Disclaimer: I do not know any of the celebrities that are mentioned within this story. As such, this is not a reflection on their true lives, it's totally fictional. If you are offended by gay fiction or it is illegal to read such material where you are please leave now. Any one else, I hope you enjoy it.
Special thanks go firstly to Chris, you're amazing, you keep me sane and you're the reason I'm doing this. Viv thank you so much, you've made this readable and already provided feedback to boost my confidence.
Feedback gives authors all the encouragement to they need to write. Please remember this, if you like what you see let me know. Email you thoughts and opinion to firstname.lastname@example.org thanks.
A/N: I need to post a small correction regarding chapter one of this story. Many of you have brought to light that in chapter one, at the start I have Justin at the age of sixteen. After writing the full chapter it was brought to my attention the age of maturity in the US is eighteen. I missed one sixteen during the final edit. It will remain there forever more as my first major typo. Thanks.
LA. I never realised just how big this place was. Memphis was a pretty big place, this is just huge. I rode the Greyhound into the city, watching as the lights seem to get brighter as we approached; amazed by the area I was travelling through. I was more than ready to get off this bus, having caught it in Phoenix, and then taking eleven hours to reach LA due to the three hour lay over en route arriving at ten p.m. My ass was dead when we pulled into Union station; daylight long gone by now. I climbed down the steps eager to start my new life.
Arriving at ten p.m. left few options for accommodation as I walked around the area staying close to the station and using it as a point of reference. Every place I looked at was either full or priced way over what I could spend. This one place I went was kinda seedy looking, it had one of those neon flickering signs on the wall and half the lights were out on it. Two of the front windows looked cracked, I really wasn't sure that I even wanted to go into this place let alone sleep here. If I wasn't so desperate I wouldn't have even gone near it, I decided as I walked up the steps to open the door.
"Dude!" I heard shouted from behind me. I jumped at the noise; visions of muggings and murders shooting through my head, mixed with my own painful memories.
I turned around slowly, ready for a punch or gun shot. I didn't expect what I saw there instead though. Standing there was a short guy with light brown hai,r almost blond. He looked a little older than me maybe nineteen or twenty.
"Umm yes?" I questioned, looking anywhere but directly at him.
"Don't go in there! The guy that runs that place is a creep, he'd have your ass in seconds."
Great, not only was I heading into some weirdo's motel but I've been stopped by another homophobe!
"Listen man, trust me okay. He's a serious creep; you're just the type he'd go for."
"So what do you suggest I fucking do then? I just want to get a bed for the night!" So that was my temper coming out again.
"Wow, calm down dude. Look I know somewhere you can stay, and it's safe too. Name's Lance."
He moved closer holding his hand out. I was scared shitless. I mean, who just walks up to someone on the street, tells them they're walking into a perverts place, then invites them back to... well I never did quite catch where he was suggesting, but I shook the outstretched hand, doing my best to look confident.
"Justin. Umm what's the place you were talking about?" nervousness showing in my voice.
"My mom volunteers at a shelter for people under twenty one. It's nothing fancy, but it's dry, safe, and warm. You don't have to trust me okay? My mom's taught me a few things through her work, bur I just don't wanna see anyone end up near that creep."
I took a second to review my situation. I had barely enough money to afford a place like this, let alone anything better. This guy seemed pretty genuine and he was friendly, he actually seemed to care. I still had an underlying doubt I couldn't shake, but I decided to go with him.
"Okay. Can you show me the shelter please?"
"Sure man, follow me." He walked back on to the sidewalk and waited for me. We walked in silence for a while before he spoke up.
"So Justin, you new to LA?"
"Umm, yeah. I only arrived tonight. I'm from Tennessee, but decided to try out LA." No way was I going to mention my reasons for leaving home.
"Cool! I'm originally from Mississippi. My mom and dad moved here just over a year ago. Tell me to shut up if you want, Mom says I'm hellish nosy." He let out a small laugh at that, which I joined in.
"Nah, its cool, you're helping me out so I guess you deserve a few answers."
I noticed he was looking at me, like he was studying my face.
"Shit man! You're that kid who got beat up aren't you? I saw your picture on the news a while back."
Fuck, I wanted to run before I got the crap beaten outta me again. I panicked inside ready to make my escape, and he must have noticed.
"Dude, don't worry. I've got no problem with it man." I knew what he was referring to. "Shit if Lou back there had realised who you were, he'd have had a great time with ya."
I looked him over, deciding if I believed him or not, and again he noticed. This guy was perceptive, I decided.
"Look, I'll level with you. There's a reason my mom and dad moved here. I was outed back home. Some guy I knew didn't like it and decided I needed to be straightened out. He pulled a knife on me in the locker room, so trust me, I know why your cautious."
I was shocked to say the least. I looked him over again, only this time I saw a guy who really wanted to help. Someone who could maybe understand some of what I had been through, what I was going through. I gave him a small smile.
"Guess you do kinda understand huh? Wanna show me this shelter then?"
He smiled big, gently placing his hand on my lower back guiding me forward. We walked on for five minutes, talking on and off when he asked me why I decided to choose LA as my new home. I just said I wanted to live, he smiled and told me I'd chosen the right place for that!
We stopped in front of a large stone building. It looked well maintained and the front was tidy looking. The door had one of those security buzzers on it which Lance walked up and pressed.
"Mom, it's me. Let me in."
The door clicked and Lance pulled it open and we walked into a reception style area. There were couches set off to the side with a couple of guys about Lance's age sitting on them. They greeted Lance by name and nodded to me. I was feeling a little better now. I actually felt trust for Lance; I had a feeling he was genuine, the atmosphere in the reception area was relaxed and the guys there obviously were at ease and they looked pretty normal to me. The reception area itself was a room behind a sliding glass window. On the left there was a large bulletin board with lots of bright posters on it and on the right the closed door to the office behind the glass. Lance tapped on the window and walked to the door.
Opening the door he walked in holding the door open for me also. Inside I was greeted with a bright, sparse office. Two desks with mountains of paper stacked on them sat on either side leaving a corridor in between. Sitting behind one of the desks was a short woman with dark, straight, shoulder length hair. She looked up at Lance with a smile. I felt nervous; mom's seemed to do that to me now.
"Mom, this is Justin. He needs a place to stay for the night. Do you have room?" he asked.
His mom looked over at me, I knew immediately she knew who I was as her eyes widened.
"Oh, no! The last bed was given out to Alex ten minutes ago." She looked genuinely upset over this. I could see the anguish on her face. "Hold on a second sweetheart, I have another idea."
She pulled a cell phone out of her pocket and dialled. I stood there not really knowing what to do. Why were they keeping me here, she obviously didn't have anymore space here. I had resigned myself to the fact I'd be spending the night outside on the street. I was pretty sure I could get a bed here the next night, so it wouldn't be so bad. I watched her have her conversation, her voice was low so I couldn't hear what she was saying until she said I love you, then ended her call.
She looked up at me; I could see she was a caring woman just from the look in her eyes. There was a mix of worry, compassion and giving. She wanted to help. Why was I so nervous around her? That was easy. My mom had fucked me up.
"Justin, I've arranged a place for you too stay tonight," she said.
"Really? Wow, thank you. I didn't think there would be anywhere this late."
"Well actually there isn't. That's why Lance and I are going to take you home to our house. I know who you are Justin, and I won't let you suffer anymore."
"I can't. Thank you for offering, but I won't be a burden on anyone. I'll be fine on my own."
"Mom, he was heading into Lou's when I met him!" Lance blurted out. I turned and gave him a sharp look.
"Justin, that's the very reason I want you to stay, it's not safe on the streets for you. I'm not expecting you to stay any longer than tonight. I won't sleep unless I know you're safe. Please reconsider?"
Ok I was troubled now, maybe she was right. I mean I did almost walk into some pervy guy's motel. I could stay for the night and then get into the shelter tomorrow. I gave in, against my will, but it just made sense.
"Ok, thank you. I'll stay tonight. Thank you Ma'am."
She laughed. "Oh please call me Diane, were not in the south now dear! We've got another boy staying with us right now; you'll need to share with him."
I instantly became worried. What if this guy didn't like the idea of sharing with a gay guy? Pretty much everyone had seen my face already so he most likely would have too. She noticed the change in my expression.
"Don't worry Justin; I'm certain he'll be fine with you. He's stayed with us for a while now and Lance has been totally open with him and he's fine with it."
Ok why did I trust her? It's like she just had a way to ease any tension I felt. I guess it was a mom thing. Even as much as I hated the prospect of trusting any mom when I didn't even trust my own, she was growing on me fast.
I stood there, unsure of what to do or say. She was being nice to me, something I was finding hard to grasp at the moment. Sure I'd just left the hospital and people I knew cared about me. I just couldn't shake the caution I felt. The meeting with my mom in the hospital was still with me every second that passed. It's not something you just shake off.
The door opened as a big black guy walked through. He was about six foot tall, with a heavy build. I decided right away I would never mess with this guy! Lance nudged me obviously noticing the way I was staring at this guy. Truth is Lance's mom intimidated me more than this guy. I'm pretty sure he could snap me in half, but I could tell she wasn't a woman to be messed with either. She obviously was protective of those around her which now seemed to include me.
"Lonnie. I'm so glad to see you. This mop head here is Justin he's a friend of Lance's."
Really? When did that happen, I thought I was some kid he stopped from getting, well God only knows what could have happened in that motel. I suppose that does create a level of friendship in itself, still I hardly know them.
"Dianne, how are you? We full tonight?" He had a deep gravely voice.
"Yes Dear, full to brim. I'd better get these two home now. Call the house if there are any problems Lonnie," she said while getting her jacket from the back of her chair.
"Dianne, I've done this as long as you have and I've never called you!" he stated laughing.
"Well you never know. Good night, come on boys lets go home."
Home. There's a word that seemed very foreign to me right now. I'm not going home, I'm going to stay in their home. I suppose she's right it is a home, it's just not mine. Mine is in Tennessee, with a mom who doesn't want me and a father who hates me. Yeah, let's go home.
We left the shelter heading to a parking lot across the street. Lance was talking the whole time, telling me we'd play video games in the morning if I wanted. I got the impression he really wanted a friend who could relate to his feelings. I suppose I was looking for the same. Everyone had sympathised after I was beaten and kicked out, but they didn't know how I felt. Lance at least had partial insight.
We stopped next to a big silver SUV, unlocking the car, Lance's mom got into the driver's seat as Lance and I got into the back. Dianne put her key in and turned on the ignition. The stereo came to life blasting the Bangles, "Walk like an Egyptian" into the car. Lance groaned next me hiding his face in his hands. I smiled and bopped my head to the beat.
"Sorry Boys!" Dianne laughed out, turning the stereo down.
We drove in silence, the only sounds coming from the car on the road and the soft sounds coming from the stereo. The journey took about twenty minutes and soon we pulled up outside a pretty cool looking house. It looked bigger than my parents' house. They had a large lawn out front, with hedges lining the driveway. It was lit by small lights angled to highlight the different shrubs and trees. Dianne clicked her garage door opener and within seconds she had parked. I was nervous, of course, since I was about to share a room with a guy I'd never met and yet, I felt strangely calm. I was broken from my thoughts by Lance tapping my arm as he opened the door to step out.
Lance led me to the door with Dianne following us to a door that led from the garage and opened into the kitchen. My mom had a nice kitchen since she like to spend her time cooking, but this was huge. It had maple cabinets on two walls facing each other with a large island unit in the centre which had the gas stove on it. The wall furthest from us had the refrigerator and oven on it. It also had the door we were headed to and I followed Lance as we continued into the hallway.
"Ok Justin, I'll introduce you to Lance's father. He should be in the den," Dianne said taking the lead. I nodded my understanding, not trusting my voice.
I followed her down the hallway to the last door. Opening it and walking in, Dianne lightly placed her hand on my back to guide me forward. Inside, the room had large leather couches facing away from where we were standing, on one on these sat the man I presumed to be Lance's dad.
"Hi sweetie," Dianne greeted him, and he turned from facing the TV. "This is Justin, the boy I told you about. Justin, this is my husband Jim."
He was shorter than me and a little stocky. He had thinning brown hair and pale looking skin. He also he had a warm smile on is face.
"Pleasure to meet you son," he stated, standing to greet me, his hand outstretched.
I took his hand, shaking it. "You too Sir, thank you for allowing me to stay in your home tonight," I replied. He smiled and shook my hand.
"You're more than welcome. I hate to be rude, but it's late and I have a meeting all morning, so I think I'll hit the hay. I hope you sleep well son," he smiled patting me on the shoulder before he kissed Dianne and then left to bed.
"Ok sweetheart, let's get you settled in shall we?" Dianne asked.
"Yeah, thanks. I think I'm ready to sleep too."
"I'm sure you are dear, you must have had a busy few days. Come on, I'll show you to your room."
We walked out into the hall again, this time walking together. "I would have put you in my daughter Stacy's room tonight, but she's flying home in the morning, so I've paired you up with Nickolas, I hope you don't mind."
I thought it was sweet that she was actually worried if I'd mind which room I was staying in. In my head, I was her guest, hell; I'd sleep on the floor and be thankful for it right now. Actually, that might not be a bad idea, this guy I was sharing with was still causing worry in my mind, no matter what Dianne or Lance had said.
"Thank you, I really don't mind. I'm looking forward to sleeping in a nice bed no matter where it is!" I lied, not wanting to seem ungrateful.
I followed Dianne to the bedroom door. She held it open for me to walk through. As I entered, she silently pointed to a bed on the left hand side of the room. She smiled, closing the door and leaving. The room was quite spacious, lit by a single lamp sitting on a dresser between the two beds. Above the bed she indicated was for me was the window which had drawn curtains. Next to the other bed was a door that I assumed led to a bathroom. I looked at the sleeping mass on the other bed, trying to figure out the kind of person I was looking at. The way he was lying, all I could see was the blond hair that covered the back of his head.
I sat on my bed, untying my shoe laces having decided to give into my tiredness. If I was lucky I'd sleep tonight leaving me fresh and rested in the morning. I quickly striped off my clothes leaving me in boxers and a t shirt. Looking in the duffel bag I'd been carrying I found my tooth brush then went into the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash up.
I noticed when I walked back into the room that the other guy, Nickolas, as I'd been told, had shifted onto his other side making him face my bed. I walked around to my bed and froze when I saw him.
My heart fluttered a little, I was staring and I knew it. He looked angelic laying there, his blond hair sitting in a messed up, yet perfect style. His skin was smooth and deeply tanned, and I sat down on my bed and watched his eyes fluttering as he dreamed. He was quietly muttering in his dream world. Not clear enough for me to hear what he was saying, but still loud enough to catch the soft tone of his voice.
I couldn't stop staring at him. I knew I could fall hard for this guy, I decided then and there that no matter what his reaction to me was, I would try my hardest to be friends with him. I lay back on top of the covers, closing my eyes, hoping the night would pass quicker than it ever had before.
I could hear whimpering and shuffling. This was weird. I'd never heard myself during a nightmare. I'd always woken up covered in sweat, tears streaming down my face. I heard it again, this time; the voice was a louder cry, over and over. It occurred to me that it wasn't my voice, and I woke up.
I sat straight up in my bed. Nick, the other guy, was kicking and pushing his covers, he had tears on his cheeks. I didn't know what to do. Part of me wanted to rush over and wake him up with a hug, but how would he react to a stranger hugging him? The louder part of me decided to get out of there and find help. I jumped out of bed and ran into the hall, finding the closest door, I knocked hard.
A few second later a very sleepy looking Lance opened the door looking both confused and worried as to why I was standing there.
"Lance, the other guy, he's having a nightmare I think. I don't know what to do?" I rushed out in my panicked voice.
Rubbing his eyes a little Lance replied, "Okay, come on, I know what to do." He gently pulled my arm and headed back into my room.
Nick was still thrashing around on his bed; it looked like he was getting more panicked by whatever his dream was. Lance was by his side shaking him in seconds, I stood frozen to my spot near the door, unwilling to approach. Nick woke up with a start, he was panting shallow breaths. His eyes wide with fear, and they immediately locked with mine and then... he panicked.
"Get away from me!" he screamed.
I immediately looked at Lance. His eyes were wide with shock. I looked back at Nick and saw the fear and panic in his eyes. He was hyperventilating. I'd never seen anyone have a panic attack like this. I bolted out the door as fast as my legs would carry me.
When I got to the kitchen, I leaned against the counter before I sank down, resting my head on my knees. Tears were flowing from my eyes. I sat there sobbing into my knees for ages. I didn't know what to do. I considered going to find Lance's mom for help but I just couldn't find the energy to stand. I kept replaying the look in his eyes. I'd known that kind of fear; I couldn't believe I'd caused another person to feel it. I never looked up once until I sensed another person was in the room. I slowly looked up to see Nick standing in the door way, his eyes were cast down. He looked so lost.
Lance was standing behind him; he gently placed his hand on Nick's shoulder guiding him further into the room. Nick walked in stopping on the other side of the Island counter. He never raised his eyes once. I couldn't help but feel he didn't want to be in here right now. He didn't want to meet me. I scared him for some reason and right now the feeling was mutual.
Lance took the lead in introductions, "Nick, this is Justin; he's staying with us for the night. I'm sorry I didn't wake you to tell you. Justin, this is Nick, my best friend." Nick looked to Lance; a tiny smile gracing his soft lips.
I looked towards his eyes again, struggling this time to actually meet them. I gave him a small smile; my lips barely lifting. He looked right at me and he didn't look scared anymore. I saw something in his eyes that I couldn't place though.
"Hi. Umm look, I'm sorry about before but, I just didn't know who you were and I was a little freaked out. Can we start over? I'm Nick; it's nice to meet you," he said, his hands tightly tucked away in his pockets.
"Umm yeah, look, I'm so sorry. It's just, I didn't know what to do earlier, I'm sorry I freaked you out. I'm Justin," I said standing up, feeling somewhat under dressed in my t-shirt and boxers.
I walked over to the opposite side of the counter where he was standing and held my hand out to him. He slowly pulled his hand out of his pocket and gently reached across the counter to meet mine and as we made contact I felt sparks. It was amazing such a small, insignificant contact of skin and I was feeling tingling sensations all over!
Nick smiled at me before pulling his hand back and looking down again, I could swear I saw a little blush creep into his cheeks.
"Okay so were all cool now right?" Lance asked, "'Cause it's three a.m. and I need to get back to bed."
Nick looked at me with a small friendly smile as he said, "Yeah, I think were okay, lets go sleep."
We walked into the hall again, Lance heading to his room with a small wave. Nick and I walked into our shared room, with Nick walking to his bed and me to mine.
"So umm, Justin? Look, I know I've seen you before, but umm I don't know where." A small flash of fear crossed my features, my eyes widened as I listened to him talk.
"Hey, it's okay if you don't wanna talk to me, it's just... I'm so sure I've seen you before." I realised how close he was to Lance and I remembered being told that Lance was fully open about himself with Nick. I guessed I could do the same.
"Umm, you probably saw me on the news. I umm, well, my family, they disowned me after I got beat up at school," I stammered out.
I watched as Nick's face as it scrunched up a little, trying to find the memory that matched the story I told. A sudden burst of recognition flashed across his eyes, and in a second they looked so much softer than before, I knew he'd figured out where he'd seen me before. I just wasn't sure how he was going to react.
"Oh shit! You're that guy aren't you? The one that got attacked at his school. Fuck man, I'm so sorry you had to deal with that shit." He was sitting, leaning forward on his bed.
Relief swept over me. I had been so worried about his reaction; I never even considered he'd be supportive of me.
I smiled at him, a slightly warm feeling coursing through me. "It's okay, things get better every day. I mean, I got to make two new friends today, so that's good start right?"
He looked confused for a second, and then smiled big. "Yeah, you've got friends, trust me, Lance and I, we know how you're feeling. We're here for you bro. We better go to sleep okay. Good night." He smiled at me again, getting under his covers.
Hold up a minute, Nick knew how I was feeling? I felt a small glimmer of hope at his words, maybe he DID understand. I had plenty to dream about tonight. Nick being the first item I wanted to explore. Following his example, I climbed into bed. For the first time in ages I was happily looking forward to waking up the next day. Maybe the tingling I was feeling would lessen by morning...