Warning: This is a fictional story, describing erotic relations between
consenting adult men. If this makes you uncomfortable, or if it is illegal for you to read
something like this, then go find something else to do.
The following story is entirely a work of fiction, and is not intended to imply anything about any real people. All of the characters in the story are fictional, and must not be confused with any real people. The characters in this story may have the same names as some real people, but the characters are in no way supposed to actually represent any real people.
Permission is hereby granted for this story to be distributed solely by the Nifty Archive: http://www.nifty.org/. You may of course keep a copy for your own use, but you may not redistribute it.
I have said this before, but it really bears repeating. I really would like to thank those of you who have taken the time to tell me how much they have enjoyed the story. It means a lot to me to know you're enjoying it.
As you might imagine, writing something like this is a lot of work. A number of things have happened in my life recently, which have conspired against me getting the next chapters out as quickly as I'd like. I have been holding these chapters, in the hope that I'd be able to finish writing the story before posting anything more--so you wouldn't have another long delay. However, I've been stuck for a while now, and I think maybe it's time to start posting again. Maybe that'll help to get me unstuck. There are a few more chapters to come after this, and I do have a couple more sitting ready to send. So, look for one a week for the next few weeks anyway.
I would also like to say publicly (such as it is) that a number of people are very special to me. They know who they are, and I won't name them here. Their support and love have kept me going through some very hard times. I hope I've been able to give back at least a small portion of their love to them. I really wouldn't be here without them.
Okay, enough sappiness. I'd love to hear from you if you've got any comments. On with the chapter.
Matt carefully walked into the living room of the apartment. He was carrying two mugs of coffee. He was trying his best not to spill them on the way. He'd probably filled them a bit too much.
"Here you go Joey" Matt said, as he offered one mug to Joey.
"Thanks" Joey said. He watched as Matt sat down in the chair close by. He was still getting used to the idea of Matt living with him. There were times when he forgot he was here, but he really was glad to have him here. It had been so quiet before. It wasn't until Matt had moved in that Joey realized just how much he missed having people around.
And Matt was a great roommate. They knew each other quite well, and had gotten closer than ever before in recent months. Matt didn't really have any annoying habits that bothered Joey. They just got along.
"Are you ready to do this?" Matt asked.
"Do what? Oh, you mean tell Mom and Dad?" Joey paused for moment to try and remember what they'd talked about before. This certainly wasn't the first time they'd discussed coming out to their parents.
They'd actually talked about it a number of times. Matt had consulted Nick. They'd both talked to Maitland and Abby last time they'd been over about it.
Nick seemed sure that it would all work out properly. After the scare he'd had with Brian and the guys, he seemed to be quite certain that it wouldn't be that bad. Howie was still a bit of a problem for Nick, but he wasn't really bad either. He was just distant. Nick's patience had paid off, and Howie seemed to be slowly coming around. At least they could all work together now without too much discomfort.
Maitland and Abby had both told them their stories. They'd both been afraid that their parents wouldn't accept it, but after a few tears and some awkward discussions, they were closer now than they'd been before. Maitland had said that she'd made one mistake--she'd brought Abby with her when she had told her folks. They'd blamed Abby for everything, which had made Maitland angry. Her anger had made things worse for a while, but they'd worked through it all.
"Yeah Matt, I think it's time we told Mom and Dad."
"But, are you ready for it Joey? I don't want to push you."
Joey looked at Matt and smiled. "I'll be fine. I don't think we're pushing it. I'm comfortable with it all now I think."
"I'm just hoping that Dad will cool down once he knows why I went to Toronto. He's been so distant recently, ever since I went off without explaining it. I think not knowing is really bugging him."
"Yeah, it is. Mom says she's getting tired of it. At least Andy doesn't seem to be bothered by it."
"That's good." Matt said. "Joey, are we going to tell Andy too?"
"He's a bit young isn't he?" Joey asked.
"Well, I don't know about you, but I knew more than people thought when I was that age. I'll bet he'll understand it all. I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't have to explain anything to him."
Joey laughed. "You know, you're right. By the time I was his age, I sure knew what it was all about. It took a few years before I knew I was gay, but I sure knew about sex."
"Andy is a bright kid. I doubt he'll be any problem. I can't imagine him being upset about it."
"That's true. I'm sure Andy will just say okay, and then ask where the Nintendo is."
Matt laughed. "That sounds like him. Anyway, I think maybe we should tell Mom and Dad first. We can tell Andy later, the next time we have him over."
Just then, the phone started ringing. Joey put his mostly empty mug of coffee down, and picked up the phone. "Hello?"
"Joey? It's Maitland. How are you guys doing?"
"Hi Maitland. We're okay. We're just sitting here talking about what we're going to tell the folks tonight. Do you want to talk to Matt?"
"It's okay Joey. I don't mind talking to you."
"Are you going to come out to them tonight?" Maitland asked.
"Yeah, we are. We've decided it's time. We're ready."
"That's good to hear. I hope it all goes well."
"I hope so too. Actually, we should probably get going if we're going to have time to hang out with Andy."
"Okay. Will you call us when you get home and tell us how it went?"
"Sure thing Maitland. Thanks."
A few hours later, Matt sat back and watched as Andy explained some new tricks he'd learned. Matt smiled, as he watched Andy. He was so animated, so full of joy. Here he was just trying to explain some Nintendo trick to Joey, but he was all enthusiasm. Where did he get all that energy?
"Bed time Andy" Matt's Mom said. She'd just appeared at the entrance to the room.
The light went out of Andy's face. "Just a few more minutes? Please?"
"It's late Andrew."
Andrew--well, that was that then. Andy knew when he was beat. He passed the controller to Joey, and slowly stood up.
Matt stood up too. "I'll take him Mom." Matt smiled as he saw Andy's face light up again.
"Are you sure Matt? I want him to go to sleep, not be up playing all night."
"Straight to bed, I promise" Matt said. He put his hand on Andy's shoulder, and they walked out of the room towards Andy's bedroom.
About five minutes later, Matt sat on the side of the bed, and pulled the covers up. "Good night buddy." Matt said.
Andy suddenly sat up and gave Matt a hug. "Good night Matt."
Matt held Andy for a moment, then released him. Andy lay back down, and Matt pulled the covers up again. Matt stood, and said "I'll call you tomorrow Andy. Sleep well." Matt walked to the door, and turned the light out as he left the room. He closed the door behind him.
Well, it was now or never. Was Joey ready? Matt walked back to the family room, where they had all played Nintendo earlier. It had been a nice Sunday. They'd fooled around with Andy for a while before dinner. Dinner itself had been a bit strained--Dad was still clearly upset with him. But, it wasn't really too bad at all. His father had softened up a bit as the dinner had gone on. The three boys had fooled around a bit more at the table than his Mom liked, but Matt knew she really didn't mind too much. Actually, she'd looked really happy tonight. Maybe because they were all together again.
After dinner, they'd gotten the Nintendo out, and had time for Andy to show off his skills again. Of course, Andy had beaten them both soundly, but that was to be expected. Matt would have been shocked (and suspicious) if anything else had happened.
When Matt walked into the room, Joey immediately looked up. When he saw it was Matt, he put the controller down, and turned the game off. Then he turned the TV off too.
"Are you ready?" Joey asked.
Matt took a deep breath. "Yeah. Let's get this over with."
They left the room together, and made their way into the living room. As they'd expected, their parents were there. Their father was reading some financial stuff--probably something about an investment. He'd always handled most of their money for them, and he'd had a lot of luck with it. His advice had made both Joey and Matt a lot of money over the years. Their mother was reading a book of some sort.
Their Mom looked up as they entered the room. "Are you boys off now?"
"Actually, we'd like to talk to you if that's okay." Matt said. Why was he so nervous? He knew it would all be okay. They would probably be surprised, but they'd understand.
"Sure honey. Joe, put that stuff down for a moment, and listen to the boys."
Where should he start? Matt looked at Joey, trying to find some inspiration. Joey smiled at him, and put his arm around Matt's shoulder. They'd talked about this. Matt knew he was the one that had to say it first. He was the one that had caused the problem, when he took off to Toronto.
Matt took another deep breath. He held it for a moment, then left it out all at once. This was the right thing to do. They needed to know about him and Nick. They needed to know why he took off so suddenly. Nick was the reason. Matt knew he'd done the right thing. He'd saved Nick. That thought gave him the courage he needed.
"I'd like to explain why I took off so suddenly to Toronto a few weeks ago."
Well, that got their attention. Both his parents were watching very carefully now.
"I had to go to Toronto to help out Nick. You see, he was in a really bad way. Brian had called me because he didn't know what else to do. He was afraid Nick was going to kill himself. So, I had to fly out there to see Nick, and help him out." It all came out rather quickly Matt thought. Had that made sense?
"Oh, why didn't you tell us this before Matt?" his father asked.
"I don't know. I was so confused. I was trying to figure out so much..."
"Well, maybe we could have helped" his mother said.
"Joey helped. He talked to me that night, and helped me figure out what I had to do. He even offered to come to Toronto with me." Matt glanced at Joey. What would he have done without him?
"Good for you Joey" their father said. "I'm glad you could help Matt out. Families should stick together."
Joey had this sudden feeling of relief. Matt had told them and they hadn't even questioned it. Maybe it would be okay after all.
"Why did Nick want to commit suicide?" It was their mom who asked this time.
Matt suddenly remembered Nick that night. He felt tears threatening. Nick had been in so much pain. The image of Nick as he stood there in the dressing room flashed into his mind. He'd said Nick's name, and the panic and fear on Nick's face had cut through him. Nick had tried to run away then.
"He thought I didn't love him. He thought everyone would hate him, and he'd be left all alone. I had to tell him that I love him. Oh God, if he'd have killed himself, I don't know what I'd have done."
Joey suddenly realized that his parents had frozen in place. All color had left Dad's face--he was as white as a ghost. Matt apparently hadn't realized it. He was probably still thinking about that night with Nick.
But, Matt had already told him that he was gay. He'd told them why he'd gone to Toronto. He'd told them about Nick. Oh--no, he hadn't said that had he?
The look on his father's face was enough. Joey knew he couldn't leave it here. It was time to say it. Matt didn't realize they were still confused about it all. He had to be blunt and tell them.
"Mom, Dad" Joey said. They immediately looked at him, as if they were just remembering that he was standing there with his arm around Matt's shoulder.
"What Matt is trying to tell you is that we're gay. Matt went to Toronto because Nick needed him. Matt and Nick are in love. And I'm gay too."
"You're what!" Mr. Lawrence jumped to his feet. The color had returned to his face, but it was flushed now. He was clearly angry.
Matt took a half step back, as if he expected to be struck. Joey couldn't remember any time when his father had struck them, but it looked like he was ready to now.
Joey forced himself to stay calm. They'd get through this. He tightened his grip on Matt's shoulder, and felt Matt's arm as it went around him. They were in this together. They'd stand together.
"We're gay Dad" Joey said. He met his father's gaze calmly, with strength. This was not the time to show any weakness.
Matt glanced at his dad, then quickly looked away. He didn't want to meet the anger he saw there. He looked at his mom. She was quietly sobbing.
"No son of mine can be gay" Mr. Lawrence said. "It's not possible."
"We didn't have any choice in it Dad" Joey said. "It is just the way we are."
"Joe, don't." It was their mother. "Please don't Joe."
He turned and looked at her. "Stay out of this." He turned back to meet Joey's gaze. "You heard me. No son of mine is gay."
What did he mean? Matt's thoughts were a jumble. He was gay--he knew that. He loved Nick with everything he had. How could Dad say that?
"I'm sorry you feel that way Dad" Joey said calmly.
"Don't call me that! I'm not your father. You're not my son. No son of mine is gay. Get the hell out of here!"
What? Did he really mean that? How could he just turn his back on them like this? It just didn't make any sense. Matt looked at his Mom again. The tears were streaming down her face, but she was looking at him. He could see the pain in her face. Then it struck him. His father had meant what he'd said. They'd been thrown out of the family.
"When you calm down, you know how to reach us" Joey said. He guided Matt toward the door. What else could he do?
As Joey pulled him away, Matt took one last look at his mom. She was watching him. He could see her through his own tears. "Bye" he whispered as Joey pulled him out of her sight.
As her oldest sons left the house, arm in arm, the last of Donna's control broke. She didn't try to hold back the tears now. She'd just lost two sons.
Joe swiftly turned to her. "This is all your fault. You mothered them too much. I've always told you that you were too soft on them. See what happens when you're not firm with boys?"
Donna could only sob. She'd never been able to stand up to Joe when he got like this. It took a few minutes before she slowly stood up and dried her tears. She could barely stop the sobs, but she managed to get back into control. She didn't want to be here with Joe right now. "I'll go and check on Andy."
"No you don't!" Joe yelled. "I'll make sure he's okay. You're not turning him into a damn fairy like you did the other boys. From now on, you're going to be firm with him. No more coddling!"
Donna slumped back in the chair, as the tears returned. She didn't look up as Joe left the room.
When Joe reached Andy's bedroom, he threw the door open, turned on the light and walked into the room. As he'd been expecting, Andy was still awake.
"You are never to see Joey or Matt again. Do you understand me? Never again. They're not your brothers. You have no brothers. You'll stand on your own and be a man. Do you understand me?"
Andy was surprised by this outburst. What had happened? But, he knew that look. He'd seen it before. He tried not to show any fear, surprise or sadness at his father's words. He nodded mutely at his father, then lowered his gaze.
"Good. Now, go to sleep." Joe turned and walked out of the room. He forgot to turn the light off, but the door slammed behind him.
Andy waited a minute, then carefully crept out of bed and turned the light off. He found his way back to bed. He listened carefully to make sure nobody had heard him. When he was back in bed, he pulled the covers over his head. He hugged the pillow, and finally gave into the tears.
How was he going to live without Joey and Matt? What had happened? What terrible thing had they done? He sobbed quietly into the pillow.
His nose started to run. He needed a tissue. He sniffed, and tried to control his sobs. It was hard to tell if anyone had heard him or not. His dad would be furious if he heard him cry. Joey and Matt would let him cry if he needed to. They'd comfort him if he needed it. His dad would just yell.
Andy cautiously came out from under the covers and found a tissue. He blew his nose a few times. Then he crept back into bed.
What could they have done that was so terrible? How could he make sure he was never thrown out, if he didn't know what they'd done? What was their crime? He had to know.
Maybe Mom and Dad would calm down and talk to him. Or maybe, he'd just ask Matt. Andy felt a thrill run through him with that thought. He'd really catch it if his dad found out he'd ever considered talking to Matt or Joey again.
Andy was surprised to realize he didn't care. Matt and Joey wouldn't cut him off. He knew that. They cared--more than his father did. They'd tell him what had happened. Maybe they could all figure out a solution. He'd talk to them.
He realized he was calm now. He knew what he had to do. He'd talk to his brothers.
They'd help him. They'd always helped him before. They would again. He was certain of
Nick stared out the window of the van as they drove away from the arena. It had been a hard night. Well, it was one more concert down. They only had a few to go before they'd be done.
For a little while anyway. They still had some studio work to do to finish off the CD, then it was time to get working on the new tour. They'd have to start rehearsals for the new tour, learn all of their new parts, get going on the promotional stuff for the new CD...the list went on and on. Now that Nick was helping Kevin out, he knew what was coming up. He just hoped he'd be able to find a few days here and there to see Matt.
It was March after all. The first single was going to be released on the radio in April. It would be May before the whole CD was available for people, but they did have to film a video for the first single sometime soon. When would he find time for Matt?
Here it was, just over two weeks since Matt had returned to LA, and Nick wasn't sure how long he'd be able to go on like this. He missed him so much. Talking three or four times a day on the phone just wasn't the same as holding him.
Nick was jolted out of his thoughts by the sound of his phone ringing. He fumbled for a moment, before he answered it. "Hello?"
"Nick? It's Abby."
"Oh, hi Abby." Nick tried not to let the disappointment show in his voice. He'd hoped it was Matt. He'd given Abby his number--somehow, it seemed to him that she should have it. But, whenever the phone rang, he automatically thought it was Matt.
"Sorry to call you like this Nick, but I thought you should know."
"What's wrong Abby?" Nick suddenly remembered. Matt and Joey were going to tell their parents tonight. Had something gone wrong?
"Well, you knew Matt and Joey were going to come out to their parents tonight?"
"Yeah, Matt told me. What happened?"
"It sounds like it was bad. Maitland and I are on our way there now. From what Maitland was able to get out of Joey, it sounds like their parents threw them out."
"Oh no!" What was he going to do? Matt needed him. Joey needed him too. But, there was another concert tomorrow night. They were in a hotel tonight, then back to the arena for another concert tomorrow. Then back on the road.
"What happened Nick?" It was Brian. Nick looked at him and saw Brian's look of concern. He glanced at Kevin and saw that he was watching him too.
"Nick? Are you still there?" Abby said.
"Yeah, I'm still here Abby. Listen, you're heading to Matt's now?"
"Yes. We thought someone should be there with them."
"You're right. I'm going to take the first flight I can out there. I don't know how long it'll take, but I'll be there as quickly as I can be."
"Okay Nick. I'll let you know if there's any change."
"Thanks Abby. I'll call and let you know when I'll be there." Nick hung up the phone. Nick looked at Brian, and Kevin. He noticed that AJ and Howie were watching him too.
"Did I tell you guys that Matt was coming out to his parents tonight?" Nick had almost let it slip that Joey was gay too. That was for Joey to tell them.
"Yeah, you told me" Brian said.
"Well, it sounds like it didn't go very well. Matt's parents have thrown him out of the family." Nick could feel the tears threatening. This was too much like his old fears. He had to get to Matt, and make sure he was okay.
"What are you going to do about the concert tomorrow?" Brian said.
Nick looked at him. Concert? What did he care? He was going to Matt.
Before Nick could form any words, Kevin spoke up. "We'll just tell them Nick is sick. Give me a few minutes Nick and I'll see what I can arrange. I'll get you on the next flight. But, we can only let you miss the one concert. I hope that's enough time."
"Are you going to be okay flying by yourself?" Brian asked.
"Of course I will be" Nick said. He was surprised by the strength in his voice. "I've got to go to Matt. If I've got to fly, then I'll fly. It's just that simple." He really was okay. Flying was the least of his worries.
Kevin hung up his phone. "There's a flight leaving in just over an hour. It'll get into LA very late, but it'll get you there tonight. We should have time to get you there if you're fast." The van pulled up to the hotel. "I'll arrange a ride. Run upstairs and pack a bag. Get back here as fast as you can."
Nick ran out of the van into the hotel. Brian was close behind him. They were swiftly up to their room. Nick pulled a few clothes from where they were scattered around the room, and Brian tried to get them into the bag. Brian wasn't sure if Nick was actually helping or not. A couple of times he recognized his clothes, and put them aside. He sent Nick into the bathroom, and took the pile of stuff that Nick returned with. After a moment, he zipped up the bag, and handed it to Nick.
"Have you got your wallet?" Brian asked.
Nick was almost to the door, when he suddenly stopped. He patted his pocket, then turned around. "Shit! Where's my wallet? It's got to be around here somewhere." Nick started looking around the room, trying to spot it.
"Here it is" Brian said. He'd found it on the nightstand. He tossed it to Nick.
"Thanks" Nick said, as he caught it. Nick turned and ran out of the room.
Nick was out of his seat before the plane had stopped moving. He grabbed his bag from the overhead compartment, and quickly made his way to the door. He was standing there as the steward opened the door. He pushed his way past him, and quickly made his way into the terminal. Luckily, at this hour of the morning, there weren't many people around. He looked around for a moment, then started moving toward the exit.
His phone started to ring. Was that Matt? He dropped his bag and got the phone out of his jacket pocket. "Hello?"
"Hi Nick. It's Abby."
"Oh, hi Abby. How are they?" Nick reached down and picked up his bag again.
"Hey, wait up silly!"
"Huh?" Nick stopped and looked around. He noticed a pretty girl moving quickly toward him. She had a phone to her ear.
"Just stay there until I catch up with you."
Nick heard the last few words on the phone, as well as out loud, as Abby walked up to him. Nick hung up his phone. "Abby?" he said.
Abby smiled. "Hi Nick. I thought I'd never catch up to you."
Nick took a good look at Abby. They'd talked on the phone a couple of times, but he'd never actually met her. She was very pretty, and about his age. But, she was short. Nick knew that Maitland was almost as tall as he was. Abby must look even smaller next to her.
"What are you gawking at?" Abby poked him. "Come on lover, let's get a move on."
Nick laughed, and hugged her. "Which way?"
Nick and Abby quickly made their way out to the parking lot. Abby was quicker than she looked actually. Nick had trouble keeping up with her when she started weaving between people. He was faster only if he didn't have to change direction.
When they got into the car, Abby proved she knew what she was doing there too. Nick wasn't sure he wanted to look at the speedometer to see how fast they were going. Abby seemed to know exactly how to shave that extra second off their trip.
Nick smiled. If he'd have been straight, he'd like to think he'd like someone like Abby. She was pretty, smart and very competent. She would probably be intimidating if she wasn't so small. Hell, she was intimidating despite her size.
Before he realized it, Abby pulled the car into the parking lot. Nick had to struggle to keep up with her as she led the way into the building. Maybe it was his fatigue catching up on him. He knew he was running on adrenaline now. It must be about 2am here, which made it 5am for him. He should be sound asleep right now.
Abby had someone's keys, and they were quickly into the building and into the elevator. Nick felt he should say something to Abby, but he kept thinking about Matt. And Joey. What had happened? Were they okay?
Moments later, Abby opened the door to the apartment. Nick rushed in, and looked around. He dropped his bag, as he saw Matt. He was slumped in a chair. He didn't look up or move at all. Maitland looked up and smiled at Nick. Joey was sitting beside her on the couch.
Nick rushed over to Matt. He dropped to one knee and put his hand on Matt's shoulder. "Matt?"
Matt's head snapped up as he looked at Nick. Then Nick's arms were full of Matt. Nick could feel Matt start to sob. Nick held him for a moment, then lifted him and maneuvered himself into the chair. Matt just curled up in his lap.
Nick held him, gently rocking back and forth. He made soothing sounds, but mostly he just held him. Slowly, Matt's sobs grew quieter. Nick looked over and saw Joey sitting there between Abby and Maitland. They all had their arms around each other.
Nick couldn't help himself. He yawned. Matt suddenly looked at him. Nick was surprised to see Matt's sobs stop.
"You're tired" Matt said.
Nick smiled. "Yeah, it's been a long day."
Matt suddenly scrambled out of his lap. "Come on sleepy."
Nick allowed himself to be pulled up. He wrapped his arm around Matt. Nick took a look at Maitland.
"Good night" Maitland said.
Nick smiled at her, grabbed his bag and let Matt lead him down the hall. After a quick trip to the bathroom, they found themselves in Matt's bedroom. Nick got undressed while he carefully watched Matt. He'd never seen him like this before. He was so sad. He didn't even care where he put his clothes as he pulled them off. Matt just dropped everything on the floor.
After watching for a moment, Nick helped Matt remove his clothes. It took a few minutes before they were both undressed and ready for bed. Nick wasn't really surprised to see that Matt wasn't aroused. He'd been through so much, it wasn't a surprise that he wasn't in the mood. Nick helped Matt into the bed, then crawled into bed beside him.
Matt had moved away from him in the bed, and was curled up in a tight ball again. Nick drew Matt into his arms again, and Matt quickly pressed his body up against Nick. Matt lay his head against Nick's chest, and hung on. Nick wasn't really surprised when he felt Matt's tears on his chest.
Nick slid his arm across Matt's back and held him. "It's okay Matt. It's okay." Nick could feel his own tears threatening. This was too close to what he'd feared. He'd been so afraid that Matt, Brian, Kevin or the guys wouldn't accept him. He remembered all too well that fear, and that pain. Matt must be hurt so badly. Nick knew how much Matt valued his family. It was unthinkable that they'd turn against him.
What could he say? How could he make this all better? How could he help Matt? Nick couldn't think of anything that might make it easier.
Matt suddenly gripped him tighter, almost painfully. "Don't ever leave me Nick. Promise you'll never leave me. I couldn't stand it. Don't ever leave me." Matt's voice was desperate, pleading.
Nick tightened his arms around Matt. He rested his face against the top of Matt's head. How could he respond to this? What could he say? Could he promise?
He loved Matt more than anything. Nothing else was important. Not the guys, Kevin or Brian. Not his career. Matt was important. Everything else was secondary.
"I promise" Nick whispered. He wondered for a moment whether he'd said it
loud enough for Matt to hear. Then, Matt's grip loosened a bit. It was still tight, but
not painful. Nick knew Matt had heard him. Nick felt the tears on his own face, as he
thought about the pain Matt was experiencing. If he could take that pain for himself, he
would. Anything to make Matt better. Anything.
It was cold. Too cold. The air felt heavy with moisture, as if it would pour any second now. Somehow the still air sucked the light away. It was unnaturally dark. The night swallowed all sound.
He heard the first blow hit flesh. The sound was loud in the silence. Then other sounds returned. The crowd could be heard as it pressed around him. The cheers seemed loud in his ears. Almost loud enough to block out the sickening sounds. The sound of fists striking. The sound of feet kicking. The sounds that would haunt him. As they always haunted him.
Howie tried desperately to block out the dream. To wake from the torture. To evade those sounds. To avoid seeing those twisted bodies. He struggled in vain. He knew it was all in vain.
The crowd cheered loudly. He heard the sound of the bodies falling. The cheers weren't enough to block out the sound of boots as they met flesh. The cries of agony were louder still. Bones broke, flesh tore and the cries turned to moans.
Howie jumped when he heard the first sound of the sirens. He wanted to fall to his knees, to fall to the ground, to be trampled as the crowd ran away. But, no matter what he tried, he never had control here. Just as he knew would happen, he was forced to watch the crowd run as the sirens got louder. He had to watch the crowd run off in all directions. A faceless mob. He knew he'd never recognize any faces. He never did.
Except the faces on the bodies. Oh, he always recognized them. The faces of Brad and Jason...
It was a relief to realize that there were fewer people blocking his view. It was almost over. They'd move aside, he'd see the bodies and it would be over. Finally, it would be over. Finally, they parted and...
Howie screamed. Oh my God! It was...
His stomach twisted and he knew he had to run. No time for the light, he ran into the bathroom. His head was barely inside the toilet in time. Before the heaves took control. For a long time, he surrendered to the spasms. For a long time he tried to forget. To forget...
Finally, he couldn't pretend any longer. He had nothing else to give. His stomach had returned everything it had. The convulsions had stopped. He was covered in cold sweat, as if his whole body was covered in tears. He sat there for another minute, allowing the sobs to take control instead. Finally, he pushed himself up, and turned the shower on. The water was loud in the dark room. He fumbled for a moment, and found the light switch.
The image in the mirror brought another cry of surprise. The creature who stared back at him looked like something from a horror movie. His flesh was sickly white in the fluorescent light. The only sign of color were his too red lips, flushed from his vomiting. He was trembling, and covered in sweat and tears. The long, black strands of his hair were plastered around his face and shoulders. They looked like dead vines clinging to his flesh.
He shook his head, and forced himself too look away from the image. Shower. He had to get into the shower. He stumbled his way across the room, and entered the shower. The water was cold. Too cold. It felt wonderful. As painful as the sensation was, it was real. Focusing on the cold helped. It helped.
When he was shaking uncontrollably, it was hard to control his hand enough so he could add a bit of warmth to the water. Not too much, just enough to ease the shakes. Just a bit of warmth. He shut his eyes and let the water flow over his head.
His eyes flew open. The images were waiting for him. He saw them again as soon as he closed his eyes. The twisted bodies, lying in the dirt. Covered with dirt and grime, limbs in impossible, unnatural positions. Yet, as always, the faces were untouched. The faces of Brad and Matt as they lay in the dirt.
Howie suddenly realized he'd screamed again. He had no breath. The water felt hot against his skin. He turned the hot water off completely. Maybe the cold would numb him.
He couldn't control the sobs. His body shook uncontrollably in the frigid water, but he couldn't control the sobs. Why was Matt in the dream? Where was Jason? What had happened?
What had he done?