Please understand that the people are fictional, the places are fictional (cities are not). If reading this material is against your morals (or your laws), please do not go beyond this point.

Enjoy

***

Challenges

Part III

***

*** Modern Day***

Justin sat on the couch in the den reading a book. He had thought about going over and seeing if Nate was free, but thought better of it. Every time he thought of Nate he felt betrayed and injured. Why would Nate want to see him, only too hurt him like this?

He flipped the page.

The book itself was something he enjoyed reading. It seemed every time he made it home for a visit to his parents, he would find himself drawn to the den to read. The book was Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. He had discovered it when assigned to read it his sophomore year of high school. Every summer when he felt he needed to escape, he would read the book.

It was odd, he thought, that he would be drawn to a story about a world where books were not supposed to exist. People, who were found to be harboring books, would be banished, imprisoned, and their belongings burned. He sometimes felt the same way. His life was against the morals of his house; the norms of society. He felt love for the same sex, and for that he would burn for it in the end. That was what he was taught. He no longer believed it.

***

The first day of high school was both exhilarating and stressful for Justin and Nate. After their first kiss on his farm, they had become inseparable. They used the fact that Nate would have to come early to work for him to spend the night. They would end up sharing the bed in Justin's room, and fall asleep in each other's arms. They never went further than kissing, even though at times Justin felt the urge so strong he wanted to go more, but resisted. He still was not sure how much of what he was doing was a sin or not.

At school, Justin was not sure if anyone would see the relationship that they had developed. He had not even told Kimberly that he had gotten together with Nate. He was sad that he would not be around Nate all of the day and he had during the summer. They had English and History together, but that was it.

He arrived and went to the commons to find his other friends, and Nate. At the usual spot was Kimberly sitting across from a boy he had not seen. He was a fairly muscular kid and looked to be his age. Kimberly and the new kid were in deep conversation.

"Hey." Justin walked up and made Kimberly jump a bit.

"Dang it Justin!" Kimberly spat as she leaned sideways. "Don't do that!"

"Sorry." Justin grinned and motioned for Kimberly to scoot over. He eyed the new boy. He was handsome. He had short spiked blonde hair, a clean-shaven square face. His body looked to be in excellent shape with his shirt stretched tight against his body. Justin couldn't take his eyes off him.

"This is Mark." Kimberly snickered a bit as she caught the glint in Justin's eye. "He is a new student who just moved here from Russia."

"Hello." Mark extended his hand to Justin.

"Hey Mark!" Justin grabbed his hand and shook it with a firm grasp.

"Lush." Kimberly whispered. Justin turned his head and squinted his eyes.

"What did I miss?" Nate walked up.

Justin felt his heart beat harder, and he turned his head towards the love of his life. He wanted to jump up and plant a kiss on his lips, but knew that might not be the best idea. He had to be careful.

"Hey Nate!" Justin said, and with an afterthought, maybe too much enthusiasm. "This is Mark. He is from Russia that just moved here."

"Hey man!" Nate reached his hand out, and dropped his backpack on the floor next to the seat. "Great to meet you."

Justin looked at Kimberly and motioned for her to move to the next side next to Mark.

"Pushy much?" Kimberly snapped as she moved over, and Justin allowed for Nate to sit next to him.

Justin smiled as Nate slid in. He could feel his leg brush his and he had to resist the urge to suck air in from his teeth. Kimberly darted a look at Nate, and then back to Justin.

"So what brings you to the United States Mark?" Nate asked Mark.

"My father got a position at the university here." Mark watched Justin and Nate. "We arrived this summer. I live next door to Kimberly."

"Oh do you? And you couldn't tell me over the phone?" Justin squinted at Kimberly. "I see how much our friendship is worth."

"Like I avoid saying things." She looked at Nate. "I am sure that you had some good news to share to, but I don't hear anything."

"Nothing to major." Justin turned his head around to see who else had arrived. He was looking for Scott. At least he said what everyone was thinking, and it was predictable.

"I don't understand." Mark said looking at Kimberly. "Are you two having a...." he paused looking for the right words, "lovers quarrel?"

"What?" both Justin and Kimberly shot glances at Mark. Nate chuckled and blushed.

"Well you seem to have the typical attitude towards each other." He thought for a moment. "Or maybe you are jealous of Justin and Nate?" He looked at Kimberly directly.

Nate coughed at the comment, and turned a dark red.

"Um..." was all he could say.

"Why do you say that?" Justin asked looking around to make sure no one else heard. He couldn't believe that someone he had known for less than 10 minuets could figure out that Nate and he were involved.

"Not hard to see. You two sneak quick looks at each other, followed by quick smiles." He grinned. "Plus your eyes dilate when you look at each other, which is an indication of attraction. "

"Well..." Justin swallowed hard. "Yea."

Kimberly frowned. "And you couldn't tell me this?"

"She knows about you?" Nate looked at Justin with shock. If he could have shared this with someone he would have in a heartbeat. To know that Kimberly was good with Justin would have been a load off his back.

"She found out the first day I meet you." Justin sighed. "I was looking at you to intensely and she picked up on it. I am sorry I didn't tell you."

"It's okay." He patted Justin's leg under the table. "I just wish you would have said something. But at least now we can be semi open about it." He smiled big.

"Open about what?" Scott walked up behind Nate, causing both of them to jump in their seats.

"Um." Nate just said. "We uh, its nothing. Just something we found out about..."

"The fact that you two are an item?" Scotts said pulling up another chair and swinging it around to sit on.

"What?" Kimberly spat out. "How did you know?"

"I could tell walking up behind them. There shoulders keep rubbing, and I figured either they have an itch, or are holding hands under the table." He shrugged and took a drink of water from his bottle. "I figured it was the latter since they could have just scratched with their hands."

Mark laughed. "I told you it was easy to see."

Justin crossed his arms and fumed, while Nate put his hands on the table and looked around to see if anyone else had heard the conversation. No one seemed to have noticed or cared.

"I wouldn't worry about it." Scott said putting dangling the water bottle with his arm, and watching it sway. "Give it till lunch, and you will be the talk of the school."

***

First through third period went by fast, and Justin felt like a wreck. He didn't have any classes so far with Nate, but he still felt as if everyone was watching him. As if he had been caught with something dangerous, and someone was ready to pounce.

The bell rang to release third period.

Justin pulled out his schedule to look at it to make sure he was going to the right class: English II. This would be one of two classes he would have with Nate. He was excited, but also nervous that his true emotions might show through.

He made his way to his locker and noticed Nate standing with his backpack waiting.

"Hey." Nate said as Justin walked up with a grin on his face.

"Hey." Justin grinned back and opened his locker and put his newly recieved Geometry book in his locker. He had already received a new Biology book, and figured he would have a new history book by the end of the day.

Nate leaned in as if looking inside the locker and whispered into Justin's ear. "I missed you."

"Me too." Justin giggled.

Justin closed the locker and shouldered his backpack. He punched Nate in the arm.

"Ready for Mrs. Watson?" Justin winked and started to head down the hall.

Mrs. Watson was known for her promptness to class, dedication to detail, and ruthless manner of grading. She was also one of the best English literature teachers at the high school. Justin remembered his brother talking about her and how much he enjoyed the class, even though it was one of the hardest classes he ever had.

Mrs. Watson was standing at the door greeting the students coming into the room. She was a middle-aged woman, with blond short hair. She was attractive, and some of the other boys talked about her in ways Justin was not comfortable with.

"Good morning Justin." She said with a smile. She reached out her hand to shake his hand, which he returned with a firm grasp. "I am so glad you're in my class. I hope you are just as hard a worker as your brother." Justin frowned a bit. He was always being compared to his brother. At least it was a good relationship, and not a bad one. Those could be touch to break. "Great to see you as well Nate." She shook his hand as well. "Please sit in the front or middle row. This is a small class."

As he walked in he saw three other boys sitting in the class in the middle row. He knew the vaguely as being members of the football team. Jared Miller, Shawn Martinez, and Jeffery Lambton. Justin decided to take the seat in the center front, with Nate siting to his left. He didn't want to sit on the edge of the room, and sometimes sitting in the center front was the last one to be called on to answer questions.

Nate pulled out a sheet of paper and pencil and started to write something down. Justin tired to look at it, but didn't want to seem invasive. So he just looked around the room at the posters that were spotted around.

"Fag." One of the boys behind him blurted out. Justin froze for a moment thinking he was the one being targeted, but heard footsteps and looked to see who it was. It was Grayson Smith, a student who had come out the year before, and had been the victim of bullying. Matt had attempted to protect the kid as much as possible, but now that he was gone, it was open season for bullying the out kid.

He was a geek type looking kid. He was scrawny, standing at about 5'10'' and didn't weigh more than 150, if that. His brown hair was usually in what could be described as a `neat-mess'. He felt sorry for the kid as Matt was no longer around to speak up for him.

Grayson sat down in the seat to the right, even though he glanced at the chair in the back of the classroom, which would be a safe spot away from easy targeting. Justin assumed Mrs. Watson told him to take a front or second row seat.

"Grayson right?" Justin turned to the kid sitting next to him. He extended his hand to Grayson.

"Yes." Grayson looked at the hand and shook it weakly. He wasn't sure if this was a trick or sincere.

"Justin." Justin responded with a smile, glancing back to see the reaction of the kids behind them. They would be less likely to pick on him due to his reputation, and his brother. But still had to keep an eye out. "Glad to meet you. I am sorry it wasn't sooner than now."

Grayson smiled and brightened up at someone being nice to him. Justin was not sure, but he never saw him hang out with anyone at school. Always seemed to be a loner. He felt a pang of guilt that he had not thought about inviting him to join his inner circle sooner. He just wasn't comfortable exposing himself to the ridicule that came with befriending the school outcast.

The tardy bell rang, and Mrs. Watson came into the classroom.

"Welcome to English II people. I am Mrs. Watson, but then again you all know this. I know all of you, and since this is a small class we should get to know each other much better." She walked to her desk pulled a stack of papers, and handed six to Nate for him to pass to the rest of the students. "We will be investigated both literature and writing forms. I plan to read a total of ten novels this year, with each of you responsible for the readings. We will also be developing narrative and persuasive writings, which will be due at various points in the year."

Justin looked over the paper that had been passed out: the syllabus and class outline. There was nothing to surprising in the information, and nothing that was far too difficult to complete. He noticed some of the books they would be reading were classical novels, with a few contemporary ones that he had not heard of before. One that caught his eye was Fahrenheit 451.

Mrs. Watson continued to explain how the class was to be organized, and what was expected and required. Justin went in and out of paying attention, as this was the typical first day activity in every class.

"The last thing I would like to talk about is some of the books we are reading this year; parents may have objections to due to content. I would like for your parents to read the list of books, sign the release form at the end of the page stating they have reviewed and find all books acceptable, and return by Monday." Mrs. Watson put the paper she was reading from back on her desk and smiled at the class. "Any questions?"

She paused for a moment to let anyone ask questions, which no one did.

"Very good." She started to pace. "What I would like for you to do for tomorrow, is to write a narrative about something that happened during the summer break that was memorable. I know this is a classic activity by your English teacher, but I want you write this in third person. In another words, write this as if you were seeing it, and explaining the events. This is a way for me to determine what your skill is now, and what we need to work on. It should be no longer than one page." She smiled as the boys in the back groaned. "You may start working on that assignment now, and work until the bell rings."

Justin pondered in his mind what to write. He knew what it would be, but he wanted to make sure that he worded it right so that Mrs. Watson would not know it was Nate who was the other person in the story. He started to doodle on his paper as he thought about how he would write his most memorable day of the summer. As he thought about it, he felt the rush as Nate leaned over and kissed him for the first time. The moment he wished would never end, and would never stop. Even now when Nate kissed him he still felt that same feeling.

The bell to release the class brought him out of his daydream. He looked around as the row behind him squealed as the chairs pushed up and the others ran out of the classroom to get to the cafeteria. He looked at Nate who was putting his stuff up, and grinned.

"Hungry?" Nate asked as he stood up and put his bag over his shoulder.

"Sure." Justin started to put his stuff up, but stopped to see what Grayson was doing. He was slowly putting his bags up. He looked like he was going to break down and cry. "You okay bud?" Justin punched Grayson's shoulder softly.

"Yea." Grayson looked up with a fake smile. "Just getting my stuff together."

"Do you have this lunch?" Justin didn't buy any of the acts, and was concerned. He knew that this could very well be him in a few days, weeks, or even hours if Scott's prediction came true.

"Yea."

"Well come on!" Justin said slapping his arm again. "Lets go while the getting is good!"

"You better come." Nate came up behind bumping shoulders with Justin in a playful manner. "He won't take no for an answer. I should know." He winked at Justin as he walked out of the classroom.

***

Justin, Nate, and Grayson walked into the Cafeteria. Nate and Grayson went to the main line to get food, while Justin scouted a table for them to sit at. He spotted Kimberly, Scott, and Mark sitting at a round table. Kimberly spotted him and motioned for him to come over.

"Hello sexy lady." Justin walked up and squeezed her shoulder and sat down next to her.

"If you keep saying that I will think you want more." She giggled a bit.

"So how are your classes looking so far?" Scott said while he looked at his sandwich. "I hope better than this thing."

"I think English will be fun. Mrs. Watson seems cool. Have three jocks that will make it hard, but Nate is in there, and so is Grayson."

"Grayson?" Kimberly looked up. "You mean the kid that came out last year?"

"Yea." Justin shrugged as he pulled out his chicken salad his mom had prepared for him. He looked over at the line and saw Nate and Grayson talking and laughing. He smiled. He was happy Nate was that open to befriend someone so quickly. "Nate and him are hitting it off."

"Maybe you have something to worry?" Mark said looking at the two in line.

"No." Justin smiled. He loved the slight accent Mark spoke with. He always loved accents.

"I know. He looks at you like only one in world." Mark went back to eating his lunch. "Anyone find out yet?"

"Not that I know of!" Justin smiled. "And that is the way I like it."

As he sat there the boys from English came walking by and were laughing.

"Hey Justin!" Jared shouted from the next table over. "Looks like your boyfriend is getting comfortable with the fag." The rest of the table broke out laughing.

Justin sighed and started to eat. He would not bait the others and would not engage the behavior. He knew that would only get him in trouble, and have his parents find out things he didn't want them to know.

"Cruel." Mark said as he eyed the other boys. "I would think they not behave so rudely with Mr. Lowery standing right there."

"Mr. Lowery will not discipline the football players unless there is no other alternative." Scott gritted his teeth. "Prefect angels."

"Hey everyone!" Nate came up with Grayson in tow, who gave a weak grin to everyone around the table. "Everyone, this is Grayson. Grayson this is Kimberly, Mark, and Scott." He pointed at everyone around the table as he introduced them.

"Welcome to the family!" Kimberly smiled. Justin was happy she was good with it. "I do enjoy new people."

"Thanks." Grayson looked down at the table embarrassed.

"No need to be embarrassed." Scotts said in his usual blunt manner. "You can be yourself with us. We don't judge. Otherwise we would have kicked Justin out years ago." Everyone laughed at that, even Grayson, which made Justin smile.

They continued with small talk for a while, and continued eating. The other table did not give them any problems, which was a relief to Justin. Grayson and Nate picked up the trash from the table and took it the trash.

While they were gone, a piece of paper came flying and landed on the table.

"Really?" Justin turned to the other table, "Throwing paper now?"

"Your boyfriend will like that!" Jared responded, and made a motion like his arms were wings and made some kissy lips.

Mark grabbed the paper and unwrapped it.

"I don't get it." He looked at it with a confused look. "American humor?"

He passed it to Scott who coughed on his saliva. "Wow. No, not American humor. American mean spiritedness."

He handed the paper to Justin.

On the paper was a crude drawing of two stick figures. One was bent over, and the other was engaging in anal sex. An arrow was drawn to the top figure with the name `Nate' scrawled above the arrow, and Grayson scrawled on the figure for the one bent over.

"That son of a..." Justin started to growl, but Nate interrupted.

"Hey what's that?" He grabbed the paper and stared at it blankly. "Well. I. Uh."

Grayson looked over and his face went red. He looked like he was about to break down in tears.

"I am sorry Nate." Grayson went to pick up his bag. "I should have known that you being nice to me would have labeled you."

Grayson started to leave, but Scott grabbed his arm.

"Stay." He looked at him. "We are your friends, and they can say what ever they want about any of us. Damn them."

Justin still had his hands clinched on the table, and he could feel anger welling up within him. He was not about to stand there and let someone make fun of his boyfriend, and his new friend. His mind started to flash at things he could do. He didn't care if he got in trouble. He stood up.

"Justin." Nate grabbed his arm. "Don't do anything. It was just a stupid prank. I am fine. Grayson is fine. Don't worry about it."

Justin ignored Nate, and turned toward the table with the jocks busting up laughing.

"Aww," Jeffery cooed, "did we hurt your boyfriends feelings? Going to go home and cry to mamma and dada?"

"You know you should be careful what you say." Justin said through clinched teeth.

"What you going to do about it big shot?" Jared said standing up. "Your brother isn't hear to protect you anymore."

"If you're not careful, people might think you're jealous." Justin said getting a sly grin on his face. He was angry to the point that he was not sure where this was going, but he was going to take it as far as need be.

"Jealous of what?" Jared said with a smirk on his face.

"Of this!" Justin turned around, grabbed Nate and gave him a full kiss passionate kiss on the lips that lasted a good 30 seconds.

The cafeteria went dead silent as everyone's attention turned to the scene that was playing out. Sure Grayson had come out, but not in this manner. Whispers were starting to grow as people said things like "Did you know?" "Oh my god they are kissing."

"Well," Scott said in his usual unsurprised manner, "told you they would know by lunch time."

Justin broke free and looked at Nate in the eyes.

"Please tell me I did not just do that."

Nate smiled and grinned. "That's why I love you." And returned the kiss again.

This time the cafeteria erupted in cheers and hoots. Several people make gross comments, but they were deafened by the cheers coming from all around.

"Leary! McGraw! Office! Now!" The principle bellowed over the shouts and cheers, and proceeded to make his way towards the two boys.

***

Moments later Justin and Nate were sitting in the principal's office.

"Boys," Mr. Leary was standing behind his desk with his arms folded. "Do you have any idea why you are now sitting here in my office?"

Justin and Nate looked at each other, grinned, and looked back at the principal with a somber puppy dog look on their face.

"No sir." They both said in unison.

"You disrupted the entire lunchroom, causing a ruckus, and have now contributed to a disrupted learning environment today." He grabbed his chair and sat down. "What possessed you to do that?"

"Sir, Grayson was being bullied by other boys for being gay, and I was tired of it." Justin responded. This was true, but he wasn't about to admit that him and Nate were in love. "I decided to embarrassed them by kissing Nate."

"Yes sir." Nate said. "I just got in the roll too. We are really good friends, so I figured why not. I am sorry if this is causing some problem."

"Well your stunt you pulled is going to cause more problems then you think. I will no doubt have parents calling complaining that I am allowing this behavior to happen. I will have to call your parents." He reached for the phone, but stopped. "Look. I don't care who you kiss on your own time. I don't care if it happens to be of the same sex. But I do not allow public displays of affection in my halls regardless. Now go sit out in the office and wait for your parents!"

***

Authors Note:

I am in the process of revising all the chapters to the story for content, errors, and to make sure the story flows. Please send all comments to sockingsaw@hotmail.com.

I am also looking for someone who would volunteer to proof read my stories before submission. If you are interested, please send me an email.

If you enjoyed this, or any other story on this site, please consider donating to Nifty at donate.nifty.org. Donations are tax deductible.