It was 6 o clock on a Saturday evening. The guests were all on their way out the door, leaving the museum empty as the dead. The doors locked, the lights came on, and there was silence. Suddenly, the dead of the museum erupted into life. Music began to blast on the stereo system. Teddy Roosevelt rode off toward the Lewis and Clark exhibit, excited. Rex, the very large, cumbersome dinosaur, lumbered down a hallway. Everything was coming to life all around the museum, replacing the dead silence with excitement and sound.
One little man in particular was already on his way out of his diorama. He dismounted his horse and paused at the edge, thinking. Tonight was different than most nights. Jedediah, the little cowboy, had a lot on his little mind. He took a little moment to convince himself to do what he had to do, before attaching a rope to the edge of the diorama. One deep breath, and he was ready to repel downwards and into the great, waiting museum beyond. He stopped, though, when he saw the night-guard, Larry, heading towards him, a little red and blue car in hand.
Hey, Jed! Larry said, waving with his free hand. He leaned over the diorama so he was down at Jedediahs level. I got the car all ready for ya, bone and all. He held up the tiny car, and sure enough, there was a giant bone attached to the back.
No can do, partner. Jedediah gave Larry a tiny salute, bracing himself on the rope and smiling. Ive got other plans tonight for me and that car, so you can play fetch with Rexy yourself.
What do ya mean, other plans? Larry asked, setting the car on the edge of the diorama. Jed stood back up, rope hanging uselessly at his side. He looked like he didnt want to talk about it. Untying his knot, he looped the rope around his arm and headed for the car.
other plans. Nothin you need to worry bout, Gigantor. Jed waved the night-guard off with a tiny chuckle and started around the side of the car. Larry, brow furrowing, grabbed Jed by the back of his tiny vest and carried him over to the bench in the center of the room. Setting the little man down on the top, Larry sat down beside him. Jed huffed. You know I hate being manhandled!
Jed, listen. Ill let you go do whatever you want to do, just tell me what it is. I dont want to lose track of you and have something bad happen, alright? Larry sighed. Tiny people were so hard to talk to.
I told you, its nothin you need to worry about! Jed cried. Larry didnt move. After a tense second of staring him down, Jed flopped down on the bench top, defeated. Fine, fine, fine.
There was a good minute where nothing happened. Jed and Larry sat in silence, Jed thinking to himself and Larry waiting.
Well? Larry asked, cocking his head impatiently.
Hold your horses, cowboy. Im thinkin. Just, gimme a second, alright? Jed looked up, pleadingly. They lapsed into silence again. Finally, Jed spoke. His voice sounded defeated and sorrowed.
You know how Octavius and I have pretty much spent every night drivin that dang car around for Rex? Jed asked. That was a good place to start, he figured. Larry nodded silently, waiting for Jed to continue. There was another pause. Well, weve got to talkin lately. You know, discussin stuff. Conquests and cultures and all that. Like, he told me about them Punic Wars
I explained how a Iron Horse worked
you know, that kinda stuff.
And? Larry questioned, now more interested than impatient with the cowboy. Jed fidgeted, like he wasnt quite sure he wanted to tell Larry the next part.
The other day he mentioned that
that, well, for them, it was okay
Jed trailed off, trying to use hand motions to convey his point. Larrys face said it all he had no earthly idea what the hell Jed was talking about. Jed frowned a second, scowled a second, and pouted a second, before he finally said what he hadnt wanted to talk about all night. Okay ta be gay.
There was a pause. Larry knew this conversation had only two directions from this point, and he wasnt sure which one hed prefer it to be. Is this a bad thing? Larry asked, going ahead with shoving this conversation down one path or the other. Jedediah festered a moment where he sat, swinging his legs.
No, not really. He said finally, through his teeth. Its a good thing, actually. It
you know what, Gigantor, never-mind. Jed stood up, frustrated. Lets go get Octavius and well do whatever the hell you want.
Jed, sit back down. Larry stuck his finger out and gently sat the cowboy back down. Theres something youre not telling me, and I think itll be good for you if you just came out and said it. Larry paused, realizing his choice of words a second after they left his mouth, but he ignored it since Jed didnt seem to have noticed.
Theres nothin ta tell. Jed said, a little frustrated. The little man was embarrassed and just wanted to make it like they never had this conversation.
Jed. Larry said, making it clear he knew the little cowboy was lying. What were you going to use the car for?
Well, I was just gonna take it for a spin. Grab Octavius, drive around. You know, go places no man has gone before. Jed shrugged. Maybe Larry would accept a half-truth. No, Larry wouldnt. Larry just shook his head.
Is that all, Jed?
Okay, so maybe I wanted to talk to him alone for a little while. Without havin ta drive. Jed finally confessed. He was a little fed up with Larry, but hopefully, Larry would give him the car and let him go do what he needed to do. What he told himself he was going to do.
What do you need to tell him that you need time alone? Larry asked, though he thought he already knew. Jed sat in silence for a long time. He didnt know what to tell Larry. Hell, he didnt know what to tell Octavius!
Their conversation the other day was the reason the cowboy was going to all this trouble to get the Roman alone. They had discussed Roman view on homosexuality, indeed, and it stuck some ideas into Jeds head that wouldnt leave. One, he was sure Octavius was gay. He was sure of it. After having the culture explained in detail, all the signs pointed that way, at least. And then the second thought spawned more from their prolonged time together. Jed had spent several nights chewing over this thought, and it was still a foreign yet completely familiar idea. Hed never felt that way before, but his mind told him over and over again that is wasnt bad. Octavius and the Romans didnt think it was bad. It didnt make telling anyone any easier, though.
Jed looked up at Larry, eyes pleading him to just leave it alone, because he didnt want to tell more than one person tonight that he was completely falling head over spurred heels for a man in armor and a dress. Thats right; that was the cause of all of Jeds mental anguish. He was in love with Octavius.
Larry, do I have to tell you? Jed begged, looking like hed rather not tell anyone, really, but knowing he had to tell Octavius. Cmon, you know its gotta be real important-eh if I gotta tell um alone. Jed tried to reason. Larry watching him for a long, long moment.
Youre in love with him, arent you? Larry asked. Jed shot up from here he sat, putting a finger to his lips frantically.
Shhh! They can hear you, Gigantor! He waved his hands to get Larry to be quieter. There was a beat in which Jed then turned a bright red. He pulled his hat over his eyes. So what if I am? He snapped, like such a thing was an accusation to his manhood. There was a slight pause before Jed looked up from under his hat. Larry, in the meantime, had grabbed the car from the edge of the display and untied the bone, setting it down lightly beside Jed. Jedediah looked up at Larry, and a huge smile burst across his face.
Thanks! He called, getting into the vehicle and revving the engine. Larry leaned down so he was beside the front window.
No problem. Tell me how it goes, kay? Larry said, grinning. He lifted the car and set it down, watching Jedediah peel off towards the Rome exhibit. Good luck. He spoke softly, knowing the car wouldnt hear him even if he yelled. With that, Larry made his way back downstairs.
Jed did a one-eighty degree spin and stopped right in front of the Rome diorama and exited the vehicle. He whistled loudly, and eventually, Octavius stuck his head over the edge of the display, brow furrowed.
Must you whistle? He asked, shaking his head. Jed didnt respond, instead, he just tossed the rope up to Octavius so the Roman could repel down. Jedediah then climbed back in the car, priding himself on not staying to see up Octaviuss tunic. He didnt want to find out if it was true that Romans didnt wear anything under their tunics. Once Octavius was in the car with the rope, Jed sped off without a word as to where they were going.
Jedediah? Octavius asked after a moment. Whatre you doing? Shouldnt we be finding Larry to retrieve the bone? He asked, looking back to see that no, the bone was not attached to the car.
Were takin a break from fetch tonight. Jed said simply, not looking over at Octavius to talk. He was determined to get the car where he wanted to go as fast as the tiny wheels could carry them. Octavius raised an eyebrow at the cowboy, not exactly sure what was going on, or who shoved a spear up Jeds ass that evening.
Are you alright? The Roman eventually asked, as they sped under the feet of Rex. Jedediah said nothing, but scrunched his shoulders up a little higher and gripped the steering wheel a little tighter. Octavius was going to ask something else, but Jed spun the car into a turn, effectively cutting the Roman short.
It was only a minute later when they finally reached their destination. This, meaning Jed nearly crashed the car into the wall with another one of his 180 degree skid-stops. Octavius clamored out of the vehicle before Jed killed them both. Jedediah eventually forced himself to let go of the steering wheel, and taking the rope, also exited the car. The pair shared a glance over the hood, Octavius still concerned and Jed still looking horrible tense and uncomfortable.
Without a word, Jed lassod the nearest available object and began to climb. Octavius watched him, fairly confused. He had no idea where they were, where they were climbing to, or what the hell was wrong with his normally chatty cow-poke friend. He was rather surprised, when they both finally reached the top, to see they were at a window. An east facing window to be exact, for the moon was visible through the panes. The window was unlocked, still, you see.
Jed, what is all this about? The Roman asked, delighted and confused at the same time. Jed, who was leaning against the clear, cold glass, looked up from under his hat and forced a smile.
I just, ya know, wanted to keep talkin to ya. He lied. Okay, half lied. He did want to talk. Just, he also kind of didnt. There was silence for a moment, in which Octaviuss face when from surprised and delighted yet confused to deeply concerned.
Jed, is there something you wish to speak to me about? The Roman took a tiny step forward. Jed forced himself to nod. Yes, he told himself, I do! No matter how much he didnt want to, he knew he had to. There was no other way. There was another uncomfortable silence. If you do not wish to speak to me, Jedediah, then I completely understand, but to go to this much trouble to get us alone brings me to the conclusion there is something gravely important you wish to speak to me about. Now, either tell me what it is that is bothering you so, or I shall leave.
Jed reached out, stopping the Roman from leaving. They paused there, like that, for a good moment, before Jed spoke again. Areyougay?
What? Octavius turned to face Jedediah, taken aback. Was that it? Octavius smiled a little, taking a deep breath. Hed been stuck thinking the worst. Well, I
Yes. I am. There as a pause. Is that a problem, Jedediah?
No, no, actually, I Jed spoke quickly, leaning back against the window again as he did. He was cut off, though, when the glass broke. Kids outside had started throwing rocks, and one hit the window, shattering it. Jed found himself off balance, falling backwards.
In the next moment, everything felt like it was in slow motion to Octavius. He watched Jedediah fall, the cowboys eyes wide with surprise and fear. The roman had darted forward, crying the cowboys name, but by the time he got to the broken window, Jed was too far to reach. The cowboy had one arm extended toward Octavius, reaching out, and it didnt go down until Jed disappeared into the bushes and new fallen snow.
Jedediah! Octavius leaned out the window, scared to fall himself, but more worried for his friend. His eyes frantically scanned the bushes below for some movement, some sign, that Jed was alright. He was leaning so far over, he was sure he, too, was going to fall, but a giant hand stopped him.
Octavius, what in the world are you doing? You know better than to hang out windows. Larry had the Roman hanging by the cape. Wheres Jed? Larrys face fell into worry when he looked closer at Octavius. The Roman General looked horrible panicked, and at the question, simply pointed at the window.
He fell. Octavius found his own voice sounded hollow to him, after what just happened. Larry blanched, and with a quick motion, slid Octavius into his pocket.
Cmon, little guy, lets go save your friend.
Octavius found the ride to be less than pleasing. Not only was he worried sick for Jedediahs safety, but the pocket bounced a lot when Larry ran. The Roman clung on tight, though, keeping his resolve. He was worried, yes, but he was not panicking. He and Larry still had an hour or two before dawn, so there was still hope.
Once outside, however, the resolve crumbled a little as Octavius literally vaulted himself out of Larrys pocket and into the snow. Luckily, his fall was cushioned and he stood, brushing off his very cold legs. Larry squatted down, watching the little man search.
Jedediah! Octavius entered the tangle of greenery, calling Jedediahs name. No answer. He pushed onward, ignoring how rough he was beginning to look from the nasty little branches. JEDEDIAH! He called again, and still, no answer came. Eventually the Roman sat down, tired. Hed looked all over, from one end of the bushes to the other, and hed come up with nothing. He was exhausted and heartbroken, thinking hed lost his friend.
He stood to leave, and thats when he stopped. A hand had brushed his helmet. He looked up, face overjoyed at the sight of Jedediah, cradled in the branches above Octavius, still alive and not quite dust. The Roman scaled the bush, and then found he had no idea how he was going to get Jed down.
Oh, dear. He told himself, thinking quickly. He tried moving a hand, and found his balance kept him upright without it. He shifted that arm under Jeds shoulders carefully, trying not to injure the other miniature any more than he already was. Octavius paused again, thinking hard. He shifted his other hand, but he nearly topped backwards. No, that wouldnt do. He shifted a foot down to a lower branch, and for a moment, he seemed stable. Upon putting his full weight on the branch, however, he slipped, and both teeny tiny men came toppling from the bushs ever clinging branches.
They lay there for a moment, Jedediah on top of Octavius, before the Roman forced himself to a sitting position. Jed lay in his lap, the Octaviuss arm still cradling the cowboys back. Octavius smiled to himself at the sight. Jedediah looked so peaceful like that. Not dead like in the daylight, no, just unconscious. Almost sleeping, if you will. Time eventually kicked Octavius in the ass, and the Roman stood up, cradling Jedediah in his arms. Dawn was approaching soon and they had to get back inside.
Larry sat in the snow, eyes glancing at his watch every few minutes. Dawn was ticking closer. Then, like in an action movie, the pair emerged. Octavius looked a mess, but Jedediah looked even more of a mess, partly because he was in the Romans arms. Larry put his hand on the ground like a platform for Octavius to walk onto. The Roman did as such and set Jedediah down, sitting beside the cowboy. Larry then carefully carried them inside.
Octavius watched Jed rest all the way to the bench in front of their displays with heartfelt concern and a silly sort of fascination with how the cowboy looked when he was prone and peaceful. The Roman General studied his face, his hair, his hat, with adoring fascination. Unlike Jedediah, the feelings Octavius harbored for the cowboy did not make him uncomfortable or uneasy in any way. The little man was perfectly okay admitting that yes, he did find something intriguing about the Jeds rough and bawdy manner, and that yes, this attraction extended past the boundaries of friendship on just about every level. There was no denying the love here.
Larry set both teeny tiny men down on the bench between their displays and sat down near them, watching. Octavius? He finally asked. Weve got a few hours til sunrise. You gonna sit with him all night?
I shall sit with him until the mornings light, and if he isnt himself tomorrow night, I shall sit with him then, as well. Octavius sat cross legged at Jedediahs side, watching the cowboy with his chin in his hands. After a second, he removed his helmet and resumed his vigilance. Its only deserving to the man I love. The roman looked up at Larrys nearly surprised face.
Yes, I am willing to admit it. Theres nothing wrong with love, you know. Not to my people, anyway. Octavius smiled, laughing a little. I just wish others would see it that way.
You planning on telling him? Larry asked. He was almost urging Octavius to say yes with his voice. The Roman looked up, quirking an eyebrow.
Why, is there something you wish to tell me, my liege? Octavius asked, a little concerned.
No, nonononono. Larry laughed. Jeds secret was Jeds to tell, not Larrys. Just, promise me youll tell him when he wakes up, alright? Promise me.
I promise, my liege. Octavius stood and put his right fist over his heart. Larry mimicked the gesture.
Now Im gonna leave you two alone. With that, Larry made himself scarce.
Octavius sat back down, watching Jedediah with a small smile. Hed keep his promise, of course. He had to. Larry was his liege, and Larry knew what was best. He put absolute faith in the night guard. But, oh, how distracted he was by Jed in front of him. He had the sudden urge to put the cowboys head in his lap and brush his hair. If the Spartans did it, couldnt he?
Howdy, partner. Octavius was broken from his own thoughts by a tiny voice beside him. Jed was in the process of sitting up on his elbows, watching Octavius stare with a grin plastered on his face. Octavius, after a second of startled shock, locked Jed in a manly hug. You okay, Octavius? Jed asked, concerned as to why the roman was hugging him so tightly. Octavius just sat back on his rump, smiling.
You did fall from a window, Jedediah. Octavius commented. There was a moment of silence. What were you going to say before you fell? The question was softly spoken and gentle. Jedediah chewed over the last thing he remembered in his head for a moment before he spoke.
I was gonna say its not a bad thing youre gay, cause, well
Jed paused. Here came the moment he had been working up to and dreading all night. IthinkImightbeinlovewithyou. He spat the words out as fast as he could. He tipped his hat down to hide his face. It was embarrassing. Macho-man of the wild west in love with another man, well, that wouldnt go over to well with the boys.
Octavius watched Jed, face lighting up. So THIS was what the cowboy was so worked up about. The Roman smiled, face nearly cut in two with his grin. He crawled forward a little and paused. He didnt know if what he was about to do was too forward or not, but he considered Jedediahs style of blatant forwardness as a sign that it probably wouldnt be.
Octavius crawled forward so he was leaning over Jedediah, and quickly flicked off Jeds hat. Jed looked up, ready to tell the Roman off for stealing his hat, but was stopped when one set of lips came crashing onto the other. Jed felt his insides melt and start to ooze out his ears. He found himself unable to support himself and laid back on the wood, letting the Roman straddle him. They kissed like this for a long, hot second.
When Octavius sat backwards, Jed sat back up. Woo! That
that was kinda hot. Jed said, grinning. Octavius was grinning too, and turned a little red around the face and ears when he heard the other Romans cheering him on. Oh, great, they had an audience.
Lets get you back to your display, shall we? Octavius ignored his fellows and stood, holding out his hand for Jed. Jedediah took the proffered hand and managed to stand on his own, though he had to lean on Octavius after a moment.
We should do that again sometime. Jed commented, as they made their way toward the Wild West display. They walked, arm in supporting arm, and smiling. Octavius laughed a little before he replied.
Sure, but can we leave the window out this time?