar, who reached out and held his hand.

'...I wish you good luck, good health and, er... good travelling conditions. And please, don't think that I'm being a hypocrite – I'm well aware that if I went back in time a few years and told my past self what you were going to be doing on this day, he... I mean, I... would've tried to do everything in my power to stop you. I'd have said, “For God's sake, don't go to Mexico – just forget the damn country even exists and concentrate on being an American!” And I'd have said, “Turn away from the homosexual life!”'

Oscar squeezed Kevin's hand tightly; Kevin squeezed back.

'But I'd have been wrong,' said Carl. 'I know that now. It's your life, Kevin; not mine. So I say again, I give you all my love to take with you on your journey... whatever that's worth.'

Everyone applauded again. Kevin smiled sheepishly, but could not think of anything else to say.

'And while we're all together,' said Beth, 'Kylie has an announcement she wants to make.'

Kylie stood on the couch so that everyone could see her.

'Eduardo and I both agree,' she said with a huge smile, 'that this is the best time to tell you all that I'm pregnant again!'

The response to this news was both loud and enthusiastic throughout the room. Only James and Conchita remained unmoved, as they toddled around together between everyone's legs.

'Can we go ahead and get to work on the buffet now?' Jessica's voice was suddenly raised above the hubbub.

'Yes, by all means,' Beth called back. 'Please, everyone – relax and enjoy yourselves!'

*

Kevin was mindlessly cramming Cheetos into his mouth, looking peevishly at his father, when Kylie came up to him.

'Hey,' she said. 'I guess you didn't think much of what Carl had to say, huh?'

'I know he meant well,' said Kevin. 'But Jesus, it was so embarrassing!'

'That's parents for you,' Kylie laughed. 'But really, Kev, I don't think your dad knows how lucky he is – you're a pretty incredible guy, you know.'

'Sometimes I think my dad would've preferred a son who did go out stealing and drinking and drug-taking and knocking up girls,' said Kevin, 'and didn't care about people and sea turtles and wasn't... well, wasn't like me. Not that he'd have approved of those things, but at least he'd have been able to understand them.'

'Well, I guess if James turns into a tearaway then Carl will get his wish, won't he?' said Kylie.

'No, I don't think so,' Kevin laughed. 'He's different now.'

'Because of you,' said Kylie. 'You've had a hugely positive effect on quite a few people's lives, Kev; don't ever forget that, will you?'

'I'll try not to,' said Kevin, smiling weakly at her. 'Jeez, but what about you? Another baby, huh? I'm gonna have to brush up on my babysitting skills.'

'You won't have time for babysitting,' said Kylie. 'What about all that medical training you're going to be doing?'

'Hey, I'll always have time for you and Eduardo and your family,' said Kevin. 'I mean, 'cause it's my family too. You're my family; that's what I'm trying to say. And I know we'll always be a part of each other's families, no matter how they end up branching out in various ways... Jesus, I'm not making any sense! And it sounded so good in my head.'

Kylie smiled, and gathered Kevin into a close embrace. He hugged her back, resting his cheek on top of her head.

'You're making perfect sense,' said Kylie, 'and you're absolutely right – however you cut it, we're all the Riveras.'

Eduardo came up to them, and clapped Kevin on the back. Kylie stepped back from Kevin and slipped her arm through Eduardo's; they smiled at each other.

'Well,' said Kylie, 'everyone knows now.'

'Did you tell Kevin about the names?' Eduardo asked.

'Oh... no, I didn't,' said Kylie. 'You tell him, sweetie.'

'What names?' said Kevin.

'Names for the baby,' said Eduardo. 'If it's a girl then we're gonna call her Rose, after Grandma Rose... and if it's a boy, we thought we'd call him Kevin.'

'After you,' Kylie added. 'I suggested Alberto, or Albert, at first... but Eduardo said he didn't really want to use that name.'

'It's not that I don't like it,' Eduardo added. 'It's just that I think there are better names out there, and Kevin is one of them.'

'We hope you approve of our plan,' said Kylie.

'Of course I do,' said Kevin, 'if you're really sure you want a baby named after me – I'm not all that special, you know.'

'Yes, you are,' said Kylie.

'Of course you are, dude,' said Eduardo.

Kevin smiled, and Eduardo ruffled his hair.

'We really can't use Kevin if we have another girl, of course,' Kylie added. 'Not even as a middle name, really.'

'That's okay,' said Kevin. 'It's the thought that counts.'

*

A short time later, Ella and Michael went into the front hallway and came up to Kevin and Oscar, who were checking through a huge pile of bus tickets that Kevin had been keeping in his backpack.

'I have to go now, guys,' said Ella. 'I said I'd meet my sister from soccer practice and walk home with her.'

'And I'm tagging along,' said Michael.

'Thanks so much for coming to see us off,' Kevin beamed at them. 'We'll see you in six months... and make sure you keep your eyes open for those postcards, won't you?'

Ella smiled and nodded, then she gave Kevin a hug and a quick kiss. She then moved on to hug Oscar, whom she also pecked on the cheek.

'I'm gonna accept any gigs we get for the new year,' Ella told Oscar, 'so just you make sure you come back safely, and you're ready to rock and roll again when you do!'

'Don't worry, Ella,' said Oscar. 'The band is still very important to me. You and Tim and Danny can finish writing those songs we were working on the other day. This definitely isn't the end – Mood Slime is only on hiatus.'

'You bet your sweet ass it is!' Ella grinned at him. 'Have a great time, dude... and don't do anything I wouldn't do.'

'Okay,' said Oscar, grinning back at her. 'That should give me enough scope for everything I was hoping to do and then some!'

Ella laughed, and Michael raised an eyebrow.

'Well...' he said, looking more than a little embarrassed. 'Bye then, guys.'

Michael shook Oscar's hand and they clapped each other on the shoulder. Michael and Kevin then went through the same ritual, but Michael could not resist giving Kevin another hug while he was at it. When he had finished, he looked at the floor, sidled to the front door, opened it and left the house. Ella gave Kevin and Oscar one last winning smile each, then she followed Michael.

'Wow, I'm really gonna miss those two,' Kevin said to Oscar.

'Me too,' said Oscar. 'Do you think they'll want to have a little orgy to celebrate when we get back?'

'I don't know,' Kevin laughed. 'Maybe not. I don't think Michael would want to get involved in any kind of a group sex situation where there weren't at least two girls taking part – unlike Jandro, he's not really very comfortable with the idea of boy-to-boy contact. On a personal level, I mean – not as a life philosophy.'

'Well, that's his loss,' said Oscar. 'Oh, but didn't Michael kiss Jandro full on the lips one time, in front of your whole drama class?'

'That was only acting,' Kevin grinned. 'Michael was always much better than me and Jandro at separating our drama lessons from his real feelings. Come to think of it, he always detached himself emotionally from everything we did at school. Take the locker room – Mike was always strutting around nude in there without a care in the world, right from the start of seventh grade, but he made sure to keep his junk covered for sleepovers. Okay, so we've got all the right tickets – can you pass them to me in reverse order so I can pack them away again?'

Just as Kevin reached the stage of fastening the zip on his backpack, Beth entered the hallway.

'We should think about making a move soon,' she said. 'Oscar, your mom says she's going to come to the bus station. Do you both want to go into the living room and say goodbye to everyone else?'

'Sure, Mom,' said Kevin. 'Thanks so much for being so cool about all of this... and for everything else you've been so cool about too.'

'Oh, don't be silly,' said Beth, reaching up to wipe a tear from her eye. 'Oh no – I promised myself I wouldn't cry!'

'You don't need to worry, Mom – we'll be totally fine, and we'll have a fantastic time,' said Kevin.

'I know – that's the problem,' said Beth. 'You won't want to come home!'

'Sure we will,' Kevin laughed. 'Six months of paradise is enough for anyone.'

Beth laughed through her tears and gathered Kevin into a crushing embrace. Oscar tactfully withdrew to the living room.

*

Kevin finished arranging the two enormous backpacks on the bus's luggage rack, then he came to sit next to Oscar. They looked out of the window and saw their mothers waving frantically to them from the other side of the concourse, so they waved frantically back.

'Not having any second thoughts, are you?' said Kevin.

'No way!' said Oscar. 'I'm more excited than I've ever been in my life!'

'I don't know, man,' Kevin grinned, 'I think I've seen you way more excited than you are right now.'

'I'm internalising it,' said Oscar. 'I don't want to make an exhibition of myself on the bus.'

'Yeah – I guess I'm doing that too,' said Kevin, then he started pummelling Oscar's upper body with his fists and laughing hysterically.

'Dude, you'll get us kicked off!' Oscar giggled. 'Save it for later, okay?'

'Okay,' said Kevin, settling himself back into his seat with great dignity.

'This, er... this youth hostel in Tijuana...' said Oscar. 'We don't get a private room, do we? I mean, we have to share with a bunch of other guys, right?'

'That's right,' said Kevin. 'It's a bit of a drag, I'll admit, but at least there's plenty of potential for boy-to-boy contact if you want some.'

'What I was really wondering,' said Oscar, 'is where you can go for private boy-to-boy contact, if you want some.'

'There's always the showers,' said Kevin. 'You can do whatever the hell you want in there. They have private cubicles, obviously.'

'Oh, good,' said Oscar.

'You know, when we stay with Adela,' said Kevin, 'she'll almost definitely put us in separate rooms.'

'Bummer,' Oscar remarked. 'Ah, well – there's always those secluded beaches you told me about.'

'Yes,' said Kevin, 'there's always the secluded beaches.'

'This is shaping up to be a really horny backpacking tour of Mexico!' Oscar giggled.

'Well, I know I can't be around you for six months without getting horny,' said Kevin.

'Sometimes six minutes is a challenge, right?'

'Right. Although I don't think that's gonna be a problem until your hair grows a little, Mr Baldy.'

Oscar squeaked in protest and jabbed Kevin in the ribs; Kevin grinned and joined in the ruck.

'Tickets, please!' a disapproving voice interrupted them.

'Er, sorry,' Kevin said sheepishly, extricating his head from Oscar's left arm. 'Just a second – they're in my back pocket.'

Once the bus driver had finished his ticket inspection, he went to take his seat at the front of the vehicle. He pulled the lever to close the door, then he activated the PA system and spoke into his handheld microphone.

'Good afternoon,' the driver's voice crackled from the speakers, 'and welcome aboard this Greyhound Lines intercity bus service to Chicago, Illinois.'

'Exactly how many changes do we have to make before we get to Tijuana?' Oscar asked Kevin.

'Only two,' said Kevin. 'We take our second bus from Chicago to Phoenix, then our third from Phoenix to Tijuana. It's only about two days' travelling time altogether.'

'Aw, man,' said Oscar, 'we're gonna have some serious road mustard by the time we get there!'

Kevin giggled and said, 'I'm sure we'll be able to find one of those private shower cubicles I mentioned, then we can both go in there and... clean ourselves off.'

'Cool,' Oscar grinned. 'Sounds like fun!'

The bus pulled away from its stand and Oscar let out a whoop of delight.

'It's happening!' he squeaked. 'It's really happening!'

'Okay, I'll admit it,' said Kevin, 'this is the most excited I've ever seen you!'

*

Jessica was sitting at her computer with a desktop microphone in front of her, staring at a Skype window that contained an image of a cute-faced blond boy of about her own age.

'He's probably halfway to Chicago by now,' said Jessica, sighing heavily.

'Isn't that in a completely different direction from Mexico?' the boy asked.

Jessica frowned and said, 'Hey, I'm not the one who worked out the travel arrangements! Oscar told me he knew they were going to Chicago first, but he wasn't sure how many more buses they were supposed to be taking after that.'

'You don't need to worry about him, Jess,' said the boy. 'He'll come back in one piece. Almost certainly!'

'Don't joke about it! Anything could happen to him!'

'Yes, but it won't.'

'You don't know that!' said Jessica.

'Oh gawd, I'm sorry if I'm making things worse for you,' said the boy. 'Don't hit me!'

Jessica smiled and said, 'You know I can't!'

'I always worry your fist is going to burst through my screen when you get like this.'

'I'd never hit you, okay? Well, not unless you really pissed me off.'

'I'll have to watch myself, then,' said the boy, grinning widely.

'Yeah, you will,' Jessica laughed.

'Seriously, Jess, Oscar will be okay,' the boy said. 'He's got Kevin to look after him, hasn't he?'

'Yeah,' said Jessica. 'Kevin's great, really, and I'm sure he's an excellent travel guide... but if he lets anything happen to Oscar, I'll kill him!'

'I'll fly over and give you a hand,' said the boy. 'Kevin's a pretty beefy chap, isn't he?'

'Yeah, he is,' said Jessica. 'You know, the house already feels weird now Oscar's not in it. I've never been without him for more than a week – never in my life!'

'And I know it's quite a few years since he's been away from you even for that long,' the boy said significantly.

'Six months is a really long time,' Jessica sighed.

'It'll be over before you know it,' said the boy. 'I mean, quite a bit of it's the summer holidays, and they never last long enough!'

Jessica laughed and said, 'Yeah, that's true. Listen, you don't mind me moaning on at you about my feelings like this, do you?'

'Jess, it's what I'm here for!' the boy assured her. 'You carry on moaning if you want to – I'll be happy to listen until you feel like stopping.'

Jessica beamed at him and said, 'I think I've done enough moaning for now. How about you? Is there anything you want to moan to me about?'

'Um... they included the piece I wrote about the school timetable in the information pack for September's new year sevens without consulting me or crediting me,' said the boy. 'I'm pretty miffed about that.'

'Wow, that's bullshit!' said Jessica. 'If they're gonna –'

There suddenly came a series of knocks on the door of Jessica's bedroom, causing her to whirl around in annoyance and surprise.

'Jess?' Peter's voice called through the door. 'Are you okay? Your mom's ready to serve dinner if you feel like coming down.'

'It's my dad,' said Jessica, turning back to the screen with an apologetic look on her face. 'I gotta go.'

'No problem,' said the boy, giving her a winning smile. 'Call me again when you've had your dinner if you like.'

'Are you sure? It'll be the middle of the night for you!'

'Of course I'm sure! It's not like it's a school night... and I wouldn't care if it was!'

'Okay,' said Jessica, grinning, 'it's a date!'

*

Kevin was roused from sleep by the unmistakable sensation of someone getting into bed with him.

'Is that you, man?' he whispered.

'Were you expecting someone else?' Oscar whispered back.

'I wasn't exactly expecting you,' said Kevin. 'I thought we agreed we weren't gonna do anything with six other guys in the room.'

'I know,' said Oscar, 'but I just couldn't stand it!'

'Stand what?'

'Lying down there knowing you were just a few inches above me, and that if I climbed your ladder and breached those few inches, we could hold each other and fall asleep together.'

'Aw, that's really cute of you,' said Kevin.

'Plus I thought we might end up having sex anyway, seeing as we're both here now,' said Oscar.

'We can't!' Kevin giggled. 'Not with all those other guys in the room! They're not Jandro and Lucy and Michael and Ella, you know. I wouldn't mind trying out the holding each other and falling asleep together plan, though.'

'That'll do for now,' said Oscar.

*

Oscar was sitting on a bench opposite the youth hostel's reception desk with two overflowing backpacks at his feet. Kevin was struggling with the wall-mounted payphone, although he quickly gave up on this fruitless activity and went to speak to the young woman at the reception desk.

'Puedo ser de ayuda?' said the receptionist.

'El teléfono está muerto!' Kevin told her.

The receptionist reached under the desk and brought up a working phone for Kevin to use.

'Gracias,' Kevin smiled at her.

'De nada,' she smiled back.

Kevin dialled a very long sequence of digits into the phone, then he smiled at Oscar and gave him a thumbs-up. Oscar smiled back and returned the gesture.

'Hi, Mom!' Kevin yelled into the mouthpiece. 'Yeah, sorry, I can't hear you very well! Yeah, we arrived safely in Mexico yesterday and we're just about to leave Tijuana. Yeah, it's been great so far. Yeah, he's okay. No... no, nothing like that has happened to him. Is Jimmy okay? Give him a kiss from his big brother, okay? And give my love to Kylie and Eduardo. What? Um... oh, yeah, I guess so. Okay, yeah. I'll try to call you again from La Paz, then I don't think I'll really be able to until Mexico City. Yeah. I love you too, Mom. Okay, bye.'

Kevin replaced the receiver and passed the phone back to the receptionist, who gave him another smile.

'Gracias,' Kevin said again.

'Nos visitará nuevamente en el futuro?' the receptionist asked.

'Es posible,' said Kevin. 'Si estamos en Tijuana de nuevo, volveremos.'

The receptionist smiled and nodded, then she turned her attention to some paperwork so Kevin was free to join Oscar on the bench.

'Did you just tell her we might come back here again someday?' Oscar asked.

'If we're in the neighbourhood, yeah,' said Kevin.

'Do you think we ever will be?'

'Who knows, man? Like I said, es posible.'

'Yeah, I guess so,' said Oscar. 'Nothing like what has happened to me?'

'Oh, yeah...' Kevin laughed. 'Apparently your mom thinks you're gonna get diarrhoea and vomiting from the Mexican food.'

'Oh my God!' said Oscar. 'Moms, huh? It has nothing to do with the food – I won't get diarrhoea and vomiting 'cause we're not going on any planes.'

'Yeah, I remember the problem,' said Kevin. 'That barf-filled kiss you gave me over Ireland... mmm-mmm, delicious!'

Oscar laughed and gave Kevin a shove.

'We should make a move now,' said Kevin. 'We need to be at the bus station in fifteen minutes.'

'Remind me where we're actually going on this bus we're about to catch,' said Oscar.

'We're travelling all the way down the Baja California Peninsula to La Paz,' said Kevin, 'where we're gonna go diving and snorkelling, then we'll take the ferry over to Topolobampo, then we're gonna take the train through the Copper Canyon to Creel and go mountain biking in the Sierra Tarahumara, then we'll head for Mexico City by bus... and I can't remember the exact order of the rest without consulting the itinerary, but there's a whole bunch of Mayan ruins in there somewhere and it's all gonna be fantastic, trust me.'

'I do trust you, and I can't wait!' said Oscar.

'And luckily,' Kevin grinned, 'you don't have to!'
Down Mexico Way
June 2006: There are reminiscences and revelations as friends and family gather to wish Kevin and Oscar bon voyage – or buen viaje – before the two embark on their much-anticipated backpacking tour of Mexico.

This story is part of a collaborative Extreme Ghostbusters virtual spin-off, which can be read in its entirety here: egbfans.weebly.com/spin-off.ht…
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Down Mexico Way - Ella and Kevin
Ella diverts Kevin's attention for a while as he anxiously awaits a very important arrival.

'Down Mexico Way' can be read here: www.deviantart.com/theeyeshiel…

www.sp-studio.de
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Kevin and Oscar: Snapshots
An Overdue Visit


Kevin flicked over a page of the in-flight magazine, and sighed wearily at what he saw printed there. As he abandoned the uninteresting reading material, Oscar came and plonked himself down in the next seat, looking very green around the gills.

'Jesus – there can't be any more!' said Oscar, exhaling heavily.

'At least you'll have plenty of room for your lunch when we get there,' said Kevin.

'Don't talk to me about lunch,' Oscar winced.

'Maybe you'll feel like finishing off your banana bread before we land,' Kevin said hopefully.

Oscar burped and held his hand to his mouth. Kevin shrank back against the window in alarm.

'It's okay – there's nothing else coming,' said Oscar. 'Man, now I remember why I hate flying so much! Plus it's boring.'

'Even with me here?' said Kevin. 'We were having a nice conversation about Mexico before you started projectile vomiting all over the place.'

'Shut up,' Oscar laughed, giving Kevin a shove. 'Most of it went in the barf-bag – I just got a little spatter on the back of the seat, that's all. But you're right – we were having a nice conversation, and of course flying is better with you here... but then there's nothing I used to do by myself that I don't enjoy doing more now that I do it with you, so...'

'I feel the same way,' Kevin beamed at him. 'So, do you want to resume our nice conversation?'

'I'll tell you one more thing I want to know about Mexico,' said Oscar. 'We're not flying there, are we? To our start point in Tijuana, I mean. We're taking the bus from New York, right?'

'We are taking the bus from New York, with a couple of changes. And there's no air travel of any description on our backpacking tour either – it's all buses, boats, mountain biking and walking.'

'Thank God for that! I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to the whole thing. We're gonna have the time of our lives, aren't we?'

'We sure are,' Kevin grinned. 'In so many ways, and in so many different places!'

'Ooh, promises, promises,' Oscar grinned back. 'Of course, this little vacation is gonna be pretty cool too. It'll be good to see Lucy and Jandro again. You must've been missing them a whole lot.'

'Yeah, I have,' Kevin sighed, 'and I know I'm gonna have even longer to miss them after this visit! But I guess it's okay, really. Wherever we go in the world – be it Mexico or Hong Kong or Nottingham – I know we'll always come back to each other when we're done, and I know we'll always be friends.'

'Of course you will,' said Oscar. 'Friendship like that doesn't just peter out.'

'I was including you in that “we”.'

'Yeah, well... I was including me in that “you”, I guess. Are you sure you know where we're supposed to go when we leave Nottingham Rail Station?'

'Are you sure you know where we're supposed to go when we leave Nottingham Rail Station?' Oscar asked.

Kevin pulled several folded sheets of A4 paper out of his pocket and studied the Google Maps that were printed there.

'No problem,' he said. 'There's the station... there's the café where we're supposed to meet your dad... there's the canal, and that's the way down to the tow-path... and we come off here, by the Castle Marina, as soon as we see Sainsbury's.'

'I'm putting my life entirely in your hands, dude,' said Oscar.

'Are you looking forward to seeing Andre?' asked Kevin.

'Not particularly,' Oscar shrugged. 'I guess it'll be interesting to catch up. I bet he'll like you.'

'Are you sure?' said Kevin. 'I was wondering if he might be a little... well, weird about us. I mean, it's not beyond the realms of possibility, is it?'

'I guess not,' said Oscar.

'Do you really think he'll like me?'

'Of course – people do. Besides...'

'Besides what?' Kevin prompted him.

'He'll probably be super jealous of me,' said Oscar, 'when I come waltzing into the café with a steaming hot Latino hunk on my arm!'

'Oh yeah?' Kevin laughed. 'Do you think he's secretly yearning for one?'

'Oh, I don't know,' Oscar said with a shrug. 'He could be, for all I really know about him!'

'I didn't realise I was a Latino hunk,' said Kevin.

'Of course you are,' said Oscar.

'Were you secretly yearning for one when we got together?'

'I was yearning for you, gorgeous.'

Oscar leaned over and gave Kevin a very deep kiss.

'I have to admit,' said Kevin, 'that tasted a little of barf.'

'Oh my God!' said Oscar, sounding utterly horrified. 'I'm so sorry – I just didn't think!'

'That's okay,' Kevin smiled at him, 'it's the thought that counts.'

*

Kevin replaced the menu on the tabletop by the condiments and glanced towards the door to the restroom, then he took another sip of his orange juice and glanced at his watch. His attention was diverted as the door to the street outside was thrown open and Andre entered the café. Kevin quickly snatched the menu back up and hid behind it. He saw that Andre was heading for the restroom, where he almost crashed into Oscar in the doorway.

'Oh, hi,' said Oscar. 'You finally made it, then.'

'My train was late,' said Andre, finding that he had to tilt his head upwards to meet Oscar's gaze. 'You've certainly grown, haven't you?'

'That'll happen in five years,' said Oscar. 'Going to the bathroom?'

'Yes. I'll come over and join you in a couple of minutes.'

'Fine.'

Andre disappeared into the restroom, and Oscar went to join Kevin.

'Were you hiding behind the menu?' Oscar giggled.

'I didn't want to meet him without you here,' said Kevin.

'Fair enough,' said Oscar. 'Jeez, I'd forgotten how awkward I used to feel around him. Just talking to him for a couple of seconds, I could feel the surliness flooding back!'

'Oh no,' said Kevin, 'I don't want you to get surly again!'

'That's okay,' said Oscar. 'I could never be surly when you were around... and you're around now, so...'

'Do you want to bail right now, while he's in the bathroom?' said Kevin. 'We could hide in Sainsbury's all afternoon – he'd never find us!'

'No, let's stay,' said Oscar, laughing as he gave Kevin a shove. 'I don't want him demanding his contribution to my fare back from my mom.'

'He's had his money's worth now,' said Kevin. 'He's seen you and he's spoken to you – what more does he want?'

'At least one round of sandwiches and a cup of tea in my presence, I expect,' said Oscar. 'Oh look, here he comes.'

Andre sat down opposite Kevin and Oscar and fixed them with an awkward smile. Kevin smiled back, while Oscar folded his arms and adopted an impassive expression.

'Well, Oscar,' said Andre, 'aren't you going to introduce me to your friend?'

'Andre, this is Kevin,' said Oscar. 'He's my boyfriend – we are a gay couple!'

'Oh, is that right?' Andre said.

'Yeah, that's right!' said Oscar. 'You got a problem with it?'

'No,' said Andre, 'not at all.'

He reached into his briefcase and pulled out a nasal spray, which he immediately began jamming up each nostril in turn, inhaling its vapours heavily. Kevin burst out laughing, and snorted some of his orange juice onto the table through his nose.

'Oh my goodness,' said Andre, 'are you okay?'

'Yeah, it just went down the wrong way,' said Kevin, fighting to regain control of his breathing. 'I'm fine now.'

'Well, why don't we all decide what we want to eat and then have a proper catch-up?' said Andre. 'I'll go up to the counter with our order. Lunch is on me, by the way – it's the least I can do.'

'Oh, thank you very much,' said Kevin. 'I'll have the ham and cheese sandwiches on white bread, a chocolate milk and a Twix.'

'I'll have what he's having,' said Oscar, 'except I want a Kit-Kat instead of a Twix.'

'Okay,' said Andre. 'I'll be back in a sec.'

As Andre went up to the counter, Kevin and Oscar collapsed into giggles.

'He does have a nasal spray!' Kevin whispered. 'He carries one with him at all times!'

'If I'd known what it'd take for him to get it out,' Oscar whispered back, 'I'd have told him I'd fallen in love with a boy the last time I saw him!'

'Had you?'

'Yes – you, you dink!'

'Even way back then, huh?' said Kevin.

'Yes,' said Oscar, 'even way back then.'

They exchanged a smile.

'I wonder how many of those things he's actually got in there,' said Kevin. 'Do you think he has, like, a backup?'

'Shh,' Oscar giggled, 'he's coming back!'

*

'Yes, I suppose it brings in a bit of pocket-money for you, and that's fine as far as it goes,' said Andre, as he took a sip of tea, 'but of course you'll have to get some kind of formal qualification before you can make any real money from your music.'

'Hey, Mood Slime's doing just fine, okay?' said Oscar. 'We're on the brink of a major breakthrough!'

'I don't see how you can be, if you're about to take six months away from the band to go traipsing around Mexico,' said Andre. 'You really should get your hair cut before you do that, you know – you'll catch fleas.'

Oscar scowled, and took a vicious bite from his Kit-Kat.

'You think fleas are a major problem in Mexico, Andre?' said Kevin.

'Bound to be,' said Andre. 'It's not the cleanest of countries, is it? Oh, no offence to you, Kevin – I can tell you have a good chunk of Mexican in you.'

'I'm very proud to have a good chunk of Mexican in me,' said Kevin.

'So you should be,' said Oscar. 'Nothing makes me happier than when I have a good chunk of Mexican in me!'

Andre snorted into his tea and scrabbled for a napkin.

'It's, er... it's a shame you haven't been able to get out here to see us for so long, Oscar,' he said, when he had regathered his composure. 'We've missed you.'

'I imagine you would've done,' said Oscar.

'It's a shame you haven't been able to get out to America to see Oscar,' said Kevin.

'Hey, yeah!' said Oscar. 'You could've done that, couldn't you?'

'I would've liked to, but I've had such constraints on my time,' said Andre. 'As a matter of fact I was in Jersey City for a few days last year, but I just didn't have time to do anything but work.'

'You were in Jersey City?' said Oscar, adopting a dark expression. 'You were in Jersey City and you didn't think to suggest you could come and see me, or I could come and see you, or we could meet in the middle and take a tour of Liberty Island or something?'

'I didn't have time for that,' said Andre. 'I was busy – I had a lot of meetings to go to.'

'A lot of meetings,' Oscar muttered, scrunching his Kit-Kat wrapper into a tight ball as he spoke.

'Well, we probably should get going now,' said Kevin. 'Thanks very much for lunch, Andre.'

'Not at all,' said Andre. 'Oscar, I was wondering if you'd like to come back to London with me and stay the night with the family? I'm sure Kate and the kids would like to see you. You can come back up to Nottingham tomorrow – I'll pay your fare both ways.'

'No,' said Oscar. 'I've come to stay with my friends, not with you. Tell Kate and the kids I'm sorry not to've seen them for so long and I really do remember them all very fondly, but... well, there it is.'

With that, Oscar jumped to his feet, snatched up his backpack and flounced out of the café. Kevin quickly followed his example.

'It was, er... nice to meet you,' Kevin called over his shoulder to Andre. 'Thanks again for lunch. Bye.'

Andre remained speechless as he watched the café door swing shut.

*

Kevin and Oscar were walking side by side along the canal tow-path, Oscar with his hands in his pockets and his gaze directed at the ground.

'Are you okay?' said Kevin.

'I'm never coming to England again!' said Oscar. 'The journey made me more nauseous than I've been for years, and then that man... I'm definitely never coming to England again! Well, not to visit him, anyway!'

'I hope you're not wishing you hadn't come.'

'No, I'm not wishing that – I'm looking forward to seeing Lucy and Jandro, and I've really enjoyed having an adventure with you, but... but... he was in Jersey City, for Christ's sake!'

'Yeah, he was,' said Kevin. 'Look, isn't it interesting how all the old warehouses have been turned into really expensive canal-side apartments? You can still see the old wharfs, where they would've loaded all the textiles and stuff onto the boats. Nottingham City Council must've made a fortune selling those things off!'

'Yes, that is interesting,' Oscar sighed, 'and now I'm cursing Andre even more for being on my mind when I should be devoting my entire attention to this fascinating canal-side walk!'

'Then let's sit down for a few minutes, until you feel better,' said Kevin. 'There's a bench coming up.'

'Okay,' said Oscar, 'good plan.'

They came to the bench and sat down on the part that had the smallest amount of duck excrement on it. Kevin put an arm around Oscar's shoulders, and Oscar snuggled up to him.

'You'd think it'd be worth the effort, wouldn't you?' Oscar mumbled into Kevin's chest. 'You'd think as he was just across the harbour, it wouldn't be too much trouble to suggest a quick meet-up with his son. But no – I guess I'm just not worth the effort!'

'Don't talk like that – it's his loss, not yours,' said Kevin. 'You are worth the effort – to me, you're worth all the effort I have. I love you, and I'm not the only one – just think of your mom and Jessica and your... your dad. They think you're worth it – you know they do!'

'Yeah, I do know that,' said Oscar. 'I know I'm lucky to have them... and I'm especially lucky to have you. Look at me, blubbering and whining like this! I don't know why you put up with me.'

'I just told you – because I love you!'

'I love you too. Do you want to get engaged?'

'Do what?' said Kevin.

'Get engaged,' said Oscar. 'You and me, right now!'

'Is that even legal?' said Kevin.

'It can't be illegal to get engaged,' said Oscar. 'I don't know exactly when or how we'd be able to take the next step... but it's definitely coming, someday soon!'

'Yeah, I guess you're right,' said Kevin. 'I've never really thought about it, to be honest with you.'

'But you have thought about the two of us having babies out of Ella and Lucy?'

'Well... yeah. I guess I was basing my vision of our future on Eduardo and Kylie, kinda.'

'Don't you think they'll ever get married?'

'I really don't know. If they both want to, I'm sure they will... but if they're happy to carry on like they are, I'm sure that wouldn't be a big deal to either of them.'

'Do you have a problem with marriage?' said Oscar. 'As a concept, I mean.'

'No,' said Kevin. 'I just think it's not for everyone. It shouldn't be the benchmark for a successful life, or the only valid way to have a loving, committed, long-term relationship.'

'Yeah, I guess you're right,' said Oscar. 'So, you don't ever want to do it?'

'I'm not saying that,' said Kevin. 'I'm just saying I think we should do whatever we're gonna do when the time feels right, without making any plans or goals that we feel we have to stick to – in fact I think if everyone did that, the world would be a much happier place!'

'I can't disagree with you there,' said Oscar, sounding a little subdued.

'Hey – I'll tell you what I wouldn't have a problem doing, right here and now,' said Kevin. 'I'll get down on my knees and pledge my absolutely undying, lifelong commitment to you if you want.'

'I'd kinda like to see that,' Oscar grinned. 'Okay, go ahead.'

Kevin slipped his backpack off, slid onto the ground and knelt in front of Oscar, taking his hand in a gentle grip.

'I hereby pledge my absolutely undying, lifelong commitment to you!' Kevin declared, rather more loudly than Oscar had been expecting. 'We can't know exactly what the future holds, but I do know that we'll always be together and we'll always love each other, and that's the only benchmark for success I want in my life!'

'Okay, okay – I believe you,' Oscar giggled. 'And I feel the same way. Get off your knees now – people are staring at us.'

'Do you feel better?' asked Kevin, as he got back on the bench.

'Completely,' Oscar beamed at him. 'Let's get on and meet up with Lucy and Jandro – I'm sure we're gonna have a ton of fun together!'

'You know it,' Kevin grinned. 'Okay, let's go – it can't be too much further to Sainsbury's.'

*

Kevin and Oscar came off the tow-path when they saw the back wall of Sainsbury's. As they approached the entrance door, they saw two familiar figures emerging from the supermarket. Jandro was dragging a large shopping bag on a wheeled frame, while Lucy was carrying a full plastic bag.

'Hey, guys!' Kevin called to them. 'Perfect timing.'

Lucy and Jandro turned and saw Kevin and Oscar. Lucy squealed in delight, dumped her carrier bag on the floor, ran to Kevin and threw her arms around him. Laughing, he hugged her in return. Beaming all over her face, Lucy kissed Kevin on both cheeks and ruffled his hair.

'Kev, I can't believe you're really here!' she screeched in delight. 'Oh my God, this is so cool!'

After a few more seconds of affectionate manhandling, Lucy made way for Jandro to take his turn embracing Kevin. After they had clapped each other on the back several times, Jandro surprised everyone by kissing Kevin on both cheeks as well.

'It's really good to see you, dude,' said Jandro. 'We've missed you like you wouldn't believe!'

'Oh, I believe it,' Kevin assured him. 'I've been feeling the same way about you. I'm really glad I've been able to visit... but I'm not here alone, you know.'

Lucy and Jandro looked to where Oscar had stationed himself to guard their abandoned shopping.

'Of course not!' said Lucy. 'Oscar, it's so wonderful that you could come. I can't tell you how happy we are to have you both here!'

Lucy gave Oscar a hug, then Jandro came to shake his hand and clap him on the shoulder.

'This is just gonna be da bomb!' Lucy enthused. 'We'll show you our hall of residence and we'll go for a walk around the lake and we'll take you to Wollaton Park!'

'But the very first thing we're gonna do is treat you to a meal at the Beefeater over the road there,' said Jandro. 'It really is delicious.'

'We're regular customers,' said Lucy, 'and we've been dying to take you on a double date.'

'Well, it's less than two hours since we had lunch,' said Kevin, 'but what the hell? I think I can squeeze in a couple of sausages.'

'Me too,' said Oscar.

'Excellent,' Jandro grinned. 'That's settled, then.'

*

Lucy led the way into her room, followed by Jandro and Kevin.

'Oh my God!' Kevin laughed, as he spotted the contents of Lucy's noticeboard. 'You've got those pictures of the six of us in our Halloween costumes!'

'Of course,' Lucy grinned. 'If ever I'm feeling down, Kev, the sight of you and your green pecs cheers me right up.'

'Me too,' said Jandro.

'Jeez,' said Kevin, 'I'd never have imagined that! Do you mind if I sit on your beanbag, Luce?'

Lucy smiled and shook her head. Kevin dumped the two backpacks he was carrying and sank gratefully onto the beanbag, while Lucy and Jandro started unpacking their shopping. Oscar soon entered the room and sank down onto Kevin's lap.

'The beanbag won't burst, will it?' Kevin asked.

'No, it's pretty hardy,' said Lucy. 'Just don't do anything too violent on it, will you?'

'What does Had a chunder? What a blunder! mean?' Oscar asked unexpectedly. 'I saw it written on a poster in the washroom.'

Lucy and Jandro laughed.

'Didn't you read the whole notice?' asked Lucy.

'No,' said Oscar. 'I just glanced at it on my way out.'

'It's a notice telling you not to throw up all over the bathroom after getting drunk and go to bed without telling the housekeeping staff what you've done,' said Jandro.

'Ew!' said Oscar.

'I hope that's not an issue with you two,' said Kevin.

'No way,' said Jandro. 'We never touch the stuff, do we, Luce?'

'We sure don't,' said Lucy. 'We learned our lesson a long time ago.'

'So, er... how are we handling the sleeping arrangements?' asked Kevin.

'Well,' said Lucy, 'we've filled in a form to say that you're gonna be sleeping on my floor for two nights, Kev, and Oscar's gonna be sleeping on Jandro's floor. But what we're actually gonna do is, you two are gonna take Jandro's room while Jandro bunks with me in here. We sleep together most nights anyway, in one room or the other.'

Jandro grinned and added, 'We don't only sleep.'

Lucy went slightly red, smiled and said, 'I'm sure they didn't need that spelling out for them, Jandro.'

'Anyway, you guys can do anything you want in my bed,' said Jandro, still grinning broadly. 'I really don't mind.'

'Well... thanks, Jandro,' said Kevin. 'We'll probably just go straight to sleep tonight – I can feel the effects of the day catching up to me already.'

'I hope you're not too tired to talk for a while,' said Lucy. 'We need to bring each other up to speed on everything that's been happening over the past six months.'

'Don't worry,' said Kevin, 'I'm definitely not too tired for that.'

*

Oscar slipped between the sheets of Jandro's bed and snuggled up to Kevin.

'You don't really want to go to sleep right away, do you?' said Oscar. 'Jandro did say we can do whatever we want in his bed.'

'Okay,' Kevin laughed. 'How about you show me what you want to do?'

Oscar thought for a moment, then he said, 'Did you and Jandro ever do anything?'

'Me and Jandro?' said Kevin. 'Do anything?'

'Before you and me were together, I mean,' said Oscar. 'I've been wondering ever since Sainsbury's. I absolutely cannot believe that the two of you never at least had a moment!'

'There was a moment once,' Kevin admitted. 'It was right after we'd helped Mike to get rid of that Angelo guy. Me and Jandro were in Jandro's kitchen together... but we didn't act on it.'

'Why not?' said Oscar.

'Because we didn't want to ruin our nice friendship,' said Kevin. 'And because we were both secretly yearning for someone else. Two different someone elses, I mean.'

'And who might they be?'

'You and Lucy.'

'So which one were you yearning for?' Oscar asked teasingly.

Kevin looked Oscar squarely in the eye and said, 'You.'

'Even way back then, huh?' said Oscar.

'Yes,' said Kevin, 'even way back then.'

Oscar grinned widely and said, 'In that case, I'll show you exactly what I want to do!'

*

'This brunch is delicious,' said Oscar, as he finished off the last of his bacon and egg.

'I think I'm gonna drop off my tray and then go back to the room,' said Jandro. 'Is anyone else ready?'

'I am,' said Oscar.

'I'm gonna have another mug of hot chocolate, before they turn the machine off,' said Lucy.

'Can you get me one too?' said Kevin.

'Sure,' said Lucy.

'Do you know what we should do later?' said Jandro. 'We should all spend the night in the same room and... well, do some stuff.'

'I knew you'd suggest an orgy sooner or later, Jandro,' said Lucy.

'I'm not suggesting an orgy,' said Jandro. 'I was thinking it'd be like the Halloween party – you know, separate couples in separate beds in the same room, doing some stuff at the same time as each other.'

'I guess we could move your bed into my room,' said Lucy. 'It probably contravenes a ton of fire regulations, though.'

'No one will ever know,' said Jandro. 'You want to do it, guys, don't you?'

'Sure, I'm up for it,' said Kevin.

'Me too,' said Oscar.

'Maybe I'll see if I can move my bed across the corridor right now,' said Jandro.

'I'll help you,' said Oscar. 'I bet we can do it between us.'

'I'll get our hot chocolates, Kev,' said Lucy.

'Thanks, Luce,' said Kevin.

*

Lucy and Kevin were sitting opposite each other and sipping their hot chocolate. Lucy reached across the table and placed her hand on top of Kevin's.

'I really have missed you, Kev,' she said. 'I'd gotten so used to having my best friend around, I felt like I'd left a part of myself behind in New York when I first came here.'

'Are you sure that was about me?' said Kevin. 'Maybe you were thinking of your family.'

'Pfft, my family!' said Lucy. 'The only one of them I really miss is John, and he keeps sending me video messages so I kinda feel like he's here anyway!'

'You've been watching my YouTube videos, haven't you?' said Kevin. 'Doesn't that make it feel like I'm here too?'

'No,' said Lucy. 'It doesn't work that way with you, Kev.'

'You know we're not gonna see each other for more than a year after this, don't you? I'm gonna be in Mexico when you're back in New York, then you'll be in Hong Kong when I get back, so...'

'Oh, don't! I'm gonna miss you like crazy, Kev.'

'I'm gonna miss you too, Luce,' said Kevin. 'But it's not gonna be so bad – I'll have Oscar and you'll have Jandro, so we'll both be very well off for company.'

'I know,' Lucy laughed, giving his hand a squeeze, 'but I'm greedy – I want you too!'

'I'll send you a postcard from Mexico,' said Kevin. 'When you're back in New York, I mean. And I know that when we're back together at the end of it all, we'll be friends for life – all six of us, I mean; Michael and Ella too.'

'Yes, I think you're right about that,' said Lucy. 'But while we are apart, you're the one I'm gonna be missing the most. I really love you, Kev; I hope you know that.'

'Of course I do,' said Kevin. 'And I love you too, Luce. That's not gonna change, no matter where we are in the world.'

'Yeah, I guess not,' Lucy sighed. 'Kev, do you mind if I ask you a personal question?'

'Ask me anything you want, Luce.'

'It might seem really random, but it's something I've been wondering ever since Sainsbury's.'

'I'll be happy to answer your question, no matter how random it is.'

'Did you always know you were gay? Like, at the time we first met?'

'Not exactly,' said Kevin. 'I've never thought about it quite like that, to be honest with you. Oscar's the only person I've ever really... liked in that way, but it took me a long time to straighten out those feelings in my mind.'

'But did you like girls when you were about eleven or twelve?' Lucy asked. 'You know, just physically.'

'Well, obviously there was Buffy,' said Kevin, 'and then there was Eduardo's sexy calendar – that used to do things to me – and I had a booby magazine I used to enjoy fairly regularly, but... well, I quickly came to realise that wrestling with Oscar in pyjama bottoms turned me on much more than any of that girly stuff, so I guess in that way I did always know, if you want to look at it like that.'

'Interesting,' said Lucy. 'You didn't ever fancy Ella, then?'

'Fancy?' said Kevin.

'Sorry,' said Lucy, 'I'm picking up Britishisms.'

'Well, I wouldn't say I ever exactly fancied Ella,' said Kevin, 'but obviously I can see that she's very attractive... if you like curvaceous blond girls, which I know a lot of people do.'

'So you never actually considered trying to steal her from Michael? Before you and he became such close friends and sleepover buddies, I mean. I bet you could've done it, if you wanted – you always proved you were stronger than him, and Ella likes that in a boy. That's why Michael was so threatened by you, if you ask me – because he knew you could've had Ella if you wanted her.'

'It was just never an issue to me. And I think you're underestimating the strength of Michael and Ella's relationship – it really is rock solid!'

'Now it is, yeah,' said Lucy. 'But back then, in a new school with a whole bunch of new people, and with Michael acting like a total jerk most of the time... I reckon you could've had her, Kev!'

'Then we should all be grateful I didn't want her,' said Kevin, 'because we've definitely ended up with the right partners in the end! Speaking of which, what about you and Jandro? How long were you desperately pining for him before you finally got together?'

'Since about the first Christmas we all knew each other,' said Lucy. 'I think I kinda knew we'd end up together after that time we got drunk and made out on his couch, but I'm glad we waited until the time felt right... and everything's felt right with us ever since.'

'That's truly heart-warming, Luce,' said Kevin, beaming at her. 'I feel the same way about how things have gone for me and Oscar. I think we're engaged now, by the way.'

'Is that even legal?'

'I don't know, but we've done it anyway.'

'Well, I'm really pleased for you,' Lucy smiled at him. 'Have you finished your hot chocolate?'

'Yeah,' said Kevin. 'This is just dregs, really.'

'Then let's get back to our perfect partners,' Lucy grinned.

*

That night, Lucy returned from the washroom to find Kevin, Oscar and Jandro all wandering around her room in their underpants. She closed the door behind her, took off her towel robe and hung it up.

'Yes!' Jandro declared, when he saw Lucy's state of undress. 'That's the spirit, Luce!'

'If you can't beat 'em, join 'em,' said Lucy.

'Cool,' Jandro grinned. 'Let's all get into bed and talk for a while, and see where things go from there.'

'I'm gonna open the window first,' said Lucy. 'We'll need the ventilation with all four of us – there's already a pretty strong smell of teenage boy in here. That's if I can pick my way through all the naked male flesh and actually reach the window!'

'We'll get into bed first,' Kevin suggested. 'Everyone ready?'

When her path was clear, Lucy moved across the room and started wrestling with the window.

'You're giving the burglars quite an eyeful, Luce,' Jandro remarked.

Once she had got the window into a position she was happy with, Lucy went to the foot of her bed and wormed her way under the duvet to join Jandro.

'Of course,' she said, as her head emerged onto the pillow, 'if anyone actually did look in and see me, they'll also have seen that I have three strong boys in here to protect me, so they won't try and get in tonight. Okay; let's get comfy and chat.'

'I can't think of anything to say now,' said Oscar.

'When do you have to leave tomorrow?' said Jandro. 'I hope we'll have time to do some more stuff first.'

'Our train's supposed to leave one minute after four in the afternoon,' said Kevin.

'Great,' said Lucy. 'That'll give us time to have a bowl of cereal each, take a walk around the lake, come back for brunch, have a final chat and then set off for the station.'

'It's such a bummer that we won't get to see each other for more than a year after that!' said Jandro.

'It's gonna be quite a year for all of us,' said Kevin. 'I can't wait to experience everything that Mexico has to offer, and then when we get back... well, I'm gonna be putting all that first aid training to good use, one way or another.'

'Yeah,' said Oscar, 'and I'm gonna be finding out just how hard it is to be a professional musician, and wondering what the hell kind of further education I'm gonna do!'

'It'll be so amazing, studying in Hong Kong for a year,' Lucy sighed. 'Finally I can find out if my Cantonese is really up to scratch!'

'I wish I could speak Cantonese,' said Jandro.

'You'll be okay, bro,' said Oscar. 'I'm gonna be relying on Kevin to speak all the Spanish for both of us, but I'm sure he's not gonna accidentally sell me to a white slaver or something.'

They all laughed.

'You are looking forward to spending a year in Hong Kong, babe, aren't you?' Lucy said to Jandro.

'Yeah, I am,' he assured her. 'I'm nervous about it – of course I'm nervous – but I'm gonna do it.'

'Just think how great it'll be when we all meet up again in the summer of two thousand seven,' said Oscar.

'We'll have to have another orgy to celebrate,' said Kevin.

'You can always count me in on a plan like that!' Jandro grinned. 'So long as Lucy's up for it too, of course.'

Lucy smiled and said, 'Well, I certainly don't hate the idea.'

*

Kevin and Oscar followed Jandro and Lucy down a set of steps and onto a railway platform.

'I think I can see the train,' said Kevin, squinting along the line. 'Yes, that must be it.'

'Oh, then we have to say goodbye,' Lucy sighed. 'Thank you both so much for coming – it's been wonderful!'

'We should do it again, when we're back here after Hong Kong for our final year,' said Jandro. 'Obviously we'll already have met up again by then, back in New York, but... well, we won't have done this.'

'It's a date,' said Kevin. 'Thanks for having us, and for paying for our Beefeater and our brunch.'

Kevin went to hug Jandro, who squeezed him tightly in return but refrained from kissing him this time. Lucy kissed Oscar on the cheek, and then they swapped partners. Oscar went in for a handshake and a shoulder-clasp with Jandro, but Jandro wrapped his arms around him instead, so Oscar hugged him back.

'The train's almost here,' Oscar remarked, after a few more seconds had passed.

'Oh,' Lucy sighed, 'curse us all for pursuing our globe-trotting adventures! I'll be thinking about you every day, Kev, and I'll keep watching all your YouTube videos, even though I was never really that much into Buffy.'

'I appreciate that, Luce,' said Kevin, giving her a kiss on the forehead. 'I'll do a special video about my thoughts on Nottingham, just for you.'

As the train trundled to a stop, Lucy reluctantly detached herself from Kevin and took a step back to  where Jandro was waiting to put his arm around her. Kevin and Oscar stepped onto the train, and stood at the window waving furiously until they passed out of sight of the platform.

'It's strange,' said Jandro. 'We're not gonna see them again for more than a year, but in some ways I feel closer to both of them then I ever have before.'

'Me too,' said Lucy. 'Kevin told me they're engaged now, you know.'

'Is that even legal?' said Jandro.

'I guess it can't be illegal to be engaged, even if you can't actually get married,' said Lucy. 'Well, not yet anyway.'

There followed a few seconds of silence as they watched the tail end of the train gradually disappearing from view.

'Luce,' said Jandro, 'are we engaged?'

'I... I'm not sure,' said Lucy. 'I don't know if I want to get married... or if I'll ever want to get married... but if I do, I definitely want it to be to you.'

'I, er... I have a ring for you,' said Jandro.

'You do?' said Lucy.

'Yeah,' said Jandro. 'Not here in Nottingham; back home in New York. Ana's keeping it safe for me in the locker compartment of her nightstand. Mi Abue Tomás gave it to me last summer – it was the day before he died, actually – and told me to give it to my special little lady when the time was right.'

'He did, huh?'

'Yeah, he did. But that's not why I want to give it to you.'

'No?'

'No. The reason I want to give it to you is that I really want to marry you, Luce... someday, I mean; not anytime soon... you know, when we're done with all this Nottingham and Hong Kong stuff. But if you'd wear the ring in the meantime, it really would be... I mean, apparently it's been in the family for generations, but then I guess grandparents have to say that when they pass engagement rings on to their grandkids... and that doesn't really matter to me; the only thing that matters is that you... well, I mean that we...'

Lucy gave Jandro an enormous smile and threw her arms around him.

'I'd love to wear the ring, Jandro,' she told him. 'I'll put it on the moment we're back in New York... and we're in your house... and Ana's unlocked her cabinet... and probably after we've had a bit of a sit-down and gotten our breath back.'

'Thanks, Luce,' said Jandro, hugging her tightly.

'You don't need to thank me for that,' Lucy giggled. 'You really are wonderful, Jandro; you know that, right?'

'I've never doubted it,' Jandro grinned.

Lucy laughed again, then the two of them stood and kissed on the platform for quite some time.
An Overdue Visit
March 2006: Kevin and Oscar take a trip to Nottingham, England to make two potentially significant visits. It soon becomes clear that these are likely to end up with contrasting outcomes.

This story is part of a collaborative Extreme Ghostbusters virtual spin-off, which can be read in its entirety here: egbfans.weebly.com/spin-off.ht…
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TheEyeShield
Jake Collins
United Kingdom
Current Residence: Harpenden, Hertfordshire, UK
Interests
I've been asked in the past by two or three people whether there are going to be any more Arnold and Helga Chronicles. Those people may be interested to know that another story in this saga IS currently in development!

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:iconanubislaughed:
Anubislaughed Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2019
I started reading the virtual season of Blazing Dragons. Love the stories!
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:icontheeyeshield:
TheEyeShield Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2019
Thanks so much, that's great to hear!
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:iconracesgirl2000-1:
Racesgirl2000-1 Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2018  Student Artist
May I make a suggestion? I was wondering if you could do some sort of Mona the Vampire, Raven & Beast Boy or Arnold & Helga: where are They Now? story please
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:icontheeyeshield:
TheEyeShield Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2018
It's possible, though I may not have any more of that lot in me.
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:iconracesgirl2000-1:
Racesgirl2000-1 Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2018  Student Artist
Okay then, I sure hope to read it soon, dude
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:iconsiwyszczur:
SiwySzczur Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2017
Nice gallery:)
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:iconbenthehyena:
Benthehyena Featured By Owner May 14, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Hello ! As I said :iconthornyenglishrose:, I absolutely adored your vistual Blazing Dragons season, yesterday I felt very bad so I read them all and it cheered me up ! So much suspense, feels, and it was faithful to the show ! It would be a honor from you two to support #BDRevolution and #BlazingDragonsRevolution !
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