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I feel like Sooch is in between being mildly attracted and a little bit jealous of Howie's manliness ;v; And yeah, I love the slow burn too
I feel like Howie's gonna groggily open an eye, notice Sooch, and snuggle up to Sooch after like 30 seconds of hesitation......or so I hope. I still don't feel like they should kiss yet
I sense an event coming in the next pages; Sooch's face says it all (or he's just tired ;7; )
Jeez, that looked like a pain to draw. You will be heavily saluted for your artistry *cries of joy*
Maybe Liam's a jerk because he keeps losing friends, so when he does find someone who's willing to put up with his shit, he either shrugs it off or treats them like shit so he won't be disappointed once they finally decide to leave. Kind of his own self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts.

*EDIT* Also I'll still play devil's advocate here by saying he's probably just a homophobic asshole who grew up with his peers/family viewing that as unwanted behavior, so because he wanted to keep friends (and probably not even fully understanding the issue at first), he jumped on the homophobe bandwagon with full enthusiasm. I still wanna guess this isn't the first time he's lashed out like this at someone out of his ingrained disgust for those kinds of people.
HOW DID I CALL THAT WHAT THE HELL OAO
I miss Liam already...(interpret what you will, I just love his character)
There are so many things I could say to this. Honestly I'm just sitting in my blankets waiting for the day they actually try to kiss again. Don't get me wrong, I want this to be as slow and painfully awkward as possible, but that'll make the long-awaited kiss that much better *v*
I don't want Sooch to kiss Howie.
I'm gonna be completely honest here. While I agree this situation calls for a well-needed push, a kiss might make Howie even more uncomfortable. It feels like a kiss will only serve to validate Howie's belief that Sooch is feeling pressured into "trying" (and I could go on and on about why I came to that conclusion).

Rather than kissing Howie, I think first the two should focus on feeling comfortable with each other again--specifically being comfortable in each others' space. If you look back, Howie used to touch Sooch quite a bit, even when Sooch never really touched Howie that way (minus that hug when Howie came out). Now Howie's too guarded to be less than five feet away from Sooch. I think if Sooch is gonna make a push, he should instead just snuggle up to Howie. Wrap his arms around him. Just like Howie did when they were drunk and Ben wouldn't fucking go to sleep ;7; No but seriously. I think Sooch should just focus on making Howie comfortable with being in the same space and touching Sooch again, which kissing might actually work against that goal. But if it's something simpler like snuggling him, or even petting his hair, that might ease the tension a little bit, since caressing in that manner is usually supposed to have a kinda therapeutic effect.

And he obviously still likes Sooch. Sure this won't immediately make him wanna wrap his own arms around Sooch, but just some innocent snuggles and caresses might ease Howie into a more relaxed state of experimentation.

tl;dr: Sooch shouldn't kiss Howie. Try some snuggles first. And caress his hair gently like they do in the movies ;v;

*EDIT* I also mainly say this because this goes for all couples going through tough times, especially for those who've already been dating a while and are falling out. If you're not comfortable being in close proximity to one another, then kissing is just going to exacerbate that awkwardness.

*EDIT**EDIT* I SWEAR THIS IS THE LAST EDIT ;A; I saw some hope that Sooch will get mad and initiate a kiss. If Sooch kisses Howie because he's mad this isn't going as quickly or smoothly as he would've liked, then that's REALLY gonna feel forced to Howie and he'll have every right to believe Sooch is only doing this out of pressure and guilt. There. No more from me I promise >.>
Gives me some flashbacks of long ago in my youth ;v;
They should be glad Howie didn't end up living with Liam, because I'm sure Liam would be worse at feeding Howie a proper meal
@M-24: I completely agree with this. I think counselors help substantially with a student's success, so it would probably make it less daunting for Sooch if he was receiving guidance in this way
This is why I was hoping Howie would just give it a shot. Lots of commenters here seem to be on the same page too, that this is a one-shot chance. I've been dealt plenty of one-shots in my life, romance-wise. I'm glad I took them, even if not all of them worked out in the end. But my biggest gain from all of them were what everyone is saying here--at least the nagging "What-if" is taken care of.

Even though it might be a more logical decision to leave and have more space, neither love nor friendship necessarily agree with logic. Sometimes you need to play to the whims of emotion to find what really makes you happy. Howie has finally been given an honest chance; if he walked out that door and refused it completely, even with all the crap he's had to endure to get to this stage....................

....I'm just gonna trail off here because there's many assumptions I could make here about what would happen if he really did give into logic and left. Either way I'm just glad he's decided to take the chance instead of sticking with his prediction that it would fail anyway.

*edit* Plus, plot-wise, Howie already rejected Sooch's company four times (and I counted. Sooch rejected Howie's feelings about three times). What exactly are the characters supposed to do during such a huge gap apart. There's only so many times a story can split characters until it becomes less of suspense and more of a routine waiting game. I feel like if he were to leave right now, that would be fine, but that would be the last time I would understand him asking for space. Because at that point, he's pretty much made up his mind to not talk to Sooch ever again. I get the need for build-up and realistic angst, but at this point they really just need to talk this through and find out once and for all if this is even gonna work. There's a reason the saying goes "Third time's the charm." Well, Howie took his fourth rejection back. That's a good number to bring this story full circle.

tl;dr--Sorry for the literary analysis. Basically I'm praising the story's pacing at this point in time.
...............Welp, I'm hurt ;3; (Lovely way to end the chapter, by the way)
You know what, I'm hoping Howie actually agrees to give this a shot. A lot of people in the comments are saying how realistic this is, and at the same time how Howie should just say no or walk away, but to be honest, this is exactly what happened to me. I was Sooch at one point. I half-heartedly gave one of my college friends the chance to kiss me, merely because I knew the guy had feelings for me. I didn't expect myself to like it that much since the guy was not my type at all, and all the other kissing flings I had prior were less than satisfactory. So we became friends with benefits (well, more like friends with no more than kissing benefits), which is also something I didn't expect.

But I say that I was like Sooch because I wasn't sure if I was really capable of loving another person like that, and the thought terrified me (due to past trauma)--and mind you I'm a straight cisgender female. And even when we started dating, I still felt a sense of dread knowing it would eventually end, and we'd break up like every other time I tried to date a guy.

What really forced me to face my feelings was when I encountered a similar situation to Sooch: I almost lost my boyfriend for good. He was going to leave to another city that was thirteen hours away, and I still couldn't drive, and I hated the city he was leaving to. And he wasn't even thinking of leaving because of the relationship--he wanted to live with his best friend who was already living there so he could get started on his dream job. We both were in consensus that our relationship would most likely be temporary, and we were only together to help each other move out of our parents' houses (it's complicated so I won't explain). The whole time I was telling him that I wasn't capable of loving and that our relationship would be best left temporary --and yet I cried my eyes out whenever I thought I'd never get to see him again. And I had thoughts of spending the rest of my life with him, and to care for him.

And when I finally realized I might love him, I had to face my demons and become okay with the fact that I really could love another person--just as Sooch had to come to terms with being comfortable trying intimacy with Howie. And I admitted my feelings to the guy, just as Sooch admitted his to Howie just now. And you know what? The guy gave me a chance. He accepted my newfound love for him and gave me a chance to foster it with him. And the best part--we've been together now for three years.

So that's why I say Howie should at least accept Sooch's offer and try. It might end up better than it was before. Affection can do interesting things to two best friends, and I'd like to see where it ends up.
........Whatever. I'm just happy Howie's mad at Sooch. Learning you've been lied to isn't exactly an easy thing to recover from, even if it does mean great news in the end. To put it in perspective, it's like if you run some medical test and the doctor tells you, "You'll die of cancer by next week," and so you start overpreparing for your own funeral and the same doctor comes back and says "Psyche!".

Yes, an extreme comparison, but that's probably how angry Howie's feeling.

(If that analogy doesn't make sense, then it's as though Howie was told Sooch died, and at Sooch's funeral Sooch jumped out of his coffin and said "PSYCHE!")
@Guest: *TL;DR WARNING* JadedCarlile seems to have him/herself well defended, but I'll input my two-cents anyway just because. I somehow feel like you're contradicting your own statement. You feel this is an unintelligent story, yet you're looking for a "cinema movie just with 2 guys", and claim this is more of a "documentary" than a story. Let me explain why these two comments juxtapose each other.

1. "You feel this story is unintelligent and will end like any other BL". I believe you're talking about the dreaded yaoi that most of this community are heavily against. The argument currently is that yaoi (or Japanese BL) holds no substance of its own, is cliche in every way just to make sure the two guys get together, and always ends with the notion that sex fixes everything. This sounds about where you're trying to take your stance, is it not? You're attempting to side with those who want a believable story without relying so much on unnecessary fluff or hots.

2. You want a more cinematic story and feel this is "more of a documentary". Documentaries are just another medium for story-telling; the only distinguishing factor is that a documentary relies mostly on grounded facts, a tangible timeline of events, and a heavy focus on the mundane acting as both support and antagonists. Therefore, this should be the most realistic version of any kind of story--which is exactly what you seem to be arguing for. Documentaries are also cinematic in the most minimalistic ways, however, and may utilize some effects to bring focus and attention to certain areas of interest throughout the story--which is exactly what the author here is doing.

So I'm not sure where your real argument lies. Do you want a story that is more realistic and believable, or do you want a story with more fluff and butterflies and rainbows? The fact that you called JadedCarlile a Fujoshi means you feel this story has no substance and only has fluff. But....at the same time by saying it's like a documentary you feel it's going too slow?

So honestly, you just invalidated your own argument. And by the way, I'm happy to call myself a Fujoshi. At least I'm more flexible in my taste in BL as a result ;3
.................................................................................... ..........................Weeeeeeeeeeeeell damn
..............Well damn
True, Howie needs space. But I think an almost life/health-threatening situation overrides that initial agreement. As important as Howie's emotional health is, personal feelings can be dealt with later. For now, I do think it would be best for Howie to force Sooch to let him stay--at least until Sooch comes back to his safe place so he can work out his own issues.