Just a quick note to say sorry to all those I promised I would post new chapters quickly. Reading over the story I found a major plot hole and had to re-write the first six chapters to correct it. It has taken me longer than I first thought due to personal situations that kind of blindsided me two weeks ago. That said, everything should be fixed. This time I won't promise the readers anything, all that I ask is that you bear with me.
All emails will be answered promptly and soberly firstname.lastname@example.org concerning this or other stories. Thanks Angel.
Chapter Two: Emotion Sickness
Ignoring his mothers worried frown, Ryan walked over and grabbed three glasses and placed them on the counter. Going to the refrigerator, he asked, "Who wants milk?"
"I do. I do." Bryan chanted, climbing up on one of the stools.
"How `bout you mom?" He asked, grabbing the carton of milk.
"Yes." His mother, Beatrice, said with a smile she hoped did not looked forced.
Pouring the cold liquid into the glasses, he asked, "What are you doing home from work?"
"Mr. Eddings let me take a few hours off so I could greet my guys home from school." She answered, gently rubbing Bryan's head as he devoured his cookie. "I have to go back later on and finish up some things."
"Are you staying for dinner?" He asked, nibbling on a cookie.
Shaking her head sadly, she replied, "No. Not tonight."
"That's okay." Ryan answered, hiding his disappointment with a large smile. "I'll fix something for the gremlin."
Changing the subject, she asked her youngest son, "How was school today kiddo?"
Swallowing loudly, Bryan answered excitedly, "It was great. Me and Bobby..."
"Bobby and I." Ryan corrected automatically, taking a sip of milk.
"Bobby and I got to be partners." He beamed.
"Partners in what?"
"Partners in the swings."
"You know." He stated patiently, like a teacher instructing a student. "I sat on his lap in the swings and we swinged until we could swing no more and then he would push me and I would fly through the air."
"Swung. Not swinged." Ryan said with a grin.
"Whatever." Bryan said, rolling his eyes. "Then we would switch and he would sit on my lap and I would get to push him off."
"Oh dear." Beatrice said, covering her mouth. Having already went through Ryan's fondness for football and the danger involved, she now had to worry about her youngest jumping off swing sets and getting hurt.
"Bobby jumped further than I did but that's only cause he's bigger." Bryan continued. "Maybe by next week I'll grow and then I can jump more than him."
Looking at his mother, Ryan teased, "Do you think the gremlin is growing?"
Standing up, he walked over to the doorway between the kitchen and the living room. "Come here." He said with a wave of his hand. "Let's see if you're growing."
Bryan jumped down from the stool and ran over to his brother. Standing as tall as he could, he put his back against the doorframe where each year they would measure his growth spurts. Ryan pretended to study the marks closely before saying with a wide grin, "Wow, you're taller than I was at your age."
"Really." Bryan exclaimed, trying to turn his head to look at the red mark signifying Ryan's height at ten year's old.
"Look." Ryan said, holding his finger in place as the little boy turned and peered at the doorframe. "I'm bigger than you were." He said excitedly, clapping his hands.
"Maybe one day I'll be as big as you." He said hopefully, touching the wood with a look of wonder in his eyes.
"Only if you drink your milk and eat your vegetables." Ryan said thoughtfully, rubbing the youth's head, mussing his hair in the process.
"Wait till Bobby knows this." Bryan exclaimed, running over to the counter and grabbing his glass of milk. Downing the contents, he slammed the glass on the counter and stood as tall as he could. "I can feel the milk growing me."
Laughing, Ryan said, "Go watch TV while I cook you dinner."
Running into the living room, Bryan yelled out, "Make sure we have lots of vegetables and milk."
"Promise." Ryan replied, laughing as he sat back down at the bar.
"I'm proud of you." Beatrice said, her face beaming as she stared at him. "And so would your father."
Ryan's face fell at the mention of his father. Unlike Bryan, he remembered the strong man that lived with them before the cancer ate him alive. He remembered the days filled with laughter as they played catch in the back yard. The nights were his father came into his room and told him stories about the old days in the Army. And then his father tucking him in and kissing him goodnight. He missed his father more than he cared to admit. One of the reasons he loved his brother so much was to try and fill in for the absence of his father. To try to give the boy someone to love and look up too.
"Why?" He asked quietly, somewhat embarrassed by her declaration.
"They way you handle him." She said softly. "After your father passed away, I had to rely on you to help out with raising him. I think you've spent more time with him that I have. And when I see you two together, I see the love you have for one another and it makes me proud to have sons like you two."
Blushing, he grabbed the empty dishes and walked over to the sink. As she continued, "Which is why I'm proud of you even though I might not—understand everything you do."
Turning around he leaned against the sink and crossed his arms. "Mom."
She looked at him. On the outside, he was an average teenager. He stood just under six-foot, strong angular face with piercing blue eyes. Lean from the years spent playing football but not overly muscled like some of the linemen she saw on the team. On the outside he was handsome, if you could see through the eye makeup and lipstick he know wore. But when you looked past those outside packaging and looked at the man he was becoming inside, he was strong of character, intelligent though he tried to hide it from his peers, loving, caring, all the things she saw and loved in her late husband. And whatever he was going through at the moment, she would try to understand and help him no matter what he decided.
"Do you want to tell me how you got that black eye and cut lip?" She asked, looking at him expectantly.
"It was a misunderstanding." He said simply, staring at her blankly.
"It's because of this new look you have isn't it." She stated, not really asking a question. "How did everyone take it?"
Shrugging, he replied, "Some liked it, some didn't. But none of that really matters."
Knowing how much he respected his coach and knowing the attitude of the big man, she asked a question she did not really want to here the answer too. "How did Coach Keating react when he saw you?"
Choosing his words carefully, he replied casually, "After discussing it, we decided that I shouldn't play football this year and concentrate on my grades instead."
"What?" She exclaimed, pushing the plate of cookies away from her. "You love football."
"I know." Ryan said with a smile. Lying smoothly, he added, "I'm good but I'm not good enough to get a football scholarship. We decided that I should bring my grades up and go for an academic scholarship instead. That way I can get into a good school and not have to attend community college."
"But everyone said this was the year the championship would come home." She said as she shook her head. "With you and Brett on the team, it was a lock. The Hershey Bears would be state champions. Is he really willing to give that up to get you into college?" Everything she knew about the man went against this train of thought. He was a man bent on winning no matter the cost to his team or his standing with the school board.
"Coach Keating would rather see me go for an academic scholarship than play football." He said truthfully, the previous lie leaving his mouth with an unpleasant taste.
Not really believing, she said, "Well, if it's for the best. I was a bit worried about you getting the opportunity to go to college. Your father always wanted both of you to go to college."
"He might get his wish." Ryan said, grinning and adding, "Besides, the way Bryan talks, he needs all the help we can give him."
Laughing her rich laugh, Beatrice agreed, "I know. I was hoping his speech would improve but I'm not sure. His teacher, Mr. Astbury, thinks he might need to go to a speech coach this year. But I don't know how I can afford it."
"Well." Ryan said as he thought about it. "Now that I'm not playing football. Instead of buying equipment with the money I make working at the video store, maybe I can help pay for the speech coach."
"You don't have to do that." She said, shaking her head in disagreement. "You do enough work around here without giving up your spending money."
"Mom." He said firmly, walking over to the bar. "It's my money and what I choose to do with it is my concern. Now that I don't have to buy all that football gear, I'll have more than enough to spend on myself and help out."
Looking at her watch, she stood up and said, "I have to go back to work. We'll talk about this later."
"Okay." He agreed, knowing that after she thought about it, she would see his logic and allow him to help pay the bill.
"What are you making for dinner?" She asked, gathering her purse and keys.
Shrugging, he replied, "Not sure. We have that chicken in there and some rice. I'll throw something together."
"Don't forget to save me some." She said with a smile, teasing him about the one time he made her favorite dish and made only enough for two.
"Promise." He said with a grin. "Whatever it is, it'll be on the stove. What time are you going to make it home?"
"It'll be late. We have to prepare this brief for court tomorrow and I have to go over it and check everything." She informed him, walking into the living room. "Goodbye Bryan."
Yelling from the couch, he said, "Bye mom. Have fun at work."
"Listen to your brother and behave yourself." She warned him, pointing a finger at the little boy.
"See you later Ryan."
"Bye mom." He replied, watching her rush out the door. Making sure Bryan was okay, he headed into the kitchen, his mind filled with troubled thoughts.
Practice just wasn't the same for Brett Fahey. For six years Ryan was the receiver he looked for on the field. And now that he was gone, the blonde felt like a part of himself was missing. They had a feel for each other. Without having to speak, they could look across the field and somehow know exactly what the other would do. This connection made them one of the deadliest combinations in high school football.
The ball slammed into his hands and like the play called for, he rolled to the left and took five steps out before setting himself and throwing the ball across the field in a short screen pass. The intended receiver, Mike Collins, was nine steps behind and the ball sailed through the air to bounce uncaught on the sidelines.
"Jesus Christ Fahey." Coach Keating yelled out. "That kind of passing will not get us the championship."
Taking off his helmet, he yelled back, "If Collins would be where he supposed to then he could have caught that pass."
"Get your head out of your ass and concentrate." Coach Keating spat. "You're throwing like a second string."
Muttering under his breath, he stated, "Ryan would have caught that pass."
Lee stormed over and stated viscously, "Don't mention that faggots name."
"Isn't that the faggot that broke your nose earlier today?" Brett asked, glaring at his friend.
Anger filled the lineman's eyes, he grabbed the front of Brett's jersey and pulled him close, "I told you to forget about that."
"What the fuck are you two doing?" Coach yelled out, stomping over to them angrily. "You're suppose to be on the same team here. Now what's the problem?"
"Nothing Coach." Lee replied, releasing the other boy.
"Just nerves." Brett stated, straightening his jersey. "First day of practice always makes me nervous."
"Everyone huddled up and take a knee." Coach ordered.
After the thirty boys gathered around him and knelt down, he stared at them for a moment before saying, "Listen up. Last year we were this close to winning the championship. I don't know about you, but I'm pissed that Bishop McDevit defeated us. We let a bunch of Catholic boys beat us on our own turf. We were stronger, faster, and more intelligent. We had all the tools to bring that banner home. But they won because we weren't hungry enough. We didn't want it bad enough to give our all. We dropped the ball and I for one will not let that happen this year if I have to kill each and every one of you. We have a few changes this year but we are that team we were last year. Except this year we're older, hungrier, and pissed off that a bunch of Catholic sissies are the reigning champs. No matter what some may think, one person does not make a team. It takes each and every one of us to win ballgames. And if you don't want to give it your all out there on that field, then tell me now."
He glared at each player, turning slowly in a circle until his eyes rested on his quarterback. Keeping eye contact, he added, "And if that takes the captain of the team to step up and set an example then that's what I want to happen."
"Does everyone understand this?" He shouted out.
"Yes." A chorus shouted back.
"I can't here you. Do you understand?"
"Yes." The roar of the boys erupted.
"Then this year lets show them Catholic pansies how bad we want this championship. Let's show them that no matter who pusses out, we will be the champs."
Everyone stood up and started yelling, hitting one another in their excitement. "Now let's hit the showers."
As the boys ran off the field, he waved Brett over. Once they were alone on the field, he asked bluntly, "What's your problem? You throwing like a rusty piston."
Brett adjusted his shoulder pads and stated truthfully, "I felt like something was missing out there today."
Crossing his arms, Keating demanded, "Forget about him. He's nothing."
Brett replied defiantly, "It's not that easy. Collins throws off my rhythm. He's not as fast as Ryan or as smart."
"Don't every say that name on my field again." Coach stated flatly, the anger washing out of him.
"Did you have to kick him off the team?" Brett asked angrily, his love of football overriding his good sense. "We need him to win this. He's the best player on the team for Christ sakes."
Changing tactics, Coach said, "Inside there," He pointed at the school. "You can do whatever you want. But here." He waved his arms wide. "We are a team. And when someone stops playing on the same team, then he is no longer an assent but a risk that I can not allow."
"No matter what he...wears he's still the same player Coach." He had almost said no matter who he sleeps with but changed it at the last moment.
"No." Coach spat, spittle collecting on the edges of his mouth in his anger. "He defied my rules and threw them in my face. That kind of attitude will drag the rest of the team down when we need to be strong."
Brett struggled with his feelings for his friend and his desire to please his coach. His entire life was a journey of winning, achieving victory after victory. Living and breathing football, he knew nothing else but the desire to play. He offered, "Maybe."
"You have talent Brett." Coach said fondly, placing his hand on the boy's shoulder. "If you buckle down and listen to what I say, you have a career that will transcend college and even into the pro's. And if there is one thing I learned in my life, a team is about trust, loyalty. During Nam, we had this soldier in our squad that unlike the rest of us did not volunteer, he was drafted. He made it known early on his stance about this "police action" and how we were killing innocent people for the CIA to make money on the opium trade. Our squad spent most of the time patrolling the jungle for hostiles. For hours every day we had nothing but ourselves to rely on. Our guts, our training, the bond that we formed with each other. A bond that made us closer than brothers. Then this raw recruit showed up and spent his time bitching about the war and how we should go home and leave Vietnam. Without knowing it or even trying, he created a rift between the squad. Because in the jungle, we had to know the guy next to us would take a bullet for the squad. In a place where we faced death every second of every day, the last thing we needed was to doubt the person next to you. With his anti-war speeches and VC loving attitude, we wondered if the shit hit the fan, would he stand with us or against us.
"What happened?" Brett asked, leaning closer.
"We were ambushed." Coach stated flatly, his eyes steely in the afternoon sun. "Only five of us made it out of the jungle that day. Out of twenty soldiers, only five walked away, the rest left in body bags. And do you know why only five of us lived?"
"Because of his attitude, we felt the safest place for him to be was in the rear, thinking any threat would come in front of us. All of our training and experience told us that the VC was somewhere ahead of us. Instead of worrying about what lay before us, we kept looking behind. Checking to make sure he was doing his job." Keating explained, his eyes growing misty as he relayed the tale. "And just like our training the VC hit us hard and hit us head on. And while the shit had hit the fan, he fought like the rest of us. Died like most of us. It really doesn't matter that in the end we could trust him. Because it was too late, the doubt was there and we paid for it. It's really the same on a football field. Every player on that team has to trust the person next to him. The running back has to trust the linemen to make that hole; you have to trust the linemen to hold the line and protect you long enough to throw to your receivers who you have to trust to stick to their patterns. If he had played football, the other players would constantly look at him, question his motives for everything. In the locker room, they would wonder if he was staring at them. On the field, they would question every move he makes. And in the end, he would have destroyed any chance we have a championship season. Can you understand that?"
Seeing how Lee and the others were already talking about Ryan, he grudgingly nodded, "Yeah, I think I do."
Coach had a satisfied smile on his face as he stated, "Everything hinges on you this season Brett. The players look for you to lead them to victory. On and off the field you are the example they'll follow if you lead them. Trust your team and we will win I promise you."
Nodding, Coach ordered, "Now get out of here and hit the showers."
Brett ran off towards the locker room with his head spinning. Loyalty to his team was one thing, but Ryan was his best friend. Someone that knew every dreadful secret that Brett hid from the world. Every dream, his fears, everything he was Ryan knew. If he did what the Coach asked of him, then he would be going against everything he believed in. But football was his life and his ticket into college and maybe even into the pro's where the big money is. And it was possible to win the championship even without Ryan. After all, they still had plenty more weapons in their arsenal.
Stripping off his gear, he padded over to his locker and grabbed a clean towel. Seeing Collins dressing, he winced and turned around to avoid the black kid. Turning the corner at the end of the lockers, he ran right into Lee. For a heartbeat, they stared at one another. Lee's green eyes danced with anger, his body position, braced for a fight. Brett dropped his eyes and sighed loudly. To think in a single day his world could be turned upside down. Two of his best friends had a fight, his alter ego on the field had quit and he was left holding the bag for a pissed off Coach. He had better days.
Lee crossed his arms and glared at him, saying, "That wasn't cool man."
"I know." Brett exploded, leaning against the locker tiredly. "I'm all fucked up."
Lee stated so what calmly, "Why would you take that faggots side?"
Peering intently at his friend, Brett wondered when the boy developed just a hatred for gays. Lee was huge, a brick house with no neck. His brown hair was buzzed close; stubble hiding his baby face did little to show his usually good-natured demeanor. But as he stood there, his eyes shining with hatred, Brett wondered how he would ever make it through this year somewhat sane.
Not waiting for a reply, Lee continued, "I stayed over at his house. Slept there and everything. The guys have already fucked with me about our friendship. Saying shit like Ryan probably checked me out when I was sleeping. Or saying I used Ryan for a fag boy. It's fucked up. I don't want people saying I'm a faggot."
Laughing genuinely, Brett replied, "No one thinks you're a faggot Lee. Don't sweat it."
"All I'm gonna say is that bitch will pay." Lee stated, flexing his hands like a claw. "He surprised me today. He won't do it again."
Brett answered quickly, trying to defuse the situation, "Forget about that pansy." His heart paused as he lied. "Let's concentrate on playing football. And after we win the championship, we'll rub it in his faggot face." Hating himself for the words coming out of his mouth, Brett swallowed a few times, trying to ease the taste from his mouth.
But Lee wouldn't be swayed so easily, accusing, "What's with you two?"
"What do you mean?" Brett asked carefully, hiding his uneasiness.
"You knew him the best." Lee said with a frown. "You two hung out all the time. Don't tell me you didn't have a clue about him. What about that?"
His anger rising, Brett stepped forward, "What are you trying to say? Cause if you want to have your ass beat twice in one day, then finished that sentence."
"Don't threaten me Fahey." Lee warned, stepping up until they were nose to nose.
For a heartbeat they stood there, the air filled with violence, the other football players looking on. Neither boy could back down that the others were watching. Their pride was too strong to risk in front of the others. Brett remembered what the Coach had told him and no matter what he believed, he knew the man was right. He had only one chance and no matter what he felt for his friend, he had to think of himself first. So swallowing back his anger, he did what Lee couldn't do.
"Jesus Christ Lee." Brett said with a wide grin, breaking the tension. "You need a breath mint."
Lee tried to maintain a straight face, his lips pressed together tightly to choke back the laughter that threaten to ooze forth. Finally losing it, he said, shoving his friend playfully, "I had garlic pizza for lunch."
"It smells like you ate the ass out of a dead rhino." Brett said, waving his hand in front of his face.
"I'll show you dead rhino." Lee shouted, hoisting his friend over his shoulder. Running as fast as he could with the boy slung over his shoulder, he charged through the locker room yelling like a crazed madman. Heading into the pool area, Brett managed to choke out two words before he was tossed in.
The water took his breath away for a moment as he hit bottom. Kicking out with his powerful legs, he broke the surface sputtering, "I'm gonna get you fucker."
Lee laughed along with the team, everyone staring at him as he swam to the side. Pulling himself out of the pool, Brett and Lee tapped fists together, both grinning like little boys. Wrapping his arm around his friend, they walked back into the locker.
Brett made sure to smile at the teasing from his teammates, keeping his own confused emotions buried under the surface. If Ryan had made his choice, then he would make his own. Pushing the boy from his mind, he convinced himself he was doing the right thing. He had to look out for number one and damn everyone else. It was a troubled boy that sat down on the bench. If he was making the right decision, then why did his heart ache so much?
Tobias Myers sat in the center of the floor, a sketchpad resting on his knees. His pencil made scratching noises as he furiously sketched out the outline of someone's face. His blue eyes intent on the image as his hand seemingly moved under its own volition. As customary, he let his mind wander during such times. Much like a free writing exercise where you sit down and just start typing, he allowed his mind to take over and draw whatever it wished. Normally afterwards he would stare at the sketch and decide if it was worth finishing or casting aside with the other rejects.
His room was a mixture of sculpting clay and empty tubes of paint. Canvases littered the floor, haphazardly stacked against the wall three and four deep in places. An unfinished painting sat on an easel, a portrait of a boy with half a face human and the other half a wolf snarling. The air smelled heavily of paint thinner and cigarette smoke mixed with a stale smell of dirty clothes. Stacks of books lay on the unused desk, volumes of philosophy, psychology, poetry, and novels written by the likes of Hemmingway and Whitman.
Along with being a talented artist, Tobias had read most of the books located in the town's library and had long since graduated to ordering books online to appease his thirst for knowledge. None of his peers and only a handful of teachers knew about his above average intelligence. Carefully keeping his grades a few steps down from the top but high enough to garnish him a place at any school in America, he preferred to keep a low profile. Considering himself on a journey only he could comprehend, he did not need the attention of the faculty bearing down on him.
His home life mirrored his school life. His parents barely knew he existed and his sister pretended she was an only child. Sometimes he would enter a room and one of his parents would look at him in such a way that reminded him of someone finding something they had misplaced years earlier and suddenly found it again only to cast it aside the moment of discovery. He could not remember the last time he had eaten with his parents. More often than not he would fix himself a sandwich and head up to his room where he would lock the world out. Surrounded by his books and art, he was more than content to float through his own house like a ghost.
Placing his pencil down, he studied the sketch before him. The picture that had emerged from his wandering mind shocked him slightly. He had drawn the boy's face at a slight angle, the head cocked and turned. The hair hung down over his forehead covering one eye, the other staring off towards the right side of the page in an almost haunted look. The full lips were slightly parted and the brow was furrowed. The picture was undeniably that of Ryan James, the boy he had met in art class earlier that day.
Biting on the end of the pencil, he went over the small amount of facts he knew about the boy. He knew the boy was a jock and up until this year, one of the most popular kids in school. His skill on the football field was legendary as well as his nice guy image he carried effortlessly. Even the girls he had bedded down over the two years of high school read like a who's who of high school hierarchy. The faculty loved him, students looked up to him and all the girls wanted to be with him. So why now after all this time, did the boy change so drastically?
He had heard around the school that Ryan had spent the summer in Orlando with his cousin. Which is where the change seemed to have stemmed. But what could have happened in a single summer to warrant such a change? And the stupid idea about the kid being gay was just ridiculous. He showed none of the signs. Not only did he not check out the guys in school, his head turned every single time a girl walked by. If he was gay, he had tremendous control of his preference.
A bell sounded from his laptop, signaling he had an instant message. Putting the sketch on the floor, he grabbed his laptop and looked at the message.
Bijockdude: Hey whats up I liked your profile
Shaking his head, he typed, girlsboyswhever: Thanks
Quickly checking out the guys profile, he smiled as he saw the age, 17.
Bijockdude: How old r u
Girlsboyswhever: 16 and you?
Girlsboyswhever: what school do you go too?
Bijockdude: rather not say
Bijockdude: so have you ever been with a guy
Laughing, Tobias typed, Girlsboyswhever: of course haven't you?
Bijockdude: nope only girls
Girlsboyswhever: then how do you know if you're bi?
Bijockdude: what does it feel like?
Girlsboyswhever: what does what feel like?
Bijockdude: having sex with a guy
Girlsboyswhever: why don't you come over and I'll show you
As he waited for the reply, he glanced at the sketch he had just drawn and wondered if it could be the same boy.
Bijockdude: can't have to watch my brother
Girlsboyswhever: too bad. I'm horny
Bijockdude: when was your first time
Girlsboyswhever: when I was thirteen
Bijockdude: what happened
Girlsboyswhever: my best friend at the time stayed over one night
Girlsboyswhever: after playing video games most of the night, my mom told us to go to bed. We weren't tired so we sat on the bed in the dark and talked
Bijockdude: what did you talk about it
Girlsboyswhever: what do you think? We were 13 sex
Bijockdude: kewl then what happened
Girlsboyswhever: please tell me you don't have your hands in your pants lol
Bijockdude: and what if I did
Shaking his head, Tobias typed, I don't believe your 17.
Signing off, he shut the laptop and picked up his sketchbook again. Forgetting about bijockdude, he studied the sketch again. Seeing potential, he picked up his pencil and started filling in the rough sketch, keeping time with the music blasting loudly in his ears.
The evening past fairly quickly for Ryan. After dinner, he finished what little bit of homework he had and made sure Bryan did as well. After watching a few shows on TV, he tucked his brother in bed and walked out on the back porch to have a cigarette. Before he could sit down, his cell phone rang.
"Ryan, its Tiffany."
Silently cursing, he replied evenly, "What's up?"
"I was wondering if I could come over and talk to you."
"Good. Cause I'm out front."
"I'm in the back yard, you know the way." He said tersely.
Shutting his phone, he lit up and waited for his ex-girlfriend to make her way into the back yard. They had been friends since elementary school. Though it wasn't until the year before they started dating, Ryan had loved her his entire life. And for a while, he really believed she was the one he would spend the rest of his days with. Sometime after Christmas, they had just started growing apart. Maybe it was his fault; he had begun realizing things about himself. His desires, his dreams, his future. And for the first time since they had been together, he did not see her in that future. Well not as anything but a friend. Losing her friendship would crush him.
Switching on the faint porch light, he saw her walk around the corner of the house. And as always, his breath caught in his throat by the sight of her. She was tall, almost as tall as he was. Long blonde hair with a cheerleader's body and the face a model would envy. Narrow cheekbones framed her perfect face and her blue eyes seemed to sparkle in the light. Normally someone who wore a smile, her brow was furrowed as she walked up the three steps to stand in front of him with one hand on her narrow hip. In a word, she was beautiful.
"Since when do you smoke?" She asked, waving the smoke from her face.
"About the same time you started avoiding me in public." Came the curt reply.
"I guess I deserved that." She stated simply, seating herself comfortably in the empty seat next to him.
"You still look beautiful." He said after a brief moment of silence.
Her hand went up to her hair and she asked, "Do you like the haircut?"
Laughing his raspy laugh, he replied, "Didn't notice. It looks the same as it always did."
Pouting slightly, she muttered, "Men." Then she added, "You look weird. I don't like your haircut."
Running his hands through his hair, he grinned, "Thanks."
Sighing, she asked, "How was Orlando this year?"
"It was great." He said, her presence calming him. He filled her in on the summer he had with his cousin Greg. The parties, the places, the people he had met. And she filled him in on the goings on of her summer. For a while they talked like old friends, each happy to be sitting next to each other. Neither willing to bring up the reason she was there. If only to hold on to that fantasy for just a bit longer.
"I don't think I've drank so much in my life. I think I'm still a bit hungover." Ryan said, finishing a story about drinking a bottle of Scotch while playing quarters a few days before he left Orlando.
"So we can blame all this." She gestured with her finger at him, finally no longer able to hold in her questions. "On you getting blasted all summer."
"No." He stated, wincing at her comments.
"What happened to you in Orlando?" She asked, leaning forward slightly, her face wearing a puzzling look.
"Nothing." He said with a shrug. "I grew up a bit. Learned some things I didn't know before."
"Is this because we broke up?" She asked pointedly.
Laughing, he replied, "I dumped you if you recall."
"And you never told me why." She countered.
"Does it matter? Really. You didn't seem that broken up about it." Brett says with a frown.
"How would you know?" She asked, leaning back in her seat, wrapping her arms tightly around her knees. "You were gone the whole summer."
"Considering you were fucking Scott the next weekend, I just assumed..." He said with a mischievous grin.
"Well, maybe that's your biggest problem Ryan." She said flatly. "Did you think I was going to sit in my room crying over you? Asking myself over and over again why you broke my heart? Crying myself to sleep clutching your stupid shirt every night? Wondering why you waited until the last day of school to break up with me."
Flicking his cigarette in the yard, he asked quietly, "Did you?"
Shaking her head, she replied, "Scott is someone I fuck. Someone who takes me to movies and out to dinner. He makes me laugh and he's great in bed. But I don't love Scott. I love you."
"I love you too you know. That never changed." He said quietly.
"Just you right? You changed so that's how it has to be." She fired back.
"Why did you come over here?" He asked her, his anger simmering in the back of his mind.
"Was I so bad that you had to run from me?" She asked quietly, tears falling down her cheeks.
"I didn't run from you." He said gently, getting up and going to her. Wrapping his arms around her, he held her close like he use too. Stroking her hair tenderly, "I ran from myself."
"Do you remember when you first asked me out?" She asked, leaning into his arms like he could save her from drowning.
"Yeah." He said, grinning. "I was so nervous."
"You took me to Angle Park and we were sitting on the swings." She continued softly, seeing them back there in her mind. "You talked about such stupid things for an hour, giving me your football stats and what you wanted to do after high school. Anything to avoid saying what you wanted to say."
"You were the prettiest girl in school." He said pulling her back, staring into her eyes intently. "I was so scared you wouldn't want me."
Laughing, she stated, "I'd been giving you hints for weeks stupid. I did everything I could think of to let you know I was interested. And all you did was act like you always did. Like the friends we always were. I had to basically rape you on those swings to get you to do anything."
Blushing, Ryan said with a laugh, "That got my attention all right."
"And when you kissed me for the first time, I knew right then I loved you." She said fiercely, standing up suddenly. Turning away from him, she continued, "I thought you were just shy. Which is why I let you go at your own pace. Waiting for weeks before you tried to touch me. Then weeks more before you made love to me. I thought you were so sensitive, worried about taking my virginity. I loved you all the more. And when you still kept me at arms length, afraid to let me get close, I figured it was because you were worried about football. I figured I was competing with football for you and I was okay with that. I was willing to share you with whatever just because I loved you that much. And now to think I never had a chance. It wasn't football I was competing with after all."
Looking away from her, he wished he could tell her the secrets he had kept from her. While he had told her most of what happened in Orlando, he had not told her all. And despite his love for her, he steeled himself and stated instead, "So now you know."
"You're gay." She said it like she was testing the sound of it, the words catching in her mouth. "Did I make you that way?"
"No one makes anyone gay." Ryan said tiredly, returning to his seat and lighting up another cigarette.
Facing him, she stripped off her shirt. Dropping the shirt on the floor, she stood there brazenly, her breast milky white and perfect like the rest of her. Unbuttoning her pants, she let them drop to her ankles, then kicked them off. It was a few seconds later when her panties joined the rest of her clothes. His breath caught in his throat as he stared at her. She was beautiful, he had not forgotten but she had also grown over the summer. Her breast just a bit bigger, her stomach just a tad harder, her legs a bit more shapely. He looked at her with a mixture of surprise and lust, a look she knew well. "If no one can make someone else gay, then I wonder if someone can make one stay straight?"
Walking over to him, she straddled his lap and kissed him deeply. For a moment his hands roamed over her naked flesh. The smoothness he felt driving him wild and when she began to move up and down, he growled in the back of his throat and thrust to meet her. Breaking off the kiss, she bite him hard on the neck before whispering in his ear, "All you have to do is take off those ridiculous clothes and everything could go back to like it was. Coach Keating will let you back on the team. You'd have me for your girlfriend, everyone would forget about today."
Coming to his senses, he pushed her off him. She landed hard on the floor and he asked angrily, "Is that why you came over here, to seduce me?"
"I..." She said as she struggled to get up.
"Jesus." He said flatly. "You are pathetic. I didn't think you'd go that far."
"I'm pathetic?" She fired back, finally standing up. Unashamed of her nakedness, she waved a finger in his face. "What about you?" She asked, looking him up and down, a sneer on her face.
"At least I know who I am." Ryan answered.
"Yeah and now so do I."
"Whatever. That's not my problem."
"Typical Ryan answer to everything." She accused, pulling her shirt over her head.
"What's that suppose to mean?"
Pulling her pants on, she walked down the steps, leaving the underwear where they fell. Turning back, she said, "That's what you said when I begged you to tell me why you broke up with me. You never cared what that would do to me. When I asked what I was suppose to do you walked away saying that wasn't your problem. After today, all that weird shit your wear and that shit stuck in your face, how did you think everyone would react? Did you think they would still bow down and kiss your feet? Well, I think you got what you deserved. Looks like your not anyone's problem anymore."
"Fuck you Ryan." She said as she stormed off. "Fuck you."
He watched her walk away, her words echoing in his mind, stinging his heart. Feeling alone, he slammed the door shut behind him. Storming up to his room, he turned his computer on. After letting the system boot up, he clicked on his email and checked his messages, pushing Tiffany from his mind. After scanning his inbox, he saw several strange emails. Clicking on the first one, he deleted it immediately when he read the hateful words inside. Making sure to ignore any future emails from that address, he contemplated just deleting the rest of them without reading them. But something inside him warned him against it. Taking a pen, he jotted the address of the next email before opening it, it was another gay bashing letter. He went through five emails before he opened one addressed from Severedwrists. When he opened it, he scanned through it quickly before going back to the top and rereading carefully.
Just wanted to say I think what you did today was so brave. I have thought about coming out but I'm too scared by what others think. I'm gay as well. I've never admitted that to no one before. My parents would kill me if they found out. Everyday I pretend to be happy. Smiling when I know I should but the smiles are empty. Like my soul. Most days I feel like what's the point. Like there's no reason for me to go on living. Sometimes I lay in the bathtub and wonder what it would be like to end it all. I even bought a razor. The straight edge kind. Its sharp and it would only take only a second to end it all. But I'm too much of a chicken to go through with it. Instead I cry myself to sleep. At least in my dreams I am loved. But after seeing what you did, maybe there is hope for me. Just maybe this empty hole can be filled. Do you have a boyfriend? Cause I think you're the sexiest boy I've ever seen.
"Fuck me." He muttered.
To Be Continued
Copyright©2004 Burning Angel