What Best Friends Are For
by Chris J. Ueberall
Summary: Dirk wonders if he's gay. (Set during 'Arrows of the Queen')
Notes: The first sentence of each paragraph isn't mine, they were given as a starting challenge.
'What do you think you're doing? He'll be gone like the breeze that flows through the trees.'
Dirk shook his head and looked away - if only for a second - from his current fascination. He couldn't believe his own thoughts. Kris was his friend, his best friend. He was no more shaych than Dirk was. Which wouldn't have been such a depressing thought - considering Dirk's latest dreams - if he could just believe it.
No, the point was Kris was not shaych. Kris was all for girls. As was Dirk or as Dirk had been before ... before ... that bitch had ripped out his heart, torn it apart and thrown it to the wind. He wondered if his heart would ever heal, wondered if there was even a chance that one day a woman would actually look at him. Not because she believed he was a way to get at Kris, but because she really liked and wanted him. There were days he doubted it. Doubting it had been the main thing on his mind for weeks now.
He was almost over the heartache which that bitch (he wouldn't ever again even think her name) had given him. Thanks to his family and to his best friend, who had stood at his side those last weeks and had taken everything Dirk had unleashed in stride, the pain was bearable now.
But his ego still felt very fragile. And there were some things she said that stayed in his mind, probably because they were undeniable facts.
He wasn't good looking. Not like some of the guys, certainly not like Kris, who put any legend to shame. He was clumsy, especially in court or with girls. These points were bound to keep girls away. It was important for a woman that her companion looked good, in any aspect, he had to be presentable like the clothes she was wearing.
Dirk sighed. Women were so complicated. Why weren't they like men? 'Well, most men,' Dirk admitted. He knew that there were some men who wanted their wives to be pretty little decorations and nothing more. But even those men weren't too worried if their male friends didn't quite fit their standards.
And he was back to being - or rather becoming - shaych. It would be so much easier if he was into boys instead of girls. Everything would be so much easier, wouldn't it?
He looked longingly towards Kris. Then again could it get any more complicated than falling for your beautiful best friend?
The trouble with being a best friend was that you had to offer a shoulder to cry on and stay calm, when all you wanted to do was to shout in frustration and go and kill someone. It wasn't so much that Kris minded being here with Dirk, just that he felt so helpless, felt that nothing he did was truly helping his heartbroken friend. Being back in Haven he could at least make that bitch's life as miserable as possible. It probably wouldn't help Dirk, either, but it would give him a moment's satisfaction. Halting his un-Heraldic thoughts Kris listened for Tantris's mental admonition, but his Companion didn't protest, he even got the feeling that Tantris would have liked to kick a certain female butt himself. He grinned at that image. Then he looked at Dirk again and his smile faded.
The last two weeks had shown some improvement in his friend's mood, he had smiled more often, even laughed out loud once or twice at some of his sister's antics. But lately, there was a shift again in Dirk's behavior. He was drawing back one moment, then almost clinging to him the next. He seemed to distance himself, while staying closer. It made no sense to Kris.
If he just knew what had gotten into his friend. If Dirk would just talk, if he'd just let Kris help.
Kris sighed again. He just wasn't good at working his way through a labyrinth of emotions. He preferred to ignore deep discussions, but if they were unavoidable, then he liked his problems spelled out, so he knew what to do to make things right. Of course he knew Dirk well enough to know that his friend wouldn't say what was bothering him. Despite coming from such a loving and loud family, Dirk was a very private and silent man.
Kris fought down another sigh. With girls it was always so much easier. Girls always wore their hearts on their sleeves, they liked to talk about their feelings, not much guessing needed there - unless they were trying to trick you, of course, but that was another thing entirely. No, girls were easy, boys though ...
'Damn,' Kris shook himself mentally, 'if I want to know I have to ask. That's what best friends are for. No time like the present.'
"This doesn't make sense."
Kris's words drew Dirk from his musings. Surprised, he looked at his best friend, wondering when he had come so much closer.
"What doesn't?" he wondered.
"You sitting there brooding and me sitting here not able to help. Tell me what you were thinking about."
Unprepared for that question Dirk answered with the truth. "I wondered if I shouldn't become shaych."
Kris stared at him with wide eyes, then at the sky and back at him. "How long have you been in the sun, brother?" he asked in a teasing tone that scratched over Dirk's nerves like a sword dragged over stones.
"No longer than you!" he said, anger barely controlled.
"Hey, brother, I didn't mean it like that," Kris tried to soothe, holding up his hands as in surrender.
"I'm not your brother!" The moment he said it, Dirk wished the words back; that had been uncalled for.
Now Kris stared at him in hurt bewilderment.
"I'm sorry, Kris." Dirk stood and took a step closer to his friend, then two back. "I didn't mean it. I just ... I'm just ..." He ran his hands through his hair. "I don't know what I am anymore. I have all these feelings and thoughts and they make no sense and I can't control any of them. I'm ..." he stopped, realizing that he rambled.
"It's all right." Kris closed the distance between them and took hold of his shoulder. "I'm here, no matter what. You can tell me, even if it makes no sense. Maybe we can make sense of it together?"
Dirk looked at him hopefully. "What if we find out that I like boys?" he asked, trying for a humorous tone, but knowing he failed.
"Then you like boys." Kris shrugged. "I won't mind."
Swallowing Dirk decided to get everything out in the open. "What if I like you?"
For an endless moment Kris seemed frozen, his eyes impossible wide, his hand on Dirk's shoulder unmoving, then a grin spread over Kris's face.
"We are best friends, I certainly would be shocked if you didn't!" he said at last.
Dirk rolled his eyes. "You know what I mean," he stated, pulling away. "What if I find you attractive?"
Kris sighed. "That's what this is all about, right? The last days, I mean. You really believe you are attracted to me, and you were afraid I'd be shocked or disgusted, is that it?"
All Dirk could do was nod.
The next moment he found himself in a tight embrace. Brotherly, sure. But it felt good nevertheless. Very good. Too good. Goosebumps were running over his body in reaction to Kris stroking his back and whispering in his ear.
"I don't believe that you are shaych, I think you are just hurt and confused right now. But it doesn't matter if you are or not, I will always be there for you, I promise."
Dirk hid his face against his friend's shoulder, swallowing a moan, then he threw caution to the wind and followed his body's wish. Pressing closer, he made sure that Kris could feel his 'confusion'.
"Oh?!" There was nothing more coming from Kris for a while, but his hands never stopped their caressing and he didn't withdraw. Not even when Dirk's hands began an exploration of their own, wandering over Kris's back, beneath his shirt, touching his skin.
They were both getting more and more 'confused'. Until they kissed. Suddenly everything made perfect sense.
"You don't have to say you love me," Dirk said later, his head on Kris's chest, his eyes warm and free of pain.
"I know." And he did know. "But I can say it, if I mean it, can't I?" Kris asked, while running his fingers through his best friend's - and lover's! - hair.
"Yes." Dirk nodded.
"Good. Because I love you, Dirk. Very much. Never doubt that."
Dirk smiled at that and his eyes shone like stars.
'He has beautiful eyes,' Kris thought, falling into them.
"I love you, too, pretty boy." The laughter in Dirk's voice was more than enough reason for Kris to let the nickname slide. Still, he had to tease back.
"I still don't think that you are shaych, Dirk. No way."
Dirk kissed his chest then sat up. "I'm as shaych as the next man." He grinned and leaned over him. "Meaning you, of course."
"That's exactly my point," Kris replied smugly, while he grabbed his best friend and drew him down for a kiss. "Exactly my point."
© 11 September 2003