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[Vignette 2/2011] Two Minutes To Midnight (Dead Head)

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December 31st, 1999. 11:58pm.

A large beach house along the Carolina coast.

This New Years' eve party was by far the best one Burton "Burt" Lee had ever attended. That wasn't saying much, though, as he'd not been to very many. His four years in college had been spent making up for the quiet, sheltered life he had lived in his small North Carolina hometown, where most New Year’s Eve parties had consisted of sitting at home and watching the televised broadcast of the giant acorn drop in the city capital. He'd faced some difficulties since he left to live on the campus some 45 miles from home, gotten into some trouble as he tested his newfound freedoms, but in this his experiences were not unusual. And he counted himself lucky for having parents who were able to help him out of the few jams he was not able to get himself out of.

Which is not to say they were perfectly understanding – small towns tended to breed small minds, and Lee's parents were not wholly free of that. For instance, they disapproved of his friendship with one Kimber Stanley, a voluptuous brunettes whose parents were fairly well off (the Lees tended not to trust the wealthy, be they old money or new). "Look, just 'cuz her parents are well-off don’t make 'em bad. An' it ain't like they got their money by crooked means – they built and run a restaurant! Wouldja fault ol' Elmo fer makin' it big if his diner proved real popular?" What Burt had not shared with his parents was that Kimber was experimenting with her sexuality, something they would have had equal issue with.

Kimber was currently dating Jendayi Rogersdottir, a thin blonde from Freedom City (one of the few places a mixed Egyptian/Icelandic family could form). The three of them got along fabulously, to the point where many at the college thought Burt, Kim and Jen were a polyamorous triad. It did take Burt some time to realize what was going on – at first he thought they were just good friends, not good friends – but when it did dawn on him, it mattered not a bit. They were all friends, and he was comfortable being in the friend zone.

At least, that’s what he told himself. If the truth were force from him, he’d admit he had feelings for Kim, and was a bit jealous of Jen. He didn’t see anything he could do about it, though, so he just kept on as he had, hanging out with them, watching movies together, going out for food runs after lengthy study sessions, and acting as a shoulder to cry on when their relationship hit one of its many rocky patches. (Yeah, that part sucked most of all.)

But tonight was different. It was New Years' Eve 1999, and tomorrow would be the start of a new millennium. (Well, that's what many kept saying; the new century and millennium wouldn’t really start until 2001, but who’s going to listen to "facts"?) The party was held at Kim's parent’s beach house, stocked with copious amounts of food and drink, and attended by dozens of their friends. Burt had just experienced another first – his first alcoholic drink, some fruity concoction that he could easily see himself drinking many more of – when Kim and Jen, who had already enjoyed several drinks, breezed by and whispered something to him, in tandem:

"Heeeyyy Burt," Kim cooed.

"Burrrt," Jen purred.

"You’ve been suuuch a good friend to us..."

"Done sooo much for us..."

"And now we wanna do something..."

"Something special for you..."

They each ran a hand across and down his chest, and slipped their hands into his jeans pockets. "Uhhhh..."

"Something you’ll really like..."

"Really, really, reeeaaallly like..."

They both planted a kiss on his cheeks, as they had many, many, many times before, but then Kim shifted in front of him and gave him a real kiss. His first real kiss.

Woo-hoo! My first time, and it's gonna be a three-way!

He smiled, enjoying the tingling sensation on his lips, feeling it spread across his face and around to the back of his head. He felt goosebumps rising along his arms, and the hairs on the back of his neck standing up. Man, if I'm feelin' all this from just a kiss, I can't wait to see wha-

That was the last thought that went through Burton Lee's living brain.

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