Connor always looked forward to boys’ weekend, even though he never completely felt like one of them. The other boys always picked beautiful and fun places to go, but there were always things that Connor loved and things he didn’t. For this year’s trip, Sean booked them a small sailing yacht. It was a beautiful day when they arrived to board the boat, and the next few days looked amazing as well. It was going to be a good weekend. Once on board, Connor unpacked and had just enough time for a couple of drinks before dinner. During the dinner, Sean, Kyle and Andy talked and updated everyone on their personal lives. Sean and Andy were married now, and Kyle had been dating his girlfriend for a while, so Connor felt even more out of place being single. For Connor, most of the dinner was nodding and smiling.
After dinner, Kyle found out their server was British and they took turns trying to get her to say words that sounded different in British. It’s a game the two of them had played for years. Aluminum, privacy and garage were Kyle’s Favorites. The best they got this trip was “algae”, but Connor still enjoyed the time with Kyle. After that, like they always did on the first night of the trip, the four of them played poker. Connor never liked it, but it was a running joke that Connor always won when he played. Connor would push his chips all in frequently, hoping to end his obligation to the game. More often than not, he would win, and then have to work his chips back down again.
A few hours and a few more drinks into the night, Kyle had run low on chips. When he finally had to go all in, he threw in his lucky antler. The lucky antler was really just a small, broken piece of antler on a silver chain, and to the other guys, the antler was a joke. Other than Kyle, only Connor knew the real value it had. When he first got it a few years ago, Kyle had confided in Connor and told him the truth about the Antler. It was actually his dads, before he died. It was from his dad’s first ever hunting trip with his dad. When his parents first met, they didn’t have much and his dad had actually given it to his Mom as a promise ring. She had it until she gave it to Kyle after his dad died. She wanted Kyle to give it to his first love. It’s been around his neck on a chain ever since. Kyle threw the Antler in often, and depending on the day, the other guys would assign different values to the antler. This time, it wasn’t valued at much, but Kyle said it didn’t matter. He was going to win either way. At the end of the hand, Connor flipped over his cards, showing that he had won. The other guys laughed as Connor pulled the pile of chips and the antler towards him.
“Fuck this!” Kyle yelled, slamming his hands down on the table.
He then stood up from the table and walked toward the door to the cabins.
“What the fuck Kyle?” Sean yelled to Kyle's back.
Connor, Andy and Sean all looked at each, not hiding their confusion. Kyle had lost before, and he knew Connor was going to give back his antler, so this was out of character.
“Kyle, wait!” Connor grabbed the Antler from the table and ran after him.
He caught up to him at the door to his cabin.
“You don’t have to be upset. You know you’re going to get it back. “
“It’s not about that, Connor. You just always win everything. “
“So you’re mad that I win everything? Even Andy knows you better than that, what's going on? '' Connor asked.
“Linda broke up with me.” Kyle whispered
Connor closed the gap between them and pulled Kyle in for a hug.
“I'm sorry, do you want to tell me what happened?”
“The usual, I gave her the antler, she said things were moving to fast, the end” Kyle said, shrugging
Connor tried not to laugh, because that was the usual. Kyle had given his “promise” antler to 3 women now, and all of them had ended it. He also knew what came next, and stepped back from Kyle.
“Why don’t we talk in the morning, you’re going to need to tell the boys you lied at dinner, anyways” Connor said.
“Why don’t you come in, you and I can talk now” Kyle's hand slid down Connor’s chest to the front of his board shorts.
Connor slid his hand down Kyle’s arm and pushed it away.
“Not this time, Kyle. It’s probably best if you go to bed. “
“Come on, Connor, you know you want to. “
“You’re right Kyle, I do want to, I just don’t want what comes after. You always do this when you’re drunk and hurt. A girl rejects you, and you come to me for comfort, then the next day, it’s like it never happened. You go back to being straight. I just can’t do that to myself anymore.”
“It’s not like that,” Kyle said, running his finger down Connor’s arm.
“It’s absolutely like that. You need to decide which team you’re going to play on, and you need to stop playing these games with me” Said Connor
“I know. I'm sorry. It was like that, but it’s not anymore. “
Connor pushed Kyle’s hand back toward him.
“Go to bed Kyle”
Connor turned and walked back down the hall. It took everything he had to not turn around, but he needed to be firm. They were getting too old for this. It made him so angry. He loved Kyle, but Kyle could never love him back, at least not the way Connor needed him to. When Connor got back to the table, Sean and Andy were cleaning everything up. Technically, Andy still had chips, but everyone was done.
“We’re calling it a night. You won, as usual,” Sean said, slapping Connor on the shoulder.
“Kyle ok?” Andy asked
“Yeah, he will be ok, Linda broke up with him. I’m sure he will tell you in the morning” Said Connor, passing the last stack of chips to Andy
“That's too bad, we won’t tell him you told us” said Sean
“Alright, thanks guys, goodnight.”
Connor found his way back to his room, layed down, and despite his frustration with the evening, fell asleep quickly.
What felt like an hour later,Connor woke up to a knock at his door. He sprung up quickly, and looked out the window. It was later than he thought, but still early. He let out a long breath and walked to the door. He was normally the first one up, so maybe something was wrong. Connor pulled open the door to see Kyle ,standing there in the same clothes from the night before.
“What’s wrong? Is everyone ok?” Connor asked
Kyle seemed to realize what Connor was thinking and responded quickly
“Oh, yes, everyone is fine, I just…”
“You want your antler? That’s what has been keeping you up?” Connor said, not trying to hide his annoyance. Connor walked over to the side table and picked up the chain. He walked back to Kyle and put his hand out.
“Here, take it,”
“I want you to keep it,” Kyle whispered
Kyle stepped forward and grabbed Connor’s hand.
“I want you to keep it. You were right last night, I’ve been playing games. I should have given it to you a long ago, but I’ve been stupid”
“We both know you’re too much into girls for that, Kyle,” Connor said, thinking about the last 3 women he had offered the antler to.
“I know what it looks like, but I like girls and I like boys. I’ve always been like that, girls have just been…” Kyle stopped and tilted his head. “More appropriate.”
Kyle took another step toward Connor. “I’m done doing what other people think is appropriate. I love you, Connor, and I don’t want to ignore it anymore.“
Connor stood frozen, not knowing what to say.
“Connor, please say something” Kyle put his other hand over Connors
“I love you too, Kyle, but I don't know if we feel the same about this. We’re best friends, and for me, there is no going back".”
“I don’t want to go back, I mean it. “ Said Kyle, not letting his gaze leave Connors.
Kyle grabbed his chain from Connor’s hand and put it over Connor’s neck, letting the Antler fall onto his bare chest. Connor looked down at the Antler, then back at Kyle. He looked into the green eyes and round face he knew and loved, and wondered why they looked different in this moment. Vulnerable and serious. Connor closed the gap between them and kissed him. He held for a few seconds before pulling back.
“You really mean this, Kyle? You're not still drunk are you?”
“I mean it, I promise” Kyle said, grabbing both of Connors hands.
“Ok, but you’re telling Sean and Andy,” Joked Connor.
“Fine, but you’re telling my Mom,” Kyle said back.
“That's not even close to fair,” Connor said, turning to head toward the main deck.
As they walked, Connor brought his hand up to the antler resting on his chest. He would never tell anyone how many times he had pictured it there. Connor still wasn't sure if Kyle was telling the truth, but things already felt different. They had always been a secret, meeting drunk, late at night. This time, it was morning, and they were sober, mostly. Connor would never know if finally standing up for himself was what brought Kyle to this moment, but that's what he would always tell himself.
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Loved this so so much
Hi Jaden! I couldn't listen to the song whilst reading because of the lyrics (I can't focus), but I listened to it before reading to set the mood. I really enjoyed the promise-antler in this story and the hinting at Kyle's and Connor's history. Connor setting boundaries to end that cycle was a good take on this prompt - and it paid off for him! A very sweet and wholesome happy ending if you ask me. One minor line edit, as you could quickly tweak this if you agree: "Connor always looked forward to boys’ weekend, even though Connor never com...
Thanks! I'm definitely doing that line edit.
Hey Jaden! In case you didn't know, I am a sucker for a MM romance, so I just HAD to stop by for a read. The story is cute. I always enjoy a friends to lovers trope, and you handled it well amidst the backdrop of a boys' weekend. The title was nice, suggesting Connor was both "one of the boys" and not at the same time. Very subtle, and I liked it. You hit the "no way" romance beat well here, moving into the "retreat" beat with Connor's false belief that Kyle was just in his usual ways and would toss him aside the following day. The broke...
Weirdly, I was listening to the song after, and realized how well the lyrics fit. It reminds me of the story every time now. I definitely did submit it fast, and I'm sure could very much benefit from a third edit. I'm always open to suggestions,feedback and edits.
Reading this again, so many things I would change now!
Musical compliment for this story: Dancing on my own by Calum Scott