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Earth, As it is in Heaven
By:  Roman Genesis

Chapter 13
Casualties of War

     Chad and I stepped out of the changing room and headed out onto the field.  They were playing a scrimmage, but that was quickly halted when Nathan spotted me and tapped the shoulder of the guy next to him.  Soon, everyone was looking at me.  Chad went out to join them, but I just stood there with my helmet under my arm.

     We all just stood there, and not a word was spoken.  The coach started yelling though and Anthony ran over to him and began talking to him.  I wasn't sure what he was saying, but soon he ran to the group, said something to them, and they all began walking towards me.  I was starting to get nervous, but the coach was there and I didn't think they would try anything.  At least not out here on the field.

     Anthony stepped right up to me and the rest of the team set up a perimeter behind him, every single one of them staring me down.  I could see the hate and disappointment in their eyes.  I need to take a second to tell you about Anthony.  When this team was formed in the fall, no one really knew him.  He was this huge black kid from the next town over and he put in to be the team captain just like I did.  I won of course, but over time he became just as important and popular with the team as I was.  I made him my assistant, but in reality, he was my co-captain.  If this team was going to have a chance of staying together I was going to need him on my side.  It was imperative.

     "So, is it true?" he finally asked, his voice booming with authority.  I looked past him toward Mike who stood there helplessly.

     "It's true," I said.  He stood there silently for a moment, eyeing me with a mixture of pity and doubt.  I think everyone knew he would decide the team's fate.

     "Okay," he finally said.  "I don't see how this changes anything."  He turned around to the other boys and barked out, "Some of you might not like the fact that Trevor is gay. Go ahead and think what you want, but if any of you try and do something about your problem, you're going to have to deal with me before you deal with Trevor.  We're not going to let this affect the team."  He took a moment to look each and every boy directly in the eyes.  "If any of you are going to have a problem with this, speak up now."

     Everyone began looking around.  I once again found myself holding my breath.  No one spoke a word and Anthony said, "Okay, let's do what we came out here to do."  I can't tell you how relieved I was when he said that.  I couldn't have hoped for a better response from my team.  We began practicing again, but I soon found out things weren't going to be as easy as I had thought.  The tension between the team and I was thick enough to cut with a knife.  I tried to ignore it, but it was always there at the back of my mind, waiting for the chance to resurface.

     The worst thing that happened was once, during one of our more elaborate plays, things didn't go quiet as planned and Nathan came back to the huddle and muttered a slur under his breath about me.  Anthony heard him and quickly chewed him out.  It was apparent that a lot of these guys suddenly hated me now that they knew I was gay.  They were just doing everything in their power to hide it.  Now that I thought about it, that might have just made things worse.

     Practice was finally over and the coach dismissed us.  I guess he had no idea what we were talking about and really didn't care.  He just wanted to train us to be the number one team in the state.  Hopefully he would get his wish.

     I ran to catch up with Anthony after we had been dismissed.  I really had to thank him for handling the situation so well.  "Hey Anthony," I shouted.  He stopped where he was and waited for me to catch up.  "Hey man," I said.  "Thanks a lot for what you did today..."

     "It was no problem," he said with an eerie lack of emotion, and started to walk away.

     I ran up beside him and he stopped when he realized I still wanted to talk to him.  "What is it?" he demanded.  His reaction took me off guard and I just stared back in shock.

     "I just wanted to thank you... I don't think you realize how...."

     "You already said 'thank you.'  There's no need to repeat yourself," he said in disgust and started to head toward the locker again when he stopped and came back.  "Look Trevor.  On the field I might not have a problem with you, but off the field..."  He let his voice trail off as he tried to control himself.  I could see how truly angry he was.  He shook his head and went off to the locker room.

     Anthony had seemed so understanding and protective out on the field.  It hurt so much to realize that it was only an act to keep the team together.  I didn't feel like dealing with any of them right now so I went over to the bleachers and sat down.  I looked out over the football field and thought about the day I had just lived through.  I knew was giving up a lot to be with Sebastian, but I could never imagine it would be like this.

     I must have been out on the bleachers for quite some time, because after a while, the lawn guy came out and began riding his lawnmower up and down the field.  I continued to sit there alone when I heard someone coming up the stairs to the bleachers.  "There you are," Mike said when he saw me.  He walked down the bleachers toward me and took a seat next to me.

     "Here I am," I said softly.  The wind was starting to pick up and I pulled my jersey tight around me as the chilly wind whipped by.

     "How's your day been?" Mike finally asked.

     "The day from hell," I said back.

     "At least you have Anthony on your side," he said, hoping that would cheer me up.  I began to shake my head.  If only Mike knew the truth.

     "I didn't know it was going to be like this, Mike."  I watched the lawn guy slowly go up and down the field hypnotically.  "I thought I could handle it.  It's like, half the school hates me and the other half doesn't know what to think.  They'll probably end up hating me as well though. Trends are easy to catch on I guess."

     Mike was quiet for a while.  "I don't know what to say Trevor."

     I looked over at him and smiled.  "It's all right.  I didn't expect you to."  He smiled back when he realized I wasn't mad at him.  "I just wish things could go back to the way they were..."  I mentally kicked myself right after I had said it.  I would have been lying if I said things hadn't been perfect back then.  It was pointless to sit here and ponder what it would be like if I had made a different choice.  The cat was out of the bag and there was no way it was going back in.  I had made my choice.

     Just when I was hitting my loneliest point, Mike found a way to surprise me.  He threw his arm around my shoulder like he had done a million times when we were growing up.  I looked over at him and found him smiling from ear to ear.  "Thanks Mike," I said.  We sat there a long time as the sun slowly set upon the cloudy horizon and the lawnmower continued it's endless voyage across the field.

     I knocked on the door and was quickly greeted by the smiling faces of Sebastian and Shannon.  "Trevor," Sebastian muttered and threw his arms around me as if he hadn't seen my in years.  I smiled back weakly and I could see instantly that Shannon was picking up on my bad mood.  "I knew you could do it," Sebastian said, still wrapped around my neck.

     Shannon reached for the back of Sebastian's sweater and said, "Come on, Sebastian.  Trevor probably wants to come inside."  Sebastian pulled away from me and I closed the door behind me and began to take my jacket off.  I felt mentally defeated and really didn't want to go home.  My parents had been avoiding me ever since I had told them the truth.  I really didn't know how much longer I could maintain in an atmosphere like that.

     "Come sit by the fire," Sebastian said, finally picking up on my mood.  He usually asked what was wrong when he noticed I wasn't one hundred percent, but I was glad he was going easy on me.  He reached over and grabbed my hand and led me into the living room.  "How was practice?" he asked.

     We all sat down and I instantly began staring hypnotically into the fire.  I really didn't want to think about my day.  I just wanted to relax.  I looked at Sebastian and Shannon though and could tell they were waiting for an answer.  "It went great.  Anthony really knows how to handle the guys.  I don't think they'll have a problem at all."  I knew it was a huge lie, but I just couldn't bring myself to tell them that basically everyone on the team now carried a secret hate for me.

     I closed my eyes and leaned back.  For some reason, I began to think about all the stuff I used to do with the team.  We would all go out to the mall sometime and just walk up and down the storefronts acting like we owned the goddamn place.  A wave of grief washed over me and I inhaled quickly as I tried to control myself.  I would never share a moment like that with the team again.  I could still hear Nathan's quiet remarks and Anthony's blatant comment after practice about how things were off the field.  I felt Shannon place her hand on my shoulder and I opened my eyes to see it was just me and her by the fire.

     I sat up to see where Sebastian went, but Shannon said, "He ran up to his room.  He'll be right back."  I looked at her and I saw she was watching me carefully, her hand still on my shoulder.  "How are you really holding up?" she finally asked.  I could see the concern in her eyes.  It was too much.

     "I don't know if I can do this," I said, finally losing my cool and starting to weep.  "I never knew how much of myself I would have to give up."

     "It's okay," she said, putting her arms around my neck as I leaned back on the sofa.  "You made the right choice," she whispered, her voice soothing in my ears.

     I wiped desperately at my eyes as I tried to control myself.  I had to be strong.  We sat there by the fire for a long time and it seemed that Sebastian wasn't coming back.  "Should I go see how he's doing?" I asked Shannon.

     "Yeah," she said.  "I think you two need to talk."  I wasn't sure what she meant, but I got up and went up the stairs to his room.  His door was closed so I knocked and waited for an answer.  None came.

     "Sebastian, are you there?" I said as I knocked again.  There was no answer so I turned the handle and pushed the door open a little.  "Sebastian," I said.

     "I'm here," he said.  I walked in and saw him curled up on the bed with his knees to his chest.  It looked like he had been crying just as I had.  I closed the door behind me and went and sat on the bed beside him.  We were silent for a while and he then he said, "I'm sorry."

     "For what?" I asked, looking over at him with concern.  I hated to see Sebastian like this.  It was my job to make sure he never had to suffer again.  Why did it seem like I failed at every step?

     "I know this was hard for you.  When I saw you downstairs, it looked like you thought you had made the wrong decision."  His red, puffy eyes watched for my reaction.  I just smiled.

     "It's true," I said.  "All day I struggled with whether I had made the right choice or not, but every time I asked myself that I thought of you and it all seemed worthwhile."  He didn't look like he believed me.  I put my arms around him and rested my head on his shoulder.  "Sebastian, if I had the choice to go back and not go through with this, I wouldn't take it.  I'd redo the whole thing over if I had half a chance."  I sat up and looked him in the eyes.  "Do you know why?"

     He shook his head slowly.

     "Because if it brought me back to you, it had to be the right choice."  He thought about it for a moment and then let a smile form on his lips.  I leaned in and kissed his smile as he leaned back and put his arms around my waist.  I slipped my hand under his sweater and felt his smooth, tight stomach as he reclined further.

     I pulled my lips from his and laid my head upon his chest and just lay there, listening to the beating of his heart.  "Do you think it will get easier?" I asked him.

     "If it doesn't," he said, "then we didn't do our job right."  I smiled and suddenly, the door to the room burst open and Shannon stepped in.  She looked like she had just seen as ghost.  "What's wrong?" Sebastian asked as we both sat up.

     "Your brother just came home.  I think there's something wrong with him."  Sebastian and I looked at each other and we were instantly on our feet and rushing out the door toward his room.

     "What happened?" I asked Shannon.  "Did he say something?"

     "I don't know.  He stormed in the front door and went straight for his room.  It looked like he had a black eye."  We got to his bedroom door and Sebastian knocked.

     "Eric, are you there?" he said into the door.  There was no reply and Sebastian knocked again.  "Eric, open up.  It's Sebastian."

     I looked over at Shannon and I could see the concern in her eyes.  "I'm worried," she said.

     Sebastian tried to open the door and looked back at us.  "It's locked," he said.  He turned back to the door and knocked again.  "Eric, I need to talk to you," Sebastian said a little louder.

     I turned to Shannon.  "Are their parents home?"

     "No, they're still at work," she said.

     Eric still wasn't answering so Sebastian began banging on the door.  "Eric, I know you're in there.  Why won't you talk to me..."

     The door suddenly flew open and we saw Eric standing there, his left eye swollen almost shut and tears running down his face.  The one eye that we could see was boiling over with rage.  "What do you want?" he screamed.

     Sebastian took a step back when he saw his brother.  "Oh my god," he muttered.  I thought Eric was going to close the door again, but instead he stormed out into the hallway and pushed Sebastian back.

     "Are you happy now?" he screamed.

     "What happened?" Sebastian said as he stepped back.  I could tell that Sebastian was really scared.  Shit, I was scared!

     "Look what you did to me," Eric yelled as he pushed Sebastian again and made him fall to the floor.

     "Hey, that's enough," I said, as I got in-between them.  Just by the look of things, it appeared that Eric would have killed Sebastian if Shannon and I hadn't been there to stop it.  Eric was on the verge of complete breakdown.  "What's going on here?" I asked Eric, holding him back.  I was bigger than both Sebastian and his brother and could easily take him if he tried anything else.

     Eric suddenly shifted his gaze from his brother to me and looked at me in disgust.  "You make me sick," he said.  He turned around and started to go back to his room and I looked down at Sebastian.  He was still sprawled across the floor and for a second I thought he was hurt, but then I realized he just wasn't trying to get up.  It wasn't that he didn't have the strength.  He just didn't have the will.

     The door to Eric's room was almost closed when he came storming back out.  "Did you really think nothing would happen?" he yelled at his brother.  Sebastian's head was hanging in shame.

     "Who did this to you?" I asked him.  I could see now how swollen his eye really was.  It looked pretty bad.

     "Those fuckers at school did this," he said angrily, not taking his eyes off his brother.  "Did you stop and think what this would do to me?" he screamed as loud as he could to Sebastian.  The tears were pouring down his face now.  Sebastian remained motionless.

     "Come on," I said, trying to calm him down.

     "You don't know what it's like," he said, still talking to his brother.  He wasn't even registering that I was there.  "They won't touch you or your football player boyfriend, but they'll sure as hell touch me."  There was no response from Sebastian so Eric began yelling again, "Isn't this what you wanted?"

     "That's not fair," I said to Eric.  I really had to calm him down before he did something we would all regret.  Shannon was just standing there in shock.

     "It's not fair?" he said, looking up at me in disbelief.  "Did you two stop for one minute and think what this would do to me before you came out to the whole school?"  He stood there waiting for my answer, but I didn't have one to give.  There was no way we could have seen this coming.  I couldn't even imagine someone beating up someone's twin brother because they couldn't get to the one twin.  People do have an amazing capacity for hate though.

     "Did you?" he yelled again.

     "No," I said.  I shook my head and realized we hadn't thought of anyone except ourselves when we had decided.  Eric simply shook his head and went storming back into his room.  I turned and looked at Shannon, but she just looked back in shock.  She couldn't believe this was happening.  I looked down at Sebastian and realized he hadn't moved from his place on the floor.  I leaned down and whispered, "Get up, Sebastian."  I clumsily helped him up, but once I had him standing his face was still hung to the ground in shame.  "Let's go back to your room," I said.

     We all went back to Sebastian's room and I sat him down on his bed.  His head was hanging in defeat though.  He still hadn't brought his eyes to look at me yet.  "It's not your fault," I tried to tell him.

     "We should have thought about Eric," he said, his voice strangely quiet and trance-like.  I couldn't believe he was saying this.  His brother had just pushed him to the ground and now he was taking his side.  I would have been furious.  Sebastian didn't know how to deal with conflict at all.  Or perhaps he did, and that's what scared me most of all.

     I looked over at Shannon, but she was staring at Sebastian and not saying anything.  There was something about the way she was looking at him that seemed odd to me.  Like in some movie where a mother has come to the hospital to watch helplessly as her only child dies before her very eyes.  That's exactly how Shannon was looking at Sebastian and it scared the hell out of me.

     Her eyes reflected the light of the lamp as she continued to stare at Sebastian with a mixture of hopelessness and grief.