A Study of the Mating Patterns of California Teenagers

JC splashed into the ocean, the sunlight dancing on his skin and making him appear golden in the full noon light. He was laughing; his face lit up with the joy of it, of feeling the sun on his back and the waves at his feet and Chris on the beach, watching him play. It was Chris’ eyes that made this perfect, JC thought to himself; playful with a hint of reserve, knowing and accepting of all that JC was. It was Chris that made this happen, Chris that brought him here. JC was happy and everything was *perfect.*


The drive was solemn, too tense. JC fiddled with the radio so much he felt the creases of the tuner knob in his skin when he took his hand away. JC was nervous, but unaccountably so; this was what he wanted. This was what he’d asked for, and every time he looked over at Chris, unnaturally calm and eyes fixed on the road before them, he saw the fulfillment of things he had been wishing for over the last three years. Three years of seeing Chris’ face in his mind every morning and thinking about what he might be doing at that moment. JC had never been a patient person, but he was willing to wait for Chris.

The radio was playing something lulling and inconsequential, and JC arranged himself on the passenger seat so that he could rest his feet on the dashboard and look at Chris. It was a beautiful summer day, and they had the windows rolled down in the back, making it just cool enough for the sun coming through the windshield to be enjoyable. JC’s naked toes wiggled against the vent, and he saw Chris smile at the corner of his mouth. JC wanted to dedicate his life to seeing more of those smiles.

As they got farther away from the city and closer to the beach, JC started to hum underneath his breath, harmonizing with the song on the radio, and Chris turned to look at him with love evident in his eyes. When Chris took his hand, JC tightened his fingers around Chris’; in the distance, he could see the sparkle of the ocean.


“I just don’t see how you could have waited for so long,” Chris said quietly, leaning back in his chair, ignoring the coffee the server had put before him.

JC resolutely stared into his cafe au lait. He didn’t have an answer. It wasn’t like he’d spent the last three years pining away–or rather, he had, but he’d kept himself busy enough that it didn’t matter. Much. Three years was nothing if it meant he could have Chris every day for the rest of his life. And he understood why Chris had to leave: sometimes a person’s problems were too closely connected to a town, and this one in particular had a habit for keeping its residents tied too closely down.

“I figured you’d come back,” he answered finally, sliding his sandaled foot between Chris’ ankles. “Besides, it was just college. It wasn’t like you were going to Japan or something.”

“Yeah,” Chris conceded. It was a little strange with him now–usually he was all over JC’s ass, teasing him and acting like a five-year-old. But college seemed to have changed him, adding patience and a willingness to talk instead of mock. He was more an adult now. JC fought the temptation to fiddle with his hair or do something else stupid and high-schoolish. Chris shifted in his chair and leaned over the table, taking JC’s hand and looking at him intently through his glasses. “I’m glad you waited,” he said.

JC’s heart leapt. “Me too,” he whispered.


The rumors of Chris’ return were everywhere, leaving JC feeling vaguely uncomfortable. He didn’t go to school that Friday; everyone kept looking at him like they were expecting him to flip out or something. It wasn’t like their whole relationship hadn’t been gossip fodder for the year they had dated, before Chris went to college, and the push and pull of their relationship when Chris came back for vacations or to visit his family was always a source of talk for the people that came in and out of their group of friends. They had only dated seriously for a year, when JC was a sophomore, but their relationship had ended in a spectacular blowout, with both of their friends getting heated too. Kevin and Lance still had a feud going. But when Chris finally left, they had come to an agreement of sorts: they would see what happened, and wouldn’t write each other off, but whatever happened, happened.

JC was willing to wait because he couldn’t get the memory of Chris’ eyes out of his head: the way they searched his face, as if looking for some kind of sign. JC decided at that moment that no matter what happened when Chris was in college or when he finished high school, this thing they had was worth hanging on to. So despite all the parties and the jokes and the memories Justin brought up of the fights he and Chris had in the past, JC held on to that last final look.

It was stupid to be this worried. They were going to see each other. They’d figure it out then.


Chris’ car was packed and it was the beginning of September. JC hadn’t told anyone he was seeing Chris before he left; even Joey would have said it was a bad idea. Still, JC figured it was worth one more shot so Chris wouldn’t leave while they were on bad terms. They met at the pier, watching the ocean turn a livid blue in the morning sunlight.

“Are you ready?” JC asked, trying to be polite.

“Yeah. I think so,” Chris answered, looking away. Things were silent for a minute, and then Chris turned to look at JC, putting a hand on his arm and just *watching * him for a second, as if he was going to jump away or something. JC curled his fingers in his hand and fought the urge to fidget. Chris always made him feel…wanted, even when they were fighting or not right with each other. When their eyes met for just a brief second, JC’s heart skipped–god, would he ever stop having feelings for this stupid boy? This stupid boy who was going *away*?

“I gotta go,” Chris said finally, giving him a very brief hung and one last look before walking away. JC watched him leave, and wondered what was going to happen. He hopped up onto the pier’s fence. The “Welcome to Laguna Beach” sign shined in the sunlight.